The End of Florent

florent1Yesterday was a day for hanging out with friends. Dodging a thunderstorm, our Lit Editor Ken Krimstein, his wife Alex, and another couple drop by for Sunday afternoon cocktails. Alex suggests we grab a final meal at one of our favorite NYC haunts. The rest is captured here by Mr. K: When is the passing of a restaurant a cultural event? When the restaurant is Florent, the 24/7 former meatchoppers' diner in the former meat-packing district that finally expired -- condo-ed and clothing designer shopped into submission -- June 29th. But, as is befitting an institution that hosted everyone from drag diva Joey Arias to David Byrne to David Lynch to a million and one night owls looking for a steak and fries to stave off a late night at Area/Danceteria/CBGB/TheTunnel etc. etc., this joint went out not with a whimper, but with a bang. Or, to put it another way, it was a reminder that, "yes, Dorothy, you are not in Kansas any more." Picture: Milling crowds of spillover from the 39th Gay Pride parade, in all manner of finery, still dripping from the monsoon, jostling to get in. Picture: Swirling crowds of naked boys and girls through the window (Florent modified to say F or rent), dancing, dancing, dancing a Dionysian goodbye to what? A time and a place. Christopher Hitchens touched on what's happening to the Village in his July Vanity Fair article, but mere words couldn't substitute for a naked woman standing on the bar pressing her booty against the plate glass window. This was not "mall-ready" edginess. This was, in the steamy, slanting light of a humid summer afternoon, the seamy danger that used to lurk in lower Manhattan. Was it a fleshy "we're mad as hell and we're not gonna take it anymore?" Not really, the artists are moving on (Woodstock, Portland, Burning Man?). Things collapse. It was more about how a touch of danger, or sweat, of taking it a bit too far, is what keeps the wheel turning. Gil Scott Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" sounds almost quaint today. But it's not. Because the end of Florent will not be televised. Was not televised. At the end, it was just about taking off your clothes and jumping around. Unexpected. A little dangerous. Unplanned. Next course. dusty2.jpg Mr. Wright is the former editor-in-chief of Creem and Prince's New Power Generation magazines as well as a writer of films, fiction, and music. He is also a singer/songwriter who has released 3 solo CDs, recently contributed to Chris Butler's The Devil's Glitch project (the longest song in the world), and a member of the folk-rock quartet GIANTfingers. And before all of this he was an agent at the William Morris Agency!