“I’m not running away from New York just because I’m dying.” Face to face with Gary Indiana

Gary Indiana interview
Gary Indiana interview

Manhattan is dead. Who killed Manhattan? We went to ask the noir writer Gary Indiana in his living room on the Lower East Side, and the diagnosis is not at all reassuring.

Gary, how’s New York?

Do you mean Manhattan? In these parts, art is dead. By now, no artist lives here anymore. Everything is too expensive. The people of this city don’t know how to live. They are content to spend time to buy stuff and to work to pay for it in installments. The young artists today, if they ever come to New York, they go to live in Brooklyn, but I honestly do not understand why. You, too, what the hell are you doing in New York?

Are you thinking of leaving?

No, and where could I go? By now I’m old. I’m dying. If I were twenty years younger, I think it would leave.

And where would you go?

To Rio, or Havana. In a city that’s really growing, while here everything is saturated. If I were in Cuba or Europe, I’d go out every night. Only here I never go out.

What is the problem?

The people and their rejection of normalcy, of an ordinary horizon. This city, America, loves the successful sociopath and thinks it’s normal to dream of becoming like him. New York has become a city of repressed emotions. And this is a real tragedy.

Writer Gary Indiana
Writer and artist Gary Indiana

Only New York? This evil does not seem to be shared with other contemporary metropolises?

Maybe. I don’t know about the whole world, but emotionally Europeans are more crafty than Americans. In general, what has today’s culture become? Naked women that sway their hips on TV and in the newspapers. But not all of them, please write it down, because among them there’s also the daughter of some of my friends.

When did this cultural breakdown of your city start and why?

Let’s say ten years ago. All the theaters have disappeared, the places where artists and intellectuals could meet. I remember the Mudd Club, Club 57, the various performing garages in Soho … Yesterday, the Lower East Side was the best place to live. Today everything has disappeared.

Have you always lived in the Lower East?

Always. When I first came here, this apartment cost only about one hundred dollars a month, which was very easy to make. You only had to go to the park down here and give someone a blowjob. Now nothing is happening and nothing will ever happen again. Money has taken away everything.

Tell us about your arrival in New York?

It was 1978. I came from Los Angeles. So, culturally, it was important to be here.

Today, culturally where is it important to be? On the Internet?

Internet is sweeping everything away. I like the fact that printed newspapers are disappearing. I’m also very pleased that the New York Times is in risk of closing.

What do you have against the New York Times?

I find it a retrograde and ridiculous newspaper. Stuff from middle class. Full of opinions and lacking in facts.

Gary Indiana in his living room in L.E.S.
Gary Indiana in his living room in L.E.S.

Ever watch tv?

The television is horrible. I think it should not exist.

What will happen to books?

People read what I write, and I believe they will continue to do so. Perhaps in different formats.

And what do you think of new media?

The technology leads to pathological addictions very quickly. Especially the screens. Almost worse than the desire to become rich and famous.

At the beginning of your career you also wrote about contemporary art. Would you like to talk about it?

No. Contemporary art did not interest me then nor today. I was writing articles because they paid me, and I stopped as soon as possible when I could start being only the novelist.

Nothing else to say?

Nothing else.

Today you are an internationally renowned writer. In Italy, your most read book is Three-Month Fever: The Andrew Cunanan Story.

I had already begun to write a book about Andrew Cunanan before he murdered Gianni Versace. He moved from one town to another, killing people. I don’t know. I found it interesting.

The mind of a serial killer is not a comfortable place to make your imagination live …

The life and death of Andrew Cunanan well explain what we are. Born in a tiny middle-class family, he used his own body and his own intelligence to climb up to the highest social classes, so something is broken inside. As Gore Vidal once said, to see the face of a killer, just look in any mirror.

Any plans for the future?

Right now I need to think. I don’t have a clear idea of ​​what I will write in the next three months.

Will you write from New York?

And where else, otherwise? In this city, either you’re rich, or it’s a trap.

 

 

Written by Alessandro Berni | www.clioartproject.com

 

 

Alessandro Berni

Alessandro Berni

Alessandro Berni is a writer based out of New York city.

20 Comments
  1. enjoyed what gary had to say- it was refreshing not to hear a cheerleader for life in NYC and words not aspirational and inspirational what a relief

  2. I remember Gary when he wrote about contemporary art. He hit the nail on the head, I left NYC 10 years ago, it was great when I was young…then it got boring. But i have to admit I miss it sometimes

  3. There really was a sort of golden age here from 77-82, short lived but so brilliant. Other than bankers wives flooding the lofts of SoHo the clubs here were aggressively supporting experimental music. That ended around 1981. SF clubs still do though.

    Not to blow the fantasy but it’s not like it was all hugs and kisses back then, the downtown scene was quite nasty. But I miss it.

  4. He’s right, I sit home in the e60s and read my Durrenmatt, Genet and Celine. Where the hell would I go to discuss art, music or literature in this town. Some upper east side bars have an older crowd that are very literate. Downtown or Brooklyn forget it those 40yo kids “kids” are reading Hobbit the Movie. I’d feel sorry for them if they weren’t so happy.

  5. I’m reading Russell Banks novels and live in Brooklyn for 35 years & grew up in LES for 15 years. I still go to LES to hangout with artists & poets.

  6. There’s just one point they left out in this article. There’s another reason why a truly imaginative person should not live in New York. It’s too full of pretentious idiots who speak of themselves as great, if starving, artists.

  7. What a crock of negative shit! Manhattan is dead? Sure, if that’s the lens you choose to view it. Do you think it’s possible to wear a different lens and see rich culture in NYC? Rich culture coexisting with material excess? Gary Indiana may be articulate, but he also wears the persona of a victim. Like it or not folks, that is a choice; it is not a life circumstance that is thrust upon anyone.

  8. Excellent points, all… if I hadn’t lived here since 1972, and didn’t have as many friends here as I do, I’d consider leaving as well.

  9. Gary Indiana is one of America’s truly great but underappreciated writers and although a lot of his books are out of print, all of them are available on the various used book websites. Read both his novels and his collected essays. The essays will give you suggestions for reading that you never thought of. Spend the rest of the summer with Gary and you’ll be blathering about him to all your friends

  10. I love the interview, but in all seriousness, if you wonder where to live, why not try Gary Indiana? I mean, it sounds ridiculous, but if you are totally sick of NY, the Middle West is perhaps its polar opposite.

  11. I live in new york . Everyday I have a day to content with the masses . Though most people are tired of it . It is a place where you can get a.d.d. and have trouble with making it . But I think those trying hard times are kind of what molds you into what you didn’t expect out of your ownself . Yeah its expensive . All of it is expensive . Weather its Lower east side or harlem or brooklyn . ITs all about that bread . And it does suck . But there are angles . A true new yorker knows those angles . Figures out how to get ahead in this crazed rat race and enjoys figuring it out . When your tired of it . MOVE!!! Go retire . Thats what Florida is for . If you want to get in these trenches your going to need to dig thru a lot of crap that came before us and evolve . Thats just where we are as a whole in this earth thats spinning . Everyones got a choice. Right now I fucks with New York .

  12. I live in new york . Everyday I have a day to contend with the masses . Though most people are tired of it . It is a place where you can get a.d.d. and have trouble with making it . But I think those trying hard times are kind of what molds you into what you didn’t expect out of your ownself . Yeah its expensive . All of it is expensive . Weather its Lower east side or harlem or brooklyn . ITs all about that bread . And it does suck . But there are angles . A true new yorker knows those angles . Figures out how to get ahead in this crazed rat race and enjoys figuring it out . When your tired of it . MOVE!!! Go retire . Thats what Florida is for . If you want to get in these trenches your going to need to dig thru a lot of crap that came before us and evolve . Thats just where we are as a whole in this earth thats spinning . Everyones got a choice. Right now I fucks with New York .

  13. Prescient before Donald Trump began his presidential campaign: “America, loves the successful sociopath and thinks it’s normal to dream of becoming like him.”

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