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Peepshow token

At HiLobrow, Kio Stark writes an elegy for Times Square, through the prism of an old peepshow token. 

We got the new radio, but forgot the batteries. My uncle pulled over again and I hopped out, ran into a fluorescent-lit store and bought them. I felt utterly wild, alone in a flashing, raunchy world with a handful of cash. He was watching me the whole time, and I was never more than 20 yards from the van, but it was wild still.

July 2, 2017 in Current Affairs, Ephemera | Permalink


Thanks for bringing this to your readers' attention. I had an unusual and complicated reaction to this story: It's an excellent and engaging piece of writing, but the stuff about "moralizing" and "sanitizing" a "repressive" city felt too much like boilerplate, like its own form of moralizing.

I spent my teenage years in that New York in the '80s, and I recall the same wild and lawless place she does: It was where I got shaken down for money, where children got mugged for their winter coats, where one of my cousin's friends was found dead in an alley and buried in an unmarked grave until an investigator discovered his identity seven years later. In retrospect, I'm grateful to have seen it and survived it, but I don't miss it. Holy hell, it was a chaotic and pitiless place.

On the other hand, I fully understand the nostalgia for that world, even from people who were too young to have experienced it. They grew up in an age of Virtual Everything; that New York was real. It teased out your dark side, and it tested you in unwelcome ways. I didn't always pass.

Like I said: complicated.

Posted by: Jeff at Jul 6, 2017 12:52:42 AM

She also seemed to have had a fairly sheltered exposure to the city, which helps fuel her warm nostalgia now. Notably, she never saw a peepshow, or witnessed the exploitation that took place inside. Had she been shaken down for money or mugged (or worse) she'd probably feel a lot differently.

Posted by: Pete at Jul 6, 2017 4:02:07 PM