Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Union City Blue

Weehawken, where I live, lies right on the Hudson, overlooking NYC. It's a small town, both population-wise (about 13,000) and geographically. Walking just a few blocks inland takes you into Union City (immortalized by Blondie in "Union City Blue"). While Weehawken has mainly white Yuppies and retirees and is rather quiet and picturesque, Union City gets a bit more, shall we say, "diverse." (When you walk on Bergen Line, the crowded main shopping street there, there are signs everywhere proclaiming the city's "diversity." Although, about 99.8% of the people that I've seen on Bergen Line are Hispanic, which ain't too diverse!)

And, by the way, who needs Manhattan when you've got Union City? While growing up, I'd always read about the legendary "Studio 54" and dreamed about hanging out there. Well, Union City has its very own legend: Studio 45!

And Manhattan might have its fashionable stores like "Calvin Klein"... but Union City has...

Here's Blondie's homage to the town:

The longer I live in the NYC area, the greater my understanding that Manhattanites really are a bit snobbish about the "bridge-and-tunnel crowd"---i.e., those who have to take a bridge or a tunnel to get to Manhattan---like folks in Jersey or Brooklyn/Queens/Bronx! (The idea of this crossover played a HUGE role in the minds of the Brooklyn characters in one of my favorite movies, "Saturday Night Fever." Stephanie really lorded it over Tony that she'd made it to Manhattan, and coming to Manhattan was Tony's ultimate goal.) I'd always liked this Blondie song but, being from another part of the country altogether, had no idea about the "implications" of desiring a guy from Union City! Not necessarily just Hispanic---I think Union City used to be, 30 years ago in 1979 when the song came out, just known as lower/working-class white. But the dynamic of "forbidden love" is the same: "Power, passion/Playing a double hand...Cross to the other side/It becomes daylight..." She's going the wrong way (Manhattan to Union City), but can't help herself...

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