City of Reinvention

Again, if you haven’t played Friday’s puzzle, go here before continuing.

I would like to start off by saying that if I offended anyone with using the deceased as answers to a puzzle, then I apologize.  The 13 people I used for the puzzle were all famous and/or newsworthy, but still all of them had lives and friends and relatives, so I meant no harm.

The other thing that I was struck by was that to some degree all of the people on this list had something else in common besides departing this world within the five boroughs.  All of them also had reinvented themselves in some way or another.  Many changed there names to assume a show biz persona.  Many came from other parts of the country if not the globe.  Even Kitty Genovese was in her own way reinventing herself as thousands do by simply living in NYC  in one’s twenties and establishing one’s own life.

Reinvention is one of great allures of New York City.  It is where the European immigrants came to start anew, where the comics cut their teeth, and the actors wait the tables.  Music has been reinvented as the Punk scene flourished on the Bowery, and Hip-Hop was spawned in the projects of the outer boroughs.  The people on my “death list” lived here with the hopes of becoming someone/something else.  Many were tearing down conventions of music, storytelling, architecture, and in Malcolm X’s case society as a whole. 

Hollywood has this dream, but it is solely the realm of stardom.  New York is the only place that no matter what your field, it just seems that you can reimagine yourself into something bigger and better.  It is very seductive, and sometimes the darkness of such a dream swallows these people, and sometimes the power of the dream can lift them to heights that the dreamer themselves may not have imagined.

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”  Right?

Some quick thoughts inspired by the people on the list:

I have eaten at Umberto’s and it is a sold Italian restaurant, especially for seafood.

While researching this puzzle, I ran across some speculation that the fact that no witness helped Kitty Genovese was a bit exaggerated.  I can’t verify this one way or another.

Likewise, there is plenty of conspiracy theories that swirl around Nancy Spungen’s death on the ol’ Internet.

Rudolph Valentino was mostly a Hollywood legend and was a bit of a stretch to include on a New Yorker’s list.

O. Henry’s was the name of a long gone restaurant in the village that my parents loved, and I could not find any info on it web-wise.

I included Stanford White on this list, even though he is the only one whose name wasn’t changed, because I find it amusing that people believe that sensationalized trials and  salacious news is a new-ish phenomenon.


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