The January 5th New Yorker offers a history of The Village Voice. It’s a great article (available online only with a subscription), one that kind of doubles as a history of the Village before the neighborhood was killed first by Sex and the City, then by Marc Jacobs. That the death of the village has been happening for a century is addressed. The article should be read, but the reason for sharing is the perfection of the Louis Menand’s opening paragraph.
The piece is about a newspaper that started in a neighborhood. Watch how the “about” weaves in all the themes of the article, with a perfect closing sentence that says everything. Writing this good is a great arguement for suicide. Witness:
The first person known to have said, “The Village isn’t what it used to be” was the writer Floyd Dell. That was in 1916. Dell was from Illinois, and he had lived in Greenwich Village for less than three years. The Village is that kind of place: almost everybody who lives there has come from somewhere else, but when a new person arrives they tell him, “Man, you should have been here last year.” The Village is kept alive by immigrants who, immediately after they settle in, start worrying that The Village is disappearing. A community that insecure needs a newspaper.