It occurred to me while watching those fab high definition time lapse videos how friggin' lame Times Square is. Let's review, shall we?
It's endlessly lionized in movies, television shows and countless, formulaic hip hop videos, but when was the last time you voluntarily set foot in Times Square? I'm a native New Yorker of forty-two years and I have YET to meet a fellow lifer that can actively stand the place. In fact, I don't know a single Manhattanite that spends any time there unless they absolutely, positively have to under pain of death. When I fleetingly worked at MTV News Online a few years back at 1515 Broaday (right in the veritable crotch of Times Square), having to claw my way in and out of the teeming ant heap twice a day was easily the toughest part of the gig (well, that and the whole getting unceremoniously laid off part). It's a bitch to move through (even with the re-designed plazas). It's lousy with slow-moving human cattle. It's a garish eyesore of retina-immolating advertisements and cheap-ass touristy shit. Honestly speaking, what can you get in Times Square that you cannot find in practically every shitty mall across the damn country (other than a whopping great headache)?
Sure, we all remember the endearingly gritty Times Square the way it used to be. I remember watching the fabled cable access porn program, "Midnight Blue" on channel J as a youth and seeing scary images of Times Square and "the Deuce" (the old nickname for 42nd Street) when it was a roiling hotbed of cheap smut, drugs and prostitution. But even when I got older, I never harbored any desire to stroll on Times Square's byways. Maybe it was the "center of it all," but big whoop. There was nothing there for me that I couldn't find elsewhere in the city for a fraction of the hassle.
The Times Square of "Taxi Driver" and "Midnight Cowboy" is long gone, of course. Hell, even the Times Square depicted in Hall & Oates' "One on One" video is gone. All that's left now is a squeaky clean approximation of what residents of the Midwest think New York City is all about, when the truth of the matter is that as it stands now, there is positively nothing inherently "New York" about Times Square. Want to celebrate New York City? Great, but next time, let's focus on another location, shall we?