Perhaps inevitably, as print outlets struggle to find a way to expand their coverage of Heath Ledger's death without many new details (multiple timelines! medical analyses!), we find that writers are turning to a new angle: the real-estate effect. The story of the Australian actor's life in the past couple of years is truly a New York story. He hit the hottest spots, he changed the face of neighborhoods, and he became a familiar figure to the regular city dwellers who surrounded him. Gridskipper.com has a geographical guide to his final months, since he moved out of Boerum Hill. The Daily News talked to his Soho neighbors, who described his usual uniform as "ragged jeans, an old jacket, brown boots and a stubbly chin." He used to wander the neighborhood and stop into restaurants and bars alone, and many didn't even know he was a superstar. But in the Post, we get the opposite story. Andrea Peyser, shockingly, is the first person to push the "Is it too soon?" boundary.
"Until the end, we had a love-hate thing for Heath," Peyser begins today's column. "In a neighborhood that previously was best known for its churches and Italian block-watchers, an area we loved for its anonymity, safety and fresh mozzarella, we suddenly had royalty." The cranky columnist goes on to complain that after the actor, his child, and girlfriend Michelle Williams (who is back in Brooklyn today) arrived, everything quickly became all about
"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" "Heath, Heath, Heath!" "Brooklyn grew expensive, but also generic," she gripes. "We loved it. We hated it. We dealt with it. Brooklyn was turning into Manhattan." Peyser, who admits she was grateful for the wealth that followed them into the neighborhood, also had a problem with Ledger and Williams's efforts to stop Bruce Ratner's development at the Atlantic Yards.
Andrea, if you were wondering whether it is indeed too early to complain about Heath's effect on your life (we know you weren't), well, it is. But it's especially too early for this:
Heath moved out of Brooklyn this past summer for soulless Manhattan. It was clear that he'd changed. And now, he's checked out forever, gone in what appears a haze of pills and depression.
Are we reading this right? Is she indirectly blaming Manhattan for his death? We'd make a Fifth Lady joke about Sex and the City, but, unlike Andrea, we're not ready to be bitter yet.