Can you hear me now?

Walking home latish Friday night from the surprisingly excellent “Bourne Ultimatum” (the antithesis of “America, fuck yeah!”), my consort and I felt as if we had wandered back to 1986, when we fled Columbus Avenue in the Seventies for the sleepy suburbs half an hour closer to New England, up in the then-dodgy Nineties. Wine bar after wine bar was spilling out with hammered androids who seemed to have one setting on the volume dial: braying. At least three longtime restaurants were suddenly closed and gutted (and at least three more that should be shut down were still full). The sidewalks were jammed, and we could only wonder who those look-alikes were, and from what part of Jersey they might have disgorged. Columbus always goes in cycles, and what’s good for business is bad for the neighbors, so I could not have been happier to be just passing through rather than living in that old apartment one flight up on 72d. The one where the street noise was so bad I once called a floor refinisher to see about having ours sanded and polished and he asked: “Is someone there working on them now?” The one where we once poured water out the windows onto the barbarians below. “Wine bars” may make it sound as if the street is going upscale. But merlot in the wrong hands is just as much a menace as martinis. Does this city always have to be saved by a market crash?