I've been puzzling as to why yunnies hate mom-and-pops so very, very much. I was reading this post by EV Grieve in which he quotes an online review of an Irish pub that came down to make way for a new luxury tower. The reviewer writes:
"I hope places like this close down soon: We are all working on building a better downtown. I bought a 1.5 million dollar condo around the block from this place. I stopped in one weekday during lunch (i was off.) The place had 3 patrons at the bar, all of which looked worse then the other. The decor is lacking, the floors dirty, and the food was just ok. This place may be decent for someone who does not like finer things..."
And I wondered, as I have many times when reading similar commentary, what is this about? Why do yunnies feel such intense hatred of harmless, dumpy old places? The hatred seems deeply personal and expresses itself in a wish to destroy. It's one thing to say, "I don't like this place so I won't go there," yet another to say, "I hope it is eradicated." We hear this sentiment again and again in blog commentary and online reviews. It feels a lot like hysteria.
Then I realized (with thanks to Mr. Grieve): It's all about property values.
The yunnies are like suburban home owners, the Joneses who mow their lawns every Sunday and keep their porches freshly painted. Trimming hedges and weeding gardens, they want their neighbors to do the same--to not damage their property values. When a neighbor chooses to let their lawn grow, display chainsaw stump art in the yard, leave a car up on blocks in the driveway, or allow their paint to peel, oh how Mr. and Mrs. Jones go wild! "We are all working to build a better downtown," they say, "Why aren't you one of us, one of us, one of us?"
It is hysteria. "Burn it down! Run them out of town! A scourge on Elm Street!" the Joneses cry. Terrified by the specter of falling property values, they drag their neighbors into court, ordering them to keep up, keep up, keep up with us Joneses! And if you don't keep up...well, here comes good old blight, good old eminent domain, and didn't we need a new park anyway? Maybe something with cannons and faux piles of cannon balls, symbols of our terror of dirty, smelly natives who don't care about the finer things.
I have nothing against cleanliness. I like to see my elderly, immigrant neighbors sweep their stoops in the morning. This is Old World tidiness, not the same as New New York sterility. A little dirt is good for you--keeps the immune system strong. Today we're besieged by germaphobes. Their fearful suburban parents taught them to slather themselves and everything around them with antibacterial agents. Vongerichtification is their way of cleaning up the city.
The children of suburban Boomers have come back to reclaim the cities their grandparents fled years ago. They bring with them fear and hatred of anything urban. They bring suburban values that don't mesh with the city--and this is different from other, non-yunnie transplants to the city, who yearned to leave suburbia behind. The yunnies refuse to be city people. Dirt, rats, ugly signage? Clean it up, clean it up, clean it up! they say. Or else.