Is the era of the New York Yunnie coming to an end? Has the Yunnipocalypse finally begun?
*Also see my opinion piece: The Downturn's Upside, Daily News
It began in September 2008 and has snowballed since. Several recent reports (see links at end of post) indicate a rising anxiety that New York City is returning to its "bad, old days" of crime and grit.
Let's not be afraid. The choice was never between safety or terror. Just like the Bush administration manipulated a nation into believing they had to give up their human rights for the sake of safety, the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations convinced a city they had to give up their uniqueness, wildness, and verve to be secure and live well.
They've attempted to create a sanitary, Epcot-style European village, like a planned suburban community, in the middle of what has long been America's most fertile cultural hotbed. They made it amenable to swaggering, narcissistic bots. But maybe that swagger is vanishing.
Last week's New York Times suggested so. Alex Williams writes, "The sudden downturn has affected the very industries that give New York its identity — finance, media, advertising, real estate, even tourism — with extreme prejudice. The result is that some New Yorkers feel that the city is losing, along with many jobs, its swagger and its sense of pre-eminence."
Girlfriends of beleaguered bankers have formed a jokey support group to share their pain (you can join “if your monthly Bergdorf’s allowance has been halved and bottle service has all but disappeared from your life"), as the bankers are now forced to dine at McDonald's (and they can't even supersize it).
Williams suggests that the narcissistic blow to the city's overinflated grandiosity now causes us to suffer from an emotional contagion of shared pessimism. But not everyone has caught that bug.
Many of us are feeling optimistic about this city for the first time in a decade. New York's identity has always been about much more than just real estate and money. The path of the New Yorker "has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those that prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things."
That quote is from President Obama's inaugural address. In his rousing speech, there is great hope that the narcissistic, sociopathic tenor of our entire country, the dark cloud we've been living under for the past 8 years, is poised to change. And so it is changing in New York, too, where the "risk-takers, doers, and makers of things" have too long been stifled and squeezed out by a swaggering crowd of safety-seeking do-nothings.
Like Bush on his way out of office last week with his posture deflated, their swagger has diminished already. And our city will be far better for it. We don't need to tumble into violence and degradation. We can be safe, we can prosper, we can enjoy beautiful things--without living in a sociopathic New York.
from my flickr
To cut-and-paste from Obama's speech, imagine a new mayor saying this to the city: "Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the [city] for a new age. The time has come to set aside childish things. A [city] cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility."
Now if only such a superhero would swoop in to Barackify our greedy, childish, and irresponsible City Hall.
What Signs of the Yunnipocalypse have you noticed?
Further reading from JVNY:
Frozen New York
New York Pentimento
Sinking Ships, Limp Dicks
More on the Yunnipocalypse:
Support Group for Banker Girlfriends [NY Times]
Scared to Come to NY [NY Post]
Law & Disorder [NY Times]
When the Action Moves On [NY Times]
Revenge of the Bad Old Days [NY Post]
Fun City Returns? [Voice]
Movies of the bad, old days [Gawker]