Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy 20th Die Yuppie Scum

You might say that Friday night's protest of super-gentrification in the East Village was also a celebration of Die Yuppie Scum's 20th birthday. In trying to trace the roots of this rallying cry of rage, I found its earliest recorded use goes back to the 1988 riots in Tompkins Square Park, when it was hurled at the new residents of the Christodora House (along with bricks), painted on the walls of their controversial building, and propelled into the mainstream lexicon. By 1989, the phrase had made it onto T-shirts and was being spray-painted everywhere. It is currently enjoying a resurgence.

How appropriate then, that this weekend's angry group of East Villagers, chanting "Die Yuppie Scum" as they marched through the neighborhood's streets, should end up on the doorstep of Christodora, face to face with the enemy, where they found their fiercest opposition of the long march.

But first let me rewind, back to the beginning of the night.

It started with a beer at Mars Bar. A Chinese woman came in hawking bootleg porn DVDs and a one-handed man told me all about how the Hare Krishna building across the street used to be a brothel, "You paid $13 for 10 minutes, $15 if you wanted to stick it in the front and the back." Mars Bar, an island of eccentricity in a sea of sameness, survives. For now.

Right next door, the wine connoisseurs were getting comfortable at Bowery Wine Company's outdoor tables, enjoying the temperate summer evening. Farther up the block, on Bowery, outside the new outpost of Hamptons boutique Blue & Cream, protesters began gathering, making posters on the sidewalk with paint and markers.

Soon after 8:00, John Penley led the crowd down to the wine bar. As people stood on milkcrates to rage, read poetry, and play guitar, the crowd swelled to about 100 protesters. The police came to erect a barricade. Condo-dwellers leaned from floor-to-ceiling windows and quietly snapped pictures. The outdoor diners looked stricken, annoyed, and begged to be moved indoors. There was only one vocal member of the opposition, an elderly black man, a Republican in a GOP baseball cap who kept shouting, "Go home you pussies!" at the mostly white crowd of protesters.

Starved for confrontation, when a Hummer limo rolled by, the crowd jeered and jumped up and down, screaming into its blacked-out, unresponsive windows.

The police were placid. One bobbed her head to the music of David Peel's "Die Yuppie Scum." She told me, "I'm with you guys. If it were up to me, I'd let you protest to your heart's content. I was born here and I can't afford to live anywhere on the island of Manhattan!"

I asked her what she thought of the changes in the neighborhood. She said, "These buildings don't fit. They're too big. And the people? All they're doing is moving in victims. These people are victims. Stupid. They save seats with their laptops! With their handbags! And then just walk away. That's all we deal with now--stolen laptops." Robberies and burglaries are up. The new kids on the block make it easy pickins. She predicted that crime would continue to rise, many of the newcomers would leave, "And we'll have balance again."

After Bowery Wine, we marched to CBGB/Varvatos. The crowd jeered the outdoor diners at Bowery Hotel and turned down to 47 E. 3rd, where multi-millionaires are evicting an entire tenement full of long-time residents to make a single-family McMansion for themselves. From there, we went up Avenue A, through Tompkins Square Park, and settled at the door of the Christodora House.

Pushed behind a police barricade, the crowd chanted and David Peel sang "I Hate Christodora," like sirens luring the Christodorans out into the open. At last, they came. Barefoot girls with slim, tanned legs beneath long shirts came out cradling small dogs in their arms. Boys in Midwestern college football jerseys and Midwestern college football bodies came out with eyes wide. Gray-haired, gym-trim men in designer bifocals came out and consulted with the police.

The Christodorans huddled behind the police. One of them, with an air of paterfamilias, stepped to the protesters and argued for the goodness of himself and his neighbors: We feed the homeless! We give to charity! A shouting match ensued, but no one was touched, no bricks were thrown.

When the Christodorans realized it was not 1988 and no harm would come to them, they relaxed. They snapped pictures of the protesters and giggled. They chatted about everyday things, and petted each other's tiny dogs. They tossed their wheat-colored hair and laughed, showing their flawless teeth. Up on their marble steps, they did what the ruling class has been doing for centuries--they ignored the angry mob as it railed against them.

And I say this was the fiercest opposition of the night, because the power to ignore, to stand above another's pain, unaffected and unmoved, to render people invisible--this may be the elites' greatest weapon.

More coverage of the event:


Anonymous said...

So much to comment on here. I do not know where to start.
Once again I am glad my family taked me out becoming a police officer.

I really do feel sympathy for the police.


I would have joined in on the protest in full uniform.

It is my duty to comment on people for being stupid fucks by LEAVING THEIR LAPTOPS UNATTENDED.

No way in hell could I see myself arresting somebody for tossing a brick. NO WAY IN HELL!

The fuckers sitting outside at the table and the fuckers standing with their little dogs is enough to make me want to throw a brick at my computer screen.

Anonymous said...

Great article and photos--it truly is the 20th anniversary of Die Yuppie Scum--I was there then--away for some years and back again--your article had hope and for that I am happy.Thank you Jeremiah.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's been 20 years since we first wished for the yuppie scums to die. Yet, it seems like those words have no effect and the yuppies just keep breeding and won't die. Those tenants at the Christadora look like they're characters from Gossip Girl. The Upper East Side seems like their expanding their territory to the EV & LES. Why can't they just stay there in the UES?

That yuppie with the sign "the natives are hostile" reminds me of the white Europeans' sentiment towards the Native Americans when they had displaced them of their land. I guess by the time the yuppies realize their atrocities, they'll provide us with "reservations"?

Anonymous said...

"When the Christodorans realized it was not 1988 and no harm would come to them, they relaxed. They snapped pictures of the protesters and giggled. They chatted about everyday things, and petted each other's tiny dogs."

When I read this part, I was praying someone would use this moment to promptly throw a brick at them.

Maybe that republican was right? Maybe we are pussies.

Anonymous said...

Imagine--yuppie scum wanting to colonize us !!!Ha-ha-ha

Unknown said...

We feed the homeless! We give to charity!

How could you still live in the EV with such condescending and offensive neighbors. Me?, I've moved to LIC, before these yunnies discover and then sanitize and yunnified and thrash the place.

How does one defeat the yunnies weapon of "the power to ignore, to stand above another's pain, unaffected and unmoved, to render people invisible"?. Throwing a brick at them surely won't do.

Anonymous said...

"I was born here and I can't afford to live anywhere on the island of Manhattan!"

Maybe that cop should get a real job, like Bruce Willis.

Anonymous said...

Those Joneses clustered on their stoop look like extras in a Woody Allen movie or Hampton Jitney types caught slumming in the EV (many of the people who reside there are in "the biz", in one way or another). Ahh, to be so gay and care-free. To know that the game is rigged in your favor.

"We feed the homeless! We give to charity!" What can one do with that, honestly?

Has protest as an action been defanged? Has it become a mere nuisance, an trifling inconvenience, a form of entertainment for those being protested against? Even Cindy Sheehan eventually packed it in because it began to feel like her anger was being blunted by waves of disinterest. Is it "game over" for us as well?

Anonymous said...

And there's this:

"Starved for confrontation, when a Hummer limo rolled by, the crowd jeered and jumped up and down, screaming into its blacked-out, unresponsive windows."

Which underscores perfectly what I just said.

Game Over.

Anonymous said...

These people aren't even human. They are true narcissist. They are like "Pod People". I really think we have an alien invasion. You guys should read "South Street" it's a great book about the meaning of being a true New Yorker and the closing of the History of the Fulton Fish Market before the city closed it and the strip mall masters took over.

Anonymous said...

The protesters looks like they were treated as exploitable objects for entertainment and the ever-so frequent pretense of not thoroughly supporting yuppie supremacy.

Unknown said...

It really is reprehensible that a historic landmark like CBGBs has been replaced with a pointless, elitist and useless clothing store. I work the door at a bar on 14th and A on the weekends and it really is disturbing to me that there there are very few Natives left. It's literally an endless parade of upper east siders/west siders, upstaters, and out of towners... It's like the east village has become a tourist attraction, a destination for vapid wannabe cool Yuppie Scum. It makes me sad. This city is becomming homogenized and I shudder to think what it will look like 20 years from now...

Cari said...

Happy 20th indeed. My how far we've come...

Sigh. Having abandoned ship (been pushed off?), I'm feeling a bit guilty.

Great post. Though sad, as usual.

Anonymous said...

The Christadora woman in the black t-shirt holding a dog is successful fashion model Noot Seear.

Model profile:

Models who live in the Christadora:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for background on DYS (Die Yuppie Scum). Last night I watched the increasingly tedious Tony Awards. They saluted "Rent", inappropriate considering the LES destruction. The show should have pointed out that theatre is now all revivals. NY's creative community has been driven out. Seems the theatre community is drinking the same kool-aid as those mindless dog holders in your photos.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed your post though it is pretty heart wrenching that a city known for its diverse neighborhoods and character(s) is slowly becoming like every other place out there...

L'Emmerdeur said...

I'll admit it: technically, I'm part of the problem. I make a good living, and work in finance.

But I know enough to never live in the LES or the East Village. I don't belong there. I live further west, where folks of means or who earned a decent living have lived for many decades.

Then again, I don't live in a neighborhood because I want to be cool. But I do live in a neighborhood, not a sand box whose contents I wish to bend to my will.

Anonymous said...

Looking at those last two photos of the fascists and their little dogs made me physically ill. It's precisely why I didn't bother attending the protest myself - they're so vacuous and detached from reality that they treat everything as a frivolous amusement, even an angry crowd. When you guys are ready to take this back to '88 and really start the revolution let me know. I'll be the first one throwing bricks. Until then I admire the efforts of people like Mr. Penley but simply can't suffer the indignity of being some curious sideshow exhibit for our new overlords. When Penley and Co. decide to grow a pair and take some direct action somebody drop me a line.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks anon for the I.D. of the fashion model--i knew she was "someone."

Jeremiah Moss said...

for the record, i don't advocate throwing bricks at people, though i understand the urge.

the problem is, "yuppie" is not really an apt term for the problem. the problem is not income, class, or profession. it's mentality. it's what do people value and prioritize?

money is not evil. money-above-all is evil.

Anonymous said...

You're right, Jeremiah, I think I got ahead of myself there. I don't advocate throwing bricks at "people" either (and I use that term very liberally when referring to the soulless monsters that have invaded our fair city). Do remember though that they wouldn't think twice about throwing a brick at you or bringing harm to another if it could benefit them. The myriad lives in this city they've already ruined without remorse or even thought to the consequences of their actions is testament to that. They're so inhuman it would be a curious experiment if someone hit one of them with a brick just to see if they bleed like normal people do.

Anonymous said...

What I don't get is that back in the 70's and 80's when NYC was going to hell, it was probably the same old time protesters who complained about the crime and safety of the EV when dealers and junkies ran the show. Now it's been gentrified, it's the same assholes who protest about the lack of character in NYC?? What the FUCK do you people want?!

Jeremiah Moss said...

anon, not sure what you mean exactly, but there is a lot of middle ground between post-apocalyptic hell and totally soulless sanitization, between burned-out buildings and exclusive glass towers, between streets filled with murderers and streets filled with soul-murderers.

what i want is balance. why is that so difficult to grasp?

Anonymous said...

Someday this war's gonna end...

Anonymous said...

I agree, Jeremiah. Balance. This is not about assets or education or occupation. It's about attitude, about assimilating vs. asserting your own culture just because you can afford to.

Also,@L'Emmerdeur: It's foolish to feel guilty because you have a successful career. You obviously have a healthy attitude about what it means to live in the East Village, so I would speculate that its longtime residents would welcome you.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, anon- you are a lost one if you can't grasp what the protesters are talking about.

Only an idiot would think we want to live in depressed squalor. What they are saying is that we went from being totally down and out, to being taken over by luxury entities... and that the achievements of the community are being destroyed - the things we all built of beauty and historic importance in a neighborhood most would not set foot in before a few years ago. The community spent decades fixing itself up, with incredible monuments of self-empowerment and self-improvement... only to now have the rug pulled out from under them completely, with no fairness or justice or compassion towards those that simply don't have the money to preserve what they built.

But then again, if I have to even spell this out, it shows what we are dealing with - - total, incredible ignorance. People with blinders on. They look at the East Village and think it is so cool, but they don't even ask themselves what is cool about it, why are we drawn here? What is different about the Lower East Side and "East Village" (i hate that real estate moniker but so many of these new yuppy people do not know that is a fairly recent term coined by real estate developers to make it seem more nice, like the West Village....)

We'll keep fighting. We'll keep being eyesores and thorns in their sides, as long as we can.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a hoot that thread was! So many very, very angry people. Oy vey. As a proud yuppie, my pride is only emboldened by these posts.

Among my favorites:

"Well, it's been 20 years since we first wished for the yuppie scums to die. Yet, it seems like those words have no effect and the yuppies just keep breeding and won't die."

Yep. We're here to stay. Can you the say the same thing about you and your peeps?

"Well, it's been 20 years since we first wished for the yuppie scums to die. Yet, it seems like those words have no effect and the yuppies just keep breeding and won't die."

I can almost see the bile spilling forth from your mouth and it makes me smile. Anger management, anyone?

"When I read this part, I was praying someone would use this moment to promptly throw a brick at them."

Perhaps burning a few crosses or spraypainting a few swatstikas on the wall will fan your flames of hate? Just a thought...

"How could you still live in the EV with such condescending and offensive neighbors."

I keep asking myself the same thing. What else do we yuppies need to do to finally drive the rest of you out?

"Has protest as an action been defanged? Has it become a mere nuisance, an trifling inconvenience, a form of entertainment for those being protested against?"

Alex, I'll take C - a form of entertainment for those being protested against.

[You are correct, anon.]

"It really is reprehensible that a historic landmark like CBGBs has been replaced with a pointless, elitist and useless clothing store."

Well, maybe if Hilly Kristal was able to pay the rent, he, CBGB and the entire Bowery of old would still be alive today. So sad. (Not.)

But I know enough to never live in the LES or the East Village. I don't belong there. I live further west, where folks of means or who earned a decent living have lived for many decades."

Wait a second! Where exactly do you live? A yet-to-be gentrified area of town without the proliferation of Yuppies forcing out the local natives?!? I will notify the developers and money men immediately. This cannot stand.

"This city is becomming homogenized and I shudder to think what it will look like 20 years from now..."

Perhaps in 20 years you'll be dead, and we'll all be better off for it.

"Great post. Though sad, as usual."

Thanks Cari. We would have guessed you were a chick without naming yourself if only because you're the only poster crying. Boo hoo hoo for you.

"What they are saying is that we went from being totally down and out, to being taken over by luxury entities... "

Ok, make that two crying wenches. Rebecca, you sound like a Communist.

"We'll keep fighting. We'll keep being eyesores and thorns in their sides, as long as we can."

Awww. A ray of hope still shines for the last few believers that things will one day change. That's sooo cute. Good luck with all of that.

And thanks to you, Mr. Jeremiah, for allowing me to earn about $150 knocking off writing up this post! I love your site.

Jeremiah Moss said...

oy vey indeed. i think it's time for me to do some optimistic posts about good things that haven't vanished yet. like, um, puppies.

Anonymous said...

Wait, not so fast Jeremiah. Writing this one down: "must abolish puppies A.S.A.P"

Jeremiah Moss said... asked for it

Anonymous said...

I very much enjoy and respect your site and check in regularly. Thank you for your fine work. It has been nothing less than heartbreaking to witness the dissolution of the city and culture into which I was born and reared, almost fifty years ago, unbelievably! I would like to add several thoughts regarding this story, which deeply resonates with me, particularly in light of, both, long-standing personal and familial ties to the neighborhood.

RX queries, “Has protest as an action been defanged?” I believe this to be an extremely relevant question and am lead to a troublesome conclusion: protest has been so thoroughly recuperated by the dominant marketing trend, that it functions as part of the novelty act that gives the neighborhood a cachet and desirability. You could well imagine a realtor telling these people about the grand anti-establishment history of the area and how exciting it all is!

In this way, the protest is rendered a natural part of the spectacle. It isn’t solely that protest has become ineffective, but that protest, this protest, is part of what these people expect and are paying for (though, not necessarily consciously.) The city, on whole, has largely become such a simulation, that the mere act of paying extravagant sums to live on the lower east side, is, itself, a way of museumifying the experience (somewhat akin- though far more dystopian- to Summer of Love bus tours of the Haight, where simpleton Mid-Westerners got to experience, by proxy and from a distance, those crazy kids with the flowers in their hair.)

The mere fact that the Christodora residents made SNAPSHOTS of the event supports this idea: protest is mollified and incorporated within the representation; it is internalized as part of the Disney-esque simulacra that is the new urban. One gets to sightsee without needing to go further than her doorway. To this end, I am sorry to say, the whole proceeding (honorary minstrel, Mr. Peel included) plays right into what the neighborhood has come to mean to a new demographic.

This antiseptic soullessness IS the Lower East Side (Oh, look Buffy, that hair is just so punk”). Just as Varvatos IS the spirit of rock-and-roll today (the clueless employees, replete with strategically ripped jeans and $300 haircuts, far more Guitar Hero players than actual guitar players.) Bemoaning the final death-throe commodification of CB’s is as useful as walking down White Street and attempting to resuscitate some vibe of the Mudd Club. This is all achingly painful, but the reality of what greed, opportunism and the evils of late-stage capitalism has wrought on this city.

Am I suggesting that one does not protest? No, no…of course not. But, if one is attempting to make their point with some type of action or intervention, there are probably more effective ways to proceed. Interestingly, this very site is, itself, an efficacious form of protest (and, community, to some extent.) As is every time a like-minded group convenes to share their art, feelings and experiences (sharing and communicating has, in this “culture” become a form of protest, as well.)

But, NYC as I understood it to be? That magical land where the very streets themselves were characterological and where simply getting into a cab at 3 in the morning could change your life? Nah….that ain’t coming back, I’m afraid.

S.G. / Jersey City
"All that once was directly lived has become mere representation"
-Guy Debord

Jeremiah Moss said...

seth, nicely done. thank you. i also wondered why the christadorans came out to snap pictures instead of staying inside. who would opt to be screamed at by an angry mob?

of course, you're right: they were watching and enjoying the show they paid good money to see.

Anonymous said...

I don't live in the EV anymore. But I did live there from 1987-2006 - including 6 years renting in the Christodora. I have to say - most of the posts in this thread are just idiotic. Did you all REALLY like it better when the neighborhood was an open drug market? When street crime was rampant? When you were quite literally taking your life in your hands if you walked east of Ave A?When the cops wouldn't even bother to take a report when you were mugged because "we'll never catch the guy anyway"? When you later spotted your mugger walking down the street and the same cops refused to arrest him? When mentally ill people were using the park as a homeless shelter park and menacing you if and when you were ever brave or stupid enough to walk through it?

Stop with the romantic fantasies, folks. Yeah, safety and stability have come with a price - now some boring people, who are way better paid and way better looking than the rest of us - have decided they want to move in. BIG FUCKING DEAL. I'll take it over having my apartment robbed three times, being mugged twice, and being raped once - ALL IN A FIVE YEAR PERIOD.

Grow the fuck up, you whiny bitches.

Anonymous said...

"The sign "The Natives Are Restless"--they think they can colonize us--recheck your thinking shitheads-

Anonymous said...

In regards to Anon#11's rather long list/post, I guess I should again ask the question I’ve asked so many times before: If these yunnie kids are offended that we call them narcissistic sociopaths, why do they seem to think that leaving comments that confirm that viewpoint are going to disconcert us? He clearly sees himself as extraordinarily intelligent, crushing us whiny liberals with razor-sharp witticisms like, “boo hoo hoo for you”, so why hasn’t he noticed the contradiction in his chosen tactic? Those years at Harvard ought to have been worth something.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Has it really been 20 years? I can hardly believe it.
It’s unfortunate that the social struggles of today still aptly fall within the slogans of 20 years ago, even though gentrification was not the same overweening problem in 1988 that it is today, and for most of the 90's we had a sort of reprieve from large-scale luxury development, so it isn’t as though we’ve been subject to the same non-stop bulldozer for the past 20 years. Still, the basic issue is the same, and now that luxury development is such a wide-spread threat, hopefully we can start getting these things straitened out once and for all.
In regards to the protest itself; just because we didn’t achieve a Chicago ‘68 effect, I don’t think that’s any reason to feel discouraged. The fact that people were on the street at all is a step in the right direction. Can you imagine a similar protest having occurred in, say 2000? Or 2001? These things take time, and the process of Vongerfication has been a learning process for all of us (hell, in 2000 I was a conservative, naive idiot that I was). Like the yunnie always says,”things change”, and this situation most certainly will change as us “losers” become more universally aware of our own peril (and the people who’ve created it), and realize that we don’t have the option not to attack this issue–after all, where are we going to live if we can’t pay $4,000 a month for a studio, the sewers?
Yes, some yunnies came out to giggle at the protest, but this is not the humiliating dismissal many have made it out to be (and that the yunnie doubtlessly intended it to seem like). Inane giggling is a standard response amongst yunnies to criticism they find upsetting or offensive (when they consider themselves fairly safe, that is). It is a defense mechanism, not evidence of toughness or immovability or even an adult grasp of the situation. Certainly, I can guarantee you that, had there been no police present, the group pictured would not have come outside at all.
Either way though, protest is not entirely about frightening the enemy. It is also about showing the flag to others, and demonstrating to potential-allies that their feelings about an issue are aknowledged and shared, thus emboldning them. Remember, our movement is still fairy embryonic. Just because this protest wasn’t as dramatic as it ideally could have been doesn’t mean that it was a vain exercise.

Wonderful article as always, Jerry!

Anonymous said...

"'Consumerism leads to social pathology? Hard to believe.'

'It paves the way. Half the goods we buy these days are not much more than adult toys. The danger is that consumerism will need something close to fascism to keep it growing. Take the Metro-Centre and its flat sales. Close your eyes a little and it already looks like a Nuremberg rally. The ranks of sales counters, the long straight aisles, the signs and banners, the whole theatrical aspect.'

'No jackboots, though,' I pointed out. 'No ranting fuhrers.'

'Not yet. Anyway, they belong to the politics of the street. Our streets are the cable TV consumer channels. Our party insignia are the gold and platinum loyalty cards. Faintly risible? Yes, but people thought the Nazis were a bit of a joke. The consumer society is a kind of soft police state. We think we have choice, but everything is compulsory. We have to keep buying or we fail as citizens. Consumerism creates huge unconscious needs that only fascism satisfy. If anything, fascism is the form that consumerism takes when it opts for elective madness. You can see it here already.'

'In bosky Surrey? I don't think so.'

'It's coming Richard.' Maxted pursed his lips, as it to shut out all possibility of a smile. Here and in the towns around Heathrow. You can feel it in the air.'"

From J.G. Ballard's "Kingdom Come". Though Ballard is writing about the estrangement of the British psyche, it serves as a useful perspective onto our own deepening and evolving sociopathic condition here.

Everyone who checks in to VNY would do well to read it.

Anonymous said...

I didn't step out of the building to talk with the protesters. One of my sons and I were coming home, I saw a group of people, many whose faces I know, three of whom I've worked with, and walked over to ask why they were protesting in front of my home with banners indicating I have any less right, and my neighbors have any less right, than anyone else to live here, in the Lower East Side. Almost all of my immediate relatives immigrated or were born here. I came back to live here. But this "how long have you lived here?" should be irrelevant.
It's a shallow dichotomy to point to the Christodora and draw a line of unwelcoming. When Jerry the Peddler wanted my help recently, he didn't hold up a sign saying I didn't belong where I've lived longer than anywhere else. When the 47 E 3rd St folk asked for help, they didn't say "go away" at the same time. The same with Robert and his neighbors in the HUD voucher housing on 9th bet B & C.
Many in the Christodora, together with our other neighbors, have and are working in our community. We have had strong hands in saving St. Brigid's, landmarking El Bohio, changing the zoning, working to save local retail, creating the Kids' Art Bike Ride for the Lower East Side....
raising children from Jacob Riis, Lillian Wald, etc etc.
How many of you, with your "asshole yuppie scum" comments, spend time struggling to help the community? And if so, what does the anger of antagonism spring from. What of truly embracing your neighbor, loving those around you. Someone in this blog made fun of me for speaking with Jerry during this protest about the work we used to do together in Pastor Phil's Trinity Lutheran soup kitchen. Matthew spoke in Jesus' name of feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, visiting the sick. I'm sad you found a need to mock a conversation I was having with a man I consider a friend.
For all the Jameson post modern lingo, Disneyland and simulacrum, the mental gymnastics of some anger -- we live together in a community. The anger expressed isn't much different than hating anyone else without bothering to know who they are - pick a racist dichotomy -- Jew/Arab, Moslem/Western, Black/White,,, if you hate blindly, make fun of people you don't know....

Jeremiah Moss said...

michael rosen, glad you wrote in. i am very interested in hearing more about your viewpoints as someone who straddles two oppositional worlds in the LES: real-estate developer and preservationist. there have to be some complicated feelings there. i am sure others would be interested, too. if you'd like to chat offline, please drop me an email: jeremoss(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I've developed one property in NYC - Red Square , on land my wife's family had bought at an auction. I left that business long, long ago. I've spent far more time in community work than I ever did in building. for that matter, I spent more time as an academic reading Jameson and Adorno than as a developer. I believe in what Matthew wrote. Some of my sons are in the photos I've seen of this demonstration. Some of my sons were born into Jacob Riis and Lillian Wald, into other housing. They are Black, Brown, White - they walk in and out of the Christodora. Their other brothers visit us. So where is the border of the anger I read here? "ha ger shi'gar be'sharecha..." the foreigner that lives within your midst -- when are you no longer a foreigner? And what sort of integrity did Jerry show jumping up and down on my steps with a sign when he'd called for my help as a friend only months before, and the same and the same. We love intimately, we hate blindly. That's sad to me. I assume what I'm writing won't be dialogue, but fodder for more anger.

Jeremiah Moss said...

michael, i have since read about all of the good work you have done and no one can deny it and its meaningfulness.

at the same time, red square and the christodora have a certain meaning for people in the neighborhood. they are symbols, like it or not, of the super-gentrification we live with today. many of us are angry. we feel powerless and pushed out. we worry if tomorrow our homes will be taken away. we miss the city we once felt akin with. we feel homeless.

i felt no compassion coming from the people on the steps of the christodora that night. why have they no empathy for the anger and powerlessness that many new yorkers feel today?

certainly you can understand, knowing the LES' history as well as you do, why the christodora, red square, and other luxury developments inspire rage in many people.

again, i am serious and sincere, i'd like to talk with you offline and arrange an interview. my obvious bias aside, i am a fair interviewer. if you'd like, email me offline.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why there has to be so much hostility on (both sides of) this issue. I definitely fall in the yuppie camp, with a high finance salary, but that doesn't mean i want to make the east village another rich, exclusive neighborhood. in fact it's just the opposite. i lived on avenue C until recently and i loved it because it wasn't that, and because there were so many things to enjoy about the neighborhood that were open to everyone - the beautiful community gardens and tompkins square park, the many inexpensive bars and restaurants, the avenue A farmer's market, the varied mix of shops with a range of price points. i favored the less expensive businesses that offer real quality over any overpriced yuppie traps. the yuppies who move there are the ones who don't want it to turn into the upper east side - that's where we don't want to live. we're the ones who appreciate what you love about the neighborhood and don't want to close ourselves off in an elitist neighborhood where everything is manicured, generic, and expensive. (actually what annoys me is the people who don't live downtown but take cabs down from the ues to support trendy overpriced businesses without really participating in the community. but i still don't want them to die.) and i would bet that the majority of people understand your frustration about high rents and great businesses like cbgb closing. it's just hard to respond to "die yuppie scum." i certainly don't have the rage towards you that you have towards me, so i'm not going to react with the same vitriol. what else can we do but ignore it or laugh it off? angry chants and violent posters don't exactly invite reasoned discussion. and while bragging that they "feed the homeless" was probably a poor tactic on the part of the christodora residents, it's probably true that these people do actually care about real poverty and do what they can to help. they're not monsters. i find the de-humanizing of the rich by protestors and by commenters here truly disturbing and hypocritical (and clearly some people on the yuppie side are just as bad, as evidenced by one comment - i think that's terrible too). i don't see why we can't share a great new york neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

the fact that you don't understand is part of the problem.
you mentioned you lived in Ave C.
obviously you saw some differences living there and a few blocks west.
there are people who can't afford items at that quaint farmer's market.
notice the people treat their dog better than people. even their dog's feet never touch the dirty ground.

Anonymous said...

i do understand that it's sad and frustrating when communities change. i'm just saying that i don't understand why the protesters villainize the people who are most likely to be on their side in terms of wanting to preserve the character of the neighborhood. and of course there is a difference between avenue c and 2nd avenue, but the east village is one of the only neighborhoods in manhattan that has managed to maintain that contrast (the west village has converted much more completely).

and it's interesting you should mention that some people can't afford the farmer's market. this is clearly true and i think the greenmarkets are trying to do things to improve the situation by accepting food stamps, etc, so i'm not trying to deny that. but in a way the small independent farmers are your peers - they also face the decline of a culture that has been displaced by large corporate interests. it's worth it to me to dedicate more of my budget to food in order to support them, and while i know that the poorest don't have that choice, i suspect a lot of people in your camp do but don't exercise it.

Anonymous said...

You see everybody? One night of protesting–One Night!–even with just a hundred people, and surrounded by a heavy police presence--and suddenly we’re getting the “why do you hate us/ we should be debating reasonably/ you people are prejudiced” type of “reasonable” arguments. None of that “shut up and die” stuff here, these people are reasonable and tolerant. Isn’t that swell? I told you the protest wasn’t a vain exercise!
Unfortunately, rather than acknowledging the legitimacy of the grievances expressed and taking responsibility for the actions of their ultra-fabulous friends, they’ve unfortunately chosen to take a more familiar route and are playing the innocent victim game. This is why Mr. Rosen can write a great deal about the effect on his psyche of being the target of prejudice similar to that between Jews and Arabs in Israel, and how much it pains him to live in a world with so much hate--while not saying a word about economics, rent spikes, wage gaps, or any other issue that would make it harder to portray his socioeconomic group as the pure innocent victims of our inexplicable intolerance.
Likewise, Anon#13, immediately following, plays the same tune, though with more traditional yuppie/hipster excuses. One of these is the rather plaintive plea that young wealth shouldn’t be faulted for gentrification, because they only move en masse into these neighborhoods because they DISLIKE the ultra-fabulous culture of their peers and wish to escape it. There are many problems with this reasoning, including the odd fact that these neighborhoods nonetheless morph rather quickly into super-luxury strongholds soon after their arrival. If their intention is to reject luxury-oriented homogenization (they being therefore on the same side as us), then I think that serious changes should be made in their strategy for doing so. Since, their INTENTIONS notwithstanding, their rejection of Gentrification ends up looking a lot like, well...Gentrification. Surely university graduates in lucrative, responsible occupations should be intelligent enough to have understood this snag in the plan by now?
The second defense, that yuppies are decent people who would be more receptive to our complaints if only we were more polite, also raises questions. After all, throughout the past eight to ten years I myself never got the impression that there was a sizable sector within the affluent community that was aware of the negative realities of gentrification and the culture that glamorizes it. The deluge of newspaper articles, magazine spreads, internet blogs, TV shows, and movies (and of course, the yuppies themselves) that have poured on us throughout this decade, extolling the fabulousness of the new city, the exciting fun of “urban exploration”, and the benefits of “loser” displacement (as the Times memorably put it), never gave me the impression that there was a “silent majority” in their community that was opposed to it all. Perhaps Anon#13's answer to this would be that this is because the yuppies find our complaints too rude, but all this hostility did not materialize out of thin air. I guess the best advice I could give Anon#13 is that: if these sentiments are widely felt within the yuppie community, then I think it would do inestimably more good for all of us if they speak up among their peers instead of just complaining whenever they hear us speak angrily about yuppies. It is difficult to appreciate the good will of the yuppie silent majority if they make a point to stay silent UNTIL they feel victimized by the people they supposedly sympathize with. Think about it.
Either way, none of these logical turns really matter, for the simple reason that this no longer 2001, or 2002, or even 2005. It just isn’t possible anymore to put forward the same happy, “building mixed communities” forecasts that were used to justify the Vongerfication juggernaut when it was still a relatively brand new phenomenon. We’ve all seen too much, and that’s about all there is to it.

Anyhow, to conclude, I think the protest was effective. The angry, sanctimonious, defiant, or pleading comments left here by yuppies are evidence that it left an impression on them. A developer was even so shaken that he came here to VNY and quoted both the Bible and his Eastern Philosophy at us (he probably goes to the same Buddhist temple as Richard Gere), and waxed eloquent about prejudice. Basically, the more you rankle these people the less they can pretend you don’t exist, and I think the protest was a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

years ago my friend-native to east berlin- laughed at me when i told him that i sensed ultimate gentrification coming for Berlin... specifically East Berlin.

But I knew the signs well. I'd watched it happening to NYC for years. I visited last summer & saw that my predictions had come true.

Anonymous said...

and of course things are always black and white - who is a gentrifier and who is not - who has money and who has not. Of course none of the protesters have money . and of course no yuppies support the arts or important political causes. Of course no yuppies will be voting for Obama.. it's black and white

Cannis Walker (A.K.A A.M.Alper) said...

i think, according to the missing foundation guy, the new designation is "Yappie" because they always have their cell phones to their ears. I like your blegh.