Thursday, January 29, 2009

Yunnipocalypse Now!

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 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."

SliceofNYC's flickr

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]
Degentrification [Curbed]
Movies of the bad, old days [Gawker]


Anonymous said...

When the big Blue behemoth first went up I said I thought it would last as a lux building for a few decades, then fall into disrepair, eventually be populated by squatters, and 150 years from now someone would form a committee to save the building from the bulldozer. They would remember it as one of the first sore thumbs on the east side and think about it nostalgically. "Remember those yuppies who ruined our parents' neighborhood? They were so fun to hate." Maybe they'll rename the building Cookie Monster. It's a nice fantasy, anyway, second only to the thing imploding when no one's in it.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the recent extreme downturn in the econonmy will become the main plot of the next Sex and The City sequel?

One of the Sex in The City yunnies gets pushed in front of a fast moving subway train or MTA bus by a homeless person.


The ghost of Taxi Ray Kottner returns to seek revenge on all of the yunnie transplant scumbags standing in line for cupcakes on the Bleecker Street sidewalks by plowing his taxi over them at 80+ m.p.h.

Anonymous said...

Bloomy and his minions are the ones pushing the "bad old days" fear factor in the press. Change would be bad now! We need to reelect him! Keep him in office! He'll make it all better!

Anyway, I hope you're right, JM...and the end is near.

Anonymous said...

Jeremiah, can you please tell me who is the comic artist of "Invasion of the Rich Fuckers"? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

i believe your argument is quite valid, and pray you're right. too many people out there take the city for granted and ruin its very unique character.

esquared™ said...

I wish, but doubt it.

"People are more likely to want to live in New York if they ....make more than $100,000, have never been married, have no children, ..." and "are preferred by women." per NYT

Jeremiah Moss said...

i wish i knew who did the comic. i hate to put things up without a credit. if anyone knows, please tell us. thanks.

aka Victoria Lucas said...

But you gotta link to these dumb broads' blog:

"Remember when together you and your FBF felt like you could conquer the world? It was great to be in New York, in love, and young (FYI non-New York readers, Young = under 40). There was nothing you two couldn’t do. No velvet rope that couldn’t be lifted, no secret handshake you weren’t privy to. Together the two of you were going to ascend the corporate ladder and then, after you had stashed away enough cash, you would turn your attention towards more philanthropic and artistic pursuits. Libraries and universities would bear your surname. You were going to be the Carnegies and Rockefellers of the new millennium…But those were the aspirations of BR. Dares’t we now dream of more than a brownstone in Park Slope, Brooklyn?"

Ooooh, I gotta settle for shitting up Park Slope?

Anonymous said...

I too welcome this change and view it as positive for NYC. Case in point: last night I actually got a table at the Corner Bistro and barely had to wait. The yuppie douchenozzles that have made it impossible to enjoy myself there for the last 5+ years? Gone. That asshole waiter (the Asian guy) who doesn't give a shit about you? Still there. And I love it.

Anonymous said...

I hope the yuppies are afraid of NYC. I've had very little hope
about NYC returning to its roots, especially after seeing so many
interesting neighborhoods decay from beauty to soulless blocks birthed for profit. A concrete suburbia. I'm sick of spoiled outta towners moving in and hiking up the rents in neighborhoods that should contain affordability, culture, and a variety of personalities. I have no pity for the greedy that are now in shambles.

I hope this economy, in a strange tide of events, saves the real
New York. Is it so selfish to want the city that I've stayed loyal
to throughout the years to have it's personality back?

Thanks for all the articles Jeremiah, keep it up.

Unknown said...

If you're longing for the "good old days" in New York, Jeremiah, pick up a copy of "108th Street" by T David Lee, a very funny story about growing up in the City in the 1950s. Should be right up your alley. Keep up the good work here.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean no more double strollers and miserable, undisciplined brats? One can only hope ...

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks tom, i'll look for it

Anonymous said...


I generally agree that the city is changing to suit the needs of a richer crowd. However, you cite the plaza on Ninth Ave as an Epcot-style European village. Why do you hate this? It's not sterile, it's just kinda new. You know what, it provides a nice place to sit and read, maybe strike up a conversation. What the hell is wrong with that? Would a European village EVER have a plaza in the middle of a noisy intersection? Nope. The streets, the buildings, the parks; everything was new at one point. Yes, complete redevelopment is often quite sterile (see Battery Park City). However, the tone of your post tells me that you just hate ANYTHING new. Your just a nimby opposed to change.

Here's a newsflash. You live in a city. City's grow and change. That's how they become hotbeds of culture. The culture in the city isn't gone, it's just moved to different parts of the city, while you sit in the same place and cry about the change. Maybe you should go and explore other parts of the city. Find the new and interesting spots. Give everyone else a break.

Jeremiah Moss said...

don't worry, i am sure MePa and the 9th Avenue plaza will endure despite critique from me or anybody else.

Anonymous said...

what i think he meant is that in the 90's you would see homeless men shooting heroin. While thats not what this city needs, it still needs some character. The 90's were perfect, now any crime that was slightly common back then is a felony they'll send you to rikers for.Therefore, they cleaned it up, but too much, to the point that its restricting personal freedom. I only hope that it falls back down.

Ellie K said...

Anon 2010,
The 1990's weren't as bad as you described. Well, maybe, a little. But I haven't been in New York City since 15 July 2000. I miss it so much, it hurts. There were lots of complaints about former Mayor Giuliani making Manhattan too sterile in the 1990's. I don't know what it is like now, in comparison.

The brouhaha over the new Taxi of New York is not a good sign. Everyone (with the exception of the taxicab fleet owners, the cab drivers, NYC residents, passengers, fuel efficiency advocates) seemed to like the taxis.

My beloved Amalgamated Bank of New York is now staffed by product managers and merchant bankers from JPM with marketing MBAs instead of the elderly ladies and former garment workers who used to work there. My local branch was at Third Avenue and E. 21st Street. I wonder if there are any social workers at Bellevue? Do social workers even exist in the post-knowledge economy? I read a lot about social justice, but there is very little evidence of such.