Monday, January 26, 2009

Bad Old Days of NYC? Hardly.

The Post claims the bad old days are coming back. I think that's a bit much, and entirely premature. Shiny, touristy Times Square won't be reverting to the infamous Forty-Deuce, home of grindhouse cinemas and hookers by the dozen, anytime soon. There isn't some magic button that will bring back CBGB and start a new riot in Thompkins Square. Jeremiah at Vanishing New York has rounded up some of the latest stories on the subject.

We're in a recession, and in economy like this, people panic. Petty crime rates are naturally going to rise. That's par for the course in this economy. Some have speculated that fear of this crime will damage the city's booming tourism trade. It won't. It'll take a lot more crime than some loitering and pissing in the street to take the shine off of the Big Apple. Others have speculated that it may cause a new white flight, sending some of the gentrifiers running for the suburbs or smaller cities in other parts of the country. Again, I think it will need to get a lot worse before we see much of that, though it could happen on a limited scale.

The thing is, there are over 8 million people in this city. We come from a multitude of cultures and backgrounds. We're subjected to more stimuli than people just about anywhere else in this country. We have traffic, and people who walk too damn slow on the sidewalk and crowded trains and sometimes chaos is going to get past the attempts to make everything safe, clean and pretty. Like the proverbial tree growing in Brooklyn, sometimes chaos breaks through in unexpected places. That's every bit as much a part of this city as the iconic skyscrapers. You can't gentrify that out of the city, no matter how hard you try. That's part of New York's DNA.

"That’s why they can never hope to win. Chaos sneaks in every time. They can cover the world with cameras, but they can’t stop the guys in the monitor rooms from jerking off or playing the fifteenth sequel to Doom for the hundredth time. Total bloody chaos. Christ."
—Grant Morrison, The Invisibles

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