Friday, July 10, 2009

White Trash, Manhattan Style

I didn’t think there were any poor people left who were able to afford living in Manhattan, but my office looks out on Broadway and on the terrace of an apartment occupied by what appears to be a classic dysfunctional family, featuring only a fat, red-faced mom and a boy with the near-mandatory white-trash overly-thick bowl cut that almost covers the eyes (the only other acceptable haircut for young white-trash sociopaths apparently being the “buzzcut plus monobrow” look that eugenics buff and Goode Family producer Mike Judge captured so well back when he created Beavis and Butt-Head).

The boy likes to start small fires, beat lawn furniture with a baseball bat, physically scuffle with his mom for cigarettes, and, yes, shoot BBs at my office window, in which I am plainly visible, so I told his building’s security and they immediately realized it was “Kenny in 230,” who I suggested they tell he’ll have the cops called on him next time.

Their building has a surprisingly large and classy staff. Perhaps they’re one of the cases I’ve heard about of NYC putting “homeless” families up in swanky hotels. In any case, I was pleased and relieved to see what appeared to be a real estate agent showing the place to a respectable-looking young East Asian couple, so perhaps the dysfamily will soon be gone.

Despite all this, it’s worth noting that New York City is now the safest large city in America, though after the 70s and 80s, it may take a while for that fact to change our reputation. And I suppose this blog entry won’t help things much, but it beats the rioting of old.


Dylan said...

A few years ago I ran into a lady in Danbury, CT, who I kind of knew — she’d been a regular at the bar of my family’s restaurant for years. We had a short chat, and I mentioned that I lived in NYC. She then started talking about her daughter who’d just started college: “She wanted to go to school in New York, but I said, ‘No way I’m letting you live in that city!’”

I tried to convince her that the Big Apple had become much safer than it was back in the day, but she would hear none of it. “I don’t want my daughter wandering the streets of New York!” So I gave up, but asked her where her daughter did end up going to college.


Of course! The City Of Brotherly Love! And the city that as of 2003 had a murder rate of 3.04 times the national average, a forcible rape rate of 1.85 times the national average and a general violent crime rate of 2.31 times the national average.

The corresponding statistics for NYC that year were, respectively:

.96, .55, & 1.23

Yeah, New York City’s reputation still has a ways to go in the eyes of a lot of Americans.


Todd Seavey said...

There’s also the larger problem — which my job ( ) is an attempt to counter — that people simply don’t want to reason mathematically (nor scientifically, nor economically) or hear about stats. They prefer tidy little aesthetically-pleasing narratives and intuitively-obvious tableaux, even when they’re wrong.

I know a woman similar to the one in your story who thought it’d be safer for someone to avoid NYC…and be in DC. Well, the crime rate there is in fact about _five times_ that of NYC, but the buildings sure are white and shiny.

Umm...I Better Not Leave My Name said...

That damn Kenny. I told him when I gave him the money to use the high-caliber BB gun.

pulp said...

I’d have called the cops too if some little shit was shooting at my window. He will have a lousy life ahed of him, that one. But don’t kid yourself– and knowing you, you’re not, anyhow– there is a lot of zoned housing around the city, and certainly plenty in the newly posh neighborhoods for lower income families– not that the fresh-off-the-boat yuppie transplants know it. There are entire swathes of the Avenues (A,B,C,D) which are zoned this way, in Chelsea, down by the Battery, etc. And all of those ugly Courbusier/Bauhaus/JG Ballard block houses down by the Williamsburg bridge are for lower income housing, where they’re not Hassidic.

I read that crime is going up in certain keys neighborhoods like the LES and East Village, which is seeing a rise in late-late night weekend muggings. It’s NYC’s lower income teen hoodlums preying on the stupid right-off-the-yacht jerks who have infiltrated the LES/E Village, assholes who have no longterm commitment or ties to NYC history or culture, bring very little here except for their parent’s money, and think life is but a dream.

You’ve been here as long as I have and have seen the changes. Used to be you tried not to flash your wealth out of a general sense of humility mixed with well-earned street smarts. Remember the old days when it was “Go to Ave A, you’re Alright– B means Better Beware, C means you’re Crazy, and D means your Dead”? It’d be good if the yacht-jerks knew this too, but most of them are so lunk-headedly myopic, you can’t have a reasonable conversation with them. They’re babies out of diapers and entitlement-minded assholes. And probably Obama supporters, too.

Me, I like my NYC gritty and a littel dangerous and not too much like the shopping malls littering the USA. It’s why I moved here– to escape those suburban zombies– and now they have followed us here. And yet, thugs exist.

If I sound a little bitter and biased, it’s because I am.