The Fear Factor

I was talking with some friends the other day about how New York City has changed over the years. While this is well worn conversational territory, both of them were from other places and were asking about how things were back in the day before the Williamsburbs and downtowns “cornification”. Many things can be said of NYC and how it’s changed for the worse over the the last 20 plus years. It’s ridiculously expensive. Every old store/bar/restaurant is being shut down to open a Starbucks/chase bank/duane reade. It’s full of people who just moved here who, in general, completely suck. The aforementioned downfall of formally vibrant neighborhoods in brooklyn and downtown Manhattan. While all these are true, I like to point the blame at one thing that made this all possible. Safety. Yes, NYC is pretty fucking safe. Sure, they’re are some neighborhoods you don’t wanna go to at night but they’re either far out of the way from anything or slowly being gentrified.
I remember when Giuliani first came into office, there was a sudden and noticeable change. People started getting fucked with more over little things like public drinking or smoking weed on a stoop. Quotas began to get filled and crime definitely was on the down swing. While this was nice in a way (I certainly don’t miss the fear of being robbed all the time) it seemingly opened the doors for the wrong people to move here. These are people who , 5 years earlier, would be the type to say “It’s a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there”. That mind set from out of towners is what filtered out the people who belonged here and the people who didn’t. If you didn’t wanna deal with an extremely busy metropolis with an air of danger no matter where you were, you didn’t move her. All of sudden, things got safer and that started to mess with the filter of who would be willing to live here. It opened the doors for people to come here and act like shit was sweet all the time cause there was no one checking them on it.

At first, it wasn’t a big deal cause the people moving in were picking neighborhoods that wouldn’t be effected. The Upper east side , for instance, was already pretty wack so the influx vertical striped shirt wearing of stock brokers wasn’t hurting anything. At this point, something is happening that is truly depressing. All these people who looooooove New York and just wanna be in the mix, decide they want to move to a cool neighborhood. Somewhere like the lower east side. full of cool bars, great food and a wide assortment of different races and cultures. This, on paper, is fine. Cause they have ever right to be there. However, once they move in, they realize
“Hmm…I don’t appreciate how loud it is around here at night! I have to work tomorrow Why is it so dirty? Ewww…RATS! I’m gonna complain about that…”
Slowly but surely, these people, who moved into these neighborhoods to be cool in the first place, decide they’d like to alter the neighborhood they chose to live in (that’s been that way since before they were playing lacrosse in junior high school) to fit what they consider to be a cool place that fits there needs. All the while, they could have had exactly that had they just moved into a more fitting neighborhood in the first place. This results in places that have thrived in that neighborhood for decades shutting down cause of constant police harassment or greedy landlords who are trying to appease the new neighbors. Eventually, that once awesome hood will be no different than Murray Hill or Bleecker Street. I see a time in my life where Queens will be the coolest part of NYC. how fucked up is that?

The other day I was on a train coming home around midnight. There was about 5 loud , drunken norwegian people being really obnoxious and basically commanding the train car. All I could think about was “Man, it would be so awesome if some dude slapped the shit out of them and told them to shut the fuck up”. Now, I’m not a violent person (IE: I’m a pussy) , so it wasn’t gonna be me. But NYC needs those types more than ever. There was a time when citizens would self govern on that level. The same people who bought that air of fear to the streets pre-Giuliani. But, in a way, they wouldn’t be criminals. They’d be people keeping NYC how it should be. They’d be heroes. You’re welcome to come here, but stay in line and never get too comfortable. That element has long been lost and , in my eyes, it’s the reason NYC has become what it is now.

So, bring back fear. Bring back the roving gangs of thugs whos night out was based around doing nothing but fucking with people. I’d gladly exchange that bit of danger for the way NYC is going now. I mean, I don’t want this place to be like detroit or anything but just enough fear that people who don’t really belong here would gladly move out. Hell, a nice crime wave would probably lower rent all over the place. Who woulda ever thought that safety could be such a bad thing?

22 thoughts on “The Fear Factor

  1. ok, i’m going to make it easy to disregard this by saying that i’m not from new york, but i’ve spent a bit of time there, and i live on another continent at the moment. i get that new york is/was one of the/the best cities in the world. what i don’t get is why people who are from new york tend to think they are better than everyone else. they/you definitely got handed a bit of geographic luck, being born there, no doubt. in your case specifically, you have more than your share of merit, again, no doubt. however, alot of people who do boring/average shit but happen to have been born in/live in new york have this superiority complex that i do not understand. can you explain this to me?

    • Oh, there’s no doubt that NYC is full of natives who are just a boring as anyone else in the world. That said, the reason NY natives act that way is because of what you said. NYC is the best city (“City” being the key word cause , as far as metropolis’ go, nothing is really close) in america and arguably the world. Being raised in that city is something no one can really understand the importance of unless they’ve been there. VIsiting NYC or living there for a few years as an adult could never really help you understand. You know that saying “It’s a black thing, you wouldn’t understand” ? It’s a tiny bit like that in the sense that unless you’re one of us, it really won’t make sense.
      Think of it this way, most people have hometown pride. People from fairly shitty places stand up for their hometown all the time. Now, imagine if that hometown was in fact, the best city in the entire continent. A place where people travel from all over to visit and where people are constantly trying to move cause it’s such a desirable location. NYCers have this superiority complex cause we feel our city is superior. Pretty simple. And because actual natives are so rare , in this day and age, you can understand how we might wanna wave that flag pretty hard ESPECIALLY in the face of what’s happening to the city we grew up in.

      I don’t expect people to agree with me on this or even see where I’m coming from but that’s how I feel.
      Also, it’s funny you even bring it up cause this blog wasn’t exactly a “NEW YORK IS THE BEST!” kinda thing. It was actually more shitting on how wack it’s become.

      • ok, that’s a pretty good answer, but it leads me to my second question. i’ve actually never understood the whole concept of defending one’s own hometown regardless of its merit. and then, in the case of new york, for those boring natives, who don’t really contribute to the awesomeness, is it really fair for them to take credit for something where they haven’t really contributed?

      • I mean, if you’re born and raised here, you’re born and raised here. Contribution has nothing to do with it. If you’re from here, you’re allowed to be proud of that. Same goes for any other place, I suppose.

  2. You can totally tell this is something you feel strongly about because there’s so many typos and grammatical errors. (More so than usual.)

    • Yup. It’s my giveaway. That and not proof reading.
      Also, while we’re being english nazi’s, you might was peep your “there’s so many typos” line in your very own response.

      • Ohh, I didn’t mean anything bad by it!! I was just joking, I totally don’t care. What’s wrong with it? I used the correct there contraction. Maybe I should have used a comma?

      • I was fucking with you but I think the correct way to phrase that would be “There are so many typos”. “There’s so” just sounds wrong to me. I could be wrong though….I’m not exactly a grammatical whiz.

      • Both are grammatically correct. I believe “there’s” is the form most commonly used in British English and “there are” in American English.

      • There’s = “there is”. “There is so many typos” is not correct. It should be “There are so many” because “typos” is plural.

        LOL at Ewww…RATS!

      • “Is” doesn’t connect to “typos” directly. It doesn’t work like in other languages. There is in the text, and is typos. There is around the corner, where can be “a girl” or “9000 elephants”. That’s the way I understand it. If that’s incorrect then all the British people I know are idiots.

  3. every place can be unsafe. i was in the gas station lastnight and this dude walks in with a fuckin jason mask right behind me, i didnt even budge instead i kinda laughed. and then it turned out he was just fuckin around. i thought it was funny, but thats the thing: people who are scared of cities shouldnt b there! im from a capitol city thats not new york and theres crime and stuff but thats everywhere and everyone is capable of being a thief, rappist, or serial killer. the cicadias (sp????) have come up from the ground and everyone in my towns freakin the fuck out cuz their so ugly. well whatever, they are aliens, we dont understand them. they dont understand us. fear is def. the mind killer. i know NYC, for the brief time i visited, was very fast. no one cares about giving u directions and if they do they havent lived there that long. we all came to new york(or america) on a fuckin boat. my anscestors worked in sweat shops as slaves and also started businesses. life is what u make it, the city can “change” or it can progress. but know that no matter how much u try to make sense of which directions the trains going, it has tracks for a reason. just dont throw too many coins in the wishing well.

    • No offense but you’re synopsis of NYC and danger in major cities seems like that of someone who hasn’t spent much time in cities. Or at least walking cities.

      While I agree that anywhere can be unsafe (I’m way more uncomfortable walking around a desolate forrest than I am walking around a shitty urban area) , to understand what NYC was like in the 80’s and early 90’s is to have been there. It was by no means the most dangerous area. Not even close. But there was a palpable air of “anything could happen” which is no longer there. Granted, this could have as much to do with the times changing as it does with me just being older and more secure now. But still, it’s different than what you think and can;t really be blanketed under the “Everyone is a capable of doing crime”. That’s an simplified way of looking at it that isn’t even really true.

      Also, the whole “No one is friendly or helps with directions in NY” thing is waaaaaaaay over blown. I give people directions all the time. So does everyone I know. Just as that is overhyped, so is our general toughness. More natives new yorkers aren’t rude dickheads who talk with deep accents who will fight anyone. That’s just a stereotype.

  4. Since we are in the topic of cities, it sucked i missed your show when you were down here in Chicago a couple of weeks ago! by the time i realized you were coming down here it was to late. but anyways i have been to NYC before and i love it and while i did mostly stay in the general Manhattan area it actually did feel safer than some parts over here in Chicago

    • I’ll be back out there in the fall.
      As for the safety of Manhattan, yeah, it’s not really dangerous. At least anywhere you’d go. When I was in Chicago I got a similar feeling. To be honest, Chicago is the city that remind me most on NY. It’s a walking city (although it’s fucking huge) and there are commercial areas that people actual live in, which is rare for most major cities.

  5. On the topic of Warriors… The Warriors PS2 game is the shit. One of the best games on the console. Did you play it? I remember the guy that was voiced by El-P but I never found the character that was voiced by Aesop. :[

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