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?