Best Overlooked New York Book - 2011
Bloomberg's New York: Class and Governance in the Luxury City
Say what you will about rapping, Matrix-cameo-making, Obama-bashing would-be pop-culture icon and Princeton professor Cornel West, seen recently trying to get in on the dubious shine of Occupy Wall Street, but he's one of the only easily identifiable figures from the academy these days, as the Ivory Tower has sealed its gates. Which is a shame because there are a lot of sharp people locked up in there, chattering to one another in tongues. Among their number is Montclair State University professor Julian Brash, author of the difficult but brilliant Bloomberg's New York: Class and Governance in the Luxury City. Written with an academic audience in mind, the book uses a well-reported history of the Hudson Yards master plan/Olympics wet dream to lay out a devastating critique of the CEO mayor, his vision of the city as a product to be marketed, and citizens as passive consumers of it. OK, OK, that argument is at times buried in impenetrable jargon ("even those who advocate for structural analyses exploring the commonalities of neoliberal strategies across space acknowledge the need to address neoliberalism as contingent, processural, cultural, and context-sensitive"). That probably kept the book from making much noise in the city when it came out earlier this year. It's worth circling back to.