Sunday’s Times was all about the new frugality. There was Tom Friedman on the “Post-Binge World”; Matt Gross on doing New York on the cheap (he and his wife stayed at the Chelsea, ate at Burger Joint and City Bakery, drank at the Gowanus Yacht Club, and still managed to blow $539.07): Gregory Beyer gamely trying to link the fading fortunes of old-school lesbian bar Rubyfruit to the stock market crash; and the Style Section explained how local teens (all of them girls, for some reason) are going to have to do without $200 jeans.
“Parents are suddenly saying ‘no’ and their kids are saying, ‘What do you mean?'” says a debt expert. This leads to conflict: a parent threatens to charge his daughter rent, then backs down. Another says her teenagers “seem so selfish.” Teens at tony Elisabeth Irwin High School take an “Economics and Society” seminar where they discuss their feelings about the new order (“My dad will buy three new shirts but then he’ll tell me to cut down on my spending. So I don’t know what to think.”)
As one might expect from the Times, taking a meeting is the preferred solution: “Let’s brainstorm,” a mom tells her two worried daughters, and finds they are “relieved to be part of the process.” Having had similar dilemmas explained by our dear old Mom with, “Whattaya think, I’m made outta money?” we marvel at this assumption of bargaining equity among the junior and senior partners. Perhaps as the New Depression advances, New York families will achieve truly equal footing when they’re all doing piece work in the living room by candlelight.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 13, 2008