We’ve been saying and saying and saying that New York seems poised for a return to a 70s state, full of crime and culture. The more reasonable Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York posits a third way: a coming “Yunnipocalypse” in which the New York’s regnant yunnies (short for “young urban narcissists,” and deliberately echoic of “yuppie”) are driven from prominence, and maybe out of town, by the bad economy.
“The Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations convinced a city they had to give up their uniqueness, wildness, and verve to be secure and live well,” says Jeremiah. “They made it amenable to swaggering, narcissistic bots. But maybe that swagger is vanishing.” He says our press and recent mayors have, like President Bush, portrayed our sole choice as one “between safety or terror.” Jeremiah prefers the model of Obama’s call to the “risk-takers, doers, and makers of things,” which we take to mean that the derivatives traders should give way to the carpenters, artists, sheet-metal workers etc.
It’s a nice idea, but will that be where we get to? The piece of the Washington stimulus going directly to New York City, the Times reports, is mostly going to “defer the cost of the city’s Medicaid contribution” and “building and repairing city schools and other education-related initiatives,” and we can guess which task gets priority. Some of the Federal infrastructural component will swing our way and make a few jobs for makers and doers, but the rest is up to the Mayor. And as far as he and most of our press is concerned, financial institutions are still supposed to be the first ones in the life-raft, and they won’t drop that mindset until the very last ditch. So it may be that the best hope, if that’s the word, for the overthrow of yuppies or yunnies or whatever you want to call them may not be rebirth, but collapse. (Image via Danny Hellman.)
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 29, 2009