For years we had this place all to ourselves, it seemed; feebs and hayseeds hated New York and, as the old saying went, wouldn’t want to live here. Now the Times finds that between July 2007 and July 2008, our population grew by nearly 54,000 — a “stunning” reversal, say demographers. 76,000 citizens did leave, but that’s below the customary average of 148,000. Experts say the joiners are mostly young people, lured by jobs and the aura of coolness that has made Williamsburg and other such precincts a waking nightmare.
The Mayor says this is great news: “A growing population is one of the best defenses against housing abandonment and economic decline.” Really? With rents the way they are, housing abandonment is less an issue than overcrowding, and with unemployment the way it is, more Noob Yorkers just means more brutal competition for such jobs as remain, until we veterans just give up and go on the dole.
We think it’s time to pull up the drawbridge.
Have you noticed that most of our imports lately are negative? Increasingly the words “coming to New York” presage something horrible: “Top Chef,” Jennifer Aniston, seatless subways, and floods. They’re here and we can’t get rid of them: A separate Times article tells us that the rich — who have marred our landscape with hideous luxury towers and bottle service — can’t even be encouraged to move out with high taxes. Meanwhile our finest institutions are going away.
We’ve got things backwards, people. Henceforth we should raise the barrier to entry: prospective members must have something going for them besides big savings accounts and stars in their eyes. They should have some moxie, pep, balls, whatever name you want to give to the quality that makes someone willing to stick with New York even when it’s the home of Son of Sam instead of “Top Chef.” A crime wave might do it, but we would prefer some kind of application process. Maybe prospects could come to City Hall to be confronted by a board of natives who will ask them what kind of music they listen to, what they think of Atlantic Yards and “Real World Brooklyn,” etc., and reject the ones who look like they might be trouble. We nominate to such a board Reverend Billy, Randy Credico, and Charles Barron, for starters.
It isn’t perfect, but what we’ve been doing so far isn’t working.