My kneejerk response to the collapse of New York City at the hands of Hizzoner Bill DeBalledZero goes something like, “Too fucking bad, assholes. You elected the bastard, now you can stew in it. Enjoy the socialist hellhole of your votes’ devising, and don’t you even DREAM of moving here.”
On the other hand, some of the most wonderful, memorable times of my life were spent in NYC. Heck, I even married a born-and-raised Manhattan girl and remain close to her mom now that she’s gone, along with several good friends I made over decades of living and playing music there. I still have a certain fondness for the place, even now.
But frankly, I can’t say I care anymore if I ever go back there.
The New York Times reports that national retailers and restaurant chains such as J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, Le Pain Quotidien, and Subway are permanently closing locations in New York City in response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s management of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a “mass exodus” of residents and businesses.
Business leaders warn that the city is facing a crisis of “historic proportions,” according to the Times.
Michael Weinstein, the chief executive of Ark Restaurants, which owns the popular Bryant Park Grill & Cafe, told the New York Times he would never open another restaurant in the city. “There’s no reason to do business in New York,” Weinstein said.
With tourists staying clear of the city and surrounding office towers mostly empty, the restaurant has been forced to close its 1,000-seat dining room and move service to the patio. As a result, Weinstein says the restaurant brings in only about $12,000 a day—an 85 percent drop in revenue.
Here’s a real grabber for ya:
The flagship Victoria’s Secret store at Herald Square in Manhattan has been closed for months and has not paid its $937,000 monthly rent in the meantime. “It will be years before retail has even a chance of returning to New York City in its pre-COVID form,” the retailer’s parent company recently told its landlord.
Dear God, how many lacy underthings must they have been selling to be able to meet close to a million bucks a fucking month in rent before this mess started? David Marcus, for his part, explains the rapidly-dissipating appeal of the New York Groove:
Why I Won’t Leave New York City, But Probably Should
Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why people are leaving and I don’t really blame them. Living in New York City is an expensive transaction, not just in terms of money but in terms of lifestyle. We often pay more money to rent a small apartment than most Americans pay for the mortgage on their house. The city is not easy to get around, and we all navigate the panoply of cultures and tongues, our Lingua Franca a kind of unwritten “rules of the city.”
But then there is the other side of the transaction, the wonderful restaurants, bustling bars and jazz clubs, the Cyclone at Coney Island, the rushing mass of pedestrian frenzy assuring us that yes, this is the center of the world, the current Rome. Today, for now at least, all of that is gone. All of the bad things are still bad, worse actually with the crime wave and all, but the good things are all still locked down, which means we are too, locked in those little apartments.
And it gets worse. Schools are only partially opening, leading parents to look for pods in some vain hope that their kids can be educated. Empty apartments sit unrented, sparsely populated subway cars have an air of fear not felt by most for a very long time. But for all this, for all of these overwhelming reasons to get the hell out and find a picket fence in Jersey, I just can’t do it. New York is stuck with me. For better or worse.
There are some things I know about New York City. I know that as the Great Depression dragged along, Gotham was home to the birth of Method Acting and changed theater and film forever. I know that while World War II ravaged nations, New York stole the title of center of the visual art world from Paris. I know that in the drugged out riotous 1970s and 1980s, the city built Disco and pop art and hip-hop. I know that in the shadow of a skyline with teeth knocked out, white belt Williamsburg hipstered in an Electroclash revolution.
Do not mistake this for a childlike nostalgia for the bad old days. Nobody who was an adult back then wants that. It is rather a matter of being resigned to see this thing of ours through. So no, I will not be on the midnight train to Georgia, or Florida, or the Oranges. I have to stay in the husked out shell of greatness that even Bill de Blasio can’t blunder into oblivion because I have a chance to help bring it back. And I trust my fellow New Yorkers, the ones who stay to be just as committed to that.
Even in the best of times one has to be a little crazy to want to live in New York City. These days, one has to be a stark, raving mad lunatic. But that is kind of the point of New York City. After all, even raving mad lunatics need someplace to live. And in the Big Apple those kinds of people have a really successful track record.
Marcus expects NYC to make a comeback once the DeBalledZero lockdown is lifted and life gets “back to normal,” but he’s missing something: the lockdowns aren’t GOING to be lifted, in NYC or anywhere else, without massive, serious, overwhelming pushback all across the nation. Actually, my money is on the opposite: anybody out there seriously think there’s going to be a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade this year? Will the Power allow a Thanksgiving holiday gathering of any kind? Will people be social distancing around their T-day feast, chatting gaily through their masks, scrubbing surfaces and utensils down every five minutes with bleach to stave off the Great Plague?
Will there be a huge, beautiful Christmas tree brightening up the Rockefeller Center ice rink in 2020? Those famous midtown store-window displays to attract the gaze of celebratory shoppers who just aren’t around anymore this year? Anybody out there planning on letting their kid sit on Santa’s lap at Macy’s? Will old Kris Kringle be able to hear and understand as the kids recite their wish-list through the mandatory proper face-covering? Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve? Christmas Day services? Carollers strolling the neigborhood, their voices muffled and unclear because of those same masks?
I seriously, seriously hope none of you have made plans to attend the Times Square ball-drop on New Years Eve this year, I really do.
You say that Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, and New Years Eve displays, parades, and festivities all being wiped from the calendar by our esteemed rulers seems a bit of a stretch, do you? Well, they damned sure cancelled Independence Day fireworks all across the nation this summer, now didn’t they? Didja ever imagine you’d see such a thing as that?
Even after a mass rebellion that at the moment looks like a no-show, alas, recreating New York as anything other than the miserable, oppressive, and life-threatening ghetto it’s been “fundamentally transformed” into will be a Herculean task—one which will be vehemently opposed by at least half of the lunatics who live there, just as the Giuliani Renaissance was back in my own New York days. I’ll be rooting for it; New York was a unique and wondrous place, the greatest city on earth, for a long time. But I can’t say I’ll be counting on it.
But maybe there’s a small, fragile seed of hope taking root in Wisconsin:
On Sunday, Wisconsinites protested a new state-wide mask mandate by Gov. Tony Evers at a “We Will Not Comply” freedom rally held in the rural town of Mosinee. It was also a protest against the recent Marathon County online reporting tool for violations of the mask mandate.
Marathon County Health representative Judy Burrows said the online complaint form and tracking process will help officials identify businesses or organizations with multiple reports. “Our primary intention is to educate on the need and benefit to wearing a face covering to prevent the spread of COVID,” Burrows said.
The event was organized by Get Involved Wisconsin, a grassroots organization that was also responsible for an April rally held at the same location to protest Evers’s stay-at-home orders.
The rally this past weekend drew national speakers such as Dr. Simone Gold and local physicians, including cardiac surgeon Fernando Riveron. Both doctors asserted medical experts are being silenced by corporate media and big tech companies about the true risks of coronavirus and weighing those against other medical concerns.
Doesn’t seem like much, I admit. But from tiny acorns, mighty oaks sometimes grow, right?
Update! Did someone say rebellion?
It appears that government-imposed restrictions on travel, business, and social contact don’t become more palatable with age. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to simmer, the one competency that officials have consistently displayed is in tightening the screws, using the licenses and permissions they require as enforcement tools. For people tired of being bossed around, the obvious response is to carry on without the government’s imprimatur—and they’re doing so in droves. It’s an attitude likely to live on long after the crisis has passed.
“Our businesses are doomed,” Chris Polone, co-owner of a Fort Worth bar that was one of more than 800 such establishments to open in defiance of Texas closure orders, said at the end of July. “We have nothing to lose. We can either fight this thing, Or we can starve ourselves out.”
As apocalyptic as that sounds, it’s a reasonable statement when the review site Yelp reports that 55 percent of all businesses shut during the pandemic are believed to have closed their doors forever. For many entrepreneurs, breaking the rules may be the only way to survive.
Bold above mine, and absolutely critical; as in just about every conflict, numbers matter. Any nascent citizen uprising can only come to grief unless it occurs en masse. As long as only a sad handful of Americans are willing to risk getting up to stand on their feet again, they will all continue to live on their knees. Doesn’t have to be universal; doesn’t even have to be a majority of the populace, even. But it absolutely has to be more than a handful, and when you’re trying to face down governments that have far eclipsed their rightful boundaries, the more the merrier.
At least some encouraging news regarding the overdue groundswell of grassroots defiance in this article, though—very little of which will be reported by Old Media media, assuming any at all is. Bottom line:
Officials in Los Angeles have run into so much push-back that now they’re threatening to cut water and power to businesses and homes that don’t comply with lockdown orders. Depriving people of electricity and running water seems an unlikely means for improving public health, but officialdom is always more interested in compelling submission than in achieving reasonable outcomes.
But submission is harder to come by when the stakes are so high. The government is actually ordering people to refrain from earning their keep, and instead to humbly submit to bankruptcy and beggary. To some, submitting to the rules can look foolish and suicidal—like baring your throat to a predator.
And once you’ve battled government officials threatening your ability to make a living during hard times, why would you assume, after the crisis passes, that they’ve suddenly become wiser and better disposed to your wellbeing? People who have questioned officials’ judgment and defied their orders are unlikely to lose that habit after the pandemic passes. Sure, they’ll probably continue to apply for licenses to operate just to make life easy. But they’ll remember that officials tried to strip them of the “privilege” of putting food on the table and they’ll realize just how dangerous it is to rely on such permission.
Viewed from the historical perspective, would-be despots always end up sowing the seeds for the own destruction. They may reign for a while, even a very long while, yes. But sooner or later, their subjects get a belly full of it and take them out, one way or another. We Will Not Comply indeed, you commie motherfuckers.