She’s DEAD, Jim. This time for real.
I love NYC. When I first moved to NYC, it was a dream come true. Every corner was like a theater production happening right in front of me. So much personality, so many stories.
Every subculture I loved was in NYC. I could play chess all day and night. I could go to comedy clubs. I could start any type of business. I could meet people. I had family, friends, opportunities. No matter what happened to me, NYC was a net I could fall back on and bounce back up.
Now it’s completely dead.
“But NYC always always bounces back.” No. Not this time.
“But NYC is the center of the financial universe. Opportunities will flourish here again.” Not this time.
People say, “NYC has been through worse,” or “NYC has always come back.”
No and no.
First, when has NYC been through worse?
Even in the 1970s, and through the ’80s, when NYC was going bankrupt, even when it was the crime capital of the U.S. or close to it, it was still the capital of the business world (meaning, it was the primary place young people would go to build wealth and find opportunity). It was culturally on top of its game — home to artists, theater, media, advertising, publishing. And it was probably the food capital of the U.S.
Altucher breaks things down into categories to explain in detail why he deems NYC well and truly doomed, but this next but for me is the important:
NYC has never been locked down for five months. Not in any pandemic, war, financial crisis, never. In the middle of the polio epidemic, when little kids (including my mother) were becoming paralyzed or dying (my mother ended up with a bad leg), NYC didn’t go through this.
This is not to say what should have been done or should not have been done. That part is over. Now we have to deal with what IS.
Perzackly. As I said early on, the “unprecedented” thing about the COVIDIOT panic was never the virus itself; it’s turned out to be fairly ordinary as these things go—just a bad flu, not the planet-depopulating scourge it’s been sold as. The only thing truly unprecedented was the hysterical reaction to it; the speedy exploitation of a cringing, fearful populace by a whole damnable horde of wanna-be tyrants both high and low; and the pathetically submissive obedience in response to that exploitation by subjects of a country once proud to misnomer itself as “land of the free, home of the brave.”
Altucher goes on from there to present an intriguing take on why this time might be different:
I lived three blocks from Ground Zero on 9/11. Downtown, where I lived, was destroyed, but it came roaring back within two years. Such sadness and hardship and then quickly that area became the most attractive area in New York.
And in 2008/2009, there was much suffering during the Great Recession, again much hardship, but things came roaring back.
But… this time is different. You’re never supposed to say that but this time it’s true. If you believe this time is no different, that NYC is resilient, I hope you’re right.
I don’t benefit from saying any of this. I love NYC. I was born there. I’ve lived there forever. I STILL live there. I love everything about NYC. I want 2019 back.
But this time is different.
One reason: Bandwidth.
In 2008, average bandwidth speeds were 3 megabits per second. That’s not enough for a Zoom meeting with reliable video quality. Now, it’s over 20 megabits per second. That’s more than enough for high-quality video.
There’s a before and after. BEFORE: No remote work. AFTER: Everyone can work remotely.
The difference: bandwidth got faster. And that’s basically it. People have left New York City and have moved completely into virtual worlds. The Time-Life Building doesn’t need to fill up again. Wall Street can now stretch across every street instead of just being one building in Manhattan.
We are officially AB: After Bandwidth. And for the entire history of NYC (the world) until now, we were BB: Before Bandwidth.
Remote learning, remote meetings, remote offices, remote performance, remote everything.
That’s what is different.
Very interesting indeed. This James Altucher fella seems to be a pretty smart and perceptive guy, and you should definitely read it all. Even for those of you who give not one damp fart about the fate of what was once indisputably the world’s greatest metropolis (and I myself don’t care nearly as much as I once would have, I admit), it seems obvious to me that most if not all of this grim prognostication could probably be applied to any other American city as well—most certainly the Democrat-Socialist misgoverned ones, at least. As enjoyable as the schadenfraude no doubt is for a great many of us out here in the hinterlands now, that is NOT gonna be a good thing long-term…for anybody.