New York continues to trade a rich culture for a culture of rich.

In a piece for Harper’s Magazine, Kevin Baker writes about the continued rise of affluence in New York, at the expensive of diversity, community, and affordability (via kottke):

New York has been my home for more than forty years, from the year after the city’s supposed nadir in 1975, when it nearly went bankrupt. I have seen all the periods of boom and bust since, almost all of them related to the “paper economy” of finance and real estate speculation that took over the city long before it did the rest of the nation. But I have never seen what is going on now: the systematic, wholesale transformation of New York into a reserve of the obscenely wealthy and the barely here—a place increasingly devoid of the idiosyncrasy, the complexity, the opportunity, and the roiling excitement that make a city great.

As New York enters the third decade of the twenty-first century, it is in imminent danger of becoming something it has never been before: unremarkable. It is approaching a state where it is no longer a significant cultural entity but the world’s largest gated community, with a few cupcake shops here and there. For the first time in its history, New York is, well, boring.

Boring is the wrong word and trivializes all the bad things Baker lists out that have happened in New York. I don’t give a shit if New York boring. What pisses me off about New York in 2018 is that it continues to cement it’s status as a playground for the rich.

A culturally “rich” city is the result of diversity: of income, of ethnicity, of trade, of perspective, and many other things. New York continues to trade a rich culture for a culture of rich.

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Community, Finance

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NYC Bomb Suspect Captured

Ahmad Khan Rahami Is Arrested in Manhattan Bombing

The police on Monday took into custody the man they believed to be behind the bombing in Manhattan over the weekend, according to law enforcement officials.

The dramatic arrest of the man, Ahmad Khan Rahami, came after the police issued a cellphone alert to millions of residents in the area telling them to be on the lookout for the suspect, who was described as “armed and dangerous.”

Mr. Rahami, 28, was identified on surveillance video near the locations of both the bomb that exploded in Chelsea and another device that did not detonate a few blocks away. He was described as a naturalized citizen of Afghan descent who had been living with his family in Elizabeth, N.J.

The cellphone alerts are incredible (and creepy). It’ll be interesting to find out if how much they helped in the capture.

UPDATE: I got my answer:

All around New York City, cellphones blared on Monday morning with the dissonant, but familiar, tone of an emergency alert. But this time, the alert — typically used for weather-related advisories or abducted children — was different.

For what is believed to be the first time, the nation’s Wireless Emergency Alerts system was deployed as an electronic wanted poster, identifying a 28-year-old man wanted in connection with the bombings in Manhattan and New Jersey.

Suddenly, from commuter trains to the sidewalks of Manhattan, millions were enlisted in the manhunt.

The message, probably received by millions, nearly at once, was simple: “WANTED: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-yr-old male. See media for pic. Call 9-1-1 if seen.”

Welcome to the future.

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Community

‘We all get dressed for Bill.’

Over the weekend New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham died. As someone whose father bought the Sunday New York Times every weekend, Cunningham was a part of my life before I knew who he was.

When I moved to the East Village in 2000 I continued my father’s habit of buying the Times every Sunday. My girlfriend (now wife) loved fashion, so I’d always hand over the Fashion section to her which always had a grid of Cunningham’s fashion shots above the fold.

Jacob Bernstein did a great write-up on Cunningham:

Mr. Cunningham was such a singular presence in the city that, in 2009, he was designated a living landmark. And he was an easy one to spot, riding his bicycle through Midtown, where he did most of his field work: his bony-thin frame draped in his utilitarian blue French worker’s jacket, khaki pants and black sneakers (he himself was no one’s idea of a fashion plate), with his 35-millimeter camera slung around his neck, ever at the ready for the next fashion statement to come around the corner.

Nothing escaped his notice: not the fanny packs, not the Birkin bags, not the gingham shirts, not the fluorescent biker shorts.

In his nearly 40 years working for The Times, Mr. Cunningham snapped away at changing dress habits to chart the broader shift away from formality and toward something more diffuse and individualistic.

He was a unique man:

He didn’t go to the movies. He didn’t own a television. He ate breakfast nearly every day at the Stage Star Deli on West 55th Street, where a cup of coffee and a sausage, egg and cheese could be had, until very recently, for under $3. He lived until 2010 in a studio above Carnegie Hall amid rows and rows of file cabinets, where he kept all of his negatives. He slept on a single-size cot, showered in a shared bathroom and, when he was asked why he spent years ripping up checks from magazines like Details (which he helped Annie Flanders launch in 1982), he said: “Money’s the cheapest thing. Liberty and freedom is the most expensive.”

If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend the the documentary, Bill Cunningham New York. I watched it a few years ago and loved it.

If you have Amazon Prime, it’s included in your subscription (hat tip, Jason Kottke).

‘Exclusive RIght’

From Reuters, Taxi owners, lenders sue New York City over Uber:

Taxi owners and lenders on Tuesday sued New York City and its Taxi and Limousine Commission, saying the proliferation of the popular ride-sharing business Uber was destroying their businesses and threatening their livelihoods.

The lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court accused the defendants of violating yellow cab drivers’ exclusive right to pick up passengers on the street by letting Uber drivers who face fewer regulatory burdens pick up millions of passengers who use smartphones to hail rides.

I use Uber all the time in San Francisco, but I’m also aware it’s not the most upstanding business.

There’s a reason people flock to Uber: the experience of requesting and paying for a ride is seamless. What pisses me off is hearing taxi owners whine, bitch, and complain about Uber rather than figure out a way to improve the process of hailing a cab. No group should have an ‘exclusive right’ to business over others. Fuck that noise.

[To be clear, I could spend many blog posts on how much Uber’s business practices piss me off too. They’re a shady bunch.]

Categories:

Business, Innovation

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Does Microsoft Create Objects of Desire?

Peter Bright at Ars Technica on the new flagship Microsoft Store on Fifth Avenue:

There are still weaknesses of the Microsoft store compared to the Apple store; Apple’s stores are much stronger from a support and maintenance perspective, and this gives both Apple’s hardware and stores a kind of desirability that the PC world can’t currently match. Pointedly, Microsoft also lacks anything with the appeal of the iPhone. Overall, however, Microsoft is slowly developing a retail presence that makes sense, and it will attract new and more customers. The Microsoft stores are still first and foremost marketing exercises, but we don’t think it’s too long before customers will consistently outnumber the staff, putting the stores on the road to retail success.

Apple creates objects of desire.

It’s yet to be seen if people think Microsoft creates objects of desire too.

Because at the end of the day, it’s people who’ll be voting with their wallets.

Adapt or Die

Yellow cabs in NYC might be getting an overhaul:

The technology inside many New York City yellow taxis is in for an overhaul after regulators on Thursday approved a trial run for systems that calculate fares using global positioning.

The changes mean the back seat “Taxi TVs” could be on the way out, along with dashboard-mounted meters that display fares in red blocky alarm clock-style numbers.

Imagine that!

Instead of suing to keep Uber and Lyft out of NYC, yellow cabs are overhauling their system to better compete—and provide a better customer experience (we hope).

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9/11

As soon as the day ended, I knew that date would be stuck in my head forever.

I walked to work—from the East Village down to Mercer Street in SoHo. The weather was 70 degrees, zero clouds, zero humidity. It’s sadly ironic, but whenever I feel perfect weather, I think of 9/11.

I watched the towers fall from my boss’ roof. I could feel the ground shake when each tower fell. In the distance you could hear people screaming. When I left work later in the day, the streets were deserted. Lower Manhattan felt like a movie set. No cars. Very few people. It was surreal.

My girlfriend, who would later become my wife, lived in Queens and since the subways had all been shut down, I couldn’t get to her. So I put on my rollerblades and rollerbladed from East Village, over the Queensboro Bridge, to Astoria Queens, about 5 miles. Every now and then a police car would pass me coming from Ground Zero, tossing dust and debris in my face. For the next month, the smell of burning iron swept through my windows.

Below are some photos I took on my walk to work 11 years ago today.

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