Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

The Crossroads of America

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Trump’s entire campaign is a referendum on racism and white supremacy.
He can’t campaign on competent handling of a crisis, which is why he forced states to reopen in the middle of the pandemic, is denying information to and suppressing advice from the Center for Disease Control and is running a character assassination campaign on his own expert from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
He can’t campaign on the economy, because it’s in free fall right now as we head into a new global Great Depression, where nothing he can do, save for adopting Democratic policies, will turn that ship around.
He doesn’t (yet) have a war to glom onto, to compel Americans to rally around the flag against a foreign foe, because nobody was dumb enough to pick up the many gauntlets Trump has thrown, from his cruise missiles to Syria to his assassination of an Iranian general.
All he has is racism, and this is why, despite literally everything about his 3.5 years in office giving ample evidence as to his supreme narcissism, his gross incompetence, his craven mores and his ensuing dementia, he still commands support from 40% of this country.
The reason is the same reason no Democrat in the last 60 years has won the white vote, because Democrats believe in a pluralist society. It’s the reason a serial philander and suspected rapist commanded 53% of the vote of white women. It’s the reason it doesn’t really matter who the nominated Democratic candidate is for the campaign strategy is exactly the same: Trump has the white supremacist vote, and is campaigning on racism alone.
Even if Trump should lose, his tally is the best census this country has ever done of how many outright racist bigots we currently have to contend with, and right now it looks to be Civil War levels of popular.

The City of the Future

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There’s an old political cartoon I can’t find a picture of right now, that was a timeline from WW1 to WW2, side by side comparison over the decades of apartment buildings and battleships. The joke was the battleships got bigger and bigger as the needs for them did but the apartment buildings stayed the same size.

Every time I see someone lament an “unaffordable” New York – which is most people – as often than not what they complain about is the fact that they’re okay because they bought years ago and the maintenance is lower than median rent but their neighbors are more monocultural and transient nowadays. Their “ideal” is exactly where they are, but backwards in time.

Sometimes it’s because they’re locked into a regulated lease which is likened to a pair of golden handcuffs, where they’re hanging on for dear life because they can’t, say, move into a larger apartment in the same neighborhood when a child is born. Their ideal is exactly where they are, with more freedom to move about as life’s requirements change.

Some manage to get that by literally winning a lottery and being placed in a housing complex where they can transfer their ownership to a larger or smaller unit in the same complex, and those lucky few themselves hang onto for dear life so much they’re known in the city planning world as “naturally occurring retirement communities,” and thus also die a spiritual death.

All envision a New York with the same infrastructure as before but… “more affordable,” which can only happen with fewer people demanding housing. But with fewer people comes fewer tax proceeds comes fewer public programs comes fewer people, i.e. the death spiral of a city.

To me there is only one way to go, and that way is up. When the dominant housing units of New York City are literally century-old rowhouses and tenements, it’s the infrastructure that needs to be updated. Living in the husk of yesteryear does not maintain the culture one expects of the city, which is and should be constantly renewing.

New York, being a New World industrial city, has been somewhat unique among cities in that it has never suffered a major fire, nor suffered bombing, but instead has renewed itself through demolition and real estate speculation. Most Old World cities’ business districts are on the periphery. New York just put them square in the center, bulldozing whatever came before. New York has demolished more monuments than most cities ever built, and yet still remained quintessentially New York. That is the New York that should be followed.

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