A friend of mine who lives on the Southside of Williamsburg was complaining — though not in a mean way — about not being able to sleep because of the vigil being held in front of the building next door for a 22 year-old kid who was shot. This led to a conversation about the machete-wielding gangs that have been roving the Southside, the basic street-level knowledge that it’s all about gangs living the old school “what are you doing on my block?” code of ethics, and the fact that the neighborhood is full of cops — the problem being that they’re guarding construction sites. Of which we have many.

Since the editor and progenitor of this blog seems genuinely concerned about the future of America and its priorities, I couldn’t help but think about what violent crime really means to a New Yorker: rent prices. Truly, this is a perversion that seems unique to Newyorqinos: if violent crime is on the rise, does that mean my rent might not go up next year? It’s not lost on me how distinctly fucked-up it is to wish for more violent crime.

However, it’s worth taking a closer look at Williamsburg, which is a virulent Petri dish in the study of New York at long-range. In a city headed by a billionaire mayor who has unilaterally given permission to every developer to come down the pike, giving permission to build higher and higher in neighborhoods that have for decades been small-potatoes, watching what’s happening in Williamsburg is simply a malignant insight into coming attractions: The New New York, where everyone makes two hundred grand a year and the working class (read: servant class) are bussed in daily from ghettos in what used to be rural Pennsylvania. Next time you find yourself on the other side of the East river, take a little walk through Williamsburg, Greenpoint—even Long Island City. This entire waterfront will look just like Midtown Manhattan before the decade is up.

Unless we get some killings up in this bitch. And dig — murder rates in North Brooklyn are up 34%. It’s fun stuff to think about — as a neighborhood becomes more affluent, it draws the criminal element. If there’s more stuff to steal, more people will come to steal it, right? But I think the machete cuts even deeper. The kind of people who want to move to a former artists’ colony and pay $2 million for a condo not only are targets of crime, they’re exactly the kind of people who won’t be able to deal with it. Large disposable income, spends his or her days working in a carpeted office with highly educated people with nice table manners, friends have nicknames like “Tad” — NO FUCKING STREET SMARTS. These motherfuckers wouldn’t know how to avoid a mugging if their lives depended on it — and someday, it might. Not that all crime can be avoided. But if you take someone from a high social eschelon and drop them into a neighborhood that has been traditionally low-income, working class, and (in the case of South Williamsburg, since, like, the 50s) predominantly Hispanic, the status quo ain’t gonna be lookin’ after your white ass.

I’ve been reminded lately of Henry Miller, who grew up in the Northside and once lived on Driggs near Metropolitan. In “Black Spring” he waxed poetic about how fantastic Fillmore Place was when he was a kid—it’s a tiny street that only runs for one block. He visited later in life and, of course, hated how much it had changed. This from Gothamist: “According to the tipster, the police noted that ‘Fillmore Place has become a desirable location for crime due to the fact that it is not well lit and has so little foot traffic.'” Can you dig it, Henry? Getting back to the grit of our roots a little.

My deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Richard Duran, 22. All tongue-in-cheek social commentary aside, lo siento. And, true to form, I can’t find a fucking mention of it in the press. There’s this piece in the Daily News about the latest machete work — this is some fucked-up shit, folks. Gang-bangers, PLEASE stop watching “Scarface.” It’s supposed to be a cautionary tale — with a couple shootings mentioned at the bottom which don’t sound like Lil Rich. If you really want to hear anything about what happened that night, you have to turn to, of course, the blogosphere.

Many thanks to Rockstar for calling the cops, giving a shit, and generally not being a hipster douchebag.

Kiss kiss,
JDX

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