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The New York Times reported today that a bus driver was stabbed to death in Bed-Stuy on December 1st, 2008. It was the first fatal attack on a bus driver in 27 years.

We also found out today that the country has officially been in a recession since 2007. Coincidence? The times article notes that though murders are up this year compared to last year, they are a fraction of the murders committed in 1981. That’s cold comfort to the residents of Bed-Stuy. The killer who stabbed a man to death because he would not give him a free bus pass is still at large.

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.
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