9 Comments

Savvy young folks are leaving "the city" technic’ly - but a lot of them aren't going far. I’ll plan your investigation. It’s one I think you’ll well like making - you might even strike a piece, or more.

Houston & Mott, 2 PM, all of a fine bright Thursday. (Thursday exactly! Why? You'll see.) Bring a good friend. Start out right there. Walk west on Houston, til you hit Hudson. Turn north. Walk north. Hit Christopher. Turn west. Proceed.

If you keep your eyes carefully peeled, you’ll notice at your right some stairs, leading down into a tunnel. Descend these stairs, braving their windstorm. You'll see something like a subway station, but all the signage will be strange.

Trains will pass now on both sides, in high frequency, running on time. Don't worry where they're going, yet - just sit, and do a bit of people-watching. If you should start to feel unmoored and dizzy, and you should start to need familiar ground, board a train on your right side. You'll be swiftly lifted back on home, to gorgeous 33rd. Head over to Kinokuniya - reward yourself with books, a coffee, and a milk bun, for your courage, though it faltered.

But if your mettle meet the test, take the train on the left. Off it shall shoot, into a strange and foreign land. After a few minutes, your cellphone will stop working. So will yours all. You look up from your devices, freed a moment from the now. Travelers in pairs and threes will talk.

You'll feel the clock jump briefly backward, like it's decade-savings time. The magic moment won't quite last - ten, fifteen, and twenty minutes, and the phones will start to buzz again. Free & wild conversation ends - civil scrolling settles in.

Newport, Newport! Yet hold your horses. Emerge here, and there'll be vertigo, more of culture than of space. If you're with a calm companion, take arm in arm, and leaning, each on each, step steadily, and from golden glare of commerce, chandeliers, and chintz, take care to shield your New York eyes. Dare ye shop or dare ye not, keep to your mission - return below; your journey isn't half-way through.

Grove St, Grove St! Hold them still! Pass this one by - it's a nice place, but it's a Brooklyn. Too familiar to your eyes. You run the risk of never leaving. You'll think this is the place to beat. Two thirds the price and half the taxes, and no Brooklynites all sour, sore from having pockets pinched. Be tempted not! Circe is called Carmine here - she wields not staff, but big broad peel, and her pie beats any potion. Happy indolence she'll set before you - but on! Pass on!

Journal Square! Last stop! Must exit! Here cups of life, they brimmeth full! Pocket your Airpods, that you may pass among these strange new people, unlike your like, at whom we smirk. (Soho! Go back! Let us stay wild!) Go out and up, and turn the stile. Choose either stair or escalator, steel thyself, and now ascend - but just one level! Here's a dare, if you will brave it, and it's still daytime, ‘tween the sevens - here in the station, find the loo, and have a pee. Hold in your shock - the place is clean! Shake drops, zip up, wash hands, check hair, and now proceed.

Ascend again. Take in the plaza. There's Starbucks here, a sight familiar. And something strange - a jolly bee. as chef attired. He peddles chicken, crisp and sweet. Past him, past quarter'd disc, past baseball legend - come to the curb, where yellow ancient taxis stand. Look 'cross the street. What's C.H. Martin? Portal in time, pure in its mystery. Turn left. Proceed.

A great work rises by your side - twenty of sixty floors erected, and tomorrow twenty-two. Pass carefully twixt barrier and board. When first you can, turn right, and cross. Look a bit righter - a place called Drinks serves to the street. Have beef frankfurter, chili and all - you'll thank me after. Hot and sweet.

Face the window, dog in hand, turn left, proceed - along the curving street. Pass the McDonalds. Now you are here!

Alert your senses. Take this world in. Drawn equal from all corners, new Americans walk pure in peace. Continue on, to the Fruit Farm. Peruse the herbs. Watch skilled hands break stem and bundle. If you've got cash, buy a canned drink. Two doors down's another market. Find ye a Patrick there, and Oreo you'll take no more.

Exit, and mark, if you'd not yet, two stores most strange. One's just ahead, at right - go in this one - the other's left, across, and back, and smaller. Never stores like these you've seen. All goods in price are set here equal. Ask not which goods! God Godself could not but guess. Take a sack and fill it up. The price depends upon the day. By Thursday, the choicest's taken - but on a Thursday, what's left runs near to free. Whence all this treasure? Ask an employee - if you can catch one. In sweeping, bagging, and box-breaking, they are busier than bees.

Exit, and take stock of scenes. At right, across - a church and rummage. Opposite - liver on sub, koshary, roll with anything, they've got it. Behind you, up Tonnele, you'll soon find Pulaski Skyway - a century old! - the Cumberland Gap to your new West. But you've no wagon, city fool! Turn back around. Cross over. Keep straight one block - cross Sip - one more - jump the disjunction, at Van Reypen - Go one block more, along Academ’. Rest here - new-laid stone benches, ripe for sitting - no spiky spikes nor upraised arms, we've peaceful slabs.

If your feet ache, and y’need recharging, turn left, and head on home. If you've strength still, and feet for walking, turn right, down Bergen. Go block and block, keep straight along. Pass Sts George and good Shenouda, pass St Aedan, listen for his singing flock. Note Prince of Pizza - right next door, tattoo & smoke joint. Get a fat roll-up. Ask for the real thing, if you’re smooth. Twenty pay him, ten for girls. And get a lighter, if you’ve not one.

Continue on down Bergen Ave. Pass the pawn shop, pass Storms, pass Duncan. At Jewett, right, then left on Kennedy. You’ll soon see Lincoln. Mark his words! Turn right, and pass his side. Descend the gentle boulevard. Through the park gate, come to the fountain. Take a selfie, pretend you’re smoking - only pretend! Pregnant America is here - see her rippling water breaking! All her noble generations, in their single and their many, range free around her sparkling side!

Find a dark spot, ‘mongst the trees, hidden a bit from family eye. Spark up! Puff life! Drag deep, now twice! Now stub it out. A bit will do you. More will merely close the eyes. Sit you down at triple fountains - there rest yourself. Mark water hyacinth and stillness. Sit on the ledge, and gaze the depth. Here lucky souls meet turtle’s eyes. Play chess if there be friends for playing - or make up checkers, from the pebbles and the leaves.

Rest well your feet, then march on homeward. If strength’s exhausted, summon a car. Tell your friends - but just the good ones. Tell no yuppies, tell no tools. Protect this young and budding city! Let me not regret these words!

Expand full comment

I appreciate the savvy remarks about DSA and the recruitment of working class people. But I also suspect that this is another area of “impasse,” as is Israel (for reasons that are at root even similar). We live in a globalized world where the true lower class is not union members but rather the nomadic masses that crowd our borders. They have been pauperized and displaced the same way that English peasants were by inclosure measures centuries ago. A serious socialism would have to address their class interests. Unsurprisingly, more established American workers see them as a threat to their vested class interests. Liberals will tell you: this is just irrational. The immigrants will benefit us all. It would be better to embrace the newcomers. Fine. You could just as well say that Israelis and Palestinians would be better off embracing one another. True. So that’s going to happen? Notice how everywhere in the world where the Right wins, opposition to immigration is nearly always an issue. I agree with Ross, and I also despise the shallow self-hatred of much of the American Left; but I am afraid that there is an impasse that has to be faced. What the solution is I don’t know, but ignoring the problem can’t be the answer.

Expand full comment

I’m not sure I understand your question. But I am curious. Could you explain where you are coming from? Thanks.

Expand full comment

If socialism is a net good, why did the Venezuelan people, who have been granted TPS, come to the United States in the first place? Why would they need to migrate?

The average MLB fan age is 57. I hope I’m wrong, but the MLB world will probably be very very different in 20 years. I suspect it will be a whole lot less relevant. I am not happy about this, or the direction of MLB.

Expand full comment

I like your point about Christian socialism. I recently realized that leftists are always atheists, and it's easy to embrace a liberialism without God. When I participated in white liberal religious spaces, though, I still found racism and that a lot of these people worshipped their politics. God, or Jesus, was nowhere to be found. This is one if the reasons why I left liberal/reform Judaism; I didn't like that the Torah could basically be used as a white liberal handbook.

A lot of atheists are former Christians who have nothing but antagonism for both religion as an institution and religious people themselves. I think a lot of leftists just like to ignore it, or think of it as something seperate. And for all the veneration around Latin America, this is news to me!

I think also, especially among Black leftists (the Black community has a staggeringly tiny population of atheists), there is a lot of willful ignorance about statistics - 79% of Black ppl are Christian according to Pew Research - but Black leftists are in total denial about this. For a population where we are technically more religious even than other ethnic groups, this is a huge oversight. But it's there. I remember seeing pushback even against religious feminists online.

A lot of people really hate religious people and Christianity specifically.

Expand full comment