Turning the pages of the manual—A in a circle, B in a circle, C in a circle, D in a circle, E in a circle, F in a circle, G in…
October 31, 2017
Amazon has bankrupted the ideology it claimed to appeal to: the ideology of “urbanism.”
Most city dwellers, it turns out, live lives of quiet desperation for Amazon. What was happening to Philadelphia disclosed the emptiness not just of this city, but of what people all over the country had learned to think cities were good for.
The promise of ride-sharing is that it complements public transit. In practice, it eliminates it.
June 6, 2017
I set about visiting old haunts that summer, but soon realized few were left.
We had been gentrifiers, more humble and open than most, we assumed, and now our time to be called back into service had come again. There were surely other areas in premium metropolitan cultural centers out there that had lapsed to Negroes in the years after the Great War which remained affordable for the mostly white American middle class of 2015, and we’d have to go find one. He was, quite naturally, thinking about moving to LA, a cliché in the Brooklyn we were inhabiting, especially among the middle-class creatives who fashioned themselves as priced out, a sensation that inspired a cottage industry of Didion imposters writing “Goodbye to All That” imitations on the websites of once-veritable magazines. This is not, despite appearances, one of those. I remain too stubborn to read the writing on the wall.
January 12, 2017
What will Ben Carson’s HUD look like?
Many commentators have noted the parallels between Donald Trump’s appointment of the avowedly unqualified Ben Carson to Reagan’s disastrous appointment of Samuel Pierce, Jr., who blew his eight years as HUD chief binge-watching soap operas and permitting his aides to dole out millions in illegal subsidies to real estate consultants.
December 22, 2016
Jane Jacobs cast her campaigns for urban justice as bids to restore an underlying common sense, not as transformations of the social order.
You might call Jacobs a Democratic Schumpeterian. Though she believed in the dynamism of markets and their propensity to push new, innovative work to grow, she wanted to stoke the egalitarian possibilities of this process within a society that favored established interests.
May 28, 2015
“I am nothing,” the narrator of Patrick Modiano’s Missing Person confesses at one point, “nothing but a silhouette.”
May 20, 2015
Psychologically, there are two L.A.’s. One is where Naomi Watts gets to be the sunny aspiring actress Betty and have beautiful teeth and a gorgeous lesbian relationship with an amnesiac Laura Harring. The other is where Naomi Watts is Diane, with fucked-up teeth, an unrequited romantic obsession, and a bullet in her head. They’re both the same movie, and none of it makes any sense. But it says something about how the city sees itself: things are one way, or suddenly another.
May 12, 2015
Introducing City by City: Dispatches from the American Metropolis
Two years into the project, the cities themselves erupted. The various city-centric iterations of Occupy—Occupy Boston, Occupy Philadelphia, Occupy Oakland—seemed to both validate our idea and move beyond it. When Occupy was done, we felt that the project, and our curiosity about the cities of our country, could expand.
April 17, 2015
On Tsai Ming-liang
In a way, it is strangely appropriate that Tsai’s first film should have waited twenty-three years to appear in the United States. Tsai is a director obsessed with what the French call décalage, a kind of jet lag. The rhetoric of development used about East Asia—and elsewhere in the “developing” world—presumes a certain kind of linear, progressive time, or movement forward in time. Its voice insists that places like Taipei must catch up.
It seems not to matter to the proliferation of writing about millennials that so much of it has been internally contradictory.
Playing white is like when animals play dead.
November 24, 2014
The Verrazano-Narrows at 50
Fifty years ago this month, on a frigid Saturday in 1964, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, connecting Brooklyn to Staten Island, officially opened for business. Despite the cold, the mood was celebratory. Robert Moses, Mayor Wagner, Cardinal Spellman, Governor Rockefeller, and the borough presidents of Brooklyn and Staten Island cut a ribbon on the Brooklyn side, then crossed the span in limousines.
What is a slum anyway? He has a concise answer: “House owned by people, land owned by government.”
January 24, 2014
There are, according to the Council on Tall Buildings, three different kinds of height.
This August I went to Moscow for the first time in over a year. I was there to help my grandmother move, a move necessitated in part by the fact that my sister, Masha, is leaving the country after twenty years. Masha is leaving the country because she is gay, and the Russian parliament, with the full support of the Kremlin, has decided that gay people are what’s wrong with Russia. A recent law even suggested that gay couples who had adopted could be stripped of parental rights; Masha adopted her son Vova twelve years ago. It was time to go.
September 23, 2013
It’s the everydayness of the X-rated that makes these photos fun to look at.
June 14, 2013
People from Johannesburg might be fearmongers and lunatics, but we’re not mere fearmongers and lunatics: there’s a story to how Ponte came to earn its jittery status. To begin with the end, the inner city is, at present, slowly moving back into money again. It’s been at the task haltingly for a decade or so, but gentrification is reaching the point of inevitability now.
No Indian city has seen collective action on the scale that Mumbai has. Few cities anywhere in the world have.
Outside, people are climbing up the steep slope of the bridge’s pedestrian walkway, on foot or skateboard or bicycle. Only a few look at the building, and even fewer try to glimpse inside. I am in here, watching the bridge and chain-smoking.
The Yards, in some sense, created the District.
Gentrification is turning vulnerable residents into tumbleweed, and it’s gradually transforming the Mission.
The funeral came off without a hitch, in spite of the snow. It was as dignified as we could have hoped for and no one from the altar mentioned what had happened. I parked my rental car on Argyle Avenue, feeling a bit more alert than usual. In Atlanta, just after Thanksgiving, two gunmen robbed me of my station wagon and wallet; two days before Christmas I didn’t want to invite fate’s wrath a second time. I was back home in Baltimore.
August 28, 2009
The photographs of a beautiful, flooded New Orleans brought back memories of chronically waterlogged Venice.
“Gentrification”: the term evokes the political and mental life of two generations of city-dwellers.