Urban Planning

A Price Point That Would Guarantee Exclusivity

A Price Point That Would Guarantee Exclusivity

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.

Housing Crisis

Housing Crisis

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.

Primal Forces

Primal Forces

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.

Los Angeles Plays Itself

Los Angeles Plays Itself

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.

Introduction

Introduction

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.

Neon Wave

Neon Wave

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.

Before the Bridge

Before the Bridge

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.

Moscow, August 2013

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.

Ponte City

Ponte City

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.

Christmas in Baltimore 2009

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.

A Price Point That Would Guarantee Exclusivity

A Price Point That Would Guarantee Exclusivity

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.

Housing Crisis

Housing Crisis

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.

Primal Forces

Primal Forces

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.

Los Angeles Plays Itself

Los Angeles Plays Itself

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.

Introduction

Introduction

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.

Neon Wave

Neon Wave

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.

Before the Bridge

Before the Bridge

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.