Middle finger to God, yo! Go on, brush your scaffolding off.
(I AM SO SORRY ABOUT THAT JOKE)
But let’s be serious for a minute. Let’s talk about skyscrapers*.
* Note: “skyscrapers” here refers to buildings that are like ten stories tall. If you are not from New York, you will note that we have twenty-story fire hydrants in this city. Ten stories isn’t even a speed bump. New Yorkers call any building shorter than seventy-one stories a “garage.” The term “cornfield” is used for buildings less than four hundred feet tall.
Our fine backwater of a neighborhood, which prides itself on its ugly, dilapidated two-story houses, now has two skyscrapers. They’re both about 12 stories of pricey luxury condos. (If you don’t feel like sitting through an endless Flash demo, I’ll just tell you that the cheapest apartment is like $700,000.) Here’s a survey of all the comments I’ve heard around the neighborhood when discussing these buildings:
- “These buildings are destroying our neighborhood!” —Old lady at Carmine’s
- (That was the only comment.) But people stare at them threateningly a lot.
How does that work? I am as much a fan of hating the playa as I am of hating the game (I hate both the player and the game, vigorously, be it “Scrabble” or “Offering Plan!, The Game Of Luxury Apartment Construction”), but dude they’re just skyscrapers. And the only thing they destroyed to build them was some old garages. Nobody even had to move!
What have I concluded about the people of Brooklyn? It’s probably easiest for you to just watch this YouTube video.
Er, it would be, at least, if copyrighted movies from the 90s were on YouTube. So, anyway, go rent Wayne’s World, then fast-forward to the part where he says “We fear change!” Then imagine it being really grainy and low-quality.
WE FEAR CHANGE.
Here’s an illustrative story. I wore a tie on the L train yesterday, because I was graduating that afternoon and didn’t want to look like a putz on stage. Now, this is not by any means a power tie; I’ve had it since the sixth grade. It was my first tie. It’s made out of felt and coat hangers, or at least it looks like it is, and it comes maybe halfway down my chest. And even in 1996 it probably cost $2. But nonetheless, the moment I stepped onto the subway car I was overtaken by a palpable wave of hate from the normally friendly hipsters riding in from Bushwick. Worse still, I had gel in my hair.
Holy crap, I realized. I look like a real jerk to them. Hell, on any other day I would’ve looked like a real jerk to me, I have the same yuppie gag-reflex as anybody else. The guy next to me had Dolce sunglasses on, even though he was on a dark train. The woman to my left was reading Tuesdays with Morrie. And there but for the grace of God go I, fellow pimps. Sure, I live in a tenement, but if I really applied myself, couldn’t I save up $200,000 for the down payment on a deluxe apartment somewhat above the ground?
No, not really. Because then how would I afford whiskey — think about it! But do I really have the right to hate on these jerks just because they live in a shiny glass box and probably spit into my window while I’m in the shower, the time when I’m least likely to notice?
Yes. But that is no excuse to whine about tall buildings. Without buildings I could see from miles away, how would I know which way my house was? If I was too dumb to read a map, that is. Prada-sniffing dog?
More importantly, if they didn’t build these skyscrapers, these terrifying materialistic weirdos coming out of the woodwork would be forced to move into my apartment. Have you seen my apartment? It’s 600 square feet and there’s eight people in there today! (P.S. if you have seen my apartment, please call 311 and tell them I have a stalker) I don’t have room for that guy! I don’t even have a closet to put his fastidiously ironed suits into! Somebody build him a glass box, quick, because otherwise my kitchen is going to smell like cilantro and broccoli rabe before you can say “hostile takeover”.