Rejected titles included “Postcard From the New New York” and “The Good Old Bad Days Are Here Again”
When I moved to New York, one of the first tasks I set out for myself was to find a few good novels to augment the limited knowledge I had of my new metropolis. The first book I picked up happened to be Salman Rushdie’s “Fury”, set in Manhattan a financial bubble or two ago (2000). He describes a city that “boiled with money. Rents and property values had never been higher, and in the garment industry it was widely held that fashion had never been more fashionable.”
I was sheltered in academia when the excesses of that dotcom-inflated era went pop, but by the time I had arrived, life in New York had once again begun to imitate Rushdie’s art. In 2006, the booming real-estate market deluded city leaders into approving a municipal bond-backed boondoggle, the controversial Atlantic Yards stadium/office tower/luxury condos complex. And in 2007, punk couture became more fashionable than actual punk rock: CBGB, the legendary concert venue and birthplace of punk in America, was bought by designer John Varvatos.
James Murphy, a New York native and the frontman for LCD Soundsystem, expressed his dissatisfaction with the city’s debt-driven frenzy on the band’s second album, “Sound of Sliver”. Released in spring 2007, the album concluded with a wallop: the bitterly heartfelt track “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down“. The song expressed Murphy’s sense of alienation from the culture of fast money that had taken over:
And so the boring collect—I mean all disrespect
In the neighbourhood bars I’d once dreamt I would drink
New York, I love you but you’re freaking me out
It wasn’t until the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy that I, like many other New Yorkers, realised that “the boring” people—the overleveraged real-estate developers and fashionistas and the derivatives traders—were poisoning more than just the local bar scene.
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Picture credit: SliceofNYC (via Flickr)