Central Park Bandit

Central Park Bandit

Anyone familiar with American TV has to have been exposed to numerous episodes of crime based drama on the gritty streets of New York City. You watch enough of these paranoid cop shows and it is easy to believe that crime is running rampant down the streets of NYC. This month, in my week-long stay in the city, I witnessed no crime. Unless, you count the above pictured beggar thief, who took a moment to mug for my camera, before returning to the plying of his wiles on the unsuspecting tourists of Central Park. I knew that Manhattan would be safe, based on Anne’s and mine 2009 visit to the island. On that vacation we also visited all of the other boughs, but then we always traveled in a group. There was over 35,000 of us cycling the Five Boughs Ride that day. I did feel some initial trepidation about Brooklyn on this month’s visit, but it was soon overcome and I hope that Dan will do well there.

This week in my couch surfing of the web, I discovered the following SNL skit entitled “Bushwick, Brooklyn, 2015”. This is the neighborhood where Dan lives now. In this skit three African-American men, all played by recognizable actors, are standing on a street corner shooting the breeze. [Spoiler Alert] The skit’s gag is that these three tough guys each have a softer side that repeatedly highlights the gentrification process that is ongoing in Bushwick. This is the same process that has already swallowed next door Williamsburg and is now spilling over into the surrounding and still more affordable neighborhoods. The skit’s ending is a shock, but I think that it helps drive the joke home.

Gentrification is a two-edged sword. The new mostly young and white residents do introduce nice things to a neighborhood, like artisanal mayonnaise, but these more affluent residents also tend to drive out the existing lower-income community with increased property values. Part of the reason Dan left LA was because he was on the receiving end on the next even more affluent wave of gentrification there. I like to look on the bright side though. Eventually, Dan will be priced out of Brooklyn too and then maybe he’ll come back to Saint Louis and we’ll be here waiting for him.

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