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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Audio of Rushkoff Interview

Monday, January 08, 2007

Doug Rushkoff was interviewed and answered calls on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show about his Christmas Eve run in with a mugger in front of his home in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. Now, NPH doesn't live anywhere near Brooklyn or anywhere near New York, but this is a really interesting conversation Rushkoff has unearthed. Listen to the interview here (scroll down to "Brute Market Force").

What's most interesting to NPH about it is the amount of self-interested criticism Rushkoff has received from his neighbors for writing and speaking about the incident. "You're hurting our property values," they're telling him. So rather than creating a dialogue with his fellow citizens about crime and their responsibility to respond to it, he's elicited annoyance and fear from them because of what the financial implications might be of actually talking openly about the problem.

NPH (who is not a property owner) has to surmise that this is citizenship in the 21st century: looking out for one another's property value.

We recently expressed a guarded optimism about the development going on in the urban core of the Heartland city otherwise known as NPH-ville. NPH does what any self -respecting white person with a degree in the humanities from a liberal arts college has to do: we wring our hands over "gentrification." And this is why. Rushkoff sums up what has happened in his Brooklyn neighborhood like this, quoting what the police officer who responded to his mugging said to him: "You've taken a whole bunch of rich white people and put them smack on top of a poor neighborhood, and . . . that neighborhood is still there; all the criminals are still there. It's still the city. That's all."

Our idyllic city is experiencing a boom of condo and loft development in formerly depressed urban areas, and it's "rich white people" who can afford to pay the mortgages and the rents for those properties (NPH and the missus looked at some of them on a lark and gawkingly backed away). What's going to happen to all those people that developers and the city are trying to attract to those properties when they realize that "It's still the city?" Rushkoff takes it with a good dose of resignation, even ribbing himself for the fact that he got caught up in the market hype of it all. But most people won't take it like that. Most people will "want something done" about "the criminal element."

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 11:36 AM


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