« Pork On My Fork | Main | »

February 18, 2004


miss representation

Artists and "other visionaries?" Huh. We use to call those people "trust fund babies." When did you move to benighted Williamsburg? 2000? 1998?. Wow, you were practically in the Donner Fucking Party.

Williamburg was first homesteaded by artists in the early 1980's. In 1991 Hal Hartley ridiculed its inevtiable decline (with a film filled with 'other visionaries'). It's 2004. Too bad you got off the boat so late. Here's a tip: Canarsie. You'll be so visionary you won't even see an artist of an organic tea house until you're decrepit, you don't have to change train lines, and if I'm wrong, you'll be so far out there I won't here your whines.


Wow, Miss Representation is having a bad day. Some NYU attending trust fund babies must have pushed her out of her loft on N. 4th.

I leave this comment here because her website (which seems to rely heavily on Rogets Thesaurus) doesn't allow for comments (heat, kitchen, get out?)


Yeah, whatever.

First of all, Ms. Representation didn't appear to fully read my post. Shouldn't that be required before, y'know, responding to it?

Secondly, I don't live in Williamsburg, or even Brooklyn for that matter. I live in decidedly less-hip Queens. (I think I've been to Billyburg about five times since moving to New York in July 2002 -- so it's not exactly one of my regular haunts.)

Third, I was talking about Atlanta in my post above. By my count, I mention it seven times.

Fourth, artists do tend to make neighborhoods more interesting, in my experience. I find "trust fund babies" and other hipsters to be incredibly annoying...but they don't tend to move in until after the neighborhood attains a certain level of trendiness.

Fifth, while you're consulting Roget's, check a dictionary. It's "hear your whines." Watch out for those homophones. They can be tricky, especially when those trust fund babies take over the really good neighborhoods.


Another factor is Gay Population influx. So much so that cities looking to up their urban appeal have begun actively courting the gay community to their area. In NYC this was obviously played out in the West Village and then Chelsea. Here in LA the same happened in West Hollywood and then Silverlake (which you mentioned). Other than knowing Atlanta has a large gay population, I don't know how this affected the urban landscape there.


Interesting point, HUGH. I hadn't thought of it, but it does make sense, given that gay people are likelier to be in a higher economic bracket. But have cities "actively courted" the gay community? How? Tax breaks for gay bars in certain neighborhoods?

Incidentally, in downtown Atlanta, this wasn't really a factor. Of course some gay people live there, but most of the gay population is concentrated in Decatur (a close-in suburb just east of town) or Midtown (a well-established neighborhood just north of downtown.)


WOW! Lot's of "love" for those trust-funders. Hey, kids..play nice! People with money have feelings, too. Also, notice how none of those trust funders responded to this (?!?) Could be thier nannies are opening thier email and are making the appropriate responses...Could be those trust funders don't give a rip about what everyone says. Trendy means money. Artistic means poverty. Visionary means Stalin. So who in the hell moved in? Sounds like some folks with a little bit of cash and a whole lot of balls.

I personally would not move in to an area without a bell hop.

Just kidding.


Bell Hop...that's funny.

But seriously - who makes statements about trust funders without considering this -

The more money one makes, the more inclined one will be to provide that that money is not sqandered.


It is safe to assume that our "trust funders", for the sake of this site, are no more than consumate idiot's smoking a lot of dope and praying that thier lease doesn't increase at year's end.

In any event, they probably have a good grasp of where thier money is going - like a good bag of stash.

miss representation

A: I understood you were talking about Atlanta. I didn't feel it merited my time to dissect how your analysis was highly anecdotal and thin on a grasp of urban planning beyond the tiresome NIMBYism that pervades these discussions ('No, no, see I'm not the the person that tranformed this Visionary Burb into Yuppie Hell. It was those people, over there. I moved here at least a year before they did.').

B: On spelling: hey, sorry, I was in a hurrry. Left that one in so you have something say to feel like ya 'got me' with. Homophone. Oooh. I tried not to use an 25 cent words this time.

C: What I'm missing, I guess, is where your Malthusian cut line runs. Betweeen artist, visionary, and everyone else. And since your basis of argument seems to be a social order that is demonstrable and enforcable, what of those ur-visionaries who live in a area before the artists? What do they get? There is an Doonesbury strip from the 70s where the artists in your equation are getting skewered, and the same question is asked; the respondent says 'Well, they get to move on and degrade another neighborhood and continue the cycle.' If I need to explain the satire there I'm clearly going to need some more time.

I've never lived in Bklyn. There's an excellent essay in Variations on Theme Park (I forget the author; Michael Sorkin is the editor) about the East Village in the 80's. I moved here (10 years ago) knowing that these laments and arguments are a generation too late (for Williamsburg, or Red Hook, to say nothing of Manhattan. There aren't many areas left in New York where the existing housing stock, typology and location will allow for the development of anything similar to the idealized days of places like SoHo or Williamsburg), and least in any meaningful way (intervention in the form of planning or zoning).


WTF is with the kneejerk responses this has generated? "No, I don't have time to read your post or the articles you link to but I just wanted to seethe and throw out words with ur- suffixes."

Jesus folks, try and restrain your opprobrium until *after* you read everything in question. It might help you figure out if your hatred is at all germane to the fucking topic.


Um. I meant ur- *prefixes.*

Is this what those edjumacated types call "hoist with your own petard"?


You know, Miss Representation, I'd be a lot more likely to give your arguments consideration if they were expressed differently. Your tone seems designed to piss me off, or at least is working that way...if that's not intended, I wonder why you're writing the way you are. And if that is intended, then I'm wondering why you express yourself with such bile.

That would explain the comment re: your spelling. Goodness knows I make spelling/grammatical/punctuation/usage errors. Most people do. I generally refrain from pointing out others' errors, but when they take an aggressive and supercilious tone with me, it's hard to hold back.

My original post wasn't intended to be a rigorous analysis...it was indeed largely anecdotal. (What the hell, it's my blog.) I think I have a reasonably good grasp on urban planning and those sorts of issues, though I haven't studied it formally. (I reed reel good, tho -- I started with Stewart Brand, then progressed to Chris Alexander, Jane Jacobs, Howard Kunstler, and went from there.)

I don't see it as some sort of dichotomy between artists and yuppies -- I'm just observing a pattern that has been chronicled by many people (including people who presumably have studied urban planning) and making comments on how it worked or didn't work in various cities. Yes, I moved to downtown Atlanta (in part) because it seemed like it had the potential to become an interesting neighborhood. (And, as a condo owner, I had a vested interest in its gentrification, to be sure.) I liked that my neighbors made art and put it out on their fire escape. I liked that groups of people got together to hang out in the park or have coffee in each other's kitchens. I could probably be construed as a yuppie, though I don't think of myself as such, and I doubt that my friends would characterize me as such. (At least, that's my fervent hope/prayer.)

My beef is not with the people that moved in to downtown Atlanta when they did; my beef is with the developers who, through their untrammeled greed, retarded the natural gentrification of an up-and-coming vibrant neighborhood. Once they put in the mega-expensive condos that went unsold for quite a while, it had the effect of chilling smaller retail development in the area.

By the way, I understand that in downtown Atlanta (I hate to keep referring to that, but it's the only place where I've seen this process unfold up close), the only people that lived downtown before the Olympic Games were homeless people living on the streets.

I agree with your last point about there not being too many places left in New York for this cycle to continue. (I hear things about Bed-Stuy, though, and I'm glad that Astoria hasn't gotten too trendy, because I like it there.)

Troy Swain

Jesus, Miss Representation, what’s up with your anger? You are REALLY pissed off.

Since when did “artists and “other visionaries”” translate into “trust fund babies”? Maybe a wanna-be artist screwed you over when you were young and you’re still angry but the equation doesn’t fit. For every artist who graduated from Yale and moved to Williamsburg in 1993 on poppa’s funds, there is another artist who graduated from Podunk U., moved to Williamsburg in 1989 and is working as your surly waiter in the E. Village today.

And who cares about when Williasmburg was first colonized? It took over 15 years for the gentrification to solidify and until five or six years ago, anyone could still find cheap rent and raw industrial spaces.

Regardless, Vidiot’s thesis still holds. Artists move into dilapidated industrial areas first. (Remember, the protagonist in Theory of Achievement was a writer. And EVERYONE I know who moved here in the mid 80s until the early 90s was an artist of some sort.) And you’ve been in NYC for over 10 years, so you KNOW his thesis holds. First the junkies; then the junkie’s artist friends; then the artist’s hipster friends; then the hipster’s rich friends; then the rich person’s responsible friends. (Or, in a lot of cases, the junkie/artist/hipster finally gives up and gets a “real job.”)

All of the areas Vidiot mentioned are converted industrial spaces. The people who get screwed are the ones who live in low-rent areas adjacent to those formerly shitty industrial areas.

So far, the only one talking about a neighborhood’s descent into yuppie hell is you. Vidiot made an argument about developers “jumping the gun” and raising the rents on the neighborhood before the neighborhood has a chance to grow “organically.” That can’t really happen in NYC. It sort of happened with Chelsea and Tribeca, but the rich simply moved in and the services simply followed.

Lastly, all of his arguments about the progression of a neighborhood are fairly standard urban theory. In the urban theory circles, city planning circles, and amongst real estate agents nothing he said is provocative. Any real estate person in the city will tell you, “Follow the artists.” If you have money you don’t actually move there, you just buy up the buildings and wait for the inevitable.

One last thing: Hal Hartley was a seer with Theory of Achievement. Like it or not, Williamsburg IS now one of the art world centers.

Troy Swain

BTW, I guess I should add that squatters take over abandoned spaces about the same time that the junkies get there. And the prostitutes and dealers are there too.

This is off topic, but I would like to say: I like a degree of gentrification. I am happy that the shooting galleries and “drug stores” are gone. I hated endlessly repeating, “No, I don’t wanna date,” and “No, I don’t need any smoke.”

[Miss Representation, you were here when walking down Ave. C at night was a frightening proposition. And you remember what Willimasburg was like. I know this doesn’t have anything to do with what you or any of us are talking about, but I did want to say it.]


hi, everybody...idon't know what is this all about,just greeting ya....i'll read sometimes



The comments to this entry are closed.