Comedian Jerry Seinfeld penned a heartfelt op-ed in the New York Times on Monday telling residents of New York City to stop complaining so much, the city would be just fine.
Seinfeld was ostensibly responding to an essay written by a comic and club owner who, in a clear moment of stress and malaise over the problems plaguing the city wrote, "NYC IS DEAD FOREVER." That screed was published by James Altucher on the professional networking site LinkedIn.
Every subculture I loved was in NYC. I could play chess all day and night. I could go to comedy clubs. I could start any type of business. I could meet people. I had family, friends, opportunities. No matter what happened to me, NYC was a net I could fall back on and bounce back up.
Now it's completely dead. "But NYC always always bounces back." No. Not this time. "But NYC is the center of the financial universe. Opportunities will flourish here again." Not this time.
"NYC has experienced worse". No it hasn't.
Altucher went on to say that he had left his beloved NYC and was now living in Florida, perhaps permanently. He had seen more than 10,000 other New Yorkers express their own discontent with the city too through various other social media. The homelessness crisis, the surge in remote work, and the long-lasting implications of the pandemic and riots all drove Altucher to his strong feelings about why New York has finally gone beyond the pale.
Seinfeld, the world's wealthiest comedian who is worth at least $950 million, found Altucher's sour mood about the Big Apple to be extremely irritating.
One thing I know for sure: The last thing we need in the thick of so many challenges is some putz on LinkedIn wailing and whimpering, “Everyone’s gone! I want 2019 back!”
Oh, shut up. Imagine being in a real war with this guy by your side.
Listening to him go, “I used to play chess all day. I could meet people. I could start any type of business.” Wipe your tears, wipe your butt and pull it together.
He says he knows people who have left New York for Maine, Vermont, Tennessee, Indiana. I have been to all of these places many, many, many times over many decades. And with all due respect and affection, Are .. You .. Kidding .. Me?!
Truthfully, both Seinfeld and Altucher are missing quite a lot of the point. Altucher's sadness about empty office buildings and the familiar urban comforts of New York being gone could be considered somewhat of a petty complaint while tens of thousands of small businesses face permanent closure and families lose their homes.
But Seinfeld's blase attitude about the destruction of the city oozes with elitism and ignorance. Sure, a version of New York City will probably return if and when the tyrannical leadership duo of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio deem it acceptable to restart the city economy.
Even with a mass exodus of New Yorkers to the more suburban, less dangerous regions of the country, NYC will still be home to millions of unique people, history, and culture. But what both comedians missed in their columns was the real pain and destruction being heaped onto the city.
This isn't a quirky phase, worthy of dismissal and a "meh, who cares," New York attitude. It's the shocking and intentional dismantling of an American bastion of freedom and prosperity, and lives are being lost because of it.
The damage being done in New York by incompetent leadership and destructive criminals with no regard for law or safety is irrevocably harming thousands if not millions of people. Jerry Seinfeld, in his mansion 90 miles east of the city on Long Island, doesn't have to worry about being evicted or laid off. He doesn't have a family depending on the success of a small business that hasn't been permitted to fully operate for nearly six months. Some people are leaving New York City because they have to, not because they are "some putz."
Seinfeld's whimsical suck-it-up-ism casts him more as a middle-aged, New York celebrity version of Marie Antoinette telling her people to eat cake than as a relatable ally in a time of tragedy.
Maybe NY will recover, maybe it won't, but it's easy to claim everything will be a-ok when you're not riding out the virus in a one-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side. https://t.co/n5Xl9tj0gK— (((Jason Epstein))) (@Southfive) August 24, 2020
Of course New York isn’t done, it’s going to swing back. But it won't be because Seinfeld doesn’t want to hear about the problems.
The dream of living there, the unwritten promise of New York City is currently in tatters. Apartments sit empty, as the would-be crop of aspiring artists and comics make other plans for their young lives. After all, no comedian without previously acquired wealth can make it in a city where comedy clubs are outlawed.