To pretty much nobody’s surprise, when you turn the greatest cities in America (and, by extension, the Western world) into ridiculously expensive, crime-ridden, rat-infested, vagrant-swamped, crowded, congested, shit-stained, urine-stinking, needle-strewn, apocalyptic wastelands, things don’t go well for you:
A makeshift tent city made up of flapping tarpaulins and cardboard boxes surrounds the gym on all sides.
Junkies and the homeless, many of whom are clearly mentally ill, walk the palm-lined streets like zombies – all just three blocks from multi-million-dollar homes overlooking the Pacific.
Stolen bicycles are piled high on pavements littered with broken syringes.
TV bulletins are filled with horror stories from across the city; of women being attacked during their morning jog or residents returning home to find strangers defecating in their front gardens.
Today, Los Angeles is a city on the brink. ‘For Sale’ signs are seemingly dotted on every suburban street as the middle classes, particularly those with families, flee for the safer suburbs, with many choosing to leave LA altogether.
British-born Danny O’Brien runs Watford Moving & Storage. ‘There is a mass exodus from Hollywood,’ he says.’
And a lot of it is to do with politics.’ His business is booming. ‘August has already set records and we are only halfway through the month,’ he tells me.
‘People are getting out in droves. Last week I moved a prominent person in the music industry from a $6.5 million [£5 million] mansion above Sunset Boulevard to Nashville.’
It’s not just the City of Angels either. New York F***ing Shitty has been shedding people and businesses for years. The Kung Flu has simply accelerated that trend significantly, but the combination of General Tso’s Chicken Pox and the absolutely criminal incompetence and stupidity of Hizzoner Duh Mayuh de Blasio has made the situation significantly worse:
One of the things that used to attract people to the city is its endless amount of attractions. Now, all entertainment venues are closed for the foreseeable future.
‘I love NYC. When I first moved to NYC, it was a dream come true. Every corner was like a theater production happening right in front of me. So much personality, so many stories.
‘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,’ he wrote.
His comedy club are among those that have closed.
‘It’s a great club. It’s been around since 1986 and before that it was a theater…we have no idea when we will open. Nobody has any idea.
‘And the longer we remain closed, the less chance we will ever reopen profitably.
‘Broadway is closed until at least the spring. The Lincoln Center is closed. All the museums are closed.
‘Forget about the tens of thousands of jobs lost in these cultural centers. Forget even about the millions of dollars of tourist-generated revenues lost by the closing of these centers.
‘There are thousands of performers, producers, artists, and the entire ecosystem of art, theater, production, curation, that surrounds these cultural centers. People who have worked all of their lives for the right to be able to perform even once on Broadway, whose lives and careers have been put on hold.
‘I get it. There was a pandemic.
‘But the question now is: What happens next? And, given the uncertainty (since there is no known answer), and given the fact that people, cities, economies loathe uncertainty, we simply don’t know the answer and that’s a bad thing for New York City. ‘
I cannot speak to life in Los Angeles because I’ve never lived there, and indeed have never gotten further than the airport. (Which, if my childhood memory of the smog-covered approach into the city itself is anything to go by, was quite enough.)
I did, however, live in NYFC for a few years. And I can tell you personally that living there is highly overrated.
First, if you really want to enjoy NYFC, you have to live in Manhattan. But that means paying absolute nosebleed rents for a shoebox in the middle of a crowded, congested, noisy place that doesn’t offer anything by way of a real life of any kind.
Yes, the restaurants are great and the parks are (or were) nice and the attractions are spectacular and everything is pretty walkable, at least initially. But it all gets very old very quickly.
The cost of living there is ridiculously high. I know from long personal experience that the amount that you would pay for a single week’s groceries in Manhattan for one person would easily feed a family of four in a smaller Russian city like Voronezh. And rents in NYFC for said shoeboxes would get you a REALLY nice multi-bedroom apartment in Moscow – not that far from the city centre, either.
And at least in Moscow you would have the twin advantages of spectacularly beautiful architecture and even more spectacularly beautiful women, all year round. In New York, neither of those things really applies. Yes, the architecture is impressive, but it’s far from beautiful.
I lived there for four years, and in hindsight I think that I should have left the city years earlier than I actually did. Even then, when I left, I didn’t move that far away. But just that move alone was one of the best decisions I ever made, because I moved to a place with a much lower cost of living, much quieter environs, and much more scenic views across the river.
And I did all of that during the years in which NYFC was booming in the wake of the financial collapse of 2008. But I still worked in downtown Manhattan, and as such I had a pretty much front-row seat (so to speak) to watch Hizzoner de Blasio wreck and ruin the inheritance that he was given by his far superior predecessors, Giuliani and Bloomberg.
Both men understood that the key to making NYFC a great place to live was to make it a safe place to live. That is why the NYPD used to be the best-funded, best-trained, most-respected, and most-professional police department in the entire world.
Once you have safety and order, businesses thrive, artistry flourishes, entrepreneurship takes root, and people in general just feel happier. It isn’t actually that hard to do this, by the way – all you have to do is enforce the law.
But the moment that you stop enforcing the law, you get disorder and lawlessness.
And when you stop enforcing the law for fear of offending the very segment of the American population most prone to extreme violence, lawlessness, disorder, and civic breakdown – which is to say, the Black community – then you get violence, anarchy, and looting.
Toward the end of my time in the USA, I often thought that there were really only two reasons why I stayed anywhere near NYFC. The first was because of my job. Being in the US on a work visa, I really had very little choice but to stay around my employer’s location.
The second, and for me personally the much more important, reason was my martial arts school, which was and remains my second family. And given the way that the pandemic has basically shuttered that and rendered it incapable of doing much more than holding Zoom classes and open-air socially-distanced classes in Central Park, well, that’s pretty much a non-starter now too.
Given that lawlessness and disorder and a refusal to obey basic norms of civilised behaviour have now turned many of the best parts of Manhattan into backdrops for Escape from New York, is it therefore any surprise that people are escaping New York now?
The people most able to flee, are already doing so. That leaves those with entrenched interests in the city who are too poor or too invested to leave immediately. But over time, many of them will leave too. And what will be left, will not be able to maintain the status of what used to be one of the world’s greatest cities.
In Frank Herbert’s Dune series, the death of the God-Emperor Leto II Atreides after a reign of 3,500 years results in a massive diaspora of Mankind across the stars, called the Great Scattering. Leto’s objective was to teach Humanity a lesson that it would remember in its very bones, to avoid becoming too soft or complacent or dependent on any one man, product, location, or thing. And it worked, mostly, because his objective was to ensure Mankind’s ultimate survival against any and all predators that might try to hunt down and destroy the human race.
Now, obviously there is nothing like a God-Emperor causing NYFC’s or LA’s declines. The only God-Emperor we have right now is His Most Illustrious, Noble, August, Benevolent, and Legendary Celestial Majesty, the God-Emperor of Mankind, Donaldus Triumphus Magnus Astra, the First of His Name, the Lion of Midnight, may the Lord bless him and preserve him. But he is no super-predator upon NYFC – indeed, he is from that city and wants it to succeed. Back in his real estate development days, he actually tried really hard to revitalise the decrepit west side of the city, and I believe he would have succeeded brilliantly if local politics had not foiled him.
But the concept of the Great Scattering certainly has parallels here. New York was becoming ever less livable for years prior to the Great Pandemic. The efforts of the Black Looming Menace to destroy civilisation and institute all-out Marxism in its place have only accelerated its decline and fall.
The results of New York’s capitulation to fear, stupidity, greed, and lawlessness will probably be a much larger-scale version of Detroit – once the greatest city of the Midwest, now a hollowed-out crime-ridden hellhole that is nearly 90% Black and nearly incapable of running itself. There have been some efforts at gentrifying parts of that city, and they have succeeded, but the scale of the destruction and devastation is so great that the revitalisation efforts would probably have to be increased an hundredfold just to make any real difference.
Imagine New York F***ing Shitty simply going dark as many of its apartment blocks lose their inhabitants, and those that are left are the elderly who have been there for decades in rent-controlled and rent-stabilised apartments, while the young professional classes that the city needs to survive flee for the suburbs or leave the environs altogether.
Well, there’s no reason to imagine it anymore. It’s happening right now – and the rate is accelerating.