Skip to comments.Mark Steyn On New Yorkers’ Amnesia Of How Bad It Was In The 70s
Posted on 01/03/2014 7:11:35 AM PST by Rummyfan
HH: But we begin, and how appropriately so, on the first live show of 2014 with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. Hello, Mark, Happy 2014.
MS: Hey, yeah, Happy New Year, and congratulations on the book, Hugh. Its the perfect match of author and subject, because you are the optimistic man. And I sometimes feel that leads you a little bit astray on the political field, but this is perfect terrain for you, all the important stuff.
HH: Well, whenever I start to go like the floating uncle in Mary Poppins, I go get my After America book down and read a few chapters, and then Im back on the ground. In fact, I was thinking about
MS: The Happiest Life and After America should probably be published in a joint edition. You know, you start one from one end, and then flip it over and read from the other end.
HH: Im thinking about sending you a giant T-shirt with The Happiest Life on it for your Steynomite tour. Im looking at you Steynomite tour in Florida, February 9th through 13th. Very few people will perceive this is actually a very shrewd play for the early New Hampshire showbird vote for your Senate race, isnt it?
MS: Thats true, and like every, like half the population of Toronto and Montreal, Im headed to Florida for February. And Im hoping to get a big chunk of the New Hampshire snowbird vote while Im down there.
HH: You know, everyone should know if they are in Jacksonville, St. Pete, Fort Pierce, Fort Myers or Miami, Ill bet you sell out this tour entirely like your Australia tour. They ought to go to www.steynonline.com if they want to book the tickets before that happens, beginning February 9th. All right, Im in De Blasio land, Mark. Let me give you a little taste of what I watched live from a 44th Street hotel room yesterday. Here is the new mayor New York, of course setting a new tone.
BDB: Now of course, I know that our progressive vision isnt universally shared. Some on the far right continue to preach the virtues of trickle down economics. They believe that the way to move forward is to give more to the most fortunate, and that somehow the benefits will work their way down to everyone else.
HH: So Mark Steyn, do you suppose because it was so cold, he just wanted a giant straw man to light on fire?
MS: Yeah, thats pretty much it, isnt it? The richest 1% in New York City provide 50% of the citys revenues. The richest 1% provide 50% of the revenue. I wonder what figure he could tell us he thinks they should pay. Should they pay 65%? Should they pay 80%? People in New York, you know, you have to be above a certain age to remember what that city was like in the 1970s and 80s, and you have to still be living there. A lot of New Yorks population is transient. I happened to catch a bit of a PBS special on Marvin Hamlisch, the composer of A Chorus Line. And it showed some scenes of Broadway in the year A Chorus Line opened in 1975. It showed Times Square when Times Square was the kind of place where youd be lucky to get across it without being mugged in broad daylight. That city was dysfunctional. You take the rich people out of that city, and what youre left with is basically an East Coast version of Detroit.
HH: Yeah, Mark, I moved here in 1980, in February of 1980, and I honestly would come out of the hotel on 44th Street and not know if I could go one block left or right without getting beat up. It was truly a horrific place to live. And hes talking about an equality crisis, Mayor De Blasio is. I just got back from South America. I toured the favelas of Rio.
HH: I went down to the river slums of Buenos Aires. You want an equality crisis, thats an equality crisis. He just doesnt really seem to know the difference.
MS: No, and I think thats testimony, I mean, essentially what Nanny Bloomberg and Giuliani did was make the city safe for a guy like this De Blasio guy to be elected to office. And thats a gamble. I mean, as you said in 1980, I remember when I first used to go to New York, and I got to the stage a couple of years ago where theyd cleaned it up so much. You know, I was walking with a couple of show biz pals past the New Amsterdam theatre, and we were saying oh, my, for Heavens sake, Times Square, its just so Disnified and antiseptic and clean. Do you remember the good old days when on this block you couldnt walk eight feet without being mugged by a transsexual hooker? Whatever happened to that Manhattan with all its richness and character? And I think essentially, thats whats gripped New Yorkers, is that their memories of how bad it can be have absolutely vanished.
HH: Yeah, they complain about the M&M store, and forget that peep shows were around the clock in that neighborhood.
HH: Well, this morning, when I was doing Morning Joe, Steve Rattner was one of the panelists, and he looked at me, Mika was very welcoming, as was Harold Ford. But Rattner kind of wore a look of disappropriation, of looking at me like I was from Mars. And he said what do you think the government needs to do for the poor? And I said for example, in my hometown in Northeast Ohio, they could just let people start fracking. They could let them go and get the energy out of the ground, and you wouldnt believe what my Twitter feed lit up with, Mark Steyn. The left in this country doesnt understand how you really help poor people.
MS: No, and you know, I could tell you similar stories from broken downtowns across the Connecticut River from me in Vermonts northeast kingdom, which you know, its not about what the government can do for you. Its about creating conditions whereby youre able to do things for yourself, because no matter how generous your welfare programs are, a satisfying life, a life of dignity, a life of self-respect, comes from being able to support your family, and be able to assume the responsibilities of a freeborn individual yourself. And the idea that somehow we now have trans-generational poverty in this country, trans-generational welfare, I mean, basically, thats what people came to America to get away from. Thats exactly what they came to the city youre in. They got off the boat at Ellis Island, because their ancestors had been peasants in the 13th Century, and they were peasants in the 19th Century, and they didnt want to be peasants in the 20th Century. And now the government is basically miring them in that in perpetuity.
HH: And the most interesting aspect of this mornings show, sad to say, it wasnt the discussion of my wonderful book, The Happiest Life. It was, in fact, Brian Sullivan, CNBC correspondent, telling the story about how his dad lost his job in San Diego 30 years ago, was completely unemployed, they piled into a car, they moved to Southern Virginia, they lived in a three bedroom house with one bathroom, his dad clawed his way back, had no job, no money, and Brian Sullivan is a very successful, very accomplished correspondent now. And thats the American way. And it was very inspiring. Everyone kind of stopped and said wow.
MS: But it should be the American way, Hugh. Hes right. It should be the American way. But the sad fact is America now has less social mobility than all the countries people came to America to get away from. In other words, less social mobility, not just in Canada and Australia, but Britain and Europe, too. And the reason for that is because the Democratic Party has found its in its electoral interest to maintain tens of millions of people as a permanent dependent class. So they can, theres the ruling class, and theres the dependent class. and the escalator between the two is slower than at any time in American history. Americans should be ashamed of that. Thats un-American.
HH: And to close our first segment, I must give you the ironic headline of the year, and it may last. Access to health care may increase ER visits, studies suggest, from this afternoons New York Times website, Mark Steyn.
MS: Yeah, well, we were told, we were told that one of the reasons we had to have Obamacare was people use the emergency rooms of hospitals as a kind of family doctor, because they didnt have health insurance, so they went to the emergency room. And you can bet your bottom dollar the lines and the waits at emergency rooms are only going to get even longer from Obamacare. Thats some kind of genius at work there.
HH: Have you had your first Obamacare letter? Both my wife and I got letters two days before I left California telling me we could no longer use our back doctor of choice. They were out of network. My promise, the President has already just screwed up my health care, and I just wonder if youve got yours, yet.
MS: No, well dont forget, Im 20 minutes south of the Canadian border, so my out of network doctor is actually
HH: is out of country.
MS: My out of network doctor is what we call the rest of the world around here.
HH: Mark Steyn, always a pleasure. The Steynomite tour gets underway on February 9th, America. Go to www.steynonline.com to get your tickets now, or you will be left behind. Dont get left behind.
End of interview.
Just to be contrarian, in those days, at least, we could smoke openly in the streets and in the bars, drink soda as much as we wanted, ingest transfats, worship salt, and eat out of Styrofoam containers that kept our food warm. And there were no “hate” or “thought” crimes. Seems like the good old days to me!
In reading this, one can tell that neither of these guys are New Yorkers! The moaning about Times Square! As my big brother says, today it looks like Mr. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life” took it over. In the 1970s, it had human scale. It was raunchy, filthy and it taught me all of my life skills in how to avoid Ratso Rizzo. I can remember watching “Aliens” at the Criterion when a man walked in with a machete and not one New Yorker blinked. We were tough back then. Now everyone is a pansy on DeBlasio scale.
Typical - Dems pillage a city, leave a mess and the Republicans clean it up.
Then when it’s viable again, like Barbarians, the Democrats are ready to sack again.
Every generation has to learn the same hard lessons because history is not taught any more.
I remember the city of the 70’s. These idiots are going to get to experience it again with Mayor Wilhelm.
But you could do those things in the Giuliani New York, yes? It was Bloomberg who banned all that, right?
Back during the campaign, Republican attempts to bring up the days of Dinkins fell flat when it was revealed high many current NYC residents didn’t even live there 20 years ago (Dinkin’s term).
NYC is a one large sanctuary city, filled with an imported underclass to serve the 1%.
I remember traveling to NYC as a kid and arriving in the Port Authority bus terminal. Always walked down 42nd Street to get to Times Square. My father would always get “meow” calls from the prostitutes standing in the doorways.
Today, whenever I smell diesel exhausted from a bus, I get flashbacks to the good old days in New York.
I’ve not been to NYC since it’s been cleaned up, so my memories of midtown manhattan are of dirt, peep shows and people selling fake watches and things on the sidewalk (among other things)
“I remember the city of the 70s.”
I do as well; as a child I would visit family there. For anyone who has seen “Fort Apache”, it is a very realistic depiction on NYC at the time.
Well, yeah. In Guiliani’s second term, though, he got to micromanaging. He actually tried to reroute PEDESTRIAN traffic. But unlike Bloomberg, when people rebelled, he gave up.
Port Authority led you into a whole other world! The prostitutes on 10th and 11th (who may still be there) were the worst!
Great memories. Don’t forget the movable shell games . . .. ‘Meow,’ now that’s priceless.
My wife’s Niece when there back in the early 1980s. She absolutely HATED IT! Her husband, for years, tried to get her to go back as the city had then been cleaned up, finally she relented and went. She fell in love with NY!
Years later, her daughter moved to NYC so she got to spend lots of time with her daughter there, and learn the city, what makes it tick!
Last year she took ME to NYC for a week. This old country boy from the High Plains, Rockies, and Ozarks, absolutely fell in love with NYC! If given a choice between Las Vegas, Los Angeles, or NYC I would take NYC in a heartbeat.
I saw an old movie about an African King (Eddie Murphy) in NYC. The first thing I noticed in the movie was the subways were covered with graffiti. The subways I rode (N)(Q) were extremely clean.
If people could remember the 70’s, Barry the Arseclown would never have gotten elected.
Coming of age under the failed Presidency of Jimmy Carter made me a Conservative for life.
NYC is a great city. I was in last week and, mistakenly, took a friend to look at the Christmas tree. That was a real mistake because I can’t stand intense crowding. The crowd was almost exclusively American - people probably from all over the country. How different they feel about NYC than most freepers. Makes me sad.
Oh, the 3 card monties! It was fun watching the tourists get taken. Now we’re stuck with the deeply annoying and fake Naked Cowboy.
I was also taught at a young age not to look up at the tall buildings, as that would mark you as a tourist, and make you a target of a pickpocket.
I remember NYC very well, I went there as a naive ‘street-dumb’ kid of 18 in 1973. Before I left to go to my first permanent duty station in Seattle I had learned the following things.
1. If you go out into the ‘city’ you go in groups of at least three. Safety in number y’all...
2. Your wallet goes in your FRONT pocket. It’s much harder to pick-pocket it there.
3. You learn to look straight-ahead and ignore EVERYONE else. Do not smile do not frown, become as faceless as the millions of others walking the streets or using the subways.
4. With Hollywood pushing the ‘racist’ movies along the themes of The Warriors and Assault on Precinct 13, the radio stations and the General lawlessness condoned by the Mayor and the city council, I felt that we were only hours from a full blown race war.
I know many people love NYC and the 24 hour lifestyle that goes with it. But I personally was so damn grateful to get out of that place alive.
The subways are clean in NYC? Get outta here! I don’t believe it!
***Now were stuck with the deeply annoying and fake Naked Cowboy.***
Saw him also. Got a picture of my wife’s niece with him. Bet he’s not naked today!
Plays I saw on Broadway:
NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT.
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.
***I was also taught at a young age not to look up at the tall buildings, as that would mark you as a tourist,****
With a thousand people around you looking up, you will really look out of place if you don’t!
Couldn’t help myself! Had to look up! Just like I had to look down when at the Grand Canyon, AZ.
That's a New York face, and it's what every New Yorker learns to do from an early age. It remains with me even though I left there as a young adult. It drives my family nuts that I still tend to not look people straight in the eyes.
COBOL2Java, born and raised in Brooklyn
Not only are subways clean, they are HIP! A relative of mine who actually takes private cars from his apartment to his place of work - 30 blocks away - bought a Metrocard. The wealthy have found out that the system works and is the best way to get around town.
I know you didn’t write that to be funny, but you are hysterical!
Everything I wrote on this thread I meant to be funny. True, but funny.
I have no doubt that it’s true. I remember NYC in the 70’s just from listening to the news reports here in NJ as a kid. You had to be tough!
Someone fire up the pictures from the garbage strike then. Or just start projecting Dog Day Afternoon in endless loop on the sides of buildings come summer. People will want out of 70’s New York real quick.
I hear ya.
Back in the 70's, my dear friend and I (at the ripe ole age of about 18) lied to our mothers about where we were going and went to NY for a couple of days. We stayed at this run-down old hotel in Times Square (complete with a bell-boy we immediately christened "Igor"),made the rounds of bars and coffee houses, met the most interesting people including a guy who offered to show us around - he was completely harmless.
We learned a lot, had a great time and never felt threatened. We had our guide, after all. :-)
“That’s a New York face, and it’s what every New Yorker learns to do from an early age.”
I went to school with a guy from Brooklyn who took it upon himself to teach this California boy a little “Brooklynese” and the NY face was part of it! He said you risk getting called out, “What’r yoose looking at?”
I still haven’t been to NY, but thanks for the memory!
It was a wild and crazy time in NYC. The only time I lost my courage was when a college friend (a nice young lady) insisted we go to a show in Times Square that was in some cellar someplace that featured a fire eater and assorted freaks of nature. I hightailed it out of there, heading for the wilds of New Jersey. As someone once said, there are minerals as well as bacteria in soil.
Being 18 and immortal helped, of course.
Like you, we went to a couple of places, sniffed danger and got the hell out.
I still remember the great food at the neighborhood places that our guide took us to.
NYC schools are already promising a “progressive agenda”
as if they weren’t already
It's not just the Democrats.
Ford was good with the vetoes. Compare him to the Ruling Class prince, George W. Bush.
Absolutely! And whatever you do, you DON'T respond "nothing". They'll come back with "Oh! So I'm nothin' to you!".