Saturday, February 9, 2008

The other side of the coin

Joel Lovell has a great piece in New York Magazine this week called "The Upside of the Downside," in which he hopes that troubled economic times may end the obsession with materialism that accompanied the recent boom years in many big cities. Having grown up in Flint and lived in San Francisco for the past 15 years, I can relate to his desire to live in a place where people's lives no longer revolve around real estate, kitchen remodels, and designer children's clothes. When he writes about his childhood in upstate New York, it reminds me of Flint:

I’ve done plenty of trashing of upstate New York, where I’m from, but mostly I mock because I love. And one thing I love about where I grew up (though it’s a complicated love) is that because no one really had a lot more than anyone else, people’s money woes felt like a shared burden, at least psychologically, rather than a uniquely humiliating one, and everyone kind of dealt with them as best they could and tried not to become too undone. A little bit of that mind-set might be good for New York right now. You don’t own a place yet? You haven’t eaten that $100 truffled foie-gras hamburger yet? You missed that wave of wealth that everyone around you rode to glory? Well, that wave’s receding now, and it’s bringing a lot of people back with it.

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Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at