July 16, 2017

REMEMBERING NEW YORK’S 1977 RIOTS, 40 YEARS LATER. Fred Siegel on “My Political Reeducation:”

Today, the graffiti and gang violence of the 1970s evoke a contrived nostalgia on the part of some hipsters, many of whom hail from out of town but wish that they could have been part of the funky seventies as evoked by Saturday Night Fever and other films of the time. But as a native New Yorker, I look back on the seventies as a kidney stone of a decade—a decade in which I heard the frightening, reverberating thud of a truck crashing through the old elevated West Side Highway a few blocks from my apartment. The city was too caught up in expanding its welfare system to pay much attention to small matters like bridge and road repair.

The dreadful 1977 riots hit Brooklyn the hardest of New York’s boroughs; the poorer the neighborhood, the greater the damage. The damage that I sustained was relatively trivial, but instructive: told that the vandalism that had destroyed Jack’s Pastrami King was an act of liberation, I lost much of my political innocence. The city itself had been mugged, I realized. I’m still haunted by that moment from 40 years ago, when my political reeducation began.

Read the whole thing – if only for the mouthwatering description of the food served by Jack’s Pastrami King, before it was “liberated” into the ground.

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