Further Adventures in Fierce, Low-Stakes Battles: Do You Care If the Rushkoffs Leave Brooklyn?

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Photo: iStockphoto.com


Has any mugging generated a higher word count — both written and aural, now that there's a WNYC audio clip available — than the fateful moment that parted writer Douglas Rushkoff from his wallet? We've read the writer's original Christmas Eve post, "Merry Christmas: Gimme Your Money" (on his own blog, now temporarily disabled), which led to blanket coverage and furious discussion on other city blogs. We've read his wife, Barbara, also a blogger, thrice denying the Borough of Kings: "Brooklyn, Schmooklyn. Yeah, it's pretty here, but we are surrounded by crime … It costs $2,000 a year to insure my wedding ring." One can hear the faint rustle of public sympathy falling away at this point. "Nah, I am not liking it here much now … We outta here." (That original post is now gone, too). And we've read well-meaning bromides from the Rushkoffs' colleague and neighbor, Steven Berlin Johnson, who's trying to keep his friends from leaving: "Where else in the country can you go from the houses of world-famous authors and movie stars to Hasidic Jews and working-class African-Americans all in the space of about twenty blocks?" (Um, ever cross 110th Street?)

Underlying the argument is the parties' cozy collusion in pretending that there's something newsworthy here — or, for that matter, the idea that the Rushkoffs are some kind of local treasure. Indeed, even we at Daily Intel succumbed, half-jokingly promoting the incident to the status of trend harbinger: "Are the Writers Leaving Brooklyn?" One now waits for a Slate-style series of pop-ins from auxiliary characters with their own yawnsome takes on the event: "I was the guy who mugged Douglas Rushkoff"; "I was the Rushkoffs' real-estate agent."

Luckily, Rushkoff himself puts the matter to rest yesterday in his lengthy interview with Brian Lehrer. "Park Slope is dark; it has residential streets that nobody walks on," he explained. "[In the East Village] I knew which drug dealers are on which corner, and I actually had a relationship with them. In Park Slope, there's a tension in our relationship … I don't think they consider me part of the same neighborhood." And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen: The Rushkoffs are leaving Park Slope because they don't feel accepted by their local drug dealers. And how does Doug respond to his friend Steven Berlin Johnson's entreaties? "Steven Berlin? He lives in a gorgeous townhouse by the park. He's not living in the same Park Slope that I can afford."

The Brian Lehrer Show: January 08, 2007 [WNYC]