Tomorrow’s yesteryears will be hazily golden, too. Now what we have left is an unwritten chronology of names of neighborhoods that white people have at various times actually said out loud that they feel “safe” living in. These days the squeegee men are back. They are working the cars on Atlantic Avenue, by Bedford, at the Armory. The squeegee men are “Prospect Heights adjacent.” The squeegee men are working “ProCro.” The squeegee men are “okay just maybe across the border into Crown Heights.” The squeegee men “can see Prospect Park” if they just look in the right direction.
Mostly, New York’s heroes got smaller. Now our heroes include the black-haired girl with the anchor tattoo who plays accordion most nights on the Brooklyn-bound platform of the Second Avenue F station. When she plays “Killing Me Softly,” everyone—tired or coupled or Candy-Crushing—applauds. Her name is Melissa Elledge, and she’s not a rogue, because who is anymore? Melissa is an official MTA “Music Under New York” artist. Her accordion case overflows with bills, not coins. Around her, people discuss whether or not Lena Dunham is racist, but mostly they stare at their phones.
Liz Smith is 90. Rex Reed is 74. Annette de la Renta is 73. Martha Stewart is 72. Salman Rushdie and David Letterman are 66. Charles Barron is 62. Also, they fired Michael Musto. None has an heir apparent.
The third and allegedly final Bloomberg term ended not in early 2012, when Ron Burkle acquired a majority share of Soho House for $383 million, but in July 2013, when Nicholas Brooks—the son of “You Light Up My Life” composer Joseph Brooks, who committed suicide in 2011 after being indicted on a charge of sexually assaulting almost a dozen women—was convicted of murdering his girlfriend, swimsuit designer Sylvie Cachay. She was found dead in an overflowing bathtub in Soho House with bruises on her throat. There was nearly not a verdict. One juror, an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell who had first studied to be a musician instead of a lawyer, wasn’t initially in favor of conviction. “I’m so done with this,” the millennial told a tabloid reporter afterward, stomping off. Who knows! It was all too much for him.
This summer I heard a rumor about a Bushwick-living recent liberal-arts-school graduate I know. People said he’d quit his day job and was now working for a high-end drug-delivery service, performing services in that sweet spot ranging from courier to gigolo. I hope it’s true so much that I can’t even ask him.