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Sunday, January 5, 2014

On slumlords, and slums, and not wanting anyone dead

I completely agree that this morning's New York Post cover is sketchy, and racist, and is basically anti-Semite-baiting creepiness.

jewish racism

But can we talk for one moment about how many Orthodox Jews are running slums and shitty housing operations, and how none of us is saying enough about it?

I'm not going to share the whole story right now. (I'm not.) (My kids are out for an hour, and I'm in the middle of a short story, and although this is burning me up right now, I have to act like writing is my profession and not just listening to whatever the voices in my head are telling me to write about.) But when I was trying to become more observant, and living in Crown Heights, and the only place I could find was a big old tenement on Empire Blvd. -- I was the only Orthodox Jew in the building, and my roommate and I were the only Jews/white people whatsoever -- conditions were atrocious. The halls and stairways smelled like pee. A toilet backup would last weeks before somebody came. You had to wait in line for an hour to hand in your rent check every month, in a dirty office through a glass window. (I wrote this short story about it, although I exaggerated things.) There were roaches the size of hot dogs. One morning I was on a wheezy elevator with a 6-year-old kid, and I stepped on one of those giant roaches, and a mountain of pus oozed out, but he was relieved. (I think he was relieved.)

It stayed there for almost a month, that body and that hardening pus. No other residents would touch it. I kept thinking maybe I should scrape it off, since I was the murderer in question, but I was squeamish, and besides, I kept thinking, I did the good deed in the first place. But, come on. How ridiculous, how devoid of humanity, is it that the landlords and all the people who work for them spent an entire month not going on an elevator in their own building, not even looking inside, and letting all sorts of terrible things happen -- most of which are way more traumatic than a dead squashed cockroach.

I'm not saying that the deceased, may he be remembered in blessing, was one of those people. I'm not saying he didn't do amazing things for other people. But maybe we can do one more act of kindness in his memory, and look at the money we're making from people, and ask just how we've earned every dollar, and if we're truly helping every single person we can.

(Edit: Changed the first line from the questionable "possibly echoes the Holocaust in a really scary and journalistically questionable way" because Yitz and David said it sounded weird and was drawing away from my main point. Thanks for the edits {you can still read about it in the comments below}.)


DK said...

"possibly echoes the Holocaust in a really scary"

I am at a loss to understand this nonsense. Explain. I don't see that AT ALL. HOW does this nonsense "echo the Holocaust?" Please explain.

matthue said...

I had to read the headline a few times to figure out why people thought it was anti-semitic. (The article is definitely more straight-up racist.) Then I decided it was echoing that thing that our grandparents used to say, "They want us all dead" and "they won't rest till we're all dead."

DK said...

Matthue, this is not a reasonable way to interpret the NY Post article. Do you admit this is not a reasonable interpretation from any lucid angle?

DK said...

I meant cover.

DK said...

You are entitled to your opinion, but I still disagree with your assessment, because he looks fine in the picture. When the Post wants to present someone in a bad light, they use an unflattering picture. And that is where your premise utterly falls apart.

tkob said...

This headline is blatantly anti-Semitic and anti-Hasidic. It also says 'if you don't like how you're being treated it's ok to kill the person - he/she deserved it. BAD FORM.
But Matthue, be real, there are PLENTY of non-religious and non-Jewish slumlords in NYC as well.
At this point, we still don't know who/why this happened. It could have been completely unrelated to real estate!

DK said...

"This headline is blatantly anti-Semitic"

How? How is the headline AT ALL anti-Semitic?

Do explain. Also, do you know what a headline is?

matthue said...

oh, look. our borough president is weighing in.

DK said...

So did the grand leader of Williamsburg, Rabbi MoisheDovid Niderman.

"We are all victims."


DK said...

Niederman is the sensitive soul who also offended when the NYC Health Department issued a bizarre warning that bare mouth to freshly circumcised baby penis could lead to herpes when we all know it is "highly safe."

Why does everyone pick on the poor chasidism? WHY?!?

בְּשֵם יְהוָֹה וְיֵשׁוּעַ וְרוחַ מִרְיָם said...

||It seems, on that side of the Yarden, there was common to be murderers and since murder was very common, so they had more Cities of Refuge|| - Mrs. Shira Smiles

בְּשֵם יְהוָֹה וְיֵשׁוּעַ וְרוחַ מִרְיָם said...

in East Asia, it is improper to travel alone, unless you're a samurai or an eskrimador. that assassin ilk.

בְּשֵם יְהוָֹה וְיֵשׁוּעַ וְרוחַ מִרְיָם said...

DK: "Holocaust echoes"? Please explain.

John Cusack's depiction of Max (2002) Rothman (a fictional character based on the Shoah), especially the very last scene is eerily similar to the surveillance videos.

Germany, emphasis on Ger or Grrr and Manny, is ancy again.

בְּשֵם יְהוָֹה וְיֵשׁוּעַ וְרוחַ מִרְיָם said...

Dante Basco carries a pocket knife, along with attached keys, everywhere he goes; he just attended an anime convention. Yes, Rufio, who defended Peter Pan, after mocking him at the beginning of the Spielberg flop (it remains a cult hit, along with Rufio, apparently). Jo Koy is also wary and brandishes keys in between his fingers, occasionally: I'm Wolverine!

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