Tag Archives: Vanishing New York

‘Trump Wouldn’t Be President Without the Neoliberalization of New York City’

Author portrait by Chris Schulz

Sari Botton | Longreads | July 2017 | 18 minutes (4,600 words)

In 2007, when a writer going by the pseudonym of “Jeremiah Moss” launched the blog Vanishing New York lamenting the closure of one iconic small business after another due to rapidly escalating rents, I was instantly hooked. It wasn’t long after, though, that I started to notice some major publications dismissing Moss as cranky, overly nostalgic, and naive about the inevitabilities of gentrification. I remember disagreeing with those assessments, and wondering whether I was missing something, or the writers of those pieces were.

It wasn’t until I read Moss’s new book, Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost its Soul, that I fully put it together: the difference between those writers and me was that I had lost my place in New York City. In 2005, when I was evicted from my apartment in the East Village so that a famous filmmaker could pay four times my rent, my foothold there, well, vanished. As a casualty myself of New York’s rising rents, I heard Moss’s message loud and clear.

Now I’m living in Kingston, New York, where, as was entirely predictable to me, a new tidal wave of what Moss calls “hyper-gentrification” threatens to displace me once again.

Last week I met with Moss — who recently came out from under cover in a New Yorker profile as psychoanalyst Griffin Hansbury — at a Cafe in the East Village, to talk about his book (we have an excerpt), and how artists and creatives like me can hang on, and play a different role, when outside money starts rolling in to the depressed areas we move to.

So, should I be talking to you as Griffin or Jeremiah?

I think Jeremiah.

Is the main reason you used a pseudonym, and didn’t go to your own demonstrations, that you’re a therapist?

Not really. The time I started to blog I was working as a social worker at a LGBT community clinic and I was doing copyrighting and copyediting freelance on the side to make ends meet, and I was just starting to get my private practice off the ground. So that’s where I was. When I started to blog, I didn’t put a lot of thought into it. I was sitting on my bed one night and was like, “Oh, I could do a blog. I have all these pictures and journal entries and why not?” And I had written this novel that’s not published about a guy named Jeremiah Moss and I liked writing in his voice. I wanted to keep writing in his voice.

Is his voice very different from yours?

No, not really. But it’s distilled . I just put the blog and the book in his name to kind of keep it separate and not have to worry about. It’s just easier.
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Mourning the Low-Rent, Weirdo-Filled East Village of Old

Jeremiah Moss | Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost its Soul | Dey Street Books | July 2017 | 28 minutes (6,876 words)

As someone who was evicted from her East Village apartment in 2005 — and who now finds herself worried about losing her place in gentrifying Kingston, New York — I was excited to see that Vanishing New York blogger “Jeremiah Moss” (the pseudonym for psychoanalyst Griffin Hansbury) had a book coming out.

Since 2007, Moss’s blog has catalogued the shuttering of one New York City institution after another, and staged demonstrations (which he himself didn’t attend, for fear of outing himself) to try and save them. Where his blog has tended to focus mainly on the East Village and lower Manhattan, his book, Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost its Soul, is more comprehensive, looking at the city as a whole, one borough and neighborhood at a time. It traces what he’s labeled today’s “hyper-gentrification” to the Koch era, and explores the problem in historical, economic, sociological, psychological, and personal terms.

Although Moss has been making his living for years as a shrink, he came to the city more than twenty years ago with the hope of becoming a writer. Having garnered glowing endorsements from veteran New York chroniclers like Luc Sante — not to mention the rare earnest blurb from Gary Shteyngart — it seems he’s now truly arrived.

Below, the first chapter, “The East Village.” — Sari Botton, Longreads Essays Editor

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