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New York City Is No Longer The Place I Moved To

It’s a defunct war zone that’s on the verge of collapse. But, don’t fear, we’re very woke here.

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ASTORIA, NYC- We arrived from Prague on July 4th of last year not really knowing if it was going to work out.

My wife and I had the same objective: to advance our careers. This is probably the reason why 90% of people move to the city. You come in, claw and hustle, stay if you make it, split if you don’t. It has been one year since we’ve been based in New York City, and our status here is still yet to be determined.

Our journey in NYC did not necessarily begin auspiciously:

I arrived here around midnight on the Fourth of July. My family and I walked up out of the subway and onto a street that looked like something out of movie about some token “bad part of town.” Drunks were sprawled out over the stoop at the subway entrance. People on the sidewalk were screaming at people in cars. The people in cars were screaming back at the people on the sidewalk. Trash was blowing by in the breeze. Groups of young men were shifting around on street corners. Nobody had any interest in us — it was just interesting to walk through a scene that seemed so contrived and set up as to almost be a cliche of itself.

Then we rounded the corner to go to our Airbnb. There was a fight going on right in front of the gate. At least a dozen people were gathered around a car, rocking it and screaming profanities that revolved around “pedophile-mother-f’cker.” We scurried into our apartment. Welcome to Brooklyn.

I didn’t think NYC was going to be as easy as I thought it was going to be. I knew there was a chance that I could have hit the first pitch out of the park. I had helped out some people in power positions in my industry here before. But as my emails went unanswered it became clear that they were just using me — in Asia I was a benefit to them, in NYC I was a nothing. I would have to dig in.

I knew that pulling off NYC would require a reasonable amount of serendipity and raw chance. It didn’t seem very daunting at the time — the work of a chronicler is powered by these forces. However, throughout my first season in NYC I wasn’t as up for it as much as I usually am. The bar is a research tool, but it’s a lot different scurrying between bars in the icy cold of a wintertime city than it is under the balmy sun of the tropics. I didn’t invest in cultivating connections; partially because it requires a different toolkit to do so in your home country. I also realized that I liked doing things the way I always did them … and I didn’t really want to change. I interviewed for a couple of positions and I ominously recollected what it’s actually like to work for somebody. I crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t be hired … and signed with relief when I wasn’t.

Nonetheless, it started coming together for me here in NYC: a series of speaking engagements were aligned, film projects were going into production, and the value of being located at the crossroads of the world was manifesting itself. This could work out after all …

Then the pandemic blew everything up. Or, more accurately, our politicians’ over-reaction to the pandemic blew everything up. I couldn’t have seen this coming — nobody could have — and, ultimately, NYC was almost as good of a place as any. If I knew the pandemic was coming I would have based myself in a Republican state … but that’s splitting hairs a little — at least I wasn’t Trevor’ed.

However, what happened definitely has an impact on shaping my overall feelings towards NYC and the degree to which I will be able to operate here in the future.

I originally came to NYC for a short list of reasons, but chiefly because it put me at the center of world in terms of air travel routes and I figured it would be a good, multicultural environment to raise my girls. But now — and into the foreseeable future — I have to recognize that it’s not the same place it was when I arrived, and many of the benefits of living here do not currently exist:

The airports There’s nowhere to go. All of my projects / jobs / speaking engagements have been cancelled, so it’s a moot point that I’m 10 minutes from LaGuardia, an hour from JFK, and 80 minutes from Newark.

Media agencies They are shut down, work remotely now, or have moved elsewhere. Most are cash-strapped and are not hiring. Many have gone woke, lost all credibility, and are not places that I would want to work. When even the NYT is putting out intentionally misleading news with political objectives, the industry as a whole is in trouble.

Crossroads of the planet Friends and contacts are no longer coming through the city looking to meet up. I have an apartment in an awesome neighborhood but nobody coming in to show it off to.

The art and culture Gone! This sect was leaving the city even before Covid. You have to wonder how many promising acting / music / art dreams have been permanently snuffed out because our government chose to value the almost dead over the living. (Maybe I should shoot a film about this?)

International community Standing by yourself in the street with a cocktail in a to-go cup really isn’t a good way to make friends.

Family I haven’t been up to visit my family in Rochester since the end of football season and my wife’s family makes her and the kids properly social distance for weeks before they will go near them.

Bills games NY State announced on Wednesday that it won’t be allowing fans to attend games in Orchard park. This alone is a reason to riot.

School for wife and kids – That’s going well. They are happy.

So out of all the reasons why I came to New York City there is only one that still stands. I’m not sure what I’m doing here. You spend the extra money to live in a big city for the perks of life in a big city. Without those perks all you’re doing is wasting money. I can sit in my room and write on the internet anywhere in the world. I moved here for the “something more” that the place offered — the prospects of which are pretty much gone.

Meanwhile, the woke mob has entrenched themselves here. The municipal government allowed massive crowds to assemble to protest in violation of the social distancing protocols they imposed upon us for months … and did nothing as looters ravaged the city. They hung their police force out to dry and hardly shrugged when they were attacked. As they voted to defund the police to save black communities from cops, crime spiraled out of control in precisely these same areas. 42 people were shot on Fourth of July weekend, bringing the weekly total in the city up to 101 shootings. Over the past 28 days 250 people have been shot in NYC.

This is how Sunday played out:

The first victim was a 21-year-old man in Brownsville, Brooklyn, according to the New York Post. ..

A few minutes later, the police was notified of another shooting in The Bronx, where a 29-year-old was found with a gunshot wound in the chest. He was taken to a hospital and declared dead.

Less than an hour later, a 15-year-old boy was shot outside a building on Madison Avenue. He was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive.

Shortly after 8 p.m., the police were notified of three men being shot inside 306 E. 171st St. in The Bronx—just a couple blocks down from where the earlier shooting had taken place.

A 22-year-old and 27-year-old who were shot in the chest and neck respectively were both pronounced dead upon arrival at St. Barnabas Hospital, according to police.

Just before 9 p.m., a 45-year-old man was shot in the head inside a building in Stapleton.


But of course this crime is happening far from where decision makers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez live in luxury. It’s happening in the communities that these politicians are claiming to be protecting as they call to abolish the police. But let’s put this in perspective: nine unarmed black guys were killed by cops in the USA throughout all of 2019; in a 15-hour period this weekend nine black guys were killed by civilian violence in NYC alone. Apparently, black lives only matter when cops are doing the killing … and of course nobody bothers to count all the black lives that are essentially saved by the police.

And to think that all this is all happening in a big city that up until a month ago was one of the safest in the USA.

For most New Yorkers, there’s really no good reason for them to continue living in the city. Most people here work office jobs that can now be done remotely from anywhere, or are artists one tick away from insolvency, or service workers who would be hard pressed to call what they’re doing a career. NYC is a luxury. It’s a place that people chose to live for the joys of being here or to advance a career. People live here because they want to live here, not because they have to — and masses are on the way out.

Filed under: New York City, Politics, USA

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3705 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

5 comments… add one

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  • Lawrence July 7, 2020, 6:42 pm

    Isn’t it amazing how the “conservative” journalists are actually on the ground and talking to people, while the “left” just sit in offices and upper class homes tweeting bullshit. It’s almost as if there is a profit motive in dividing people up. A few years ago, America’s values needed to be exported around the world cause we are the light on the hill or whatever. Now, it is a country unworthy of even exisiting. Have you read Matt Taibbi’s piece…amazing.


    Are you still planning on going to Mexico?

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    • Vagabond Journey July 10, 2020, 11:27 am

      Yes, that is interesting. It’s like the left already has their script written. They know that their audience consists of a large amount of zealots who will not question what they publish as long as it allows them to more deeply entrench themselves in their positions against what they perceive to be the right. More often than not, their enemy is a boogeyman but that doesn’t matter. Just so they keep reading “orange man bad” and fed their dose of “Two Minutes Hate” their lifeblood of outrage will keep pumping. What’s fascinating is how closely 1984 described them — we now really have “thought crimes” for which the punishment is being “canceled.” But, then again, we’ve seen this before. China ’66 all over again.

      Read the Taibbi article. It’s excellent. We need people like him.

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  • Jack July 7, 2020, 10:49 pm

    I feel for you, Wade. I know it’s not what you signed up for, it’s what you got. And it’s probably as good as any place to ride out the pandemic. I think the important thing to look at is when things open back up, how much of those benefits will come back? I think most of them will and riding them out there is probably as good as any.

    But right now, you got to vent and let it out so let it out. It’s all part of the process.

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    • Vagabond Journey July 10, 2020, 11:41 am

      Very true. Being somewhere is a process. It goes up and down, and that what makes it interesting. Problem is that I’ve never been somewhere for so long. I signed up for a base of operations — a place to travel in and out of — not a home. Sure, I’ve made three trips since the lockdown began and I have another coming up in a week and a half … but… it’s not like it usually is.

      What I haven’t said too much about is the fact that I know that this is the end of my work as I knew it. Unless there is a complete breakdown of global control I strongly believe that vaccinations and a health passport will be mandatory to travel. Of course, I won’t comply with either. I hope I’m talking conspiracy theories.

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  • Sarah BB July 8, 2020, 4:43 am

    Ouch, you’re at that stage of the lock down blues hey! Don’t give up on NYC, it may be different but it will always be one of the best capital cities in the world.

    1. This too shall pass. Most of the frustrations you reference – travel, culture etc are temporary closures and things will open up again before too long. I was worried all the reasons I was moving to Madrid were null and void, but bars are open, I can now fly to hundreds of countries again, galleries, museums, theatres have all reopened and they are much quieter and dare I say enjoyable to explore.
    2. Some of this predates the NYC shut down and is a global/national issue. Global business travel was fucked from February when big internationals put their execs on global travel bans. The U.S ban on travel from Europe is a kicker, the only way I can get back to NYC is to detour via the Caribbean for two weeks, which is frustrating as hell for business but kinda cool for pleasure.
    3. The cultural shift to WFH is fucking most global cities. The WFM edict is in place for many multinationals until the end of the year as it is too costly to remodel offices to allow for social distancing and easier to keep them shut. My reference point as always is bars, seeing some of my favourite spots in the financial districts of Toronto, London, Sydney and NY close for good BUT in the midst of despair there is an opportunity for people to reclaim the cities as creative cultural centres again. Most creatives and those with families have been forced out of city centres due to extraordinary rents and global elites using property as a safety deposit box and leaving them empty which is decimating communities and local businesses. After the horrific fall out and necessary rent/property price corrections that are long overdue – it may again be possible for creative souls to inhabit our global city centres and make them culturally rich again. And it just maybe will be possible for people who work 60 hours a week in these cities to afford to buy somewhere to live in these cities again.
    4. NYC will no doubt be a different place 12 months from now, but man, you are living through a moment of history. NYC during the 2020s will be talked about for years. Document.

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