It’s true what they say, New York is dead. It’s not just dead… it’s a dirty, dangerous, ghost town, where crime is rampant, garbage is everywhere, and storefronts and restaurants are empty. Everyone with money left – they went to their houses in the Hamptons, or bought a house upstate. Others, who are not rich, but lost their jobs in the pandemic and couldn’t possibly continue to pay NYC rent, also left. They went back to whatever hometown they originally came from – either to live rent free with their family for a while, or if they could afford to do so, they made the move to another city or town somewhere other than here – perhaps to a city that is still alive with a hospitality industry that hasn’t been totally SHIT ON by the Governor. I’m still here, because I can’t afford to move (yet), and also because my job is based here (even though I work remotely, and pray we will be able to continue to do so for the rest of eternity). My boyfriend’s job is also here, and sadly his is a job that cannot be done remotely (restaurant/hospitality industry). If I had the money or option to just pick up and leave, believe me, I would have done so years ago… I’ve wanted to leave NYC for the last three years, but these past 10 months have been the nail in the coffin, my friend.
I’ve lived here since 2012, and before that, I did two years of college here from 2006-2008. I can honestly say, I’ve never seen the city so dirty, run-down, dangerous, or deserted as it is right now. Everyday, random people are getting slashed on sidewalks, pushed into oncoming subway trains, randomly attacked at subway stations IN BROAD DAYLIGHT, etc.. I’ve never been scared to ride the subway alone – especially during rush hour or in broad daylight (apart from when a terrorist attack happened elsewhere and made me dwell on an attack happening on the subway…). Now? I avoid the subway at all costs unless I’m with my boyfriend. I had to take it the other day to run an errand for work, and during rush hour, RUSH HOUR (8:30am) the train was totally deserted and the stations were totally deserted, save for a few homeless people. It’s eerie, and straight up dangerous. There’s not a soul around to see you if you get attacked or hear you scream for help. All of Chambers St. station in lower Manhattan was TOTALLY empty.
In the past 6 months or so, the times I do ride the train, what I see is tragic. There are more homeless people than ever before – also a lot of criminals and mentally ill homeless people, and also criminals that have been released from prison due to COVID. People who commit violent crimes are being released back onto the streets… and it shows. I’m not saying that the homeless people are the issue – although it’s clear HOMELESSNESS itself, IS an issue. It’s the violent, psychopaths starting fights and carrying knives that I’m talking about. The shit I’ve seen in the last few months, I have never ever seen before in my years in NYC… and believe me, as someone who rode the subway everyday and used it at night… I’ve seen some shit in my years (a guy masturbating into his coat, had my ass grabbed on a crowded train, people riding the train in underwear, people having psychotic breakdowns on the train, a fight on the platform… the list goes on).
A month ago, I was traveling back to Brooklyn from Manhattan with my boyfriend and I saw what appeared to be a homeless man, robbing another homeless man, who was either dead or hopefully just knocked out on drugs and in a wheelchair. I have seen junkies shooting up heroin on the stairs of subway stations at 5pm, making no effort to hide what they’re doing and had to step around them to exit the station. There are no cops to be seen anywhere these days. There used to be officers randomly patrolling the subway stations at all hours of the day – but especially the busy stations (Union Square, 34th Street, 42nd Street/Times Square) and especially during rush hour. Now? I never see a single officer. Like who would I even report what I saw to (in the case of the dead/drugged up homeless guy)? Who would I scream to for help if someone tried to assault me?
I’m not even scared to ride the subways because of COVID. I’m scared because of the lack of people, and the growing increase of subway violence. Just a couple of weeks ago, some guy was punching/beating up women at a subway station in Bushwick, not too far from my house. The attacks were happening around 8pm… a perfectly acceptable time for a woman to be riding the subway alone. Not that that should even be a FUCKING THING – “an acceptable time” for a woman to ride the subway….. Women should be able to safely ride the subway at any time of the day or night by themselves and be and feel safe. What I’m trying to say, is that it’s not like the attacks happened at an off-hour, like 2am. After six different women got attacked by the same dude and at the same station, they finally caught this asshole. I hope he stays in jail for a long time and doesn’t get released back onto the streets because of COVID. I never thought I’d have to anxiously wait up for my boyfriend every weekend when he comes home from work, alone, at 11pm and on the train. But I do worry – it’s fucking dangerous out there. We both have pepper spray key chains now, but I’m not sure what good that will do if a psycho with a machete shows up in your subway care and no one else is there but you and him.
There are straight-up tent cities/homeless compounds sprouting up everywhere – under the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway), on sidewalks, wherever. The trash removal and city cleaners have all experienced cutbacks, so there are just piles of trash and litter EVERYWHERE. I’m honestly not sure how the MTA is even going to survive since no one is riding it, apart from a few essential workers. The city is in legit shambles. SoHo, the mecca of tourist shopping, is also ghost town USA. More than half the stores are gone and the spaces remain empty with “For Rent” signs in them. I honestly don’t know how the city will ever recover from this. I don’t think it can.
And if all of what I’m saying here has you thinking about the rebuke Jerry Seinfeld wrote in the NYTimes regarding New York NOT being dead, I’m pretty sure that mega rich asshole wrote that think-piece from his multi-million dollar estate in the Hamptons… not sitting inside his NYC townhouse while trash bags piled up on the side walk and a homeless person took a dump on the sidewalk. Furthermore, unless you currently still live here, you have no fucking say.
I’m convinced all of the people who left have most likely realized they’re much happier wherever they went to – paying less rent, lower prices for groceries, people are pretty much nicer and more friendly everywhere else, and enjoying all that fresh air and more space. The only reason I ever came to NYC was for the job opportunities, culture, and nightlife. Now, that’s all gone. Why would I continue to live here as long as I can keep working remotely for the same company? Why would I choose to pay $2,350 a month for a 1 bdrm. apartment in a crappy neighborhood, when I could be putting that down on a mortgage for what is essentially a mini-mansion anywhere else in the country? Paying $20 for a fucking cocktail I can get for $9 anywhere else in the country? So I can have bragging rights that I live in NYC? I don’t think so….
Anyhow, darling, this blog has totally evolved from the food blog it was once supposed to be. So, on that note, here is my recipe for mushroom carbonara (vegetarian, but not vegan):
- 1/3 cup olive oil (plus 2 TBS. more to finish)
- 3 Portobello mushrooms
- 3 eggs (I try to buy my eggs directly from a farm where I can see the chickens in action – I know this isn’t a possibility if you don’t live near any small farms, but please splurge on your eggs, and at the very least please make sure they come from cage-free, free-range, humanely raised chickens)
- Linguini or spaghetti
- Fresh basil (finely chopped)
- Fresh parsley (finely chopped)
- 1/2 small white or yellow onion (finely minced)
- 4 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
- 1 cup of good-quality Parmigiano-Reggiano (finely grated)
- 1 lemon
- 1-2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. Smoked paprika (*optional* – adds a nice smokey flavor, similar to bacon)
- Salt and black pepper
- 1/3 cup pasta water (taken from the pot of boiling pasta, when it’s almost finished cooking)
- Wash and chop your mushrooms and set aside; finely chop onion and garlic
- Heat olive oil over low heat in a medium-sized sauce pan, and add in finely chopped onion; stir occasionally over low heat until soft and translucent
- Once onion is soft and starting to yellow, add in the garlic and cook for another minute or so, being careful garlic does not burn
- Add in the chopped mushrooms, dried oregano, salt, pepper, a generous pinch of smoked paprika, and cook over low-medium heat for about 10-12 minutes or until mushrooms are thoroughly cooked
- Add in the chopped basil, cover, and turn heat to lowest setting (or off if your stove runs hot and will continue to cook)
- Prepare large pot of water (heavily salted) for pasta, but setting on high-heat and bringing to a boil
- While you wait for the pasta water to boil, beat together the three eggs, 1/2 cup Parmigiano, and juice from 1 lemon until you have a thick, rich “sauce”. Set aside
- Once the water is boiling, cook your pasta per the timing directions on the box (you’ll want it to be al dente)
- While the pasta is cooking, I will usually turn the heat back onto low (if I turned it off) to make sure the mushroom mixture stays warm; this is also when you want to use a ladle or measuring cup to extract and set aside 1/3 cup of the pasta water
- Drain pasta once it is done cooking, and then add it back into pot along with some extra olive oil, egg mixture, 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta water, an additional 1/3 cup of grated Parmigiano, and the chopped parsley
- You’ll want to taste-test now, to see if more pepper, salt, or fresh lemon might be necessary
- Mix together until the pasta is well coated and mushroom mix is uniformly distributed, and serve topped with an extra sprinkle of parm and fresh parsley!