January 10, 2023
There were no yimby tears.
But Open New York was nonetheless none too pleased to see my large rear end waddle up as I crashed their “Housing BrakeThrew😤🍼😫” rally, held yesterday morning across the avenue from City Hall in lower Manhattan.
I brought signs, Love Actually inspo.
I arrived a smidge late and stood next to a fair-sized crowd of about 30 yimbys as traffic heaved and coughed down Broadway. New York City tour buses comically parked noisily right in front of the 11:00am gathering. One tour bus even offered to lend a sorely needed microphone to some of the barely audible ONY speakers.
I may have remained silent but, along with my simple black and white signs, I was instantly noticed.
Sara Lind, of all people, nodded over at me with an achingly practiced smile stretched over her Wisconsin-born face. I could have sworn she had accused me of murdering her but there she was, still quite alive and tipping her chin towards me, grinning wildly, as if to will herself the confidence to face me, the lone person who apparently ruined her entire race for council seat in 2021.
(Spoiler: it wasn’t me who nuked her run but rather Sara’s neck-tattooed-bull-in-a-china-shop campaign manager, Quinn Mootz, whose globally infamous antisemitic breakdown ensured Lind would never make it into office.)
And it wasn’t just Sara who I recognized.
Dan Meelar was there. I only saw him from the back but I bet he was staring at the sky.
Middle East Peace expert Andy Zhang was there so Israelis and Palestinians could breathe a collective sigh of relief. The Omni Zaddy who alleges to be a “freelance performer,” controlled his shaky nerves enough to stagger through a severely unrehearsed speech, written on index cards and seemingly belying any regularity of professional audience-facing by him. Mariah would be unimpressed.
As Zhang sputtered along, ONY’s “director of organizing,” Asia Thomas, grimaced at me like I had stolen her pet.
Update: Andy has since disabled his website (was it something I said?) so, sadly, his headshots are no longer available for public consumption but at least these bangers still exist:
After the rally ended, Samir Lavingia, a senior software engineer at Twitter, despaired to me that he is no longer employed, a fact not yet reflected on his LinkedIn page. Samir had spoken at the rally but had difficulty projecting his voice, ergo the mic offer from the tour bus. I could barely hear what he had to say yet remained distracted by his cute outfit, especially his snazzy mustard-colored scarf (or was it a muffler?) and was glad for the opportunity to actually talk to him afterwards; he had ambled over to offer cookies and to “give feedback” to a fellow beholder of the rally.
As Samir relayed his tragic unemployment situation, I was reminded of ever-victim and almost homeless “twice” Hayden Clarkin: here’s another six-figure-earning whiner. I assured Samir he likely wouldn’t remain unemployed for long. I didn’t even know he had been at Twitter (that explains a lot, amirite?) but he was a well spoken and obviously very highly educated young person who wore really nice clothes.
“I can tell just by looking at you” I relayed to him in reference to his polished presentation as he had initially thanked me for my support of his circumstances.
But my referring to his appearance as an evident professional and as a higher earning individual was conveniently condemned by Samir as “racism” and he relievedly stormed off.
The entire exchange was captured on video, below: the viewer can determine and weigh for themselves my actions and words.
As Samir rejoined his dwindling pack of fellow yimbys, they all laughed, which is an odd response by friends of someone who just endured hate speech. No one came over to defend Samir or to condemn what I had said, furthering weakening Samir’s accusation.
Before my interaction with Samir, the new executive director of Open New York, Annemarie Gray, approached me to reprimand me for my signage. I had met with Annemarie previously, in November 2019, after I had requested a meeting with the NYC Economic Development Corporation, the dreaded EDC, to discuss community concerns about the now dormant Sunnyside Yard project.
Yesterday I asked Annemarie to meet again and, after a brief hesitation, she agreed; video below.
I hope we do meet: yimby and nimby need to start building bridges between them.
Because if yimby remains incapable of interacting with any people other than yimbys that will be problematic in building power and gaining public momentum. ONY is already aware of this issue which is why they started hiring women in 2021 (one whole century after the suffragettes).
And it’s certainly true that yesterday morning there was only one of me and a score and a half of them but that was the largest gathering of yimbys I’ve ever seen outside of an Open New York happy hour. The screaming truth is that there are just not that many of them. And almost all of them showed up yesterday, one of their first public-facing events ever.
And me and muh signs will follow you wherever you may timidly wander⬇️.