Is it worth living in a big city when you can’t engage with everything a big city’s supposed to offer? When you can’t go to the restaurants, the plays, the concerts, the copious orgies? Plenty of people are reckoning with that question in the COVID era, asking whether it’s worth paying exorbitant rents and taxes when Broadway’s on hold until at least 2021. One of them is writer James Altucher, who recently chronicled his departure from the city in an essay on LinkedIn. While some praised the piece for its data-based exploration, others got so mad about it that they penned their own responses. And when you’re comedian Jerry Seinfeld, you can get that response printed by the New York Times.
Deriding Altucher as “some putz on LinkedIn,” Seinfeld tells him to “wipe your tears, wipe your butt and pull it together.” He goes on to speak in lofty terms about why New York will bounce back from the coronavirus, citing the “real, live inspiring human energy” that exists in big cities. “Feeling sorry for yourself because you can’t go to the theater for a while is not the essential element of character that made New York the brilliant diamond of activity it will one day be again,” he writes.
Altrucher was quick to point out that Seinfeld—who owns multiple homes and many luxury cars—didn’t really address the problems that New York City is facing during the pandemic, from mass business closures to a looming real estate crisis.
Loose concepts of “energy” and “personality” are nice and all, but they don’t take it into account the newly unemployed people who can no longer afford a city’s inflated taxes. Or the newly remote workers realizing they can just do their jobs from home. “Everyone has choices now,” writes Altucher. “You can live in the music capital of Nashville, you can live in the ‘next Silicon Valley’ of Austin. You can live in your hometown in the middle of wherever. And you can be just as productive, make the same salary, have higher quality of life with a cheaper cost to live.”
Seinfeld’s retort? “This stupid virus will give up eventually.” Nearly six months into lockdown, that’s becoming harder and harder to believe.
Send Great Job, Internet tips to firstname.lastname@example.org