Twenty years ago, Seattle was practically nowhere on New York City's map. Today, NYC knows our city, its location, and its kind of economy and new politics, all thanks to the "six of the best" it recently received from the massive e-commerce company that's based in its downtown area, Amazon. NYC began misbehaving when it was announced late last year that Amazon would build a part of its HQ2 in Long Island City. Many of its citizens demanded that the corporation not ruin NYC. Complained about the huge tax breaks. Feared that the 25,000 promised jobs would not benefit working-class families, but instead, increase local rents, deracinate thousands, and displace old, small, and beloved businesses.
On February 14, Amazon said enough is enough, and canceled its plans for HQ2 in NYC just like that. The business community exploded with rage. Restaurants with high-end visions began "weeping." A New York property firm that pounced with tiger-excitement on what it first saw as a pot of HQ2 profits, but instead turned out to be the ground opening, has found itself in a deep and dark debt hole. The state's governor, Andrew “Amazon” Cuomo, went as far as to claim on TV that the cancellation is “the greatest tragedy [that he has ever] seen since [he's been] in government.” Cuomo entered government in the 1980s. Damn!
The 206 has entered the mind of a disciplined New York City. We are the capital of a revitalized and strident neoliberalism that's making sure its cane strokes are felt and known.
During my recent visit in NYC, I was surprised to hear the name of my city mentioned a number of times in bars, restaurants, and parties. Indeed, in one cafe, located in the basement level of a hotel called citizenM (I stayed there for two nights, but left after a white security person seemed to follow me to an elevator to make sure I, who happens to be a black man, was a guest), I caught, in the space of just two minutes, three different conversations that involved Seattle (one was about the citizenM set to open here soon; another about a successful business trip to the city; and, most amazing of all, another actually concerned our underwhelming snowpocalypse). And here is something that would never have happened even 10 year ago: When asked where I was from, my answer puzzled no one. That's our city now. The one that gave NYC such a licking—six of the best.
Remember when Amazon threatened to back out of a huge new Seattle tower if the city passed its head tax? The head tax was repealed, and now Amazon is backing out anywayhttps://t.co/BgOz88WrCf
— Mike Rosenberg (@ByRosenberg) February 27, 2019
But Amazon is on a roll. It's feeling and exerting its terrific power where ever it can. A few days ago, I was in NYC reading headlines about the Amazon pullout in subway kiosks; today, I'm in Seattle reading, while on the Link lightrail, posts about our city receiving yet another licking from Amazon. And this one after Seattle has done everything humanly possible to behave well for Headmaster Bezos.
Amazon has placed a high-profile Seattle office project on the sublease market, signaling plans to scale down its growth in its hometown.
The skyscraper project, once an emblem of Amazon’s ambitions in Seattle’s urban core, now becomes a symbol of its uncertain future in its hometown. The move follows Amazon’s decision to back out of its HQ2 project in New York City after opposition there, amid signs that the company will focus its Seattle-area growth in nearby Bellevue, Wash.
And now we must make a brief return to Empire (as in British empire—the second movement in the history of capitalism). All school boys know the score. The names of those who've done some very naughty, awful, bad things (caught smoking behind the squash courts by a prefect; or caught with your socks down in the hall; or failing to report to a first team Saturday match to show your support) are announced during assembly on a Monday. If your name is on that unfortunate list, you must visit the headmaster's office at exactly 9 am. When you enter his office, after being called, you bend over, receive six strokes of the cane without uttering a complaint or cry. Once completed, you must not forget, in your agony, to thank the headmaster for the thrashing and you must only rub your sore bum once completely, not only out of his office, but the office's building. This is how it's done. This is how you break the incorrigible.