I am going to level with you guys: the prospect of being stabbed is not one that I relish. In fact, it’s an extremely discomfiting possibility, and I can think of any number of things that immediately, I would rather have occur to me than be stabbed by a machete as a part of your gang’s initiation. Even if sometimes you’re just stabbing for revenge, and I don’t have to worry, it’s just not cool (although some of your gang videos are all right). In a message issuing from a generally unused room in my brain’s house of threat assessment and response, the warning horn is blaring its proud truth song now, and you know what it’s telling me?
1) I really don’t want you to stab me.
2) It is more than a little irksome that I even have to ask.
But since you various gang members, and generally violent, maybe insane people have chosen to stab at least six people over the last month or so, all within seven minutes walking distance of my apartment in Williamsburg, I guess it’s time for me to get right with (as much as I can anyway) the idea that my neighborhood is now stab central.
When I first heard of the threat, I though glibly of how I would respond to being attacked by a guy on a bike with a machete. Naturally disposed towards delusions of my own exceptionalism, I imagined my attacker approaching from behind, his bike gliding with slippery reptilian ease, his dry lips whistling a sickly tune before he’d brandish his stab vector with a comic book SCHINNK! I thought of myself then, flawlessly sweep kicking under his bike with the grace accorded the righteous before the machete flew up end over end into the air, landing lightly in my hand before I proceeded with holy rage to slash him to a chunky puddle.
In a slightly less cartoonish manner, I imagined a brief flash of struggle during which I would be wounded slightly, but in a cloud of defensive instinct and necessary violence whose exact proportion would remain forever ambiguous, I would vanquish (you) my attacker. I would then assume the mantle of a dark, hesitant heroism. I would become a damaged figure streaked with melancholic romance. I would reject the key to the city, draw my blinds for good, and the mystery of my action’s propriety and my dense, conflicted response would compel student documentarians to forever knock at my door, shuffle their feet in the ensuing silence, and leave baffled by it all.
Of course, as you and I know, you are far better at stabbing others than I will ever be at defending myself. So I’m forced to ask, could you please stop?
Now since it’s Williamsburg, and there are all those condos going up and yuppies moving in or what have you, there is an easy mistake to make, and that is to view some of your efforts as a response to gentrification, some real world reaction equivalent to your community being stabbed with the white hot tip of the gentrifugal sword or somesuch. Really though, a stranger to stab is a stranger stab- am I right? These stabbings might be indicative of the problems of demographic change, but they’re not the kibble for New York’s pet narrative of the moment.
And anyway, stabbing to curtail gentrification is sure to be counter-productive. I’ve already talked with some friends, and as soon as one of us is stabbed to death, the rest are going to get tattoos with the murdered friend’s name, strengthening the local gentrified economy just as we’re cementing our memorial. And true- Williamsburg plays way too much Joy Division (bars, coffee shops, children’s clothing stores, drug stores, restaurants, etc.), but if you keep stabbing people you will actually be creating an atmosphere of sufficient existential gloom to warrant Ian Curtis’ bummer bearing prominence. People will be too deflated to leave, and who wants to stab someone who doesn’t mind being stabbed?…Probably you.
Now, I’ve talked to a few lady friends, and they’ve both guaranteed that with a stab scar, I will be irresistible, a version of the melancholic hero described above. But you know what? I would rather not get stabbed than get laid. There is no silver lining, or coupon redemption value here. There is no value.