News and Commentary

Jerry Seinfeld: New York Is Not Dead

"Wipe your tears, wipe your butt and pull it together."
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - JULY 17: Jerry Seinfeld attends the LA Tastemaker event for Comedians in Cars at The Paley Center for Media on July 17, 2019 in Beverly Hills City
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix

Despite New York City’s downward spiral into civil and economic chaos as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns and the Black Lives Matter riots, comedian Jerry Seinfeld has boldly proclaimed that New York is not dead and will bounce back.

In an op-ed for The New York Times, Seinfeld responded to a blog post that went viral last week from former hedge fund manager and comedy club owner James Altucher declaring that “NYC Is Dead Forever.” According to Seinfeld, Altucher is a “putz” that has no sense of the New York spirit.

“Manhattan is an island off the coast of America. Are we part of the United States? Kind of. And this is one of the toughest times we’ve had in quite a while,” Seinfeld wrote. “But one thing I know for sure: The last thing we need in the thick of so many challenges is some putz on LinkedIn wailing and whimpering, ‘Everyone’s gone! I want 2019 back!'”

“Oh, shut up. Imagine being in a real war with this guy by your side,” he continued. “Listening to him go, ‘I used to play chess all day. I could meet people. I could start any type of business.’ Wipe your tears, wipe your butt and pull it together. He says he knows people who have left New York for Maine, Vermont, Tennessee, Indiana. I have been to all of these places many, many, many times over many decades. And with all due respect and affection, Are .. You .. Kidding .. Me?!”

In the essay, Altucher’s biggest argument for the death of New York is the arrival of competent and steady bandwidth allowing for people to work remotely from anywhere in the country that they chose.

“In 2008, average bandwidth speeds were 3 megabits per second. That’s not enough for a Zoom meeting with reliable video quality. Now, it’s over 20 megabits per second. That’s more than enough for high-quality video,” argued Altucher. “There’s a before and after. BEFORE: no remote work. AFTER: everyone can remote work.”

“The difference: bandwidth got faster. And that’s basically it,” he continued. “People have left New York City and have moved completely into virtual worlds. The Time Life building doesn’t need to fill up again. Wall Street can now stretch across every street instead of just being one building in Manhattan.”

Jerry Seinfeld, however, felt that theory to be wildly overblown due to the fact that remote working offers no energy – something for which New York has always been famous.

“There’s some other stupid thing in the article about ‘bandwidth’ and how New York is over because everybody will ‘remote everything.’ Guess what: Everyone hates to do this. Everyone. Hates,” argued Seinfeld. “You know why? There’s no energy. Energy, attitude and personality cannot be ‘remoted’ through even the best fiber optic lines. That’s the whole reason many of us moved to New York in the first place.”

“You ever wonder why Silicon Valley even exists? I have always wondered, why do these people all live and work in that location? They have all this insane technology; why don’t they all just spread out wherever they want to be and connect with their devices? Because it doesn’t work, that’s why,” he continued.

Seinfeld then chastised Altucher for “feeling sorry” for himself by moving to Florida to live a “pastel-filled new life,” accusing him of giving up on a great city.

“You say New York will not bounce back this time,” concluded Seinfeld. “You will not bounce back. In your enervated, pastel-filled new life in Florida. I hope you have a long, healthy run down there. I can’t think of a more fitting retribution for your fine article. This stupid virus will give up eventually. The same way you have.”

Altucher responded to Seinfeld’s criticism on Twitter by saying he spoke from a place of wealthy privilege.

“I’m glad @JerrySeinfeld took the time from his compound in the Hamptons to write a piece on me without addressing any of the actual problems NYC faces. – some putz from LinkedIn,” said Altucher. 

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