'Vanishing New York' Author Steps Up the Cynicism with New Blog 'The Grumbler'
By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
MANHATTAN — What’s a local blogger to do with so much frustration over New York’s changing landscape and only one outlet to express his anger?
For the author of the popular website Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York — touted as “a bitterly nostalgic look at a city in the process of going extinct” — the answer is to start a new blog to handle the abundant cynicism that spills over from reporting daily on Manhattan’s continued transformation from gritty to glam.
The Grumbler, the new online effort from Vanishing New York founder Jeremiah Moss, seeks to opine on a broader range of complaints from the curmudgeon’s-eye view of the evolving metropolis.
“One of my motivations behind the Grumbler had to do with the ways in which, over time, I had diluted the original ‘mission’ of JVNY, which began as a personal outlet, really, to preserve memories of the city and also to have a space in which to voice a part of me that was angry and powerless over the rapid, large-scale losses to New York,” said Moss, using a penname, who’s tallied more than 1,300 blog posts since starting the site three years ago.
JVNY has grown both its audience and breadth of coverage since launching with a handful of posts mourning the loss of longtime Manhattan institutions, like the Howard Johnson’s in Times Square or Chumley’s tavern in the West Village.
“The more I wrote, and connected with people, the more I wanted to write, and I found that I was straying from topics within the theme of ‘vanishing New York,’” Moss said. “I have felt conflicted about that. So it has long seemed necessary to have a place to put ‘the other stuff’ that I was thinking about and wanting to write about.”
The “other stuff,” according to Moss, includes a recent takedown of a new interactive billboard in Times Square that captures images of passersby, marking “another blow to our public privacy,” he wrote.
“I don't know if anyone wants to read any of this stuff from me — probably many people won't — but I see the Grumbler as something small, with an even smaller audience than JVNY, just a place to catch the run-off, so to speak, of my thoughts, much of which is in the complaint department, but not all.”
Whereas JVNY became a digital community newspaper of sorts — chronicling, with admitted bias, the comings and goings of retail establishments in Manhattan’s newly gentrified neighborhoods — the Grumbler will expand on the theme of observing issues with a wistful eye.
“I think [the local stories] are very important, because they alert people to what's going on in the neighborhood, to the seemingly small things that make and break a neighborhood. Not the things that make it into the New York Times, necessarily," Moss said. "It's the grapples between bar owners and community boards, the street art, the who's who on the street, the corner celebrations and skirmishes.”
The Grumbler, however, will focus less on Moss’ real estate-related grievances and more on topics not directly connected to New York — like “the future of print publishing, the alienation of new technologies, my ambivalence about the future, consumerism, as well as larger social and cultural issues,” he said.
But managing two blogs will be no small task for Moss, who works a day job and does not draw profits from his online ventures.
His livelihood is part of the reason Moss will continue to write under a nom de plume, but he also sees the blogs as a way of “managing my multiple selves, which we all have, of course.”
“We all contain multitudes, it's part of the human condition, and we each figure out what to do with those multitudes,” he said. “Keep them separate, merge them, cut them off. I guess, right now, I blog with them.”