That is the new book by Chris Arnade, insightful throughout and with excellent photos. Excerpt:
McDonald’s wasn’t just central to my friends, it was important to everyone in the neighborhood. It was always packed with families and older couples, especially on weekend mornings. In the evenings, it was filled with teenagers or young couples going out.
There weren’t really many other options. McDonald’s was one of the few spaces in Hunts Point open to the public that worked. While wonderful and well-intentioned nonprofits serve Hunts Point, whenever I asked anyone where they wanted to meet or grab a meal, it was almost always McDonald’s.
Arnade indicts “the elitists,” whereas I would lay heavier blame on alcohol and drug abuse. Many much poorer people never touch the stuff, and furthermore I would have added a comparison with America’s dark-skinned, not entirely popular Muslim immigrants, the non-drinking ones most of all. There is indeed something wrong with much of American culture, and we need to think harder about what that might be. Neither sympathy nor empathy changes that fact, and I am happy to be one of the elitists under indictment. I would rather write what I think than try to make other people feel better, or to support my favored politics, and perhaps that attempt is doomed in any case? Is it more or less condescending to hold the poor to high standards?