The Rise of the Urban Rube

The Second Essential Scary Truth

There is a new social class that is making its way into the fabric of New York City, one that used to be weeded out by the street tax of violence, threatened or real.  The time of the urban rube has arrived.

According to Merriman-Webster’s online dictionary, a rube is 1. an awkward unsophisticated person or 2. a naïve or inexperienced person.  When I arrived on the cement of the Lower East Side twenty-two years ago, you either figured out how the city worked FAST or it would beat you into submission quickly.  Yes, muggings and other violent acts were the common currency that would guarantee that coming to grips with the harsh realities of your new urban existence would occur.  However, the energy of the city, the people, the traffic, the very nature of the beast that is the five boroughs, could beat you down just as quickly. 

Whatever the failings of New York the way it was during the pervious decades, to quote the Sinatra song, if you could make it here, you could make it anywhere.  If not, we’d send you back to Boise, whether you came from there or not.  Problematically, the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations, with their focus on quality of life crimes, have taken this element of self-policing away.  New York is left with a group of people mostly 18-27 that are unable to conform to the norms of the city and are running amuck with little or no consequence.

I ran into five of these new rubes three days back as I was making my way to my local after I got off shift.  As I walked down 19th Street, a couple, no older than 23, dressed in day glow stripes and orange shoes, walked past.  The young lady, with a mop of blonde curly hair came up to me, screamed in my face and ran away.  Her boyfriend walked quickly past.  I was rather taken aback, my hackles actually stood straight up.  I had to swallow the urge to grab the guy and throw him a beating on general principles.  Finally, I shook my head and laughed.  Two crazy kids getting involved in their own crazy trip, back when they’d get their ass kicked before they got to 9th Ave.  Now, maybe they’d run into some cops who would gently explain the facts of urban life.

When I got to the bar, R the barman was dealing with three rubes that refused to leave.  The three 27ish guys, all dressed in dark suits and red ties, had been hitting on all the available women at the bar, not buying a drink, just trying to chat these women up.  This had been going on at least an hour before I got there, finally R came around and put his arm on one of the guys shoulders and started talking to him like a Dutch uncle.  “You have to order a drink to stay in the bar, my friend.  Come on, it’s time to go.”


The three left the bar seconds after the scream, the three left, high fiving and loudly discussing how they had intimidated the bartender.  “Thank you Rudy Giuliani,” R told me once he was behind the wood.  “You made this town safe for douche bags.”

I laughed, finished my pint and left.  As I walked down 3rd Avenue, I saw the same three guys all attacking the first windows they could find with the remnants of a futon left for the garbage man.  However, each window they hit not only stood up to their beatings but caused at least one of the suits to drop his stick, grab his wrist and howl in pain.  The whole scene made me wonder if their hands fell asleep when they were masturbating.

I never thought I would miss the sight of walking past a mugging in progress and then having to jump over a urinating junkie on the nod.  Now, I wonder if that’s what these rubes need.


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