The Insurgents of 2010
New York, meet the punks who will make this city hum again No need to recount the misery of the past decade. We know it was bad; we lived it, too.
It’s time to shake off all that dark history. Meet The Observer’s Insurgents—the young New Yorkers who are storming the barricades of the old in each of the areas we care a lot about: media, politics, business, culture and style. Many of them—like the trio of TVready butchers in Brooklyn or the Wall Street blogger who is inflaming old-line CEOs—are people you’ve probably never heard of, which speaks to the amazing opportunity in 2010 New York: For a city with as many unspoken rules as this one, New York has never been as conquerable as it is today. Old leaders and old ways of thinking are discredited; the voters are eager to be led; consumers of media and fashion and the arts are on the hunt for new voices.
Signs of optimism are way past due. Rarely have we seen such a power vacuum in a city that absolutely abhors such a thing. The 9/11 attacks gutted us, and then the wrenching Wall Street meltdown did it again. Old culture leaders were flayed (Howell Raines) or killed off entirely (Dick Fuld), leaving a gaping hole in New York’s power structure.
While the city didn’t die in the Aughts, it certainly lost its way. And for the past year or two, as Wall Street collapsed, high-rises were shelved or shuttered and every other magazine seemed to close, we’ve wondered whether we were ever going to find our way out.
This list is our way of moving things along. Some of the Insurgents—like Emma Hearst or Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld—are the children of people who used to be big. But being born on third isn’t enough to make you an Insurgent.
Insurgents think of things we didn’t think about or were too lazy to mull over much. They have the spirits of street fighters. But whether you like them personally doesn’t really matter. That economy that flattened dreams all over? It emboldened them. (For a visual representation of where the Insurgents fall in the new pantheon, check out our nifty pullout, which begins on page 12 of the print edition.)
The Insurgents may not know it yet, but they’re about to remake this town in ways many of us can’t even fathom. We don’t know which ones will thrive and which ones will flame out. But what we do know is this: It’s going to be a hell of a show.
Meet the people who are going to make the Teens worth watching. —The Editors
Ben Kallos, 28
One-Man Political Geek Squad
He was chief of staff to a New York State assemblyman when he announced he'd like to run for a City Council seat that was possibly going to open up. He departed, but the Council seat remained occupied. Since then, Mr. Kallos has kept himself busy, putting his knowledge of technology and geeky insights to use in local government. The result is a series of Web sites that take local political info out of dusty file cabinets and up online. One site lets people see if they’re registered to vote. Another lets users check the attendance records of state lawmakers. His latest creation: a crowd-sourced calendar for political events around New York City and the state.