My grandmother grew up in Williamsburg, and shortly before her death two years ago at age 98, I described the bohemian renaissance that had transfigured her childhood streets. She was mostly unimpressed but let out a derisive laugh when I told her about the multimillion-dollar condos for sale in the area. She had seen too many parts of town change over the years to lay claim to any one ZIP Code, but this lifelong New Yorker also recognized the impoverishment of a city in which only the rich are welcome.
Methinks that dose of local cred gives McNulty the right to challenge Hoch on his own turf in a way none of the New York critics did:
Of course, Hoch himself could be accused of a similar form of artistic colonization. After all, who gets to decide who’s a real resident and who’s a fake? Marion, the 60-something African American stoop dweller who can't help wryly noticing how today's rich kids like to "dress poor," might very well see Hoch in the same way he looks upon "the WASPy kid with a Midwestern accent and a faux vintage T-shirt"...Would the real-life inspiration for Marion — and even if she’s a fictional composite, she’s a stand-in for a black woman from a specific milieu — enjoy being made an anecdote in a white artist’s show?