One can state categorically that the colossal metroplex cities of today are going to have to contract, probably substantially. They have attained a scale that no plausible disposition of economy looking ahead can sustain. This is contrary, by the way, to most of the reigning utopian (or even dystopian) fantasies which, any way you cut them, only presume An ever-greater scale of everything. The great renovation of New York City circa 1990-2015 was enabled by Wall Street’s management role in the supernatural debt growth of the period combined with the creaming off of fees, commissions, and bonuses by bankers in the context of absent regulation abetted by pervasive accounting fraud in both private business and government. This is what brought us all the renovated neighborhoods, the scores of new residential skyscrapers, the multiplication of museums and cultural venues, and the buffing up of Central Park. It will be followed by a steep and harrowing descent into disinvestment.
I kept having exciting daydreams, hoping to see one of these big old American original classics doing a tire-slaying smokey burnout in the middle of the Malecon with waves crashing in the background. But then it occurred to me that no Cuban in their right mind would waste tires so frivolously. The simple fact that the roads are in such a state of decay, to the point that speeds are dictated more by the ruts and potholes than the marked signs. Most of the best old cars were piloted around gingerly, 30 to 40mph, by their middle-aged Cuban padrones. When tourists jump out of classic taxis, the drivers always reach across to the passenger side to keep the door from being slammed too hard. They close those doors like it’s a baby’s bedroom and the kid has just gone to sleep.