This is a septic bit of public street art that I ran across on Bookworm Room this week. Apparently, this Winston Tseng is a bit of a rebel artist, kind of the liberal, east coast version of Sabo. Yeah, he looks like what we have come to expect of a certain kind of liberal, big-city intellectual; a weedy metrosexual, striking an avant garde pose. Seems to have the kind of resume that goes with that pose. Frankly, he looks like the kind of guy who doesn’t know the difference between a straight blade or Phillips-head screwdriver. Probably can’t drive a standard shift car, either – even if he does have a drivers’ license in the first place. Appears on the strength of the art posted on his website that he hates Trump and his administration, root and branch. Yawn – so daring! So avant garde! And so bloody predictable.
I get it that there are two New Yorks – the working-class-stiff element, likely who cannot afford a 300-foot apartment in any postal code within miles of Manhattan, and the intellectual sort, chuffed beyond all measure that they are living and working in New York New York – where if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, and anywhere else is just … Nowheresville when it comes to adding up the social intellectual points. Out here in the vast American hinterland between two coasts, those of us who have an interest in more-than-local public matters are marinated in information about New York New York. It’s in our movies, the books and media we read, the media we watch. The Ultimate Big City, the Biggest Apple of Them All … yeah, we get it. Over and over again. We know. But reciprocal evidence that the residents of the most happening, trendiest city in this whole US of A know bloody anything … anything at all about the rest of us is pretty damn thin on the ground. No, nothing. Nada. Bugger-all. Invincible sheltered island ignorance. The famous NY Magazine cover comes to mind; a rare moment of awareness of their own insularity on the part of the most New York New York intellectual monument of all.

This matter came to the attention of Bookworm through a tweet regarding a lament at Slate (which used to be a thing for me, back when I was new to the internet and all) concerning a noted lack of sympathy for New York and New Yorkers during the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic. This in contrast to the outpouring of support and sympathy after 9/11. Why so little regard in this present emergency, asked the author of the post, Dahlia Lithwick, in a tone which almost verged into a protracted whine? I think the most scathing and concise answer to her was commenter Steverino, who wrote in the comments to her post:
A few months after the Sep 11 attacks, I was driving on a two lane Texan road somewhere far south of Dallas when I saw a gas station ahead, the old kind from the ‘60s, with slanted glass so it looked like an airport control tower. The glass was white, like it had been whitewashed after going out of business. I pulled in, out of curiosity, to investigate. The station was open for business. The white on the windows were hundreds of 3×5 note cards taped to the inside, each pledging small amounts of money to buy New York City a firetruck to replace one of those destroyed in the terrorist attack. This was coming from a tiny Texas town that was lucky if it had a Dairy Queen … It is astounding to read a clueless liberal claim that Trump has brought divisiveness to America after conservatives have spent the last twelve years being smeared by liberals as racists and Nazis when we disagree on even the slightest things. The biggest sins Trump has committed, in the eyes of liberals, is to win the election and to use their own rhetorical tactics against them. Had there been no Obama, there would be no Trump. When you take an extreme stand against Americans, expect an extreme reaction … You recruited his army of supporters with your slander and incivility, your contempt for honest dialogue. How do you like the result?

For myself – and getting back to the so progressive Mr. Tseng, whose illustrations were used in a tweet demonstrating just why Ms. Lithwick was getting no sympathy – I was more than a little disgusted with the overt social snobbery in his mock “Keep New York Trash Free” billboards. So our precious artist perhaps never considered that the paunchy working-class guy in a sleeveless t-shirt and Confederate flag tat might be a truck driver transporting essential goods over a long distance, a stocker in a supermarket, or a farmer. Never considered that the woman with a Bible in hand might be a nurse, a volunteer aid worker, a cashier in a store selling essential goods, a good neighbor in a small town. Nope – just trash, that New York is better off without.

Doubtless, he certainly would never, ever acknowledge that people of the sort that he scorns as “trash” have done more good in this current crisis than he has been, or ever will.


  1. Ranten N. Raven
  2. Andy Valentine

    If a man would have friends he must show himself friendly. (Proverbs 18:24)

  3. Paul born in NY now from GA

    One of my siblings, God bless her, is this NYC attitude personified with a home in Manhattan and one in Jersey. She is perfectly content with her beliefs and disdain for the great unwashed.

  4. Yet many right-of-center people keenly aware of New Yorkers’ prevailing disdain for us have worked unstintingly to provide the Big Apple with its needs, whether of the pedestrian “food, clothing, and shelter” variety or the more rarefied medical products required to combat the Wuhan virus. We are aware not only that Manhattan liberals hold us in contempt, but also that they are suffering through no fault of their own.

    Americans rally to the relief of undeserved suffering. It’s what Americans have always done. It’s become part of our self-concept. We will not betray it even in the face of openly expressed left-wing hostility.

  5. People are also dealing with coronavirus on a local level. New York isn’t foremost on their minds.

  6. I can think of people ITP (Inside the Perimeter) in Atlanta who would be mightily amused by and applaud Mr. Tseng’s ‘artwork.’

  7. Bobo from Texas

    The acronym for this is TWANLOC.

    Those who are no longer our countrymen.

  8. RebeccaH

    First of all, Tseng is not an artist if that’s representative of his artistry. He’s nothing more than an illustrator for billboards. Also, he seems to be a bit of a racist, since all his targets seem to be white. Therefore, Tseng can be dismissed as just another New York coffee house lurker.

  9. doug whiddon

    the title is a reference to Babylon 5, and its spin-off Ceusade.

  10. Sgt. Mom

    So Tseng is a rotten, one-note artist, and some commenters on the Insty link are wondering why we should pay attention to him at all? Because he is a crappy, bigoted, unoriginal artist. I’m of the opinion that we have let their assh*llery go long enough without calling them out on it. The more you ignore bad behavior from a small child, the more you get of it. I shouldn’t have to spell this out.

  11. they are suffering through no fault of their own

    I disagree. This is, in my opinion, the biggest difference. 9/11 was an attack on America that happened to take place in New York. It could have been anywhere; New York was just convenient and high profile. The problems they’re having coping with a plague ARE their own fault.