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Last year around this time, the Observer pitted Williamsburg hipsters and Park Slope yuppies against each other. This year, the Observer tackles the yearning some native New Yorkers have for when NYC was bad (sorta like Michael Jackson video Bad!). Summer of Sam, Needle Park, Ford telling the city to drop dead, all of it seems better than it is now. Here's what some people told the Observer:

- “I was flashed all the time—that’s how a true private all-girl kid learned about the male anatomy,” wrote Liz Alderman, 32, a television producer and former Brearley lass, in an e-mail.

- "It seems kind of weird to say that one would be nostalgic for times when you were scared to get mugged going out at night and riding the subways was taking your life on your hands,” said Dalton Conley, 37, an Alphabet City kid turned New York University sociology professor, who memorialized his childhood in the book Honky. “Yet I think there is something that’s lost.

- “The people who used to come to New York were freaks of nature,” said Ruby Lawrence, 34, a bar owner who was born on Manhattan’s West Side and lives in Brooklyn. “Before, looking different was the fun part of living here, whereas now it’s about looking the same.”

And a 33-year-old woman "who grew up on the West Side and works in advertising" lays this smackdown: “Just because you have a Time Out subscription does not mean you’re a New Yorker." Ouch. It's unclear if people outside the Observer's demographic were interviewed (most seem to be from Manhattan and/or private school backgrounds), but then again, why bother?

What would you prefer: A New York you can walk around in, albeit one with a shiny new bank, Duane Reade, and Starbucks on many corners, or a New York, well, like something out of The Warriors? And speaking of new New York, the Observer also point out that Wal-Mart has joined various NYC business organizations.

Photograph of an old painted sign by abmarfia on Flickr