Lion of the Blogosphere

Lighthouse Hill

There’s a Wall Street Journal Article about Lighthouse Hill. I’d like to vouch for Lighthouse Hill being the classiest neighborhood on Staten Island. “Real-estate brokers say home values in Lighthouse Hill generally are topped on Staten Island only by Todt Hill, the much larger neighborhood to the north.” Todt Hill has too many rich guidos and even Mafiosos. On Lighthouse Hill, the homes may be more modest, but it’s that understatedness and secludedness that makes Lighthouse Hill the only place a top-out-of-sight person would be comfortable living on guido-infested Staten Island.

The guy who was the chairman of the Stuyvesant High School English Department lived on Lighthouse Hill. I visited his house because I knew his son. It was the most un-guido family I had ever encountered in my short life. In Staten Island, the land of prole Jews and Catholics, it was my first encounter with a British-descended Protestant household. His son is now a medical doctor, and the daughter is a clinical psychologist who is married to a lawyer/executive at a quasi-governmental organization in Washington DC.

* * *

Even though he was just a public school teacher, he was at the time the most prestigious public school teacher in the entire New York City school system because he was the head English teacher, the most prestigious subject, at Stuyvesant, the most prestigious public high school. Although in retrospect, maybe English teacher Frank McCourt was more prestigious because after he retired from Stuyvesant he became a best-selling and critically acclaimed memoirist.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 22, 2014 at 6:47 PM

Posted in New York City

52 Responses

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  1. The rub? It’s still Staten Island.

    Renault

    March 22, 2014 at 7:14 PM

  2. Lion, you seem to be obsessed with guidos. Do you secretly long to be one?

    MaryK

    March 22, 2014 at 8:15 PM

  3. We can safely assume that most Manhattan SWPL transplants have never been to Staten Island, unless they are one of those holdover Native New Yorkers, who come from a prole background and evolved into become a SWPL with the gentrification process.

    There are probably more SWPLs in Manhattan, who’ve been to Novia Scotia than the forgotten borough of NYC.

    I’ve just met a New Yorker who came back from Saskatoon, Canada. Too bad I didn’t ask her if she’ve ever been to Staten Island. It’s probably inappropriate to ask anyway! Lol…

    JS

    March 22, 2014 at 8:16 PM

    • Oh, come on now. The SWPL-beloved marathon starts in Staten Island, so anyone who has run it has been to the fifth borough.

      Kyo

      March 23, 2014 at 7:10 AM

  4. I haven’t been to Staten Island in decades, and I know that they have closed the municipal dumps, but is Staten Island still covered with the foul odor from the dumps? In my times there it seemed that a large part of the area south of the expressway was affected by the odor – 24*7, 365 days per year.

    Daniel

    March 22, 2014 at 8:21 PM

  5. I recall being astonished when learning a classmate of mine in new dorp hs was protestant. I never met one before and considered her almost exotic. She was, at least on staten island. Rarer than jews who were also uncommon at the time (mid 60s). Everyone was catholic, mostly italian and irish. Funny how the italians were looked down upon by us irish when now they probably as a group outearn us. Sobriety and being somewhat ruthless helped.

    Yes, the staid lighthouse hill vs. Mafioso ridden todt hill. I remember well.

    newyorker

    March 22, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    • outearn in nyc but likely nowhere else. the irish are assimilated. the italians aren’t. and never will be. they’re still european mexicans to most white americans. my aunt is married to a man with an italian surname. he’s so ashamed of it he insists that his ancestors were protestants and immigrated to france.

      jorge videla

      March 22, 2014 at 10:42 PM

      • Only a small percentage of Nordic Americans view Italian-Americans as non-white. This is one reason why IAs intermarry at such a high rate with other white groups. It is not primarily NAMs or Asians who these Italians are marrying. The majority of IAs born after 1960 are only part Italian. Italian-American neighborhoods are becoming a thing of the past – hardly what you’d expect of a group that is not assimilating.

        MaryK

        March 23, 2014 at 9:10 AM

      • Ha..Jorge. Mary Kaye is going to come after you like she does with me.

        Yes, Jews, Irish and Italians comprised of the 3 main, non-Protestant/non-Germanic – White ethnic groups here in the Northeast. Jews have a large contingent of SWPL educated professionals, and the Irish have theirs too. Italians, well, they generally are less educated, underrepresented in elite circles, and are still seen as obnoxious proles (such as Chris Christie), who can’t seem to get their act together. It’s still Mario the plumber and Sal the pizza guy, after all these years.

        Of course, Mary thinks I’m sensationalizing, when in fact, a few years ago, several of the very few Italian American elites said they had a crisis in their community. Italians are still seen as losers.

        JS

        March 23, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      • Just want to interject this here fwiw. I knew a someone from the UP of michigan who was of finnish descent as many there are. There are other scandos there as well as welsh cornish and italian who worked in the mines back in the day. She said that the italians in her HS were the most popular, probably for their extroversion compared to the others. Just my guess.

        newyorker

        March 23, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      • Richard Lynn attributes the low IQ’s of Southern Italians to Middle Eastern/North African genes.

        Palmtree

        March 23, 2014 at 7:46 PM

      • Northern Italians are, like southern Italians, mostly descended from Early European Farmers (EEF), themselves a mixture of Western Hunter Gatherers (WHG) and Levantine farmers who migrated to Europe during the Neolithic. In general, southern European populations have more EEF ancestry than northern European populations, but even northern Europeans have EEF ancestry varying from 25-50%.

        nebbish

        March 23, 2014 at 11:40 PM

      • Aren’t you the one who said that the problem with America isn’t income level but the fact that too many people don’t have good values and habits? Most people are not going to win the status contest. Be definition, most people will be proles.

        Italian Americans in the Northeast, would be one of winners in the ultra prole contest. If you want to include non-Whites, such as Hispanics and blacks, they would take the prize away from I-Talians.

        JS

        March 23, 2014 at 11:53 PM

    • I distinctly recall the same experience as a child in the South only with role reversal. Being in Elementary school and having a fellow student explain that they were neither Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or Jew but Catholic. With Jews I was familiar (they had community centers in the South plus they are all over the Bible). But aside from Jews, I assumed the entirety of America’s religions were encompassed by the Protestant mainline churches.

      Curle

      March 22, 2014 at 11:06 PM

    • Finally we’re getting to the heart of the issue. JS, if you want to criticize IAs for being proles or producing fewer educated people or fewer strivers than other ethnic groups, fine. But that’s not what you and everyone else here is doing. You’re judging as if all Italians are SWPL or guidos , which is something else. And if Mario the plumber and Sal the pizza man have stable marriages, kids they love, a house that ‘s paid for, and are free from anxiety I’d say they already “got their act together.” Aren’t you the one who said that the problem with America isn’t income level but the fact that too many people don’t have good values and habits? Most people are not going to win the status contest. Be definition, most people will be proles.

      And notice that those IA “elites” said that IAs are seen as losers, ….but not that they ARE losers. I assume they were referring to an image problem. Part of the image problem is due to the fact that the powers that be simply refuse to focus on IAs who AREN’T obnoxious proles. When faced with Alessandra the clinical psychologist, John the pulmonary physician, or Carmelo the accountant (all my relatives, btw) we hear that Alessandra is lousy at her job but would have made an excellent executive secretary at Smith Barney, that pulmonary medicine is considered the lightweight branch of medicine, and that Carmelo is practicing “guido accounting.” (whatever that is.) The people who want to look down at Italians just keep moving the goalpost. It’s a game one can’t lose – like playing tennis with the net down.

      MaryK

      March 23, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      • One admirable quality of Italian-American culture is the fact that working-class Italians take a lot of pride in staying in shape and dressing well. As silly as the guido/guidette style looks from the outside, it comes from a healthy attitude towards taking pains over your appearance and keeping up a rigorous “GTL” schedule — you may be a prole, but you don’t have to be a slob. I’m a WASP who grew up in an Italian-plurality NYC suburb, and it wasn’t until I left the NYC metro for the first time and saw my Anglo-Germanic ethnic brethren slobbing around with beer bellies and cargo shorts that I learned to appreciate that particular Italian contribution to the culture of the tri-state.

        As you head north on I-95, you cross what I like to call the “guido/skater line.” Somewhere around Bridgeport and New Haven, young working-class white guys stop dressing like guidos and start dressing like skaters/metalheads, with unshaven/unwashed hair, prominent piercings, and utilitarian clothing in black and olive drab. Down here that kind of look is an aggressive statement of subcultural identity, but in suburban New England it’s how average prole guys dress.

        totalesturns

        March 24, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      • What? I see a lot of overweight work class Italians.

        JS

        March 24, 2014 at 11:49 AM

  6. “it was my first encounter with a British-descended Protestant household”

    Southern Ohio was the opposite: nothing but British, German, and a few central europeans and blacks for 100 miles in every direction. The public schools in the 80s and 90s over 12 years I had classes with exactly 0 Jews, Hispanics, Asians, or Italians. It was very interesting to meet them all for the first time as a college freshman.

    There were Irish and a tiny number of white Cubans, but they were completely assimilated and only identifiable by their last names.

    lodola

    March 22, 2014 at 9:09 PM

    • rockefeller, vanderbilt, astor. german and dutch. i think the germanic language speaking americans, including the british, lost the ascendency a long time ago. i wouldn’t be surprised if people with german surnames are discriminated against after the world wars. though i doubt it’s conscious.

      jorge videla

      March 22, 2014 at 10:46 PM

  7. “It was the most un-guido family I had ever encountered…”

    but the hard core of white trash/trailer trash is british especially scottish. this may be an inheritance from the british class system or due to geography. appalachia is largely scottish and the american south is the most british part of the country. the hatfields and mccoys weren’t the genoveses and the luccheses.

    and there really is an ethnic dimension to white poverty. a lot of the lowest are immigrants from appalachia.

    jorge videla

    March 22, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    • Recent DNA testing is apparently casting some doubt on the real racial mixture of the Southern Appalachians. There being considerable DNA evidence pointing to a significant population migration to the region from the Spanish Empire for which there is scant to no historic record or for which the historic record was suppressed by the British for empire building reasons. In other words, they are finding Iberian and Middle Eastern DNA in the gene pool there and heretofore forgotten or discounted Spanish Empire migration seems the most likely culprit. http://dnaconsultants.com/Cherokee/index.htm

      Curle

      March 23, 2014 at 8:29 PM

      • well my great great … granddad was born in madrid. but he was a methodist, so maybe he was a missionary.

        jorge videla

        March 24, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    • “but the hard core of white trash/trailer trash is british especially scottish.”

      From The Millionaire Next Door
      Table1. Top 10 Ancestry Groups of American Millionaires.
      Rank: Percent of Ancestry Group That Are Millionaire Households.

      1 Russian 22.0%
      2 Scottish 20.8%
      3 Hungarian 15.1%
      4 English 7.7%
      5 Dutch 7.2%
      6 French 5.5%
      7 Irish 4.8%
      8 Italian 4.0%
      9 German 3.3%
      10 Native American 2.0%

      destructure

      March 24, 2014 at 3:32 AM

      • sounds like jive talk to me. but it doesn’t contradict the assertion. even that darling of pbs, ken burns, is ultimately from appalachia. the poor of galsgow are shorter lived than amazonian savages.

        jorge videla

        March 24, 2014 at 4:38 PM

      • it’s interesting though that the industrial revolution started in n england and s scotland, the same area which populated appalachia.

        and yorkshire today is known for its impoverished religious libertarian hicks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13JK5kChbRw. hitchens said he disliked people from yorkshire.

        jorge videla

        March 24, 2014 at 8:25 PM

  8. The descendants of pre-Mayflower James River settler families still live in the Richmond area. The wealthy ones were the non-inheriting sons of the British aristocracy (when primogeniture was practiced). And some still own properties that their forefathers got from the crown following the collapse of the Virginia Co. I’d like to be a fly on the wall should you ever encounter one of those.

    Curle

    March 22, 2014 at 10:40 PM

  9. “…English…the most prestigious subject…”

    really? is it the most majored in by rich kids? i always thought it was a joke with things like “queer theory”. and i always thought my english major parents and english prof granddad were only half human.

    jorge videla

    March 22, 2014 at 10:59 PM

  10. Frank McCourt was a charlatan who took to heart George Orwell’s mot that “Autobiography is the most outrageous form of fiction.” He was a theater guy who knew how to present himself as a character (aggrieved, poor Irish immigrant finding his way in America) to a gullible audience.

    He only got away with the exaggerations and fabrications in his “memoirs” because he wrote them 50 years after the fact long after most of the people who could have corrected him had passed away. He was also making stuff up about a time and place that was essentially a semi-literate society,

    JWS

    March 22, 2014 at 11:15 PM

  11. Are wasps even a thing anymore…I mean the ivy-league going, new england living, high society, high achieving wasps, not the farmers in Ohio?

    I’m an irish-italian from the northeast, and I was surprised that of all my fellow interviewers at various medical schools, white male wasp types seemed very rare.

    Anon

    March 22, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    • Jews and asians outcompete them academically, and blacks and hispanics take about 10% each for affirmative action. This leaves few spots for wasps.

      AsianDude

      March 23, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      • So? WASPS are still the group to emulate. Tell that to the Asians and Jews at the Ivy Leagues.

        JS

        March 24, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      • “So?”… So what?

        AsianDude

        March 24, 2014 at 7:23 PM

  12. English is the most prestigious subject? I guess prestige doesn’t correlate very well with IQ.

    Bottledwater

    March 22, 2014 at 11:43 PM

      • Interesting…considering that English majors tend to have low-ish GRE scores.

        Kant

        March 23, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      • Here’s my question: Is English being pulled up a lot by classics majors? Classics majors tend to be pretty smart cookies.

        cannibal

        March 23, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      • I’d be interested in a similar graphic of rankings at graduation. Some majors have pretty high attrition rates. My major on the list is somewhat below average; at graduation, about 75% of the students who began in that major were gone, having either dropped out or switched to other majors, sociology (part of the equally high ranking social sciences) being a popular dumping ground (albeit not as popular as business). I’ll bet English is much lower on the list at graduation.

        Looking at the rankings, I suspect English, social sciences, the “studies” majors and comm/journo drop like a rock as a class proceeds through school, while legal, architecture, health professions ( yes, I know you think that’s a prole major) and engineering technologies do the opposite.

        J1

        March 23, 2014 at 4:45 PM

      • Classics and English are 2 different majors. I would say the Greco-Roman specialists are smarter than the ones who just know English, just because Classics requires fluency of 2 ancient languages.

        JS

        March 23, 2014 at 8:44 PM

      • but that’s only in les etats unis merdeux. oxford admits based on intended major. so few intend a classics major that they admit 2/3 of applicants. for geology it’s > 80%.

        jorge videla

        March 24, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    • Only if you include the writing section in the SAT total which biases the test in favor of English majors by adding a second less g loaded literacy test. If you just go by the traditional reading + math sections, then out of 1600, prospective English majors score 1119. Lower than physical science majors (1146) and lower than even social science majors (1132). And these gaps likely grow wider as duller students discover they can’t hack it in sciences and transfer to English.

      Studies of university students find STEM majors score 10 IQ points higher than non-STEM majors.

      Also, when you look at American Nobel prize winners, there are more Jews in STEM subjects (including economics) per capita, than there are in literature (which has more black winners) despite the fact that Jews have higher verbal than spatial IQ’s.

      Also Jewish HBD scholar Michael Hart argues that arts require less IQ than sciences and argues that this explains why India is such a rich literary tradition despite an unimpressive average IQ.

      Bottledwater

      March 23, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    • again this weird bias that verbal iq isn’t really intelligence.

      jorge videla

      March 23, 2014 at 4:53 PM

      • I don’t think the writing test really measures verbal IQ.

        Renault

        March 23, 2014 at 7:57 PM

      • the order might be different for the verbal + math w/o the writing.

        for the gre i think english majors still have the highest v, but the overall is highest for physics and math.

        jorge videla

        March 24, 2014 at 4:45 PM

  13. Could you describe in which ways these people were different from your own family and other friends (I guess this was in the early 80ties?) They did not have a butler, did they? 😉
    As someone from the other side of the pond, I can’t clearly picture those ethnic subcultures, except maybe in caricatures drawn from old movies.

    Johannes

    March 23, 2014 at 6:44 AM

    • it is noteworthy that class distinctions are partly moral. that is, that nietzsche’s despicable are also largely congruent with christianity’s despicable.

      jorge videla

      March 24, 2014 at 4:48 PM


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