The Insurgents of 2010

New York, meet the punks who will make this city hum again… No need to recount the misery of the

New York, meet the punks who will make this city hum again…

No need to recount the misery of the past decade. We know it was bad; we lived it, too.

It’s time to shake off all that dark history. Meet The Observer’s Insurgents—the young New Yorkers who are storming the barricades of the old in each of the areas we care a lot about: media, politics, business, culture and style. Many of them—like the trio of TV-ready butchers in Brooklyn or the Wall Street blogger who is inflaming old-line CEOs—are people you’ve probably never heard of, which speaks to the amazing opportunity in 2010 New York: For a city with as many unspoken rules as this one, New York has never been as conquerable as it is today. Old leaders and old ways of thinking are discredited; the voters are eager to be led; consumers of media and fashion and the arts are on the hunt for new voices.

Signs of optimism are way past due. Rarely have we seen such a power vacuum in a city that absolutely abhors such a thing. The 9/11 attacks gutted us, and then the wrenching Wall Street meltdown did it again. Old culture leaders were flayed (Howell Raines) or killed off entirely (Dick Fuld), leaving a gaping hole in New York’s power structure.

While the city didn’t die in the Aughts, it certainly lost its way. And for the past year or two, as Wall Street collapsed, high-rises were shelved or shuttered and every other magazine seemed to close, we’ve wondered whether we were ever going to find our way out.

This list is our way of moving things along. Some of the Insurgents—like Emma Hearst or Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld—are the children of people who used to be big. But being born on third isn’t enough to make you an Insurgent.

Insurgents think of things we didn’t think about or were too lazy to mull over much. They have the spirits of street fighters. But whether you like them personally doesn’t really matter. That economy that flattened dreams all over? It emboldened them. (For a visual representation of where the Insurgents fall in the new pantheon, check out our nifty pullout, which begins on page 12 of the print edition.)

The Insurgents may not know it yet, but they’re about to remake this town in ways many of us can’t even fathom. We don’t know which ones will thrive and which ones will flame out. But what we do know is this: It’s going to be a hell of a show.

—The Editors


Bess Levin, 25: editor

Lockhart Steele, 35: Founder, Curbed Network

Jared Seligman, 23: Senior Vice President, Prudential Douglas Elliman

Chris Dixon, 38: Co-founder of Hunch and the Founder Collective

Helena Durst, 32: Vice president, the Durst Organization

Vishaan Chakrabarti, 43: Director, Real Estate Development Program at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation

Paul Steely White, 39: Executive Director, Transportation Alternatives

Kevin Warsh, 39: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Keith Meister, 36: Vice chairman and principal executive officer, Icahn Enterprises

Wes Moore, 31: Associate, Citigroup Global Markets

Veronica Mainetti, 31: Head of U.S. Operations for Sorgente Group

Jonathan Gray, 39: Senior managing director of the Blackstone Group

Dennis Crowley, 33: Co-Founder, Foursquare


Daniel Zalewski, 38: Features editor at The New Yorker

Nate Westheimer, 26: Head of New York Tech Meetup

Matt Taibbi, 39: Writer, Rolling Stone; blogger

Andrew Ross Sorkin, 31: Reporter, writer, TV personality

Ricky Van Veen, 28: Chief executive, Notional

Brooke Hammerling, 35: Founder, Brew Media Relations

Chris Balfe, 31: Mercury Radio Arts

Megan Lynch, 30: Editor, Riverhead Books

Pamela Wasserstein, 31; Ben Wasserstein, 28 Publishers, New York magazine

Josh Tyrangiel, 37: Editor, BusinessWeek


Reshma Saujani, 34: Candidate for Congress

Ben Kallos, 28: Tech entrepreneur

Neal Kwatra, 36: Political director, the Hotel and Motel Trades Council

Arthur Leopold, 21: Fund-raiser

Andrew Hoppin, 38: Chief information officer, New York State Senate

Liz Benjamin, 37, and Maggie Haberman, 36: Reporters

Emma Wolfe, 32: Chief of staff to Bill de Blasio, public advocate–elect

Dan Squadron, 29: New York state senator, 25thDistrict

Steve Levin, 29: Councilman-elect


Leanne Shapton, 36: Illustrator, artist, author

Geoff Bartakovics, 32: CEO, Tasting Table

Jemina Pearl, 22: Singer

Jorma Taccone, 32: Writer-director

Jimmy Fallon, 35: Host of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

James Franco, 31: Actor/writer/student/performance artist

Molly Crabapple, 26: Artist-illustrator

Michael Weber, 31: Screenwriter

Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen, 34 and 31: Founders, Parts and Labor

Klaus Beisenbach, 45: Incoming director of P.S. 1

Nicola Trezzi, 27: U.S. editor, Flash Art International

Danielle De Niese, 30: Singer, Metropolitan Opera

Alison Pill, 24: Actress




Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld, 25: Curator

Jonathan Butler, 40: Brownstoner blogger and market organizer

Sylvana Soto Ward, 28: Director of events, Costume Institute gala

Dree Hemingway, 22: Model and literary scion

Robert Hammond, 40: Artist/fund-raiser

Tom Mylan, Ben Turley and Brent Young, 34, 29 and 27: Proprietors, the Meat Hook

Emma Hearst, 23: Chef, owner of Sorella The Insurgents of 2010