A few years back I wrote in this space about a public school in New York City that was utilizing the Hindu concept of karma to teach good behavior to its students, as evidenced by prominent signs both outside and inside the school referring to karma and relating it to specific behaviors. That was the Robert F. Kennedy school (PS 169) on the upper east side of Manhattan. The ultimate point of my piece was to highlight the double standard inherent in this vast official employment of a Hindu religious concept in an American public school, whereas posting the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes would have brought speedy intervention by those who are out there trying to protect young and impressionable minds from any Judeo-Christian influence. Why would the latter amount to a “state establishment of religion,” while plastering the entire school with postings about karma was regarded as entirely benign? I concluded that I didn’t really have a problem with the karma stuff, if it worked, but I did have a problem with the message implicitly being conveyed to students that Hindu religious concepts are fine to teach and follow, while the banned Judeo-Christian ones must be somehow toxic. Continue reading Karma Comes Up Short for Robert F. Kennedy School
Reading the newspaper summary of the life of Joseph Lemm—who was killed with five other American troops in Afghanistan two days ago—makes for a devastating reminder that the people we lose on these battlefields and outposts thousands of miles from home are the very best of us. We have no right to expect such people to be given to us in the first place; we certainly have no right to believe they will always be there to lay down their lives for our safety. And so we also have a duty (in which we are failing) to take care that their sacrifices are for causes that we truly cherish and will continue to defend. Continue reading Sacrifice in Afghanistan
52° (F), raw and raining is what it is on this June 2nd; the same as it was on June 1st. Now there are places getting much worse weather, so this is not any cry for sympathy. However, this is a beginning to summer unlike any yours truly has experienced in the last couple of decades in New York. The season may not officially begin until June 21st, but the warm 70° and 80°+ weather had always settled in for the long haul by the start of June. The current chilly snap feels like yet one more tentacle of this past winter that did not want to die, reaching up from the cold grave when we thought it had finally truly gone. Continue reading I Like New York in June
“Act big and make loud noises.” In the bad old days of the Big Apple, this might have been excellent advice for those occasions when you needed to take a walk to the bodega to stock up on beer and cigarettes. (And let it please the Lord for those days not to return.) Now, however, it is part of “Five Easy Tips for Coexisting with Coyotes,” which is advice for city dwellers from the New York City Parks Department, regarding, well, coexisting with coyotes. Because, they’re here, they’re hairy, and, according to the powers-that-be, they are apparently more than welcome to stay.
The Eastern coyote is sometimes referred to as the “Coywolf” because of evidence that it emerged via hanky-panky between coyotes and gray wolves. Its territory stretches from Ontario and Nova Scotia in the north down through New England and into New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. And now you can add Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Town neighborhood, among others, to places where the Eastern coyote has set his or her paws. Recent sightings of coyotes there and in other Manhattan locations have caused minor media ruckuses as people follow the chase, but the real news if you ask me is that the Parks Department is quite happy with them being in the city, and is expecting them to be around in Central Park for the long term. They’ve been sighted to the north in Bronx parks for quite a few years, so it’s not like they dropped out of the sky, but—on the other hand—the thing about the Bronx is that it’s a contiguous part of the United States of America (as startling as this may be to Kansans) whereas Manhattan is, well, an island. This has kept New York City proper insulated from quite a few things, like deer (and their awful ticks), bears (at least at the time of writing), in addition to innumerable wholesome virtues of the heartland that have never been proven to survive the journey over the Hudson or Harlem rivers.
So how are the coyotes getting here? It’s suggested they may follow “a train line;” whether on a bridge or underground, I don’t know. Five years ago, one was seen waiting on the Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel, and apparently it managed to come up with the toll, because a little later there was a big coyote chase in Tribeca resulting in one tranquilized canid.
So, a carnivorous predator, skilled at hunting singly or in packs, is invading New York City, competing with those humans here who already occupy the niche. Yet the Parks Department is not treating this as the prologue to an apocalyptic disaster movie scenario, but instead simply as nature taking its course. Coyotes are part of the food chain, the narrative goes, and they will help control populations of rats, rabbits and the like. We need to practice our “Five Easy Tips” for coexisting with them and go about our business.
Well, why do I strongly suspect this isn’t going to end well? For my part, I love animals, especially canids. I’m exactly the kind of fool who, if I saw a coyote in Central Park, would probably try to make friends with him, offering him lunch at the Shake Shack and an evening of music at the Village Vanguard. After all, the NYC Parks Department assures me that “nationwide, only a handful of coyote bites are reported each year,” and there are millions of people across the nation, and zillions of coyotes. What are the odds?
On the other hand, there’s a rational person buried somewhere deep within my skin who starts whispering: “BUT, there’s a lot of room out there in the rest of the country. Coyotes and people might coexist pretty well in Arizona, but how are they going to get along on a crowded 6 train?” Or indeed, how will they get along when dowagers strolling down paths in Central Park start seeing their Yorkies getting chomped up like so much beef jerky?
As far as the species homo sapiens goes, it occurs to me that we sure have funny ways of measuring progress. Time was, progress was defined by pushing back the boundaries of unforgiving nature; now we pat ourselves on the back for allowing it to encroach again on our carefully built settlements. I’m all for controlling the rat population in New York City, but if we want the coyotes to achieve it, we should equip them with badges and flashlights and set them loose on Lexington Avenue. We’re not going to do that. Instead, we’re apparently going to attempt some strange détente of wildness and urbanity.
But then maybe that’s what New York City has always been about. Good luck to the coyotes.
Related articles across the web
Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were murdered in Brooklyn yesterday, five days before Christmas. They were shot to death as they sat peacefully in their patrol car, eating lunch, and performing duty that would have found them without question coming quickly to the assistance of anyone in trouble in the nearby public housing project, as NYPD officers do on a routine and daily basis. The church that Officer Rafael (Ralph) Ramos regularly attended was reportedly packed this morning with those showing sympathy to his bereaved family. Ramos himself, a devout Christian, was to graduate today from the New York State Chaplain Task Force. His partner, Officer Wenjian Liu, had gotten married just two months ago. He and his bride were described today by a neighborhood acquaintance as having been “quiet and clearly in love.” Continue reading For Christmas in New York: Murder
Taking up an issue central to the platform of Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York City Council this week introduced legislation that would ban the horse and carriage business in New York City. It remains to be seen if it will be passed. It’s likely no visitor to Manhattan would be unfamiliar with the sight—especially in and around Central Park— of these iconic horse-drawn carriages.
If the legislation passes, it should be emphasized that only the horses will be banned from the city, and not the drivers. The drivers might be offered job “retraining,” or apply for green aka Boro Taxi medallions, or perhaps drive proposed novelty electric vehicles in place of the horse carriages. The horses will be, well, put out to pasture, ostensibly.
Polls show New Yorkers want the horses and carriages to stay, so why are politicians pursuing an unpopular thing? It goes back to the Democratic primary contest for the mayoral ticket, where de Blasio committed to ending the carriage horse business and gained the support of the vocal anti-carriage horse lobby. De Blasio, himself a dark horse in that contest, went on ultimately to win, as frontrunner Christine Quinn and other competitors stumbled (and relatively few actual voters even paid attention). Whether the mayor really believes in the issue or just doesn’t want to be seen to renege on a full-throated promise so blatantly, he is at any rate now pursuing it by way of legislation through the City Council. It has also been suggested that the issue is less horses than real estate: The stables that currently house the animals sit on land between 10th Avenue and the West Side Highway that has shot up in value and is coveted by developers.
However, whether naive or no, let’s put the money issue aside and just take the animal rights angle. For many years there have been those who’ve said the very fact of having horses pulling carriages in New York City is cruel and abusive. Partly as a result of this, the business is highly regulated (New York might be the regulation capital of the world). There are rules about how long the horses can work, and under what temperatures; there are mandatory rest days, vacations in the country, and regular inspections by veterinarians. And New York certainly is the media capital of the world: the very notion that the horses are being misused and abused when their work is all performed in public would seem to defy commonsense. But the sense being employed here is not particularly common; it needs to be noted that many of the animal rights activists who oppose the horse and carriage business also oppose any service to people by any animals whatsoever, equating it to human slavery.
Horses have been utilized in the role of “beasts of burden” for thousands of years. It seems likely to yours truly that rarely have they had as much attention and care as they have while pulling these carriages for tourists in New York City.
The anti-carriage horse folks eagerly highlight some accidents and incidents over the years. And accidents naturally have happened, garnering much publicity, far more indeed than is generally given to the many, many more accidents that humans suffer in New York every day. No one has yet advocated banning humans from New York City for this reason. (Though perhaps this bears more serious thinking. Imagine, with no people in the city, how much cleaner and quieter it would be. Imagine the reduction in costs related to sanitation, medical services, water supply, policing …! Of-course, tax receipts would take a big hit … but it seems to me someone at least ought to crunch the numbers: this may be something the mayor will want to add to his platform at the next election.)
On a few occasions over the years, horses have died while still in service. What’s not clear to me is whether—if the horses do not pull carriages—they will obtain the gift of eternal life. Do horses ever die in pastures? I confess that I’ve never seen it happen. Fully investigating the question will require a field trip, I guess.
But as much as people like seeing horses in pastures, I can’t help but speculate that if the need for horses to pull carriages in New York disappears, the result in the end will simply be fewer horses in the world.
I happen to be someone who is unlikely ever to pay the very high price to ride in one of these carriages, but I have to say that I do like seeing the horses. There is something calming about the sight of these beautiful, strong and placid animals clip-clopping through the park pulling their carriages. (The sight of the guys huffing and puffing on the pedicabs isn’t anywhere near as pleasing.) It is an antidote to the crazed hustle of the city. And, although I may not know much, I know this: If these horses are banned, then—whether it’s 10 years from now, or 20, or 30—there will surely come the day when people will be looking at photos of how New York City used to be, down through all the years of its existence, and will wonder why the horses and carriages suddenly disappeared. They will miss them terribly and envy the New Yorkers of bygone ages. There will be a campaign to bring them back, but it will not be so easy to restore this very small and special industry and craft once it has been wiped out. It is rather amazing that it has survived this long. In many places around the world, people would be going out of their way to protect such a precious and iconic treasure of their city, even if it didn’t make a profit; in New York, in 2014, we instead have to deal with an administration that is doing whatever it can to destroy it, despite the fact that it is thriving perfectly well on its own terms, without subsidies.
One compromise idea that pleases many people is to build stables for the horses in Central Park, so they don’t have to travel through the city streets from midtown to get there. The idea has not gained much traction as yet, probably because (1) space is obviously at a premium even in Central Park and no one wants to give it up and (2) in the end it wouldn’t satisfy the most radical activists because, you see, the horses would still be slaves.
As unlikely as it may be with the elected leaders we have chained ourselves to, here’s to hoping good sense prevails, for once. And failing that, a modicum of horse sense would do.
Related articles across the web
A man in New York City was picked up last month on the charge of trespassing. He had been found by police sleeping in a stairwell of a public housing project in Harlem. It has surely been a very cold winter in New York, and I guess a stairwell there is one of the places where someone without a home of his own could find some shelter. Public housing projects in New York City generally have token and non-functioning security mechanisms, so that anyone can just stroll in off the street and do whatever they want in the stairwells—which is naturally catastrophic for the quality of life of all of the residents (and yet our new mayor is more concerned about banning carriage horses from pulling carriages, rather than fixing such a fundamental problem for so many poor city residents). The easy accessibility of a legally-prohibited sleeping space was arguably tragedy number one for this man, Jerome Murdough, although really it had come after all of those other tragedies that led him to his life of living on and off the street. Continue reading Man “Baked to Death” in New York City Jail Cell
There hasn’t been a winter like this in New York City since … well, since there were wolves in Wales.
And yet at once one has to apologize, because what New York City has been experiencing is nothing compared to what others have been going through, in places like Minnesota and the Dakotas, and indeed in Georgia and North Carolina where they were just plainly unprepared for a bizarre onslaught of cold white material falling right out of the sky. Although my experience is limited, I doubt that there is any city in the world better able to deal with winter storms than New York, where the very worst blizzards only seem to succeed in slowing the city down for a couple of hours. It’s one of what seem lately to be a decreasing number of advantages to living in this city. Continue reading New York City Winter
The National September 11th Memorial opened in lower Manhattan on September 12th, 2011; so, it has now been open for two years. Yet, though yours truly is a resident of New York City, I only got around to seeing it for the first time last week, in the company of an out-of-town visitor who was interested in going there. Frankly, I’d had no great interest in seeing it (which I knew meant reserving a ticket and then standing in line to gain access to the memorial). Why? I suppose—although I fully appreciate the purpose of a national memorial for the victims of the September 11th attacks—that I just felt no need to utilize it. Without wanting to come across dramatic and angst-ridden, I think I can honestly say that I remember the 9/11 attack each and every day that I am in New York. And I’m quite sure that something very similar is true for most New Yorkers who were here on the day it happened. It’s merely human nature. Familiar things retain the sense of such an emotional event. I can’t so much as glance at the skyline without some measure of remembrance, however fleeting. A jet airliner flying relatively low … it’s just the way it is, and will be, till these bones are desposited into the earth. And just the typical weather of September in New York City evokes that day, in a similar way to that in which a specific smell can evoke vivid memories of a long past moment.
In addition to that, I didn’t lose a loved one in the attacks, so the site would not be a place for me to go and remember or pray for any one in particular.
Nevertheless, I can well understand why out-of-towners would want to go, and so I dutifully accompanied my visitor. It was not a challenge to reserve tickets online a day before (the rush has diminished since the opening two years ago). And the line to get in, through the entrance at the corner of Greenwich and Albany, moved pretty quickly. In line, one’s first impression is the similarity to going through airport security. There is a fairly thorough security check (please leave your guns and bombs at the hotel) and the passes I’d printed out from the internet were checked no less than three times.
At the end of it, you emerge into the September 11th Memorial, which is entirely outdoors. It basically comprises the land area that was occupied by the Twin Towers, and the space between them and immediately around them. (The new World Trade Center “Freedom Tower” is immediately adjacent.) When the towers were standing, you would have been able to walk through this space freely, entering from multiple points on the Manhattan street grid. Now that they’re gone, there is the single entrance via the security checks. Continue reading Visiting the September 11th Memorial
A 35 year-old woman fell to her death from the 17th floor of a building on 57th St. in New York City last night (or early this morning). She was apparently leaning against the railings on her apartment’s balcony when those railings suddenly gave way. The details are no doubt still to be fully established. Obviously, tragic accidents occur every day. This one is in the news at all only because of the particular drama of such a fall in midtown Manhattan. The story itself is, truth be told, relevant only to the people personally involved, and the people who mourn the woman’s loss.
Yet, what’s really remarkable is seeing the kinds of comments on this story that so many people have left, using in most cases their real names and Facebook identities. I don’t read comment sections anymore as a rule, but the first ones I saw on this were so horrible that I felt obliged to go on and see if they continued in that vein. And they did. Many of the most vile remarks were those directed at the dead woman because the story had reported that she was smoking on her balcony when the accident occurred. People felt it worthwhile to pause long enough on the page to leave brief derisive comments such as, “Who wants to date a woman who smokes and smells like tobacco – yuck,” or “She was a smoker. Poor judgment is par for the course.” Or something along the lines of “Tobacco kills!” Again, people using their real names, with photos and actual Facebook profiles attached (sometimes hugging a spouse or clasping their small child in their arms) stop to leave a random insult on a public webpage with a story about a woman who has just died. They are capable of being just that shameless. Continue reading Sad Commentary: A Fatal Fall at Sutton Place
It’s been a long time coming, but it’s there now, nearly twelve years after the September 11th attacks which brought down the Twin Towers. Watching the spire put into place, it’s a reminder that this is how big things are achieved: metal on metal, on concrete, on bedrock, time after time after time. It is difficult and dangerous work and it is an amazing effort of vision and will and strength on the part of so many people. It’s hard to build big buildings. The people who took the World Trade Center towers down could not have erected them in a thousand years. To destroy these American buildings, they had to use American jetliners, cutting people’s throats with blades to take control of them. That defines where such people stand and what they stand for. If they can, they ought to change their hearts and their minds and look to create and to foster life, instead of destroying and killing in the name of their death cult. Meanwhile, in a clearly tangible answer to their hatred, the skyscraper goes up in place of the one they brought down, all 1776 feet of it, the tallest building in the western hemisphere today. Continue reading Freedom Tower Spire Takes its Place in the New York Skyline
Whether you live here or not, if you are at all enamored of New York City, you are likely to enjoy scrolling through a Tumblr photo blog called “NYC Past” (via Mick Hartley), which evidently collects photos of New York City down through the decades from sources such as the Library of Congress.
In substantial ways, there are few places which change as much and as quickly as New York City, with a competitive and churning commercial atmosphere that leads to the quick rise and fall of many businesses, and of-course a constant influx of new immigrants from far flung and exotic places like Haiti, India, and Oklahoma. Waves of immigrants had their particular eras as we well know: the Italians, the Irish, the Germans, and so on, but it never ends. Neighborhoods that are at one time slum-like (or actually slums) then become fancied by the artists and wannabee-layabouts, then become hip, then fashionable, then unaffordable by the common man. One way or another all of these cycles continue and yet in some deep-down ways New York never changes; it is still a crazy mix of absolutely everything and it has remained the best shot at a true melting pot that we’ve discovered. Or so I think.
In photographs over the past 100-plus years, for all of the changes, there are the constants. The Flatiron building, pictured above, and built in 1902, is one of the greatest of those, and—although I’m no architecture egghead but merely an average citizen—it seems to me that it is one of the most nearly-perfect buildings ever constructed, occupying its particular location at Fifth and Broadway so aptly as to make one wonder if that corner could have ever existed without it, and maintaining its grace and physical poetry through each and every year since, irregardless of the chaos all around. You can’t take a bad picture of the Flatiron (or at least it’s pretty darned difficult), and it sheds a sense of timelessness over the entire Madison Square neighborhood.
An even-older anchor of New York which you’ll encounter repeatedly if you scroll through NYC Past is the Brooklyn Bridge, which is to bridges what the Flatiron is to buildings. It is just as it should be, and reminds one of how few edifices actually exist in our world of which you could make the same observation.
A little later in NYC history, the Empire State makes the statement only it can make, and the Chrysler building forever seems like an impish and more clever response to it (even though it was actually finished about a year earlier).
Strolling through the streets of New York City past through these photos is a fascinating delight, and the strongest impression for yours truly is how little things have changed in a fundamental sense, and yet how interesting are the changes which have taken place.
Interesting, and sometimes sad. The photograph below, taken sometime in the early 1900s, shows the waiting room at Grand Central Station. Grand Central Station still exists, thank God, and is as impressive as ever. I maintain that if you approach it from Park Avenue South, it takes on the appearance of the grandest-of-all paperweights, holding down Forty-Second Street and indeed midtown-in-general. On the day it is removed, New York will surely explode, just as everyone has been expecting it to do all of these years. The sad change evidenced in the photograph has taken place in the people. Back then, as you will notice, people knew how to wear hats. Both the men and the women. Even just sitting, waiting for their train, they would not be without the appropriate cranial decoration. It is not so today. The decline in the wearing of hats (baseball caps do not count) has been accompanied by too many other declines to list here. Well, thanks to NYC Past, we can dream of a better age.
My favorite story about former New York City mayor Ed Koch—who passed on the other day at the age of 88—is one he used to tell about himself. He enjoyed telling stories about himself, of-course. This story involves a boating operation called the Circle Line, which ferries tourists around the entire island of Manhattan, up the East River and across the Harlem River and down the Hudson, with a tour guide pointing out the sights. As it chugs up that part of the East River adjacent to 88th Street, the tour guide would naturally point out the graceful old mansion situated there, which happens to be named Gracie Mansion. It is the official residence of whoever is the mayor of New York (although our current monarch, Mr. Bloomberg, chooses to stay in his own fancier digs on 79th Street).
As I recall hizzoner Mayor Koch telling it, he would enjoy going outside of the residence sometimes and looking for the Circle Line ferry approaching; as it passed, he would wave wildly and yell something like, “Here I am! It’s me! Here I am!”
The story is especially funny, I think, because it is so very easy to picture him doing this. Continue reading Edward I. Koch, 1924 – 2013
In 1945, a tradition was begun in New York City by a group of families led by one Mrs. Stephen C. Clark, to illuminate fir trees up and down the median of tony Park Avenue to honor members of the military who lost their lives in World War II. It is continued to this day as a memorial to those who have lost their lives defending the nation, and is accompanied by the singing of Christmas carols, with the throngs gathering in front of the Brick Presbyterian Church at 91st St. and Park Avenue. It takes place on the evening of the first Sunday of December, which was today. Park Avenue in the vicinity is closed to vehicular traffic and the crowds stream in on foot from the south and the north.
Traditions like these are worth cherishing. There’s a very short video clip below captured during this evening’s proceedings.
(By the way, the tree lighting is paid for for by people who live in the area, through the Fund for Park Avenue.)
In 2005, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, President George W. Bush was caught on a microphone saying “Heckuva job, Brownie,” to the then-Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael D. Brown. This quick bit of positive reinforcement for his FEMA head was subsequently (and is to this day) hung around Dubya’s neck and juxtaposed with every iota of human hardship associated with Katrina and New Orleans. How could Bush compliment Brown when so many people were still suffering?
That was then. Consider what we’ve been witnessing since last Tuesday, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, in terms of political leaders and bureaucrats praising one another in a non-stop cavalcade of love and affection. You can’t tune into any of these press conferences, by Bloomberg, Cuomo or Christie, without hearing a great litany of how happy the various leaders and governments and agencies are with one another. “Unprecedented cooperation.” “FEMA is doing everything we ask.” “Couldn’t be happier.” “So grateful.” It has all been crowned, of-course, by the outpouring of gratitude and appreciation on Wednesday between Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and President Barack Obama. Continue reading Sandy: The political parade of mutual congratulation
Clearly this storm has been a disaster for many who badly need assistance and prayers. Here at Cinch HQ in NYC we can only be grateful not to have lost power or suffered any other significant damage. Were it not for seeing it on the news, we wouldn’t even know it had been such a damaging storm. Would that everyone could say the same thing.
In terms of New York City at large, it seems the damage to the subway system is the biggest single issue hanging over the recovery effort. Shutting down the system was meant to avoid serious flooding by salt water, but it occurred anyway, and that’s a very big deal which will impact service for quite some time and cost plenty to fix. Continue reading Sandy: aftermath of the tempest
‘Tis well I remember Hurricane Irene from 14 months ago. I remember going out just about when it was predicted to have been at its worst. The rain had stopped and light was breaking through the clouds; it seemed for all the world like a nice day. I thought: “Wow, this must be the eye of the storm.” But no: that was the storm — at least in our neighborhood.
I’m so tempted to say “Deja-vu all over again.” Yet, it’s clear enough from news reports that low-lying areas by the sea are getting inundated, and no one can say this storm isn’t going to be very serious for many people. But as far as dramatic effects in the heart of New York City … well, there have been passing summer thunderstorms that created more of a stir. We’ve had breezes, the occasional howling gust, and some moderate but intermittent rain. The focus in the media right now on a single crane slightly dislodged in midtown seems to sum things up; there’s a distinct lack of news, at least in Manhattan. Continue reading Sandy: an update from within the tempest
They waited at the landing
And they tried to understand
But there is no understanding
For the judgement of God’s hand
So goes one of the final verses of Bob Dylan’s song, “Tempest,” released this past September 11th. It describes the sinking of the Titanic, but makes no mention of any iceberg. There is only the “tempest” cited in the title. It’s an unusually long song, and Hurricane Sandy is predicted to be one unusually long storm. Make of it what you will!
At this hour (10 a.m.) from my vantage point in the center of New York City, things are quite calm and very strange. Breezy, for sure, with some raindrops in the air but no torrents. What is very odd is knowing that, effectively, everyone is at home. You can almost never say that in New York, on any day, at any hour. This strange state of affairs is thanks to the complete shut down of public transportation. It is only the second time that’s ever been done in anticipation of inclement weather, the first time being August of 2011, when it was done for Hurricane Irene. That turned out to be an overreaction. This time, if the meteorologists are half-way correct, it will not be an overreaction.
In New York City, amidst the walls of skyscrapers, I think most of us tend to feel immune to the vagaries of weather. The worst blizzards imaginable can strike, but in a few hours as if by magic the streets are cleared and the sidewalks swept. If you use the subway or your legs to get around, you are barely inconvenienced by such events.
This could be different—indeed it’s already different by virtue of the subway shutdown—but still I think the deepest concern with regard to this storm is for people in other locales, places where they are almost certain to lose power, perhaps for many days. With the power lines underground in Manhattan, I’m not sure what disastrous sequence of events would have to take place to cut off power here.
In any case, I will continue checking in here as whim and circumstance dictate.
Now I’m going to take the dog for a walk.
One more verse from “Tempest” by Bob Dylan:
Smokestack was leaning sideways
Heavy feet began to pound
He walked into the whirlwind
Sky splitting all around
Addendum 11 a.m.: In truth, a quick walk around the neighborhood shows that about 50% of businesses are open, and there are plenty of people out and about, searching for the storm. I guess eventually it will probably find us.
In a press conference this week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York was defending the actions of the police officers who shot the gunman outside of the Empire State Building last week, killing him but also wounding nine innocent bystanders.
Now, I don’t condemn the police for the wounding of those people, simply because I know how densely populated is that area with tourists/commuters/people-selling-things-to-tourists and you name it. Simply put, if you point a gun straight-away in any direction there and fire it the bullet is going to find someone’s body, whether within close-range or down the block. The choice of the gunman to point his gun at the police took away their option not to fire. Using semi-automatics, they fired 16 rounds between them. Yes, they should have been able to do the job with less, but it’s difficult to seriously fault them given the abrupt and terrifying circumstance. I’m assuming at that close-range that many of the bystanders who were hit were hit by bullets or fragments of bullets which had already passed through the killer’s body. The video doesn’t show the officers firing wildly all about. Again, given the density of human flesh in that neighborhood, injuries to bystanders were inevitable. Thank God no one else was killed.
But that’s not why I’m interested in what Mayor Mike Bloomberg said at this press conference. In response to some critical question about the actions of the police officers, the famously pro-gun-control mayor is quoted as saying the following: “Let me ask you this: If somebody pointed a gun at you, and you had a gun in your pocket, what would you do?” It’s a rhetorical question, of-course, meant to defend the actions of the police officers.
It is a funny question on more than one level, coming from him. Firstly, due to the strictness of New York City’s gun control regulations (which he would only be inclined to make stricter) it is almost impossible to conceive of a situation where that reporter would legally be able to have “a gun in [his] pocket.” Merely getting a permit to own a handgun and keep it locked up, unloaded, at home, is a matter of enormous difficulty in New York City, and the authorities are under no obligation to issue it to you at all, even if you jump through every hoop successfully. They can simply say, “Ah, we don’t like your face,” or, “We don’t feel like it today.” It is in their discretion.
And getting a permit to actually carry a loaded handgun on your person in the city is many times more difficult again, and the city actively discourages people from even attempting to do so. It’s long been a matter of contention among those who are interested that you pretty much need to be a Hollywood star, some other kind of super-celebrity or mega-wealthy character in order to be anointed with such a permit. No doubt there are exceptions, but the deck is heavily stacked against any Joe or Jane Schmo, and the Second Amendment be damned (as indeed it is in New York City).
So Mayor Bloomberg’s question —If somebody pointed a gun at you, and you had a gun in your pocket, what would you do?—is kind of ludicrous on the face of it. The answer is: “Mr. Mayor, I wouldn’t have a gun in my pocket, thanks to you and your ilk, so I guess what I would do in that situation is die.”
And indeed, many people have died and do die in this city and others like it for the want of being able to defend themselves against murdering thugs.
Mayor Bloomberg’s question is also funny because it presumes, you’ll notice, that there is a moral right to pull out a gun and defend yourself if someone is threatening your life with one. “If somebody pointed a gun at you, and you had a gun in your pocket, what would you do?” The question presumes not only that anyone would use their gun to defend themselves in that situation, but that it would also be the right thing to do. Continue reading “If someone pointed a gun at you …?” – Mayor Bloomberg’s interesting question
The story of how the principal of PS 90 in Brooklyn, Greta Hawkins, banned the five year-olds from singing “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood at their kindergarten “graduation ceremony” has generated the kind of blowing back and forth that is typical of such incidents, and naturally everyone has a right to an opinion.
According to the NY Post, five classes spent months learning the song. The principal reportedly nixed it so as “not to offend other cultures.” Yet, the nicest thing I read in connection with this whole story—doubtless the only nice thing—is what’s conveyed in this snippet: Continue reading Lee Greenwood, Justin Bieber, and a Matter of Taste