Wednesday, November 21, 2007

#323 Jalalabad on the Hudson

All that’s missing is the sheep. New York? Must have missed it on the way to somewhere else. Or, it’s BECOME somewhere else.

It’s a bizarre bazaar. A movie set of itself. But not itself anymore. Or was it ever itself?

Maybe a long time ago.

They have bicycle taxis now. Maybe it should be Beijing on the Hudson. These have not replaced the horse drawn rickshaws, but supplemented them. Not nearly as romantic. But easier on the horses, since there are none.

Paisley decorations on the yellow cab hoods and roofs. Silly looking. But at least you can use your American Express Card for your ride now. This is a big improvement.

Dirtier than ever. Does America’s Mayor, in his strained and fanciful and pandering campaign for his party’s presidential nomination, ever come here anymore? All he did for New York was get rid of the squeegee guys. And, (you heard it here first!) it’s only a matter of time before they return.

The Projects, the most depressing buildings ever built, are worse. The traffic, never any good, is worse. The people? Who are these people.

It never was the melting pot it was cracked up to be. There still are people from all over walking the streets. Like Jalalabad. Like Cairo. Like London. But it’s somehow not the same. Something is missing.

But what? Spirit? Energy? A sense of self? A sense of purpose? What?

There are a few key vestiges left. There’s the guy puffing away, right under the “No Smoking” sign. And there are plenty of strangers who willingly inset themselves into your conversation… and strangers willing to have you do the same.

And the streets are like Jalalabad, except the mobbed up paving is better.

Who would live in this place who didn’t have to? It’s hard to imagine, asking that question. But after just under two years away from it, it’s harder to imagine than it is to do.

There are lustrous aspects that in fairness to Jalalabad, New York has. The museums – largely tourist attractions. The skyline – entirely a tourist attraction. Times Square – it’s become too tame even for the tourists.

There’s still the dirt, but not the grit. It seems a city in a grey fog.

Now, the question: is the fog really there? Or is that, too, imagination.

They built the Empire State Building – still THE New York building of buildings – in about a year. And that, at the height of the great depression.

The depression left by the bombing of the World Trade Center is still a hole in the ground, now, seven years after the fact.

New York can’t make up its mind what to put there. Or it can’t agree on a final design. Or it can’t come up with the financing.

Hey, wait. Maybe things haven’t changed all that much.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.


CLARIFICATION: In Wessay #321, “Fiorello,” the world “fusion” is used in its generic sense, which is similar to, but not synonymous with the word as applied by political scientists, who ascribe it to any number of combinations of nominally $opposing viewpoints working together for one particular purpose. The Republican Party of Ohio, for example, called itself the “Fusionist” Party, before changing its name to Republican.

As professor Gerald Meyer, Coordinator, Social Sciences, Hostos Community College put it in a letter, published in the New York Times on May 12, 1992:

(LaGuardia) ran for mayor in 1933 on two ballot lines, Republican and Fusion Party (a type of good-government party).

What is forgotten, however, is that after the American Labor Party was formed in 1936, La Guardia hastened to register in it, and he remained a registered member of the A.L.P. until he died in 1947. The A.L.P. provided almost 36 percent of his vote in 1937, when he ran for his second term, and 27 percent of his vote in 1941, when he ran for his third term.

(c) 2007 WJR

1 comment:

pipskippy said...

I've never been to New York, or really anywhere else I couldn't get a business paid trip. But Chicago always caught my eye. It seemed like it was a sort of mini New York, without many of the bigger city issues, or at least without the same degree of.

Hell, after a while in Nashville, I can visit the NewYork NewYork casino in Vegas and feel like I've seen the big city.