Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New York, NY

I always am a bit puzzled when people talk about New York with the adage "in the good old days".  I grew up in New York in the late 70s and 80s so the "good old days" were fun for me but were not that good for the city.  It was crime ridden, on the verge of bankruptcy, much dirtier, grittier, and looked more like an alcoholic beauty queen that looks 10 years older than she is.  Sure you can make a case that the city was more "real", that we had good times even with the Son of Sam, the crack epidemic, the squeegee people....but that was more due to our age and ability to overlook these things to get to clubs, bars, try on behaviors that were not good for us.  The city is a much better place now...kind of like the beauty queen with a little Botox.


In light of the media coverage that Bin Laden has been killed one thing has became evident to me about being a New Yorker. In the past 10 years we think of our city as in either a pre or post 9/11 context. We are now a country in the midst of 2 wars in an area that produced the terrorists that attacked my city, oh I totally feel that the city is a part of me and I a part of it no matter where I go.  We got used to armed guards in places like Grand Central, Penn Station with their puffed bullet proof vests, their large guns and ridiculously young faces.  Our vocabulary now includes things like Ground Zero, alert levels, warnings and "if you see something, say something".  Most New Yorkers are acutely aware that we are mentioned in most plots that are diverted. We lost so many of our own on that clear September day. For a city known for it's toughness we were made to cry for the destruction that still cannot be understood but is still acutely felt.


So what now that he is dead ? Or not if you read the internet (and yes if it is on the internet it is true).  For those of us in New York this did not mean that we get a lower alert level, no it meant we had to raise it.  We are/were targeted because we as a city stand for everything that a narrow minded, non-tolerant fanatical cult hates.  We are diverse, we are many united by our ability to have choices of how we live our lives and battle together the hardships of sharing the city itself.  We make mistakes and are cruel at times but mostly we are the most incredible group of people who in the face of any disaster do not react with violence but rather with a immeasurable kindness and calm for one another.  There may be those who are thinking of the debate about the mosque at Ground Zero as they may be reading this, ready to challenge me on our tolerance. The fact that we are even having the debate is more tolerant than many locations globally and nationally that have not even entertained the idea of diverse places of worship. More tolerant than the death mongers that asked for men to disregard the wonder of life, their own included, and drive planes into civilians.  So what now that he is dead? Now is the time for New Yorkers to once again show the world how it is done. I would like to leave my boys with historical knowledge of the "bad old days" when racism existed, when fanatics appealed to a people because their leaders repressed them, to know a history of a time that is nothing like the future they deserve.   Like Frankie said "if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere"....I guess it is up to us New York, New York......

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