Friday, November 25, 2016

The Kindness of Strangers

At the east end of town
At the foot of the hill
There's a chimney so tall
It says Belfast Mill.
But there's no smoke at all
Coming out of the stack
For the mill has shut down
And is never coming back. - The Fureys, Belfast Mill

Everything Entertainment Truck on West 57 Nov 10, 2016
When you fall over on the sidewalk in Manhattan, before you can even look up, you are surrounded by a protective blanket of New Yorkers.

Asking whether you need help to stand up. Whether you would like them to call a friend. Offering band--aides,  bacterial zinc sachets.

I've been falling over a lot lately and I blame Trump. Seriously. That's probably because recently  I have had occasion to be in mid-town Manhattan, within a few blocks of Trump Tower, where security men, New York cops and the Secret service are attempting to keep Melania and Baron safe (whatever happened to Tiffany?),and to keep the traffic moving.

It is a mad house. Tourists photographing protesters. Out-of-it our-of-towners - tourists from the rust belt - oblivious to the havoc they have contributed to by voting for the orange man, wondering why they can't get into Gucci to buy their annual Gucci bag.  Not realizing that our world has changed.

Trump Tower in the good old days of Obama
The day after the election I was walking west down 57 Street, just around the corner from Trump Tower. Ages ago I had arranged to go to a performance at the New York City Dance Centre with a friend. Pre-performance drinks at Circa.

Then suddenly - right on 57th, several guys in a large "Everything Entertainment"  truck were chucking large steel pipes onto the sidewalk.

I was distracted, thinking only about having our  pre-performance drink and arriving on time,  when a traffic cop came running up  telling  the truck  men  to get the hell out of there. A pipe rolled towards me and I went flying. Down but not out. I looked up.

The traffic cop, the bemused Bronx-accented pipe throwers, and half a dozen concerned New Yorkers. I lay there contemplating suing. I want a police report I told the traffic cop. She explained I needed a real cop and would have to wait.

I thought for a nanosecond. Sue or go to the New York Center Dance and  dine with my friend. No contest. I stood up, New Yorkers sanitized and bandaged my scraped hand.  I hobbled off for a pre-performance drink at Circa. A good decision.

Next week. Next fall. I was on the way to the Union Square subway. Thanksgiving Eve. Wanting to see the Therapy Wall.

Therapy Wall,  Union Square Subway,  November 2016

Dusk. Busy. Thinking about Trump and remembering Hillary.  I tripped over a hole in the curb.

Down but not out.

Injured. Frustrated.

Who are these people who voted for Trump? Believing that he would bring their jobs back? the Jobs for the people who made Polaroid cameras? For the  people who damaged their lungs  digging coal?

As Obama would say, '"C'mon man!"

Trumpworld: -

I'm too old to work
And I'm too young to die
Tell me where will I go now
My family and I? - The Fureys, Belfast Mill

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Deja Vu on the M102

Even though a cloud’s white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An’ the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
 For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An’ for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing - Bob Dylan, Chimes Of Freedom, 1964
Front Page of New York Daily News Nov 9 2016
Sitting on the M102 bus on my way to work. November 9, 2016.

Facing a row of New Yorkers like me. Commuters.

Staring straight ahead. No cell phones. No talking. Looking at nothing. Expressionless. We all knew what had happened the day before. And we all knew that we all knew. A shared feeling of shock and horror.

Where had I seen people like that before? Vacant. Gray. No words.

Then it came to me. September 12 2001. The day after our worst New York day. The day after 9 -11.

Later I read the Facebook posts and articles commenting on and analyzing how we had elected as president a man possessing no foreign policy, a bigot. A racist. A misogynist. An inarticulate man. A man who wants to build a wall. An arrogant man. Bankrupt on so many levels.  The orange man.

After work in the elevator, a neighbor - a NYU professor -  broke down and sobbed. "Some of my students were crying today," she told me. The Muslim ones and the black ones. They are scared.."

No words.