Here they are, in limited detail... my personal favorite moments as a New Yorker.
Finally "getting" Woody Allen while watching Manhattan at the BAM Rose in Brooklyn on September 11, 2002 with a crowd of other New Yorkers who were looking for a certain way remember the previous year. Or maybe we were all just there because it was free. Probably a mix of both. But to my point here, while some previous Woody Allen films had left me feeling like an outsider, this one felt like coming home.
Joining the vast network of subway scammers. It happened one day while exiting the subway at 14th & 8th when I overheard an apparent street dweller asking a young innocent if she used an unlimited card. The conversation ping ponged then reached a confused impasse. Having been in that girl’s position myself just a few weeks prior, I gave the old guy a knowing nod and swiped my card at the nearby turnstile. Finally, after all these months riding underground, I know a little something extra about how the whole system works.
Knowing the difference between streets and avenues and which to say first when giving cabbies directions. Also knowing the relative measurement of a street to an avenue block is 3:1 and being able to work that into casual party conversation. "So, I had to walk four blocks to get there…but they were short blocks so it wasn't too bad."
Recognizing regular train entertainers, such as the one-trick duet that sings "Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone" and the jolly Italian grandfather who wails on his trumpet with his backpack amp pumping through to the other end of the car. Oh yeah, and the guy from the future with silver-washed skin from head to toe, but we only saw him once. He must have returned to his people.
Realizing two years was maybe not quite long enough to live here. Two years ago, I'd gasp and stare in disbelief at any New Yorker who told me they'd been here longer than three years and were voluntarily forking over a truckload of rent money in return for more. I just couldn't understand. When they said, "It'll grow on you" I said,"Yeah, like a growth." No, I didn't really say that but it's in the same ballpark as whatever lame response I really did make. And lame it was; lame and wrong. This is the most superlative major eastern US city I've ever lived in and I already want to come back. Seriously, I do.
The State of the Union, Or Bush's Top Ten Justifications for War. Now.
Good news everyone. We're winning. That's right. Heard it from the Prez himself tonight. I didn't quite catch what exactly it was we're winning -- something about the war for peace and liberation for everybody. Even the Iraqis. Bush promised to deliver them some freedom along with all the food, meds and barrels of whoop-ass we're gonna be dropping on 'em soon. What a guy.
Aside from trying to catch Dennis Hastert and VP Cheney nodding off, I watched the State of the Union address with unusual interest and anticipation. This speech tends to be an impressively condensed and broad news digest, yet I'm always tricked into thinking something new will be revealed. Toward the end there I was really thinking Bush was going to shock us all and declare war, but he fooled us again. Master tricksy.
The curious thing is that it's not a wholly objectionable speech -- his rhetoric is good and his pronunciation near flawless (except that dern 'nuclear'). The problem though is that his policies and actions just don't often correspond with his promises and talk. Well now, the more I think about it, the more I remember a few things that really do bother me about the way he talks. For example:
Encouraging union of church and state and the push for faith-based initiatives. Hasn't the unending Holy War in the Middle East taught us anything? And the Constitution...
Denouncing reproductive rights and calling for legislation to outlaw what is referred to as 'partial birth abortion'. I haven't followed this issue too closely but I do side with the late Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan who opposed a bill in his state because of its vague and misleading language. He argued the legislation would not only ban late-term abortions but open the law to criminalize abortions that are common and safe as early as six months in pregnancy. Although he spoke specifically about one bill in his state, I've no doubt that any 'partial birth abortion' legislation would covertly attempt to smuggle in some clauses to repeal all kinds of reproductive rights.
I don't like the idea of tax refunds. Isn't it incredibly shortsighted to send a check for a couple hundred dollars to all, as Bush termed us, "distinguished and fellow citizens"? (Is that just a PC term for Alphas and Betas?) We're all just gonna buy a new TV or leather coat with it anyway. How about more money for education or social services or, hey, what about paying off some of our national debt?
And the part I really, really didn't like...the part where Bush squints his beady black eyes into the camera and says this about a few select Al Qaeda members: "Let's put it this way...they're no longer a problem." What is this? The Mafia?
Apparently Bush's speechwriters have been listening to national and global criticism that the President hasn't provided compelling justification for a war. Well, he listed his points tonight, but I still didn't find an answer to the one question that's been running through my mind since this whole 'Showdown Iraq' started -- Why is this our war? Sure, our government may fear Saddam possesses and could use all kinds of massive weapons, but is it really our responsibility to single-handedly try to stop him by using our weapons on him first? All I can say is, I think not.
© 2002, 2003 Anthony Hecht and Liz Jones. All rights reserved.