Saturday, August 4, 2007
More Reflections On New York
Just a few scattershot observations from the week I've spent here so far:
First, I don't remember New York ever being so crowded. I'm not even talking about the tourist spots, like the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty, where the waiting times were about an hour to get in and half that to get out, but which I'd promised to the Lil' Feller based on my 1970's-era recollections of strolling in and out at will. No, I'm talking about walking down the street just about anywhere in Manhattan. Granted it's summertime and peak tourist season, but still, I get the feeling that there are way more people on the street than when I last lived here in 1996, or the times I've visited since. It reminds me of what a friend from SoCal said the first time he came to New York: "It feels like every time I take a breath, three or four people have already beaten me to it." Nowadays, it's more like thirty or forty.
Second, and something I took mental note of last time I was here, is that I can't remember the last time I felt threatened or menaced in the City. An incident on the subway yesterday brought that home. Some bike-messenger-looking dude got on the train with his slicked out bike, and he was holding it upright on its rear tire like only a wannabe bike-messenger-looking dude would ever hold his bike. At first it was kind of annoying -- if you're gonna have the slicked out bike and the attitude then at least ride the damn thing instead of bringing it onto the subway and getting in everybody's way -- but since it wasn't actually in my way, I didn't say anything. But then, just as the car empties out some and I'm about to sit down next to my son, he moves it to where it's right in my face. So I pointed that out to him. Politely. And he starts getting loud about how it's "...not too smart to pull that macho shit in front of your son, because I could be crazy and just pull a gun out on you and blow you away." But he did so while moving the bike out of my way, which just reinforced the contrast between the days (that I remember very well) when what he was saying was very true, and today, when it isn't. I consciously chose not to escalate the situation and he got off at the next stop, but at no time did I feel threatened in the very least. (After the dude had left, a gentleman sitting across from me who gave every appearance of knowing what time it was complimented me on how I had handled the matter.)
Third, if you're wondering how to get a six-year old boy to enjoy a trip to the Metropolitan Museum, it's called the Medieval Armor gallery.