Don’t get me wrong, I just visited the memorial site and was emotionally flattened all over again. 9/11 did more than create some truly insane conspiracy theories and ‘start’ a bad war. The hurt is still there and realHowever, there is an insight I can achieve, from being a rare visitor to the place.
Sure there are sights like this one (carefully adjusted for a smile), in Times Square:
(The tellthetruth web site which Doonesbury so beautifully lampooned in “Myfacts” episodes of his syndicated cartoon strip).
But in New York, there is largely incredulity at the lengths to which the GOP media folk will go to prove their own stupidity. They are much more interested in getting on with life in a manner that is so very different from when I was last there in the 80s.
A lot of credit has been given to Mayors Giuliani & Bloomberg, in tidying up the streets, reducing crime, and more, but the mood of the people is something else.
I saw it manifested in approaches to police and firefighters in the media back in the immediate aftermath of the Towers disaster, but now it has mutated into something far more general and far more optimistic.
People seem to me to want to be friendly to others in a manner that reflects a realisation concerning the important things in life. Sure there were still a few of those famous telephone rows held on a cell phone in the busy street, but overall there was this steady undercurrent of “Thank you, You’re welcome”, on a level that way exceeded my expectations. Hell, even Chon, the passport inspection guy who was the first American we spoke to when we arrived, – he saw we were the last in line and gave us his copy of the New York city guide with free vouchers and some good solid advice, engaged in a chatty conversation about the Asian community in New York, and took his gloves off and shook hands happily when I offered mine as a thank you.
This sort of greeting is very different from the aggression and hostility when I first landed there in 1975 and was detained for an hour due to not having sufficient funds for the length of my stay…
Right now I would say New York would be the one city in the world that I could actually live in. The people are friendly in the way I like, extrovert, chatty and helpful, all in a nice proportion as they get on doing their famous work ethic thing.
They have their expected selection of characters – especially visible at the Sunday Flea marketGreying dreadlocked semi Rastas speaking Spanish;
Old guys getting shirty with someone picking up a fragile piece;
Folk who collected strangers’ family photographs;
Junk and quality items sat side by side…
…and these two might be married.
All in all I have to report on an excellent and very enjoyable week in the big apple, and whilst definitely expensive, so lacking in its former sense of a threat barely concealed, that even I could happily live there. And I never thought I would be able to say that.