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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blackout


In Union Square the chess players sit alone under the statue of George Washington waiting for a game. A Latino family, father, mother and son, sit on the sidewalk holding cardboard signs and singing. “I’ll be your friend, when you’re not strong.”  The big chain stores are closed but the bodegas are open and Muslim and Chinese storekeepers charge up to ten dollars for a gallon of water. New York City in blackout, in short, is much like New York City as usual.

The electronics stores are closed and the wine stores are open. A chalk sign outside one darkened store reads, “Screw electricity.”  NYU students crowd the bus stops and French tourists elbow their way through the crowd on the way to a cheaply expensive hotel. A massive ancient tree lies torn out of the earth in the old 16th Street park and residents crowd around sticking their iPhones through the 19th Century ironwork of the shuttered park to get a photo. A photo of devastation.

Recording disaster has become instinct. I saw dozens of people taking photos on September 11 and the number would have increased by a factor of x10 If the modern smartphone with its 8 megapixel camera had been present in 2001. A click of a touchscreen and the photo is uploaded to Facebook to be shared around the world with people who like gawking at broken things.

The departure of the internet accompanies the return of drive time news radio and the shocking reminder of what the media is really like. On WINS a cheerful male anchor runs through the list of catastrophes. “Gone in Sixty Seconds,” he says about a flooded town, almost chuckling at the joke. “The town of Little Ferry sure lived up to its name,” he says of another.  The obscenities repeat themselves every 10 minutes intersecting with audio clips of survivors who only have a few seconds to mention the water or how much they lost before the whole things cut to a commercial.

With a million Con Edison customers out of power, the commercial is naturally for Con Edison, but it isn't one of those, “We’re working as hard as we can” ads that utilities run while their customers curse them in the dark, instead it’s an ad touting Con Edison’s Diversity Supplier Program which distributes supplier contracts based on race, instead of competence. Even liberals would not have been reassured by the timing.

Chris Christie is everywhere, flying around in the helicopter and landing just long enough to survey the destruction. A few minutes later he is launching into an anecdote about jet skiers rescuing 80 year old ladies on jet skis. “All they wanted was a photo with me and then they were off,” he says, reminding the audience that while the governor is trying to be the Rudy Guiliani of this news cycle, he isn’t Rudy.

While shopping for supplies, Senator Schumer comes on the radio and in his best oily voice, informs beleaguered shoppers that he has gotten calls from Republicans and Democrats and assures us that this issue will not be politicized. Unlike Hurricane Katrina, an unseen heckler supplies in the rugs and mops aisle.

An hour of this is enough to remind me of how unprofessional professional news is and how much better Sean Hannity was at this during the last blackout through the simple expedient of jettisoning the formula and supplying helpful information. There is no helpful information on AM news anymore, with the brief exceptions of traffic and weather, just ghoulish exploitation of tragedy in the same cheerful voice that is then used to sell Carbonite, computer backup for only 59.99 a year.

The NYPD is doing what it does best, cutting off streets and telling people where to go. A pile of ordure in the morning acts as evidence that the mounted police were deployed at some point during the night. But the amount of actual crime appears negligible. One store window is lightly broken, more likely a result of the storm than casual vandalism. But being cut off from collective news sources also acts as a reminder of how news shapes perceptions.

Without a news report, I have no idea if the blackout and storm were accompanied by a massive crime wave or hardly any crime at all. As people did a century ago and as many still do, I can only judge larger events by my perceptions. The status of crime in New York City is determined entirely by the number of unbroken store windows that I pass among the darkened stores selling handbags, artisanal cookies and neck massages on my quest to find working internet. But the moment I pass along that perception, then I am once again creating news and the entire cycle of collective perception repeats itself again.

Past 40th Street on the East Side and 26th Street on the West Side, there is power and I recognize the phenomenon first through the sight of distant red traffic lights. “Do Not Walk,” they say, and I walk on. On the radio a politician talks about revisiting the unity of September 11, but that’s a cheerful story to sandwich between commercials for motor oil and a reality show about Texas bachelorettes.

On September 11, we briefly came to the awareness of a common enemy, but now we remain in our old divisions, those who have and those who have not, those who define themselves by race and those who do not, the woman screaming loudly about how Bush did not find any Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq four years past the point when that kind of thing was fashionable and the young girl in duck boots saying, “Omigod,” over and over again into a cellphone until it becomes its own mantra.

We are on an island and we are islands. The prosperous smiling natives paying 10 dollars for a quart of sink water reprocessed in Michigan bottling plants and paying double to travel downtown in a taxi and the immigrants who take their money, but hardly ever smile. There are the gangs who plot looting sprees on Twitter and the Long Island cops who leave behind their families to drive around the streets telling them to go home. There are the people in flooded homes and the news anchors cheerfully asking them how it felt to lose everything they have.

The finance expert with a Lithuanian accent tells his broker over a shaky connection in an internet café to sell the dollar and a male model named Justice chats about San Francisco. They are all New York and they aren’t New York, because New York City is an idea and it can be hard to live inside an idea. New York is immigrant neighborhoods full of people who want to live just like they did back home while making more money and having access to free social services. New York is British brokers straight out of the City putting in their time before they go somewhere glamorous, like Dubai.

New York is the remnants of its working class, hiding out deep in Brooklyn or leaving city limits for Long Island or New Jersey. New York is the place that you see in movies which shoot on every block, tangling their cables like snakes around fire hydrants while their refreshment tables full of sliced avocados stretch on forever. 

New York is the idea of the Everycity, the city that never stops because it is always busy doing things and being things. It is the idea that we can leave behind our roots and our histories to create a new glamorous history out of the fragments of everyone else trying to do the same thing at the same time. And when I look back, surrounded by the floor to sky video screens of Times Square as the darkness grows, all I see are the outlines of dark towers and the lights of the endless traffic of secretaries, brokers, cops and doctors, professors, porters, drug dealers, antiques appraisers, actors and drivers, prowling through the night.

26 comments:

Undulating Arrow said...

Okay, okay, Daniel. There you are doing your belles lettres thing again. We get it, you're well read and you put words together cleverly.

Have you ever had what it takes (common sense and courage) to call for an end of Third World immigration? To acknowledge the reality of human biodiversity? To even mention it?

Who cares about black-on-white crime, the ongoing intifada of blacks against whites, lead-up to the genocide of whites worldwide? Not you, as long as you can write about Israel and show us you got good grades in English class.

You neocons make me sick.

Anonymous said...

New York is the last place I would ever choose to see, let alone live in. It is the representation of every evil, every soul-destroying idea of every radical hater of humanity, and a cesspool of greed, fantasy above truth, and reminds me of the barbarians of the past.

meema said...

Daniel, just so you know, and as a way to offer antidote to the mean-spirited, useless dribble leaking from the poison pen of Undulating Arrow - you rock, son!

Glad you took the time and effort to find an internet connection to share with us. I'm sure I am not alone praying that you and all effected by this catastrophe will gain more from this than was lost.

Mme Scherzo said...

Daniel, I guess your crime is artfully noticing. I'm not sure why that inspires sarcasm from the Undulating Arrow. His sarcasm isn't as artful as your noticing.

Anonymous said...

Another enjoyable read. Your site is much appreciated.

Oh, and, stop forcing people to come to this site, making them read your stuff then, of all things, make them sick because your command of the language of this country is just so darned good. Really. Take THAT, you horrible neocon-ish person, you. And, Israel, too. Ooooo!

Objective Non New Yorker said...

I visited this city. I expected rude people, but encountered only friendly and helpful folks. I expected a lot of things. New York was a pleasure. I could eat affordably. And the sound of the wind through the tall buildings created a similar soothing white noise I compare to ocean waves. It's like getting over-stimulated by lights, smells, sights, sounds, interacting with a huge number of people continuously...all the while, the sound rises up and is muted and washed into a trailing, unfinished ahhhh...

My taxi drivers were very good, for the most part, only the Pakistani fleeced me by taking the long way from the hotel to the airport. Yet I didn't mind that either, since I got to see more. I enjoyed going to the park and smoking to test the locals for the policy of giving dirty looks. Only one family walking by did so. I was joined by a nice lady who explained the smoking laws & cheerfully lit one up with me. I loved the black guy playing his jazz sax. Read a story about him in the NY Times later. He deserves to be famous. He gives the world only goodness.

I probably would not want to live there. It's more like visiting Busch Gardens or Disney World to my mind. New Jersey...I went to boarding school there and have an entirely different point of view on that place. Still, to think these places can be touched by nature an changed, possibly permanently, is tragic indeed.

American Genie said...

Ah, so glad you found that internet connection.

I have visited the city only twice. Once as a small child, and once in the early '90s. My oldest daughter lives in Brooklyn, so maybe I will make it back one day.

I really enjoyed this post, and am extremely thankful that you are "well read and you put words together cleverly."

Methinks Undulating Arrow has pen envy. ;-)

kriskxx said...

I love the comments almost as much as Daniel Greenfield's articles ' Arrow has pen envy" tears running down the cheeks wit!
Enjoyed the scenery, thanks for taking the time. By the way,I have a filter that I can suck up pond scum bacteria free called 'LifeStraw Personal Water Filter' Preppies have such things. Need to look into that for the next merry-go-round, Daniel.

Undulating Arrow said...

Daniel, I actually was impressed by you for a while when I started reading you. Your screeds against Obama and Muslims sometimes reached heights of eloquence.

After a while, though, I began to notice that your repertoire was very limited. Same postings, different words. When you had nothing to say, we got one of your "literary" essays.

I still challenge you: show me one posting where you unequivocally advocate ending Third World immigration, not just of Muslims but of all primitive tribes. Show me one single posting where you talk about the epidemic of black-on-white murder, rape and torture. I will then withdraw my comment.

But you can't, can you? If Muslims loved Israel you'd say the more of them here the better. You are Jewish, you are a New Yorker, and you have immigration in your bloodstream.

Or delete this comment. Then I, at least, will know you for the neocon coward you are.

Anonymous said...

UA, what exactly is your problem. You know what I do when I tire of a blogger? I move the fk on. You should try it.

VA_Rancher said...

Nice. Words are pretty awesome, especially when used well.

But I will happily stay way outside of town on my over 50 acres of Virginia wilderness where I am struggling to impose order on 1/10th, and maintain order less than 1/10, and where my strategy for the perps (foxes, coyotes, raccoons, etc.) trying to eat my chickens, or engage in related hooliganism is simply to shoot them.

Nonetheless it is fun to hear about what it is like somewhere truly dangerous, like NYC...

Be well sir.

Undulating Arrow said...

Anonymous (imaginative screen name),

I'm not "tired" of Mr. Knish. I'm tired of all the neocons who are obsessed with Israel but can't find it in themselves to acknowledge the tsunami of black-on-white killings, race replacement, and other little problems closer to home. For what it's worth, I'm sympathetic to Israel myself, given that it's surrounded by psychotic Muslims who want them dead.

But Mr. Knish, being a nice New York Jewish boy, is blind to black pathology on a huge scale and his fellow Jews' promotion of open borders. They'll only be happy once whites are minoritized. But they won't be happy for very long, because they will find Jews are not immune from anti-white genocide.

You notice Mr. Knish hasn't taken up my challenge. If he deigns to reply at all, he will probably accuse me of anti-Semitism, the last refuge of a neocon.

Anonymous said...

@Undulating Arrow

> show me one posting where you unequivocally advocate ending "Third World immigration" … "epidemic of black-on-white murder, rape and torture"

Apparently, lefties have difficulty comprehending much beyond "unequivocal advocacy" of their desired topics, anything less direct or different does not register properly in their minds.

> Or delete this comment. Then I, at least, will know you for the neocon coward you are.

IMHO, leaving such comments intact would be even more interesting.

~Leo

Undulating Arrow said...

Mr. Knish won't reply satisfactorily because he can't. He's a liberal for whom everything revolves around Israel -- in other words, a neocon. He talks like a true conservative at times but it's always abstract, "in principle," never getting down to specifics like the race war of blacks against white people -- nice Jewish boys learn at their mother's knee not to notice such things.

Undulating Arrow said...

Since the link doesn't show up till you put your cursor over it, here it is written out:

http://www.wnd.com/2012/05/wave-of-black-mobs-brutalizing-whites/

Mr. Knish, just wait till Obama loses the election and a mob beats you to a pulp. Oh, right, they must be Arabs.

Adam Greenfield said...

Daniel- Thank you for this realistic report of what is actually happening in NY. As you stated more eloquently than I could, we wouldn't get this naked honesty from the MSM. The biggest tradgedy of Sandy would have been if you hadn't found that connection. God bless you and I hope you are well while the recovery from this storm continues.


Oh and Undulating Arrow, nobody gives a shit what you think. Go troll elsewhere with your Arion Brotherhood race war bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Arrow, "challenging" me in the comments to a post that discusses how I have neither power nor Internet makes you an idiot or a coward. And if you had been reading my site long enough you would have already seen my pieces on immigration.

If your goal is really to challenge me then do so at a time when I am able to participate. Otherwise all you display is a coward's instinct for a knife in the back.

Anonymous said...

Thank you meema and anon, scherzo artfully put as well, objective, glad you had a nice time

I am essentially a lifelong New Yorker but at times I find myself wearying of the place and worrying for its future

Anonymous said...

Genie, hope you can come back some day and visit her

Adam, thanks, army of one and all that

Kris bring the filters

Va rancher we have coyotes here they're just bigger

VA_Rancher said...

Undulating Arrow,

Did you know ALL of Humanity is descended from Adam and Eve? Did you know this whole "race" thingt is a fabrication by those who wish to divide us? Skin, Hair, Eye color is merely a tiny variable in a gazillion lines of code that makes up DNA.

Wake up and smell the coffee dude and let go of the skinhead rage before you hurt yourself or others.

VA_Rancher said...

Anon-Dan,

Stay Safe, hope you get power and internet back soon.

AFTER Deer season, you could probably talk me into coming up North for a coyote hunt... I've got a brand new custom AR-15 that needs some use...

Be well.

Undulating Arrow said...

Adam Greenfield,

Why should I give a shit (in your vulgar schoolboy terminology) what you think?

Anonymous,

Well, if you are actually Mr. Knish/Anonymous, it's interesting you can post and answer comments although you don't have power or internet. I don't claim to have read all your posts going back to the Pleistocene Era, and I don't intend to. So please cite one posting where you write against the Third World invasion or black-on-white violence plainly and unequivocally, not in your elegantly rhetorical style. Griping about Muslims doesn't count.

VA_Rancher,

When I read comments as loony as yours, I'll confess I am at a loss.

American Genie said...

@Undulating Arrow

This is not pen envy. This is bordering on stalking...

Get a life, man.

Mme Scherzo said...

Undulator's problem is that he ISN'T reading enough Knish. Just because every post isn't about 3rd world immigration doesn't mean he hasn't written on it. There is something different about Muslim immigration, though. We have had many Haitians settle here in Lancaster County PA, but the crime statistics among this group are quite low, and many of them are devout Christians with a strong work ethic. That doesn't mean there aren't criminals among them, but if it came to having a choice between the Haitians who have come here, and Somalis, I'll take the Haitians. In Philadelphia, many African, non-Muslim immigrants strive do do well to succeed, in school and in business, only to be persecuted and victimized by criminal American blacks.
And something else worthy of notice: Many European communities are rebelling against the settling of Roma immigrants into their neighborhoods. In the Southern US, we have the Irish Travelers, people who have lived in this country for more than 100 years, and they prey on people much the way the Roma do. So it isn't just immigration. It's culture.

American Genie said...

Of all the things I could have on my mind it seems that coyotes in NYC and AR-15s are occupying it a lot these last few days. Ah, what is it they say about simple minds?

Curious if the coyotes in NYC are the 4 or 2 legged variety, and if they are the 4 legged variety do they run in packs or are they loners? I'm having a hard time imagining the sounds of the yips and howls of a pack of coyotes on the hunt in NYC. Loners are generally quiet creatures.

VA_Rancher, I love an AR-15 as much as the next person, but I prefer my 20ga. Ithaca pump shotgun for varmints. I live on a much smaller piece of property in the middle of nowhere, Alabama.

Good luck imposing order. I have decided to let it order itself. I just help it along a little. :-)

VA_Rancher said...

American Genie,

I also have a reliable as daylight Ithaca 20ga pump that I count on heavily for most smaller varmints, plus the occasional slug for Deer season, plus my oldest daughter can shoot it. I have a Mossberg 20ga with field and scoped slug barrel, a 9mm side arm for my carry permit, and a Remington 1100 12ga, and a Rem 770 30.06, and a couple more .22's and etc...

They all have multiple purposes... ;)

The AR is for bigger varmints, further away...

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