September 17, 2005

New York

Today was kind of a longish day for me, I’ve been awakening early for some unearthly reason, and getting my day started with the usual long dose of news website and blog reading, answering emails that came in at hours when even I’m asleep and those that arrived early.

I called the concierge in my DC hotel and asked her to get me shuttle flight reservations to New York and hotel reservations as well — hotels offer all sorts of useful services and when you’re travelling a lot, using them makes life much easier. She talked me into taking the Amtrack Acela(a high speed train shuttle), pointing out that it would mean not having to show up an hour early at the airport and do the security routine, giving me more personal time to have a few brews with some friends before grabbing a cab for the short ride to Union Station.

Skipping the airport security routine was a winning idea: I’m not what you’d call a neat, orderly packer and when my checked luggage goes through the X-ray machine, the quagmire within nearly always attracts the beady eyes of the idiotic, boneheaded, otherwise unemployable buffoons who seemingly rejoice in making sure they wrinkle up every damn pressed or neatly folded article of clothing in your suitcase that the TSA hires to open your bags and search them when they observe said quagmires.

As an experiment, a friend of mine recently put these people to a test at one airport. Cigarette lighters, for some inexplicable reason or other, are now forbidden aboard commercial airplanes. I suppose they’re afraid Mohammed and Ibrahim are going to leap up from their seats midflight yelling, “Nobody move! We hev Zeepo! Alahu Akbar!”

Anyway, my friend stashed four cheap disposable lighters in his carry-on bag, and after a lengthy search{each time a lighter was found, they searched harder} they managed to find three of them, then they let him go through.

The only difference between the pre and post 9/11 passenger screening agents is that the post ones have “guard card” type training, the kind of thing that can be referred to as an upgrade on paper for liability purposes, more official looking uniforms, federal employee status and a slightly higher pay check. Granted, the upgraded procedures make it more difficult for a terrorist to smuggle the tools of his trade aboard a plane, but it also brings more business to hotel valets when a hapless passenger needs to have his clothes pressed thanks to those heavy handed….

Anyway, this post isn’t supposed to be about those inept excuses for security personnel, it’s supposed to be about my coming to New York. Though I will say one thing, and that is that there seem to be an awful lot of young Islamic males handling security at our airports, and you fellas and fella-ettes at the ACLU take that any way you want, there’s no political correctness at this blog.

So I got to New York at 7:00 P.M., checked into my hotel an hour later(Saturday evening traffic here is like Saturday evening traffic noplace else, it’s like one solid vehicle with a lot of moving parts that don’t seem to move all that much) and went out to explore. I grew up here and have dwelt here for much of my adult life, but I haven’t lived here for over 6 years and a lot has changed. My hotel’s in midtown Manhattan on the east side, a nice area, but I headed downtown to Washington Square in the West Village and then wandered over to Bleeker Street in search of a bar where I might relax and enjoy a couple of drinks.

Fuggedadboudit, every watering hole for blocks was packed to the point of people spilling out the doors, and the sidewalks were as crowded as Times Square on New Years Eve. Like I said, it had been a long day and it was more than a little muggy, so I wasn’t really into the human density thing, so I decided to return to my hotel.

Tomorrow I plan to go to Ground Zero for the first time, last time I was there we still had those two magnificent towers there and I was taking the E Train out of the subway station underneath. Then there are friends I want to contact whom I haven’t seen for several years.

But don’t for a minute take the impression that I am in any way feeling even the most remote disparagement where New York is concerned, I was just kinda worn out from the day’s travel, the humidity and so forth and was in a listless mood.

New York is the greatest city on earth. There is an invisible yet somehow tangible energy about this town that never stops, no matter what the hour or the day, an electricity in the air, something… In every direction you look there is something to see, monotony remains forever outside the city limits. The people you meet are filled with charactar and possessing of a lively sense of humor, quick on the uptake, constantly busy at something or nothing, but busy just the same, yet appreciative of all that transpires around them and forever ready to give their honest opinions at the drop of a hat. Even immigrants from slow, laid back, “manana, manana” type countries are infected with the pulse of New York, their own personalities adjusted by the powerful ambience of the city to match those of the natives so that ethnic differences are much less apparent here than in other cities, despite the multiculturalism forced upon New York by its liberal majority.

Of course, being a New Yorker who has been living in San Francisco, I have to say that there is a large difference between New York liberals and California liberals. The former base their thinking in reality and as such can give you a more reasoned argument to back up their political beliefs, wrong or otherwise — they have the intellectual ability to put together facts and come up with arguments based on those facts rather than on slogans and bumper sticker fodder, and when it comes to taking action in time of need, they usually do the right thing. The latter are wingnuts, pure and simple, who will follow a baseless line of reasoning right into the jaws of hell before they’ll consider the stupidity of their position.

So my first evening in New York has ended with a room service smoked salmon omelet, a pot of coffee and some brandy, and tomorrow will be an active day for me, reintroducing myself to my exciting, beloved home town.

by @ 10:30 pm. Filed under Travelling
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5 Responses to “New York”

  1. NYgirl Says:

    You’re enjoying your return in high style. If you haven’t seen Ground Zero since 9/11, be prepared to be shocked. It feels so empty, so wrong to have a big patch of nothing right in the middle of town like that.

    I hope they rebuild the towers, higher than before. For once, I agree with the Donald.

  2. Seth Says:

    I went there first thing this morning, and it was heartbreaking, NYGirl. I intend to post on it, albeit briefly, when I have words, since going there, to a place I knew well when I worked down there, really invoked emotions I can’t say I’m familiar with.

  3. Karol Says:

    Welcome! We could use a few more right-leaning people, think about moving here. :-)

  4. Seth Says:

    Karo, I grew up in NY and am moving back to the east coast within the next 3 months. Not NY because of the real estate bubble(I’ve decided to buy a house farther south), but I’ll be spending a lot of time here in NY.
    Trust me on this one, NY’s the greatest city in the universe.
    BTW, I like your site and am blogrolling you. :)

  5. Seth Says:

    Spelling error!