Friday, November 02, 2012

Hurricane Sandy 5

Mayor Bloomberg, given generally good grades for his handling of the hurricane disaster,  was  being flayed on radio & in the press over  his insistence that the New York Marathon go forward as scheduled, & that no essential resources would be diverted. It was not going to be a "celebration" of anything, not at this time. Maybe two or three weeks from now.  It would have been a lie. "We're o.k. enough to do this."  Most New Yorkers don't want the rest of America & the world to believe New York is o.k.  Resilient, courageous, proud, yes, those. Even greatly self-sufficient.  But also deeply wounded. Power still out across large swaths of New York & Jersey.  Some areas have no clean water. Bodies still being found.  Thousands displaced or homeless.

If you go up the hill on Staten Island, away from the north shore,  the place is in pretty good shape. Likewise for most of the other boroughs.  Manhattan above 33rd - the city will be ready for the Christmas season,  a bonanza of  tourism dollars,  But right now, this week, there's utter ruin in many areas, other tasks. If the cops, EMS, sanitation workers can be spared from rescue, recovery & clean-up duties to attend to the Marathon, they can be given a day off to pump out their own basements.

There was a good deal of class resentment in this.   The race organizers, New York Road Racers, are correctly perceived as upper middle class with special connections to NY City Hall. Probably half of Bloomberg's inner staff belong to the club.  Elite international competitors, thousands of others affluent enough to fly into NYC, get an expensive hotel room for four nights.

Then there was the matter of how all these thousands of runners were getting to Staten Island. & why they were using dozens of generators, & running around the city tossing half-consumed plastic bottles of  water on the pavement.  Perhaps it was more about  logistics than any special concern Bloomberg had for the feelings of his constituents. Doesn't matter why he canceled it. The event would have broadcast a conflicted, baffling, ambiguous message.  I think most media covering the event would have looked at what was happening away from the race route & asked, "Why the hell are they doing this?" Blimps &  helicopters flying around overhead, runners underneath, but how about a look at Breezy Point?  All of the city, even north Jersey shore, only minutes away by air. Did  some of the cops  directing traffic  at the race route intersections lose their homes in the Breezy Point conflagration? The question would be asked, of that I am certain.

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