streets of Manhattan New York
have a character all their own. First there are the subway vents,
immortalized by THAT picture of Marilyn
Munro. These are embodied in the form of grids, on the
footpath, all over Manhattan. Sometimes
you can look down through the grid and see railway tracks reflection.
Wait long enough and a train
will go rattling past. Sydney (or
LA or SF) do not hear their underground trains rushing past - well, in
Manhattan they do. And as they pass by, they send up a gust of
air, (a' la
Marilyn Munro) that (to put it kindly) aint the freshest air I ever
Those panels in Spiderman comics, or in
the Ninja Turtles toons, with steam rising from improperly sealed
manhole covers - yes, you see it in Manhattan. there are wisps of mist
or steam, even on quite warm
days. I haven't found anyone to explain what that much heat is
doing down there.
There are rumours that alligators (or crocodiles) inhabit the
tunnels under Manhattan. So far I haven't seen any. But
steam, I would not be surprised. It should be tropical enough.
There are cobblestones. On quite a
few of the streets. They
look like granite house bricks, shaped roughly with a hand chisel, then
prevent (presumably) wagon wheels from sinking axle deep into the
mud. I remember when the streets of Sydney were being ripped
apart because (I suppose) a lord Mayor decided that our "wooden block"
were "old fashioned" or something, so he ordered them replaced with
bitumen. (Geez I wish we had participatory democracy!).
I have already discussed the traffic in NYC, but I have not
taxis. Ulike our own dictatorial NSW state government, there is
law in New York City (NYC) that forces taxi drivers to wear a taxi
under pain of a $500 fine (first offense), but there is a law that
makes all taxis be the same golden yellow. I would also like to
point out that
because of the severe inhibition on ownership or use of private cars by
reason of limited parking spaces)
there are a lot of taxis in NY. In peak hours, it is a
sight to see, scores of yellow taxis (looking like a swarm of hornets)
interspersed with an occasional private car, thronging the roads.
And everyone likes honking their horns. There are street signs
over New York, prohibiting the use of horns except in emergency.
Sounds to me like there must be a lot of emergencies in New York.
At the present time, my
centre of operations is in Greenwich
Village. I am gradually finding the gourmet foods which
readily available in cosmopolitan Sydney. For the carbohydrate
conscious, I recommend "East Village Cheese" at about 40 - 3rd Avenue
fine selection of cheap cheeses & olives. A word of caution,
keep away from the halvah. It does not taste as though it has low
carbohydrates. There is another shop "Lifethyme" selling organic
salads around 400 - 6th Avenue. - make up your own salad for
US$7/lb. Cheaper non-organic salads can be had for as little as
$5/lb (about AU$16/Kg) up along Broadway in the 30's and 40's.
Greenwich Village has restaurants that appeal
to the eye, ear, nose & tongue.
I am becoming an alcoholic. The excise on ethyl alcohol in the
trivial (as is that other excise, on petrol). Reasonable
Australian reds can be had for $3.50 to $5.00 (AU$5 - AU$7) a bottle..
New Yorkers tell the story of how "Peter
purchased Manhattan Island from the Indians for trinkets
worth about 60 Dutch guilders and founded the Dutch colony of New
Amsterdam (now New York City)" Me, I can't figure
how non-Indian Americans figure that Peter got a smart deal.
After all, the British appropriated Manhattan Island away from him 40
years later, (just as they appropriated a lot of other real estate
locale). From my point of view, the Indians sold an asset that
was in danger of being seized at top dollar.
TERRORISTS SHOW THE WAY -
brother of the man who allegedly betrayed Saddam was murdered
yesterday. Perhaps Arab terrorists are trying to show us the
direction that we
should take in combating terrorism. Are we being told that we
should identify the
terrorists, and punish their families?
That is a common tactic within the arab culture, which is
much closer to anarchy than our own. The prophet made
regarding revenge, because the concept of vengeance was so firmly
entrenched in the Taureg culture. One of his laws was that
revenge for a murder could be
witheld if an appropriate financial reparation could be negotiated,
(what we call "blood money"). If a blood price could not be
negotiated, then it was permissible to take "revenge" on the murderer
or on a member
of his extended family. This is what happened with Gaddaffi over
the Lockerbie incident. Acting as the person responsible for the
fatalities, he paid "blood money" to forestall the vengeance of the
What could have happened
was this: having identified the attackers, a
negotiator representing the interests of the victims
(or even a
portion of them) should have (a) demanded blood money from the extended
families of the perpetrators, and
(b) financial reparation for the property damage done. If satisfaction
forthcoming, then the negotiating entity should have
organized the assassination of as many of the nearest family
members (their choice) of those 19 men and Osama Bin Laden, and then
reparations for the property damage done from the Saudi
government. (I would not subtract those 19 men from the total to
be executed, although it could be argued that they should be so
subtracted. Osama, while a choice target, would only count as one life
on the credit side. )
Sounds weird? Well if you were from an Arab culture, I suspect
that you would
find it an understandable & acceptable response strategy.
Even in our own culture it makes a weird sort of sense.
I suspect that such a strategy would make it very much harder for
Osama Bin Laden to find volunteers for future terrorist acts.
8th June I drove the approximately 200 Km from NY down to Washington
DC, the capital
of the USA. DC is a square shaped territory, about 15km on each
side, and straddles the Potomac. The
Potomac river i a border between the states of Maryland and
has a population of about 525,000 people, of whom about 320,000 are
african-american, and about 165,000 are designated "white". The
African americans seem to reside mainly in the eastern part of
DC. Many of the government office workers seem to commute on the
very efficient Metro from upstate Virginia and Maryland. As I
left DC I noticed extensive urban/rural housing development about an
hour north in Virginia.
Washington is the southern tip of the
metroplex which has been given
the name "Boswash". Naming the cities downwards are Boston
MA (6,000,000) Providence RI (1,000,000), then Hartford,
Connecticut (1,500,000), New York NY (9,500,000), Newark NJ (2,000,000)
Philadelphia PA (5,000,000) followed by
Delaware (750,000) and Baltimore MD (600,000) for a total of
over 26,000,000 people.
The city of Washington is a rather impressive collection of Masonry, centered around the White house and "The Capitol" as the Americans call their parliamentary building. Just before I left for Washington, ex-president Reagan died. He was flown over from California, and placed in the Capitol, where a reported 150,000 people, including world leaders from Thatcher to Gorbachov paid their last respects. This is a presidential election year, and the eulogies were flying thick and fast. Reagan's death quickly became a political issue, with the Democratic machine attempting to cut short the ceremonies, which were taking the public's attention away from their candidate, while the Republicans were painting Dubya as the natural inheritor of Reagan, who is being lauded by some as the second greatest President ever (after Abraham Lincoln.) because he stopped the cold war and restored the US economy to preeminence with his fiducary policies.
An event happened as I was leaving
Washington late at night. I had planned to travel south but got
lost. I stopped
at a service station in the southeast of DC to ask for
noticed that everyone was African-American. Hotted up cars were
being driven onto the apron. The attendant (about 25) was behind
armoured glass, with a tray for exchanging money. A fairly
solidly built man about mid forties intercepted me and offered to help
directions. He wanted to know why I wanted to go to the location
indicated, and (mistunderstanding my explanation) offered to put me up
for $5 for the night. I
gathered that he was quite desperately short of money. He tried
to sell me a watch for $5. I gave him
$2 for oral directions. I find it impossible to find words to
convey the sense of hopeless need I was confronted with. The Afro
problem is a cauldron coming to the boil for the people of the
USA. The afro problem does not derive from
racism, because other races do not have the same friction with the
majority european americans. I believe that the problem is
cultural, and stems from the self image held by many young male members
of the Afro
community. (Another problem for Madison Avenue?)
I travelled back to New York via
Gettysberg in Pennsylvania. Gettysberg was where that the most
battle of the American Civil war was fought, by some accounts the
battle that decided the war. One division of about 12,000 had
around 6,000 casualties. Many people believe that the civil
war was fought to free slaves. Some authorities believe that
there was a commercial reason for the war, having to do with the
Industrial north's need for trade protection, and the desire of those
in the south to purchase the cheaper and better quality goods manufactured
in Europe. Whatever the
reason, I could not but feel sorrow for the wasted lives, all because
politicians could not resolve the matter amicably.