In fact, and this is the true nature of why I am writing, New York is such a beautiful happy go lucky and joyous city, (o.k. so forget the noise, the cold, the crowds, the lines, the traffic, the piles of garbage everywhere, and how expensive it is…) that you may even find yourself picking up litter off of the street. You almost notice yourself feeling a kind of motherly protectionist feeling about the city. say what you will, it may be for you and it may not be for you, but its one of those places that if it is for you, people just worship it. New York is something sacred and holy to people, both residents and visitors alike. Even to people who have never been to New York but who just honor it or are fascinated by it from afar, from books or movies, find a certain sense of awe or inspiration from the great city. a certain pride that New York is an American city. its our city. We’re lucky in that. its our greatest achievement.
And this is the nature of my thoughts this evening as I noticed that I was picking up all of the used matches from the stairs I was sitting on so as not to litter. I noticed how careful people are to pick up after themselves, how much money has been spent over the years on the city’s streets and infrastructure and buildings… but I reflected back on a time when it wasn’t like that. back in the seventies when New York the city filed for bankruptcy and had to beg president ford to bail them out not once but twice. When indeed New York was known as one of the dirtiest cities in the world and it was considered quite gross to live in New York. Like you lived in the ghetto or something.
So it made me think about the nature of how things evolve, how sometimes it appears that something is dying, and they may indeed die and then they are no more. think of the great kingdoms of the Aztecs or the Mayans or the Egyptian empire. Great things die and then they are no more. this is true. but sometimes they persevere. They keep going in the face of the most abject adversity imaginable.
Everyday you hear stories here how someone bought a building for three hundred thousand and now its worth 4 million. What was once considered a ridiculous buy now is considered a treasure to be coveted by all. New York real estate is like that now. the whole damn city is. I look around me and I cannot fathom the amount of love and care and attention that has been put into this city over the last four hundred years. it is apparent everywhere you look. People love it. they give to it, donate to it, take care of it, pamper it, and protect it like it is one of their children.
So New York didn’t die in the seventies like many cities do. and it didn’t die after September 11th, as some people predicted. It only got stronger and more beautiful and more valuable.
People are moving to New York in droves, twice as many are moving here than are leaving, even after September 11th, strangely enough. I often am asked by other people who live in different parts of the country why I would possibly move to New York now? of all times? aren’t you afraid of terrorist attacks? And my answer of course is that if I’m going be blown to smithereens by a terrorist attack I would rather it be here than anywhere else. in fact, if New York is going to be blown up beyond all recognition sometime in the near future, I want to be here. after all we’re in the belly of the beast here, the heart of the empire, the living breathing epicenter of the known universe… so for now it makes perfect sense for me, and I guess for a lot of people to be here if anything happens here, good or bad. after September 11th people just started flocking here. maybe its our motherly instincts to want to protect each other. Maybe its our tribal instincts wanting to be together in good times and bad. If we’re all going to die anyway, let it be in the center of it all. let it be at the very heart of the matter where we take our last gasp in this brief and fleeting life. the last thing in the world I would ever want to have happen and this is entirely selfish on my part I would assume, is for something horrible to happen to New York again and for me to be watching it on a TV from somewhere else in the world. I would feel as though I was betraying myself in some way, and even more than that, that I was betraying New York, and betraying my fellow man in some weird way.