December 23, 2008


First things first: very rough 2 miles today. I just couldn't get going. Kept having to stop for traffic or walk to catch my breath. The slippery sidewalks and treacherous roads didn't help. That 2 miles took about 40 minutes and it was nothing but frustration.

First thing:
Babes in Toyland w/ Drew Barrymore, Keanu Reeves, Richard Mulligan, and Pat Morita??

OK, other things:

On The Call tonight, they're talking about the connection between crime and economy. This is a connection which Bloomberg flatly denies and I believe he's 100% wrong. And crime IS on the rise here - up 9% this year, especially shoplifting. I'm not condoning any kind of crime, especially since we're not talking about shoplifting food like Jean Valjean, but electronics and bling. One viewer of the call points out that this might be because the people who are supposed to be setting the example - CEOs, bank execs, etc., are actually robbing the American public blind. And there seems to be no punishment for it.

The police, of course, flatly deny that crime is up. They claim that crime is DOWN across the board in all five boroughs - the 18th straight year. If by CRIME you mean FELONIES, then yes - that's probably true. But a lot of misdemeanors are pretty eggregious and those crimes are up.

Feeding into my thoughts here is a conspicuous rise in the amount of FILTH in the city. The streets aren't getting clean, especially in poorer areas. Trashcans overflow. In fact, the MTA seems to have stopped cleaning and collecting trash altogether.

These shots were taken in the 34th street station - one of our city's busiest. But it looks like this in every station. And worse. Saturday morning, heading into the city to do the 15K, I was aghast at the wasteland that was the uptown platform at my express top, 36th street in Brooklyn. The trashcans were more than mounded, they had overflowed - they were small mountains of garbage and you could just barely see the trashcans themselves. All along the rest of the platform was a carpet of debris. I was horrified. Where the hell are the MTA workers? The MTA is about to raise our fares for THIS??? Somewhere, somehow, there's a leak in the MTA. Money is being embezzled, I'd bet on it. You don't simply go from having a $1.2 billion surplus in 2005-2006 to being $500 million in the red with no significant changes in service or ridership. And now the MTA is going to raise fares across the board, in some cases TRIPLING costs for certain passengers. Yet what the ridership gets is cuts in service, dirtier platforms, non-working escalators and elevators, surly and unhelpful booth attendants and a new rash of the homeless using the subways as their personal Taj Mahal.

Actually, I don't blame the homeless for that. I blame the economy, mismanagement by the city, and apathy by the general public. But I do see an astonishing increase in the numbers of homeless, as well as how homeless they are. See, there are degrees. Some homeless actually have a place to go at night, or a stash of belongings somewhere safe. Others are truly homeless - completely portable hobos whose worldly belongings are kept in mountains of plastic bags and kept mobile by attaching all those bags to old shopping carts. (Ever notice the homeless never have a new shopping cart?)

So while I used to see one or two homeless in the subways - one black man in particular can be found on the same bench on the downtown platform of the Broadway-Lafayette station every single day and night - I'm seeing more and more of them. And while they used to have just a couple little bags of things with them, now they have tons of stuff. Whatever that stuff is.

Even more fascinating is that they are beginning to settle in. I believe the police have been instructed to leave the homeless be for now. I don't know what the police are supposed to be DOING, but obviously it isn't dealing with the homeless. I noticed today - on a long walk through various Manhattan neighborhoods and subway stations - that some of the homeless are ENCAMPED. I'm not kidding. Some of them quite neatly, too. Out of the way, but visible. I wish I'd gotten a picture of the one guy who had made a rather neat bed out of milk crates and cardboard. He had comforters, pillows, had used nearby ledges to set out his stuff on - and he was quietly reading something by Satre by streetlight.

I'm not expecting miracles from the city. but I do expect substantial basic services in exchange for my substantial taxes. My dissatisfaction with the city, the police, and the MTA continues to grow.

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