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Notes from Convention Town


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Well, it's apropos that last night's kickoff of the GOP's "we're more moderate than even we knew but we're also fearsome, strong and simultaneously loving" convention made 9-11 its centerpiece, because the city has not felt more like a police-state ghost town since that awful week three years ago.

Yesterday, I could pretty much stand in the middle of 40th street all afternoon and watch the surveillance helicopters and the blimp. Every business owner I talked to had a sad and frustrated countenance--from the deli and the bodega I go to near my office to the bakery 50 blocks away near my house. It seems everyone thought it best to leave the city in the care of the GOP and their protesters, plus the zillion security people scattered to every corner of the grid.

Walking home, as I like to do, (especially now) invariably past restaurant mogul Keith McNally's celeb-gawking Schiller's Liquor Bar, (where Sandra Finkelstein et al from Riverdale, on their girl's night out, can pretend not to look at Vincent Gallo or Martha Stewart), I was denied the perverse disgust and curious envy I often enjoy, since the restaurant has been packed to the gills with uptown swells, downtown illuminati, and clearly bi-coastal body-conscious glitzy people, since it opened a year ago. Last night, for the first time, it was 3/4 empty. I would have taken my wife to dinner were I not so broke and in fear of layoffs.

I didn't see many Republicans yesterday, except for the exceptionally long line outside the Second Avenue theater that's been showing Stomp for a zillion years. But they may have been protesters, or a combination thereof, taking a break from their ideological differences for a night out of wordless entertainment. Either way, Stomp? Come on. Was Blue Man Group sold out?

I could speak at length about how gut-awful sick I was to hear McCain and Mayor Rudy pimping for GW. But in the after interview, the commentator was joking with McCain about how much GW has been kissing him in public lately. McCain laughed a big, sincere, child-like laugh, and I couldn't help but like him.

Rudy, well, he always scared me a little, although I clearly benefited from whatever confluence of events that spurred the city's renaissance. It was cleaner, safer and richer in the years leading up to 9-11. When, of course, the city suddenly became intensely dangerous, toxic, and financially panicky in an entirely new way. Yet I love him. People that could still hate him in the weeks following 9-11, (and boy, did people hate him before), I'm sorry, but they're hard hearted. He was there when we needed him most, and was exactly who we needed him to be. Actually, he was THE leader that day three years ago and the days that followed. I wish the GOP had not wheeled him out for that speech. I don't doubt his sincerity, mostly, but he comes across now as much more tan and ruthless. I doubt if hizzoner knew how many billions NYC is losing on this dog and pony show he'd be too pleased.


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post #32
bio: john ball
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8/31/2004
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