Friday, October 07, 2005

ALERT! alert! aler... hey, look, something distracting!


"Most specific terror threat ever" says the papers.
-----Yeah, ok, that was kinda scary. or Is. or ....Would Be, if it weren't for our wonderful human propensity to dampen the perception of danger and keep in check the reactionary tendency to say "oh yeah? well then I just wont do _blank_" Whether blank is "ride the subway" or "fly in a plane" or "ride that roller coaster" or even "play potentially knee damaging sports" - people hear of life's dangers - big and small, process the information, have a moment of fear, or dont, imagining the consequences and then... then they start their tried and true trudge towards accepting, and then ignorning, a statistically improbable danger. - "what are the odds?", the saying goes.
-----Maybe I shouldn't walk down city streets - Thirteen people a year die in NYC from air conditioners falling out of apartment windows. Or maybe I shouldn't eat at food carts - I heard someone got sick from one last week. Maybe I should talk my friend-who-is-a-girl (word jumble, strike 3 words) into moving into a safer neighborhood - 3rd St and Ave D is a little sketchy at night. Or maybe... maybe we should all just leave this city. It's far too dangerous, I hear. Just a big ol' bulls-eye for the terror-lympics. "If they are going to target somewhere, it'll be" this 'Capital of the World', our 'Metropolis', Gotham.
-----"Whaduya gunna do, riight? ..riight?" is what I imagine the collective New York spirit to be saying right now. Yeah, that's right - I hear the collective New York spirit in the voice of a saucy, Brooklyn-beauty Italian girl - you know you do too, dont kid yourself. She's right though. Do we all move? Stop taking the subway? Have faith in our police to stop potential terrorists? Ok, now that would make me laugh, if it weren't such a grave subject. In the past few months, I have definitely seen an increased police presence on the streets, in the subways, on subway cars... but doing what? Standing around? talking to eachother? watching people with backpacks and briefcases and satchels and big plastic bags breeze on by them without a second glance? The NY Metro had a quote yesterday from a straphanger that said that the only thing he's doing differently lately is not making eye contact with police so they wont stop him and search his bag. If I could say just four words to that guy, it'd be "what are the odds??" Have you ever seen anyone stopped and searched in the NY subway system? I haven't. It makes me think of Tracy Morgan sketch (below) on racial profiling. I'm not advocating racial profiling and I'm not saying that getting a "shake down" doesn't happen, but I haven't seen it. Not once. That worries me a bit. Doesn't it seem to confirm the theory that if someone wants to do something, they will, and there's little that I myself or the police, can (or will) do about it?
-----Yes, ...the gods forbid, if anything happens I hope and pray for a quick reaction time, an orderly evacuation, a competent handling of crisis. Anyone would, but why all this pretense towards prevention if the only real training, the only real action that'll be taken is towards reaction to an event that has already happened?? Right now, I hear a siren. Is that the first reaction on the scene of tragedy? Every time I see a plane fly over this city, I wonder if it's on a final approach to not-so-neatly hole-punching a building. Morbid? Unfeeling? I would say "yes" perhaps, if I didn't think about planes striking buildings Every Time I Looked Up to watch a low flying plane. What would that do to 8 million urban psyches? Can you imagine? For me, it's instilled a faintly reassuring notion of "well if something's gonna happen, it's gonna happen" but it's also perpetuating a culture of daily ingrained fear countered only by "oh, it'll happen to someone else".
-----Wondering what might fall from the sky is one thing, but now the subway? yeah, that's just great. I already get a little sketched out on subway trains when they stop for minutes at a time between stations - (as much as I fight and accept "not being able to do anything about something", I still want the option to be able to go where I want to, do what I want to). So now I'll get to wonder if we're stopped because today was the day for their 'coordinated strike' and did I just happen to be on the wrong train? "Just happened to be..", "..the odds", " the time", "..wrong place, wrong time.." - it'll always be the "other guy"... or it'll be "me" and unless I plan on turning New York into a subway-less world, I'll need to gamble on Zero and Double Zero spinning on by me. "Whaduya gunna do, riiight?" - right.

** Tracy Morgan: I know in the past, I've popped a lot of jokes about the police and how they get down. And I'll be driving in my lavender-colored Jaguar with the hip-hop blaring, and they pulled me over for no reason. And I would be pissed off, you know? But never again. I'm here to set the record straight - I like racial profiling. I got new eyes! Racial profiling is a good thing! Officers, I support you. And I don’t care if the dude is white, black, green, blue, whatever. If something doesn’t look right, shake him down. Now, I'm not saying to beat his ass, or nothing like that.. but just shake him down! See what's happening. You working at the airport, and someone looks suspicious? Shake him down! He got a long ZZ Top beard? Shake him down! You see a pasty-faced white dude with a "Jesus Saves" backpack wrapped in the Confederate flag? Shake him down? The dude got his head all wrapped up, and he ain't Erika Badyu? Shake him down! Hey! They probably ain't even guilty, but shake them down! They'll get over it. Look at me, I have! [ laughs ] So, law enforecement officers, Tracy Morgan completely understands racial profiling. I support you. And remember - if a guy's got a little bit of weed in his car, and he ain't hurting nobody, don't make me throw it out.
Saturday Night Live

No comments: