Posts Tagged ‘DeBlasio’

Letter From New York 07 17 15 On theft and homelessness at home…

July 17, 2015

It is the end of the week and in about an hour, I will walk the short distance from the office where I work and get on the train to head to the cottage for a full nine days of working from home. I am so looking forward to being there, to doing my work at the table on the deck, to watching the creek flow by while I am on my laptop or reading off my Kindle.

Today is the second sun blessed day in New York, bright, warm and lacking in humidity. I started the day with breakfast with my friend Nick Stuart, catching him before he leaves for a week in Southern California with his daughter, Francesca. Then I worked in the office, lunched at PJ Clarke’s with Maria Santana, a treasured member of the train community.

After lunch, I discovered one of my cards had been cut off. Someone tried to use my number at a Target in Brooklyn. The bank shut it down and I’m glad. Whoever was stealing my numbers was attempting to get away with almost $600.00 in merchandise.

It is a bane of the age, the electronic stealing of our credit card numbers, our identities, and our digital selves that are almost as close to ourselves as our physical selves. Ten years ago someone got my information and opened an account at Home Depot and charged almost $7,000 worth of goods without my knowledge. When Home Depot called me to collect, they realized we’d both been scammed but they were the ones who were taking the financial hit.

Stealing is not in my DNA. Too much guilt goes with it and was never worth it to me. But that’s not the way it is with some; they like the thrill of getting away with it, until, of course, they don’t. The brother of a friend of mine was like that. He went from state to state, scam to scam, until one day my friend had to visit her brother in prison. He never really changed.

It troubles me on some profound level and fills me with disgust. Once, years ago in Rome, I gave some money to beggars and they pickpocketed me. I lost about a 1000 lira but they left me my passport and credit card. My friends said it was ironic I was the one they targeted because I was the one who actually gave their begging hands money.

It was a mother and her little girl. And I suspect the little girl has grown up to be like her mother. It was the life for which she was being trained.

Last night, my friend Robert and I walked through the Garment District to a restaurant for some dinner and to watch a bit of the Tour de France. Robert commented to me that the number of homeless on the streets has begun to rise again. We passed dozens in just a few blocks.

Is the social safety net failing more than before? Are the police not working on the problem because they are annoyed with our Mayor, Mr. DeBlasio?   Robert is right though, when I think about it I have noticed more homeless and mentally ill folks on the streets. I wrote about one yesterday.

It worries me. Help is needed. Where is it?

Letter From New York December 5, 2014 Repeal Day

December 5, 2014

Do you know what day it is today? Well, it’s December 5th and today is the day in 1934 that Prohibition was repealed. The Great Experiment was declared a failure and Utah became the state that triggered repeal though you couldn’t drink in Mississippi until 1966.

The Roaring ‘20’s, fueled by bathtub gin, had long since faded into the Great Depression and it was time for America to have a break. Brother, can you spare a beer?

So today is Repeal Day and there is a Repeal Day Cocktail Conference happening and I guess I will toast Repeal Day when I sit down for dinner tonight. It will be a bit of a celebration and I will mark it on my calendar for future years.

What I won’t be celebrating but will be acknowledging are the myriad protests that are being conducted regarding the failure of the Grand Jury to indict the police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island.

Two hundred some were arrested last night in New York and a photo of a spontaneous protest in Grand Central went viral. People began to lie down in the main hall until there were several hundred, imaging the death scene of Eric Garner.

In Phoenix there were marches because an unarmed black man was shot down there. Eric Holder went to Cincinnati to announce the results of a two year study of police there that didn’t portray them well; excessive force was one of the faults found with them.

It was said at one point that the election of Obama was going to usher in a post-racial era. It hasn’t and of late it has seemed the drumbeat of police violence against minorities has, if anything, increased.

The Mayor of New York, DeBlasio, is walking a fine line in being sympathetic to the protestors while being supportive of the police. It’s a tightrope.

But perhaps it is more than minorities. A white acquaintance was mugged on the Upper West Side a week ago and claimed the police treated him very badly when he reported the incident. His take from what he’s heard is that the police are intimidating folks so they don’t make reports so the crime statistics go up. They’re very down this year in the five boroughs, on the way to a record year of lows in most kinds of crime.

But the incidents of police violence towards minorities feels like it is on the upswing because of the high profile nature of Eric Garner’s death and the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. And they put a pall across the land. Putin’s Russia is having a field day with the stories as I’m sure are other countries less friendly to us. China, too, may be having a day with the stories. We lecture them regularly on human rights.

So while tonight I will be toasting Repeal Day, where we were freed from the yoke of Prohibition, I will not be raising a glass to law enforcement. I will do that on a day when there is a swing in relations and we feel that all are treated the same, regardless of color.