Saturday, December 22, 2012

American Psycho

It's that time of year when yet another gun massacre happens in America, when we almost tear our hair out in disbelief at the dangerous psychosis of those in this country who, against all reason, common sense, or morality, equate freedom with having "the right" to privately own weapons designed to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. There is absolutely no reason in God's green earth that a housewife should keep, not one, but three semi-automatic weapons at home. None whatsoever. There is no human law that can justify such an evil monstrosity, let alone the horrifying consequences of it. The fact that Mrs. Lanza, lover of guns, was able to purchase and keep those weapons at home is evil incarnate already. We need not wait for a deranged white male to illustrate this with yet another bloodbath.
Indeed, the Second Amendment, which many are hellbent in misreading and protecting, does not allow for that. It allows for you to form a well-regulated militia and arm yourself with 17th century muskets against the King of England. It's time to dismantle this irrelevant, ancient law, just as we did away with slavery, or enacted civil rights, or other sensible laws that protect our citizenry from human evil.
I guess gun loving Americans don't really care about how this is perceived by the rest of humanity. Because, surely, no other place on Earth has this conundrum. Everywhere where reason prevails, and civilization reigns, and even where they don't, nobody thinks it smart, let alone NORMAL, to arm guards outside of kindergartens, or to give college students weapons. Next thing we know, we should demand a Glock with the price of our movie ticket, just in case. Everywhere in the world but here, this is sheer insanity.
As for Wayne La Pierre (a villainous sounding name, is it not?), the NRA and the rest of this developmentally arrested country, I propose that as we ban, repeal, and burn to the crisp the Second Amendment, we also outlaw once and for all the concept of the "Good Guys vs. The Bad Guys", which is only fit for children the age of those poor little souls mowed down by Adam Lanza. Adults who keep looking at the world in terms of good guys and bad guys are morons, and they seem to be holding us all hostage. They are the ones responsible for our wars, and for encouraging mayhem through violent video games and entertainment. Not a week after Newtown, I saw a preview for a big Hollywood movie, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, the two kids now grown and killing witches with oversized weapons that belong in World War Three. A fairy tale turned by the American imagination into a despicable barrage of firepower, people of flesh and blood made into cartoon characters who think nothing of shooting endless automatic rounds at "the bad guys". This violent pornography is aimed to entertain children younger than Adam Lanza, or Dylan Klebold, all these unsupervised misfits armed with violent video games and computers. And it is exported all over the world. Luckily for the world, their children do not have as much access to guns as ours.
The NRA press conference has been labeled as pathetic. It is much more than that. It is the incarnation of sheer evil. One cannot watch it and not feel soiled, revolted at the insanity, the cynicism, the cognitive dissonance of a proposal that offers to arm guards outside of schools but neglects to blame the ease of getting weapons as the source of the violence. The astounding disrespect, not only to the grieving families of Newtown, but to the entire nation, that is to use this opportunity to encourage paranoia and irrationality, to monger fear about "untold number of monsters" that roam free in our society ready to wreak havoc, without mentioning that it is the NRA that makes it possible for them to have murder weapons in their hands. They waited a week to pipe up and this is the grotesque, putrescent bile that came out of their mouths. Listening to La Pierre is fearing we live in a nightmarish parallel universe absent of moral coherence, rationality and sense, of human understanding. It is absolute infamy.
I wonder if the surviving relatives of all the victims of these American catastrophes aided and abetted by the NRA, could not file a class action suit against the organization, much in the way that people sue for millions when they burn themselves with hot food at McDonald's.
Police departments (not the most liberal constituency), mayors of cities, concerned citizens, most people with half a brain, we all feel powerless against the influence of a lobby for the gun industry.
No matter how many statistics scream bloody murders in armed homes, no matter how many countries like Japan and Australia have minimal homicide rates because of stringent gun control laws, here we haven't been able to do anything about it, for no good reason at all.
Let's imagine what Adam Lanza or all the other unhinged shooters could have inflicted in their unfathomable rage without the aid of endless rounds of lethal ammunition. I hold the NRA, every member of Congress, our Supreme Court and our President responsible for the murder of all these children and adults, until they find it in their hearts to pass stringent gun control laws.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

We're In The Money

Photo by Yehudit Mam

Actually, no. We are not in the money. Like almost everyone we talk to these days, we are nowhere near the money. But the good news is that we are working a freelance gig in the Financial District. We are among the money!
A lot of people around here hate working in the Financial District. Well, I am loving it. It is funky!
I am working at a building on Broad Street, almost across from the NY Stock Exchange. Broad Street used to be a beautiful curved, wide street; that is, before the terrorists made everything around here into a crappy barricade. Still, it has a je ne sais quoi that transports me to the olden days. I can imagine the horse carriages and the cobblestoned bustle of old New York as it was learning to make money. There is a completely preposterous Hermés store amid the police checkpoints and the canine squad and the bad food joints like Au Bon Pain, Cosi and Pret a A Manger. And a big Tiffany's around the corner. Maybe, every day, when they finish robbing us blind, the wheelers and dealers go downstairs and get their honeys a diamond ring or themselves a silk tie. I don't see no one else raiding the shelves at Hermés.
I love this street with reams of tourists taking pictures of the stock exchange and the statue of George Washington across it. Not far from here is the Customs House where Herman Melville toiled, perhaps not knowing that soon thousands of embittered Bartlebys would populate this teeming neighborhood.
I had lunch with my friend Ildy at Fraunces Tavern, which is ancient, and has just reopened after being flooded by Sandy. It stinks of mold and the food is bad, but it hails from the 18th century. The narrow streets with archaic names like Stone and New and Ann are peppered with old landmark buildings among the steel behemoths. On New Street, there is a crummy barber shop where they also buy gold. In contrast to every other neighborhood in this city that has been prettified, gentrified and generified, here it is still ugly, which is wonderful.
And it is so crowded!  It's where the robber barons and the plebes meet. There are ridiculous fancy restaurants for the Masters of the Universe that seem to offer exclusively carnivore menus in very masculine decors, as befits the alpha males working above them. For the rest of us drones there is a lot of shitty food to be had, with nary a place to sit down, in the guise of endless Subway chains, horrible delis, nefarious Chinese dumps, revolting pizza places etc. However, I have been able to locate some decent food. Sophie's Cuban, a franchise of dependably greasy and yummy Cuban food is on forlorn New Street and it's cheap and plentiful. Today, I had a spectacular pho at Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches on Nassau St. Yesterday, I had a very decent Vietnamese sandwich at Baoguette. Tomorow I may try the Korean Taco place, which doesn't even have chairs. None of these joints goes to the trouble of decorating. They all look like dumps. Many of the fast food joints are tiny enough that drones are discouraged to eat out. You see armies of them brown bagging their lunches to their desks, like modern slaves. Like those men who manned the oars at the crack of whips on Viking ships.
Everything reminds you here of the haves and the have nots and nowhere in NY are they in closer proximity to each other. I just love how horrible it is.
If you walk north from the NYSE, you hit Nassau street, which is New York's version of every funky, graceless street that exists in every big city in the planet. Narrow, dirty, crammed with ugly, cheap clothes stores and fast food places.
The Bank of New York building on Broadway has a spectacular art deco mosaic lobby. It is breathtaking. The neoclassical building of the Chamber of Commerce looks like a beautiful, forgotten cake, dwarfed by ugly giants.
On top of it all, this area was pretty screwed by hurricane Sandy, so many businesses are closed, and there are many noisy trucks still draining water from basements. There is little sunshine in this narrow heart of New York. I am afraid my love affair with this part of town may not last long.