Monday, August 30, 2004

Notes From NYC

The first day of the convention kicked off yesterday (the ceremony if not the speeches), and it passed not with a bang but a whimper. I am breathing a deep sigh of relief that the rather sizable protests passed without violence or major disturbance. I was truly dreading the political capital that Rove would have reaped had such a spectacle transpired. The organizers and participants deserve a healthy dose of credit.

As for the impact on New York City, thus far I have little to report. Yes, traffic has been made more intolerable, with intermittent street closings and detours, and many colleagues have decided to take a vacation, so the office is eerily quiet for a Monday. My Saturday night bar hop was somewhat more challenging, what with the frequent police obstructions frustrating the cabbies and all, but that is really just a minor inconvenience. Nothing can keep me away from my libations.

One thing that is striking though, aside from the herds of GOP conventioneers that can be seen migrating along the sidewalks in tight-knit packs - obviously knowledgeable about the dangers of separating and becoming vulnerable to the liberal predators, is the increased security presence. I live on Wall St. so I have grown accustomed to the sight of body armored policemen toting automatic assault rifles as a daily observance, but there are a few additions to the vista that stand out, even for an otherwise jaded New Yorker.

On Saturday, as I was sitting in Battery Park perusing a copy of Politics by Hendrik Hertzberg, a book I highly recommend, my focus was diverted by the sight of two Blackhawk helicopters passing over head at a relatively low altitude. I also took notice of the flotilla of Coast Guard ships, large and small, circling the island with their .50 caliber machine guns and other armaments visible to all. Adding to the city besieged motif, you can't pass ten feet without seeing a police officer, and even then, it's usually a phalanx.

I wonder what impression this is leaving on the conventioneers, if this will affect their overall views of New York City, or the country in general. The funny thing about such open displays of military and security personnel is that they rarely make you feel safer, just more insecure. At least that is my take.

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