Gotham is a circus and always has been. It is even more of a playful riot when a candidate (or several) for POTUS come to town. Thankfully most of the candidates kept indoors to tend to their donors sitting at tables chucking back little plates of rosemary-infused grilled baby seal into their gob or munching on salads made of kittens and puppies. Or so we can only assume since no one this writer knows has the sort of capital (social and ka-ching) required to attend one of these events. Also, these days we cannot seem to believe the writings or broadcasts of the MSM (Mostly Semantic Muckraking) so that the voices we hear on NPR and what we read in the NYT (et. al.) may indeed be created by the same space lizards who are in charge. Or was that interdimensional Time Lords?
Needless to say, it is an interesting time to be in New York City, a state that has not mattered in a presidential primary election for as long as this writer can remember – which doesn’t mean that it wasn’t 2004 or 2008. However, one candidate set up camp in a famous park or two and for a time, the city turned into a huge event that was as if Shakespeare in the Park and the Brooklyn Schmorgesborg had a baby but wanted to raise the thing to grow up to be a marathon but it dropped out of college and became Burning Man.
If you are not in Gotham, you should come here. At least once in your life, for entertainment, rent an apartment here if you can afford it, then sit outside on any street corner – or middle of the block as you wish – and just watch the pu-pu platter pageant of life stroll by for any given afternoon. This is undoubtedly cheap entertainment. Except that in Gotham, it isn’t cheap. The average apartment in the city is $3100 a month. Yes, you can find a place in Flushing, Queens a mile from the train. Yes, you can have eleven roommates and live in Bushwick. Yes you can do whatever you want because no one is the boss of you… but generally, the expenses associated with Gotham life continues to ascend faster than your meager income what with your degree in paranormal psychology you got from Miskatonic University and yes Father said not to do it but…
So to people watch you have a day cost of $103 for housing. Then where are you sitting? Right on the sidewalk? Let’s say a cafe, a coffee perhaps and then lunch is $20 or you are day drinking and tuck in $30 since you did have the special PBR and a shot for $8 but then had a fancy drink or just three shots and a timid and lame tip for the bartender. Add on that going home on the junky rusty collapsing transportation system where each way is $2.75 USD. You need dinner now and not time, so you do $10 take out. Then there is the internet bundle $3 a day, light, maybe heat, a cell phone, and did I forget all those school loans you needed to be self-absorbed and haughty and enjoy “people watching” because everyone you see reminds you of a character in a book you read in college. So Gotham is not a deal, and you’re spending quite a bit just to step outside of your apartment. At this point, you better not people watch but maybe take a few extra hours at the fish taco shop or the media startup – both of which pay about the same and leave you stained and smelling weird.
Perhaps this is why the message of a certain candidate is resonating far and wide. From the upper bits of the Bronx to the lower extremities of Staten Island, the wastelands of Brooklyn and the outer limits of Queens. Despite the additional hours we work, the roommates we pile into our apartments, the transit checks we use, the bad insurance we co-pay, the Living Social deals we buy (I mean, who wants an hour of Thai eyebrow waxing other than it’s cheaper than dinner and a movie), the sales, the free museum nights and all the other ways to save… we still are broke. Not broke like had-we-stayed-in-the-place-we-grew-up-broke, but considering the wealth many of us are making for others on a daily basis… we are not sharing that wealth. We seem to be living in a city that both glistening with a raw and radiant luxury, a futurist dream of highlines in the sky, and a city about to fall apart into a heap of hundred-year-old water pipes, collapsing subway tunnels, and buckling sidewalks – depending on if you Uber about town or take the rusting buckets that pass for the subway crawling beneath the living rock commuters pressed together like the human centipede.
This is why in the city claimed by a certain power couple as their adopted home, the city where so many were allocated without any consultation into the camp of the establishment and the status quo, that the message of the other candidate has resonated so well. Not that this message has resonated with the chattering nattering shills for the superstructure. For every event for the more progressive candidate, the news media churns out more propaganda for the system’s propagation. Indeed, the media is centered here. Global warming wasn’t happening last year since New York City had winter. If the writers from Gothamist can’t see it from their window, if the “reporter” for the New York Times isn’t related to the girl who went to college with the guy who does this awesome thing, if the podcaster for WNYC didn’t attend that one event recommended by that friend she did a stint with at UCB – it didn’t happen. And clearly the thousands of people attending events is only on the edge of the field of vision for the massive myopic media machine mastheads mostly mired in a commitment to replicating the past forty years and an absorption of both parties into a Demopublican or Republicratic parity.
The event in the park did happen. And for this event, there were few officials on hand, and it seemed only a handful of police. Considering this is a city where a BBQ has more than ten attendees or if you dare dance in a public place you will have hundreds of police, it was strange and perhaps since this author is so indoctrinated in this New Normal to expect militarized police with AR 15s (the type of gun used in the Sandy Hook murders), unnerving not to see a wall of blue. But the blue wall was not there, and in the end, it wasn’t needed. Just a few barricades to organize the masses, and a handful of EMTs on hand in the event someone passed out. Somewhere around twenty-seven thousand people, perhaps as many as fifty thousand, moved in and out of Washington Square Park and the city showed again that while the per Diem costs are high, there are magnificent reasons to cling still on to the hope that you can make it here.
Who knows what the coming months will bring in these small-state contests or the coming larger national drama. The forces of change are chiding and chafing on the frothy bit and it is uncertain if the reigns will be loosened or held back. We will have to see who assumes position in the saddle – and from those actions, what then will be the reactions and repercussions alarming and unforeseen. I am glad that this happy chaos is overtaking the Empire State.