Labor Day Musings of a New Yorker

Welcome home, weary Labor Day travelers, as you stagger back to NYC. A few of you on Sunday, most on Monday. The city was wonderfully quiet thanks to your departure -- there were empty parking spaces galore and one could look up Lexington Avenue and see a beautiful stretch of quiet streets; bus stops free of the dreaded Hampton Jitney with its desperate urban refugees -- fleeing from themselves for three days with their overstuffed wheeled luggage and frightened small dogs in satchels, still clutching their cell phones in fear that life will pass them by. You can escape from self quicker, cheaper, and more successfully by staying home and reading Fitzgerald or Colette (for that trip to Paris) Hemingway and Isaac Dinisen will get you to Africa, and Conrad will take you into that heart of darkness without mosquito bites. My weekend was spent with Conrad -- who has a lesson for us in today's news -- colonialism -- even in its noblest form of trying to rescue the foreign oppressed usually ends by destroying the savior.

Sad to read of the death of David Frost. If he had done nothing else his Nixon interviews took us into the tormented soul of that disgraced president.

Who to vote for? I usually have a gut reaction to the candidates for mayor -- but I am puzzled by my own inability to choose one as primary day draws near. I find Ms. Quinn the best choice for managing a difficult and complex city but she disgraced herself when she made Bloomberg's third term possible. It was a thoroughly corrupt act, and although I would like to see a woman and a lesbian reach high office, I find it hard to vote for her and reward her for breaking with the will of the voters. Bill DiBlasio says all the right things, but I suspect that he promises too much to too many and there there is not nearly enough money to do what he promised to do -- change the nature of the city by bringing back middle class families, creating more jobs, more housing, fixing the schools and getting the rich to pay more in taxes. The fact that he has a bi-racial child is being promoted by his campaign and I find that irrelevant and a little insulting. Not sure of him. Thompson whom I voted for in the past is simply too dull to be Mayor of NYC -- sorry, accountants are necessary at tax time but we don't want them around us all year long. And the others don't stand a chance.

Two personal things I ask for in a future mayor. First, someone who will work to correct the hazardous crossing of streets by pedestrians -- taxis and trucks and NJ drivers seem to make their own rules about racing around crossings putting all of us city walkers -- old and young -- at risk. I speak from bitter experience. Many years ago my mother was killed by a truck that refused to slow down to give her the right of way although the light was in her favor. We have got to enforce our traffic rules. Second, we need someone who doesn't view the city as Mayor Bloomberg does as a place where we must forever grow taller tech friendly buildings for tech friendly business; density does not always mean prosperity. Re-read Jane Jacobs. What we need is someone who respects the human scale -- the need for light and air and parks that make a city not just habitable but a joyful place for those who live in it.