I just spent a few days in New York City working on a new project with the extraordinary people at The Epoch Times that I hope you will all be hearing about shortly.
It gave me an opportunity to visit the city of my birth for the first time since COVID, if that’s where we are. Or are we on the brink of yet another pseudo-plague when we have to wear masks against something called monkeypox, an obscure disease no one I know has ever encountered, but of which we had better beware or else?
Outside the inspiring precincts of The Epoch Times, it was not a heartening visit.
To be honest, I hadn’t expected it to be. Who could miss the news coverage of the murders in the subways, the attacks in the streets with thugs pushing little old ladies into the gutter at random? It seemed like a real-life version of the “ultra-violence” from Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange.”
The politicians in charge were doing little about it. As for the actual mayors, the last decent one who had made the city livable with his broken windows programs was the now-reviled Rudy Giuliani. Nobody, it seemed, wanted to bring back the man once known as “America’s mayor.”
I was going to New York with, to put it mildly, mixed feelings.
The night before I left Nashville I had trouble sleeping, dreaming fitfully of New York when I was a kid in the 1950s. The soundtrack of my dreams was the Central Park carousel organ playing “The Sidewalks of New York” as it did when my mother would take me as a 5-year-old:
“Boys and girls together/Me and Mamie O’Rourke/We trip the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York.” On and on it went, as the carousel went round and round.
Of course, there was never really a New York as perfect as my dreams. There was always plenty of violence, as anyone who has seen the opening of “Godfather II” can tell you, not to mention a half dozen Marty Scorsese films, starting with his first and best, “Mean Streets.”
Nevertheless, New York in the 1950s was a wonderful place to me—in my mind maybe the greatest place to grow up ever. When we were 10 years old, my friends and I would take off for the day by ourselves, sometimes to check out that spooky Egyptian tomb collection at the Met, but more often to hop on the Jerome Woodlawn line for Yankee Stadium and sit in the bleachers, or better yet, the upper deck—not just because those were the only seats we could afford, but because Mickey Mantle himself might hit one our way.
By Roger L. Simon