Friday, March 22, 2013

Toothless Old Busybody

Monday, March 18, 2013
Jesse Jackson came by today, but he did not stay for lunch.  He joined a demonstration in front of the federal courthouse where a trial began on the constitutionality of New York City’s “stop-and-frisk” program, which is an alternate label for racial profiling.  Mind you, it seems to be quite effective racial profiling since New York’s crime rate has steadily decreased in recent years.  On the other hand, nationally, crime rates have declined generally even in areas without such aggressive policing tactics.  The statistics supplied by the plaintiffs are impressive. New York stopped and frisked 4.4 million people between 2004 and 2012, almost all young black and Hispanic men.  88% resulted in no arrest or summons – 12% resulted in an arrest or summons (choose your perspective). A gun was found in .15% of the encounters, amounting to 6,600 guns found, if we assume one person stopped equals one encounter.  That’s still a lot of guns.  That’s too many guns.  Yes, I’m a paid up member of the American Civil Liberties Union, yet I can’t help thinking that some of the young men treated in a patently discriminatory fashion by NYPD were eventually saved by the removal of some of those guns from the streets of New York.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
This dark and slushy morning, the park opposite the courthouse was the site of a Law & Order episode being recorded.  I think I saw Mariska Hargitay (Det. Olivia Benson) up close, but I don’t think she saw me.  I guess that would make me a good undercover cop.
Irwin Pronin, former president of the CCNY Student Government, joined me for lunch.  We enjoyed soup buns and scallion pancakes at Joe’s Ginger, 25 Pell Street, and washed them down with crispy pepper skin duckling ($15.95).  By contrast, an influential New York Supreme Court judge, who was in the restaurant at the same time, left displeased, promising not to return because she sat opposite the restaurant's flat-panel television screen, playing a Chinese-language program with the sound left on.  While Irwin and I sat off to one side and were unbothered by this unasked-for diversion, I understood her pique, since Joe’s (under the same regime as Joe’s Shanghai down the block) is popular with non-Chinese who neither require nor appreciate this form of entertainment with lunch.  The gratuitous television set is too common in Chinatown restaurants.  If the World Cup or the World Series or the world coming to an end were on display, I could understand the usefulness of a television broadcasting in any language, although I would still like the sound to be turned down.     
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
I must often restrain myself from reaching for the clever phrase at the possible expense of providing fair and balanced commentary.  So, I was delighted this morning by what I read in the New York Times about the settlement of a federal law suit concerning the false labeling of apparel.  Several companies, it seems, were claiming that the fur trim on their products was fake, not real.  However, the fur was real, which would have otherwise justified a higher selling price, but probably drawing the wrath of animal rights’ advocates.  The Times pointed out that mislabeling fur, “inexpensive rabbit as luxurious mink, say – is an old game.”  Now, instead, “the faux fur, was, in fact, real fur.  That’s right: it was faux faux fur.”  Kudos to the Times; I could not have improved on that. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013
Last night, just before dinner, one of my temporary replacement teeth seceded from my mouth, so this morning I had to get that corrected.  That eliminated my lunch hour entirely.

Friday, March 22, 2013
Liberals and conservatives alike claim to adhere to the idea of freedom, the right to be left alone.  It’s a concept that is constantly challenged, never more so than in this electronic-digital-social media age.  My encounter with freedom of choice this morning was not computer-enhanced, however, and it  found me possibly on the wrong side.  While getting my coffee from the little man in the cart in front of the courthouse, the next customer, a young man (in his 20s) ordered a small coffee with five (5) sugars.  “Five sugars!,” I ejaculated.  “Can you spell diabetes?”  His response was civil, but disappointing, to the effect that his youth immunized him from physiological hazards.  I left shaking my head, but not regretting my intrusion.  Whether found in the Old Testament, the New Testament, inside a fortune cookie or in the wisdom of Dr.Phil, looking out for others ain’t a bad idea.

At the end of the working day, I ran into Mike, my favorite court officer, as I crossed the courthouse's rotunda, a beautiful setting.  We spent a few minutes lamenting the frustratingly inconsistent play of our favorite hockey team.  When I went outside, I was surprised to see a large group of cops, reporters, lawyers and civilians on the steps because, at a few minutes before 5 PM, the building was near empty.  It didn't take me long to figure out that this was a shoot, especially when I caught sight of the cameras, microphones and clip boards surrounding this big cluster of folks on the courthouse steps.  A pilot for a new cop show "The Ordained" was being filmed in the heart of Law & Order-land.  The hero cop, it seems, was a priest, before joining the force.  I guess he got hooked on confessions.  In any case, as I dawdled, one of the crew asked me, "Are you background?"  Even though it is one of the best straight lines of the week, I'm still struggling to come up with a response.

1 comment:

  1. This was one of your best. My eyes watered with laughter.