View From Lodi, CA: New York At New Year


I spent Christmas in New
York—formerly my

home
for nearly twenty years—and survived.

Despite heightened security alerts,
overcrowded

airports
, delayed flights and lost luggage, I`ve
returned to Lodi to report on the good, the bad and the
ugly about Manhattan.

  • “THE UGLY”: Thinking that
    a Christmas visit to

    St. Patrick`s Cathedral
    on Fifth Avenue would be
    uplifting, I made the error of wandering into the
    historic church late one afternoon.

The steps leading up to the front
doors were littered with French fries, hamburger
wrappers and cigarette butts. People were screaming
instructions to each other as they posed for video
cameras. Others were smoking or making out.

I`m sorry to say that inside the
scene inside was no better. I saw more cameras and
strollers with howling babies. The days of hushed voices
in church are apparently long gone.

Many visitors appeared unaware that
when worshippers light candles to make a special
request, a donation is appropriate.

When I saw teenagers with baseball
caps worn in reverse and listening to portable CD
players, I couldn`t take it anymore. I asked one of the
ushers if it was no longer the practice for men to
remove their hats inside church.

What do you expect me to do?”
he asked.

Well, if I were a policy maker at
St. Patrick`s Cathedral, I would enforce all of the
rules—written and unwritten—about proper church
behavior.

And if I couldn`t make the rules
stick, then I would shut the doors and lock them after
the last daily Mass.

And I would station a custodian
outside the church to clean up. St. Patrick`s Cathedral
shouldn`t look like a Jack-in-the- Box.

  •  “THE BAD”: For at least a
    week before the big

    Times Square New Year`s Eve
    celebration, headlines
    announced that security would be “tighter than ever.”
    With a

    Code Orange
    alert in effect, revelers were advised
    that the area directly surrounding 42nd St.
    would be closed to traffic. Pedestrians would be
    subjected to lengthy searches of their personal
    belongings. All of New York`s Finest would be out in
    force.

And the police were very visible on
New Year`s Eve. But they weren`t doing anything. Police
officers in groups as large as 10 chatted with among
themselves about the two pitiful local

football teams,
the Jets and the Giants.

This is not a knock on the New York
Police Department. I have always found them to be
dedicated, courteous and

brave
.

But on this night, it seemed as
though their only instructions were to report for duty
in Times Square and keep an eye peeled.

I couldn`t help but wonder about
that strategy. If I were

Al-Qaeda,
would I go to the heavily policed Times
Square to commit terrorism? Or I would I walk ten blocks
south to Penn Station, get on a totally unguarded train
and set off my suicide bomb?

Maybe announcing where the security
would be the tightest isn`t the best idea. I`m pretty
sure the terrorists read newspapers and watch the local
news programs.

  • “THE GOOD”: Normally, if
    you ask a New York visitor to share the highlights of
    his trip, you can expect to hear about seeing the

    Christmas tree
    at

    Rockefeller Center,
    a hit Broadway show or the
    Circle Line Cruise around Manhattan.

I was lucky enough to do all those
things. But the high point was a one-inch by one-inch
piece of raw tuna on sticky rice.

By calling in favors from old
friends, I pulled off the impossible—a reservation at
New York`s

trendiest 4-Star restaurant, Nobu,
located in the
ultra-trendy TriBeCa.

Normally, seeking out “in” places
is not my thing. I am perfectly happy at a Dairy Queen
drive-in. But a

five-year addiction
to television`s

Food Television Network
piqued my curiosity.

Consistently ranked among the best
restaurants in the world, Nobu is owned by actor Robert
De Niro (nowhere in sight) and supervised by celebrity
chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa.

You may balk at the idea of smoked
eel with jalapenos or blackened cod. But I am here to
tell you that it is an eating experience unlike any
other. The best plan is to put yourself in the hands of
the helpful waiters and let them cater to you.

Overall, my New York adventure was
great. Although New York is a hard place to get out of
your system, it`s always good to be back home.

[JOENOTE
to VDARE.COM readers
:
Not much English is heard anymore on the streets of New
York. And the retail and service trades are dominated by
immigrants from all corners of the world. I guess
American just don`t want to work at Saks Fifth Avenue.

But
what is impossible to cope with is Polish waiters at


Patsy`s
, my favorite Italian restaurant. How much
should we be asked to endure?]

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English
at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly
column since 1988. It currently appears in the


Lodi News-Sentinel
.