Bob Schwartz

Tag: New York

More New York Hate Attacks—On a Muslim Cop and a Subway Worker

aml-elsokary

Just as you probably didn’t see any national coverage of the assault on a Muslim college student riding the New York subway, you also probably didn’t see stories about more attacks in the last few days—including one on a New York City cop.

Sunday

‘I will cut your throat!’: Man attacks Muslim cop and her son

A suspect was arrested Sunday in the Brooklyn attack on an off-duty Muslim cop wearing a hijab.

“Go back to your country,” the man yelled at NYPD Officer Aml Elsokary during the incident Saturday.

He also targeted the cop’s 16-year-old son — shoving him and shouting a slur that referenced ISIS — before telling them both, “I will cut your throat! Go back to your country!” sources said.

The incident is being probed as a hate crime.

The suspect, whose name was not released, lives near the scene of the attack, on Ridge Boulevard and 67th Street in Bay Ridge.

Elsokary made headlines in 2014 when she helped rescue an old man and a baby from a burning building.

Monday

Muslim MTA worker in hijab pushed down stairs, called ‘terrorist’

A Muslim New York City Transit employee who was wearing a hijab with her uniform was injured when she was pushed down the stairs at Grand Central Terminal Monday morning by a man who called her a “terrorist,” officials said.

The 45-year-old woman was on her way to work at 6:20 a.m. when the man confronted her on the 7 Train.

“You’re a terrorist and you shouldn’t be working for the city,” the hate-monger spewed at her while the two were on the train, as he jabbed at her MTA patch.

He followed her off the train and pushed her down the stairs. Her ankle and knee were injured and she was taken to NYU Langone Hospital.

We have to start facing a few realities, though strategies to deal with them are still to be determined. One is not just the presence of hate and intolerance—an age-old problem—but the growing aggressive expression of that hate, possibly in light of the current political climate. Another is a certain willingness to stand by while that happens—also long-standing—because we will always have such people and that’s just the way things are. A final reality is much of the news media, which, with all due respect, spent the presidential campaign focused on all kinds of nonsense and missing all kinds of truth, sometimes in the name of being “objective” and not judging or having opinions.

These latest examples of necessary truths are not matters of opinion. What’s wrong is wrong, and if the media is uncomfortable reporting or analyzing it, maybe they have outlived their usefulness and relevance.

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Random Beads

Random Beads - Bob Schwartz

Every picture supposedly tells a story. Actually, every picture is a story.

Beading is a glorious craft. In the hands of a talented artist, the results can be beautiful and enlightening.

But like all art, it can be a messy business. In the case of beads, this can mean tiny items underfoot, and with bits of wire, pretty painful ones. Particularly where barefoot is the custom.

A quick post-beading cleanup led to quite a collection of such detritus, like shells on a beach. Tossed in a white bowl, they looked like something. And so the photo above.

If you are a fan of randomness—and we should all be—you will see in this totally spontaneous display any number of things. Gregory Bateson said, “I am going to build a church someday. It will have a holy of holies and a holy of holy of holies, and in that ultimate box will be a random number table.” Exactly.

Here is a beader in her natural habitat, the largest bead store in New York. It is filled with beads mostly from China which, as in most things, is able to provide whatever we want or need in seemingly infinite supply. So it is all together: geopolitics, economics, ancient tradition, minerals, pottery, glass, color, art, craft, and, of course, beauty. Note, however, that in this emporium, the beauty of the beader outshines all of the beads.

Bead Store

Ebola Stress Test

Kaci Hickox

Stress tests. We see them in medicine, in banking, in construction.

How well will the patient’s heart perform when he is on a treadmill? How sound are a bank’s finances in the worst case scenario? How will building materials stand up under maximum pressure?

Public crises are stress tests. So far, Ebola is the latest demonstration of the tendency for our civic infrastructure to crack—or show signs of it—under pressure.

Quietly, where no one can hear, some leaders and citizens are probably worried that if this was a real Ebola outbreak in the U.S., and not the thankfully tiny and so far isolated problem it is, we would fall apart. Utterly fail the test.

The latest episode concerns this weekend’s rapid response by multiple states to Craig Spencer, a doctor returning from West Africa and becoming sick with Ebola in New York City last week. In addition to New York and New Jersey, other states are now or may be requiring returning health care workers to be quarantined.

There is a problem: none of these states appear to have thought through any of it—most especially the practical aspects of whisking someone coming home from a heroic medical mission into isolation that is supposed to be comfortable, suitable, sensible, and sensitive under the circumstances. It now seems the scenario is act first, plan later.

Nurse Kaci Hickox is the first one caught in this trap. She is not sick and is showing no symptoms. Arriving at Newark Airport Friday night, she was taken to a tent behind a hospital, with a portable toilet, no shower, no television, and little cellphone reception. She castigated all involved, particularly Governor Chris Christie, who said she had symptoms and was sick, when she hadn’t and wasn’t. She plans a federal lawsuit challenging the quarantine.

“I also want to be treated with compassion and humanity, and I don’t feel I’ve been treated that way in the past three days. I think this is an extreme that is really unacceptable. I feel like my basic human rights have been violated.”

(Update: Governor Christie has relented, allowing her to return home to Maine, where, if you read between the lines, the message is that it will then be Maine’s problem to monitor her and where, if something goes wrong, it will be on their head.)

We seem to have forgotten how to solve problems, enthralled by our own voice either positing solutions, making points, or complaining. Or maybe it is that this is America, with a history of being bigger, stronger, smarter, and most of all, righter, in all circumstances. Even if that was ever true, politics—in the big sense of privileging positions over effective and thoughtful answers—has poisoned that well. Worthy questions and deliberate solutions are rejected out of hand because of the source, because they don’t fit some preconceived notion or program, or simply because they won’t help win or not lose elections.

Whether or not quarantine of heroic Ebola care givers returning from West Africa is a good idea, it is certainly a good idea to evaluate and plan exactly how you are going to practically handle it. Maybe, though, we shouldn’t be at all surprised. In recent years we did, after all, send hundreds of thousands of troops abroad, and when the promised rewards for their heroic service came due, we seemed unable to fulfill and, worse, were suddenly unenthusiastic about keeping the promise anyway.

If this is a war on Ebola, we better make sure we are committed to those who are sacrificing, part of which is actual planning and resourcing, not ignorant and reflexive pontificating and politicking. So far, this is looking too much like some of our other recent wars. Maybe we can use this as an opportunity to get better and be better at it.

Bookstores in New York

 

Rizzoli Bookstore

Bookstores in New York
The gleaming rooftops at sundown
Oh, bookstores in New York
It lifts you up when you run down

Dreamers with empty hands
They sigh for exotic lands

It’s bookstores in New York
It’s good to live it again

Apologies to Vernon Duke, Autumn in New York, the greatest of all Manhattan songs

The New York Times ran a story this week, Literary City, Bookstore Desert: Surging Rents Force Booksellers From Manhattan .

If you’re interested, you can read the story yourself. If you’re paying any attention to New York, business, media, or culture, you already know the story. Bookstores under siege by the rise of Amazon and digital books. Manhattan rents skyrocketing. The number of people who care about or have actually had the bookstore experience falling. The number of people who associate the Manhattan experience with the bookstore experience falling faster.

Above is a picture of the Rizzoli bookstore on West 57th Street. It will be closing soon, as the building owner will be tearing down the building. It is not the only great bookstore, past or present, which has contributed to the specialness of Manhattan. It is, though, a good example of that. If you have not walked down 57th, and have not turned into Rizzoli, and have not walked up those stairs and past those shelves, you will have to imagine. The same goes for all the other big and small bookstores of Manhattan, some less grand on less grand streets, all of them filled with books. All of them places to get lost for a while, for a long while if the aisles are long and the shelves high, the way you get lost in a flirtation or a lifelong love.

This is not nostalgia. This is not romance, at least not the kind that constructs an unreal and unattainable dream. It is real, it is still there, for now, the bookstores, the books, the place and time to scan the titles, to pick up and pull out and leaf through and browse. A refuge from the Manhattan streets, or whatever streets you walk, a place and time to be yourself, to be anywhere, and mostly to fall in love. It’s still good to live it.