Wednesday, December 14, 2005

New, New Amsterdam

Last night I saw a sight that took my breath away and confused me right through 'til morning when Boone whispered quietly between bites of oatmeal, "Mama. I saw a lady with a gun last night in the city."
"Oooh, Booney," I confided, "I saw her too. Wasn't she something?" She had taken our breath away.

Playing the part of good New Yorkers, Dan and I had dragged our bedraggled youngsters straight from school to 34th Street to see if Santa Land at Macy's was as miraculous as memory rendered. I can't help but momentarily set aside my crass life-observations when I see my Believer child, Boone, (Em is now an Unbeliever) nervously approach that bearded temp in thin red fur, plastic belt, and phony specs and hand deliver his childish hopes and dreams. This moment of perfect faith and innocence is a needed shot in the arm during this very Cold Season.
But then I'm back at the ol' crass observations with Dan: This Santa Land is a helluva ringer for Olde Amsterdam's own twinkling Red Light District. Cheaply costumed and heavily rouged, young women and men ditch all pride in favor of the bux, calling out to passersby, "Heeeyyyyy! Don't you wanna see Santa?" "Yo! Come on, don't be shy! Come sit on his lap!" And so we are escorted by a compact Tinkle to a private hut. With lively talk and movement Tinkle is careful to not let us notice that there are many huts and many, many other customers. We are made to feel as if He is our one and only and we, His. Many promises are made then. Whispers, clumsy pats on the head, awkward silence and then the whole episode, so anxiously awaited, ends before we feel entirely satisfied. On our way out of the hut, I glance back and see another family, all flushed, enter the hut. We are then nicely booted out to the shopping throngs. Ah, New Amsterdam.
But I digress. Often.
So, post-Santa Land, and at the grand portal to Macy's on 34th Street, we exited, task accompli, through a heavy revolving door. Boone did his requisite joke where he acts as if he can't get out of that crazy contraption and, shouting junior expletives, takes it around two or three more times while shoppers get pissed, missing the humor altogether as Boone finally stumbles, dizzy, out to the sidewalk and plops on his rear on the cement.

And then there she was, outside the revolving door at Macy's, a staggering symbol for our times. She was taller than Dan, so she stood over six feet tall and stood dark in the shadows. She had her scarf wrapped up to her eyes, her helmet pulled low, and stood with her feet a shoulder's width apart holding her AK-47 (I think) at the ready, across her uniformed chest, pointing at the freezing sky, ready to blow away the bloated moon if need be. Standing in her own self-generated fog, this woman is a new Statue of Liberty, chilly and inaccessible. She is somehow a symbol of our freedom, our democracy, our security.
Yet twenty-four hours later I'm still not exactly sure how.


Anonymous Errorista said...

Beautiful sad and so well written I was there. It's good this image isn't so's good that it warranted a comment from Boo. Hopefully he remembers Santa more vividly than the lady. But who knows...

Maybe she was our kid sis?

P.S. In the spirit of sharing word verifications...mine is jodye. How weird is that??

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Errorista said...

oh no oh no I can't stop....I have to share the next one to pop up, because the next word verification is:


hahahahaha. Okeeeee....speaking of junior expletives, huh? geeez...I could do this all day.

3:50 PM  
Blogger dr. fluffy jones said...

I'm sure there's a whole site out there dedicated to word verifications, for we happy linguaphiles. In the spirit of the red light district called 'Santaland' -- you've shown me yours and I can't wait to show you mine...what no one has mentioned was brooklyned's latest painting (or maybe it's been around a while?) THIS woman looks like she could be part of an Ozonian security force -- there were so many beautiful greenly dressed women there with flaming red hair. I love this painting!

ok, here goes: nbkqloo

which seems to me a good word to describe an igloo built by warrior women from Oz when they are out on bivouac among the poppies. happy christmas!

4:51 PM  
Anonymous fatty said...

Are you sure it wasn't someone collecting for the Salvation Army? I hear they're focus-group testing greater emphasis on the "Army" part of their name in selected locations.

6:57 PM  
Blogger ZinniaSoCA said...

That had to be a really weird experience and feeling. You handled it really well with him, though!

Mine today is 1badk (and K is my first initial). I'm baaaaaaaad! Finally!



8:37 PM  
Anonymous Celtp said...

Okay here's my verification word
Just thought I'd drop in and say hello. I find myself staring at your work a lot. It's just captivating. I admire you and your sis very much; and wish I was as creative and intelligent.

Merry Christmas.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous matt said...


do you ever find yourself staring at cumulonimbus clouds in awe? i do. all the time. they captivate me. your paintings do the same for me. i just realized it now while staring at that painting, and being drawn to the clouds over the city.

as far as guns, my son has no idea what one is yet. that'd be a wierd experience. my last time in the city, this past june, i saw soldiers with ak-47s on a few occassions. it definately caught my attention.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous BIG Mike said...

I can see her. The minds eye is a powerful tool.

It's a sad world that needs that image to exist.

3:08 PM  
Anonymous dug said...

i know this is probably irrelevant, but the ak 47 (otherwise known as the kalashnikov) is a russian made machine gun. very popular around the world. not exactly standard issue to the u.s. military.

6:38 PM  
Blogger newbrooklyner said...

er, It's not that common around our neighborhood, but Em did say, "How come all the fun places in the cities have machine guns?" Ehgh.

Hi, dr.! Thanks for liking my painting. Thanks for bringing your liguiphillic self over.

fatty, don't upstage the blogger.

zin, I've always suspected you to be a bad arse.

celtp, thanks for saying that.

matt, yes. I study cloud formation constantly, trying to remember details and colors. One great thing about Utah is its clouds. I haven't seen the likes in NYC.
I'm really glad your son doesn't know about guns.

Big mike, I guess the Law doesn't look like that in Oz?

Dug, I don't know guns. I was pretty sure it wasn't Russian issue, but knew it wasn't a beretta. Or a sawed-off shotgun. Or a b.b. gun, or a hunting rifle, or a knife. And that's about the sum of my weapon vocab. But seriously, can you figure out what the issue is for those military types all over the city? It looks like an assault weapon. I don't know much, but I hope it's not cocked.

10:54 PM  

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