By living in New York, I live in the middle of the world’s most coveted terrorist target.
“New York, New York: so nice, they named it twice,” goes the saying.
But the white man filmed removing his black shirt to reveal a red one while fleeing the green Nissan Pathfinder he had turned into a giant bomb in the middle of Times Square clearly doesn’t think so. He wants to wreak as much death and destruction as he could in the middle of the world’s greatest city — which reminded me: by living in New York, I live in the middle of the world’s most coveted terrorist target.
It was easy to forget as I arrived home at two a.m. from a rather joyous night out in the city. It had kicked off with a lovely dinner in the Village, followed by a friend’s housewarming on lower Fifth Avenue — a neighborhood some call “downtown lite,” as it combines the cachets of both Greenwich Village and Fifth Avenue — and rounded it out with a night cap at Bar Pleiades with yet more friends.
As is my habit, I turned on NY1 News while I removed my makeup to discover all the drama that had unfolded while I crisscrossed Manhattan: Times Square had been evacuated for a car bomb. Yet not only did my own evening go on, so did all the shows on Broadway.
As I watched the news conference with a rather exhausted Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Patterson and NY Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (a man known to New Yorker simply as “The Commish”), I was proud of my city. After all, it is such a New York tale.
A mounted police officer patrolling Times Square was alerted to the suspiciously smoking and empty running car by two T-shirt vendors who are disabled Vietnam veterans: Lance Orton and Duane Jackson. Men whose livelihood depend on selling knockoff handbags, $5 pashminas and “I Love NY” T-shirts for $2.99 to passing tourists routinely behave as patriots: they know the police by their first names and have their cell phone numbers and alert them to thieves and pickpockets.
As successive press conferences laid bare the extreme cooperation between federal and local forces that come together daily in the JTTF, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, it became apparent that New Yorkers are putting all that ruthlessness for which they are so renowned to work in the investigation. I can tell you, I wouldn’t want to be that man in the surveillance video on Shubert Alley.
And yet today, despite the presence of a few more police officers and news crews, Times Square was back to normal: horns honking, tourists snapping photos and street vendors hawking their wares. Ruthlessness and nonchalance: now what could be more New York than that?