Well, 2008 is here. And, while it's arriving as quite a good year, I got a grim reminder of the world we live in last night.
I work only a couple of blocks from Times Square (although I rarely go there), and I pick up the subway to go home even closer nearby. Yesterday evening, well before midnight but with the crowds already arriving, I walked to the train along West 43rd Street, where the local firehouse is. And the entire block, Fifth Avenue to Sixth Avenue, was packed with Fire Department vehicles of all sorts. There was something that looked like a shipping container, painted red, being offloaded off a flatbed truck, marked "Mobile Decontamination Unit". There was truck after truck- huge ones- from the Hazardous Materials unit. Command cars, Emergency Service trucks, ambulances, police cars, more. A large crowd in uniform being briefed outside the firehouse itself. Thank God it all went well, but it was one of the scariest things I've seen. (I was at Ground Zero a few days after 9/11, but it had already happened there, if you take my meaning.)
It used to be they only had to worry about people getting drunk and rowdy in Times Square. Now crime has dropped- all the news outlets are touting the "less than 500 murders" number (of course, so long as a Republican is president, the Times will find the dark lining in the silver cloud), but what strikes me, as good news, is the "400 of those knew their killer" number- and now we have to worry about people who, at least officially, don't get drunk and still get rowdy, in a deadly way.
That said, it's important to note that things are cheery. (Well, things are cheery anyway, but I'm talking about the War here.) The radio informed me yesterday that this was the deadliest year for American troops in Iraq. (We never hear about the other side, of course, but I'm sure it wasn't a picnic for them.) Now, this is technically true, but it's outright dishonesty if...well, I was waiting for the next sentence to begin "But..." as in, "But this month saw the least deaths since the beginning of the war," and it never came. They just went on to the next story. Twenty-two deaths, about eight of them not even combat related, and they went on to the next story, and the AP simply reported the overall numbers as well. Disgusting. This morning, yet again, "New Year's in Iraq is just another day for soldiers...The war griiinds on." (I'm typing it exactly as he said it.) I suppose it'll keep "grinding on" until President Hillary, r'l, can take credit for a victory and be declared Woman of the Year, but it's good to know things have much improved, and we've taken the fight to them instead of having it come to Times Square, c'v. (Sorry for the Hebrew abbreviations.)
Anyway, a Happy New Year to all. I was wishing people (jocularly) a "Happy Sylvester" (yes, I ignore their note on spelling) yesterday, and only realized too late that I should be wishing them a "Happy Hirsch Day." Ah well, I'll do it next- whoops, this- year, for his 120th, if I can remember for 365- whoops, 366- days. Yup, it's a leap-Olympics-election year. Full of fun, excitement, and good times, for all of us, I hope, wish, and bless.