Friday, August 26, 2011

Thoughts on Hurricane Irene

Does anyone else feel a range of strange thoughts towards this hurricane? (I find it somewhat odd and scary that I already can envision a monday full of facebook pictures, tweets etc., some genuine, some ironic, of the storm)
First off, I understand that the government wants to protect its image, and who actually knows the true magnitude of the hurricane, but even the cynic in me cannot quell the genuineness and real care our city government evinces in this speeches. I get that politicians, regardless of the situation think of themselves, their career and how a disaster might affect their futures, but Mayor Bloomberg, as well as the others speak with frustrated concern. They feel the need to urge us of the veracity of the danger of the hurricane (for some reason, most of the people I talk to about the hurricane treat it as an adult version of a snow day). I cannot remember the last time I felt pride in my mayor, or sensed his intelligence all (Ok, I can Guiliani post 9/11 but any other commonalities are just vulgar). I usually imagine politicians as formal, as unnecessarily dodgy in their answers,  but Bloomberg is just speaking with authority. He’s just killing this speech, which seems like a small matter in the larger picture, but he’s speaking with such knowledge and power, and such annoyance with the stupid (yes, pretty stupid questions of the jourmalists.). Shadows of C.J. from the West Wing. He gives off the impression that he can barely keep down his annoyance with the inanity of the questions. He said his piece and seriously just wants people to know this matters, people can die. He keeps snapping out like a father who needs to repeat basic safety instructions like don’t touch fire, or the outlets in the house. One feels a but stupid that our mayor, our city’s protector, feels the need to talk to us like such children, but do we really trust people to do everything to stay safe?
Bloomberg also shows no embarrassment to say we are at the whim of nature. As New Yorkers, beside for travel,  we really do not know of the overwhelming, complete power of the weather, of nature. First this earlier introductory earthquake and now what appears to many as a massive storm that will affect, life and death, house and other property, electricity, the workforce, the water, and public transportation. It will shut us down. Force us away from the world of our digital addictions. Sheer us from the advances of civilization we rely on to forget about the instability of life. For us, little in our life besides sickness and death remind us of the precariousness of life, of the sheer and pathetic fact of our physicality. It’s hard to face the fact that our progressive technology cannot protect us from something so elemental.
Not to say that anything necessarily bad will happen in any significant way, who knows, one obviously hopes not, but from the way the government’s talking about the hurricane it feels serious. They have mandated an evacuation in Zone A. It will now be a class b misdemeanor to not listen to this evacuation. This is New York’s first mandated evacuation. History, right here. Also, we always worry about the role of the government in our personal lives, in our money, but for some reason, we all fall back to socialist type governmental roles in times of trouble and need. Cops will walk around the neighborhood, but will not enforce the rule, both because of the lack of man power, but apparently also because when it comes down to it each person will make their own choices, but still, the government dictating where we can and cannot be feels different than the governmental actions we are normally accustomed too.
Bloomberg also spoke of basic human decency, basic human common sense, the character of new yorkers as tough but smart, as people who need not worry about looting because we are not that type of people. When does that happen in politics? Eerily we here this both before and after the specter of death. It feels refreshingly real and urgent. I want to agree with his sentiments, but the planned proliferation of police slightly belies his trust in our decency and common sense, and why not.
None of this takes away from the urgency and dangerous implications of the storm. I guess I still do not feel the exigency of this storm, but rather it just feel’s nice to be taken care of by a government you can trust, to be reminded of the precariousness of existence, even in our technologically advanced society. That deep down, the specter of destruction, of tragedy, though we all hope nothing happens, equalizes all human beings: athletes and fans, performers and those in the crowd, people in low rent apt, in high rent apt, those poor and those rich, at the feet of nature’s destructive, awe-inspiring power.  
May everyone keep safe throughout the whole weekend.
    Thanks for reading,
Joe Talk.

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