Thursday, January 20, 2011

A TALE OF TWO CITIES. Nicole Gelinas at The Corner:
All New Yorkers start out the Christmas season optimistically festooning their trees with the ornaments that, during the non-Christmas months, took up half the apartment in storage boxes.
When did everyone in New York start having Christmas trees? This December the town looked the same to me as it has at the end of any other year -- full of small, mostly treeless apartments. (Then again, most of my friends are godless; maybe among the Catholics of Bayside, tannenbaums are de rigueur.)*

Having thus established its vital importance, Gelinas gets after the city's tree-collection policies. At year's end, she says, Mr. and Mrs. EveryNewYorker know "the dark day is coming" when "they will have to lug their dry tree down their building hallway and into the elevator to deposit it on the sidewalk..." (Elevator?)
All good New Yorkers know, too, not to be late in this chore. There’s a deadline for Christmas-tree collection — and nobody wants to miss it. Green New Yorkers justify having bought a real tree with the knowledge that the city will recycle the trees, making them into mulch for our parks. If one misses the recycling deadline, though, one faces the shameful private realization that one’s tree will instead decay over eternity in a landfill.
I will add here that this whole idea of Gothamites as slavish environmentalists also contradicts my long experience. Those who do separate cans and bottles, for example, generally do so because the building management (which does not want to get fined for non-compliance) badgers them about it, not from love of Gaia. Neither do the overflowing trash cans and crap-strewn alleys in certain of our jurisdictions suggest eco-fascism.

I assume Gelinas is pitching this to the rubes who love to hear how we're all latte-sipping homosexual eco-freaks who secretly wish we were living in Oatmeal, Nebraska and eating at Sizzler.

Anyway there's been some slowness with Christmas tree trash collection. Here Gelinas really affects to get inside our heads:
Citizens know that they followed the rules, and that the city was supposed to have picked up the trees. They know, too, that the huge snowstorm was nearly a month ago — meaning that it should not be an excuse.

Yet the trees remain, collecting bits of tissue and trash in the cold. New Yorkers are now thinking as they walk past each small, forlorn pile, “Mr. Mayor, if you’re going to leave trees on the sidewalk, at least bring us fresh trees.”
Listen, New York is full of comedy writers -- surely we could come up with better material than that.
More important, people are thinking: Does this mean something? Why hasn’t Bloomberg picked up the trees? Why hasn’t anyone said anything about it? What else is going undone, unnoticed, sliding into chaos? Call it the pine-scent version of broken-windows policing.
You mean like in 2006? (That story is from The Sun; it appears the Christmas Tree Menace is a -- you should pardon the expression -- rightwing evergreen.)
The trees are a challenge, too, for Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith... as the guy in charge of general operations, [Goldsmith] is also already New Yorkers’ face of failure on Sanitation’s abysmal snow-removal response to the December 26 blizzard. So when people see the trees, they think of Goldsmith. (“That’s the guy who didn’t know it was snowing — and now he’s left the trees out to rot.”)
So I'm getting a picture of a city full of craven tree-worshippers fretful that their trees won't be properly mulched, and who reflexively curse "Goldsmith" the way they used to curse Hitler or John V. Lindsay. I guess Gelinas and I live in different New Yorks.

*UPDATE. As commenter chuckling reminds me, a healthy percentage of New York's population is non-Christian. Maybe in the Gelinas version they're all getting Christmas trees in a desperate effort to assimilate.

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