A few years ago, when I was a reporter in Chicago, I did a story on a phenomenon I called "The New Prohibition." The city, for various reasons, was shutting down neighborhood bars. In poor black neighborhoods, taverns were the targets of moralistic church crusaders. In gentrifying neighborhoods, they were the bête noire of noise-averse yuppies. What was wrong with Mayor Daley? I asked. Didnt he want Chicago to be fun anymore?
I arrived in Mexico City on the night before May Day. This was my third visit there, but my first since the downfall of the PRI. More important, this was my first trip in the Giuliani era.
There is much to be upset about these days, as double-word triggers will attest: Haliburtons contracts, Bennetts slots, aircraft photo-ops, tax cuts. Even Mother Nature seems pissed off, serving up a reluctant spring on the heels of a dastardly winter war, hurling tractor-trailers across the Midwest, then springing for a lunar eclipse only to refuse to pull back the thick cloud curtain. Indeed, one need look no further than the pages of this publication to find reasons to spew invective, to rant, to rail.
Last winter, in a highly publicized media event, Mayor Bloomberg bought a bicycle. At the time, few people saw that as a culturally subversive action; rather, it seemed a desperate stunt in the face of a citywide transit strike. This summer, however, the newly equipped mayor may find himself an accidental spokesman for a pedal-driven revolution.
While the Bush administration declares the war against Iraq over, a war against Iraqs cultural heritage is well underway. Mainstream news organizations are sending the public an unmistakable message: that Western museums and perhaps other, smaller educational and cultural institutions can expect to soon share in a glut of antiquities from the Near East.
Exes are not just deal-breakers in the game of Scrabble, nor consonants that proliferate embarrassingly pleasurable science fiction. Nay, exes are also the term for what most accurately, if unkindly, can be referred to as romantic detritus.