By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
I dreamed I died and went to Cincinnati. Imagine my horror when I awoke and discovered that I was in Cincinnati. Only now it's moved and lies roughly between the new and improved Times Square, the new and improved 42nd Street, and the new and improved 57th Street. It's all so bright. And clean.
The only thing is, if we wanted to live in Cincinnati, we could--and it would probably only cost about $300 a month, utilities included. Me? I live in what used to be Manhattan because up until a few years ago, it wasn't like any other place in the universe.
Now only Queens is like no other place in the universe. Even Brooklyn has become cute. And touristy. Don't be surprised on your next visit to Borough Park if you see busloads of tourists hanging off double-deckers snapping pictures of Hasidim, having mistaken them for a renegade sect of urban Amish.
Sure, crime is down (except among cops). And the price isn't too high--after all, who minds a beating now and then in exchange for a little peace and quiet? What's $27.3 million in settlements last year alone to citizens who've been brutalized by the cops in the city? The streets are as safe as, say, Cincinnati. Just stay out of the station houses.
There are other, even more frightening clues to the Cincinnati-zation of New York, too.
Take for example the new white police cars with those friendly "CPR" logos. At first I thought they were EMS cars doing freelance CPR, but no! They're white cop cars--like suburbia. (No, it doesn't stand for the "Cincinnati Police Relocation," but "Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect." Saying it must make it so.)
Then there are the new and improved colored newspapers. The Gray Lady has become fuchsia. The gritty Daily News looks like a coloring book. Really, who needs to see Mother Teresa in full color anyway?
Ruth Messinger certainly had a New York edge in black and white that's missing in color. Take the News's front page the other day. There was Messinger, all aglow in coral lipstick, blue blazer, and red AIDS awareness ribbon. (Or was that a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon?)
And that brings up another point: the homogenization of our politicians. New York pols are supposed to look weird, crazed, and slightly threatening. I, for one, am horrified to see that Al Sharpton's had a hairdo makeover (perhaps in an attempt to look nonthreatening) and wound up with Ruth Messinger's hairstyle. Al! Al! Remember who you are--gritty, urban, outrageous. You do not come from Cincinnati. You are not a Jewish woman.
Even Hooters, the restaurant chain, possibly the single most offensive thing about the suburbs, has come to NYC. Why, dear God, are they doing this to us?
And Disney! Oy, as they say in Cleveland. City officials think the out-of-control mouse population explosion is real? No! It's only the exponential explosion of Mickey Mouse. Where's a good exterminator when you need one?
Then there's Times Square. Sure it's great looking. And bright. Did you know that it's now genetically impossible to get mugged there? Even if you did, it would probably be simulcast on the Sony big screen, sitting atop Times Square like the one in 1984. Even the hookers are fake now. You can see a re-creation of one, though, if you're interested, in The Life. Like a prostitute zoo, or something. With a little luck, they'll turn it into a theme restaurant--Hookers.
When the homogenization of Manhattan is completed, I hear they're going to put a bubble over the whole thing and call it a mall. Or better yet, Cincinnati.