Today’s Daily News carries two suitably grim local-economy stories — ‘Mother of All Fare Hikes’ Looming” and “We face more taxes and tickets, less service.” Despite the Mayor’s glib reassurances, the consensus is that New York is fucked.
The youngbloods among you — who have only experienced the well-policed, -cleaned, and -financed Rudiopolis of the past decade, and not the exciting hellhole of prior years — may wonder how they will cope if things take a turn for the worse.
As a community service we offer a short training regimen that should prepare you for the return of the bad old days.
Turnstile Hop. Place two kitchen chairs, weighted, with their backs a little wider than shoulder width apart, and practice lifting and swinging yourself. Get your legs up high and quickly, and tuck your head — turnstiles are less hop-friendly than once they were. You will have built up the requisite skill and strength to thus navigate the system when the subway becomes unaffordable; and subway police presence, and the danger of apprehension, will have been sufficiently reduced to make it worth your while during off-peak hours at least.
Gala Cadge. Every once in a while, dress nicely, crash a reception at a museum or a business conference at a hotel ballroom, and get something from the buffet; when poverty forces upon you this means of getting free meals, you will have developed the required nerve, bland demeanor, and lack of shame.
Urban Scouting. Make a mental (or, if necessary, physical) checklist of club and movie theatre exits that are not commonly attended by security.
Leg and Back Strength. Squats, stretches, and resistance training will prepare you for long waits in soup- and bread-lines and government offices.
Bad Neighborhood Orienteering. Reflexes once common to all New Yorkers — like not counting money in public or appearing confused in any way — have generally grown weak, so start behaving in “up and coming” neighborhoods as if they were down and going. Strengthen your focus on distant objects to convey a sense of purposeful walking, and maintain whenever possible a navigable distance between yourself and passers-by. Also increase your explosive strength and sprinting speed.
Film Festival. Watch Taxi Driver, The Warriors, Serpico, Bad Lieutenant etc. and acquaint yourself with the terror and perverse pride of life in Fun City as it was and may be again.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 12, 2008