It’s not the mere fact that tourists appeared in New York this week that draws the New York Times‘ attention — it’s the opportunity this presents for prose-poetry.
Picture the scene: “This is a week of suspended animation in the city, in between holidays” when no one works — why, even “the bodegas in Queens — slow to an administrative crawl or shut down altogether,” a phenomenon new to us and, we’re sure, to most residents of Flushing or Astoria seeking a quart of milk and Lotto tickets.
During this magical time, “New York City belongs not to New Yorkers, but to Spaniards, Italians, Canadians, Germans, Californians…” We expect the reporter’s boss, at least, is phoning it in from Connecticut, or from whatever cruise ship the bodega owners are on.
Shivering tourists in Central Park play back to the reporter things New Yorkers love to hear — they love New York, because it’s “the city,” because of “the energy,” etc. The Times loves them in return, because unlike the dumbasses who “travel to the top of skyscrapers to look down on the city,” they are standing around freezing in Central Park, and see that “while its tranquillity has a limit, its capacity to inspire and mystify does not.” Also, “a man sitting at one of the park benches facing the pond took long swigs from a can of Budweiser hidden in a plastic bag.” The things you’ll see in this crazy town!
We leave you with the last line, only because it’s much better without context: “Maybe he was talking about the ducks. Maybe he was talking about the tourists.”