countless others in the Rockaways and Staten Island who not only still lack power but are having to endure hunger, looting, cold, and probably worse. There have been some informal reports via email and Facebook attesting that various forms of aid is finally arriving, (after nearly a goddamn fucking week!,) including The National Guard, FEMA, Occupy Sandy & a legion of other charitable souls. But I am still astounded at the lack of outrage - especially during the homestretch of a Presidential race - over the delay! "When are we gonna get some f%@#ing help?" as one resident from the Rockaways put it to the Mayor. Or as another more mainstream source explained more generally of the Rockaways: "Residents said they had not heard from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, nor have they seen a single representative of the Red Cross or the city." And so, the public infrastructure would fail us once again - this time only more flagrantly. Is this only a more banal occasion of Disaster Capitalism? A "mini-Katrina," as one local representative put it. According to another assessment: "The crisis in the Rockaways remains severe, and it's looking less and less like a natural disaster and more and more like a failure of the state."
While it was clear from the first night after Sandy hit that NYPD would never be far from sight, as it drove by in cars or idly stood by on street corners, Herr Kelly and Moneybag$ Bloomberger couldn't seem to muster the forces to even start directing traffic in any coordinated sense with red flairs and those yellow reflecting jackets.... until Thursday!People were starting to grow impatient but they still remained remarkably calm. But how long would it last?
Price gouging by local merchants was pretty rampant, whether it be with batteries, egg sandwiches, or cauliflower. A few were nice enough to allow me to charge my cell whenever I had the energy to schlep to midtown for bananas, pasta, and drink. I repaid the favor with a purchase and change. Something similar has been said of a particular Chase Bank branch as well of the W Hotel on Union Square. Wholefoods was also nice enough, at least on one afternoon, to give away free apples and pears outside their store on 23 St., thus attracting a small mob of some odd thirty people. Of course, there were far more hideous sights, like two elderly people one afternoon going through a garbage can, one drinking the remains from Johnny Walker Red, as a young woman jogged by with complete utter fucking indifference. Dumpster Diving has been reported as well. I also remember seeing an old woman with a bloody nose being helped into a chair on a Chelsea street corner after having fallen in the dark in a bodega; as well as watching an uppity young couple with a small child walk being led out of their building in the morning by their ingratiating doorman who went about hailing a cab for them as they ambled in utter oblivion of their neighbors who gathered in the building's lobby.
Despite the shitheads and moments of despair there was also occasional romance in the air. Friends and neighbors ventured out into the night with flashlights and their survival instincts to gather intimately in bars & restaurants that were illuminated only by candleight and their imaginations. I happened to catch Francois Moutin, Anne Sila, and Lew Soloff @ Bar 55 for some of the best unplugged jazz I've ever heard. I also happened to come across a makeshift Halloween parade consisting of over a hundred people with marching band. As you can imagine, it drew the attention of NYPD in no uncertain terms. The ballsiest move by zombies and ghosts I've seen yet!
So the lights are back on! Warm showers too! And the election is tomorrow! And if there is anything that could get this city & country back to business, back to normality, if not a good marathon, its a good election! Go Jill Stein!
See Nick Sherman's photo stream on Flickr.