I’m nervous I’m going to have to deal
With that Big Apple. I prefer to avoid
The fruit that felled Adam. I want to heal,
And for me that involves forests destroyed
By expanding cities: The rural green
Where a bumpkin like me can just be a bump.
You see, I don’t want what I’ve seen
Is a deserter: Fame and Wealth are a dump
Where rats scuttle. I far prefer what lasts
And that is Love…I know many will scorn
That statement, for they wear concrete casts.
Love broke them so bad…But pain’s just the thorn
Of a rose, and the rose tells us this:
“Thorns never stopped heroes from seeking sweet bliss.”
Arrived in NYC for my youngest son’s birthday and we strolled around town (9.1 miles, 31 staircases) talking about (among other things) the impossible job “city planners” face. It’s unlikely anyone can herd 8.5 million cats.
I don’t think the Founding Fathers really wanted to herd the cats. They were more concerned with herding the cat-herders. When Washington was inaugurated as the first president of a new experiment in government in 1789, New York’s population was only around 33,000.
At that point the concept of laying out the streets of New York in an orderly manner was a quarter century away, (The “gridiron” Commissioners’ Plan was not published until 1811.) There was no socialist zeal to force order upon people, but this did not mean people disliked the idea of order. New York was only the national capital until 1795, as people dreamed of laying out a new capital to the south. But who was the dictator? How could order be, without a despot? Who would rule? Who could trust a dim silhouette in the distance?
Some distrust the idea of allowing people to be free. They cannot believe anything but chaos will result without a committee. Yet individuals with liberty, seeking to improve upon a set design, created beauty, whether building boats or bridges.
Which is not to say things don’t become chaotic, and confused,
However humanity’s hubbub is the true builder of cities, while those who think they control are just a facade.
One generation’s power struts and builds skyscrapers, but the glut is fleeting, and a generation later is faded, leaving a building as a historical site as final issues are printed from a warehouse.
As we headed home at midnight the subway shuddered to a halt on the bridge over to Brooklyn, and we saw how the best system cannot plan for all screw ups. Somehow a metal trashcan wound up on the rails, and then crunched under the train. Midnight on a Saturday night, and tired people just want to get home, some after work and some after drinking, but the trolley is stuck and blocking a major bridge. How’d you like to be the bureaucrat in charge? (You can bet the boss was home in bed.) Some of the herded cats squeezed out between cars and vanished into the dark walking, with the officials wailing it was illegal, as the rest more obediently trooped car to car to the rear of the train, and then into a “rescue train”, which then slowly backed over the bridge to a station some had left an hour before. At which point we turned to transportation none saw coming even a decade ago: Uber.
Leave it to Liberty and answers will come.