Without a high-emotion response, the most pressing problems go unsolved
By Bette Dewing
While I can hardly bear to think of the catastrophic Gulf oil spill, the president is wrong to say, “I’m hired to solve problems, not to show outrage.” Outrage is often essential to problem solving, including the following four.
The absence of outrage is why so many traffic crime tragedies go unreported. I only learned through this paper (May 27) of the tragic traffic killing of a 67-year-old man crossing the intersection at Third Avenue and East 60th Street. A witness said, “A cab was moving really fast… and just smashed into him.” Pending investigation, no charges filed. But where is the outrage at cabbies’ habit of driving fast and failing to yield when turning into a crosswalk? Cabbies may well be why a recent survey says New York drivers are the nation’s worst.
Because traffic tragedy particulars matter, I left a request with the 19th Precinct asking for the victim’s name and if any charges were filed. I also left a message the week before asking about the condition of a 70-year-old woman injured by a tractor-trailer in my area. Still waiting to hear back. Just two of countless, but outrageously uncounted, traffic killings and injuries.
And while alcohol-caused tragedies and crimes make the news when a public person is involved, countless go uncounted and so little is done to prevent them. Related to this year’s usual remembrance of Father’s Day, June 20 (“not just one day of remembrance in a year of forgetting”), is an urgent plea for legendary TV journalist Ted Koppel to make the battle against the over-drinking that killed his 40-year-old son, Andrew, as important as those waged against smoking and obesity. His outrage is needed to overcome shockingly skewed priorities, which, except for driving while intoxicated, still give a pass to the myriad of alcohol-caused tragedies and crimes. The intervention process and Alcoholics Anonymous groups are abysmally short-shifted.
And yes, outrage is surely due at the June 19 closing of La Boeuf à la Mode, a 50-plus-year-old restaurant on East 81st Street, just off East End Avenue. Surely needed is sustained outrage against exorbitant rent hikes, which have killed off countless community eateries, most recently the Yorkville Diner, on East 79th Street. But a reliable source tells me that the most outrageous reason for La Boeuf’s greatly lamented demise is, at least in part, that, “Younger people unabashedly tell me they forego the place because there’s so many older people there.” Come the elder evolution…
But how can anyone not love the high ceilings, rich colors, French doors, un-stark designs and lighting that make this place, especially the first dining/bar area, so utterly enchanting? It should be landmarked. Of course, any callow-type youth wouldn’t like being able to hear themselves talk.
Regulars will miss La Boeuf most keenly, and its proximity—especially for those for whom walking is not easy or possible.
“We’re losing the gem of the neighborhood,” laments a decidedly non-callow thirty something, Jose, a 45 East End Ave. staff member. “The neighborhood is losing its character!”
Aren’t they all, but where is the outrage?
But merci beaucoup, gracious sisters Christine and Claudine, and to your mother, Cecile, and your late father, Etienne, as well as the agreeable waiters and superlative chef. Your contribution to the neighborhood and city is inestimable. Unforgettable.
Worse, of course, is losing a home, which residents of 70, 72 and 74 East End Ave. fear since the Brearley School purchased these low-rises. Unaffordable rents make relocating nearby impossible. But where there’s the will, and enough outrage, surely classrooms can be found in buildings that nobody calls home.