“Dewing Things Better” is the name of this column, in case you don’t remember or notice (the font is pretty small, dear editor). Anyway, we all need reminding, “even more than being informed,” advised wise man Dr. Samuel Johnson. Both are essential, “but to be more informed, read more than one newspaper,” I was told when granted this column by then publisher Ed Kayatt and then editor, Arlene Kayatt. Too much? Then alternate sometimes, change channels and stations, too—except every policy maker/pundit must regularly watch the role-model series, The Waltons, airing 8 to 10 a.m. on Hallmark.
Things went better, more democratically, when newspapers were the big read. The computer-un-savvy presidential candidate should have made reviving them a strong campaign promise. And Big Apple legislators would warrant another term if they agreed, and also decreed, that cheery-looking street news boxes (in moderation and in reasonably good condition) are a city blessing, not a blight. If you agree, please call 311.
Call 311 about a lot of things. But the term limits that most concern me are the ones Supreme Court appointees do not have—not ever.
“This could be a very Black Friday on Wall Street,” the radio just warned, which should speed us even faster back to a time when the American dream didn’t mean everyone’s having their own little (or big) pad; back to a time when housing was shared, and by the multi-generational, biological family too—a big “no-no” of the post-Great Depression’s social engineers. Communication and relationship skills, of course, must at long last be learned.
I once voted for Walter Mondale, not because of our Norwegian/Minnesotan background, but because he rued the “urban renewal craze” that destroyed self-sustaining neighborhoods, with their small businesses that met everyday needs, perhaps a school, a place of worship and, above all, extended family/friend/neighbor natural support systems. My Mondale campaign button has Carter at the top, but Carter shared similar values.
So I’ll wear it to the East Side Candidates Forum and again submit a written concern for candidates to address. This year’s is to save small businesses, with the cause celebre being the family-run, 38-year-old 79th Street Café diner, on the corner of 79th and First. And, yes, besides agreeable/affordable food and courteous service, it even boasts comfortable booths, large windows and is not over-lit or harshly lit. Save the humane mood-and-ambience that only incandescent bulbs provide!
I remember how the Channel One newscaster and forum moderator twice ignored protests against the articulated buses’ excessively noisy/drafty climate control system, scofflaw biking and drivers’ failure to yield on turns. But we keep on keeping on, trying to make every type of forum, including the social kind, more democratic so that everyone’s voice is heard—and the best change (often no change) can be found.
My handouts at the forum this year urge the saving of small businesses, especially this diner that has served the community for so long and so well. Call 311, the flyer suggests, to reach “electeds” and city agencies. Join a civic group. Tell the restaurant’s landlord (212-792-2630), “You could be a great hero if you gave the diner a new lease with an affordable rent—you could start a trend of the most needed kind!”
Every nabe in every borough can be saved from these “death of neighborhood changes” if enough of us “do not go gently” and, indeed, get non-violently mad as all get out (gentle the language, too) and refuse to take it anymore!
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