Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Something to Cheer About: Bloomberg and the NY Marathon

Something to Cheer About: Bloomberg and the New York Marathon

The show must go on – or so claimed Mayor Michael Bloomberg after scolding New Yorkers for not knowing the difference between 311 and 911 calls as the water levels were rising in the city. Reporting a fallen tree was not quite the same as reporting a life-threatening incident. “You have to keep going and doing things. … You can grieve and you can cry and you can laugh and that’s what humans are good at.” The scene in New York is hardly apocalyptic but a city where hundreds of thousands still lack electricity is not a tolerable state of affairs for any mayor. With exceptions.

The mayor initially insisted that the New York City Marathon would take place despite the handiwork of Hurricane Sandy. That event has never been cancelled in its history – and Bloomberg was determined, at least initially, not to. There was even a rumour that the city was seeking the enforcement services from other jurisdictions for the race. Now that is a superb deployment of resources after a natural disaster.

Bloomberg has been kind enough to show his priorities – there would be electricity, in the form of diesel-powered generators feeding a media tent in Central Park designed for the Marathon. True, New Yorkers might be short of food, have a transport system in a state of paralysis, and still be counting the bodies, but sport, in its voyeuristic capacity, can be so invigorating.

James King, writing in the Village Voice (Nov 2), is rather sour about the whole business. “We think we speak for the majority, when we say the following: shut up, Mike Bloomberg.” U.S. Rep Michael Grimm, who covers Staten Island and Brooklyn, put it in unmistakably stark terms. “We’re still pulling bodies out of the water and the mayor is worried about marathon runners and returning to life as normal.”

Grimm, living up to name, went into logistical details, sensible and totally spoiling of the mayor’s enthusiasm. “The Verrazano Bridge should be used for getting fuel and food in to Staten Island, not getting runners our. Police resources would be best allocated to prevent looting and in rescue and recovery operations.”

With such a stormy reception to his grand vision of cheering New Yorkers hungry for a distraction from melancholic despair, Bloomberg suddenly felt that this was the show that should be cancelled. Humour comes in various guises – and this was not a palatable one. The laughter should have been resounding had the mayor decided to prevent the re-opening of that other grand show of indulgence – Wall Street and its speculative activities. In a business civilization, that would be unthinkable, and highly disrespectful.

In some ways, this whole fuss is unintentionally fitting. The original marathon was a blood and sweat tears affair that ended in the expiry of the running messenger, Phidippides, after he exhausted himself running from Marathon to Athens to warn of a Persian attack. If people are going to cheer this bit of indulgent narcissism, well and good – it might be a more honest appraisal of the New York spirit, one of torment, spectacle and irresponsible expiration.

Bloomberg himself suggested that the marathon was vital to small businesses in the city, that the dead would want the living to keep rolling in the money. “We have an economy… It’s a great event for New York, and I think for those who were lost, you’ve got to believe they would want us to have an economy and have a city to go on for those that they left behind” (Time, Nov 2). There is always a time to die, but there should also be a time to live and spend, even via a feat of pure orchestrated folly.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Latest Allegations Against Helen Clark

According to former PM and UNDP leader current Helen Clark, the allegations leveled at her this week in a Foreign Policy magazine article by the prize-winning UN journalist Colum Lynch have been ‘totally fabricated’. Hmmm. That would be very, very surprising. More>>

Letter From The Editor: The State Of Scoop

Gordon Campbell: The PledgeMe campaign currently being run by the Scoop Foundation does provide a useful opportunity to update you on what gets done with your money. Further down the track, other documents will set out what we plan to do, resources permitting. For now, lets stick with the practical nuts and bolts. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Rise Of The Far Right (And Battle Bots)

In his victory speech at the Cannes film festival this week, the British film director Ken Loach [pictued] warned that the rise of far right parties in Europe was being fuelled by the economic policies of austerity, and manifested in a welfare bureaucracy that systematically denies assistance to those in most need. More>>

Julienne Molineaux: Stuff-Me - The Newspaper Gobble-Up

In New Zealand, concentration of newspaper ownership via mergers and acquisitions has a long pre-digital history. The trends of declining readership and fragmented audiences began before digital content, and mergers and acquisitions proceeded apace, enabled by weak legislative protections. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Foundation Membership Drive:

The Scoop Foundation: The best chance to create an independent guardian for public interest journalism in NZ

The Scoop Foundation is seeking public support to safeguard the future of public interest journalism in New Zealand. To ensure public access to comprehensive, free, timely news is maintained during this dark hour for journalism. And to provide every voice in NZ the opportunity to be heard in the national debate. More>>
PLEDGE NOW: Journalism: A New Model - The 2016 Scoop Foundation Membership Drive

Scoop Foundation Timeline:

Gordon Campbell: On Trump And The Madman Theory

Years ago, Richard Nixon explained to his chief adviser Bob Haldeman what has since become known as the “Madman Theory” of foreign policy. Basically, if America’s rivals could be reminded that Nixon was an unstable, rabid anti-Communist with his finger on the nuclear trigger, Nixon reasoned, then maybe they’d be less willing to challenge the US in the world’s hot spots… More>>

Australia And The South China Sea: Another Foreign Policy Blunder Looming

James O’Neill: The overblown rhetoric from the United States has led at least one commentator to describe so-called ‘analyses’ of the South China Sea situation as “the biggest load of analytical rubbish about South East Asia to emerge since the CIA mistook bee feces for a Soviet-supplied biological weapon in 1981.” More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news