Friday, April 18, 2008

New York's too much of a hassle right now. So I'm going here:

Hey, the Pope blew into New York this morning. You wouldn't believe the amount of constabulary they have hanging around in my Upper East Side neighborhood as a consequence.

On Park and 76th there were enough officers in blue to replace the entire police department of – oh, I dunno, let's guess and say Zanesville, Ohio. And the Pope isn't even on that block. He's five blocks away, at 72nd off Madison.

I walked another block. I found another humongous crowd of cops. I shudder to think what it's like in front of the Vatican ambassador's residence where the Pope is staying, but there's no way you can get within a block of it unless you can present identification proving you live on the block.

Hazmat Harry gets free
parking in the park

There had to be 20 police vehicles crammed into the East 72nd entrance to Central Park – everything from cop vans to a hazmat truck. Hazmat?

I don't know why either. How is anybody going to get into the neighborhood and past all those cops while schlepping a dirty nuclear device or a giant cylinder of poison gas? Maybe it's just that the Police Commissioner is afraid somebody near the Pope will fart.

Immediately inside the Park, on the North side of the 72nd Street transverse, a giant crowd of cops who looked like they might be an enormous SWAT team were lolling on benches. Yeah, lolling. Probably because the Pope hadn't arrived yet. Not that I can figure out exactly what the NYPD plans to do with half a battalion of SWAT cops. Maybe they're planning a shootout with the Swiss Guard.

I hiked across the park to the West Side and hopped the C-train down to my office. There was a cop on the platform. There was also a cop in my subway car.

On the one hand, all this made me feel very safe. On the other hand, you'd hate like hell to try getting around town this week.

And listen up, all local crooks:

With all that police manpower concentrated in Manhattan, it's a wide open opportunity for bank robbers in Brooklyn and Queens. Just make sure your escape route doesn't include Manhattan.

As for me, I don't do big occasions and police vehicle traffic jams. So I'm heading for Paris, assuming I can find a limo or taxi that can get me through the chaos to the airport.

High finance for lowly schnooks

I'm bringing along a fat wad of cash – which ought to be enough to buy me a cup of coffee and maybe a couple of square meals given that the price of a Euro, before bank commissions, is $1.57. Use plastic? Nah! The S.O.B.s behind the Citibank Mastercard are now soaking their customers for a three percent fee for using plastic in a foreign country, on top of the fee the greedy bank already charges merchants.

And oh, with interest rates falling, Citibank sent me a notice that they're raising their own rates. When I was a kid in Brooklyn, Iron Bar Willie got ten years in Sing Sing for trying to collect some vig at exactly the same rate Citibank is now ripping out of its customers wallets. What do you think the odds are that the chairman of Citicorp will do time in the jug?

Nah, me neither.

See you middle-ish of the week after next, probably as cranky as ever.

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