No Place Like Home;
Can’t Go Home Again
Finally, finally, I feel like Michael Jordan. He looks around now and there’s no Scottie Pippen; I look around now and there’s no Al Stabile. Michael used to be able to count on Phil Jackson; I used to be able to count on Lew Simon. Where have you gone Ann Barbera? Ever since The Wave asked me to come back, I’ve been asking, come back to what? It just ain’t the same.
And comebacks, in general, are always a mistake. If nothing else, I’ll be another exhibit in the overwhelming pool of evidence about how you can’t go home again. Anyway, let me be the first to say this will be an ill-fated trip back to The Wave. Comebacks are for people who couldn’t make it somewhere else. Yep, that’s me. It’s really sad. I’m like the guy who goes back to his old girlfriend when he can’t get a date. Sad---back at The Wave, shamelessly singing those tired, old Lew Simon songs.
Ok, I’m pathetic---but now that that’s out of the way allow me to bring some folks down with me.
Like Robert Curran. My candidate, my candidate! What have you done? In last week’s Bag of Mail you said somebody at Kings Plaza should’ve been checking cars and packages to make sure you ---and others---weren’t bomb-carrying kooks. Now, I don’t know how the other 398 people who voted for you in the City Council race feel but, jeez, I almost wish I had voted for John Baxter.
Hey Rob, you know you can’t stop at Kings Plaza. I mean, come on, certain bars on 116th street should frisk customers because….because, well, suicide bombers sometimes go into restaurants and discos.
And, just wondering, those guards you want at Kings Plaza? You want the same ones so effectively monitoring passengers at airports? Or do we want the National Guard at Kings Plaza? You put them at Kings Plaza you better put them at Toy R Us and at Beach 116th street on a summer day---you know, big crowds go to those places, too. You want them at Kings Plaza I’m sure you’d want them at Home Depot and Caesar’s Bay and Waldbaum’s on Wednesdays. Maybe you’d want them at church on Palm Sunday.
Hey, you want bomb sniffing dogs and body searches at CYO and Little League games, I’m okay with that. At least there’s proof that you’ve got nuts at those events.
You posed the rhetorical question: can’t we at least make it more difficult for them (suicide bombers)? The simple answer is, no we can’t. See, Rob, they could’ve checked your Jeep but what if the explosive was on your body, under your coat? Sorry to say, the recent suicide bombings you mention were of that variety. A guy gets on a bus, pays full fare, and sits down. And then blows up. Nothing could have made that guy’s mission "more difficult."
Unfortunately, security is usually more oppressive than effective. What you usually end up with is not security but a false sense of it.
I’m not saying we should be sitting ducks either. I’m all for eradicating every Jim Jones, Heaven Gates, and Osama bin Laden who comes along. I’m all for quiet assassination (until further notice). Government agencies have to be far more attuned to what’s going on. We’ve got to infiltrate groups and crush leaders, these madmen who inspire insane devotion. You know, cut off the head (and poke its eyes out after it’s chopped off).
Prevention has to occur a helluva lot earlier ---way before you station an $8 an hour security guard at Kings Plaza. And that’s not a slap at those earning $8 an hour. Things wouldn’t be any better under the National Guard or some other trained outfit.
Nine hours or so after Flight 587 crashed, a cop wouldn’t let me go back to my house because I didn’t have ID on me. I must’ve looked suspicious since I had a bike with a baby seat on it. I had to go around the corner and approach another cop who fortunately had an ounce more good judgment than the previous one. An inconvenience like that would be nothing in a police state. Things would be far worse.
And, of course, that incident proves something else---enforcement varies. You get one Kings Plaza guard doing a thorough job; you get another who will sleep while a flatbed drives into the parking lot stacked with TNT 10 feet high.
Letters in Bag of Mail, I usually ignore (like those of Scott Winack) but Rob might actually have a political future and he sent the same letter to various government officials. I hope he soon realizes (and those officials already do) that we won’t be protecting our way of life if we surrender it. Start living in fear, start demanding personal intrusion for "safety sake" and pretty soon we’ll be living in the United Stalag of America. Pretty soon Boyle-ing Points would be seen as "aiding and abetting" the wrong somebody and I’d be hauled off --- now wouldn’t that be a crime? Hmmm, maybe I just ruined my whole argument.
More Boyle-ing Points:
Poor John Chiesa of Keyspan ---it looks like he’ll have to be quarantined and perhaps undergo some decontamination. According to Lew Simon’s column right here in this paper, Mr. Chiesa and Lew have been "in constant contact."
I know, I know I should leave poor Lew alone. It’s true that he’s really a Rockaway advocate. Now, if he’d stop bad-mouthing me to my friends in Mister Rocco’s maybe I’d give him a break.
***Sure hope the St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee gets around to honoring Joe Hartigan one of these years. The retired fireman has been a dynamo in trying to get ferry service to Rockaway. Honestly, the guy’s been tireless and relentless. He should be extended the honor.
If anyone on the committee is open to my suggestions they might think about Palmer Doyle, Jim McKeon, Joe Featherston, and Frank McCarthy, too. Or have those guy already been honored? I better ask Bev on the Beach.
Did you catch Doyle on The O’Reilly Factor? He was a guest on the highly rated TV show trying to make the public and legislators aware that many firefighters are experiencing respiratory problems since September 11. Should problems (i.e., death, debilitating health, etc.) occur down the road, he wants to make sure that FDNY families are taken care of.
He was articulate, smart, and forthright. (Ok, the gray hair and double chin were a distraction for someone as superficial as I---kinda looked like me, unfortunately---but he did great) Anyway, this guy should run for City Council or something.
***A lady from Oregon wrote to say she was so touched by the stories emanating from Rockaway she would donate "nanny services" for a couple of weeks to a family who suffered losses on September 11 or on November 12. She said "I don't have much money and cannot afford airfare, but I would like to drive to N.Y. and volunteer my time for two weeks in the middle of December (2nd and 3rd week) to any family that has been a victim in the recent tragedies." It’s probably too late, but if there’s any family out there that’s interested, call The Wave and they’ll get me the message and we’ll try to work things out.
***John McCann of Rockaway Rugby demonstrated creative genius by combining two famous photos to create an instant classic. Before becoming so familiar in that FDNY Iwo Jima photo of the flag raising at the World Trade Center, George Johnson had already received some acclaim for a front-page photo in The Wave a couple years back. Someone had slipped a picture of George in a very skimpy Speedo to the editor of The Wave at the time, this guy named Boyle. With no dead bodies to plaster on the front page that week, the editor thought George in a Speedo would be a good change of pace. (The reviews were mixed; some people thought he was the Most Wanted criminal of the week; a couple of lonely senior citizens asked for extra copies). Anyway, long story short, John McCann took that photo and superimposed it on the flag-raising picture. So now you’ve got George in a Speedo, next to the two other firemen, looking up at Old Glory. They don’t let you get too big for your britches at the FDNY.
***Speaking of the FDNY. Notice how popular FDNY hats and shirts have become. Pretty soon you’re gonna see FDNY bunker gear replacing Raider jackets and bandanas.
***Where are your tax dollars going? Well, I don’t know but I do know the City paid more salary to Al Stabile last year than an average fireman.
And Big Al’s colleague, Juanita Watkins, made more money than your average cop. Remember her? Last time, the only time, I remember hearing her name in the last 4 years was when there was an attempt by some council members to toss out term limits. She actually teamed up with Big Al on that move. What gall.
We should name the abandoned courthouse after Al and Juanita---there should be some monument in their honor. Then, if anything’s ever done with the courthouse we drop their names.
***Can’t say if I’m gonna retire again or not by the time another column is due so I better get my thanks out to those who’ve mentioned that they enjoy Boyle-ing Points. And happy holidays to everyone.