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Mint Juleps
Thursday, September 23, 2004  
Lost post

The recent suicides at NYU are disturbing. I wrote a really good post about this a few days ago, but it got lost in transmission. I thought I had lyrically pinpointed the kind of despair that leads to suicide and the reasons it is worth waiting instead of acting. Here goes a more prosaic effort.

Two weeks ago a graduate student at the film school took off all her clothes and jumped off an NYU building. Perhaps the NYU student had revealed a suicidal proclivity when she made a student film about a man who sent his son to Coney Island and then killed himself. Her death reminds me of another time life imitated art. The father of a friend had written a novel in which the protagonist killed himself. Later when my friend was a teenager his father did what his fictional character had done. There have been six other student suicides at NYU in the past year. In the years before there were others In Boston I had a friend who moved to San Francisco. Her brother was in the graduate school of business at NYU when he killed himself about two and a half years ago.

Although I know the rough details of only a few of the suicides, it seems that the students are popular and dynamic, not outwardly depressed.

A few days ago, sitting at a café I met a NYU undergraduate film student who said that he had heard that one of the NYU students had eaten mushrooms before jumping; he said the mushrooms made the student think he could fly. Could there be a drug connection in more of the suicides, I wondered out loud. No, that would be too easy an answer.

People who kill themselves usually have a kind of despair of living; not being alive seems like a better alternative. It could be that the future seems hopelessly bleak, that anything good that might happen has already been ruined by what has already happen, or that the present is just too hard to live through.

Life often seems like a timeline with a long history (the past) leading up to a present. The present sometimes painfully inches forward, on its way changing the future into the past. Sometimes the present zooms by really fast like we have no control over events.

But when a person feels like not living, it always worthwhile to wait. Life has an incredible way of surprising, given time, as if changing the colors of a picture, giving a different view of the same problems, even sometimes letting you see something obvious that you just could not see before.

Always wait.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


Sunday, September 19, 2004  
Mayor Bloomberg has recently made efforts to reduce noise in New York City. Noise from ice cream trucks blaring loud music, noise from construction on the streets, perhaps some other kinds of noise too. It is a great idea to reduce unnecessary noise in this city with so many people living so close to each other. And there is one potential target that I’d suggest creates more annoying noise than any other: honking.

The city should enforce laws on unnecessary honking. I see (and hear) it all the time: a car is slow to start as a light turns green, a taxi stops to pick up or drop off a passenger, a car pauses to let people cross the street or when a car can’t turn because a side street is backed up. It doesn’t matter if it is three o’clock in the morning, they will honk.

What you may ask is the solution? Tickets. Not high priced $100 tickets that the police will be reluctant to hand out. $10 tickets. And lots of them.

What else? There is something else. Taxi meters. That’s right, give each taxi about 5 honks per twelve hours. That’s typically one shift. Any more – charge them. $0.50 a honk should do it. Adding to the honking epidemic is that drivers notice that other cars honk frequently. And think “since everyone else is doing it, why shouldn’t I?” Since taxis are a large part of the city traffic, reducing the amount of taxi honking will go a long way toward stopping the copycat honkers

Sunday, September 19, 2004


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