As all New Yorkers know, in late September every year, we get the distinct unfortunate opportunity to welcome leaders from all over the world to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Commencing tomorrow, that week in 2014 begins a universal study in useless discussions – these people do not seem to accomplish much of anything, although they do succeed in disrupting life for those of us who live here.
While European leaders will hunker down with their mistresses on Madison Avenue, and an African leader is already at the Pierre Hotel making crosstown traffic difficult, many of us will equally curse all foreign flags for the inconveniences they’ll cause this city. President Obama & the first lady will be in town from Tuesday through Thursday, and while Mr. Obama has been a complete disaster in foreign policy, it is clear he will succeed in causing delays. This week all New Yorkers can pay homage to former New York mayor Ed Koch who so wisely noted, “The United Nations is a stagnant cesspool.”
On the Upper West Side today, our useless congestion started early, thanks to the Columbus Avenue Street fair which closed down 66th Street – 86th Streets with socks, massage chairs and soiled corn. “The People’s Climate March” added to the disruption, shutting down Central Park West from 59th to 86th Streets. Marchers carried signs through urging those of us who pay ridiculous housing pricing to “Stop Capitalism” and “Go Solar.” What they also did was make it impossible for my family to sit in our usual 72nd Street bagel joint, or get Starbucks mid-day on Columbus for a caffeine pick-me up as they mobbed both establishments. Doesn’t capitalism include $7 coffee and $15 bagels and lox?
Many of these protestors ended the day queueing up at the Apple store on 67th & Broadway waiting for the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Even they had to stand behind the Chinese-dominated line, which went on for blocks. While the climate protestors were idealistic, those on line did not appear to be technophiles, or the types able to splurge for a $700 phone. As more than one blogger has theorized, they were likely being paid. If people can be paid to stand on line, can I pay the street fairs and climate control people to not come to this neighborhood?
Speaking of modern hassles, in keeping with the recent report which found that the UWS is New York’s rat capital, tomorrow marks the gala opening of the Metropolitan opera season at Lincoln Center – and the decision to stage the controversial opera “The Death of Klinghoffer.”
Klinghoffer was a World War II veteran killed by terrorists, and while the show has been condemned as anti-Semitic, the Met is producing this opera where the murderers of a fellow New Yorker are celebrated as “men of ideals.” Thousands will gather in protest outside of the opera to raise their voices in outrage including former Gov. George Pataki, former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Rabbi Avi Weiss, and others. Daniel Pearl’s father wrote a letter which will be read, and says all that really needs to be said: “We do not stage operas for rapists and child molesters, and we do not compose symphonies for penetrating the minds of ISIS executioners.” Apparently, the Met Opera doesn’t agree.
With that headache to kick it off, welcome to the worst traffic week in the city where it is often a nightmare to even walk a few blocks. My trek to and from work this week will have two options: the costumed harassing characters in Times Square, or the Central Park Drive where a biker struck a woman and left her brain-dead this weekend.
We are not in Kansas anymore.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, one of the 25 largest PR firms in America. He is a life-long New Yorker.