Monday, July 6, 2020. Beautiful summer holiday weekend in New York. Very quiet. Warm days in the high 80s, low 90s and cooling off to the low 70s at night. Friday and Saturday both saw thunderstorms moving through more than once in a day, and always around dinner time for a half hour or so.
The city was very quiet, as it always is on this particular holiday. Many New Yorkers traditionally take a week or two vacation if they can. New Yorkers who can evacuate the city for countryside, Oceanside, mountain-side. This year’s “pandemic” hastened that process for quite a few in my neck of the woods. For some this is already the fifth month of their vacating.
My neighborhood was especially quiet; even many empty parking spots. We have been having daily protest marches pass through in the last two or three weeks. They are usually in the early evening between 7 and 8 while it is still light out. The initial march ran in the thousands a couple of times, then in the hundreds. Now it numbers in the thirties to forties. The marchers are mainly people who look like they’re from the neighborhood – young, some older, mainly women; some 20s and 30s, mainly white, some pushing a stroller, or walking with dog.
They gather up at 86th and East End, a block from Gracie Mansion. From my location with my terrace door open, I can hear the sounds of distant voices breaking the silence. At first they are hard to place geographically. Then they grow closer, and their message is clearer, and clearer, and CLEARER right under my window.
And there is a leader. Saturday night it was a young woman, maybe in her late 20s, with a mike in her hand. Every few seconds she’d call out on her horn: “How do you spell rapist?”
The gang shouted back in unison: “N-Y-P-D!” This was repeated in marching style over and over. And then, like a march, the voices pass by, and soon fade into the distance, and finally a few minutes beyond, into silence.
As it turned dark, you could hear the fireworks in the distance. JH with his camera caught several different locations north of 96th Street.
The most spectacular pyrotechnics this year were launched from the observatory deck of the Empire State Building. They were a spectacle seen from miles around. JH’s brother Jason Hirsch captured from a few blocks south.
Meanwhile, Sunday seemed even quieter than the Fourth. For some it was another day of work. For others, a respite from the angst.