On a recent car ride into Manhattan to visit our son, after a splendid retreat in New Jersey, we had a number of observations; perhaps you could call it “New York potpourri.”
An interesting visit it was; for the city has changed, in some ways radically, though our entry, before the good parts, was rocky indeed.
Driving in Manhattan is never easy, far less so when a million or more folks are there for the annual “gay pride” parade — which pushed swarms of pedestrians into the intersections, at one point boxing us in by a mob, both normal passersby and participants, one of whom pounded a fist into the trunk of our car, for whatever reason (perhaps a bit of a spirit was moving).
We felt bad for those involved, with that stray, alienated look. Homosexuality brings with it a darkness of spirit. There was a cloud, even on a sunny day.
Anyway, it was fascinating, as Manhattan, where I spent nine years in the 1980s, always is (though best done without a car).
At McSorley’s, a museum-like tavern — oldest in New York — we stopped for a snack and noted that Harry Houdini frequented the place, which dates back to 1854; his “ghost” supposedly is still felt (by those who drink too much, who claim he pushes them out of the place).
About the parade: It brought us not good luck: our car was towed because it was in the area of the events (our son works in Lower Manhattan).
Fortunately, and amazingly (when I was there it was different), two police officers I approached on the street helped immediately, radioing the precinct and informing us the car had been relocated just a few blocks away on Broadway, with no fine or towing fee.
New York has gotten a bit gentler.
People are now much friendlier than when I lived there (I also spent four years in The Bronx).
It is far younger and cleaner (though now getting littered again).
Pornography has been chased out of Times Square.
Lower Manhattan — when I was there, dead on weekends — now swarms with youth, especially Asians.
The city is booming — at least economically. (From CBS, a subway now, above, to the right).
Much is from Wall Street (which could soon prove to be an issue; is Wall Street real money?).
Apartments in the building I once lived in can nip you for more than two million (I fled that in the late 1980s, and never regretted it). Peace in prayer, joy in prayer: way more gratifying than the pretensions of the Upper East Side.
Simplicity “trumps” glitz.
We noted a message from Medjugorje that very weekend that said, “Dear children, I came, I came to you and presented myself as the Queen of Peace. Also today, I desire to call you to pray for peace. May there be peace, dear children. May peace begin to reign in the world. Dear children, be persevering in prayer. Fight against evil and against sin and the idols of today’s world which seduce you. Be firm; be strong in faith.”
They call it a “resurgence.” It is more like a renaissance. If it keeps on this path, a transformation. In the 1990s four million used the subways. Now it’s six million — and though strained and often late, the trains are far cleaner than when I was there. More than 8.5 million now live in New York (it was below eight million when I was there, edging toward 7.5.)
I showed my family the church of my conversion (Our Lady of Good Counsel on East 90th Street, between Third and Second; above, right and left), and we also visited Old Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Little Italy (left).
A seer from Knock, Ireland — John Curry — is now buried at the cathedral (his body recently relocated from Long Island where, as an immigrant, he spent his last years).
Many don’t realize that among Manhattan’s other spiritual secrets: a bloody glove and sock that belonged to Saint Padre Pio is right there near Penn Station-Madison Square Garden at John the Baptist Church.
The gay parade? It disrupted our entire weekend, making driving a real challenge. It was sad to see so many misguided folks; prayer need indeed…Everyone has good in them. It is best to locate that.
The buildings in New York are bigger than ever. There is now an apartment building that looks like it’s as tall as the Empire State.
And the Freedom Tower?
Well, it rises higher than the WTC but reminds us of how, when God chastised the ancient Israelis by allowing invaders to destroy their towers, they defiantly vowed to rebuild even higher, instead of repenting.
Do we ever learn?
New York, New York.
Gentler? Less arrogant? That’s what I saw. It used to be colder and haughtier (not to say those characteristics never rear their heads). It made us think back on a “word of knowledge” from 1990: “New York City is under an evil cloud and will be for 12 years. Do not go there. The pride there will be broken.” Perhaps, following 9/11 — eleven years after that prophecy — it was.
Now, what about “Margaret Sanger Square”?
In New Jersey, we also went to a road supposedly “haunted” by strange happenings.
More on that in the future.
Simply put: is any visit to the New York area uneventful?
Does any visit not have its challenges and wonders and lessons?
–Michael H. Brown