The Breakfast Table

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

My dear, thank you.

My primary news sources today have been the New York Times Op-Ed page and MTV News, venues in which William Bennett and Whitney Houston addressed the need for compassion and optimism in this old world of ours in ways that were disturbingly similar. I leave you to guess which in which venue. Bennett also happily commented on the decrease in noise, graffiti, and panhandling in New York City under the Giuliani administration, as I would like to say only someone who lives in D.C., as he does, could, except that many people who live here do also, although it does to a large degree depend on where you live. The tourists who come into my neighborhood make every bit as much, if not more, noise than the homeless who have gone out. I used to have a number of friends among the homeless crack-addicted mentally ill in my neighborhood eight or so years ago, and although this friendship was not financially a totally equal two-way street, I did borrow money from them on a few occasions when I was running late and didn’t want to stop at a cash machine. It’s true that they were smelly and that the sight of poverty and desperation are not pleasant, and they all told the same self-serving lies for my benefit, and could never remember no matter how many times they were told that white women don’t think it’s a compliment to be told they have big legs, and they were noisy, although they would pipe down if you cared to go out at three in the morning to ask, which the tourists sure won’t. I occasionally still see some of these people–two have gotten clean, and two live on and deteriorate, but the other half-dozen faded from view, three because they died, and two of those in circumstances directly related to the more dangerous, harder-assed neighborhoods into which they were swept by Giuliani’s quality-of-life campaign, one because he was set on fire. In other words, I find it hard to rejoice about the improvement in my quality of life brought about by no longer having people urinating in public up and down the block, because it wasn’t really my quality of life that was at issue, and anyway, overall as far as I can tell, quality of life did not so much improve overall but redistribute itself.

I’m sorry you didn’t get to Kathie Lee and the death squads. I also fear that every attempt at universal health care will be sandbagged by the health companies, not to mention that now that I have been so very critical of Giuliani, it’s only a matter of time before the police kick in my door and hall me off to jail, as if I were a dangerous criminal, like Mary Boone. In the meantime, I’m happy to have lived long enough to think I recognize a sample from the Andrea True Connection’s “More, More, More” in LEN’s “If You Steal My Sunshine.”

Big love to you,