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Keillor writes: "Here's what they say in New York - Donald J. Trump is a grandstander, a showboat. Not doing his job. Totally incompetent. The White House has been in turmoil for months. You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that."

Central Park in New York City. (photo: Reuters)
Central Park in New York City. (photo: Reuters)

The City So Beautiful, You Forget About Trump

By Garrison Keillor, The Washington Post

17 May 17


ere’s what they say in New York — Donald J. Trump is a grandstander, a showboat. Not doing his job. Totally incompetent. The White House has been in turmoil for months. You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. So what are we talking about? Enough about him. Who needs an investigation? Guy is a total loser. Tell me something I don’t know.

It’s beautiful in New York now that spring has landed. Winter tries to hang on, like an old drunk at closing time who staggers around and takes a swing at you and spits on your shoe but eventually you heave him into a cab and it’s spring. “All the merry little birds are flying in the floating in the very spirits singing in are winging in the blossoming,” as E.E. Cummings down on 10th Street & Greenwich Avenue wrote. “And viva sweet love.”

I flew into New York from Dallas, where the cabdriver told me the airport is bigger than Manhattan, and he seemed quite proud of that. He’s right: DFW is almost 30 square miles, Manhattan less than 23. But it’s like saying, “My sofa is bigger than Joyce Carol Oates.” (Yes? And has your sofa written a novel lately?) DFW is concrete and fast food and miles of plastic chairs. It only goes to show how gorgeous 23 square miles can be, from the Staten Island Ferry terminal to the Trinity churchyard (R.I.P., Mr. Hamilton) to the Tenement Museum, the cast-iron buildings on Spring Street, the starry ceiling of Grand Central, the majestic reading rooms of the Public Library, the marquees of Broadway, the schist outcroppings of Central Park and Teddy Roosevelt on his horse defending the Natural History Museum, the apartment palaces of the Upper West Side, the cheese department at Zabar’s where you gain weight with every deep breath you take, Harlem, the Cloisters, the mighty Hudson — “When you’re tired of New York, you’re tired of life,” Samuel Johnson did not say, but only because he never made it across the Atlantic nor into the 20th century.

When spring is here, or rumored to be near, the city opens its doors and spills out onto the sidewalks. Cafes retract their front walls and set up tables, benches come out, greenmarkets set their flowers out on wooden pallets, people sit on the steps of brownstones or lean against parked cars, and everybody is talking at once. On Sunday, I walked to 83rd Street to mail some letters and passed a little Victorian firehouse, one truck wide, wedged in the row of brownstones holding off the invasion of high-rise condos, a few of which tower on the horizon, like cat trees among rows of file cabinets. A truck double-parked on 83rd, with “Integrity General Contractors” written on the door.

An African man sat watching his wares on a card table, talking on a cellphone to someone in Africa. A papa stood on the corner, embracing one tall daughter, then the other. Skateboarders swooped along the bike lane, helmeted kids on scooters. Brisk walkers passing us amblers, dog people walking their livestock who strained to sniff the food on the cafe tables. The sun was out after a gray Saturday and there was good feeling everywhere you looked.

What made New York so great was many things, including the coastline and rivers and proximity of water, the mix of commercial and residential, the five-story blocks, five stories being how high our great-grandparents cared to climb in the pre-elevator days, leaving plenty of sunshine for pedestrians to bask in. And also the decision not to have alleys, so everything happens out on the street. People truck in the goods, truck out the garbage, you’re living on a loading dock, you have to deal with it.

Back where I’m from, in Grid City out on the flatlands, you say, “Oh, pardon me” if you come within two feet of someone. You’re always apologizing, sidestepping, backing away, excusing yourself. In New York, in the milling throng, you learn to speak up.

At 81st, I went down into the subway and the downtown train rolled in just as I reached the platform, one of those transformative moments — every little thing you’ve done all day up to that moment feels perfectly timed — and squeezed into the car without actually touching anyone. I hung on to the overhead bar, feet nicely spread, as we rumbled south, six complete strangers within a few inches of me, everyone in his or her own space, avoiding eye contact, thinking their own thoughts. Riding from 81st to 42nd is a good antidote to narcissism. Too bad that some people only ride in limos with police escorts and miss out on this essential and beneficial experience. your social media marketing partner


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+6 # Wise woman 2017-05-17 21:33
Thanks GK, I really needed this brief interlude into my youth and beyond a few years before I left for the wilds if Connecticut. And it really was the wilds back then. I thought I'd died and gone to hell. I missed my city so much. Everything you mentioned I've done unlike many New Yorkers who've never been to the Statue of Liberty. I lived and breathed NYC.
-2 # Thomas Martin 2017-05-17 22:25
So, Garrison, you’ve moved to NYC, and like it, and that’s good. You say you just flew in from Dallas, where the cab driver “told me the airport is bigger than Manhattan, and he seemed quite proud of that.” And then you talked about Lake Wobegon, the fictional place you used to write about where everyone would say “Oh, pardon me” if you came within two feet of someone. The last is not the Lake Wobegon we used to hear about from you (everyone was gregarious and looking out for each other), and its not the way the cab driver in Dallas actually talked to you either. Garrison, I worry that you’ve been displaced, not just in geography, but in mind!
-19 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-05-18 05:14
The small but very vocal crowd of anti-Trumpers lives in an echo chamber. They hear their own words coming back to them over and over so they now believe that the whole world is up in arms against Trump. But they are wrong. This small crowd is so deep in group think that they cannot see outside of their own group.

Trump was elected to be anti-establishm ent. He really did not know what that meant and he's stumbling around in trying to find his balance. But clearly he wants to find better relations with Russia and he wants to cooperate with Russia in the war against ISIS. He's still against the mainstream media.

The Washington Post and the rest of the group thinking mouthpieces for the establishment think they have the right and power to over-rule the will of voters and determine what a president will do or not do.

I'm not a supporter of Trump, but when it comes to a face off between the Wapo and other mouthpieces for the deep state and Trump, I'd like to see Trump win.

Maybe Keillor will get some fresh air and give up being a flack for the deep state.
+7 # mill valley maven 2017-05-18 09:25
" over-rule the will of voters ..."
Exqueeze me? The VOTERS gave Hillary the win, by about 3 million.
-4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-05-18 11:01
mill -- yes, you are right. She won the popular vote. But in the American "democracy" that does not count as "the will of the voters." We need electoral reform but as things now stand, Trump was legitimately elected president. Or as legitimately as the US democracy can provide. The establishment, fully backed by the Clinton faction, just won't accept defeat. They won't accept the will of the people. They think they have some higher right to run the government. That's what pisses me off..
+4 # draypoker 2017-05-18 10:03
Trump will be impeached.
-2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-05-18 17:15
OK poker -- let's make a bet. I've got $100 that says he won't be impeached.

The democrats are pissing in their own soup The party's popularity is dropping like a rock. They will lose big in 2018. Even more Trump pseudo-populist republicans will be elected in 2018. They democrats are following the "elect Trump" policy that they followed in 2016. They just don't get it.

I did not vote for Trump and hate his policies -- except for his desire to work well with Russia and to end the pointless wars in the middle east. It was the Clinton/Podesta democrats who elected Trump. And they are still working hard for him, only they don't know it. They only know one kind of politics and it is a losing campaign.
+7 # Kootenay Coyote 2017-05-18 08:00
All very well, but try again in mid-August or mid-January. & certainly New York has its own beauties & horrors; but then there’s Vancouver BC & its sea & mountains & Fraser River, except for the rain, but no Trump…just sayin’.
0 # Wise woman 2017-05-21 11:55
Sounds like you're a lucky man, Koot.

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