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Being secure


You’d probably recognize one of the other residents of our apartment building. He’s been in some movies and has appeared on TV. He’s a very good actor but is not particularly famous.

There are a few other actors in the building, as well as producers, directors, writers, dancers, artists, teachers, health-care workers, businesspeople, students, retirees, and others. We used to have an explorer, but he died some time ago. I don’t think there are any politicians or newscasters here — at least none I’ve recognized. But the person who sorts our mail was wearing rubber gloves this morning.

I just listened to a broadcast Justice Department press conference at which we were told to be on heightened alert again due to another unspecified “credible” threat. Heightened from what? Other than our heightening our alert state, we were told to carry on as usual. The message was very clear; it was just useless.

Central Park was filled with trucks today, concentrated around Tavern-on-the-Green, a former sheepfold. The building is not a leftover from days when New Yorkers grazed sheep.

The city insisted in 1857 that there be an area set aside in the park for military exercises. Sure enough, the National Guard used “The Green” for that purpose in 1864. Whether as a result or not, later the same year the state banned such activities in the park. So 150 sheep were brought in as being more bucolically correct than soldiers. When he was parks commissioner, Robert Moses sent the ovines to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, and the Victorian sheepfold became a restaurant. The Green is now called the Sheep Meadow.

The only sheep in the park since 1934 have been in one of the zoos, except for a fugitive discovered recently, a suspected escapee from a trip to an abattoir. It was pardoned to a petting zoo. A coyote was also found in the park. New York is full of animals (as I’m sure you already knew).

Tavern-on-the-Green marks the finish line for the New York City Marathon, which is why all the trucks were there today. Grandstands were being finished, and assorted other facilities (timing, television, first aid, awards, water, food, aluminized-mylar blankets, etc.) were being installed.

The marathon will take place on November 4. There’s a theme this year: “United We Run.” It’s pretty funny to see it in big letters at the finish line with no other evidence of a race. All of the marathoners will be given “I Love NY” temporary “tattoos.” They can wash them off when they’re ready to hate us again.

Since 1976, the 26.2-mile course has encompassed all five boroughs (and counties) of New York City: Staten Island (Richmond), Brooklyn (Kings), Queens (Queens), the Bronx (Bronx), and Manhattan (New York). The course passes over five bridges. The application process has long since closed, so there will be “only” 30,000 runners. There are usually well over a million spectators lining the route. And helicopters are used both for airborne cameras and to relay microwave signals from those on terrestrial camera vehicles.

So, we’ll do what the Justice Department asked. We’ll be sure to be on heightened alert as we press through the 52 miles of crowds (on both sides of the route) to cheer on the marathon runners.

TTFN, Mark