Early this morning, I had a dream that I was piloting a helicopter. I’ve never actually piloted a real helicopter, although I’ve played with a simulator a bit. Frankly, I think I would be a bit nervous if I ever had to take over the controls–I’d feel more comfortable if I had to, say, land a passenger jet in real life. There’s something so un-aesthetic about helicopters. In the dream, I had passengers with me, but I can’t remember now who they were. I do remember one detail, which may be significant (in case any psychoanalysts are reading, please reply with your diagnoses). I had some trouble figuring out the controls, but quickly realized that to go down, I had to push up on the stick. Up is down; down is up. A metaphor for the times we live in?
Once the four of us (two humans, two cats) finally began to wake up, I realized why I was thinking about helicopters: one was hovering over our apartment, for hours and hours. Not exactly a unique situation in Manhattan. One hears all sorts of strange sounds, some benign, some disquieting. One Sunday morning last year, I’m certain that a I heard a fighter jet do three or four loops of the island and then zoom off. Yikes! And early one morning, we were wakened to what we were sure was the sound of a nearby building collapsing. We never did figure that one out.
Normally, a hovering helicopter is the harbinger of a nearby bigwig. I thought perhaps the Bush twins were having some late-night dim sum at Mr Chow. But it turns out that some reveler had decided to celebrate the British elections by setting off a couple of home-made grenades in front of the building housing the British consulate around 3:30 this morning. About 8 blocks from here. We didn’t hear the pops, probably because someone was doing one of those long horn-honks. 3:30 am is prime time for long horn-honks around here.
Not much damage done, just some shattered windows and a disfigured planter. One thing I find bizarre is that no one has mentioned that this building is very close to the Citicorp building, which if you recall became a target two days after the end of the DNC convention last year (it had been strangely fortuitous timing for the Republicans). Well, we will assume that this little event was the work of a lone kook and continue on with our Cinco de Mayo celebrations…
Update: wire stories keep mentioning that this building is near the UN. Well, it’s not really. By that measure, all of east midtown would be near the UN. The stories also mention a Dutch UN worker found “loitering” in the area. I believe that this era ended at least two decades ago, but 53rd & 3rd, immortalized in the Ramones song of the same name, was in the 70’s the main hustler pickup corner in the city.