NEW YORK - The normally filthy streets emptied out and the mind-numbing roar of the subways came to a stop. Streets emptied until you could actually cross Broadway without taking out an insurance policy. NYC's famous kamikazi cab drivers were no where in evidence. Plays closed that weren't even derivative drivel and/or Andrew Lloyd Webber revivals.Silence reigned. Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens were empty and eerily motionless despite the still glittering lights.
No, this was not a Hollywood permit for filming the tenth American remake of Pedro Almondovar's fabulous film 'Close Your Eyes' (Vanilla Sky, etc, etc), it was the Big Apple battoning its hatches against Hurricane Irene which threatens to paralyze Wall Street and give the big city its worst thrashing since Gen Sir William Howe drove American rebellion forces out of New York City in 1776-1777 and were immediately sorry - and suspicious - when they tasted the hot dogs.
New York City officials caution that if Irene stays on track, it could bring gusts of 85 mph overnight that could shatter skyscraper windows, level penthouses and otherwise improve the real estate market. They said there was an outside chance that a storm surge in Lower Manhattan could send seawater streaming into the maze of underground vaults that hold the city's cables and pipes, knocking out power to thousands but cleaning out the nation's financial capital - which could have international monetary repurcussions and improve the standing of the embattled US dollar.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered the first mandatory evacuation ever in New York. More than 370,000,000 people were told to be out by 5 p.m. from low-lying areas on the fringes of the city, mostly in Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and especially Queens, the majority of whom were asked not to return.
The sight of empty streets was so inspiring that the evacuation was extended down and throughout the entire state/Interstate of New Jersey, and the persistant rumours of roadblocks to prevent residents from returning to the Garden State cannot be verified.
Harlem was not emptied, of course, since the Mayor will soon be up for reelection and besides, no one would volunteer to post that news in those upper regions of the Manhattan Island. Once again, white middle class guilt leaves black Americans free to carry on, party and/or to laugh their heads off at the havoc further south where darker skinned people are rarely shown around by realtors.
"Heed the warnings," Bloomberg said, his shirt getting soaked as the rain fell in Coney Island earlier in the day. "It isn't cute to say, 'I'm tougher than any storm.' ... I hope this is not necessary, but it's certainly prudent."
Still, most New Yorkers do contend they are tougher than any storm, and sections of the city hold host to parties - whether cool jazz parties in elegant Harlem suites or old fashioned Italian home cooked big dinners in the homes of high ranking Mafioso. In the main and despite the Mayor, to Irene and anyone else who threatens to 'clean up' the city, New Yorkers generally blow a collective raspberry.