Thursday, January 27, 2011
Shovelling Out Again
Last night we had another massive snowstorm in New York City. As you can see from this picture of my Brooklyn block, there's over a foot of fresh snow on top of the remnants of two earlier snows. While school was cancelled and some buses were halted, the big story is that unlike the post-Christmas "snowpocalypse," the city seemed to keep functioning. When I woke up to shovel at 6:30 this morning, the street had already been plowed. There was less snow than before, but still quite a bit. Walking home from the subway tonight I saw that most people have about three or four feet of snow piled in their front yards, a combination of natural accumulation and what shovellers have flung there because the snow from the sidewalks has to go somewhere.
Mayor Bloomberg was on the radio and TV all morning sounding calm and collected, and making himself sound thoroughly in charge. The disaster of December was not repeated; he seemed anxious to avoid another media shitstorm like the one that's kept the mayor and his minions on the defensive for much of January.
One of the creepier things that happened after the last storm was a typical attempt to blame last month's infrastructure failure on organized workers. For weeks the media was full of fairly vague reports of some labor conspiracy to slow down the cleanup after the storm. The reports were always short on details. Well it turns out the reports were coming from one place, a newly-elected Republican city councilman named Dan Halloran. Halloran is a right-wing lawyer who campaigned on a "tea party" platform. Which is hilarious because somehow the teabaggers who claim to be such champions of "we the people" seem to revel in blaming working class people for the country's problems. Halloran has spun an elaborate fantasy around his claims, which seems to be coming completely unravelled through, of course, lack of any evidence whatsoever.
Making the story a little odder is Halloran's unusual faith. Although he is a political and social conservative, he's also a Neopagan, a member of the Asatru-related religion of "Theodism," one of the modern reconstructions of ancient Norse religion. Some such reconstructions of Norse religion are notoriously racist, since of course, getting in touch with Norse roots seems to involve finding one's inner pure-white/Aryan core. I have no idea if Halloran's sect is tainted with that, but it does practice a sort of mock indentured servitude called "thralldom" where newbies in the faith have to do chores for their elders. I try in general not to criticize how people choose to experience their spirituality, but I find it interesting that an adherent of a religion that waxes nostalgic about feudalism and social hierarchy should be trashing working people. Separation of church and state is to me not negotiable. Interesting that a Pagan can get elected to office; and a useful reminder that "alternate spirituality" does not equal "progressive and open-minded."
I'm glad that in addition to shovelling out of this latest snow we seem to be shovelling out of Halloran's elitist bullshit as well. Winter is almost half-over...I wonder how much more snow we're gonna get?
(All photos by me this morning.)