Schubin Chronicles

Colors of New York

Years ago, there used to be searchlights forming a powerful rotating beacon on the Empire State Building. The beam could be seen sweeping through the sky miles away — even where the building wasn’t visible. Unfortunately, the light confused birds, so the beacon is no more.

The tower is now normally lit to match the colors of a day or season. Thus, in the holiday shopping season, it’s red and green. Before Halloween, it’s been white, yellow, and orange, like candy corn, or red and yellow, like the fall leaves. On Columbus Day it’s been red, white, and green. On Portuguese Independence Day, it’s red, yellow, and green. There are many other combinations, including lavender and white on Gay Pride Day; purple, teal, and white for osteoporosis; and pink and white for breast cancer. During bird migration seasons, the lights go out, as they also do on AIDS Awareness Day.

On Police Memorial Day the tower is traditionally all blue. On Fire Department Memorial Day, it’s traditionally all red. Lately it has been only red, white, and blue.

Stripes of different colors are often painted on New York parade-route streets. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade gets a green stripe, of course. For some reason, the entire 26.2-mile New York City Marathon route gets a blue stripe. The official New York colors are blue and orange.

Sure enough, the blue marathon stripe has been painted along this year’s route — until it enters Central Park. From that point, there are three stripes: red, white, and blue.

I thought of a tee shirt I saw near “Ground Zero” yesterday. It had a picture of an American flag over the legend “These Colors Don’t Run.” That would be an amusing shirt for a marathoner to wear on Sunday. I imagine there will be a number of “United We Stand” shirts near the “United We Run” banners.

Today there was a battle in New York between the blue and the red. The city wants to cut back on the number of firefighters working at “Ground Zero.” The mayor says it’s a safety issue. The firefighters, however, don’t want to leave. They don’t think the ironworkers will try to recover the bodies of the fallen firefighters as well as other firefighters would.

The firefighters demonstrated, knocking down a police barricade. The mayor says some firefighters punched some police. Five police were reportedly injured; two firefighters were reportedly arrested and then released. A lot of people were seeing red.

Art Spiegelman brought ten artist’s proof posters of his black-on-black New Yorker cover “9/11/01” to WNYC today as premiums for donations to the station. There is an all-black field (made from cyan, magenta, and yellow) covered with a barely visible blacker image of the twin towers. The antenna mast on the north tower pierces the white “W” of “NEW YORKER.” It’s quite an image.

There was a huge increase in unemployment in October — the largest in 21 years. I haven’t been officially employed for more than 21 years, so I don’t suppose I can be unemployed. But a client not doing too well itself called today to cancel six days of work I’ve had booked.

The black-on-black New Yorker cover poster artist proofs were offered today at about 1:05 pm for donations of $2500 or more. Within about 15 minutes, all ten were gone.

SOME people must still be in the black.

TTFN, Mark