When I read that the genius Mayor Bill de Blasio is setting up checkpoints at Noo Yawk tunnels, bridges, and airports today, it reminded me of the “old” days when traveling in Western Europe required travelers to stop and identify themselves at the frontier.
The “papers, please” stops, let’s say between France and Germany, would be pleasant and perfunctory, at least to holders of the green U.S. passports, which then were the world-wide Open Sesame.
Today, a blue U.S. passport actually bans you from Western Europe, because of the coronanova, which is the reason de Blasio is sealing off America’s largest city. The blockade is to corral visitors from 35 “high virus” states. (Pennsylvania and New Jersey are not among them.)
By and large, I think the European Union has been a boon for most of its members, but each had to surrender a little of its sovereignty. It turns out it was more than “a little” for Britain, which decided in a close vote by the people to withdraw in what was called its Brexit. That secession was easier than that when the South left our union, precipitating a civil war (and a much later war over statues).
When you passed a checkpoint, you slipped from one language to another. The change from French to German was abrupt; this was before almost everyone spoke English and Google Translate. You also had to switch from francs to deutschmarks, although dollars were accepted almost everywhere. National currency was fun, it was a cheap souvenir, and came with a sense of place, unlike the unlovable euro.
It can be argued that New York City — my birthplace — has its own langwich, but it’s more in pronounciation than meaning. Maybe the diversity-obsessed de Blasio will order everyone to speak something other than English, the tongue of oppression. (Sarcasm is fun.)
The real problem isn’t getting into Noo Yawk. It’s getting out. With taxes that are expected to skyrocket, along with shootings, and loud nightly marches, long-time residents are rushing for the exits. You know that some people already call Philly New York’s sixth borough. That will accelerate, especially among the rich.
Is that a problem? Did you happen to see the video of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo begging the wealthy to come back to The City from their summer (and maybe permanent) homes in the Hamptons, Connecticut and the Hudson Valley?
“We’ll go to dinner! I’ll buy you a drink! Come over, I’ll cook!,” he said. “I’ll give you a hand job,” he did not say, but might have, in his desperation. You can screw the rich just so long before they cash in and move.
But if you are planning to drive to the city that never sleeps, don’t expect a cheery smile at the border. Instead, be prepared to be quizzed, to fill out a questionnaire handed out by sheriffs, and to be warned about a quarantine you must observe or face up to a $10,000 fine.
Welcome to the Empire State. Bring money, face masks, and a strong stomach.