The Friday before October 31

The front page of yesterday’s New York Times quoted an “administration official” as follows: “The lesson we’re learning is that you can bomb the wrong place in Afghanistan and not take much heat for it. But don’t mess up at the post office.”

I brought some mail to the post office today. It was empty.

Let me provide some context for that statement. New York post offices are usually busy. The main post office is open 24 hours, and I have shown up at 3 am on a Sunday morning to find a long line. On April 15, so many people show up just before midnight that it’s an event, complete with food vendors, jugglers, and bands.

Our local post office usually has a long line at 8 am. At noon, the line is traditionally huge. After work, it has been excruciating. Today, during the evening rush hour, there was no line. None.

The clerk who took my mail was wearing green dishwashing gloves. The other clerks were not. I stuffed the envelopes in front of her, hoping to make her feel more secure. She shrugged. One thick envelope was going to Canada. I asked if it needed a customs form. No, she’d seen the contents.

There are, of course, anthrax-mail stories on the news, but the big story in New York today was that the producers of “The Producers” (every media outlet used that phrase) have done it again. When the show opened, it was the first Broadway musical to charge $100 a ticket.

Now, chagrined at scalpers buying tickets and charging even more for them (without the producers of “The Producers” getting their fair share of the illicit profits), they will sell 50 special tickets for each show. The tickets will likely be available at the last minute because they will cost $480 each.

Does that sound scary? Good! We New Yorkers are doing our best to come up with scary things that have nothing to do with terrorism.

There are three ghost walks scheduled this weekend at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. There are ten Greenwich Village ghost tours (one promises to show what scared Edgar Allan Poe). The American Museum of the Moving Image in Queens is having a “Frankenstein Film Fiesta” (which includes “The Golem” and “Psycho).” The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has “Ghouls and Gourds.” The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is having a “Crypt Crawl.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society runs the zoos in four of New York’s boroughs, and each of those will offer “Boos at the Zoos” this weekend. But, if you want a REALLY scary zoo, head to the other one, in Staten Island, with an enormous reptile collection. Don’t eat before watching “feeding time;” the large snakes enjoy large prey — living, of course. And stand back from the enclosure of the alligator snapping turtle. Yes, it DOES look like the inspiration for Godzilla.

Of course, not everything in New York will be scary this weekend. The frozen zone surrounding the World Trade Center site has shrunk once again, and two more subway lines are reopening in lower Manhattan “months ahead of schedule” on Sunday.

Come to New York! Have fun! Take the subway on a weekend…

…if you D A R E!!!


TTFN, Mark

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