Volume 74, Number 16 | August 18 - 24 , 2004

Talking Point


MSG poisoning: Convention is doomed at toxic site

By Wilson

Madison Square Garden — MSG — is a toxin, a Midtown blight. Like monosodium glutamate, MSG causes headache pain, angst and anxiety. And when the Republican National Convention pulls in and platforms get ready for a sickening epidemic — thousands of hardworking, rush-hour commuters, who already get herded around like livestock, will suffer like never before.

For the Democratic National Convention in Boston (new superhighways/minuscule railway usage compared to New York City), North Station was completely shut down for seven days. People “took off” (nice work if you can get it). But here, we have “mole people,” a huge and/or unknown homeless community (swing voters?) that wander the lower depths and tunnels of Penn Station and Amtrak on a regular, year-round basis; they don’t take a vacation. For all we know, Osama and his merry cells could be down there! And which is more difficult — extracting a terrorist from a tunnel in a mountain in Afghanistan, a flooded basement in a prison in Iraq or the subway system beneath New York City?

Just thinking about MSG makes my brain hurt, ears ring. Someone, please, get me a stem cell, and make it a double! Between 9/11 and last summer’s blackout, haven’t we been through enough? In this day and age of “intelligence reform, reorganization and coordination,” just where the hell is common sense? Must we have a special committee or czar to think of and/or deal with everything our elected administrators/experts are consistently unable to conceive of/act on? Bloomberg himself should be fined for noise (and hot air) pollution — the level of stench from corporate greed/political favoritism is dangerously high. And, if I hear one more peep about a West Side stadium or a New York City Olympics — that’s what this is all leading up to, right? — my brain is going to explode.

How on earth this city decided to hold the R.N.C. at MSG is beyond comprehension. What an outrageously stupid (wasteful and expensive) idea — have all our elected leaders gone mad? Yet fear not, the Federal Protective Service and their surveillance cameras/ recently trained personnel will protect us. (Does the F.P.S. even know what mole people are?) Civil servants, who will monitor the obvious, assist in the harassment of the protesters and commuters, and catch public urinators, people who spit or don’t pick up, will stop terrorism, we are told, as will blocked entrances, boarded-up bathrooms, and random bag searches.

The whole thing’s crazy/we never learn. Throughout history, this wretched entertainment/transportation hub has been plagued by stupidity: in another disgusting example of hot air floating to the top, the original Penn Station (a magnificent, architecturally superior structure) was torn down in the mid-’60s to facilitate MSG’s birth and ugly construction; on the number one busiest travel day in America, Thanksgiving, the entire area turns into a living hell of giant commercial floats, daytime television celebrities and civil servants on overtime — good luck even finding MSG/Penn Station, let alone an entrance! You’d think after 9/11 we’d scale back on double-booking large citywide and/or nationwide events, but nooo....

MSG, which is frequently surrounded by con artists, prostitutes, scalpers and the soon-to-be displaced homeless, already has a bad enough reputation. And did you know, there’s even supposed to be a shortage of prostitutes when the R.N.C. comes. I heard that a large, out-of-state contingent of sex-trade employees needed to get shipped in. MSG is sickening, it’s sleazy. In fact, my own first exposures to it were...perverse.

One summer in the ’60s on my birthday, I was there to see the circus with my grandmother. I was wearing a brand-new, sleeveless, hot pink, mini-dress with big white buttons and a white patent leather belt. Groovy! I was 8 years old, very independent. No way did I need someone to take me to the ladies room. But on my way back, a sinister-looking man — who looked like Otis from “The Andy Griffith Show” — leered at me, and literally slurring the words out of the side of his mouth, went “C’mere li’l girrrl.” Having already seen thousands of hours of black-and-white clichés on TV, I sneered back an extremely nasty/bratty little girl “no!” (while experiencing a famous/evil “and I don’t like you” “Twilight Zone” moment/fantasy in which the offender would be wished into the cornfield as a scarecrow forever.)

Years later, prior to a Knicks game in the ’70s, my argumentative and dysfunctional family and I had been in traffic and were late for reservations for dinner nearby. Upon arrival at MSG, my mother was forced to get out of the car in traffic with instructions to secure the table. The insane male parent then screeched around the corner, pulled over and kicked me out at the entrance of a parking garage; my job was to wait on the street and “be on the lookout” for my unfortunate mother (while this psychopath and my pathetic brother parked). I had on a purple mini-dress and was wearing white, clunky, hi-heeled shoes. Groovy! Plus, I was old enough to use makeup (Yardley frosted pink bubble gum lipstick and blue mascara by Maybelline). I was leaning against a wall minding my own business, no doubt pouting, when a semi-normal-looking/blue collar type man (mid-20s?) came up and asked if I was “working.” I was 13, very independent, and I almost answered the guy, innocently thinking to myself, “No, you have to be 14 to get working papers.” But then it finally hit me; he thought I was a prostitute! I don’t recall specific details, but boy did he ever get out of there fast.…

MSG is poison. Avoid needless exposure. Tell your friends...or anyone just trying to go to the damn beach at the exact time of the year when the water temperature finally warms up enough to enjoy — but like current events, the beaches you can reach by subway are filthy and polluted, and you’d have to be insane to use the L.I.R.R., NJ Transit or Amtrak.

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