At the east end of Forty-second Street, there's a patch of Manhattan real estate that serves as a reminder of the way the world should be. To black, white, yellow, brown and every colour in between, it's hallowed ground, a place where anger is restrained by reason and, when needed, the just application of superior force. Equality prevails, corruption is unknown, favouritism unthinkable. It is a sanctuary of freedom.But the United Nations wants to build a big building on the dog run as part of its grand remodeling plan. Shall we guess the reaction to that?
No, not the United Nations, which is on the opposite side of the street. In the light of the world body's recent crop of scandals, it clearly doesn't match the above description to even an incidental degree.
What we're talking about here is the dog run in Robert Moses Park, an undeveloped plot that somehow, years ago, escaped the developers' bulldozers and has remained ever since a mecca for East Side mutts. For the dogs, it's a place to shed the leash and do what comes naturally - a rare treat in a city where it is the lot of man's best friends to spend most of every day alone inside the high-rise kennels that are their owners' plush apartments.
"Have you signed the petition to stop this land grab?" a woman who belongs to a bulldog asked last week when I arrived with my spaniel. "Those corrupt bastards," said another dog owner. "They're not going to get away with it."Put the hammer down! But hold on a sec...
Maybe you had to have spent the past year or so in Manhattan to appreciate the irony. Over that time, on those rare occasions when dog-run talk ran to politics, the presidency of George Bush and his invasion of Iraq were the subjects of no small amounts of ridicule and derision. This is Manhattan, after all, where John Kerry trounced the President by a four-to-one margin.Bwahaha! Welcome to the party, Sue!
The invasion would have been above-board, a woman with a golden retriever told me a few months ago, if the Security Council had only bestowed its blessing on the campaign. Last week, however, while no more fond of Bush, she was suddenly up to speed about the UN's eruption of scandals, not to mention the institution's "ethical bankruptcy".
When the UN was condemning Bush, none of those ethical inconsistencies raised an eyebrow among the dog lovers in Robert Moses Park.
Now? Well it's a different story, as a Yorkie-owning, Bush-hating corporate headhunter called Sue made clear, albeit with unintentional irony. "How can the UN pre-emptively seize our park?" she wondered.