Life as Pathology

Letter From New York City

The tumultuous events at the New York Post over the last few months serve as a perfect metaphor for New York. This oldest daily in the United States, established by Alexander Hamilton, is (as I write) fighting for its life amid courtroom recriminations over its ownership and purported losses of $1.5 million a week. When the peculiar and volatile Abe Hirschfeld was granted ownership of the tabloid, he announced that Bill Tatum, owner of the Amsterdam News and well-known race-baiter, would be the paper's editor. This decision, along with rather bizarre public comments from Hirschfeld ("The Post will make me G-d") and the wholesale firing of many of the newspaper's stalwarts, led to an open rebellion by its staff. Despite their unemployment, many of the newspaper's employees continued to turn out the paper, excoriating Hirschfeld and Tatum in the process. It could easily be postulated that only in New York could such a zany set of conditions evolve.

New York was described as late as the early 1960's by Jan Morris, historian of cities in the throes of deterioration, as the center of international culture, a communications mecca, a place electric with opportunity. Since then, however, its slide has been perceptible, New York is not what it was and may never even be what it is. Recently Mayor Dinkins called a press conference to congratulate himself and his administration on a reduction...

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