Postcard from new york: Grammy takes a trip

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Indy Lifestyle Online
WHEN THE news hit last week that a loopy outcast in Nevada had been hoarding anthrax, and that, furthermore, he nursed fond hopes of squirting it about the New York subways, an excitement-starved populace slavered in anticipation. They had missed the rush of adrenaline that had formerly pumped through them when they descended into the underground. City Hall's Office of Emergency Management leapt to capitalise on the nostalgic frisson. Local papers bruited the city's deplorable performance in assorted emergency drills, and published handy guides for microbe-toting malcontents explaining how best to deploy the poisons. The officially recommended method was to pick up a backpack sprayer at any quality garden shop, then cruise through town in a taxi letting the germs whoosh out the window. Unfortunately, day after day, the number of local airborne maladies remained more or less constant, and despite the best efforts of elected officials to ensure a state of panic by making such cinematic public statements as "If - God forbid - a terrorist were to use a biological or chemical weapon, New York would, unfortunately not be prepared," the conclusion soon spread that the subways were safe after all.

Meanwhile, the Office of Emergency Management was all het up and raring to go to protect the city from some external threat, and luckily, a noxious common enemy was at hand to set the incipient disaster alarm bells ringing; the Grammy Awards. The Grammys earn the city in which they are held tens of millions of dollars, and usually that city is Los Angeles, but lately music industry types have warmed to the attractions of the maturer metropolis. No doubt it is this sort of easy, excessive, unreflective popularity that encourages the diffusers of anthrax spores to seek out New York for their nefarious plots, and that probably explains the zeal with which City Hall has tried to push the multi-million dollar boondoggle back to the left coast. "If they want to go back to L.A., they can," Mayor Giuliani declared with Clint Eastwood bravura. The perceived threat to the city was the introduction of a California-style disrespect for droit-de-mayor, which was whiffed back in January, when the chief of the awards evening, Michael Greene, dared to chew out a mayoral staffer. "Go bleep yourself!" Greene shouted at her (it was said). "Don't bleep with me this morning or you're in deep trouble!" He later apologised and sent flowers, but it was not enough to mollify the mayor, who vowed that New York, as the "music capital" of the world, had the right to call the tune. "Abuse me and see if you get away with it," Giuliani raged. In other words, as far as the mayor was concerned, the Grammys could drop dead.