Does Raising a Family in a Large American City Make Any Possible Sense?

About 33 years ago I moved out of New York City.  Now I was born and bred there.  My family had lived there for four generations.  I liked the amenities that the City possessed.  I could take the kids to Central Park and to the American Museum of Natural History or the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  We could go to a Yankee or Met game, go to the beach, go fishing out of Sheepshead Bay.  It was my home.  I liked my neighbors.  But this was in the mid-eighties and things had gotten steadily more dangerous even in a relatively “safe” neighborhood like the one I lived in.  Muggers had taken to getting off the expressways in “safe” neighborhoods early in the morning and mugging old ladies as they walked to Early Mass at church.  And they didn’t just get robbed they were often brutalized pretty badly.  Apparently, a baseball bat to the shoulder from behind is an excellent way to make an old lady drop her pocketbook.  And thinking about what it would cost to put my young children in good schools in New York just wasn’t in the cards for me at that time.  So, we moved out into the “country.”  Or so we called it.  Really it was outer suburbia in New England but there were farms and cows and so we told our kids they lived in the country.  Fast forward twenty-five years and we moved again out of the “country” because it became too crowded.

And that’s just what growth looks like.  Instead of 275 million people now there are 330 million people.  But moving from outer suburbia to a more rural area is a matter of choice and temperament, not a life or death decision.  I like more trees and fewer stop lights.  I want a quiet environment rather than a busy commercial strip.  But the next guy might like to live in a small town so he can walk to get his cup of coffee and doughnut.  He likes to have a French restaurant and a yoga studio a few blocks away.  Vive la différence.

But instead, let’s say you live in Minneapolis or Philadelphia or Baltimore or even my old home town of New York City.  For the sake of argument let’s say you live right outside of New York City in a very expensive suburb.  You pay an enormous amount of money to buy a house there and you pay taxes that are almost obscene.  Let’s say the schools are good and the amenities in your town are excellent.  Great restaurants and stores.  Good health clubs and a very nice golf course that you enjoy.  And crime is reasonable.  Sure, there are property crimes that happen, burglaries and car theft but violent crime while not unknown is infrequent because you have a good police force that prevents that sort of thing.  Your very nice gated community is a haven from the urban existence that you can see on the horizon.

But then something happens.  A cop in a city with a Democratic mayor kills a black man during an arrest.  And he does it in front of a video camera and it looks terrible.  People in this liberal city in this liberal state feel outraged.  The very liberal mayor fires the cops involved and says an investigation will judge whether the law was broken.  Nothing unusual there.  This has happened before.  But this mayor is extremely weak.  When the protests begin, he warns the police to back off.  They do.  And the protestors are heavily infiltrated by Antifa and anarchists and probably BLM.  They don’t just protest.  They riot, loot and burn down a sizable area of the downtown.  Does the mayor decide to put a stop to the violence after that?  Far from it.  He orders the police to abandon their precinct to the mob.  Now the devastation becomes extensive and drunk with the victory of the city’s capitulation they decide to extend their reign of terror and head out into the suburbs of the next city over.  And when the Democratic governor realizes that the Mayor is useless, he proves that he is equally useless and only sends a few hundred National Guardsmen in and mostly just to guard the electric power station and Federal Reserve Bank building.  So now the rioters are free to continue their arson and looting.

After this has gone on for a day or two the inner-city denizens and the local Antifa cohorts in every major city decide it’s time to set up a local chapter of burn everything down and steal whatever comes to hand.  So now it gets real for you.  You’re watching on tv as the metropolis that’s fifteen minutes away begins to go up in flames and the cops stand down at the behest of Bill de Blasio in order not to annoy his constituency while they enjoy their first amendment right to loot and burn other people’s life’s savings.  And in a video on social media you hear the rioters tell you, seemingly you in particular, that they’re headed out to your suburb to bring the same treatment to you and yours.

Well, that’s got to be an eye opener.  And the more you think about it the more you realize that there’s not a damn thing anyone is going to do to end this cycle.  This happens periodically.  First it happened in 1965, then in 1977.  In the late seventies through the early nineties it never really stopped.  The violence and crime were continuous.  Giuliani was a change in New York.  He was the last gasp of a majority that would allow the police to keep the criminal elements under strict control.  The nineties were peaceful and prosperous for New York.  But Giuliani was term limited out in 2001.  Bloomberg left the police in place but constantly railed against them in the press.  By the time Obama and de Blasio were in the White House and Gracie Mansion respectively, it was open season on the police and law and order too.  Eric Holder demonized the police and spawned Black Lives Matter.  Now you could say that President Trump is a reaction to Obama and the Ferguson scam that keeps being perpetrated on the people.  And he can do a lot to prevent this stuff spreading to red states.  But if you live in a blue state and especially if you live close to one of the big cities in them you are at ground zero for every wave of the roller coaster.

And that brings me to my point.

Move.

There’s no good reason to live there.  The bad reasons are that it’s your home.  And it’s where your family lives.  I don’t live near one of the big cities but I wish I were a thousand miles away in a red state.  But I have kids and grandkids that have roots here.  And every day I try to figure out how to get us all out.  But if you’re starting out now or are going to start a family, get out now.  Head south and west and look for a state that is run by normal people and isn’t filled with people who don’t have any stuff but want your stuff instead.  I assure you from sad experience, it’s no way to live.

Justified – A TV Series Review – Part 4 – Season 3 & 4

Justified – Part 3

Camera Girl and I have polished off the first four seasons of Justified and only have seasons 5 and 6 left.  Although a sort of pattern has emerged vis-à-vis the season finale we remain extremely satisfied with the quality of the show and the progression of the story line.  Over the course of the first four seasons we’ve really gotten to know Raylin Givens and his friends and family and enemies and their families.  We’ve seen some major characters come and go (mostly to the great beyond courtesy of Raylin’s pistol) and we’ve seen Raylin’s personal life undergo several painful dislocations.

And we’ve watched Boyd and Ava Crowder move steadily to the dark side.  When I say this, I don’t mean that the shows have gotten a lot more more violent.  It’s already at intermittent gang war levels.  But what the show is doing is chronicling Boyd’s ascent from small-time gangster to Appalachian mob-boss.  Along the way his scruples and humanity are peeled away crime by crime.  At each step he’s only doing what he has to to avoid the law or his rivals but eventually you see that nothing good remains.  Now I think this is similar to what was done in the series “Breaking Bad.”  There a man was driven by circumstance to adopt crime to help his family and finds himself and those around him consumed.  The difference being Boyd’s family already was criminal and his only attempt at honest life is pretty much extinguished in season two.  The Good/Evil dynamic is more represented by Boyd’s earlier friendship with Raylin.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, Raylin and Boyd are two sides of a coin flip.  Either might have ended as the other.  Probably the show itself is a meditation on why they’ve so far ended up on opposite sides of that very narrow line.

And I don’t want to claim any dramatic depth to the show.  It’s entertainment pure and simple.  But the characters are engaging and the mixture of action, drama, comedy and suspense is very nicely prepared.  What I’m not sure about is whether Raylin Givens will end the show better, worse or the same as he started.  He straddles a lot of lines and he seems to be willing to cross those lines when he thinks he has to.  I can see that may bring him to a bad end.  It’ll be interesting to see where the arc of this story lands him.

For my part I’m interested to see where the relationship between Art and Raylin heads.  Art is sort of a surrogate father figure for Raylin.  But whether he’ll end up a stern old testament type father who has to sacrifice his son on the altar of the law or the father of the prodigal who is able to welcome him back into the fold, I don’t know.  But either way I do hope he gets more time in front of the camera.  He’s been limited lately and I want to see him assert some order over the wild west atmosphere of the Harlan County Marshall’s office.

Oh, and for the record, although Raylin has an assortment of fine looking women jumping into bed with him, he certainly has no instinct for avoiding criminals.  Then again maybe he isn’t trying.  Maybe he thinks they’re more fun and he can always arrest or shoot them if he has to.

Currently we’ve received the first two DVDs for season five.  We usually restrict ourselves to two episodes at a sitting.  But we’ve been waiting for these disks for several days now and I suspect we’ll binge through both disks by Saturday.  Patience is definitely not a virtue when Justified is in your DVD player.

Justified – A TV Series Review – Part 1

There’s not much left on TV for me to watch anymore.  I remembered hearing over the last few years from several reviewers who were not progressives that “Justified” was pretty good.  Well, last week my Netflix queue was completely empty so I added season one of Justified to my queue. With some trepidation, photog and camera-girl settled in this week and watched the first two disks.  And eight or nine episodes into the season we still haven’t seen a bad show.  It’s actually very good.  Timothy Olyphant is the protagonist playing a US Marshall named Raylan Givens.  He’s been sent back to his home state of Kentucky after shooting a drug lord in Miami under questionable circumstances.  This puts him in contact with his family, friends, associates and enemies.  And the amount of overlap between all of these categories in the episodes I’ve seen is quite remarkable.  And here we run into the expected stereotyping of the Appalachians.  For instance, Ray’s father is married to Aunt Helen.  I’m not far enough into the story yet but it appears she was Aunt Helen before she was married to Ray’s father Arlo.  So, the incest and inbreeding jokes can’t be far off.  Also, one of Ray’s old friends from his time as a coal miner is now a bank robber who dabbles in white supremacy and shoulder launched rockets.

Needless to say, Ray’s personal and professional lives become extremely entangled and pretty early on he finds himself sleeping with a woman he shouldn’t be.  He had been investigating her for shooting and killing her husband.  Subsequently she is his witness in his shooting of her brother in law.  Add into the mix that the brother in law is also that coal miner / bank robber friend of Ray’s and it starts getting extremely complicated and confusing.  Also, Ray’s father is a criminal.  Ray’s ex-wife is married to a man in hock to mobsters and Ray’s boss is starting to think he’s unstable.  Oh, and the investigation into that drug lord he shot is getting complicated by all the other guys Ray’s been shooting since he got to Kentucky.  And finally, the drug lord’s friends really, really want Ray dead.  It’s a really fun show.

I’m only about half way through season one and so it’s hard to say where this will all be by season six but so far this is a crime drama that’s well written, filled with action and includes characters that while far from unconflicted are quite sympathetic for the audience.  Timothy Olyphant is the obvious star but the supporting cast is quite strong and fun to watch and listen to.  I especially enjoy Nick Searcy as Ray’s boss, Art Mullen.  He brings a dry wit and long suffering attitude to the job of overseeing Ray’s overcomplicated work-life balance.

So, that’s my first installment.  I will be watching a bunch more of these in the next few weeks and will give an update on my recommendation.  But so far, I’d have to say watching Justified is definitely justified.