"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

New York Minute

Bruce’s Garden is a beautiful spot in my neighborhood. When my wife and I went looking for an apartment, the vibrant garden nestled onto the “pro” side of our decision-making process without us even realizing it.

On Wednesday night, Bruce’s Garden hosted our annual holiday tree-lighting ceremony. Hot chocolate, cake and carols, then a roaring countdown. Then more carols. Sometimes, there are even rosy cheeks and suggestions of snow, but not this year.

As we sipped our hot chocolate and waited for the countdown, I saw a police cruiser with lights flashing speed down the dead end of Park Terrace East toward Isham Park. The car did not come back out. Nobody else seemed to notice. There were five police officers in attendence for the festivities, but I didn’t see any of them leave the garden.

About a hundred yards away from where we stood, four thieves attacked a man walking through the park on his way to meet his family in the garden. He’s a big man and he fought back, but he couldn’t prevent the mugging. He was injured but he drove around the area with the police officers looking for the muggers. They didn’t find them.

I don’t want to speculate on the nature of the crime, the criminals, nor the victim other than to say that it was clearly brazen. The ceremony was well publicized. The police were prominent, the crowd vocal.

The things that keep us close to the city crash into the things that push us away. I can pretend that by choosing the right route home, or by carrying myself a certain way that I can avoid being jumped. That’s a fine delusion when I’m only thinking about me, but I’m not thinking about me anymore.

Someday, I’ll celebrate my last Christmas in New York City. Maybe it will be this one.

 [Photo Credit: Carla Zanoni Dn'Ainfo]

12 comments

1 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 16, 2011 1:55 pm

Ah, shit, man. I'm sorry to hear that.

2 Jon DeRosa   ~  Dec 16, 2011 2:04 pm

[1] Thanks Al. Our neighborhood has some muggings, but overall, it's not bad as far as the city goes. I'm sure there are better and much worse neighborhoods. And shit happens everywhere. Most of the worst stuff making headlines is out in the burbs.

But everyone in New York has to deal with the fact that crime is happening right next to you. That proximity can wear on you over the years.

3 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 16, 2011 2:09 pm

Yeah, and isn't there a tension between the Latinos who have lived in your hood for a long time and the folks who've moved in over the past decade? I always felt a little edge there, though I could be imagining that.

4 Jon DeRosa   ~  Dec 16, 2011 2:16 pm

[3] Perhaps. But kids from all backgrounds are going to the same public schools and day cares now. That wasn't happening ten years ago. The best local school is dual language, every other day in Spanish. If the edge is there it's certainly less than it was.

5 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 16, 2011 2:38 pm

Makes sense. And muggers are muggers no matter what or where.

6 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Dec 16, 2011 10:23 pm

Got to say I Really don't miss those worries. U can wander Tokyo piss drunk at 3am with a wallet full of cash and have zero hassle. Ask Boatzilla! :)

7 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Dec 16, 2011 10:38 pm

[6] No guns, no melting pot, 2000 years of community. Not a fair comparison.

I would hate having to always have the street sense tuned. Tough with kids.

You don't have to leave the city, maybe the neighborhood?

8 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Dec 16, 2011 11:01 pm

(7) oh for sure. Lots of other social problems here too, just not street crime.
Lost all my street smarts now,if move back to Brooklyn would be robbed first time I fell asleep on the subway am sure!
From what I read though NYC still the safest big city in America, right?

9 Boatzilla   ~  Dec 17, 2011 7:13 am

[7] Correct. All true. But I did get my MacBook Pro swiped here...of course that was in Roppongi at 3 AM

The other night I was walking home alone, thoroughly pissed through Inokashira koen at around 2 AM. I kept thinking this is gonna be my time. Kept looking over my shoulder.

In the end, nuthin' happened...just like always. But I have heard of guys getting jumped by young toughs and girls of all races have an assault or groping story to tell.

10 Boatzilla   ~  Dec 17, 2011 7:32 am

Sorry guys, "koen" means "park" and it's very wooded, and quiet and dark at night.

11 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 17, 2011 10:06 pm

[10] I guess that makes you and Jazz sort of like koen brothers, huh? >;)

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