05 November 2005

Marathon weekend

Central Park is full of foreigners. There is always an international fun run the day before the marathon. I guess 5K isn't a long distance for someone who can run 26.2 miles, but it's amazing to me that they want to run two days in a row.

A woman on a podium greets runners in different languages, as she sees flags from their country. Maybe they got her from the UN, because her accents -- French, Hebrew, and Portuguese, from what I heard -- seemed right on.

Some runners dress up for this event. A group of Japanese men in Ninja wear run with plastic swords. A bevy of busty British broads wear white t-shirts with American flag bras painted on them. A mixed group of French runners wear neon orange overalls and flesh-colored skull wigs with neon orange spikes sticking out of them. Is this a recognizable French trope I'm not aware of?

New York has gone out of its way to provide a perfect weekend for all our visitors. It feels more like the beginning of Fall than the end, the leaves all still on the trees in an array of oranges and yellows. It's actually a little too warm for marathon runners; I think 50 degrees is optimal.

Still, they all look like they are enjoying themselves, and I'm glad. I'm ready to give directions to Times Square and Soho, and tomorrow, the entire city will turn out to cheer them on. I'll never understand, though, what is so fascinating about our squirrels that people need to creep up on them, holding a bit of food in their fingers, hoping their friend behind them gets a good picture. They are are invariably Italian, these squirrel-lovers.

Recently, George Bush appointed his old friend Karen Hughes to a position in the State Department in which she is responsible for improving the U.S. image abroad. I wonder if she's with him right now in Venezuela. That seems to be working well for him. In the last five years, the Republicans have inadvertantly proved what their party has always held -- the Federal government is useless. If you want real action, look to the states and localities. (That said, I don't believe the current crop of Republicans really believe in small government; big government has been too profitable for them.)

Instead of deploying Karen Hughes, who, like her friend George, doesn't seem like she ever travelled outside the United States before he became president, just leave it up to us, in NYC, and the stoic residents of the Gulf Coast, to be the ambassadors of good will to the rest of the world. They'll start liking us again in no time.


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