With Halloween Behind Us, We Now Head into The Great Fall
I'll leave the elephant in the room out of this for the moment as the clock ticks toward our quadrennial ritual of pulling the presidential lever. For this is the weekend we change the clocks, rolling them backward. Nowadays technology does this for most of our clocks...automatically. Making life "easier" and depriving us of this ritual. And in that notion, there is a parable. Technology. Moving backward. Keeping up with time and the times.
Stay with me here because this brings me to neighborhood news that according to the New York Times yesterday, Bloomingdale is an unwitting character in a new unfolding scandal involving the New York City Marathon and doping of elite runners. Indeed, you may have walked past surveillance vehicles on our streets as the investigation has spun out.
You can read the tawdry piece for yourself at the link above. Having followed cycling for a while and the vagaries of Lance Armstrong, I have a rubber-necker's fascination about doping in sports. So seeing it come right down the block and, worse, having it afflict my beloved notion of the once-great-but-now-royally-commercial-corporatized New York City Marathon, I wince. But come on, I say to my foolish self. It was hiding in plain sight all these years. And it is everywhere.
Doping. Some claim it's a fair use of technology. Others, an unfair edge. And still others, a public health hazard.
It is perhaps all three. And it is a harbinger of many things to come in this world where cheating is constantly rewarded at the higher ranks of our society and institutions. And technology is the abetting force.
So as I turn back time in my mind to marathons past, Fred Lebow comes to me. Fred watched the clock and established a city tradition that made so many of us dream beyond wildest dreams that we'd trot up that last hill nearing Tavern on the Green and cross the finish line after a whirlwind tour of five boroughs. That we did it hopped up on Skittles and Gatorade alone was a given. We were the rank and file.
But the elites and powerbrokers and profitmakers the whole world over seem to have a different playbook involving tacitly-approved abuse of technology for profit and gain. Big banks and global consulting agencies now sponsor the major races. This corporate sponsorship has trickled down into many mini races throughout the city all year round with lush purses enticing the world's best athletes. The greater the purse, the more elite runners will come, the better the tv coverage, the more the sponsor's brand will be drilled into your mind and your happy-go-lucky spectating child's mind.
With this incentive structure, that there would be organized and all-but-sanctioned doping should come as a surprise to no one. But where does it end? Probably with consumer pressure. That means us voting with our purse.
Which leads me to reminding you to turn your clocks back on Saturday before you turn in. And to wishing any runners out there a race of your dreams in the city we love this Sunday. We know at least you will run clean. Be safe and run on home rounding out of the southeast corner of Central Park, westward-bound with the cheering throngs on 59th Street, back into the Park in the shadow of the Gulf & Western Building's ghost. And up, up, up that hill, yes hill, to the finish line.
And of the elephant in the room wherein all these issues coalesce into one great mixed up mess, I say: for the love of Bloomingdale, vote on Tuesday. You can find your polling place right here.
See you on the other side of this free fall.
P.S. Look for the 2016 Gallery of Ghouls, the photo recap of the Halloween parade coming soon.