5 am near Times Square in the Big Apple: the wind is howling around the corners of the hotel and there is rain gusting in intermittently. Still, the city feels alive and friendly.
I used to visit New York to manage a clinical group at NYU in the 80’s, and this area could be frightful. Times Square was dirty and rundown, people were selling drugs and prostitutes on the corners, and a walk down 48th Street was like a ride through Pirates of the Caribbean, with transients leaning out of every doorway to panhandle as I passed.
How different today: the area is clean and vibrant, there are are theaters and shops everywhere, the sidewalks are busy and safe. Restaurant Row along 46th street is filled with wonderful ethnic and local restaurants, and shopkeepers and smiling and helpful to point out directions. Part of it is the policing, but I also think that 9/11 and the financial crisis have humbled the city a bit, taken the edge off some of the arrogant excesses. People seem friendlier, smile more, make better eye contact than they used to. It’s all for the better, and I like the city more every time I visit.
My father’s angiogram did not yield good news: he had severe multivessel heart disease with over 90% blockage of every major artery. Fortunately there was no heart damage, and he never was symptomatic. The physicians opted for a 5-vessel bypass operation yesterday, a 9-hour procedure. At his age, the risks run around 15% for death or stroke during the procedure. We all stayed very tightly connected by phone yesterday to share progress reports and encouragement, and the surgeons say that everything went according to plan and without complication. He’s been moved to ICU and may be conscious again this afternoon, so we’ll get a better picture of how he’s doing in the coming days. But the news is good so far.