Tuesday, February 05, 2008

So she says, "More like a giant paper headache."

Who cleans all this shit up? New York held a ticker-tape parade through some part of New York or Manhattan or somewhere (I don't know the geographical mankeup of New York, at all, aside from various Seinfeld references and Gangs of New York). Parents took kids out of school, workers called in sick, and fans went a little overboard with hyperbole ("This is my generation's V-E Day moment!"). A couple of things come to mind as I read about the parade. Where does the ticker-tape come from? This isn't the 1940's, and ticker-tape isn't really the paltform of choice for relaying stock prices, sports scores, or anything. I wonder if offices along the parade route are simply throwing shredder paper. Does the city provide it? A Q and A from the Bloomberg administration and found on the Times website says 50 tons of paper can be expected to be dropped throughout the parade. I quick check of my long dormant math skills tells me that's a shitload of paper. The Q and A says,

The New York City Department of Sanitation will deploy 317 Sanitation Workers and 38 Sanitation Officers, who will use 126 backpack blowers, 41 hand brooms, 30 mechanical street sweepers, 12 front-end loaders, 12 collection trucks, and 3 water flushers to clean the streets of Lower Manhattan by midnight.

A quick check of my recently revived math skills tells me that's a shitload of workers and equipment. But New York is, if nothing else, familiar with the logistics of throwing a ticker-tape parade. The first came as a spontaneous celebration after the Statue of Liberty was dedicated. In the 20's, 30's and 40's, thinking, "Hey, it looks pretty fucking cool when we do one of these," New Yorkers were throwing one about every five days. But the 50's and 60's saw a huge increase in the quantity, if not decrease in quality, of ticker-tapers, throwing one for seemingly any visiting foreign dignitary (Prime Minister of Australia, President of Panama, President of Liberia) or competition winner (Moscow International Tchaikovsky Competition winner, Gold medalists, Ben Hogan after winning the British Open). But in the last forty years, there have been decidedly fewer. Of the last eight ticker-tape parades, seven have been sports-realated. Today's Giants parade will be only the second this decade. What gives? Especially when it comes to throwing non-sports-related parades? Maybe the romance disappeared as the cost of cleanup rose and the post-parade hangover pounded inside the collective New York head. Sanitation workers, police officers, and others getting overtime during and after. 126 leafblowers blaring throughout the evening and night, nauseating the whole area with fumes. Maybe New Yorkers got tired of office workers along the parade route using waste-basket contents as ticker-tape. Maybe they recognized that the whole ticker-tape parade thing was getting a little out-of-hand. Who really knows, but they don't happen very often, which makes one more special for the recipient when it actually does take place. A parade once in a while makes it a public event, rather than a public nuisance.

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