Dateline Neo York City. I was over in Europe with my charges, but when I heard what was happening at home, I had to come back here. And I had to bring my kids along with me, so they could see this.
We've been spending some time in the worst spots that Humanity has to offer. Auschwitz, Dachau, anywhere the Third Reich stamped its iron foot down and tried to make a hell on Earth. I've walked these kids through the ruins left behind by the amoral monsters that created them in their own image, so they could see where that image ultimately led to.
It's been one hell of an eye-opener for them. I could read them every book, show them every photograph, and maybe they'd know. But just watching them stand in those places and feel the bad history around them, I knew that they finally understood.
But then I got news that the city was moving, again. And I busted every hump I could to get them here, so they could go from seeing how bad humanity could be to itself to seeing what we look like at our finest.
I didn't always live in Neo York City, but it's always had that name for me. A lot of my neighbors still mess up and call it New York, and some of them don't bother to correct themselves when you look at them funny. But it's the same city they've always known, and always loved or hated or both.
It's just different, now. Much like how the rotund little cousin you saw last summer at family camp's turned into a tall and gangly echo of who he was before, all knees and elbows and raging appetite. It's got different architecture, different street layouts, different economic and social realities, and different opportunities and drawbacks, but it's the same city beneath it all.
Over 8 million people live here, speaking over 800 different languages. Today they're all being herded towards Central Park, where evacuation sleds are parked and waiting to shuttle them outside the city limits. A tent city's already gone up, stocked with all the amenities and comforts that the city can provide, and a few things they had to beg, borrow, or steal from the Federal Government.
(That last bit's SPYGOD's doing, apparently. The last time the city moved there was a mix-up and a toilet shortage occurred, which was a very bad thing under the circumstances. So FEMA was held up at near-gunpoint by The COMPANY, who relieved them of a few hundred port-a-johns from their emergency supplies. They may even be returned clean, though I doubt it. SPYGOD just loves messing with Federal Agencies.)
Speaking of SPYGOD, I think he's in the park, now. I imagine him walking around with that ridiculous, black and gold megaphone he was barking orders through in Antarctica, telling people where to get to if they want to get out in time. He can be very persuasive that way.
There's two distinct crowds outside the city. One's the world's reporters, sitting outside for safety's sake while a genuine wonder of the world is about to take place. "Better than ten 4th of Julys" someone from Boston says. "Better than a million Diwalis" corrects someone from the India Times. I don't quite catch what the fellow from the Gulf News says, but he gets some hefty laughs.
The other's people from all over the United States who had the same impulse I did. Get here and watch it happen. Bring the kids so they can see how an entire city population -- the largest in the world -- gets calmly evacuated.
Not everyone goes, of course.
There's about 40,000 homeless people in Neo York City, at least according to conservative estimates. The actual numbers are probably much higher, as that's just counting the people who take advantage of the numerous shelters. They're being shuttled out, too, since their housing's going to go flying right along with the houses people can actually afford to pay for.
But there are those who are homeless by choice, and don't care to leave, even now.
There's never been a good name for them. Some call them the Free, but that sounds like a bad 70's guitar band. The bottom line is that they choose to call the Neo York City itself their home. They take advantage of the city's stubborn insistence that they live: grabbing the simple food and clean water it makes readily available; sleeping in heated enclaves in the winter and cool pockets in the summer; camping out in the park or in huge cuddle piles in the alleys, knowing that anyone crazy enough to cause any trouble there is going to have to run a gauntlet of unamused Free people and their supporters.
The last time the city moved, most of them stayed behind. They came out of their hiding places once the sleds were gone, lit fires in the park, and watched the buildings fly all around them like something from a waking dream.
Not a one of them was hurt.
The first sleds are starting to leave the city now, like a flock of strange birds soaring in tight formation. They'll leave and return for more in ten minute shifts, taking 500,000 thousand people at a go. SPYGOD will probably leave last, knowing that he'll come home to a whole new ballgame, and yet the same one he left behind.
"Only the landscape has changed," as Ferlinghetti would have said.
As they leave, I can see the taller buildings starting to shift position, swaying in the digital wind.
Some of the outermost structures are already in motion, shuddering into life like monster robots from a godzilla film. Brick houses and three story buildings shuffle around, waiting for the rest of the city to animate itself so they can leap to their new locations.
Impatient to be a part of a bold, new landscape.
I watch the kids SPYGOD rescued from a living hell in Antarctica hitch a breath as the reporters take pictures and tourists cheer. One of them is crying. I smile and try not to do the same.
Randolph Scott, for Alternet, signing off.
(Randolph is listening to Shut Your Eyes (Snow Patrol) and drinking some of the best water on earth)