Have you been to New York City lately? I recently had the opportunity to visit the Big Apple. It had been several years since I had been there...like twenty-four years... and although, I am sure we went to Times Square when we visited in 1986, I didn't remember it.
Times Square is quite a place. To be honest, I was overwhelmed by it all. We stayed in a hotel just north of Times Square so we walked through it several times a day. And each time I would walk through the area, I would be overwhelmed and excited all at the same time.
Times Square is excessive and exciting, alluring and alarming. American excess at its pique. American capitalism at its best. Sensational and scandalous. Fun and frightening.
There was a billboard/sign/interactive display (I am not sure what you call it) with a camera pointed at the crowd walking by....taking pictures of the crowd and then displaying it on the sign. Pretty cool because I can say I have been on a billboard in Times Square, huh? (Look for me in the top picture in the far bottom left--next to the woman in the white coat.)
But as I think about the excess, the chaos and craziness of it all, it makes me wonder if this is truly all our lives are about in western civilization? Stuff. Advertising. Excess. Constant change. Chaos. Having it all. Wanting it all. Having our senses overwhelmed at all times.
In the relatively small land area that is Times Square you are exposed to all that makes our country "tick." Sex, candy, toys, strip clubs, the media, investment banks, money, entertainment, food, clothes... Is this what we are about? In the "heart" of the largest city in our great country, lies Times Square in all its excitement and excess.
Also, obviously present, and with an overwhelming presence is the NYPD. I have never seen so many police in such a small area. There were surveillance cameras, police on horseback, police patrolling, police up in a tower looking down on the area... the NYPD were everywhere. Times Square is a target for those who want to destroy our way of live in the United States and it is a magnet for those of us who want it all in the United States.
I had a great time in the Big Apple. I will share more of my experiences and thoughts in the days to come. And admittedly, there were many times I looked around and thought, "I am not in Kansas anymore." But more than all that, visiting NYC, and in particular Times Square, makes me wonder why we do what we do as a nation... Who are we as a country? And what do we truly think is important?