As hundreds of thousands of Big Apple residents suffer in homes left without power by Hurricane Sandy, two massive generators are being run 24/7 in Central Park - to juice a media tent for Sunday's New York City Marathon.
And a third "backup" unit sits idle, in case one of the generators fails.
The three diesel-powered generators crank out 800 kilowatts - enough to power 400 homes in ravaged areas like Staten Island, the Rockaways and downtown Manhattan.
I get that this isn't an either-or thing, and it's not as if these heavy-duty generators can just be dropped off in affected neighborhoods instead of powering the laptops and floodlights at the marathon finish line. But it's not a good look. Staffing the marathon with hundreds of police at the same time cops are the only thing keeping the crowds at miles-long gas lines from killing each other is not a good look. Handing out cups of Gatorade and Powerbars and the traditional marathon eve pasta dinner, while people in the richest city in the country can't get food and water, is not a good look.
Starting a voluntary fun run on Staten Island, where they're still searching for bodies, wouldn't do what certain city officials hope and bring the city together. As in so many natural disasters, the weird call to "return to normalcy" more often seems like code for "please ignore the homeless poor people." You know what Bloomberg wants: another iconic moment like the Mets taking the field after September 11th. But people are resilient and don't require some manufactured public gathering to "heal," whatever that means to someone who doesn't have the power to watch the marathon on TV or the public transit to go watch it in person. There is a time for symbolic healing, and that time is after things like actual human suffering are addressed.
It's just a fucking marathon, and doesn't deserve a city's money, manpower, or resources when all three seem in shamefully short supply.