We can never let a Patriots’ Day go by without reflecting on the events of April 19, 1775. How did this happen?
The people of countryside Massachusetts at that time were probably the freest and the least taxed people in the British Empire. What were they so mad about?
From my hometown of Needham, MA, almost every able bodied man went out. What motivated people that morning to grab guns and shoot at their own army?
Lately I’ve been reading Rick Atkinson’s book on the first years of the American Revolution. It’s interesting that Atkinson titled his book this, because as he himself notes:
Popular lore later credited him with a stirring battle cry – “The British are coming!” – but a witness quoted him as warning, more prosaically, “the regulars are coming out.”
The word would’ve gotten out anyway, because of information sent by light in binary code: one if by land, two if by sea. (it was two).
Atkinson does a great job of laying out how tensions and feelings and fears and resentments escalated to this point. George III and his Prime Minister Lord North (they’d grown up together, it’s possible they were half-brothers) miscalculated, misunderstood, overreacted.
North held a constituency in Banbury with fewer than two dozen eligible voters, who routinely reelected him after being plied with punch and cheese, and who were then rewarded with a haunch of venison.
The image of a stern father disciplining a disobedient child seemed to guide George III/North government thinking. Violently putting down rebellions was nothing new, even within the island of Britain. Crushing Scottish revolt had been a big part of George III’s uncle’s career, for example.
From the British side, the disobedience did seem pretty flagrant, the Boston Tea Party being a particularly outrageous and inciting example, from a city known to be full of criminals and assholes. The London government responded with the “Coercive Acts.”
With this disobedient child, the punishment didn’t go over well. The mood had gotten very, very tense in Boston when the April 19 expedition was launched.
Everything about it went wrong. Everybody was late, troops were reorganized under new commanders. Orders were screwed up, the mission was unclear. It was a show of force? A search and destroy? Both? The experience for the soldiers in on it was awful: started out cold and wet, ended up lucky if you were alive and unmangled.
What the Lexington militia was up to when they formed up opposite the arriving Redcoats is unclear. Did they intend to have a battle? Doesn’t seem like it, why would they line up in the middle of a field? There’d already been an alarm, and then a weird break where a lot of the guys went to the next door tavern and had a few.
Were they intending just kind of an armed protest and demonstration (as is common in the United States to this day)?
A lot of the guys in the Massachusetts militias had fought alongside the British army in the wars against the French and Indians. Captain Parker of Lexington had been at Louisburg and Quebec. How much was old simmering resentment of the colonial experience serving with professional British military officers a part of all this?
One way or another, a shot went off, and then it got out of hand very fast. When it was over eight Lexington guys were dead.
The painting above is by William Barnes Wollen, he painted it in 1910. Wollen was a painter of military and battle scenes. He’d been in South Africa during the Boer War, so maybe he knew what an invading army getting shot at by locals was like.
Amos Doolittle was on the scene a few days after the events, interviewed participants, walked the grounds, and rendered the scene like this.
But Doolittle had propaganda motives.
After the massacre at Lexington the British got back into formation and kept moving.
They ran into another fight at Concord Bridge.
Information and misinformation and rumor became a part of the day. The story spread that the British were burning Concord, maybe murdering people.
By now minutemen from all over were blasting away. It must’ve been horrific. Atkinson tells us that the British “Brown Bess” musket fired a lead slug that was nearly .75 of an inch in diameter (compare to, say, a Magnum .45, .45 of an inch).
How would history have been different if the British column had been completely wiped out, like Custer’s last stand? It almost happened. The expedition was saved by the timely arrival of reinforcements with two cannons.
The column avoided an ambush at Harvard Square, but several soldiers died in another gunfight near the future Beech and Elm Streets while three rebels who had built a redoubt at Watson’s Corner were encircled and bayoneted. William Marcy, described as “A simple-minded youth” who thought he was watching a parade, was shot dead while sitting on a wall, cheering.
They were able to get back across the river and into Boston, minus 73 killed, 53 missing, 174 wounded. A bad day in Massachusetts.
This event looms large in the American imagination: the gun-totin’ freedom lovers fighting off the government intrusion. But the more you read about it the more it sounds like just a catastrophe for everyone involved.
Back in Needham the Rev. West reported:
In the evening we had intelligence that several of the Needham inhabitants were among the slain, and in the morning it was confirmed that five had fallen in the action and several others had been wounded. It is remarkable that the five who fell all of them had families, and several of them very numerous families so that there were about forty widows and fatherless children made in consequence of their death. I visited these families immediately, and with a sympathetic sense of their affliction I gave to some the first intelligence they had of the dreadful event, the death of a Husband and a Parent.
What is the deal here when Trump calls Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas?
At Helytimes, we like to go back to the source.
Sometime between 1987 and 1992 Elizabeth Warren put down on a faculty directory that she was Native American. Says Snopes:
it is true that while Warren was at U. Penn. Law School she put herself on the “Minority Law Teacher” list as Native American) in the faculty directory of the Association of American Law Schools
This became a story in 2012, when Elizabeth Warren was running for Senate against Scott Brown. In late April of that year, The Boston Herald, a NY Post style tabloid, dug up a 1996 article in the Harvard Crimson by Theresa J. Chung that says this:
Of 71 current Law School professors and assistant professors, 11 are women, five are black, one is Native American and one is Hispanic, said Mike Chmura, spokesperson for the Law School.
Although the conventional wisdom among students and faculty is that the Law School faculty includes no minority women, Chmura said Professor of Law Elizabeth Warren is Native American.
Asked about it, here’s what Elizabeth Warren said:
From there the story kinda spun out of control. It came up in the Senate debate, and there were ads about it on both sides.
A genealogist looked into it, and determined that Warren was 1/32nd Cherokee, or about as Cherokee as Helytimes is West African. But then even that was disputed.
Her inability to name any specific Native American ancestor has kept the story alive, though, as pundits left and right have argued the case. Supporters touted her as part Cherokee after genealogist Christopher Child of the New England Historic Genealogical Society said he’d found a marriage certificate that described her great-great-great-grandmother, who was born in the late 18th century, as a Cherokee. But that story fell apart once people looked at it more closely. The Society, it turned out, was referencing a quote by an amateur genealogist in the March 2006 Buracker & Boraker Family History Research Newsletters about an application for a marriage certificate.
Well, Elizabeth Warren won. Now Scott Brown is Donald Trump’s Ambassador to New Zealand, where he’s doing an amazing job.
The part of the story that lit me up was this:
The best argument she’s got in her defense is that, based on the public evidence so far, she doesn’t appear to have used her claim of Native American ancestry to gain access to anything much more significant than a cookbook; in 1984 she contributed five recipes to the Pow Wow Chow cookbook published by the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee, signing the items, “Elizabeth Warren — Cherokee.”
What is the best way to handle it, the best strategy, when the President is treating you like a third grade bully, repeatedly and publicly calling you a mean name?
Best advice to someone getting bullied? I googled:
We would amend “don’t show your feelings” to stay calm. We would urge any kid to put “tell an adult” as a last resort.
- if the problem persists, hit back as hard as possible, calmly but forcefully, at the bully’s weakest, tenderest points.
Such a Lisa Simpson / Nelson vibe to Warren / Trump. Are all our elections gonna be Lisa vs. Nelson for awhile?
from this 2003 episode:
Lisa easily wins the election. Worried by her determination and popularity, the faculty discusses how to control her.
In 1693 Cotton Mather wrote a book called Wonders Of The Invisible World, defending the Salem Witch Trials.
A few years later a guy named Robert Calef wrote More Wonders Of The Invisible World, which was kind of a sarcastic slam on Cotton Mather.
Calef objected to proceedings that lead to “a Biggotted Zeal, stirring up a Blind and most Bloody rage, not against Enemies, or Irreligious Proffligate Persons, But (in Judgment of Charity, and to view) against as Vertuous and Religious as any they have left behind them in this Country, which have suffered as Evil doers with the utmost extent of rigour.”
Can’t say I got a ton out of the book, but I did get some good stuff from the introduction, by Chadwick Hansen.
If a witch is attacking you boil a pin in urine:
Even Chadwick Hansen appears ultimately baffled by what Robert Calef was up to, since much of his book is lies about how Cotton Mather fondled up a girl named Margaret Rule while curing her of bewitchment.
Hansen attempts to provide the context to a baffling historical period.
Later Mather would write a book called The Right Way To Shake Off A Viper:
Wild times in old Massachusetts. Few people who were taken to the Salem Witch Museum in childhood ever forgot it.
There’s a lot of crime fiction about Boston, America, but is there any about Boston, UK? I went looking and was directed to the works of Colin Watson, who writes about a fictional town, Flaxborough, which is based on Boston (UK version)?
I can’t say it was totally compelling to me but cheers to Colin Watson.
Watson was the first person to successfully sue Private Eye for libel, for an article in issue 25 when he objected to being described as: “the little-known author who . . . was writing a novel, very Wodehouse but without the jokes”. He was awarded £750.
Discovered a serious error in my DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer
You can’t actually drive from Moon Island to Long Island! There’s a road on the map that’s just not there!
Be careful out there guys and ALWAYS double check visual clues before attempting to drive from one island to another.
Because people were talking about Baby Driver, I started singing it in my head to the tune of Bob Marley’s Slave Driver.
What a song. So then I went looking for Slave Driver on Spotify. I found a recording of Bob Marley and The Wailers, Live At The Music Hall, Boston, 1978. “Easy Skanking In Boston ’78” is the title, which I don’t love saying. “Bob Marley and The Wailers Live At The Music Hall – Boston – 1978” seems like it gives you what you need?
Somehow shocking that Boston would be the scene of a legendary Marley concert. Who was in the crowd?!
Steve Morse wrote about this recording for The Boston Globe when the album was released in 2015:
My one meeting with Bob Marley was memorable. I was sent by the Globe to interview him at the Essex Hotel in New York before his show at Boston’s Music Hall in 1978. I walked in to Marley’s room, which looked out over Central Park, at 11 a.m. It was a chaotic scene. Four or five members of his entourage were kicking a soccer ball that banged off the picture windows. Two king-size joints were being passed around. Bob sat on a couch, reading aloud from the Book of Revelation.
Realizing I was in over my head, I waited a while before daring to ask Marley about his music. He agreed to talk, shut the Bible, quelled the soccer noise, and stated his worldview: “Everything is going to be united now. Everything is going to be cool. Forget the past and unite.”
Marley’s response to a country politically divided and stricken with gun violence was notably cooler and more Christian than the NRA’s response.
Two months later he’d be in Boston.
(Minute 34-38 or so a good sample)
June 8, 1978 was a Thursday, a hot night, 89 degrees. The Red Sox had an off day, but that weekend they’d start a ten game win streak on the road in the West Coast.
The Sox would win 99 games that year, but lose a one game playoff to the Yankees at home in Fenway Park.
Ned Martin would call the game for WITS radio.
Years later he’d die of a heart attack in a shuttle bus at the Raleigh airport on his way home from Ted Williams’ memorial.
MORE ON public lands under Trump to come, but first we have to address a reader email:
Will you continue your tradition of discussing the Super Bowl coaches, in anticipation of Big Game LI?
So writes reader Abigail J. in Wellesley, Mass.
Thanks for writing Abigail! Last year, we profiled the somewhat dim personalities of Ron Rivera and Gary Kubiak.
Rivera’s Panther’s may have controlled their APE but it wasn’t enough.
This year we have a return for Bill Belichick, whom we investigated to the edge of known facts before the epic XLIX game. In that battle he squared off against Pete Carroll, the most compelling coaching figure in the NFL and subject of an in-depth Helytimes profile.
This year comes Dan Quinn.
He won a Super Bowl under Pete Carroll in 2014, and seems more Carroll than Belichick for sure. Here’s an article about him from the AJC by Jeff Schultz. Bumper stickers are a theme:
Quinnisms: Iron sharpens iron. Do right longer. Do what we do. It’s about the ball. It’s about the process (Former coach Mike Smith left that one behind.)
Quinn also has had a dozen T-shirts or hats with punchy thoughts made up during the season, the latest being, “Ready to Ride, Dog.” The week of the first playoff win over Seattle, players wore shirts reading: “Arrive violently.” Those words were referenced by Neal after the game.
Don’t have much more to add. In light of Belichick’s Trump support perhaps this a revealing moment, from Inside the NFL:
We’ll see what happens in Houston.
At the moment, who can fail to find NBA coaches more compelling?:
I don’t like to give bad reviews to books on Helytimes. Why call limited attention to bad books? However I must condemn this book.
Let me admit that I didn’t read it.
I oppose it because:
1) I was not consulted on it and didn’t hear about it until it was published
2) I was not included in it
3) many geniuses were not included in it, and the selections don’t represent anything like a best of.
Impossible in an anthology to please everyone. But I suspect anyone familiar with the Lampoon will find the table of contents to be the funniest part.
(That’s the only part I read.)
4) No art?
The Lampoon is full of beautiful art that makes the words tolerable.
A mistake to print an all words anthology.
5) the whole point of the Lampoon is you can write and “publish” dumb bad practice material that no one will ever see.
On the other hand: I was lucky and was given issues of the Lampoon by my cousin when I was a senior in high school. That gift changed my life. So maybe this book will do that for someone.
Here’s a funny review by one Helen Andrews of Sydney, Australia in the Weekly Standard. (Shoutout to Chris McKenna who I guess reads The Weekly Standard?)
I think you’ll get more value for your book dollar in:
Another incredible title for a travel book. This one from the missionary Juan Crespí, who in 1769 took a walk from Baja California to San Francisco and back.
Really appreciate the translation with careful annotations by Alan K. Brown. Here’s Crespí on the origin of the name Carpinteria.
I wonder if he stopped to get a burger at The Spot.
My favorite part of the book so far though is this poem.
I found it a soothing pastime late one evening to make a map of Crepsí’s trip.
He must’ve seen some interesting stuff.
Much boring stuff as well:
That photo from the collection of Harry Crosby, who photo’g’d much of Crespí’s trail in Baja California.
Not to be confused with the other Harry Crosby:
But he yearned to escape the rigidity of everyday life in Boston. His experience in France made it unbearable to live among what he called “dreary, drearier, dreariest Boston” and to put up with “Boston virgins who are brought up among sexless surroundings, who wear canvas drawers and flat-heeled shoes.” He wanted to escape “the horrors of Boston and particularly of Boston virgins.” Any sense of propriety was wiped out by a lust for living in the moment, forgetting all risks and possible consequences.
The Fire Princess
On July 9, 1928, Crosby met 20-year-old Josephine Noyes Rotch, the daughter of Arthur and Helen Ludington Rotch in Boston. Ten years his junior, they met while she was shopping inVenice at the Lido for her wedding trousseau… “She was dark and intense… since the season of her coming out in 1926-7, she had been known around Boston as fast, a ‘bad egg’…with a good deal of sex appeal.”
They met for sex as often as her eight days in Venice would allow.
To go on display! But back in Massachusetts. Is is worth a trip?
The original object was exhibited by P.T. Barnum in Barnum’s American Museum in New York in 1842 and then disappeared. It was assumed that it had been destroyed in one of Barnum’s many fires that destroyed his collections…
There is controversy today on whether the Fiji mermaid actually disappeared in the fire or not. Many claim to have the original exhibit, but Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, has the most proof that their exhibit is the actual original. It does not look completely the same, but it does have the same flat nose and bared teeth. The thought that the fires could have altered the appearance of the mermaid are reason for it not looking completely like it did in Barnum’s possession.
Well, if I can’t make it to Cambridge I can always make my own:
A guide to constructing a Fiji mermaid appeared in the November 2009 issue of Fortean Times magazine, in an article written by special effects expert and stop-motion animator Alan Friswell. Rather than building the figure with fish and monkey parts, Friswell used papier mache and modelling putty, sealed with wallpaper paste, and with doll’s hair glued to the scalp.
Gauguin placed this painting on consignment at the exhibition at a price of 1,500 francs, the highest price he assigned and shared by only one other painting, but had no takers.
Gaugin didn’t always crush it with his titles (Study of A Nude, etc) but sometimes he nailed it. Here is Where Are You Going?
(sometimes less interestingly called Woman Holding A Fruit)
Of course best of all, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? at the good ol’ Boston MFA.
Charles Moricetwo years later tried to raise a public subscription to purchase the painting for the nation. To assist this endeavour, Gauguin wrote a detailed description of the work concluding with the messianic remark that he spoke in parables: “Seeing they see not, hearing they hear not”. The subscription nevertheless failed.
You can read about Geoff Dyer’s frustrating experiences with these paintings and Gaugin and Tahiti in:
I was bummed I missed that dude at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, bet we could’ve had some laughs.
At Fenway Park for Jason Varitek bobblehead day, I stopped to fill out a two page survey. Here’s the bottom of page 2:
The whole survey had a bit of a hypnotism vibe:
If you’re an official card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation ($14 a year) you can watch batting practice from on top of the Green Monster:
Fenway is just so wonderful. From the wall of former Red Sox logos, one of the more unsuccessful efforts:
Orioles outfield coach Wayne Kirby kept giving emphatic instructions that, as far as I could tell, were heard by nobody:
The Red Sox encourage you to follow “the time-honored tradition of keeping score.” A very Zen activity, recommended. I developed my method during my Roxbury Latin playing career, when I was judged more valuable for my tactical/strategic and historical mind than for my hitting/fielding abilities.
Doesn’t that just tell the whole story. A tough night for Boston but any night at Fenway is a good time.
I feel grateful to the Boston Red Sox.
I feel thankful for the Boston Red Sox.
I feel a sense of gratitude towards the Boston Red Sox.
(contact me if you wish to purchase a Varitek bobblehead, $6000 obo)
(spent more time than I’d like to admit trying to find pictures of Buckminster Fuller in interesting chairs)
One of the better gravestones:
in good old Mount Auburn Cemetery
which is the place I’m picturing when I hear:
The other day I was home sick from work, and Field of Dreams was on TV. Readers will recall Ray Kinsella goes to Boston to track down Terence Mann. What a specific take on Boston! No one is Irish or has much of an accent, and the biggest Red Sox fan is a black guy. Kudos to director Phil Alden Robinson for taking things deeper.
Massachusetts local dialect is all over the Web these days*. This is a favorite topic of mine.
A discussion of placemats caused my sister to send the above photo, and sent me looking into the Massachusetts use of the word “spa.”
Best (first) source I found was (of course?) at Village 14, “Newton’s Virtual Village”:
The word spa comes to us from Spa, Belgium:
The greatest Belgian in fiction? Some people say its Poirot but I say it’s Remy from “Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.”
For Massachusetts dialect, let me give a shoutout to David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways In America.
This guy is a boss. He tells us that what we think of as the “Boston accent” might have its origin in the dialect of East Anglia:
Also he suggests how Scots-Irish people brought us pig-ribs and fighting and gun-love.
- see previous Helytimes coverage of the ocean sunfish here
John Quincy Adams isn’t our most cinematic president, but Anthony Hopkins does a grand old job playing him in Amistad.
(Never forget that McConaughey was in Amistad, by the way:
Now, if you ask me (nobody did) Amistad doesn’t totally nail it as a movie, because the courtroom battle, instead of being about the rightness or wrongness of slavery, ends up coming down to like some points of international and maritime law. But there’s a great speech by JQA, seen here starting at minute 1:30, about telling a story:
Recently I picked up recently Paul Johnson’s The Birth Of The Modern, a book I’d been seeing on distinguished bookshelves for years, with that great cover art by CDF:
What an absolute boss of a book, one of the highest interesting-information-per-page books I’ve ever come across. How did Paul Johnson write it, on top of everything else he was up to? From PJ’s Wikipedia page:
The following year, he attacked Ian Fleming’s James Bondnovel Dr No and in 1964 he warned of “The Menace of Beatlism” in an article contemporarily described as being “rather exaggerated” by Henry Fairlie in The Spectator.
Johnson started out as kind of a lefty it appears, but he’d end up working for Margaret Thatcher:
“‘I was instantly drawn to her,’ he recalls. ‘I’d known Margaret at Oxford. She was not a party person. She was an individual who made up her own mind. People would say that she was much influenced by Karl Popper or Frederick Hayek. The result was that Thatcher followed three guiding principles: truthfulness, honesty and never borrowing money.'”
Speaking of not a party person, Johnson has a great description the odd couple times that were had when John Quincy Adams, John Calhoun, and James Ashton Bayard went to negotiate the treaty that would end the War Of 1812.
Seems JQA could come off as a bit of a pill:
Imagine referring your bros to Martens, Book vii, chapter 55, section 3!
Poor guy. JQ was probably just trying to live up to his dad, who was no slouch either. Van Wyck Brooks sums up Adams The First in a footnote in The Flowering Of New England:
They don’t make ’em like they used to.
A lot of posts are his photos from Asia.
But there are also several posts about investing that I found so interesting I read them several times and sent them to others. Here’s a few samples.
From this post, “The Brooklyn Investor: The Greatest Investment Book Ever Written“:
“Any time you extend your bankroll so far that if you lost, it would really distress you, you probably will lose. It’s tough to play your best under that much pressure.”
This is exactly what Joel Greenblatt said in an essay soon after the financial crisis. He was talking about how many people thought the error in their investment was that they didn’t foresee the crisis and so didn’t sell stocks before the collapse. Greenblatt insisted that this couldn’t be done anyway and that the real error was that these people simply owned too much stocks. If you own so much stock that a 50% decline is going to scare you and make you sell out at precisely the wrong moment (and as Greenblatt says, and Brunson says in this book, you are almost guaranteed to sell out at the bottom), then you owned too much stock to begin with. Greenblatt said the mistake wasn’t that they didn’t sell before the crisis, but that they sold in panic at the bottom. This was the error. So the key defense against inevitable (and unpredictable) bear markets is to not extend yourself so much that it will distress you when the markets do fall (and they will). Buffett says that if it would upset you if a stock you bought declined by 50%, then you simply shouldn’t be investing in stocks. As I like to say all the time, more money is probably lost every year in trying to avoid losing money in the stock market than actual losses in the stock market! via The Brooklyn Investor: The Greatest Investment Book Ever Written.
Profoundly interesting quote. Sub out the word “your bankroll” for, say, “yourself” and does it apply to other situations, like championship tennis?
Thought “What are questions?” was also a great post, on the great Clay Christensen
So was “Everybody Gets What They Want,” a cold-eyed suggestion about whether people are subconsciously manifesting / The Secret-ing themselves:
Check it out. Nick also found some good old photos of Boston:
Also, you can enjoy this:
On a recent visit home to Massachusetts I was surprised to learn about this story, which I hadn’t been following. After they learned that their friend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev probably did the Boston Marathon bombing, several associates went to his room and rounded up some of his stuff and threw it out.
The New Yorker tells the story with all kinds of vivid details.
The three of them went to Taco Bell, then to Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev’s apartment, where Kadyrbayev’s girlfriend, Bayan Kumiskali, was about halfway through watching “The Pursuit of Happyness.” Everyone but Tazhayakov got stoned, then they all sat on the couch and watched the second half of the movie, checking for news on their devices.
Can’t help but feel for Azamat Tazhavakov, “who was known as a mama’s boy, even though he was thousands of miles away from home.”
When Tazhayakov awoke early the next morning, he discovered that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was still on the loose, had now been publicly identified as a suspect in the bombing, and that Tamerlan had been killed. Tazhayakov began to panic and smoked marijuana for what may have been the first time in his life.
A VERY bad decision.
Once Mayor Tom Menino of Boston came to speak at my high school. He was a terrible speaker, had a bad speech impediment. He said that when he was a kid he told his teacher, a nun, that he wanted to be an engineer when he grew up, so he could build bridges. The nun told him he wasn’t smart enough to be an engineer. So, he said, he became the mayor to build bridges between communities.
(photo by Jim Rogash, Getty Images, swiped from here)
2) This video is all over my Facebook. I have a tale of New York City street harassment.
One day in 2009 I was walking around looking for apartments with a real estate broker. The broker was an extremely attractive woman, the girlfriend of a friend. It was a really hot day, she was wearing like a bare-armed shirt thing under a jacket and she took the jacket off.
The catcalls and stuff yelled at her was INSANE. Like, at least ten dudes said something, most of it muttered after she walked past.
Now, being a self-absorbed dude, my reaction to this was fascination but also like “am I supposed to do something about this?” Like, “I’m walking with this woman, and presumably it could be my girlfriend or my sister or something, am I supposed to like beat up all these dudes? Because that would take a long time and also would by no means be a guaranteed victory.” She rolled with it as though it was no more significant than the squawk of pigeons but man.
Anyway, now I have successfully made this story about me.
Contra Joyce Carol Oates:
this was in Union Square and literally Washington Square Park and the heart of the West Village, also mostly white dudes.
I defer to Mero on this one: