More from my travels on the east coast and my continuing coverage of the Whitey Bulger trial….
Welcome back. The Whitey Bulger trial has cost U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars for court appointed lawyers, extra security and much more. A detailed accounting of these costs is sure to be included in a new book that Howie Carr is writing about the case. As I mentioned last week, Howie is a big radio personality in New England and I met him on several occasions while I was attending the trial. Steve Davis (whose sister was murdered by the Winter Hill gang) is working on a documentary about the gang which should reveal more about their organization as well. I am keeping in contact with both Steve and Howie and should be bringing you another related story hopefully next week.
In the meantime there is an ongoing dispute surrounding the distribution of $822,000 that was discovered in the walls of Whitey’s Santa Monica apartment. The families of several of his victims have obtained judgments against him and others are now filing suits. Whitey himself has just been convicted of racketeering and 11 counts of murder and is facing life in prison when he is sentenced in November.
My time in Boston was far too brief but I had other business in New York City. It started with a 30 minute Metro North train ride to Grand Central Station, and then it was a six block walk to the Today Show set on Rockefeller Plaza. Tickets to participate in the audience are free but no political activism or advertising is allowed. When I attended last Thursday morning there were at least a dozen people protesting the prison at Guantanamo Bay as well as others whose causes I couldn’t determine. The plain clothes security people meandering through the crowd acted quickly with the assistance of New York City police they removed all the protestors from the set.
A cowboy lost among the 8.25 million people who live in NYC, I was no problem for these bad boys. Here’s a few interesting facts about this particular piece of earth that I learned on Wikipedia:
- The total area of NYC is 304 square miles and change as compared to Oklahoma with 69,898 square miles and 3.8 million residents
- The city is made up of 5 boroughs, Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
- New York was settled by the Dutch in 1624 and came under English control in 1664.
- It was the capital of the United States from 1785 to 1790.
- It is the largest city in the United States and one of the most ethnically diverse places in the world: over 80 different languages are spoken here.
This was not my first trip to NYC and it won’t be my last. It also was not the first time I took the opportunity to visit Strawberry Fields in Central Park. This is a 2.5 acre area of the park that has been designed as a tribute to the late Beatle John Lennon.
Strawberry Fields was established with a 1 million dollar gift from Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono. Today over 120 countries contribute to the plantings and maintenance of the area. At the center of the area is a beautiful mosaic medallion with the word “Imagine” in the middle referring to Lennon’s song about his hopes for peace among people everywhere. On this day as every day dozens of people were taking pictures there. A single guitar player was playing Beatles’ songs and the site that has been designated as a garden of peace was just that.
A few tips for travel to the city: Don’t drive your car into town. Parking is tough to find and extremely expensive. Cabs are good for short distances and the double Decker sight seeing buses are great. It is usually free to attend any of the TV shows but expect lines to get in. If the weather is good the Today Show is fun because you can be seen out on the plaza. Matt, Al and Savannah were very nice, shaking hands and having their photo taken with everyone. You can find food everywhere in New York, from street vendors to swank restaurants. With the diversity of the population any cuisine you can think of is represented. According to my daughter and traveling partner the shopping is amazing which may be the worst thing that happens to you in the city…
I also want to mention how friendly and helpful I find New Yorkers, despite their reputation. Even a scout, tracker, translator and interpreter can get turned around.
Do you want to be careful? Yes, but on average, given the size of the population, your chances of meeting a kind person are better than good. This really is a uniquely beautiful part of our country.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road….