On the other hand, if you do feel like a dose of declinism there are many ways to get it. Quickest is to watch public television during membership drives, when they bring out Peter and Paul to sing their Childe ballads about the marijuana dragon and peace in our time. The pans over the audience look like bingo night in the assisted-living facility. Is this the senescent republic that guarantees the world’s liberty? Second quickest is to attend a concert of white bluesmen.
The jazz branch of the great culture center has a concert hall at one of the prime intersections of the city. The view is spectacular. Six stories up you look out a two-storey-high window on the monuments to Christopher Columbus and the USS Maine; on the southwest corner of the great green carpet of the park; on the broad double band of a crosstown street, white headlights coming at you, red taillights speeding away, both blazing after what we persist in calling nightfall (in midtown night is only a set-off for electricity). It’s a long way from the Delta up there.