An old pal, who lives about a mile uptown from me, writes as follows:
Did you hear about the multiple murder up here on 122nd Street, in a car parked outside the Manhattan School of Music?Not to mention you and your neighbors, brother, with institutional affiliations and without.
All the reports, probably all cribbed from The New York Times, refer to a crime "just blocks from Columbia University."
Apparently being right in front of the music school, around the corner from Riverside Church, and a block away from both the Jewish and Union seminaries is of no interest compared to the threat to Columbia students.
This is a somewhat specialized case of what is technically known -- in my house, anyway -- as the Colin Ferguson Startle Reflex. Colin Ferguson, you may recall, if you are old enough, is the fellow who suddenly pulled out a gun 20 years ago, or so, on the Long Island Railroad, and shot up a bunch of commuters. (Having spent more time than I would like on the LIRR myself, I admit to a certain sympathy for the guy.)
Reactions were of course sought from various Long Islanders. To a man, and woman, they responded with variations on a single theme: This is not supposed to happen here. In the city, among the schvartzers, okay, but Long Guyland is supposed to be safe. That's why I paid so much for my butt-ugly(*) house and my three-hour commute!
Just so: car shootups in Harlem used to be routine -- hardly worth reporting on, except to deplore the mores of the schvartzers. But now that Harlem is suddenly 'just blocks' from Columbia -- thanks to Clodumbia's own metastatic growth -- the Colin Ferguson reflex comes into play.
Perhaps Columbia should hire George Zimmerman to organize a neighborhood watch.
(*) Why do we say that? Okay, some butts are ugly, but others are very much the reverse. Why don't we say 'face-ugly'?