Report from the Frontline

The day after 9-11 the Plain Dealer sent me to New York City to report on the recovery efforts at Ground Zero. I relied on my friend there, Mark Bloch, a college roommate from Kent State University, to help me get into the wreckage of the twin towers. Recent events regarding the COVIT 19 pandemic brought him to mind again. I have talked to him recently about what life in New York City is like right now. This is that report.

Bloch, 64 is an artist and writer who lives at 8th Avenue and 28th St. He is a 30-year resident of Manhattan with his wife Amy, who is a retired schoolteacher. He had a big art show scheduled for March 26 that was postponed because of the pandemic. Here is what he had to say during a recent phone conversation.

“People always call and say, ‘We are so worried about you.’ I always tell them: this is a great place to be right now. New Yorkers are the best people. There is a tremendous camaraderie here. They respect the guidelines. Our governor (Andrew Cuomo) is so sensible. There is none of that false confidence that leads to huge pool parties like elsewhere in the Midwest.

People here know how to live together. The streets are eerie, but it’s nice to be able to walk in the middle of the street on 8th Avenue. Nobody misses all the cars whizzing around.

A couple restaurants have re-opened including our favorite Chinese place. Amy is impressed that I have become militant about germs. I scrub everything every day. I want to live in a sterile environment. The stay at home is tough, like it is for everybody, but we have a nice garden behind our building. We walk 3 ½ miles every day. She has one of those step counters.  I’m working hard at home writing and making art. There is no expectation to do anything but what I love to do.”

Bloch has just begun a new podcast. It is called the Panmodern Podcast.

“I am a home broadcasting station. We all are. Two close friends of our have died. One is an author, other is an artist. Both In their 70’s The loss is shocking and sobering.”

Bloch says New York City is going to come out the other side of this stronger than ever.

“The pandemic is kind of a reset button. We will get back to being known as a New York City full of the tough, hard-working people we have always been. But did with a renewed resilience.”

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Volume 11, Issue 6, Posted 11:49 AM, 06.07.2020