Thursday, April 2, 2009

Big Brother NYC (REPRINT)

The recent MTA Doomsday budget got me thinking. But since I was traveling, working on an assignment and trying to rest up, I haven't had time to put my rants down on paper... yet.

I wrote this in 2007. It was published in the November 2007 issue of The New York Pamphleteers. Let's take a trip down recent-memory lane.

Big Brother NYC

New York City’s the place to be if you’re a non-smoking fornicator with a healthy heart, or at least that’s what the city could use in its new tourism campaign – This is New York City. Take the revamped, intelligent New York-centric condom. The sleek black wrappers with the subway line graphics are catchy. To date, over 8 million condoms have been distributed to sexually active New Yorkers, or quite possibly to sexually active non-New Yorkers or even non-sexually active New Yorkers.

The motto for the campaign is – NYC Condoms. Get Some. And I did. I got some condoms and some sweet nooky. I collected some of the condoms just for the novelty. I am fond of the wrappers. Condoms are cool. They hold possibility and it means I don’t have to spend 12 dollars for a box.

Religious groups and the Bush administration would argue that sex ed means teaching abstinence and distributing condoms will only encourage sexual behavior. That hasn’t been proven, just like sex education and contraception hasn’t increased sexual activity. But among the population that is boinking on a regular basis, access to condoms means it can be done in a safe manner, lowering the spread of HIV and other STDs and reducing unwanted pregnancies and possibly abortions or newborns left in the trash. Sex is a part of human nature and people aren’t going to stop doing it. I think it’s great that New York City is looking out for its citizens’ nether regions.

            The New York City Department of Health also decided to tackle another issue in recent years – smoking. The nicotine-addicted clog our sidewalks and doorways because smoking is banned inside restaurants and public buildings. Two years ago the city distributed 45,000 nicotine patches and gums to help people kick the habit. The program was implemented again this past spring for a limited time. You had to be 18 and live in New York City and meet other requirements to receive your “quit kit”. I suspect the city will try again next year and I can imagine what went on in this year’s meeting at the health department; we either try to get people to quit smoking or continue to see those disturbing commercials of 30-somethings with holes in their throats, or surgeons removing fatty clots from neck veins.

New York City would rather we not put nicotine or bare penises into our bodies. And now they’re proclaiming, “Down with Crisco!” Trans-fat, found in way too many of our favorite foods, is on the city’s hit list as well. In September 2006 the city placed a ban on trans-fats. Restaurants and fast-food chains had until July 2007 to stop using trans-fats in all their recipes. They’ll be breaking the law if they feed us the artery-clogging fat that tastes so good. The next step is to have calories posted conspicuously next to cash registers and on menus.

Big Brother New York is looking out for us. What’s next? City-run fitness centers? Will Personal training be considered a municipal job? Will they ration out coffee, allowing only one iced grande non-fat latte a day? During off-peak hours, will mass transit only run express, forcing more straphangers to walk? There doesn’t look like a there’s a chance for the U.S implementing a socialist healthcare system. Maybe on a city level, this is the government’s way of making up for it.

For now, the efforts New York City is making are just to ensure we can get through sex without catching a disease or having a heart attack. What’s wrong with that?

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