Are you going to choose the blue pill or the red pill?

Let’s say you were on your way to work and looking to fulfill your a.m. salt bagel and coffee needs (as I often am). Are you going to go here:


Or are you going to go here:


Convenience is not a factor in your decision.


It’s a choice that, in a small way, defines who you are and what kind of city you want to live in. New York use to be full of red pills, like the one on the left. But for whatever reason, they are disappearing and being replaced with blue pills, like the one on the right.

This is the same fight that I meditated on in this David v. Goliath New York story. And for the record, even though I don’t think my small contribution will amount to squat, I always swallow the red pill of truth vs. the blue pill of blissful ignorance. (For salt bagels and coffee, that is. Please don’t test me on Life’s Big Decisions.)

* * *

This is Bryant Park, right behind the big library on 42nd Street and 5th Avenue, with the new sod all laid out. Can you old-time New Yorkers pick out what’s odd about this sod?


What’s the biggest surprise in these photos?


The shock is that nobody is ON THE GRASS! The lawn is surrounded by an ankle-high orange rope and small signs imploring people to stay off the sod and allow it to take root.

This is as good an illustration as any as to how far New York has come since I move here over two decades ago. When I got here, Bryant Park was a den of crime and drugs. You didn’t dare go NEAR it. All the dregs of 42nd Street would empty out into the park. At that time, the crackheads would have used the rope to tie up wayward tourists and picked their pockets. Now, it’s clean and full of law abiding citizens.

Some people bemoan the disappearance of “old” New York and pitch a fit about the “Disneyfication” of Times Square but take it from me, even though it may have cost the city some of its soul, this is a much, much better way to live. Don’t argue with me. It just is.

17 thoughts on “Are you going to choose the blue pill or the red pill?

  1. Yup, I would be red all the way, but it’s good to be reminded that not all change is for the worse – great picture of everyone crowded around the edges, admiring the grass!

  2. sometimes people think that the phrase “reclaiming our city” is a euphemism for gentrification when, in fact, it means reclaiming areas for everyday people and NOT criminals who’ve robbed us of our right to a bit of green grass and the ability to walk our streets without fear. you’re right: …even though it may have cost the city some of its soul, this is a much, much better way to live. Don’t argue with me. It just is. amen, brother! (and yeah, i shop local when there’s a choice to be made.)

  3. prefer red, given the choice. in these parts, i often have to drive for the red pill… and do sometimes.the chain restaurants are either part of, or a result of, the reclamation of the city. it’s safe enough for chains. sometimes you have to take the crunchy with the smooth…

  4. Nurse: Step right this way to a better day.Kyknoord: Truly color blind or only in the metaphorical sense?GOTJ: That’s fine. It’s all about the choice, really. Not the coffee.PG: It won’t be long until they open the lawn. Once that happens, they’ll be outdoor performances and Monday night movies on the lawn.Savannah: Gentrification can usually mean a bad thing but occasionally, it saves a neighborhood.Daisy: People like the chains. Familiarity breeds comfort. I get that. But the little guys must be supported!

  5. The thing I hate about this red pill / blue pill thing, is that more often and not those blue pills are deliberately placed so as to swallow the poor little red pills up. it sucks, and its certainly not restricted to New york…

  6. LG: Thanks for reading. However you get here is fine by me! Lovely avatar, by the way.Jimmy: What? No salt bagel! Do you like brad? Do you like salt? If so, you’ll love salt bagels. Especially if you wash it down with come coffee.Living: Come to NYC. We have plenty.Ruby: That’s true. Often times (too often) the choice is made for us.

  7. Danie’s bagels has a lovely ring to it.That grass could have come from the Emerald Isle or Exford village green -it’s so green.

  8. How dare you mention bagels, don’t you know that this sends me into a two week frenzy of day dreaming of everything bagels and kicking myself for not having enough of them while I’m home?? At least eventually people will be allowed on the grass. In Spain they plant grass for people to look at and never ever be able to walk barefoot upon or toss a frisbee in. never. Ever. It’s totally stupid. But it’s because people here don’t know how to clean up after their dogs.

  9. Hello, I just came over from Pat’s blog about ” To Kill A Mocking Bird” and I read your comment.So…. here I am and I must say your post about the book and letter had me in tears.I seem to be the only person in the world who just couldn’t read that book. Set it down and never looked at it again as I commented on Pat’s blog.After reading everyone’s love for this book, daughter included, I think maybe I should try to read it again.Also…I shop local when I have a choice. Bagel love ! but once a year I have a glazed donut with a really big cup of coffee yum … Japan has the best donut shops. Grass is a luxury where I live and thank goodness we are allowed to enjoy it. cheers, parsnip

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