Desensitizing Children to Violence: NYC Edition

The dictionary defines desensitization as:

“…the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative or aversive stimulus after repeated exposure to it. To make indifferent, unaware…in feeling.”

Look at this horrific ad that’s currently running on New York City buses:

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Every child walking down the avenue—from ‘tweens to infants in strollers—sees this. The Metropolitan Transit Authority reviews the ads posted on buses and subways for appropriateness. Some years ago, they rejected an ad that referred to Israel’s enemies as “savages.” Just this past January, they rejected an ad for an urban art exhibit that featured a subway car covered with graffiti. No need to revisit that, I agree.

But this is acceptable? Have you ever seen anything so vividly grim in a public space? And, OF COURSE, the victim is a woman. The victims in torture porn film ads are always women.

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I’m so sick of these graphic depictions of violence against women. I don’t want my 8-year old daughter to see this! This stuff is impressionable. You can’t un-see it. If you repeatedly expose little kids to this kind of appalling imagery, they’re going to grow up void of empathy. I get angry at the morons who take their toddlers to The Dark Knight for the same reason.

Am I making too much of this? You can tell me. Do I need to chill?


My Bride and I walked through Chinatown last weekend. It’s one of my favorite neighborhoods. I like it because I can walked down crowded Mott Street and see over everybody’s head. Here are some pics of the open-air produce markets and a paper-folding artisan selling his wares on the sidewalk.

china7Octopuses. Or is it octopi?

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A basket ‘o blue claws.

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Dragon fruit. Whatever that is.

china5Croc/Gator. Do you like the goose in the foreground? I did that on purpose. Or do you think it’s clutter. Tell me the truth!

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Fox and penguins.

china2Four blind mice. And a cat.

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Parading peacock.

Here’s a price list. Very reasonable considering the artistry and labor involved.

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The weather was perfect so we walked from Chinatown to Little Italy and got a sidewalk table at a café on Mulberry Street. We had pastry and cappuccinos (hers iced, mine hot) and watched the big parade of humanity. Best show in town. Then we walked east on Houston Street to our old apartment on Clinton and Avenue B.

I don’t think my wife had seen Clinton Street since decamping for New Jersey 12 years ago. So much has changed but some things are still the same. We walked past my old Dominican barber. He looked up, his face brightened with recognition, he put his scissors down (he had a customer in the chair!) and came outside to greet us.

We hugged and he insisted that we come inside for a visit. He opened a bottle of red wine and everyone in the shop drank a toast to old friends. I apologized to his customer for the interruption and he said, “He can’t help himself. He’s a social animal.” We talked about the junkies and gypsies who once prowled Clinton Street. That guy was one tough muther. If someone tried to sell heroin in front of his barbershop, he’d chase them away with a straight razor. “Take it down the street!,” he’d yell. He could have been shot. But he’s a survivor. I remember.