Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Don't Mess With Times Square

Faisal Shahzad obviously isn't into musicals. Otherwise, he'd have known that the optimum congestion in Times Square doesn't take place on Saturday nights, but on Wednesday afternoons, when Broadway has its matinees. Specifically, when the matinees let out, and the tour buses are already bringing in the throngs for the evening shows, and office workers start trying to make their way home.

He also apparently doesn't know how to parallel-park, because his poor parking skills were one feature which caught the attention of sidewalk vendors. But then, I guess when you think you've got enough explosive stuff in the back of your SUV to blow up half of "the crossroads of the world," trying to squeeze into a Manhattan parking space becomes even more nerve-wracking than normal.

Shahzad has been charged today with terrorism in connection with the foiled bombing of midtown Manhattan's 45th Street, and apparently, he's not denying it. While experts say his explosive contraption could have killed people and blown out windows, it wouldn't have destroyed any buildings. Some cops have also said that the evidence Shahzad left in his SUV, combined with his sloppy trail of clues leading all the way into Connecticut, portray him as woefully amateurish at the whole KaBoom! thing.

Which doesn't exactly instill people with confidence, does it? We all know that any idiot can blow stuff up. Such incidents may not topple the US government, or even a one-story building, but they can still inflict plenty of death, fear, and anxiety.

Nevertheless, you have to hand it to law enforcement agencies which took the case from smoky Pathfinder to a jet pulling away from the gate at Kennedy: about 48 hours from start to arrest. We won't count the time it took from the early-evening images police say capture the Pathfinder snaking through Times Square traffic to the time when the street vendors saw the smoke. What's amazing about having the SUV parked along the street is that Shahzad found a curbside spot at all in Midtown on a Saturday night, so who knows how long it took him to find it.

After our recent series of political stupidity with nationalizing healthcare, the dreary drumbeat of earthquake news from across the planet, the goofball who set his family jewels on fire during a flight to Detroit Christmas day, and the BP folly taking place in the Gulf of Mexico as you read this, isn't it strangely refreshing to see how some people can still work together and pull of an amazing bit of Find-The-Terrorist?

Mayor Bloomberg took the officer who first called in the smoldering SUV and his wife to dinner at the W hotel in Times Square Sunday to show his appreciation - and prove he felt safe in the neighborhood. But kudos - really, ladies and gentlemen: congratulations, and thank you! - to everybody involved in averting this calamity, including the street vendors who initially noticed the oddly-parked Nissan.

Have a warm, soft pretzel on me!

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