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Two Ships

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Had Chuck Jones and Holden Caulfield colla-borated on a nature documentary to mark the arrival of spring, it might have been similar to the scenario that unfolded in Central Park last week. A wily coyote celebrated the vernal equinox by running wild for days, pausing to chase the residents of the duck pond before taking a tranquilizer dart in the haunch. (In a possible Cheeveresque twist, the coyote seems to have commuted from Westchester.) The jubilation of urban naturalists was surely nothing compared with the glee of the city’s tabloid headline writers, who marked the arrival of spring’s first celebrity hatchling, young Barron Trump, by uncorking two little words they’d been holding since autumn: you’re sired! Proud papa Donald could hardly contain his enthusiasm. It was actually perfect timing because next weekend I am supposed to be doing a Learning Annex lecture out in California, he said. Comebacks were in the air, too: the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano; Le Cirque announcing its third incarnation; a possible all-new this-time-I-mean-it farewell tour for Barbra Streisand. Young men’s fancies returned to thoughts of opening-day lineups, and Condoleezza Rice’s name was floated as the next NFL commissioner, a job that would bring her to the Big Apple. No less an eminence than Vice-President Dick Cheney swung by last week, coming within shouting (though not shooting) distance of Manhattan, packing in the GOP faithful at a $400,000 New Jersey fund-raiser for Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr., though Kean somehow managed to arrive too late for a photo op. (There was no concerted effort. It was two ships passing in the night, said Kean’s spokeswoman.) The latest chapter in New York’s long climb up from lawlessness and unmonitored street corners began, as the mayor unveiled plans to hire 800 new police officers and install 505 surveillance cameras all over town. In a potentially hilarious coincidence, a Spanish firm unveiled a prototype of the pay toilets it plans to install on city streets next year: Sleek and metallic, their doors slide open automatically after fifteen minutes, regardless of what anyone’s haunches are doing inside.


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