amNY series, day two: Q&A with Curtis Sliwa
Radio host Curtis Sliwa founded what became The Guardian Angels in 1979.
It was like dawn of the dead. It was like zombies roaming around, dope fiends, drug dealers vulturizing the city. The Bronx was burning. People were fleeing. We are nowhere near that situation. Back then you felt, particularly if you worked the graveyard shift, when the sun went down the thugs ruled everything on the ground. You felt like you were wearing pork chop pants going into a cage of Doberman pitchers.
What do you miss about that era in New York?
Absolutely nothing. Some people say, Oh I wish we had the old Times Square. I say if you want that, go to Camden, go to Detroit. You want some of that old time crime, sleaze and slime?
In what way, if any, do you see the city's quality of life eroding?
There are more homeless people. You have some squeegee posses out there. The subways are just a moving caravan of people trying to shake you down for money.
When the Wall Street crisis is over, how different a place will New York be?
It all depends on whos the shot caller, whos the mayor. If its a weak mayor wed be back to the old days in no time. You need somebody who understands public safety is do or die for the city. If you havent guaranteed public safety, the tourists arent going to come. If you have crime, they [Wall Street] abandon ship, and now they dont need to be in the city because the whole world is virtual now.
1978, 2008: Which year would you rather live in and why?
2008 without question. You can actually in 2008 close your eyes sometimes and not worry that your neck will be slit ear to ear. Whereas in 1978 arson...gang violence you couldnt close your eyes. At anytime people could come out of the woodwork. You dont have that feeling now. Its more relaxed.
-- Marlene Naanes