I'm still slowly picking my way through The Best American Essays of 2004, and I came across this too good to pass up piece of writing this morning. So far, my favorite essay hands down has been the Oliver Sacks piece on neurological changes especially in regard to blindness (entitled "The Mind's Eye"). It took me forever to get through, but it made me look forward to visiting the bathroom. Now I'm in an essay by Luc Sante called "My Lost City" about NYC and its gradual deconstruction. It's interesting, but hasn't captivated me entirely. This paragraph, however, made me pause.
When the blackout happened, on the evening of July 13, 1977, it briefly seemed as though the hour of reckoning had arrived, when all those outsiders would seize control. Naturally, no such thing occurred. The outsiders seized televisions and toaster ovens and three-piece suits and standing rib roasts and quarts of Old Mr. Boston and cartons of Newports and perhaps sectional sofas, but few would have known what to do with the levers of society had they been presented in a velvet-lined box. But then, my friends and I wouldn't have known, either. For all the obvious differences between the SRO dwellers and ourselves, we were alike in our disconnection from any but the most parochial idea of community. In the end, the mob dissolved like a fist when you open your hand, and the benches on the Broadway traffic islands were repopulated by loungers occasionally pulling down a bottle hanging by a string from a leaf-enshrouded tree branch overhead. (250-251)
That's good stuff.