AC360 Associate Producer
The U.N. General Assembly is underway here in New York. It gives the city such a warm feeling. The annual, obligatory gathering of a bunch of people who refuse to acknowledge each other’s presence in the room. Or, as it’s known in my family, Christmas.
The building itself is one of my favorite Manhattan landmarks. In fact, on the East Side, its stature is unmatched. Just driving past it makes me want to sing the Star-Spangled Banner. But enough about the Carvel Ice Cream shop on East 24th Street.
Back to the U.N. – it’s popular these days to debate its relevance. Does it play a vital role in world affairs or is it just an impotent group of international bureaucrats who use their diplomatic immunity to double park in front of Giorgio Armani?
What is certain is that the possibilities for awkward encounters at the General Assembly are endless.
I have always loved the story about how, years back, Fidel Castro snuck up behind Bill Clinton and tried to say hello. The White House totally freaked out. It did happen, it didn’t happen. They said hello but didn’t shake hands.
I don’t remember what story they settled on. All I know is that in my dreams President Bush and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez run into each other at the Olive Garden in Times Square and hash out an oil deal over a basket of breadsticks. Then they go see Patti LuPone in Gypsy.
And of course all these heads of state need places to stay. Some opt to stay at the residences of their country’s U.N. ambassador. Other’s opt for hotels. I can hear the conversation now: “Hello, room service? This is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in room 814. Can I get the chicken finger platter and an orange Sunkist? And I see you have the Sex and the City movie available on pay-per-view. Tell me, can I get that with Farsi subtitles?”
It reminds me of the weekend I spent in Vegas with Kofi Annan but that’s a whole other story.
The downside to having these world leaders in town at the same time is that the already gridlocked city streets are rendered impassable. Security is extraordinarily tight and motorcades are everywhere.
Last year, when I lived on the East Side, I took a walk with my dog to try to check out the scene. She’s a black lab and I got a kick out of thinking that people would perhaps think she was one of those unflappable bomb-sniffing dogs. Much to my dismay, our cover was blown when she vomited up a bag of Cheetos and joined a Free Tibet protest.
Maybe we'll have better luck this year.
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