Friday, July 3, 2009

NYC, America -- The Land of Opportunity

Who is the leader? That’s what I’m pondering right now—as I stare 1250 feet up, at the top of the Empire State Building, lit a glorious red, white and blue for the occasion.
I decided I wasn’t even going out tonight, the day before the Fourth. Minutes later, I’m on the street. Sleep—screw that!—I’ll sleep when I die. Let’s do this.
I don’t mess around with energy drinks. Coffee baby. Coffee.
I get my stride going. Not taking the subway tonight. Just gonna walk it. A familiar round. Why not? My neighborhood is ideal for ninja activity. That’s half the reason why I moved here, haha. Seriously, there’s been more sightings in the Upper West Side than anywhere else—so either we’re bigger liars, or have bigger imaginations, or…
Because of the holiday tomorrow, my thoughts from before resurface. The leader. What’s that guy got to be like? Every organization has a leader, a head, a big boss. What could the head of a modern ninja organization be like? Pretty badass, no doubt, but that’s obvious. At first I thought, he’s got to be old. Japanese respect the elders—with good reason, they’re wiser—they can lead the young and teach them the discipline needed to remain unseen in such an active city. The temptations must be great—or maybe they don’t exist at all, so thorough is their training. Do they ever get the urge to scare a smooching couple? Or drop in front of an old lady and make her drop her groceries? Or…what happens when they see a crime going on?—are they like the rest of Japanese youth or American youth, or any youth probably, that has grown up infatuated with heroes? Don’t they have an urge, just once, to be like Batman and stop that mugging, that murder, that rape? Discipline. Discipline is what is most required to keep hidden. Yes, you need all of the stealth skill, but without discipline it would all fall apart. And I think the only person who could inspire such discipline is an incredible leader, a great teacher. Such a man would not only be older, he would be a ninjutsu master—for nothing is respected more than skill, strength. Such a man would also be highly intelligent and entrepreneurial for uniting the old with the new, bringing ninja into the modern city and taking advantage of a clear business opportunity. Yes, such a man must be quite a character. I wonder if he can speak English.
Then I thought, it could easily be a younger person too—the young are more likely to take risks and blaze a new path. Perhaps the greatest student of an old master decided that his training was not enough, that the ninja should be resurrected not only in technique but in practice. Such a student would be eager, ambitious, and deadly talented. Would an old Japanese man really want to leave Japan and start a stressful business in a stressful city? The more I think about it, the more likely it seems that a young man, a gifted student, a true entrepreneur, a true ninja, a true romantic idealist, would start the NYC ninja empire. For it is the young which romanticize the far past and crave for its revival. It is the young who thirst for the night, for activity, and for success. It is the young who loves challenge and bloodshed. It is a young student—no a young master—who leads the ninja. Or so I believe.
For years immigrants have come to America in search of opportunity. For some reason or other, Tokyo was not adequate for the revival of the ninja. And so the ninja passed the Statue of Liberty, surely smiling, as so many have before them, and began a new and better life, where their skills would not rot, where they would have work and riches—they took a chance, that is for sure; but like any immigrant, they carved a niche and made a name, and now they are hot on the breath of the city, and people are starting to worry, and question, and search…and die.
In a future entry, I’ll discuss some of the more curious corpses—the ones with the most rumors circling around them—the ones belonging to rich, important with mafia contacts—the ones without bullet holes, without any sign of anything at all—the ones with poison in their system—and that one—that one…with its head cut off.
This country was founded on immigrants. God Bless It. Happy Fourth of July. When you look up at the fireworks, be aware of what’s going on behind you, on the city’s silhouette, or atop the crumbling warehouse, or perhaps in one of the warehouse’s tiny broken windows, or maybe behind that particularly large chimney stack, or, worst of all, maybe right behind you. BOOM goes the firework! And nobody hears your last cry of death. OOH goes the crowd. And nobody sees you slump to your knees. They are looking up. You look down at your stomach, at the growing cloud of red, glinting in the light of the fireworks: red, white, and blue. And then all of the fireworks are over forever. And the ninja’s long gone.

--Joey Manhattan

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