Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Yored dorot

"If the early ones were like angels then we are like human beings, but if the early ones were like human beings then we are like donkeys" (Shabat112b).

Sometimes its true that those who came before us were our superiors. Sometimes its just bad reporting. For instance, its a matter of official NYC legend and lore that concerts in Central Park draw biblical crowds. 300, 000 for Elton John. 400,000 for Simon and Garfunkel. 750,000 for Garth Brooks. Turns out these numbers were as bogus as a three dollar bill.

The exageration was discovered last week, following a Bon Jovi concert in the park. The crowd seemed as full as ever but after the park employees tallied up the numbers on their clickers the official count was just 48,538.

This disparity in numbers was not caused by a change in the tevah: People weren't smaller in the seventies. We fill up the same space men filled 25 years ago.

Nor is it true that our forefathers were zocheh to have the park expand miraculously to accommodate the hordes.

It is not even true that Bon Jovi, a superstar of our flawed and unfortunate generation, is less of a draw than Elton John, a superstar of the heiliga previous generation: The venue was filled to capacity, and the park looked jammed.

So what happened? Simple: The park department had never counted before. The gargantuan crowd estimates of yesteryear were wild guesses, made like this:
“You would get in a room with the producer, with a police official, and a person from parks, and someone would say, ‘What does it look like to you?’” said Doug Blonsky, a former city parks administrator who is now the president of the Central Park Conservancy. “The producer would say, ‘I need it to be higher than the last one.’ That’s the kind of science that went into it.”
And so our emunat Elton must be re-evaluated -- unless you'd rather resort to the final, most pathetic dodge, and claim that the old numbers were true because they were arrived at using traditional methods, and that the new Bon Jovi numbers must, perforce, be rejected because they were determined by evil, atheist park employees who seek only to destroy our emunah with their newfangled goyishe counting methods.

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