New York City is considered to be the US epicenter of the coronavirus. Thanks to the numbers in New York City, the state of NY has almost 3 times the amount of cases than New Jersey, which is the state with the second-highest number of cases. In fact, nearly half of our country’s COVID-related deaths have occurred in New York alone.
To flatten the curve and slow the spread of the deadly virus, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a “New York State on PAUSE” executive order in mid-late March that effectively shut down everything except essential businesses. However, the order allowed individuals to go outside for exercise or recreation, provided all activities were non-contact and individuals were at least six feet from each other.
Joe and I both grew up in the New York area and, pre-coronavirus, we visited every few months. Since the COVID threat came into our lives, I’ve been keeping an eye on the EarthCam of Times Square on a near-daily basis. It was fun to see the city but sad to see the number of people get smaller and smaller as time went on. I mean, within just a matter of weeks it went from the likes of this:
The lack of people is obvious. But on top of that, the flight of red stairs over TKTS is closed off. All the tables and chairs are cordoned off. The food cart is shut down. The character photo ops aren’t there.
And that flag at half-mast. Oh, my heart! 🙁
But when I went to look at the site this past Friday, I saw something, or rather someONE, who made me smile for a minute.
The Naked Cowboy.
Robert John Burck is an American actor, singer, songwriter and writer who’s been busking as The Naked Cowboy since 1998. His trademark is only wearing a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, and “tighty whities,” and he uses a guitar that he places oh-so strategically to make him look like he’s naked. He generally appears in the Times Square area around lunchtime, posing for pictures and making money off tips.
He does this year-round, even in the middle of winter.
After the initial surprise of seeing him out there on the EarthCam, one of the first questions I had was, “What was he DOING out there?” Was he just putting his “brand” out there so people don’t forget about him and know he’s OK? I can’t think of anything else. I mean, it’s hard to tell in the pic of him circled, but he was indeed “in costume,” complete with guitar, so it wasn’t as if he was out for exercise (besides, it was in the 40s when that picture was taken). I can’t think of any New Yorkers who would EVER pose with him…he’s 100% a tourist thing. And it’s not as if there are any tourists he could pose with.
But if he DID somehow come upon someone who wanted to take a picture with him? Then what? The New York Post reported in mid-March that he was wearing a mask (yay!) but not social distancing (boo!). And that would be very irresponsible. VERY.
But I do have to admit that seeing The Naked Cowboy in Times Square, even a very quiet Times Square, gave my heart a much-needed sense of “normalcy” for a second. And that was kind of nice.
But my brain still says he shouldn’t be doing it.
What do you think?
#stayhealthy #stayathome #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary