Journaling: Now You Zee It, Now You Don’t 

Bruce Apar is Editorial Director + Associate Publisher of River Journal North

Every so often I eavesdrop on a couple of locals whom I call Mom and Pop Culture. Let’s hear what they have to say about a certain bridge…  

POP: I guess you’ll take the Tappan Zee?
MOM: No, sir. Not happening.
POP: Why not?
MOM: There is none.
POP: None what?
MOM: Tappan Zee Bridge. It came down in 2017. Replaced by the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Full stop.
POP: Oh, lordy, here we go again.
MOM: Just sayin’.
POP: Just agitatin’ more like it.
MOM: Me agitatin’? You’re the one who’s down with this whole “The bridge that dare not speak its name” hue and cry.
POP: Nobody’s crying, Mom. We simply want justice!
MOM: I get it, Pop. Social Justice. Environmental Justice. Now add “Public Works Identity Crisis Justice.” 
POP: There’s a petition signed by 300,000 people who want their good name back.
MOM: Their good name? You mean they want the bridge to be called The Luddites? “Can’t change the name! It’s sacreligious!”
POP: Then color me Luddite. The bridge’s native name honors native Americans.
MOM: I know that. I respect that. What I didn’t know is that overnight you’ve become a fervent advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples. How convenient when it suddenly suits your agenda. Isn’t that called cultural appropriation?
POP: If you say so. But I’ll tell you what it’s not.
MOM: What?
POP: It’s not purely political.
MOM (after a roar of laughter): Come again?
POP: Restoring the Tappan Zee name is not simply the sentiment of Republicans who want to reverse what former Gov. Andrew Cuomo ramrodded through his heavily Democratic legislature.
MOM: It’s not?
POP: A Democratic state senator from Orange County has made it his cause celebre to un-name the Cuomo Bridge and rename it the Tappan Zee.
MOM: Impressive. His district must be a problem-free paradise for him to prioritize a bridge name as an urgent matter.
POP: That’s not how it works, Mom. He can be paying attention to multiple matters simultaneously. Making that bridge’s sacred heritage whole again happens to be one of them.
MOM: Whatever. I’m fully aware that Andrew Cuomo resigned as governor under duress for his problematic personal behavior, which I do not condone one bit, but here’s the rub, Pop: The bridge ain’t named for him. It’s named for his father.
POP: Who said the world’s fair, Mom? Sometimes the sins of the son are visited on the father.
MOM: Yeah, Pop, seems there’s a lot of that going around these days. But as you said … at least it has nothing to do with politics.

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About the Author: Bruce Apar