Friends, yesterday, February 4th, is what my friend and songwriter Jeff Talmadge would call a “secret anniversary.” It’s one of those days on the calendar that means a lot to you, not the rest of the world.
February 4th is one of those dates for me, but I don’t think it should be so secret. So I’m taking today’s post to share this amazing, small fact with you: on February 4th, 1993, there was no violent crime reported in New York City.
None. Nada. Zero. Zip.
I was living on 47th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues that year, right in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. Walking the dog in that neighborhood in those years meant making sure she didn’t treat the needles on the sidewalk like chew toys. It’s where I witnessed a drive-by shooting (no one was hurt, but a storefront was shot up and a “message was sent”).
The facts about February 4th were reported on February 6th in the city edition of Newsday. The story was buried deep in the paper, above an electronics ad, but there was no escaping the headline: Violent Death Takes a Holiday.
In just a few column inches, it was revealed that on February 4th, there were no murders, no rapes, no arson, no stabbings, no shootings. When officers reported to work for their shifts, there was plenty of time for donuts.
And that’s a really, really good day.
In February of 1993, I had just started writing songs. I wrote a song about this. I performed it at my first open mic appearance in March of that year. In 1996, I entered the song in the Kerrville New Folk Competition. I was accepted as a finalist, and the song helped me win.
I think of this secret anniversary every year, and several of my friends from way back then always drop me a line on that day as well. It always felt like a happy miracle to us, most definitely worth remembering.
This year, I noted to my old friend Steve that a child born on that day would now be 18 years old. Seems to me all of those young men and women were born under quite a lucky star.
And here in my middle years, I continue to secretly hoped that one day–one day–we’ll hear of something wonderful or great or kind or life-saving, given to humankind from the wisdom and hard work of some woman or man born in New York City on February 4th, 1993.
Hope I’m around to see it.