IN the two weeks after my return from a year in Paris, the New York Times reported that there were some serious derailments on the New York City subway, trains were slowed in the August heat to prevent further derailments, and lines were closed for emergency repairs. There was a mass attack by young hoodlums on people attending a Central Park concert by Diana Ross, and an invasion of the Tavern on the Green to rob the well-to-do patrons of that landmark restaurant. There was an electrical blackout and great damage to electric generating faci]ities caused by a water main break in the garment district. There was the opening-yet again-of a bid for bus shelters, still not constructed after four or five years of controversy over improper political influence. (The bus patrons of New York City still wait in rain and snow or under a hot sun.) While New York was spared the horrors of another mid-summer garbage strike, I recalled that when I lived in New York a few years before, in a high-bourgeois area very much like my Paris neighborhood, the streets were regularly lined with masses of garbage in bursting plastic bags and an array of garbage cans of all types and sizes.