Saturday, October 17, 2009

New York State of Mind - Notes from an Emigrant

"Welcome to New York City, Now Go Home”
-De facto motto of New York City

Every since Rudy Guiliani made the city safer for all of us and turned 42nd Street into the real life version of Disneyland’s Main Street USA, we’ve been inundated with tourists. Don’t get me wrong, I love our tourists, but here are few tips to make your stay here more enjoyable for the rest of us:

1. WALK FASTER!!! We have places to go, so get out of our way. You may be on vacation, but we have one hour for lunch.
2. ORDER FASTER!!! If you insist on buying breakfast during the morning rush, know what you want. Again, we have places to go, so get out of our way. We are not rude, we are just much more important than you.
3. STOP ASKING ME FOR DIRECTIONS!!! What do I look like, an information booth? If you want a Starbucks, walk a block. You are bound to run into one. And the Statue of Liberty is in the same place it has been for about 120 years now. Hint: Keep walking down (south) until you hit water then look up. Voila, Statue of Liberty!
Actually, I am just having some fun. I love our tourists. Not only do they bring much need revenue to this financially-challenged city, but they bring a much needed perspective. If nothing else, they let us know we are not alone. At lunchtime, I see the constant sea of people looking solemnly out over the former World Trade Center site, saying little prayers for the victims and their families and it humbles me. Sometimes we forget what is right in front of us and the tourists are a good reminder to never forget.

And just so you won’t think that I am just picking on the tourists, here are a few tips for the New York City dwellers too –

1. BE A TOURIST!!! Discovery America. Hey, those bridges, tunnels, planes, and trains go both ways. You are free to cross the Hudson River and move about the country. New York City is NOT the center of the universe. Take a vacation to Dallas, Des Moines, Seattle, or Memphis for a change. Believe it or not, all of these cities and many more like them, have vibrant histories, excellent restaurants, beautiful museums, and award-winning theatres.
2. CUSTOMER SERVICE!!! Ever heard of it?? If you are nice to the customers, they will spend more. When we come in to your establishment, we WANT to spend our money. Please don’t make it difficult for us.
Anyway on to other topics:


We have an election coming up here. Billionaire, bon vivant, and sometime Democ… oops no…Repub…, oops, no again…oh, yeah, Independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg (a/k/a Mayor Mike) is running a hotly contested race against Bill Thompson (a/k/a The Democrat). All you need to know about Thompson is that he is “The Democrat” and that he has been endorsed by President Obama. Mayor Mike must be scared because he has spent a staggering $65,000,000 (yes, that’s millions, folks) to defeat “the Democrat”.He has been sending flyers, doing television ads, and doing many other campaign–like activities since January to defeat anyone who might depose…oops…I mean oppose him in the upcoming election. Up until September 14th, he didn’t even have an actual opponent, but that did not deter our Mayor Mike one bit. It is predicted that he will spend $117,000,000 (yes, that’s millions, again) for a post that pays him nothing. You might ask yourself “Why would someone spend that kind of money?” Well, one – he’s a billionaire and he can do anything he wants to do; and two – well, let me take you back to October, 2008
{{{resolve to yesteryear}}}

Imagine if you will, a New York City plunged into the darkness of a major financial crisis. That’s when “Wall Street” and “AIG” became foul words of the worst kind. Our Mayor Mike (billionaire, bon vivant, and Mayor-Protector of New York) stood firm as “The Only One Who Could Pull Us Out Of Our Financial Crisis”. Just one problem, the voters of New York City passed an initiative in 1993 and a referendum in 1996 limiting the Mayor and City Counsel members to two - four year terms. Unfortunately for Mayor Mike, he was in the last year of his second term. What’s a Billionaire, bon vivant, Mayor-Protector supposed to do? Not to be deterred by the will of the people, he went all “Hugo Chavez” and conspired with the City Counsel to override our democratically voted-on term limitations. Yes, he and the City Counsel decided that THEY would decide how many terms they would be allowed to serve. In a vote 28 to 22, the City Counsel passed a resolution overriding the Initiative and the Referendum and it was signed by the Mayor…{{{resolve to present}}}…

Back in the present this leaves me with a bit of dilemma. Do I vote for Mayor Hugo Bloomberg or “The Democrat”? I don't mind voting for "The Democrat", but I know nothing about him because he has only spent $1,000,000. I just do not know what to do? Any ideas?

In other news:

-The great and honorable (little H) Charles Rangel (D/NY) continues to compound his tax trouble with each passing week. Last week, the “Rethuglicans” in the House forced a vote to send Rangel to the Congressional showers. With the results falling along partisan lines, the bill was rejected and sent to a committee for further review and, most likely, to die a bureaucratic death. BUT, take heart because knowing that they cannot completely ignore the issue without looking like raging Hypocrites (big H), the Democrats and the House “Ethics” Committee announced they are expanding the investigation on Rangel and would get back to us sometime. In an article from The Hill, it was reported that they have already “…issu[ed] close to 150 subpoenas and [have been] interviewing approximately 34 witnesses, resulting in more than 2,100 pages of transcripts.” I am sure they will decide soon, but I won't hold my breath.

- In a baffling surprise, the great and wise people that run our school system have banned bake sales. Apparently, home baked goods are making the children of New York City fat. My question – how many freakin’ bake sales ARE there in NYC that they are having an effect on the health of our children??

Predictions: The Yankees are going to win the World Series, the Giants are going to win the Superbowl, and President Obama is going to win the Most Valuable Player award for both…


LawHawkSF said...

Bev: When I left for New York City in my youth, I had heard all the stories about how rude New Yorkers were. But I had also heard that if you could last a month, you ceased to be "folks," and became a New Yorker. So, since I lasted nearly two years, I had arrived. I found New Yorkers to be plain-spoken, always in a hurry, and occasionally abrupt. I never found them to be "rude."

Irony: About ten years ago, while working on a labor contract negotiation at San Francisco's Macy's Union Square, I struck up a conversation with a tourist from New York City. Once he decided that I wasn't a crazed leftist, he asked me a question that caused me to burst out in helpless laughter. After prefacing his question with, "Please don't think I'm trying to be a troublemaker," he finished with "but can you please tell me why San Franciscans are so rude?" It took me about five minutes to sputter out an answer, and I'm quite sure he had no idea why I found the question so funny.

BevfromNYC said...

You know, Hawk, in all fairness, it has never been the people on the street who are rude (mostly). It has been the customer service people. My Southern sensibilities get rattled sometimes with the appalling customer service, but it's also what makes New York so charming. In fact, I was really disappointed when I went to Carnegie Deli a few months ago and found the waiters to be downright pleasant and accommodating! What happened to those charming old curmudgeony waiters that hated everyone? It was sad...

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Great article! I hope these become a regular feature!

Hugo Bloomberg, LOL! I am stunned that anyone would spend that kind of money to become mayor. That's more than people spend to become governors or senators or even groups of senators combined! Wow.

I keep waiting for something to happen with Rangel. Everyone seems to want to be rid of him, left and right, yet he holds on unscathed. I keep hearing about Democratic challengers, but they never seem to arrive. I keep hearing about ethics investigations, and those go no where. Amazing.

Writer X said...

That photo with Rangel holding the gavel always cracks me up. It'd be more appropriate to see him holding frozen wads of $100 bills from his freezer.

BevfromNYC said...

Thanks Andrew, and I go on record that LawHawk gave me the title! He could be the headline writer for the New York Post!

The amount of money is mind boggling and how can anyone possibly compete. I really feel for Thompson and may end up voting for him, but I don't think that is a good enough reason yet. I have never been this torn about who to vote for.

As far as Rangel goes, in an ironic twist, Adam Clayton Powell IV might run against him. His father was the one Rangel deposed in the '70's. I predict that Rangel will be end up resigning because of his age or some such nonsense before there is ethics ruling.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, That could well be. Politicians always seem to develop health or family problems at times of crisis!

Writer X, He should have tax forms folded in his pocket too!

MegaTroll said...

I read something about them banning bake sales. That makes no sense at all. This country is going crazy.

I really enjoyed this article Bev! I second the idea of this being a regular thing.

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: At least Congress had the decency to censure the original Powell twice, and strip him of his seat once (of course the locals just turned around and re-elected him to the seat anyway).

I remember how they absolutely vilified Rudy Giuliani for asking the Council to amend the law to allow him to continue in office immediately after 9-11. Good, bad or indifferent, the idea at least had some logic behind it. What is so critical about keeping Bloomberg in office after two full terms is utterly beyond me. I think he's trying to prove the old adage wrong--money can buy everything.

Please keep your NYC articles coming. It gives me a sense of balance, so I have personal reasons for needing you to remind me that I'm not the only non-native adrift in a strange land.

BevfromNYC said...

Writer X: It is such a pompous picture of Rangel and so fitting.

Thanks MegaTroll. There was a link that I forgot to attach about the town on Long Island that is banning home baked goods because not only are they not healthy, but they are unsanitary too. I really didn't know there were generations of children dying from home baked cookies and cupcakes! One more thing to use against my Mother! [Just kidding, Mom!]

Law - Yes, good catch. We all wanted Guiliani to stay around for a few months, but the then Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg was opposed. And now that you've given me a working title, I can write more often. It helps to see the humor here...You are right, it's like watching my crazy relatives. You just have to shake your head and chuckle...

StanH said...

Good read Bev. I haven’t been to NYC in a while, it was always a blast. I agree, I really didn’t find that people were rude more than they were in a hurry, that was cool with me because I was busy as well. The Cab drivers can get a little mouthy with each other, and customer service in some places could be lacking, as a Southerner I always got along fine.

Rangel needs to be in jail. If it were you or me, our ass would be in the ringer long ago.

Baked goods are the enemy of children, only in NYC …woops… and San Francisco.

Tennessee Jed said...

Lots of fun reading this one Bev. It sort of negates the old joke about how to ask directions in NYC:

Out of towner: "excuse me sir, but would you mind if I asked for directions to the post office or should I just go 'f' myself.

Actually, the surly and rude restaurant waiter is just kind of a New York tradition, almost like Paris. I must admit, it was a taste I never acquired, though.

If Rangel escapes, there is no justice

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