Smoking Pot, Watching Giuliani
I like Rudy Giuliani. Sure, I have some issues with the guy: the destruction of community gardens on the Lower East Side and attacks on squatters are a complete waste of time for the cops, and the cops are seriously underpaid. But overall, I think Rudy's been a good mayor. I believe he'll be an interesting senator. Some of my friends are puzzled by my fondness for the guy. "How can you like Giuliani?" asked one. "You're a pothead and a Satanist. He hates people like you." I pointed out that Rudy is the most Satanic mayor we've had since Jimmy Walker. He'd fit seamlessly into Rosemary's Baby, hanging out with the Castevets up in the Dakota, stepping out from behind a curtain in that final scene to shake Rosemary's hand and congratulate her.
When I heard that he was holding a "town meeting" at P.S. 130 down in Chinatown, I knew I absolutely had to go. This was like the political equivalent of catching Lou Reed at Max's Kansas City in 1978. I spent the afternoon doing bong hits and watching West Side Story to prepare myself, and then I rolled up a big fatty and hustled downtown. Baxter St. was swarming with cops, so I took a stroll down Canal St. to smoke my joint. Nicely tuned for the big event, I ambled back to P.S. 130 and took my place in line between a cute liberal couple from Brooklyn Heights and a very polite young man of the anarchist bent.
We got to talking, and naturally the subject of the recent unpleasantness with the police came up. I explained that, as a fascist, I have some problems with the way the police department is run. I opined that a minimum 35-percent pay increase and the imposition of a residency requirement would go a long way toward improving the force. They also need more discipline and better weapons training. Mandatory drug and alcohol testing immediately after any incident in which an officer discharges a weapon seems obvious enough, and they shouldn't be allowed to carry guns off-duty. It always pleases me to find that I can get to points of agreement with fellow citizens of different political persuasions.
A friend joined up with me and we passed through a very professional and thorough weapons screening to enter the auditorium. These were no $6.50-an-hour airport security drudges; these were craggy action-movie cops, no-nonsense Clint Eastwood types. There was an army of cops inside. I told my friend a story about the King of Denmark that I got from my friend Katja Schumann, the great equestrian star of the Big Apple Circus. It seems that the King of Denmark was in the habit of getting up around dawn, saddling his horse and riding through the streets of Copenhagen alone. When the Nazis invaded, some anonymous Nazi pinhead commented to a member of the royal family that "Your King is a fool, riding alone, with no bodyguard." To which the Dane replied, "All of Denmark is his bodyguard." Obviously the King of Denmark was a great deal more popular than any of our leaders here, today.
The auditorium was nice, with kid art on the walls and thick, bloodred curtains drawn across the stage. There was a fairly decent rack of lighting instruments hung in front of the proscenium, and I expressed my hopes for a dramatic entrance to my friend. "Maybe the lights will go down and the curtains will part to reveal him hanging upside down like a bat, dressed as Dracula," I enthused. "Or maybe he'll rise up out of the stage wearing a hooded cloak and playing a mighty Wurlitzer organ, like Vincent Price in The Abominable Dr. Phibes." I love that movie.
The audience was pretty weird, overwhelmingly Chinese with no more than 10 blacks in a room of maybe 400 to 500 people. I figured it might be a symptom of encroaching Balkanization, the different ethnic groups insisting upon being dealt with separately in some horrid tragicomic self-imposed parody of the days of segregation.
My hopes for some sort of melodramatic entrance were dashed when the Mayor took the floor with no fanfare or lighting effects whatsoever. He turned out to be perfectly capable of working the room on his own, though. He's enormously charismatic, with a great repertoire of Mussolini gestures and an interesting way of moving his lips when he's not speaking that reminded me strongly of William S. Burroughs. He handles abuse very capably. Some idiot got up and demanded that the proceedings be translated into Chinese. I'm of the opinion that Americans are entitled to speak whatever languages they choose, but the political discourse in this country is and should be conducted in English. This is America, not the goddamn Tower of Babel. I piped up that I'd like a German translation, which the Mayor seemed to find fairly witty until some clod across the hall made some racist comment connecting the German language with Nazis, whereupon a pack of apparent Chinese supremacists wearing white sheets stood up and started some kind of incoherent ruckus, which continued until they were gently removed by the polite and well-attired security force. Some bimbo sitting two chairs down from me started shrieking, "POLICE BRUTALITY! POLICE BRUTALITY!" over and over again even though she was clearly being handled like a crate of eggs.
Rudy listened to the inane and trivial questions and complaints of the crowd with the patience of a saint, smiling and actually introducing querists to the appropriate bureaucrat to help resolve their silly problems without any of the nastiness that, say, I might bring to bear were I caught up in a similar situation. One particularly cretinous Chinese supremacist called upon the Mayor to remove the name "Little Italy" from the district. "What don't you like about the name 'Little Italy'?" he countered, "You want me to remove the name 'Little Italy'? If I have to go against my mother and my ancestors, it'll be a little tough."
After that, some woman from Soho got up and complained about the proliferation of bars and restaurants in her neighborhood and the concomitant noise and general disturbance. If I were her, I'd be more concerned about living in a yuppie theme park. Soho started turning into a mall for the rich the minute they closed the doors on the Mudd Club. I wish somebody would open a decent bar or three in my neighborhood. It's all hostile cop bars and bookmaking joints in Inwood. She wants quiet, she should move out to Hauppauge or Babylon.
It got worse, and through it all, Rudy kept listening and smiling and genuinely engaging these dolts. I couldn't stand it. After about an hour, jonesing for a cigarette and thoroughly disgusted with the pure selfishness of my fellow citizens, I suggested to my companion that we split. We headed up to the Shark Bar on Spring St. for a couple of rounds and then parted company. I came home, threw The Abominable Dr. Phibes into the VCR, got drunk and went to bed. Be glad I am not your mayor.
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