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The International Writers Magazine:New York 2007

New York City Report
Dean Borok

OK, I killed myself after the Yankees lost last night, and now I’ve come back from the dead and I feel better.  No use crying over spilt milk, but it drives me nuts to give so much satisfaction to the Yankees haters who inhabit bridge and tunnel-land.
No point being sentimental over Joe Torre.  He’s got his money.  When you work for a creepy prick like George Steinbrenner, who is old and lost his marbles long ago even when he was young, you always have the Bat of Pericles hanging over your head by a thread.  Unfortunately, the Yankees is also a business operating on a razor-thin profit margin.  Steinbrenner kept Torre long past his expiration date even though the Yanks have been crapping out year after year in the playoffs.
As Cleveland so pointedly demonstrated, the Yankees’ problem is concentrated in their pitching.  How their management let it get to this point should be the subject for a Marx Brothers comedy (it’s too funny for today’s comedians, except for Leno). 
But what the Yankees demonstrated is that just being a New Yorker does not get you a free pass.  You still have to deliver the goods.  In fact, the fact that you live in New York is supposed to demonstrate that you manifest some god-like qualities.  Here we got New York senator Hillary Clinton running against New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani with a possible challenge by New York mayor Mike Bloomberg.  The rest of the country can suck wind, y’know what I mean?
Bloomberg is moving closer and closer to Clinton’s positions, which means to me that he considers Giuliani and the Republicans to be flatter than last year’s beer and is setting himself up as the only alternatives to Hillary for people who approve of her positions but can’t stomach her personally.  I can’t understand what drives these Hillary-haters – she’s not any more obnoxious than anybody else.
Bloomberg is probably right.  Giuliani’s candidacy will certainly destroy the Republican Party before he himself fizzles out like an inflatable sex doll with a puncture hole.  That is when Mike will make his move.  The way he will put it is: this is an election, not a coronation.  That’s why I am presenting myself as an alternative to Hillary Clinton, so Americans can have a choice.
This is a good strategy, and if Mike decides to go with Arnold Schwarznegger for his vice-president.
A Bloomberg/Schwartznegger ticket would be the darling of the celebrity and business media, leaving Hillary The New York Times, The Nation magazine and such minuscule pockets of serious thinkers that exist in this society, sorry to say.  But what it will do is invite comparison of Michael Bloomberg’s past performance as a public official with Hillary’s.
New York is a city of interests.  Sometimes Bloomberg’s expressed sympathies for the entrenched interests that dominate life here at the expense of the general population cast him in an impolitic light, which is the case regarding Consolidated Edison, the electric and gas utility, whose infrastructure is so obsolete that people’s dogs are getting fried alive as they walk them down the street.  Some actual people have also died as well.
Con Ed is really a comical presence in the city, with its trucks decorated with a big thumbs-up on the side with the motto “On It.”  Yeah right, On It!  It might be more appropriate to show the board of directors with the thumb up its butt and the slogan “Sit On It.”  Not that it’s the fault of the repairmen.  They are charged with keeping a rotting system functioning while its board of directors drains the company of its profits, some of which should be set aside for infrastructure upgrades, to the unbelievable tune of 10% yearly dividends for common shares, rain or shine.  Meanwhile, whole neighborhoods go without electricity for as long as a week at a time in the summer.
The utility defends this hemorrhaging of resources by stating that shareholders have bought the stock in anticipation of high returns on their investment and a reduction of dividends might result in a loss of share value.  In fact, despite the rotten infrastructure and service, which might be compared to a seedy provincial city in the Congo Republic, for which New Yorkers are obliged to pay the highest electricity rates in the US, Con Ed has now applied for yet another rate increase, this one to pay for the damage caused by the system overload of the August 2006 blackout, which reduced all of northwest Queens to shambles for an entire week.
During this charming episode, when grocery stores lost all their refrigerated food and people were dying from heart attacks from the stress of trying to get some sleep in their air-conditioned cars, Bloomberg, not even bothering to visit the blighted area for much of the week, much less sending ice, actually applauded Con Ed and its CEO for doing a fine job! This is the kind of myopic idiocy one could expect from a boss but not from the mayor of New York when hundreds of thousands of its citizens are reduced to a state of desperate crisis.
[Of course, I don’t recall Hillary Clinton getting out there to pitch in and lend a hand either.  And I personally avoided to going to Astoria as though it were a plague-infested medieval Italian village as well.  Nevertheless, if anybody in this city would have had any brains, they could at least have sent trucks into the neighborhood to distribute bags of ice]
Nobody expected Mike Bloomberg to ride in like a cowboy and clean up Dodge, but his open endorsement of blatant corporate looting, as at Con Ed, or his perceived indifference to a disgracefully corrupt situation, as in the affair of the Deutsche Bank fire where, like a tragic Keystone Kops comedy, two firemen died when they turned on the hose and one drop came out because the mob contractors had disconnected the standpipe connection and fire inspectors were either paid or intimidated from inspecting the demolition site, could definitely come back to haunt him in a general election against Hillary Clinton.
Clinton is going easy on Obama and Edwards, but she won’t be so gentle on Bloomberg, who might be perceived as representing a genuine threat to her interests.  You can be sure that her catapults will be loaded up with rich New York mud and ready to fire at Bloomberg’s canary yellow Ralph Lauren sweater even before he announces his candidacy.
New York is the worst place in the world to live – unless you count all the others.  An electrical grid ready to burn out any minute; steam pipes bursting and scalding people, even as the utility demands another rate increase to be able to continue to pay its vigorish; the mafia getting its cut at Ground Zero and performing its usual impeccable workmanship and fire inspectors publicly stating that they didn’t bother to inspect the site because it was too much trouble for them to put on their protective equipment; a mayor who is content to let the universe unfold as it should and wants to do the same thing on a national level; one baseball team that goes into its last 15 games with a 7 12 game lead and blows it; another baseball team that spends $200 million on salaries and yet can’t construct a competent pitching program; the Knicks totally fucked!
But New York is more than the sum of all its dysfunctions.  People are still going to crowd in here no matter what.  Where else are you going to live?  Paris?  No beaches.  Miami?  The jobs pay slave wages.  LA?  I don’t want to let driving interfere with my drinking.  Forget it!

© Dean Borok October 11th 2007

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