Monday, August 10, 2009



By : Mr. David N. Dinkins, Former Mayor of New York City (1990-1993); Professor, Columbia University (1998- present); Democrat; Urban Planner.

Since 1994, many people say that New York City has changed for the better. New skyscrapers dot the skyline. Tourists flock from all over the country and the world to watch Broadway shows and visit art museums. Despite a perceived downturn after 9/11, the real estate market is booming. Investment in the city is at an all-time high. Money is everywhere; there are more banks than grocery stores. Police are everywhere; people feel safe. Thanks to two successive Republican administrations in New York, even folks from Kansas feel right at home in Manhattan.

This all may sound great. But try renting an apartment these days. You need $15,000 in ready cash, plus sterling credit and 10 character references. Try getting a job these days. You need to have four advanced degrees, plus 10 years’ specialized work experience in the securities industry. Try finding a local market. You’ll probably wind up at a K-Mart.

What happened to the New York you remember and love? It’s all gone. It’s all just a bunch of banks, Starbucks coffee houses, luxury development high-rises, high-end souvenir shops and ritzy boutique pet grooming salons. No more urine-drenched subways, graffiti-smeared trains or litter-strewn empty lots. If you go to the East Village these days, you won’t see heroin needles, crack vials or hoboes huddling around blazing garbage cans. No, you’ll see rich white hipsters in sunglasses sipping latte and licking 10-dollar ice cream cones. If you’re an artist, you can’t even rent a roach-infested dump on Avenue A anymore. You need millionaire parents, a guarantor and a savings account to even get near a crappy tenement studio.

Put simply, you’ve been priced out. You can’t afford to live in this New York.

As a lifelong New Yorker, I am committed to reversing this trend. New York used to be scary, and so did New Yorkers. We didn’t used to wear $1000 outfits and walk small dogs on safe streets. No, when I was mayor, we used to dodge bullets and yell across the street: “What the fuck you lookin’ at?” Hey, we might have contended with criminal youth gangs on the corner and stepped over human excrement at the Port Authority Bus Terminal back in 1991, but at least we could afford our apartments. We might have had to fight off bottle-wielding crack addicts every day in 1991, but at least we could get a regular job without five character references.

Sure, the city might have been scary back in the old days. But boy was it more fun. You can’t even get fast sex in Grand Central Terminal anymore without some snoopy Republican city health inspector writing you a summons. You can’t jump turnstiles in the subway anymore; the police can actually track your Metro Card. You can’t smoke marijuana in Washington Square Park anymore; they deployed about 500 cops to make sure “everyone behaves.” Put simply, New York used to be unique, dangerous, smelly, irrepressible, uncompromising, mean, defiant and just plain exciting. Now it’s just populated with boring trust fund beneficiaries who made it no different than Columbus, Ohio. Have you looked at the subways lately? People actually feel safe underground these days. The train cars are clean and modern-looking. There aren’t any urine puddles on the seats, garbage mounds in the stations or muttering mental patients running though the trains anymore. Commuters actually feel safe going to work. They no longer fear roving hoodlums armed with bats, pistols and chains. They just go to the bank, work, get bonuses at Christmas and pay $5,500 a month in rent for a lousy cookie-cutter two-bedroom on 76th Street.

I have a word for all these Johnny-come-latelys: Safe, schmafe. You boring-ass commuters priced everyone out. You transformed New York from an electric, progressive, semi-criminal showcase into a sleepy bourgeois enclave. I have only one thing to say: It’s time to bring back the real New York: The New York you remember and love.

I can’t bear to see the city prosper like this. If prosperity means $10,000 a month for an apartment, you can stick your prosperity where the sun don’t shine. If prosperity means evicting Sal’s Old-Time Italian Pizzeria so a bank can move in I say: “Hell no.” I stand for better times. I stand for the old New York. I stand for low rents and litter. I stand for public sex and urination. I stand for crack, heroin and crystal meth. I stand for 2500 murders a year, not this weak 600 a year shit. And I stand for a New York where anyone can get an apartment in Manhattan, not just British noblemen, bank presidents and frumpy heiresses from South Carolina with impeccable credit. Put simply, I will give New York back to the real New Yorkers. If you love New York, you will vote for me in 2009.

I have a real plan to save New York from its descent into mediocrity and boredom. If elected, I promise to make New York look, sound and smell like it did in 1991. That means eliminating all these boring luxury high-rise developments. New York must be New York for everyone again, not just yuppies with six-figure incomes and big Christmas bonuses. I promise to forbid builders from constructing these overpriced, inaccessible faux-brick condos with nice lobbies and doormen. When I’m mayor, I promise to build only flophouses and broken-down tenements. I promise to build scary-looking brick project buildings and gray government offices. To combat prosperity, I promise to raze sanitized new constructions and transform them into vacant lots. I further promise to release petty criminals and mental patients onto the street. I will allow them to live in those lots. Last, I promise to fill every vacant lot with garbage, broken bottles, empty beer cans, dead animals, brick piles and sharp metal objects. Additionally, I promise to permit delinquents to graffiti every bare wall adjacent to the lots. In short, I promise to make New York accessible to all New Yorkers again.

New York smells too good these days. It is time to save money by cutting public sanitation and garbage collection. In my day as mayor, you couldn’t walk down the street without whiffing stale urine, rotting garbage and generally horrible scents wafting from every alley and trash heap. That odor gave New York character. I am committed to making New York smell like New York again. By cutting trash collection in half, I am confident that we can save Manhattan from smelling like a perfume parlor. Rather, we can make it smell like 1991 again: Like an oppressive, overpowering mixture of urine, human waste, discarded old food and decomposing, wet garbage. Needless to say, these measures will also boost rat and cockroach reproduction. When I was mayor, New York was open to everyone, including roaches and rats. It’s time to make New York accessible to everyone again, including our scurrying mammalian and six-legged friends. The time for economic, sanitary and social discrimination is over. If that means some folks from rural Pennsylvania won’t charter a bus to come see Phantom of the Opera this summer, I respond with an old New York saying: “Who gives a fuck!”

It’s also time to stop discriminating against the homeless. For the last 15 years, Republican mayors have engaged in a deliberate program to push the homeless from public view in Manhattan. They thought that homeless people made tourists, commuters and foreign travelers uncomfortable, so they forced them from Manhattan. This was unjust. In my New York, we do not imply that anyone is “better” than another person, homeless, mad, smelly, bizarre or otherwise.

I pledge to make New York accessible to everyone. That includes shit-stained bag ladies and maniacal cross-dressing mental patients who expose themselves to teenage tourists on Broadway. It is no excuse to say that “homeless people embarrass visitors.” Homeless people are people, too. They have a right to get drunk on sidewalks and lay down outside theaters like everyone else. They might not live like commuters and tourists. But that does not give government a right to treat them like the trash they sleep in. Put simply, I promise to treat all New Yorkers equally, and I promise to reverse the Republican policy favoring tourists and commuters over the homeless. In my New York, beggars, Italian tourists, black guys from Brooklyn white kids from Idaho and CEOs are all the same. No one gets special protection when I’m in charge. And no one gets forced to move simply because they are “different” from everyone else. No one gets forced to move because they “embarrass” visitors. I don’t care if beggars smell like slime and wear capes made of garbage bags. They are New Yorkers. They are vital members of our urban community.

We must also combat growing cleanliness and moral propriety in New York. For years now, Republican mayors have waged war on graffiti, porn shops, dirty bookstores, dance halls and nude dancing clubs. They harshly punished graffiti artists and used zoning laws to eject certain “immoral” businesses from neighborhoods. This, in turn, made neighborhoods more “desirable,” allowing greedy landlords to inflate already high rents to dizzying levels.

This is unacceptable. In my New York, I promise to bring dirt, grime and smut back to the streets. Who wants another bank branch? Who wants another Gap or Banana Republic outlet? And who the hell wants another Red Lobster, Outback Steakhouse or Disney-themed restaurant on 42nd Street? When I’m mayor, I will drive these overpriced shops from our neighborhoods. I will allow graffiti artists to befoul and stain every front door and bare wall all over the city. I will allow litter. And I will allow sex shops, dirty movie theaters and nude dancing clubs to open back up for business in prime Manhattan locations. I don’t care if they do business within 400 feet of a school. Frankly, I don’t give a damn about the moral fortitude of commuters’ children. When I’m mayor, life will be dangerous, disgusting and exciting again. If that means there is a nasty bookshop right next door to a school, so be it. If that means suburban weekenders have to dodge pimps, hustlers and tramps on 42nd Street rather than clowns advertising a Mickey Mouse show, so be it. This is New York, after all, not Orlando. It ain’t all fun and games.

New York has become too safe. When I was mayor, people were afraid to leave their homes. Juvenile gangs, junkies, hired killers and insane people prowled the streets and the subway. We used to have ten murders a day. People didn’t want to move here. Visitors steered clear. Those brave enough to visit avoided the subway like the plague. When I was mayor, the subway system was run-down, dark, soiled, dangerous and antiquated. It smelled so bad you almost needed to wear a mask. Thugs and panhandlers rampaged through the trains, bothering commuters and harassing visitors.

Yet today, people are not afraid to leave their homes. Visitors think it’s “cool” to come to New York because they have nothing to worry about. There are no more roving gangs. It no longer smells like urine and people ride a first-rate subway system with brand new cars. Even Finnish people carrying cameras and maps feel safe enough to ride the “3” train uptown these days.

Some say that safety has helped New York. I say it has ruined New York. What good is to be safe when safety makes you spend $5,000 a month in rent for a shitty apartment? What good is a safe, clean, friendly subway system when it costs $2.25 a ride? In my view, safety made New York boring and expensive. Now that people think “New York is safe,” every last rich trust funder wants to be here and gets Dad to lay out $25,000 for a security deposit.

I promise to end this disgrace. The only real way to make New York New York again is to end safety. To do this, I promise to cut the NYPD in half. That will give roving gangs, street hustlers and bat-wielding nuts the breathing room they need to start terrifying visitors and trust fund kids again. It will also give vagrants, vagabonds and vandals the breathing room they need to destroy property, steal fixtures, break windows and scatter garbage all over the streets and subways. Additionally, I promise to command the NYPD to cease investigating “quality-of-life” offenses. From now on, officers will not issue summonses for failing to pick up dog droppings, urinating on the sidewalk or engaging in lewd acts in public parks. From now on, officers will not pursue underage drinking or turnstile jumping. I promise to make life in New York an exciting “free-for-all” bursting with crime, alcohol, art, homelessness, odor and threatening real-life drama on every corner. Before long, visitors will be scared to even step into Central Park in broad daylight.

In short, I promise not only to make New York dangerous again, but also to encourage a carnival atmosphere in which “anything goes.” There was a time when it was dangerously fun to walk the Manhattan streets. After 15 years under Republicans, however, New York scarcely feels like New York anymore.

It is time to turn back the clock. Let us join together to bring back the New York we remember and love. Let us make New York accessible to everyone again. Let us bring back the smells, the crime, the graffiti, the litter, the porn shops, the insane beggars, the murders, the drugs, the sleazy dance halls, the dive bars, the sex shops, the low rents, the local diners and the mom-and-pop stores. Together, we can wake New York from its boring slumber to drive out the chain stores and banks. Together, we can make the city dangerous, frightening, intimidating and disgusting again.

If we work together, we can once again proudly scare the shit out of every tourist and make every commuter flee in panic every afternoon.

I love New York. How about you?

1 comment:

Nothing Profound said...

Dinkins is definitely the man to vote for in 2010. I grew up in New York but can't recognize it anymore. Visited three times this year and didn't get mugged once. A disgrace!