December 11, 2001

Dear Almost Ex-Mayor Giuliani:

Please let me offer my thanks to you for implementing policies which, according to some, have made a significant contribution towards remaking New York City into a decent place to live and to do business. Unfortunately, through no fault of your own, these initiatives, real or not, had little or no impact on the quality of my life while I was a resident of the town you tried, with some success, to make your own. You see, I made the mistake of running a house museum in a non-Manhattan borough from the year 1994 to the year 2000, and thus missed out on lots of what your administrative policies (allegedly) had to offer.

To tell the truth, Mr. Mayor, things were pretty shitty up there, and you didn't help very much. It's true that my park, Poe Park, benefited from the Work Fare program, through which the trash was picked up. Previously, this had only happened once every two weeks, sort of, back when the Department of Parks and Recreation was in charge of that sort of thing. How I hated disposing of the needles, creamy-fingered surgical gloves, and slaughtered dogs! Call me a pansy if you must. I'm used to it. Still, the fathers and mothers and cousins and who-knows-what of those responsible for all the filth, looked pretty spiffy with their trash-sticker poles and all, once they were assigned to clean-up duty. But I must point out, Mr. Mayor, that they, the members of the Work Fare welfare force, were old and tired. They were happy when we cooked hot dogs for the little kids, and I gave them each a metal folding chair. They would gesture in a seemingly friendly fashion and smile in a gummy yet life-affirming way. Those blessed with the power of comprehensible speech would open their hearts, and confide things like the fact that their grandparents were cannibals up the Amazon.

Am I making this up, Mr. Mayor? You tell me.

They were happy to be in America, picking up fast-food wrappers and drug detritus from what they called the "floor" of the greatest city in the world. Indoors, outdoors, who can tell? I fear not even Elvis can, the eternal King on his throne. They scurried off in glee with every folding metal chair I offered. Are you asking me to pay for every metal folding chair? The chairs belonged to the local historical society, and weren't even mine to give. I gave lots away anyhow. Shouldn't we all do what we can?

No, Mr. Mayor, you were on TV every night, standing at the mayoral podium, flanked by your flunkie thugs like some developing-world dictator, but were you in our lives? The answer begs the question. Not that a life was worth much in your city. That was more than clear. My best friends were a Confederate Navy revolver (replica), a stun gun, and a club. They needed me, while it was obvious that you didn't.

Don't get me wrong, Mr. Mayor. I love New York. Who doesn't? Who could be so small as to attack what it represents? It's just that you might have done a little more to get the old crappy city out of the way faster. Do you ever hear people, reminisce about how New York used to be a great place, full of excitement and color, tolerance and freedom, before you got your hands on it?

I do.

Do you know what they are talking about?

I don't.

And this is where we start to get to the reason why I am writing to you today. Once, not so long ago, it seemed as if you would reign forever, secure in your bunker. But my astrolabe informs me that time passes, and the Times has announced that a rich guy has bought an election to replace you in the position to which you were right-wise born, and for which you were groomed by the assiduous labors of the Vincentian Fathers. He doesn't have a friendly face, Mr. Mayor. It's nothing at all like your ever-approachable, thin-lipped rictus beneath your steely and squinty eyes. He lacks your clipped phrasing, your tri-state enunciation, your special talents with anacolouthon. In short, he lacks the common touch.

He will not, I fear, give my petition a fair hearing. You, ever the prosecutor, not a businessman, may. Your frantic energies have always propelled you along the paths of justice. Not a capital J sort of justice, perhaps, but that, as we all know (if we're honest), can only be found where there are no lawyers. Perhaps it will not be found even at the last of all judgements, Elvisian though it will be.

It grows late, Mr. Mayor, and the sun of your physical and administrative powers sinks angrily behind the Palisades. You will read this in your twilight hours in office, in an absolutely quiet place. It is as quiet as the space we enter when we are lying in our beds just about to fall asleep. It is at this juncture that we find ourselves transported from the surroundings of our waking lives. We are no longer in the City. We are standing in a forest by a stream, or on a mountaintop, beneath the noiselessly spinning stars. The air is bracing, freshened by a northern breeze carrying a distinct waft of pine. The curtains of Aurora Borealis scintillate red and green above. Are we being watched? We listen, we look for any sign of someone, of something else. Nobody. Nothing but the wind among the pine boughs. We shiver, despite our sweaters and felt hunting caps. We, you and I, each of all of us, begin to understand that we are absolutely alone in the vast unbroken silence.

Right about then, I quickly and noisily clamber up the rocks to present you, Mr. Mayor, with the following bill for time, energy, and honest cash money lost in your city due to its fundamental defectiveness. Plus, there are a few things added because they are just plain irritating. The bill covers the years 1994-2000, inclusive. It would be quite a bit more if it included the time I spent in NYC during the Koch and Dinkins administrations, but that wouldn't be fair, since I was only visiting, and you were busy putting people in jail.

No sign of train: $657,894.95

No real home address: $8,938,284.64

No mail / pizza / Chinkie food / Dover Saddlery / video / Teubner Verlag / no nothing delivery at home address: $5,608,456.73

Latex gloves to pick up Santeria sacrifice remains on porch: $254.76

Payroll mongoloids: $67,903.02

Barbaric parking techniques: $116,807.98

Dinner and drinks with the art world: $780,385.62

Sitting around waiting until 10 or 11 or noon for stores to open: $185,572.63

Somebody living in my car: $1,568.84

Attempts to find a legitimate liberal counter-culture: $665,632.92

The Commissioners' Grid Plan of 1811: $6,972,043.52

Dinner and drinks with academics: $68.87

The Grand Concourse crotch tug: $2,831.06

Scraping prophylactics and dog droppings off loafer soles: $593.64

Bum sex and vaseline-ish propositions: $26,983.75

Attempts to find a viable intellectual Catholic forum: $78,247.13

Death mold: $6,795.23

Clinamenous pedestrians: $892,503.57

Guards with sticks patrolling auditorium of movie theater: $561.03

The Great Sewage Flood of 1995: $98,539.72

Trips to country with art world: $17,410.84

Teeth: $25,496.19

The red-haired heroin addict living in the dumpster in the back yard: $78,493.21

Translating local argot: $895,541.56

Gratuity figured into bill $37,815.60

The borough of Queens: $856,295.73

Stolen bike pieces: $4,603.27

One chocolate suede suit: $1,500.00

No transportation to freelance job when quarter-inch of rain equals a weather disaster: $894,592.51

Mini shopping carts: $685,06.38

Trips to country with academics: $0.00

Little kids yelling Look it's Mr. Bean: $138.22

Bank bought by bigger bank bought by bigger bank...: $890,393.28

Sodabread / garlic: $27,385,502.39

The Uncomfortable Flea Infestations of 1996, 1997 (twice), and 1998: $123.84

Unstoppable leakage of over-familiar demons from astral plane: $9,289,569.39

Ghetto fruit and produce syndrome: $6,502.49

Subway going out of service due to police action at 3:30 AM, leaving passengers to find their own way out of the South Bronx again: $75,895.22

Malevolent gneiss and schist: $839.24

Fleet Week: $567.930.48

Evicting nice crackie lady who moved into back shed (with hot plate): $43,184.38

Cable TV not available: $6,835.29

Cab drivers named Singh who ask for directions and comforting words about the size of their dicks: $69,639.27

Sassy tailors: $923.51

Rampaging teenage girls on ecstasy: $897,504.25

Poor equestrian facilities and rifle ranges: $72,692.53

Bleach: $8,540.37

Sitting around waiting until 6 or 7 or 8 for bars to open: $26,482.85

Avoiding objects hurled from bridges and tenement roofs: $174,160.83

Supplies for rat control: $19,673.58

Librarians–small, twisted, and venomous: $48,153.26

Slipping in vomit again: $78,024.82

Obstructionist doormen: $3,952.47

Etiquette lessons from outrageously fat Jamaican ladies: $82,916.75

Constantly being misinterpreted: $374,692,794.84

Flaming garbage cans thrown against house all night: $476,916.38

Late fees at Blockbuster due to all of the above: $128,945.91

Imodium: $6,836.20

Pervasive creepiness: $74,852,164.38

Learning that NJ isn't so bad after all: can't even put a price on this one

The total, Mr. Mayor, comes to $76,385,593,413.75. That's American west-of-the-Hudson dollars, not those lousy 67 cent ones people try to pass in town. Please send cash. Thank you for attending to this matter at your earliest possible convenience.


Colin Pilney







features | archive | editor's note | letters | contributors | contact us