What’s New Year’s without a Top Ten list? Everyone else is creating one, so here’s my Top Ten New York Developments of 2010.
#10. Meltdown of the Accidental Governor. David Paterson is a poor boob and grew up in an over-privileged, Democratic machine household in Harlem, leading to major cluelessness. Like when he used his office to run interference for a thug bodyguard facing a battering charge. For that alone Paterson deserves the ignominy of forced retirement. Then when the state’s budget was melting down, he spent hours memorizing his state-of-the-state speech to impress us with how clever blind people are instead of figuring out how to keep the damn place afloat. What used to be called ‘handicaps’ can be inspiring in public figures, but unfortunately you have to overcome them, not be seen to flop as a result of them.
That said, Paterson almost redeemed himself in the waning days of his happenstance regime by doing a few right things, like his pardons of long-term but undocumented New York residents facing deportation for the equivalent of a pot bust. He also signed into law other good measures like the dismantling of the horrible Rockefeller drug laws and occasionally reminded us how nice it is not to be ruled by Republicans. We’re glad to be rid of him, but in retrospect the guy didn’t deserve to be elevated to his Peter Principle level of incompetence.
Parallel to that major disappointment was. . .
#9. Resuscitation of Eliot Spitzer as cable TV attack dog. Despite the ostensible air of chastened wise man and his vaguely hangdog posture, Spitzer on cable is just mean old Eliot back in true form. Seeing him lambaste easy targets like Muslims who don’t toe the Zionist line is a reminder that the guy isn’t much of a human being and was only useful when he sharpened his knives for the Wall Street gang, the same one that probably engineered his precipitous tumble. Too bad state attorney general is not a lifetime appointment—what fun we’d have had if Spitzer were still in that job when AIG and Goldman were looting the federal treasury. Who knows, Obama might not have been able to shovel trillions into his banker friends’ pockets with Eliot around. Instead, he’s another broadcast bobble-head screaming at us 24/7. Ho hum.
But that was nothing compared to . . .
#8. Intentionally Provoked Mass Dementia over the lower Manhattan mosque. This total non-story (notice its complete disappearance once the election was over) was and is a disgrace that will live through the ages. It also may augur very ugly events as yet to be lived through—let us not pray but rather act so that we don’t witness some sort of Kristallnacht down the line. But the spirit behind this racist campaign is precisely that which poisoned Europe 80 years ago, yet another reminder that bipeds are the same the world over and given a quarter of a chance will succumb to viciousness and racism without blinking. Society, decent society anyway, exists to restrain these evil impulses, Thatcherite mantras notwithstanding.
Related to which are. . .
#7. Implosion and final, crushing, humiliating defeat for Rick Lazio who thought he would run for governor against Andrew Cuomo. Lazio tried to turn himself into the state’s First Racist by running TV ads to denounce the skeery downtown mosque. Inexplicably, this was considered far too tame for the Republican primary voters who promptly brought us. . .
#6. A Complete, Spittle-flecked Lunatic as candidate for governor. Carl Palladino joined the throng of Tea Party wackos like Angle in Nevada and O’Donnell in Delaware who saved the Democrats’ undeserving asses in November by being so out to lunch that even fat white people in SUVs couldn’t stand them. Palladino got bad press by trying to punch out a tabloid reporter and gay-bashing in front of a gaggle of honking rabbis. But when he tried to get serious, he looked even worse, thus illustrating how much the Teabagger scene is comprised of incoherent babbling that belongs in bars with sawdust on the floors. Luckily, New York voters have not completely lost their minds just yet and on election day handed the tough guy his ass in a pair of lace panties.
Meanwhile, life goes on, and the subway fare goes up due to . . .
#5. Continued Beggaring of the MTA. The New York public transit system, where one third of all public transport rides in the entire country are taken, is the beating heart of the city. Without it, the famed metropolis would be a shaggy dump like Phoenix or a bleak wilderness choked by vast, metallic suburbs. Despite its key role in our well-being and in sustaining the city’s unique cultural and commercial life, the transit system continues to be deprived of oxygen—that is, cash—by the state and the feds, and fares went up yet again just yesterday for the upteenth time. Inflation in subway tickets has now reached 100% just in the six years I have been in New York. When the transit workers went on strike in 2005, you never heard the end of how awful they were to disrupt our lives. But the ongoing hacking away at the city’s infrastructure by our ruling elite gets barely a notice.
Speaking of our ruling elite. . .
#4. Recession Slams City. . . unequally. Boarded up storefronts were a rarity when I first moved here—now they’re everywhere. The unemployment rates unsurprisingly vary widely from uptown to downtown, and the usual victims are taking it on the chin again. For a while, it was amusing to see the real estate offices disappear overnight and the gouging commercial landlords suddenly find themselves with empty spaces after thinking the party would go on forever. But the city also runs on finance, and since the banks are back, spending on consumer luxuries is brisk. It’s possible to miss the extent of human suffering caused by the plutocrats as the employed continue to hobble down the streets of Soho fully burdened by their freshly creased shopping bags.
But nonetheless, it’s rough at the top. . .
#3. Rust Pokes through Bloomberg Sheen. Ever since his fist-in-rectal-compartment re-election squeaker in 2009 despite the $100 million he dropped to rub his wonderfulness in our faces, our snarky mayor has struggled against the gradual appearance of his clay feet. His phony apolitical/master technocrat stance is looking increasingly unpersuasive after news of a mega-normous payroll scandal, and Bloomie now has to defend his new bimbo educational commissioner just as people slowly awaken to the charter/ privatization scam Bloomberg and the Obama team are running on us, to the cheers of the Wall Street Journal.
And on an even brighter side. . .
#2. Horrible Pedro Espada Leaves State Senate, Heads to Sing Sing. A perfect creep meeting his just demise is joy to behold. There’s no guarantee that this heart-warming tale will conclude with anything close to the public drawing and quartering merited, but the case brought by Cuomo as A-G has a good chance of sticking against this personification of Albany corruption. Even before the indictments came down, Espada was crushed in his re-election campaign despite all the usual dirty tricks. Hail, bipeds of the Bronx! You saw through the smoke, refused the bribes and bounced this sucker out of your difficult lives.
And finally. . .
#1. New York City, still a goddam marvel, just is. Every cliché about the place is true, including the tiresome narcissism of its residents who, like me, never tire of expressing their good fortune to live in it.