Givin’ the People What They Want, pt. 1
Ed.’s note: The following is fiction based on real-life events.
Developer Bruce Ratner calls New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to talk shop.
"I’ve been thinking about something, Mike."
"What’s that, Bruce."
"Mike, do you really think people want stadiums everywhere?"
"Now Bruce, I’m not hearing doubt, am I? Remember, I’m counting on you to take care of the people of Brooklyn."
"Mike, it’s just that people are starting to hate me, that’s all."
"Take it from me, Bruce, that’s ok. I know what it’s like to be hated."
"How’s that, Mike?"
"Well, it started when I took away people’s cigarettes. Now, I’ve started firing people who won’t flunk third graders, and my poll numbers spiked. People say I’ve finally found my ‘inner Rudy.’"
"What does that mean, Mike?"
"New Yorkers like petty tyrants, Bruce."
"So what are you suggesting, Mike?"
"That you need to find your ‘inner Trump,’ Bruce."
"What does that mean, Mike?"
"For starters, instead of false promises about jobs, just start firing people before they’re even hired."
"But won’t that make people hate me even more, Mike?"
"Bruce, you’re missing the point. You want people to hate you."
"Why, Mike, why?"
"Simple. People don’t want eyesore skyscrapers from a ‘nice guy.’ ‘Nice guys’ don’t tear up neighborhoods and line their pockets with public funds. What you’re doing is not nice, so I say you should embrace that fact."
"But I’m making some people besides myself happy, aren’t I, Mike?"
"Oh yeah, who’s that, Bruce?"
"Well, Nets fans, Mike."
"Have you ever met a Nets fan, Bruce?"
"Well, umm, no, not really. Have you ever met a Jets fan, Mike?"
"Yes, they’re fat, and they smoke. I’m telling you, Bruce, it’s more fun to be a tough guy."
"Mike, I’m starting to get the picture. Instead of pretending that people really want more of my signature ugly buildings, I start telling them that it doesn’t matter what they want."
"Instead of saying things like ‘all the politicians have been wonderful,’ I start saying that they’re all on my payroll, and are scared of me."
"That’s right, Bruce."
"Instead of claiming there’s ‘not much opposition,’ I say that the opposition just consists of oddballs who don’t like being evicted, and who prefer real neighborhoods to chain stores and traffic jams."
"Yes, Bruce, Yes."
"And that instead of ‘this will be great for Brooklyn,’ I start saying ‘this will be great for Bruce Ratner.’"
"Sure, Bruce, you do that, and I’ll start saying ‘what’s good for Woody Johnson and the Jets is good for Woody Johnson and the Jets.’"
"Wow, Mike, this is a real breakthrough. No more meetings ‘listening to the community,’ no more ‘pretending to be Mr. Nice Guy.’ Now I can devote my time to the project I really love."
"Which one’s that, Bruce?"
"Turning Prospect Park into an 18-hole golf course."
"Incredible, Bruce, incredible. But one question."
"What’s that, Mike."
"Is golf an Olympic sport?"
What Are White People So Afraid Of? Claudia Rankine’s HelpBy Alexis Clements
MARCH 2022 | Theater
Alexis Clements reflects on a trio of works by Claudia Rankinean essay, a book, and a new play starting March 15 at The Sheddissecting how they circle a question that has caught Rankines, and the zeitgeists, attention: why is it so hard for white people to confront their whiteness?
Alice Neel: People Come FirstBy Ann C. Collins
MAY 2021 | ArtSeen
Curators Randall Griffey and Kelly Baum gather more than 100 of the artists paintings, watercolors and drawings in Alice Neel: People Come First, a retrospective of the 60 years Neel spent transposing New York and its citizens into work that bears witness to the struggles of everyday life in the city as much as it dignifies the individual.
Faith Ringgold: American PeopleBy Ann C. Collins
MARCH 2022 | ArtSeen
Organized by The New Museums artistic director Massimiliano Gioni with curator Gary Carrion-Murayari and curatorial assistant Madeline Weisburg, American People is jam-packed with more than forty years of Faith Ringgolds most prominent work.
Hiromi Kawakami’s People From My Neighborhood and Sequoia Nagamatsu's How High We Go in the DarkBy Yvonne C. Garrett
DEC 21-JAN 22 | Books
Each of these books presents a master class in craft while also providing a perfectly honed narrative that draws the reader in and wont let go.