Afew years ago, my mother dated a real winner. The guy was nice enough, but like most men in her life (myself included), there were shit stains just under the surface. He was a Christian. He was a recovering alcoholic. He called her his angel. He paid me backhanded compliments about my aging Peter Pan appearance. He couldn’t hold a job. He borrowed $10,000 from her that he never paid back. He left her for another woman.

Possibly the biggest red flag about this pile of dog shit in a polo shirt: He was a staunch admirer of Rudy fucking Giuliani. At a holiday dinner one year, conversation turned to the ever-changing face of New York City and, as to be expected, this guy started singing Giuliani’s praises.

“The squeegee guys were a real problem. Anytime you’d be stuck in traffic or at a red light some disgusting bum would come up and start dragging a dirty cloth across your front windshield and then demand money. It was too much! Rudy stepped up and did something. There were no laws on the books about washing windows at intersections, so he got the cops to start issuing these guys summonses for jaywalking. They’d get a summons and then not pay the fine or show up in court. A warrant would be issued so the next time they got stopped they’d go straight to jail! It was a thing of genius!”

During the budget crisis of the 1970s, the NYPD started the notorious Fear City scare campaign. With the city on the verge of bankruptcy, an understaffed police force went out of its way to discourage tourism. The name stuck, and for a while New York held a reputation not dissimilar to something out of Dante. Although exaggerated, perhaps, the negative public perception wasn’t entirely unwarranted. Far from it. Hell on earth? No. Dangerous shithole? Absolutely.


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