Thanks to despicable billionaire mayor Bloomberg New York City’s record homeless shelter population continues to grow at an alarming rate – up 19% percent in the past year alone. And this does not even include the thousands of New Yorkers still displaced by Hurricane Sandy, many of whom comprise extremely low-income households.
In total the homeless shelter population under billionaire mayor Bloomberg rose by a staggering 61% percent and the number of homeless families has increased 73% percent. During Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure, New York City homelessness has increased both in absolute numbers and at a higher rate than under previous mayors Koch, Dinkins, or Giuliani. One can only hope our new Mayor DeBlassio and our new administration can rectify these horrific numbers.
Photo of the day: VISITING OUR NEW YORK WHITE HOUSE – “You’re invited: Open house with Mayor de Blasio at Gracie Mansion Date: 12/18/2013 12:12:41 P.M. Eastern Standard Time”
When on December 18, at 12 minutes past noon I received an email inviting me to meet the new mayor at the formerly closed Gracie Mansion – I clicked the “reserve” button without a second’s hesitation. This was the final symbolic dig at the elitist mayor Bloomberg who distanced himself from ordinary working people as much as possible, after all, we can’t afford to fund big condo projects.
Sunday January 5th came and it was a bleak, cold, wet, foggy, icy and rainy day. A few of my friends debated whether to head out in this weather. Not me, a full blown blizzard could not have kept me away! Every person on line would be another twist of the knife in Bloomberg’s back.
I arrived at 11:15 and the lines we already half way through Carl Schurz park surrounding the mansion. I was greeting by friendly park rangers who led me to friendly police who led me to friendly volunteers to show me my spot on line. The volunteers made every effort to assure me that the misery of standing out in this weather would be lessened by hot cocoa and cider, wandering musicians and heating tents. Portable bathrooms where everywhere, every detail had been thought of. No one complained, no one groused about the weather. There was a feeling of excitement and accomplishment in the air, we the people had done it and this was our lucky reward. We were doted on by the volunteers with warm smiles and cheery attitudes, “more cider?”, “more cocoa?”, “let me throw that away for you.”
The mood was infectious, no pushing, no shoving, no griping, just busy texting “I’m here!” as the rain poured down our umbrellas and onto our backs. As the rain let up, people were so excited they were doing ‘the wave’ on line! (No one ever did ‘the wave’ on line waiting to meet Grinch Bloomberg!) At 12 noon came the most wonderful odd assortment of unique wandering musicians ranging from opera singers to a melodica (hand blown air accordions) band complete with giant tuba and the best of all – a marching electric guitar band complete with their own amplifiers and power source strapped to their waists, you would never had seen that at a Bloomberg event, they stole the show!
12:30 noon I got near the mansion, we were given a card to fill out with our names and email address so that they could mail us our ‘photo with Bill’. Are you kidding?! We thought, ‘ok, we’ll see him, say hello,’ but to have DeBlasio’s people perfectly organize to have each and everyone of our pictures taken with him and then send them to us, left many absolutely giddy with surprise. This was like waiting in line for Santa Claus.
At the door the security tent hardly felt like “security”, the police were so polite, so helpful, no tension in the air, no airs of suspicion, just ‘hey folks, just this one more step and you get to see him.’ Was this for real? Up the steps to the mansion I went. At every entrance, corner and room we were met by obliging volunteers and docents warmly welcoming us. I am a born and raised New Yorker of 58 years and I have never been inside Gracie Mansion – 99% of us had never been inside either. Cameras were clicking like mad, selfies galore. The Christmas tree was still up, since Doomberg hadn’t lived here it was poorly and sparsely decorated (the DeBlasios will change that), but…if you looked up to the top, the tree topper is a miniature Gracie Mansion!
We were steeped in history. The Federal style mansion was built in 1799 by Scottish born shipping magnate Archibald Gracie. In 1942, builder Robert Moses convinced Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia to appropriate the house as a mayoral residence. It’s main two floors are open to the public on a limited basis for guided tours, and serve as a small museum. It has not been occupied for the past 20 years. This is our New York White House. The buzz in the house was like that of an opening night in the theater and we were about to meet the star of the show. The line snaked through the historic old house as the press eagerly interviewed and filmed the people on line. “This is a historic event. It is even more so, because it’s a symbolic a stab at Bloomberg. I feel as if a black 12 year old cloud has been lifted and this is the colorful dream I have awakened to, I am bursting with pride and joy” I said to a reporter.
Our final room to see was the dining room where Bill, his wife Chirlane, and children Dante and Chiara will have breakfast and their family meals. The dining table was complete with official New York City seal placemats, I just have plain cloth at home J . It has a wonderful view of the east river through the trees of the park. Final stop – meet Bill.
Yet again the Gracie Mansion staff surprised us, they made sure our email name cards weren’t wet, we were asked whether we wanted our photo taken with or without our coats on. They provided a table were we could place, our coats in order. It was managed like a well oiled machine. Then . . . there he was, all 6’7” of him. As warm as a figure he his, his height is a bit imposing.
He had taken a break to talk to one of his staff members, so I had to wait. When finished, he turned to me outstretched his arms and joyfully and proudly said “welcome to Gracie Mansion, the people’s house!” I almost forgot what I wanted to say to him! I said: “After fighting so hard against Quinn, this is such a joyful experience, thank you!” We posed, he turned to me grabbed and squeezed my hand and said “you guys did hero’s work.” I felt like a billion dollars ! (I am waiting for the official photo to be sent to me.)
He patiently and above all in good humor, shook 7,000 hands, listened to 7,000 greetings/complaints, wishes and concerns and smiled for 7,000 photos – god bless him! Upon leaving, my coat was properly waiting for me and no one was given the expected bums rush out. People were just giddy with excitement and took their time leaving, no one rushed us as we took out beaming final pictures on the back porch of the mansion –
Photo of the day: PERSON(S) OF THE YEAR – DONNY MOSS AND THE TEAM OF JONATHAN MERES (ONE) COHEN AND MARIE FLAGEUL
Photo of the day: PERSON(S) OF THE YEAR – DONNY MOSS AND THE TEAM OF JONATHAN MERES (ONE) COHEN AND MARIE FLAGEUL
– I have not ever had such a hard decision to come up with just one person to say they had most affected my life and the lives of the people around them. In such a tumultuous political year it has to be three people, Meres and Marie acting as one force. And by NO means choosing three people does it diminish in any way how important these three powerful people are.
I feel can be held responsible for almost single handedly destroying the political career of mega powerful New York councilwoman and bully Christine Quinn. She is a bully that represented every horrible thing that Mayor/dictator Bloomberg had done to destroy New York City in his 12 years in office. It is Quinn that alone saw to it that the laws were ‘changed’ so that Bloomberg could run for a third term in 2009 against the will of the people. With that, the slaughter of the middle class and it’s neighborhoods continued. This took New York City from 3 classes of citizens: lower, a strong middle and always upper class to a tapestry of investment bankers, real-estate developers, and Russian oligarchs. Then Donny’s release of a 2009 YouTube video exposing her two-faced betrayal of her own (she’s a lesbian) gay community and her horrific anti-animal rights stances exposed her to New York City. The most important and powerful was his documentary “Christine Quinn – Behind the Smile.” Most people thought Donny was nuts, an animals rights fanatic. Well that changed quickly as his persistent voice released more and more videos and more and more people began to listen.
When Gray Line was forcing the live tour guides (me) out of our jobs in favor of pre-recorded tours, because of a Quinn fake anti-noise bill, Donny sought me out to let me know of his fight against Quinn. I dismissed him as a fanatic, after all, Quinn couldn’t possibly be THAT horrible . . . she was worse. I listened to Donny and I jumped on board with Donny’s fight, the tour guides joined and my big mouth got many people to join Donny. Wonderful, wonderful loving animal rights activist groups and anyone that hated Bloomberg and wanted to save NYC joined us. We protested at everyone of her public appearances and taunted her mercilessly. Our numbers grew, as did our budget. We handed out flyers during rush hour at subway stations, bus and ferry terminals. My mother was one of his staunchest supporters, never leaving her house without Donny’s literature to hand out in the neighborhood. People began to listen and the animal rights people, the minorities, the middle class and passionate celebrities formed an army. ABQ = Anyone But Quinn! People like Cynthia Nixon, Susan Sarandon and the entertainment community brought their fame, money and passion to the public’s eye. These people already hated Quinn, but I insist that is Donny’s persistent, passionate, intelligent voice from the beginning opened everyone’s eyes. Quinn’s poll numbers began to plummet from leader of the mayoral race to 3rd or 4th place, week after week.
On November 5, 2013, Bill de Blasio won the mayoral election by a landslide, receiving over 73% of the vote and will become the first Democratic mayor of the city in nearly 20 years. Thank you Donny Moss for giving me my city back!
M+M, JONATHAN MERES (ONE) COHEN and MARIE CECILE FLAGEUL:
A forceful team, together they ARE 5 Pointz/ “the institute of higher burning“, the curators of the leading world’s graffiti and street mural art museum and mecca that was destroyed by the cruel vindictive whitewashing of the building in the middle of the night on November 19 of this year by Gerry Wolkoff. Words almost fail me to describe the incredible joy and privilege I have of being their friends. My heart is so deeply full of the pleasure they have brought to the entire world through their tireless efforts to have made 5 Pointz bigger and better year after year. I had come for years as an enthralled neighbor to support the saving of 5 Pointz. Then it then dawned on me that as a tour guide, this was the ultimate New York experience to bring my guests there as a surprise last stop. Over the years I had gained Meres’ and Marie’s trust by never betraying them or their art, by never pretending to be anyone else but someone who passionately loved this mesmerizing art. I thrived on the surprised looks on my tourist guest’s faces as they approached the loading dock and where overwhelmed by the fantastic colors and phantasmagorical art work. I felt like a million dollars sharing this with them.
Marie fiercely defended the illegal filming on the site, but saw to it that has been included in countless films, music videos and blogs. Meres saw to it that fellow writers and artists respected the sight and oversaw all the murals that would dazzle your imagination, resulting in world wide recognition as the premier street art museum. 200,000-square-feet (19,000 m2) of dazzling imagination from all over the world. Meres’ signature light bulbs are now recognized all over the world. Did you know that if look up any travel guide, 5 Pointz is listed as the #1 thing to see in Queens? – you can thank the brilliance of Meres and Marie for that. Meres’ 5 Pointz tours via SideTours was their #1 attraction and would sell out rapidly when new dates were announced. You felt so very special taking his tour, plain and simple = it was just so fucking cool! New York City owes them a big commission check for all the tourist money they brought to New York, Queens and especially Long Island City.
But one of the most powerful gifts they have given to so many and I have been lucky enough to receive, is their bringing together one of the most diverse group of people from across the city and the globe who otherwise never would have met and shared such passion, joy and fun. Art unites, art opens your eyes and hearts, art can even save lives. Meres and Marie united the world through the brilliance of Meres’ artful vision and Marie’s passion. To say “thank you et merci” almost doesn’t seem enough . . .
The mighty Quinn: For the past twelve years, Quinn and Bloomberg have systematically destroyed New York City as the city has become a city of the über rich and the very poor, 45+% now live near or at the poverty level. We have lost over 12 hospitals during their term in office, glass luxury apartments replace them. Quinn ruled the city and controlled the zoning laws with her slush funds making the city open season for the greedy real estate developers as zoning law changes have become the norm. South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 is being torn down, neighborhoods like Harlem, Greenwich Village and Soho are loosing their soul. Her tearing down of St. Vincent’s Hospital, it’s church and the 9/11 memorial is the most egregious. As the years passed, she became the most powerful politician only second to Bloomberg, a power that was had by vitriolic temper outbursts and control of the city funds.
The angry old white woman who seemed to be the woman in charge said “You’ll have to take it off or leave.” “I thought this was a free country?!” mom angrily argued. “I came here from Nazi Germany where I could not say or do as I pleased, nor vote. Now YOU are going to tell me what to do?! Well, I am not walking all that way home again, then I’ll take it off!” (I had a t-shirt under mine, mom didn’t. The photo here is not from today.) Mom asked me to hold her cane and then to hold her steady. Her hat came off first, then her shoulder bag. She fumbled to look for a place to place her hat and bag.
Uncomfortable curious stares went around the room. Was this woman about to flash the room?! It looked like she would as she asked me to help her lift her shirt over head. As the first signs of an 87 year old woman’s midriff made an appearance, one of the other volunteers ran over and yelled, “Ok, ok, don’t take off your shirt, just lift the bottom part so you can’t see the name Quinn.” (As IF that would sway anyone’s vote at that moment!) So . . . in a very ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ fashion, mom flashed her midsection as she walked slowly across the floor to her voting station to the high five signs from the black volunteers in the rooms, some giving her a hug before she entered the booth. Mom pulled the levers, DeBlassio all the way, turned, pulled the t-shirt down to reveal the name Quinn, exited the booth and defiantly said, “what are you going to do, throw me out?!” and slowly with her cane walked across the room to the cheers and applause of the people inside! (Unfortunately the police made sure I took no pictures.) That’s MY mom! GO MOM !