Dear City of New York — This is very difficult to write, so it’s best if I get straight to the point: Had I known that my life’s work would be completely massacred by an unholy batch of hideous alien vehicles, I never would have allowed my panthers and their rippling, meticulously crafted muscles to grace the entryway to the pathetic little grass patch you call a “park.” I guess that’s what I get for trying to bring a modicum of beauty into this hateful, fetorous world.
As the Times reported yesterday, I am no mere dilettante or sculpting peasant. I’m a god damn animalier, a term I don’t expect you to know or understand, even after a reporter holds you down and explains it straight into your ungrateful face. My panthers are so real it’s a wonder they didn’t leap down from their elegant perches and tear the heads right off the startled workers installing those soulless monstrosities and their terrible, putty-colored nests. They would never, of course. My panthers are exquisitely trained, and no amount of indignity, however vile, would compel them to violence. Me, on the other hand — a different story!
Never mind that my sleek, impeccable panthers (or pumas, I don’t fuckin’ know — I’m a gifted animalier, not a zookeeper) were allowed to languish under several layers of filth until 1998, when the city finally deigned to restore them to their original glory. And so what if they regularly oversee all manner of inauspicious activity churning at their feet, like screaming, defecating children and sometimes, screaming, defecating adults (the park is a wild place!).
No. It’s the Citi Bicycles that will herald our aesthetic apocalypse — not the cheaply built high-rises growing like 25-story tall mushrooms around the city. Not the glass Fitness Planets devouring the decades-old cobblers and ice creameries. The Citi Bicycles. It requires only the basest understanding of stone pumas (?) to know that they’re very sensitive, very delicate creatures. The constant slamming of the docks, the delighted squeals of riders as they totter into Prospect Park West will send them into a state of total pandemonium. If you’ve ever seen a stone pumther when it’s angry, you know how upsetting it can be.
Setting aside the feeling of the panmas for a moment, it’s also important to recognize the tens of people who regularly walk by the park and enjoy the artistry of their lifeless gazes. These people are all less than three feet tall, which is why a set of bicycles placed several feet below the animals themselves is so gravely problematic. The bike-share service enjoys more than 10 million rides annually, and it’s expanded in recent months to six new South Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Park Slope. The bicycles are wildly popular among users, but how can one quantify the majesty of an unsullied human-to-panther sight line? How can one quantify art?
I ask now that you remove the animals, exhume my body from my grave, and bury us all together. It is the least you can do.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 15, 2016