Aaron Gordon: Hey, David, I know you’ve had this date circled on your calendar because it’s time for Mayor de Blasio’s State of the City address. Are you excited?!
David Colon: Who wouldn’t be excited to be back on their bullshit?
By which I mean, of course, trying to make sense of a political speech heavy on the symbolism and light on the actual specifics!
AG: The theme of tonight’s speech is apparently “The Fairest Big City in America.” Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest city of them all?
DC: ::Bill de Blasio voice:: Friends, President Trump is trying to turn the Big Apple into the Poison Apple, and I won’t let him.
::Also Bill de Blasio voice:: Legal pot is a step too far, my friends, it’s a step too far.
AG: It didn’t even take much imagination to envision him actually saying that.
“It’s not a policy blueprint for the year, but a vision for our city’s civic life for the years ahead,” mayoral spokesperson Eric Phillips told Politico on Sunday. “There will be bold initiatives, but it will not be a conventional laundry list of big ticket items.”
TO WHAT SPEECH COULD HE BE REFERRING DO YOU THINK?!
DC: Bill de Blasio is also buying a cat, for some weird reason.
AG: “This is my bigger puppy, General.”
DC: Also, look, I know we got our Cuomo jokes in last month, but I’m still shaken to the core that Andrew Cuomo actually went out and got a dog in order to look more presidential.
AG: Two-thirds of the responses to his account’s tweet about the dog were “FIX THE SUBWAY.” Some things never change.
This blank, silent screen isn’t doing it for me. David, I miss the muzak from Cuomo’s State of the State.
DC: I know, this is killing me. I want to at least get to look at the inside of the Kings Theatre, it’s very nice!
Both the B and Q even have good service at the moment, according to the MTA website. (This is a joke about the mayor taking the subway there, which seems…unlikely.)
AG: Maybe there’s traffic. (There is definitely traffic.)
DC: Speaking of traffic, a previous State of the City brought us the BQX.
AG: No wonder why there won’t be any big ideas in this one.
DC: The mayor is 100 percent going to just never talk about this again, right?
AG: “I’ve sold streetcars to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook…”
DC: His first mistake was not trying to introduce it in song.
AG: I’m not going to lie to you, if politicians started to introduce ideas via song we would be a much better country for it.
DC: I’ve watched this man sing on the Jimmy Kimmel show, it ain’t pretty.
Oh hey, wow, that was sudden, here we go.
AG: Man, that place is gorgeous. An hour of King’s Theatre panning shots, please.
DC: I don’t doubt it’s going to be a memorable evening at the Kings Theatre.
OK, I kind of do. But I also think the Desus & Mero show there will be more memorable.
Are there even MORE children singing a patriotic song at this than at the State of the State?
AG: I wouldn’t be surprised if there was precisely one more child.
DC: I’ll just add that question to my file of “FOIL requests I’ll never do.”
AG: As this school choir files out, can I just say my least favorite part of being in choir was how long it took to file out in an orderly fashion? I always wished they’d let us just leave of our own accord. We knew how to walk, god dammit.
DC: The choir has to have military efficiency, Aaron.
AG: They even taught us how to pivot gracefully.
I went to a public high school, for the record.
DC: Me too, I was in the marching band, and the Long Beach High marching band was, uh…less than militarily disciplined.
So in all of this opening pomp, I’ve decided I’m going to play the Big Show’s entrance music when the city’s tallest mayor walks out and see how it matches up.
I get very bored during opening pomp.
AG: This is particularly dull opening pomp. Mostly because it has to do with God and I’m not tight with God.
DC: Oh, hmm, I do like what this imam called us, “The City of the Cities.” It fits with my conception of New York as The Only City.
AG: I’m imagining someone saying that about a perfectly mediocre American city. “Welcome to Wichita, the City of Cities.”
DC: We’re gonna get letters from Wichita about that one.
AG: Do we really need three religious leaders to speak before this speech?
DC: I don’t want to say this rabbi is, like, phoning it in, but he also seems to be very casual.
AG: You know what’s not mailing it in? His beard.
DC: Yeah, as someone who just got rid of his very large beard, I’m blown away by that thing.
AG: OK, now he’s telling a story about encountering a panhandler. Can I say as a Jewish person this is the most rabbi speech ever.
YES IT EVEN CULMINATED IN A BAD PUN HE IS NAILING IT.
DC: This rabbi doesn’t know that panhandling is constitutionally protected speech.
AG: Any idea why he singled out Dinkins to bless?
DC: It’s a perk of being a former mayor.
“Ain’t our creator great?”
AG: To be clear to our readers, the rabbi did not say that.
There is a new religious leader now.
DC: They saved the two most New Yawk religious leaders for the end.
AG: Is this the last one?
DC: I think they listed four names?
AG: What if the entire State of the City was religious leaders blessing Bill de Blasio?
DC: You’re giving the president ideas.
Do they have a box for them to stand on because the mayor is so tall and the podium is therefore tall???
AG: One thing that’s always bothered me about calling America a melting pot: Those outside the melting pot eat what’s inside of it.
DC: “America is a great old mess of fondue. Just don’t think about what happens to fondue.”
Aw man, these poor terrified high school students leading us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
AG: I still can’t believe we do that in schools. Definitely a top thing you think back on as an adult and go, “Wait a minute, that’s pretty fucked-up!”
DC: I was a Pledge sitter in high school, and look at me now!
AG: Damn, a mini-Kaepernick you were.
DC: Please no one actually look into whether I’m rich and successful, just take me at my word.
AG: I’m not gonna lie, I was a fervent pledger for most of middle school.
DC: Not everyone can be the Communist Scourge of LBHS.
Sorry for the grade school nostalgia kids, but nothing much is happening yet. Chirlane McCray going for the cheap heat by asking for yet more applause for the child who introduced her.
AG: We’re now talking about the importance of activism. Meanwhile, last month, the NYPD arrested city councilmen at a rally for a detained activist.
DC: How, if according to the first lady, New Yorkers have taken to the streets to fight for immigrants?
AG: She’s reading this speech like she’s the narrator in a corporate infomercial about how industrial farming is really great.
That was half criticism and half compliment for her soothing voice.
Oh hell yeah, video montage time!
DC: Aaron, did you know New York is The Safest Big City in America?
AG: Well, obviously the mayor is the sole reason for that.
DC: The NYPD is building a bridge in the community.
A bridge made up entirely of racially unbalanced marijuana arrests.
AG: Building a bridge, made of police cars, over the bus lanes, by parking in the bus lanes.
David, why are we watching a very long commercial for New York City?
DC: The mayor has to build a very tall statue of ordinary folks to hide behind, owing to his height.
AG: Oh my god, there really is walk-up music. This is not a drill, people.
DC: I think my choice of music was better.
“Everyone watching at home” is 95 people according to Periscope right now.
AG: Hey now, there are also 231 on YouTube.
DC: I know all my friends are at the bar right now, the jerks.
Smart idea to just shout out “the district attorneys” and therefore avoid having to specifically thank Cy Vance!
AG: He’s not the mayor by accident. I don’t think. Maybe he is?
DC: Kind of, but don’t tell him that.
AG: I do believe there is a protestor shouting about Rikers?
DC: Is that what the yelling is?
AG: I know they were outside the theater as guests arrived.
DC: I thought the guy he shouted out had a cheering section.
AG: It didn’t sound like cheering to me. We’ll find out later, I guess!
DC: The West Side Highway car attack also could have been prevented with carefully placed bollards.
But I guess why talk about policy in this speech?
AG: Can’t honor a police officer for ending a terrorist attack if the terrorist attack never happens.
New York City: “We will not be intimidated and we will not change.” Damn, that’s accurate for all the wrong reasons.
DC: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I miss the State of the State.
AG: I definitely miss Cuomo’s rapid-fire policy proposals. I think it’s cool and good to honor New Yorkers who do brave things, but that’s not what the State of the City is.
DC: The State of the City is, there are heroes everywhere, thank you and goodnight!
He’s not standing on the box, I knew it was a tall podium thing.
AG: He keeps talking about New York being the most fair and just city, blissfully unaware it is one of the most unequal cities on the planet.
DC: That Lauren Duca tweet about how New Yorkers are never racist in the face of terrorism, the speech.
AG: He’s running.
“There is a point at which extreme inequality makes a mockery of a democratic society.” My dude, where have you been?
DC: All of those LLCs that own West 57th Street apartments are shakin’ in their nonexistent boots.
Uh. “Make every decision with the question in mind: Will this help make us the fairest city in America?”
City bureaucracy grinds to a halt as everything turns into a damn philosophy convention.
AG: “Sir, what kind of cream cheese do you want?” “Which will make this city fairer?” “Sir, I’m not going to ask you again.”
DC: Look, this isn’t “funny” or whatever, but I watched a police shooting last year taken on a body camera and I think the mayor is really overselling how much more fair those things will make the situation out there.
AG: “Fairness” is a pretty meaningless term, especially when talking on a societal level, so of course de Blasio has made it the cornerstone of his administration.
DC: Oh, I thought he was going to define the way he saw “fairness” right there. But nope, it still will remain a vague, pleasant-sounding idea from nowhere.
AG: You heard it here first, folks: De Blasio is pro-children reading on grade level.
DC: So since he’s talking about fairness in education, is he gonna talk about our extremely segregated schools or…
AG: Now he’s on affordable housing! How much is your rent, David?
DC: More than my mom is happy with, but to be fair I used to have a person I split it with. Happy Valentine’s Day, kids!
AG: I’m excited for BdB’s plan to expand “affordable” apartments of $3,000-plus a month.
Dear readers, we promise we would share any specific policy proposals if there were any.
DC: Yeah, I thought for a moment I missed one while I was being sad during the housing bit. But nope.
AG: You didn’t.
I’m glad BdB’s idea of fighting climate change is suing oil companies, not building seawalls.
DC: WTF is happening this is like a slow-motion version of when Cuomo just put all those ideas on a screen one after the other.
AG: “You list 176 ideas in rapid succession? I will list NONE.”
DC: If I wanted to live life in slow motion again I’d go back to drinking cough syrup for fun.
AG: The camera just panned to the audience and showed someone yawning.
DC: Tfw the State of the City is bored.
AG: It’s cool to sue and divest from oil companies but pass congestion pricing and build seawalls, dammit.
(I know he can’t pass congestion pricing, but he could support it.)
DC: Also don’t park in the dang bike lane.
AG: This speech:
DC: Hoo boy goin’ to Albany to talk subways, let’s see.
AG: “I think we should redouble our efforts for a millionaires tax.”
David, why? Why does he keep doing this?
DC: He can’t bring himself to say “congestion pricing.”
AG: “I have only one condition” on solving subway crisis: “The money raised in NYC stays in NYC.”
“Lockbox” is his admin’s key phrase with this issue. Did nobody watch Saturday Night Live in the early 2000s?!
DC: It’s good someone is bringing back “the lockbox.” What happened to the last guy who talked about that? Something good, right?
Bish don’t talk about Washington right now, you’re not stopping anything.
AG: He sure is talking about federal policy an awful lot! I wonder why a mayor would be talking about federal policy so much? Do you think he might be running for some federal office sometime soon?
DC: Bill de Blasio won’t rest until the 1 percent pay their fair share in taxes.
I won’t rest until there is no more 1 percent.
Choose your fighter.
AG: He’s talking about fighting the opioid epidemic now. Do you think there’s any chance he advocates for safe injection sites?
DC: So uh, about this increased “enforcement” to fight the opioid epidemic…
AG: It’s fair, David.
DC: Surely asking the police to tackle a public health problem has never gone wrong.
DC: OK, friends, he didn’t even talk about the enforcement.
AG: He just said there would be some. What would he enforce? Didn’t say.
OK, so big picture so far: He’s listing off a lot of fairly commonsense policy goals where 100 percent of the quarrel is in the details. But he is providing absolutely no details.
DC: What I’ve learned from this speech is that Thrive NYC is good. Which I mean…fair.
DC: Extremely mood:
AG: I wish there was an outlet for political commentary comprised entirely of Simpsons memes.
DC: My friend, it’s called Twitter.
AG: In other news, did you know there is an official NYC app for finding free condoms? For some reason it’s Android-only.
“Remember the old phrase ‘Crime doesn’t pay’? Well, if you commit an act of discrimination, you will pay.” The mayor just said that.
AG: I don’t have the energy for this guy.
He’s now making it sound like a brilliant stroke of policy to arrest fewer people so there are fewer prisoners.
DC: Who talked about that before Bill de Blasio? No one, that’s who.
AG: Nobody. Not one person.
DC: “Fixing the roofs at NYCHA.” How about the boilers, buddy.
AG: Or the paint.
DC: So uh, does that unfair shake NYCHA residents have gotten over a long time include the four years where he was mayor?
AG: We will become a fairer city by stopping poisoning people living in public housing with lead paint. Oh wait just kidding, he didn’t say anything about the lead paint.
Oh shit all this is happening in 2018?! Busy year ahead.
DC: Finally, someone will fix all the problems.
So wait the fundamental changes in our democracy aren’t part of the book?
AG: About time somebody promises to fix all the problems.
DC: Does that mean expanded voting rights are unfair? Did the printing costs for the book get too high?
“As New Yorkers, we have often led the fight for fairness and equality.” CITATION NEEDED
AG: “History teaches us that fundamental social change comes from the bottom up, not the top down.” That’s some reductionist fourth grade history he’s got right there.
DC: Oh cool, Bill de Blasio is picking a fight with Russia.
Oh wait wrong citation.
DC: Holy crap ANOTHER ten-point plan.
We literally just had an eleven-point plan.
AG: This one is only about elections. He’s going to appoint a committee to review the charter to “get money out of politics.”
DC: Very convenient to get money out of politics when you will never get elected again.
So instead of sending a postcard about upcoming elections, does the mayor want the Board of Elections to email every New Yorker?
AG: Well, he didn’t say how he will make voting easier, so we’ll just have to assume he’ll drop leaflets from planes flying over the city.
DC: OK look I’m just gonna say it.
Russia isn’t trying to hack our voter registration systems, here in the city.
If the mayor wants to somehow make us a swing state again, then Fancy Bear will pay attention to us.
AG: I’m much more concerned that my vote is irrelevant because of structural issues our elected officials have determined themselves.
DC: I’m gonna throw my hat in the ring for Chief Democracy Officer.
AG: Registering 1.4 million people? Sounds easy.
DC: Hire me! I’m unemployed, and will happily stand on a soapbox and yell, “Hey! Hey! Go register to vote ya filthy animal!”
The much-hated sequel to GET THE GRINGO.
AG: Who approved this hour and a half speech about nothing? This is the political speech equivalent of being stuck in a subway tunnel.
DC: “Let’s make this a place where we can vote again” will not go on a hat anytime soon.
AG: He keeps talking about how hard it is to vote. Am I an outlier or is it really not that hard to vote?
DC: Haha yes we do deserve to know which lobbyists are meeting with government officials and AGENTS OF THE CITY.
Oh, we did an annual roundup of voting clusterfucks at Gothamist, it’s not as easy as it should be. In part because everyone has to do it all on one day.
AG: Ah, this is why I’m not a political reporter.
Speaking of what I do report about, de Blasio has considerable sway over the state of our city’s streets, and he has said absolutely nothing about bicycle safety, reducing congestion, expanding bus-only lanes, or NYPD enforcement of those issues.
DC: @PlacardAbuse for mayor.
AG: What percent of this speech has been about issues de Blasio doesn’t actually control because they’re state or federal issues? 40 percent? 60 percent?
DC: It’s been impossible to tell because the things he does control were just kinda glossed over.
AG: Now he’s encouraging the crowd to fill out a postcard to “get involved.” Aren’t they already involved in civic issues if they’re at the State of the City?
DC: I thought he hated postcards. Hypocrite much???
AG: “I’ve never seen such rampant inequality as I see today.” He was born in 1961.
This is the ramblingest rambling speech given by a man not named Trump in some time. “We have a new and bolder chapter to write. And the author will be you.” Fire that speechwriter.
DC: Yeah holy shit. Also what is this “My House” rip-off music playing as an outro? Flo Rida better hit up his lawyers.
AG: OK, David, what’s your takeaway from that very long and boring speech?
DC: It was not very fair to make everyone sit through that.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 13, 2018