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HOW THE BRUISED APPLE WAS WON
James Campion on Bloomberg


This is a tough time to write about politics. What with a smoking crater on the lower west side of Manhattan and half the tri-state area crazy with fear over terrorist activities, real and imaged. Not to mention this reporter's late-summer exodus into the Garden State via the Bear Mountain run, making this the first campaign season that I spent away from all the cronies at Gracie Mansion in nearly fifteen years. It was hard to follow anything in Jersey after the first week of September. There were some e-mail invites to Bret Shundler events down in Wayne, but one of them fell on the night the Counting Crows were over at William Paterson University, and my sister-in-law and her husband were visiting from Syracuse. It was a timing thing.

It was also a reverse vengeance move on my part. This was something I learned in Journalism 101 over at Trenton State in the early 80s'. "Reverse Vengeance" is when someone attacks the validity of a story you write, then asks you to cover another. That's a no-go in the reporting world.
I was able to actually practice this "theory" during a spring internship program in which students were asked to pen a query letter to an editorial department head critiquing the periodical's material and direction, and then offering their "unique" services to correct it. Most of my fellow classmates chose Esquire or The National Review or Sports Illustrated. My choice was TV Guide.

My only mistake, apparently, was trashing the whole concept of television in the thing. This was curious to my professor, seeing how I was a radio/television major. None-the-less, my query letter was laced with expletives and references to the entire medium "resembling the pasty substance spewed from a coke-head on a whiskey binge." It was good writing though, just not something a big-time editor wanted to read from a snot-nosed college kid. I received a one-sentence response a month later on TV Guide letterhead from a mister Gerald Eisen that read: "You think its amusing to compare the entire television industry to a drug addict's puke?" I still have the damn thing. But I think I was just writing about Bret Shundler. Seems someone in the Friends For Shundler group denied a story I wrote in the 7/4 issue of Aquarian about the candidate spinning doughnuts up on Route 59 in Rockland County during the primaries. This was a spurious argument on all ends. The Bergen Record broke the story. I just commented on something a friend of mine from Haverstraw described as
"pretty out there behavior for someone running for governor." So Jim McGreevy won. And from all accounts Jersey Dems are thrilled. Many of them remember the mess Jim Florio made of the taxes here, threatening to use the National Guard on the Garden State Parkway against "any motorist making hand gestures at the coin baskets and then blowing their horns in an attempt to travel for free."

Florio was a madman, but he was right. There are no free rides on the parkway, not then, not now, not ever. Which brings me to the NYC mayoral race, that wasn't much of race at all four days before the polls opened. By Saturday afternoon before 11/6, Democrat Mark Green had a solid 16% lead over Michael Bloomberg. And that was after a furious comeback which took him from a nearly 30% quagmire last summer.

Of course, last summer his Republican meal ticket, Rudy Giuliani was mired in divorce proceedings, his wife threatening to kick him out of the mansion downtown. The mayor of NYC was reduced to shacking up with an assistant in a one-room walk-up on the lower East side. He was in no shape to stump for anyone.

It was a bitter denouement to 18 months of cop beatings and the slaughtering of innocents by the NYPD. Moreover, there was a sense that New Yorkers had somehow traded their civil rights for safety and truckloads of Disney money. People were starting to forget Uncle Rudy's amazing reconstruction of the cesspool of hate and disorder David Dinkens had left him. I could not blame them. They weren't sitting next to me at Giuliani's campaign hub in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn on the night Uncle Rudy was elected 107th mayor of New York. He was one of their own, come home to clean the streets and kick the ass, and if I close my eyes right now I can see his grinning face up on that twenty foot screen telling his people not to fear anymore.

Driving home on the BQE that night, it was hard to decipher just who "his people" were exactly. White people? Cops? Italians? Yankees fans? Either way, it was only a few months into Uncle Rudy's reign that the Third Avenue bridge exit off the Major Deegan, once crawling with stoned and violent squeegie guys, turned into a police state. This was good news for everyone, even the squeegie guys, who were given three-squares a day with the homeless in prison camps up in Ossining.
Now where was I going with this? Oh yes, Bloomberg's comeback.

The press loves to talk about things like miracles. But there are no miracles in politics or sports. The Mets won in 1969 because they had better pitching and clutch hitting than the Orioles. The '78 Yankees made up a 14 game deficit in six weeks to the Bosox because they had a guy named Ron Guidry who took the ball every fifth day and rammed it down the throat of anyone holding wood. And they had Thurman Munson, who once told Maury Allen of the NY Post that he would "gladly pistol whip anyone with a 'B' on their cap for five minutes of peace."

Bloomberg will be the next mayor of the Big Apple because it was bruised on 9/11 and Uncle Rudy rose from the political grave to do what he does best: "clean the streets and kick the ass." And all those people who'd forgotten "the scary years" remembered what kind of Wild West show New York had been under Dinkens and feared Green like the plague. Not to mention Green, a liberal democrat, was pummeled in the all-important Hispanic vote due to his shameless dismantling of Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrar two months ago.

Green tried the same crap with Bloomberg, playing up court records and minor league race bating, but he is grass, and Mikey is the toast of the town because his buddy, Uncle Rudy said so.
The Big Apple will miss him.
You know, the apple with the smoking crater downtown.

more from James Campion

Aquarian Weekly
11/14/01
REALITY CHECK

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