This may seem like a questionable use of funds to some of you, but apparently the NYC political establishment would disagree. Instead of shipping campaign funds over to the relief effort in a gesture that would certainly generate some free publicity they've decided to spend it on a more deserving cause. Automated phonebanks. Every day I'm getting calls featuring recorded messages from people I've never heard of asking me to vote for someone based purely on their recommendation. Sometimes I'll answer one of these calls, hang up in disgust, and later find I got a voicemail featuring ANOTHER of the calls in the three seconds I was listening to the first one. The voicemails are always great because the majority of the recording gets cut off while waiting for the beep, so you end up hearing something like "...and that's why if you don't vote for Diana Pied-a-terre all the babies in the world will die!! DIE!!!" That's not true, it's never anything that interesting. I wish the candidates would go negative. I wish someone would call and say "Yo, this is Ludacris here to tell you that Steve Mueller is a goat fucker, has been a goat fucker, and always will be a goat fucker. So if you want a goat fucker representing you, implying that you are also a goat fucker, vote Mueller. Otherwise vote Watson in '05. Gary Watson: He doesn't fuck goats. Ever." It'd be more interesting than a recording of Mario Cuomo demonstrating that any charisma he once had has long since left the building.
Of course sometimes a recording just isn't irritating enough, and you get a live call. These are always nice, make you feel like the politician really cares. Like the other day I got a call from someone who said "Hey, is this Ben? Ben, Mike Bloomberg asked me to call you and ask who you're voting for in the upcoming election. Can I tell Mike he has your support?" Like New York City is some town of 500 in Western Wyoming and Mike Bloomberg is the kindly old general store manager running for dog catcher, instead of a billionaire running for mayor in a city with a bigger population than at least half the states. "Sure, tell Mike I think he's doing a fine job. In fact, hold that, I'll go tell him myself. If I can get past the private security perimeter and the jackbooted thugs Karl Rove sent to "Protect him" after he came out in favor of gay marriage. You know what, ask Mike to come on over. He can park his private helicopter on the roof here and rappel down to the terrace if traffic's bad."
And that's not the worst. Some candidates actually go further than live phone calls and ugly posters. The ugly side of politics comes out sometimes, and that ugly side is...stalking.
I'm talking, of course, about Gifford Miller, a democratic hopeful for mayor, if by hopeful I mean 'longshot to be the sacrificial lamb who loses to Bloomberg*', which I do.
My girlfriend and I were waiting for a bus on Sunday when we passed a Miller 'rally.' The 'rally' consisted of about 11 people halfheartedly holding Gifford Miller signs and cheering like they'd just heard the U.S. national Badminton team came in fifth at the world championships. That is to say, not loudly. Then Gifford Miller himself showed up, and started pacing around shaking hands. 39 seconds later he'd shook all the hands at the 'rally' and so he started trying to shake the hands of random passerbys. Nobody wanted a handshake from Gifford Miller. Jenny and I were getting annoyed so we decided to walk to a bus stop further on. Gifford Miller and his band of merry men started to follow. We sped up. They did too. We detoured off to a different avenue. They continued along Broadway, but parallel to us, varying their pace to match ours. For awhile they dropped out of sight, but when we chanced turning back onto Broadway again there they were, coming up on us with their half-dozen blue Gifford Miller signs. We made a break for it and got away, but for the next couple of days whenever I went out I'd be glancing over my shoulder to see if there were any hackey politicians there. So far so good.
Today is a primary voting day and I have yet to hear a solid platform or an actual policy idea. It's all endorsement by past failed politicians and creepy mini-rallies. If this is what Democracy, real democracy, looks like, I for one welcome our Theocratic overlords. At least they have a platform, and even if it's crazy, it's no crazier than Gifford Miller. He probably fucks goats too.
*During the Miller 'rally' my girlfriend and I were accosted by a poor-looking black woman with a lotto ticket who told us to vote for Bloomberg because of all the good he's done for the schools. When as an NYC Republican you have the poor black vote, you're not exactly burning your fanny on the hot seat.