Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
I wanted to write to you regarding a most disturbing event I experienced this past Friday, and make you aware of the perilous direction in which New York may be heading. I fear nothing good can come from what I witnessed, and I can only hope that I accurately and thoroughly convey the sheer gravity of the situation that transpired that evening.
The evening had started out normally. Moments before fate struck me such a blow, I was sitting in a Manhattan bar with a friend, discussing the finer merits of music video production, his profession. The discussion was about the Stills and Ryan Adams, and my contention that going by the name Ryan Adams seems very shortsighted considering there was already a Bryan Adams. But that’s not what I’m writing about.
We were enjoying a tepid glass of Stella Artois, the overrated beer from Belgium, the overrated country. But that’s not what I’m writing about, either.
It was quite late, that I know. Regardless, the bar was still quite lively as are most places in New York on a Friday. This is based on my acquaintance with many of Manhattan’s bars, though to be honest I have not been to all of them. However, I do feel confident enough in my experience to assume that most bars in Manhattan on a Friday are busy. Except maybe Culture Club, which has an ’80s theme and a Pac Man logo. That has to be getting tired.
At any rate, the bar was very busy. We were chatting away. Suddenly, the music was turned off and a man with an accent stood up on the bar top and announced to the entire establishment, ‘Excuse me’ Hello’ Yes’ Feel free to light up! Smoke away!’
What fresh hell is this? I asked myself. Was I not in New York City ‘ a city of laws and regulations designed to protect everyone from everything? This was anarchy! Certainly no good could come from encouraging these people in our midst to smoke when it has been expressly forbidden. My heart began to race.
‘Did Bloomberg get fired?’ asked the girl next to us. I was appalled.
And it only got worse. Ashtrays were distributed by a smiling individual ‘ no doubt a member of this shadowy smoke-encouraging cabal. My friend and I ceased talking, and instead tried to gauge how best to handle this dilemma. We looked around the bar, wondering who was with us, who was against.
We chose to play it discreetly, and ordered another round of Stella Artois, the slightly-metallic tasting beer from Belgium.
As we awaited our drinks, we watched in amazement as patrons reached into their purses and jackets and produced packs of cigarettes and lighters. In all honesty, almost every table had blatantly chosen to side with these anarchists and trample on your glorious legal achievement. Again, I had to ask myself if I was still in New York City. I thought that perhaps, through some arcane magical properties contained in bitter Belgian beer, I had been transported to somewhere in Old Europe where common folk are free to callously smoke wherever they choose.
But alas, I realized I was still in New York, your New York, completely surrounded in this den of smoking, law-violating thugs. I wanted to scream, but certainly that would be a giveaway. I pictured the entire establishment turning toward me, pointing, and letting out a wail ‘ just like Donald Sutherland in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Incidentally, he sat behind us recently at “Henry IV”. Ethan Hawke was great, if a little skinny. But that’s another letter.
You can rest assured I was outraged. Had restaurants and bars suffered a 30% decline in sales only to have such an accomplishment treated so contemptuously? Were these renegade bar owners free to make decisions for their own establishments? What is becoming of this great city when people can do what they please, in an establishment that allows them to do so?
At this point, beers in hand, we quietly debated our next move. Dash for the door? Sneak out the back? No, we decided that the best tack would be to blend in. If anything, our goal would be to gather information for the inevitable day when these hooligans would be dragged into court and made to pay for their lawlessness.
In exchange for a few dollars, I was able to collect a handful of cigarettes as camouflage. My disguise was aided further when I began smoking one of them, flagrante delicto.
After several cigarettes, I was beginning to assemble dossiers in my mind of all these ruffians who obviously had nothing but contempt for your law. Oh sure, they laughed and talked, and carried on as they did in the Giuliani days ‘ but they were a little too laughy, a little too talky. Something wasn’t right.
I would have stayed longer to gather even more information, but my friend was bordering on exhaustion. This whole experience had obviously been too much for him, not too mention he had a heck of a week on the Ryan Adams video. We gathered our belongings and, feigning our allegiance to these conspirators until the very end, made our way to the door.
Rest assured, Honorable Mayor, I will be back to investigate further.
Your humble citizen,