I'm a comedian and I write things. Some of those things appear here. I hope you like them.
00:21 - Pope arrives, greets gathered press w/ “Shalom aleichem.” Asks for everyone to be seated.
00:52 – Pope thanks everyone for coming. Makes announcement about a MacBook Pro laptop lost in St. Patrick’s Cathedral (“If anyone has seen it, please return to Cardinal Marcus. He’d make this announcement himself, but he’s taken that vow of silence, so it’s a no go.”)
01:21 – 02:25 – Pope does a little riff about giving up chocolate for lent to much laughter and applause.
03:42 – Pope says he has major announcement. Says there has been a lot of speculation about the cause of the press conference.
04:01 – “I know some of you here think maybe I’m holding this press conference to announce that I’m releasing another ‘Pope Loafer’ with Nike, but we’re proud of the line and we don’t want to over-do it.”
05:33 – Pope says he’s ready to make announcement.
05:41 – “I’m here to announce—and guys, I want everyone to be calm about this—that, at the age of 86, I’m retiring from the Papacy.”
05:58 – Nuns in front row fainting, press conference halted.
06:22 – Pope will retire in a few weeks. Says he will no longer be known as Benedict XVI anymore but Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (“’Joey the Ratz’ to my boys in the Swiss Guard”).
06:54 – Pope makes his first “Poping ain’t easy” joke of the press conference.
07:35 – “I’m an old dude, I’m an octogenarian. I can’t keep going with a full schedule. I’m not Larry King.”
08:11 – Pope says he has “nothing left to prove,” that he “gave 100 percent every day,” and that he just “doesn’t have love for the game anymore.”
08:42 – Thanks “confidantes” like “the Dalai Lama” and “Charles Barkley” for their support and advice.
09:00 – “I haven’t totally ruled out a return to the game. You know, never say never, right?”
09:21 – Pope says he’s not leaving over contract renegotiations with the church.
09:42 - “There’s no conspiracy here. Don’t give me any of that Dan Brown b***s**t.”
10:03 – Reporter who makes crack about the Pope retiring to “spend time with other peoples’ kids” booted from press conference.”
12:36 – Pope, responding to a question of “What’s next for you?” says that he really wants to focus on his music, and “various other entrepreneurialship (sic) endeavors.”
13:23 – Pope says he doesn’t know who the next Pope will be, but that he’s wishing everyone luck from the sidelines.
16:44 - “Five years down the line, if the urge comes back, if the Church will have me, if Jesus wants me to come back, I may come back.”
18:00 – Says he’ll miss the fans. (“I won’t miss the paparazzi, that’s for damn sure.”)
21:32 – Questions dying down. Pope gazes out over the now-silent room, says “If that’s all…” A few cameras click resignedly and il padrino takes a sip of water. Looks at his carlemango. In the corner, soft weeping from a few shocked clergymen. The Pope sighs. “Look, guys. I know this is difficult. It’s been a long time since someone did this, but I just think it’s better for the game if I walk away now. You’ve been fantastic, and I’ll miss you all. Thanks for everything.” He steps back from the podium and exits through the back door, trailed by his entourage.
22:01 – Rick Hahn, General Manager for the Chicago White Sox, takes the microphone, announces the Pope has signed a “two-year minor-league contract” with the team and that they’re “looking forward” to having the Pope report to Spring Training next week.
Washington, District of Columbia. Cold rain in DC, tears from Founders above. ‘America’ has run its course. Bill of Rights evolving and dissolving.
Boston, Massachusetts. Hail in MA, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton playing ping-pong, disapproving of Taxachusetts’ Senate appointments. ‘America’ has eaten a pizza. Bill of Rights created by God.
Tampa, Florida. Hot, possibly light drizzle in FL. Body heat of William Howard Taft shifting in that bathtub he’s stuck in. ‘America’ has gone for light jog in the heat before giving up and taking a taxi home. Bill of Rights going through photosynthesis.
Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota. Low visibility in SD. George Washington would not want to see the rest of this country. ‘America’ has bought an umbrella. Bill of Rights lost on the way here.
New York City, New York. It’s Always Bad Weather Because of The Gay Sex.
Chicago, Illinois. High winds in Corrupt Democrat Stronghold. Reagan breathing hard (needs a tic-tac). This is where welfare fraud happens. ‘America’ has to wait on line at the DMV. Ugh. Bill of Rights stabbed on South Side.
Houston, Texas. Sun in TEXAS because Founding Fathers smile on the only people who have it right. ‘America’ forgot to take his meds today. Bill of Rights urged by Doctor to take said medication or, “this kind of thing can happen, Matt.”
Des Moines, Iowa. Bitterly cold in the heartland. The icy glare of Truman. ‘America’ shivers. Bill of Rights wonders: where is Obama now?
Newtown, Connecticut. Cloudy with temperatures steady near the mid 30s. Winds light and variable. Nothing worth discussing or out of the ordinary.
Barbara Walters: You’re a little overweight.
Chris Christie: More than a little.
Barbara Walters: Why?
Chris Christie: If I could figure that out, I’d fix it.
Barbara Walters: There are people that say you’re too overweight to be president.
- Barbara Walters’ “Most Fascinating People of 2012,” Special, 12/11/2012
Barbara Walters: There are people saying you’re the size of a small house.
Chris Christie: That’s insane.
Barbara Walters: Well, it’s what people are saying. If your body was a residence, how many bedrooms would it have?
Chris Christie: Um, well, I think the quest— I guess it would be a studio?
Barbara Walters: It wouldn’t be a studio.
Barbara Walters: Is Chris Christie your real name?
Chris Christie: Yes.
Barbara Walters: Are you sure? Some people think it might be possible that originally you were just one Chris but when you ballooned to twice your normal size a second Chris was added.
Chris Christie: No. It’s my name.
Barbara Walters: Or maybe you won the extra Chris after some sort of eating competition.
Chris Christie: Can we please talk about my state?
Barbara Walters: Which one is that again?
Chris Christie: New Jersey. I’m the Governor.
Barbara Walters: Were you elected, or do you rule by fear?
Chris Christie: I was elected. New Jersey is a state in crisis, and I’m asking any of those watching to send relief to the state. Anything helps. Clothes, canned food—
Barbara Walters: You’re asking people to send you food? Do you really need more food?
Chris Christie: Oh, for the love of God.
Barbara Walters: Let’s talk presidency.
Chris Christie: Please. Let’s do that.
Barbara Walters: If you were to compare yourself to a president, would you compare yourself to (A.) William Howard Taft, (B.) William Howard Taft, or (C.) William Howard Taft…
Chris Christie: I wouldn’t com—
Barbara Walters: I’m not finished. Or, (D.) all of the above.
Chris Christie: … Well, Hurricane Sandy hit us hard and there was a tremendous amount of flooding in Trenton –
Barbara Walters: Do you float?
Chris Christie: No. I don’t.
Barbara Walters: Just checking. People think from looking at you that you might.
Chris Christie: When you say “people” do you really just mean yourself?
Barbara Walters: I count as people.
Barbara Walters: I hear you’re a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. I was wonder—
Chris Christie: Before you say anything more, I just want to let you know that if you make a crack about how my favorite song of his clearly isn’t “Born to Run,” I’m going to crush your head like a soup nut.
Barbara Walters: …
Barbara Walters: How can you live with yourself?
Chris Christie: Look lady, I’m the Governor of one of the most essential, unique and fascinating states in the country. That state is in trouble, and, right now, I have to get Jersey back on its feet. I’m doing the best job I can, I don’t appreciate your asshole questions, and my weight, while a major concern for me personally, isn’t the most important thing right now.
Barbara Walters: Some people disagree.
Chris Christie: Fuck you.
Below is my real-life encounter with Blackberry Customer Service (which is an oxymoron) and what would happen if Blackberry did other things besides make second-rate phones with fifth-rate software. - AE
P.S. Thanks Verizon, you were much more simpatico and you were nice enough to make sure I at least got to speak to someone at Blackberry.
BLACKBERRY CUSTOMER SERVICE
BLACKBERRY CUSTOMER SERVICE: Sir, I understand you’re upset, but if your phone dies during an update, it gets wiped. That happens sometimes.
ME: I didn’t know there would be an update.
BLACKBERRY CUSTOMER SERVICE: We send the update to your phone automatically. You just have to be prepared for it. It’s that time of year, so you should know that and make sure your phone doesn’t die.
ME: It didn’t really die. It stalled. It couldn’t process backing up the ‘Social Feeds’ app and then it shut down.
BLACKBERRY CUSTOMER SERVICE: Oh, you should’ve uninstalled that app.
ME: It came with the phone.
BLACKBERRY CUSTOMER SERVICE: I know, it’s bundled with Blackberry Bold but it’s buggy and I’d uninstall it if I were you. Didn’t you have your information backed up?
ME: I did, but the update service was the one that also came with my phone. My phone wiped and then updated the wiped version of my contact book.
BLACKBERRY CUSTOMER SERVICE: That happens sometime. Pretty bad luck. You should’ve had it backed up with a different service. Besides ours.
ME: I can’t believe—Jesus. Hey, I have to go, but can I call you back?
BLACKBERRY CUSTOMER SERVICE: The first service call is free, but we’ll probably have to charge you when you call back
ME: What? You’re in customer service and this is the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to do. Is the—
BLACKBERRY CUSTOMER SERVICE: Sir, you’re being rude, and I can’t help you. Is there anything else?
PATIENT: Ow! Ow! Oh my God, why did you just shove that—
DOCTOR BLACKBERRY: You’re around 50. It’s around time for your colonoscopy.
PATIENT: Holy crap, that hurts so much. I didn’t know there was going to be a colonoscopy. I didn’t even schedule an appointment; I was just standing here at this bus stop.
DOCTOR BLACKBERRY: Well, it’s about that time of your life; you should be ready for a colonoscopy.
PATIENT: Please take it out.
DOCTOR BLACKBERRY: I can’t. It’s stuck. We used the wrong hose. This one is too big. That’s bad luck.
PATIENT: Are you serious?
DOCTOR BLACKBERRY: I can try to take it out again, but you’ll have to pay me more money.
PATIENT: I can’t believe this is happening.
DOCTOR BLACKBERRY: It’s your own fault; you should be seeing another Doctor.
HOMEOWNER: Look, it was my daughter’s wedding today. The reception was being held in our house.
EXTERMINATOR BLACKBERRY: Hey, pal, I understand you’re upset, but we’ve got to get rid of the ants, you want the ants gone, don’t you?
HOMEOWNER: Yes, but we’re not even sure there ARE ants. Shouldn’t you have checked first?
EXTERMINATOR BLACKBERRY: Waste of time. We just fumigate the home with poisonous gas in case you have ants. You’re welcome.
HOMEOWNER: You’re welcome? Everyone in the wedding party is sick right now! My nephew died! You didn’t tell me you were going to fumigate.
EXTERMINATOR BLACKBERRY: We didn’t want to bother you. It was a service.
HOMEOWNER: Wait, why is my house on fire?
EXTERMINATOR BLACKBERRY: There are some gasoline-soaked rags in there. You should’ve removed them.
HOMEOWNER: I didn’t put them in there.
EXTERMINATOR BLACKBERRY: We did. You still should’ve removed them.
HOMEOWNER: Why did they ignite?
EXTERMINATOR BLACKBERRY: We lit them on fire to get the ants.
HOMEOWNER: What ants?
EXTERMINATOR BLACKBERRY: The ants we were looking for. And also the ones we’ve just now set loose in your house to help find the others.
HOMEOWNER: Can you get rid of them?
EXTERMINATOR BLACKBERRY: Maybe. You’ll have to pay to find out.
WAITER BLACKBERRY: Here’s your soup.
CUSTOMER: I didn’t order soup. I’m not in a restaurant. I’m just walking on the street.
WAITER BLACKBERRY: It’s the time of year to eat soup. You will eat it and like it.
WAITER BLACKBERRY: Take the soup.
CUSTOMER: I can’t. I’m holding my child. My hands are full.
WAITER BLACKBERRY: I’m going to pour this scalding soup on your child so you have room to hold the soup.
CUSTOMER: That makes no sen— Wait. Fine, give me some soup.
Customer takes some soup.
WAITER BLACKBERRY: How does it taste?
CUSTOMER: This is awful. I think I’m goin—
Customer vomits onto the ground.
WAITER BLACKBERRY: It’s got an expectorant called ipecac in it. It makes you vomit.
CUSTOMER: BLEARGH! Why?!
WAITER BLACKBERRY: It’s a service, in case you have a contaminant in your system. I might’ve just saved your life
CUSTOMER: I don’t have a contaminant in my BLEARGH! system.
WAITER BLACKBERRY: Well, not anymore.
Customer continues to vomit. His child watches, horrified.
CUSTOMER: Why would you do this to me? Can you make it stop?
WAITER BLACKBERRY: There might be an antidote. I’ll tell you if you pay.
CUSTOMER: I can’t stop vomiting. This is just awful.
WAITER BLACKBERRY: You shouldn’t go around insulting peoples’ cooking. If you didn’t like it then you should’ve gone to a different restaurant.
BANKER BLACKBERRY: Instead of saving your money, we accidentally flushed it all down the toilet. It happens sometimes.
CUSTOMER: That’s the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to do. I don’t understand how you’re still in business.
BANKER BLACKBERRY: We won’t be for much longer and everyone knows it, but we’re hanging on so we can torture you.
BENJAMIN: Guy? Guy, are you there?
GUY: I’m here Brochachos. You know I don’t like to be gotten out of bed before noon. What’s the big ideazy?
MICHAEL: Mr. Fieri, we’re calling from the Network and I hate to bother you, but we’ve got a bit of a problem.
GUY: I know, bro, I know. I just found out about the hurricane. Major bums.
MICHAEL: It’s not the hurricane, Guy. That was two weeks ago.
BENJAMIN: We are dealing with a major shitstorm, though.
MICHAEL: Benjamin, please. Guy, you know the restaurant in Times Square?
GUY: Sure, Bubba Gump. They do shrimp.
MICHAEL: No. Not that restaurant.
GUY: Hard Rock?
MICHAEL: No. Your restaurant.
[There is a long pause]
GUY: Uhhhhh… Tex’s Wasabi?
BENJAMIN: Wait, really?
MICHAEL: Guy, it’s your restaurant. You own it.
GUY: Hold on. Sorry, it was Tequila Tuesday last night. I know this. Is it Urban Outfitters?
MICHAEL: That’s not even a restaurant.
GUY: Oh! Hold on. One sec. It’s ‘Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar in Times Square.’ Obviouso. That’s mine.
BENJAMIN: Did you just Google that?
MICHAEL: Guy, critics have been coming to the Times Square restaurant and they’ve been writing pretty scathing reviews of it. It’s not good.
GUY: Awww, craps. What’d they say?
MICHAEL: It’s pretty mean. They’ve been talking ab—
GUY: Did they make fun of my hair?
MICHAEL: No. Well, maybe it got talked about, but that’s not the issu—
GUY: Did they mention the sunglasses-behind-the-head thing?
MICHAEL: No. Maybe one did. I don’t know.
BENJAMIN: Although it’d be nice if you stopped doing that.
GUY: Did they write about the hyped-up, horrible slang I use? My total lack of self-awareness? Did they say that I’m a caricature of an American so bloated and offensive that it’s practically treasonous, or that I dress like a seven-year-old ‘Orange County Choppers’ fan?
MICHAEL: Um. Not exactly. Although someone did compare you to Calvin Trillin.
GUY: The guy who plays for the Lions?
MICHAEL: No. He’s an autho—Nevermind. Guy, mostly the reviews were about the food.
GUY: Oh, that’s it? Broski, that’s totally fine.
BENJAMIN: It’s gotten real traction.
GUY: Whatever. I can’t believe you drove me out of slumbertown for this.
MICHAEL: It’s a big deal, some of the critics are very respected—
GUY: Listen, Bro Jackson. People go to these places because they love the Guyster. They come because they love me, and they see some of themselves in me and also because we don’t put the calorie counts on the menu. It’s all good.
MICHAEL: Your investors are pretty worried. One of the reviews in the New York Times has become an internet sensation.
GUY: Bromeister, the Internet is just a temporary popular thing. It’s only for checking out sweet pics of juicy cars and sexy ladies. Also, I haven’t even heard of the New York Times.
BENJAMIN: Oh my God, you’re the worst.
MICHAEL: Guy, look. We have to get out ahead of this. The food is truly terrible, apparently they can’t even get nachos right.
GUY: Whatever, I’m going back to bed. As long as the food has flavor, we’re all good.
MICHAEL: They’re saying the food doesn’t have flavor. That’s the whole point.
MICHAEL: Guy, are you there?
GUY: Wait, so the problem isn’t that there’s too much flavor for them?
BENJAMIN: No, it’s the opposite.
GUY: I’m all about Flavor. “Flavor is an attitude.” I say it all the time, and we have tons of attitude.
BENJAMIN: Do you not know what flavor means?
GUY: Sure. Flavor lives in Flavor Town.
MICHAEL: Guy, one of the critics said Flavor Town isn’t real.
GUY: He did not.
MICHAEL: Yes, TimeOut New York. Flavor Town. They implied that it was bullshit.
GUY: Flavor Town is real, Brobra Streisand. I’ve mentioned it on TV. I created Flavor Town. It’s part of my public image.
BENJAMIN: This call is fucking Kafkaesque.
MICHAEL: Well, they said it’s not flavorful.
GUY: Flavortown is so flavorful. It’s where Flavor lives.
MICHAEL: I know.
BENJAMIN: What’s happening right now?
MICHAEL: You have to do something about this, Guy. The reviewers are saying Flavortown is “about as real as Atlantis.”
GUY: Atlantis is real! It’s where they make Coca-Cola.
BENJAMIN: For chrissakes.
MICHAEL: Benjamin, shut up. Guy, You have to do something about this. Or Flavortown takes a hit.
GUY: Mangos, I can’t let that happen. Schedule some interviews. I’m the mayor, sherriff, and city council in Flavor Town and I’ve got a pledge to uphold. Everything that I do is all about flavor. I’ll handle this, or my name isn’t Guy Fieri.
BENJAMIN: Guy Fieri isn’t your name. You changed it to sound more ethnic.
GUY: People will keep coming to the restaurant. They’ll come because they know it’s a place with friendly flavor and rock n’ roll flavor…
BENJAMIN: …There’s no way you know what flavor means…
GUY: …they’ll come because they want a flavor they know. And, most of all, they’ll come because they’re fans of the “life is like a boxa chocolates” movie.
MICHAEL: It’s not Bubba Gump. That’s a different restaurant.
1. Free Willy – 1993 – Based on a true story. Jason James Richter plays Jesse, the film’s young protagonist, who seeks to set Willy, an orca whale trapped in a water park, free. Dial, the owner of the water park, is the antagonist. In the film’s dénouement, the whale jumps over Jesse to freedom. The movie is a smash hit, grossing $153 million, and Michael Jackson’s does the music!
2. Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home – 1995 – Sequel. JJ Richter (again) plays the protagonist trying to save Willy from water-park captivity (again) . The antagonist is his half-brother, and an oil company executive who looks a little like the guy who played Dial. It is not well received, but Michael Jackson does the music!
3. Free Willy 3: The Rescue – 1997 – Second sequel. JJ Richter again plays the protagonist, but, being a teenager, he is no longer cute. It’s better than the first sequel, but makes a meager $3 million. The films antagonist is waning interest and JJ Richter’s pubescence.
4. Free Willy: Escape From Pirates Cove – 2010 – The first non-sequential film. Based on an original script. The Jesse role is played by Steve Irwin’s daughter, Bindi. The antagonist is a water-park owner and the still uncomfortable memory of Steve Irwin’s death at the hands of an aquatic creature (so it’s slightly terrifying seeing his daughter swimming around).
5. Free Willy Reloaded – 2013 – Non-sequential. Jesse isn’t in this one. Willy still earns his freedom from the water park but he does it using a gun. Based on an NRA fever dream. It’s in 3-D. A massive success.
6. The Freest Willy – 2019 – JJ Richter returns. The movie is based on his life story, and the realization that the success of 1993’s Free Willy actually led to him being typecast and ruined his career. The original film is the antagonist.
7. Free Willy Hunting – 2021 – Combination of 2 of the 1990’s best films. The role of Jesse is played by Matt Damon, and the role of the whale is played by Robin Williams, who improvises heavily.
8. Live Free Willy or Die Hard – 2025 – Bruce Willis reboot.
9. Freedom Isn’t Always Free Willy – 2034 – Return to original plot, but now, Jesse trying to free Willy from the water park is seen as an act of environmental terrorism. Based on the Republican Party platform. The antagonist is Greenpeace. In the film’s final scene, Jesse is accidentally killed by the whale, who doesn’t manage to jump all the way over him.
10. Free Willy – 2073 – First real re-make. Directed by an aged and dying JJ Richter. It is based on his fading and incorrect recollection of the original film. The antagonist is his father (not the character’s father, JJ Richter’s real father).
11. Free Willy – 2255 – Remake produced by the Chinese government. The antagonist is free will. A re-animated Michael Jackson does the music!
12. Free Willy: We Had Whales – 2462 – The antagonist is the hunting of whales to extinction. Humanity weeps at the loss of such magnificent creatures.
13. Free Willy: Look At All This Land! – 3104 – The antagonist is global warming.
14. Free Willy – 3804 – Humanity has long moved beyond corporeal form, and silently contemplates the 1993 original as a collective. Through the movie, the Council of Stars comes to the gradual and an ironic realization that free will, expressed in the metaphorical form of the whale, is what separated us from the animals when we still had animals. At the iconic moment where Willie clears the open-armed Jesse, all minds are in perfect sync for the first time since the bombs fell.
15. Free Willy – 4129 – Pornographic parody.
Dear Kyle Smith,
I’m writing you this letter because, respectfully, I think you’ve done something pretty wrong-headed and obtuse. I know you from your day job, as a film critic for the New York Post, and I think – again, respectfully – that you should stick to your duties as a film critic for the New York Post.
Anyway, this letter concerns a disagreement I have with you. I don’t read the physical incarnation of the Post because the shoutiness and sensationalism makes me grind my teeth (I need the teeth for eating), but, surfing the internet, I came across a column that you had written a few weeks ago entitled “New York, I love you: Even more so after living in London.”
The column was pretty short and didn’t say that much of substance, but I was able to figure out this much:
First: That someone or something had recently forced you across the Atlantic to spend some time in London.
Second: That you did not have a good time in London, and find the idea that it could ever be part of a ‘greatest city in the world’ conversation a total outrage.
Third: That you decided to use the semi-weekly space News Corporation gives you in the New York Post’s Sunday edition to air your grievances and explain why New York kicks London’s ass.
Rather than take issue with every part of your article, I’m just going to pick five things I disagree with, and tell you why you should stick to giving four-out-of-four tomatoes to ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ (really?).
5. Your Complaint: “Unlike (relatively) green and verdant New York, where you are seldom more than a mile or two from the nearest park, my neighborhood in East London has no open spaces to speak of.”
My Patient Explanation: First of all, East London has tons of open spaces. Tons. There are freakin’ deer reserves in East London’s Victoria Park. Based on the locations mentioned in the column, I’m guessing that you were working in (and/or living near) the News International building. A quick Google search will reveal that you were a ten-minute walk from four public-accessible green spaces. If I’m wrong, and you weren’t near that particular News International building, then putting the right name of your borough into the London Gardens Online database will give you back HUNDREDS of results.
4. Your Complaint: “Zimbabwe-like, half the population arrives at work in Mercedeses and the other half on bikes.”
My Patient Explanation: You’re half right, here. Yes, London’s income gap is far larger than the rest of the UK’s, but that’s a problem in any major city — especially NYC, where the income gap is an astonishing twice the national average.
BTW, “half the population” of Zimbabwe is showing up to work in Mercedeses? Well, I’ll be damned. Perhaps I’m wrong, and you should quit giving four-out-of-four tomatoes to “Watchmen” (really?) and start breaking stories about Africa’s economic situation.
3. Your Complaint: The British lack the New York-y frankness. Describing an awful rush hour Tube snarl and the British response to it, you wrote:
“Were people screaming? Did the tabloids run front-pagers on the mess? No, pet, that wouldn’t be British. What visitors describe as New York rudeness is really more like frankness, or a collective acknowledgment of our shared and sacred covenant, the New York imperative with which Billy Joel used to end his concerts: “Don’t take any s - - - from anybody!” Let us be proud.”
My Patient Explanation: This is why people hate us, Kyle. I’m sick of this myth. There is no “shared and sacred covenant” among New Yorkers. We have no camaraderie. We’re not actually tough or frank. We’re weak and passive aggressive. We may be hardy people; good people, but there’s no “New York imperative.”
The frankness/rudeness thing is part of a persona now, and the tough image is bullshit we use, ironically, to get other people to come here. It’s grade-A, pro-wrestling level posturing. A calculated projection of a tough image for image’s sake. If New York City were a person, he would be a fat, Yankee-hat wearing, Italian-looking gentleman with DeNiro intonation. Only he wouldn’t be Italian at all, he’d be a Juilliard-trained actor from Pittsburgh who specializes in Italian roles who was cast to attract tourists. Every day, this actor (New York City) would yell out to the rest of the world:
“I’m sick of all these foreigners coming into our city. Clogging up our sidewalks. Giving the city a much-needed infusion of capital by eating in our restaurants and staying in our hotels. I mean it! I’m sick of ALL THESE FOREIGNERS, visiting www.nyc.gov to FIND OUT about ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EVENTS taking place DAILY in town! I’m sick of it!”
Also, you may be the first man in the history of the printed word to say that British tabloids complain too little.
2. and 1.
I put these two complaints together because they both reflect my biggest problem with your article:
Your Complaints: “TV is a wasteland of dull documentaries and quiz shows starring Stephen Fry.”
Groups of “hopeless tourists from Lithuania or Slovenia clutching maps and pleading for directions” bother you “in every neighborhood” for directions.
My Patient Explanations: TV sucks everywhere in the world. Especially popular TV. I think it’s a rule now. But British television has lots of quality programming to go along with the crappy reality shows. There’s original comedy and drama, and the countless Americans who watch Sherlock and Dr. Who would certainly disagree with you. Robert Popper’s Friday Night Dinner is widely considered one of the world’s best sitcoms, and Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, my favorite thing on TV anywhere on the planet, is more daring and interesting than any stand-up programming I’ve ever seen in the US. Also, I happen to really enjoy the Stephen Fry show you dislike, QI. [The Stewart Lee link is Not Safe For Work, unless you work at The Awesome Store. If you work at the Awesome Store, you know the clip, because you probably sell it there.]
I understand TV taste is subjective, and far be it from me to argue with the man who gave “Batman Begins” a better review than “The Dark Knight.” (SOMEONE PAYS YOU MONEY?). But don’t like QI or Planet Earth? Fine. Shut off the damn TV then, and walk west to the National Gallery, or any one of the London’s free museums, where you can look at the greatest art on the planet for nothing. Or, there’s performance. More kinds than you can imagine, at every price range and level. Check out something at The Soho Theatre on Dean Street, where exciting shit goes down nightly. I know a country without “Real Housewives” is a harrowing experience, but I’d be totally OK with it if the fucking Tate Modern was within walking distance from my awesome East London apartment.
Also, with regard to your complaint about Slavic sightseers “in every neighborhood:” Central London handles the bulk of the tourists. If you head out to the charming neighborhoods of Crystal Palace or Stoke Newington, you’d be hard-pressed to find a tourist anywhere. If you did, that would be a savvy tourist. But you’re not a savvy tourist, Kyle, and that is why this is my biggest problem with you and the article.
I happen to agree with you. I think, if you force the comparison between a Big Apple and a British orange, New York City probably has the edge over London. I think a well-argued piece might prove that, provided there was an acknowledgment that such a thing is not completely quantifiable. But you’re so flippant. So mocking! Imagine if someone dismissed you so easily, judged you on a random selection of your faults (“Watchmen,” ‘Benjamin Button,’ The Batman Movies) rather than the best you had to offer (two sharp and interesting books, one of which, “Love Monkey,” The New York Times found fit to characterize as an “English-style cad novel”)? That would be awful!
So how can you judge an entire city of millions of people and decide that New York is just better without a thoughtful inquiry? If you want to publish an informed opinion, you owe it to yourself, your readers, and your subject to seek it out.
Remember when that old lady in North Dakota did a review of Olive Garden? We all had a good laugh and found her ingénue refreshing. But I recall someone pointing out that, in actuality, she did an average job reviewing the restaurant because she showed little curiosity. She ate what the waitress suggested, decided to have water instead of a restaurant-prepared beverage, and declined to have dessert. Her intention was honest, but if she wanted to do a really good job, she would have expanded herself and had some raspberry lemonade and chocolate cake instead of being so non-participative.
I think New York is so great because it’s the only city I’ve ever been to that can come to you instead of vice versa. What I mean by that is, in New York, so many of the city’s wonderful features are on display even if you don’t especially seek them out. Iconic stuff is everywhere you look. London’s got good things that contend with our good things, but it’s a little more low-key about it. Its strongest points are not in the same categories as NYC’s strongest points, so you have to seek out the gems.
It sounds like you, as a passive observer, missed what would have made London wonderful, and, sure, that may mean London’s candle can’t be held to New York’s, but it also means you’ve done a bad job. London may be an Olive Garden to you, but at least try the lemonade by searching for “good parks London” on Google. If you reviewed a movie this sulkily and lazily, you’d be fired.
Sorry this letter is so long.
After all, it doesn’t really make a difference. Neither city can compete with the greatest metropolis on the planet, my hometown of Boston,
Vlad, I’ll just come out and say it. I think you’re awesome. You’re one of my favorite Russian premiers of all time. You’re like Gorbachev, without the weird splotchy head thing. You’re a manly man. A manly man who does manly things in manly places. I turn on the TV, and bam, there’s a picture of you playing hockey on the Volga or hunting without a shirt. Forget Gorbachev, you’re the Russian Teddy Roosevelt (sans sound environmental policy)!
But even though you “won” that “free” “election,” Russia doesn’t seem to share my enthusiasm these days for their “democratically-elected leader.” There’s rioting in the streets. There’s non-semaphore related flag-waving. I’m here to respectfully offer some advice to help you pull through these tough times.
1. Throw Diamond Jubilee: People love a good Jubilee. Even if it celebrates the reign of someone not democratically elected (like you!).
2. Fight Rocky: You can totally win. I know you guys still probably have that special Ivan Drago liquid treadmill somewhere. Pull it out of the closet and get going.
3. Grow Beard, Change Name to ‘Ras-Putin’: People love beards and people love history. Rasputin was in power for a long time!
4. Build Summer Camp for Dissidents in Chernobyl: See if anyone listens to your opposition when they have two heads. Don’t call it a “gulag” though, or no one will come.
5. Gulags: Obviously. If you’re going to imprison people, at least be retro about it.
6. Statue of Yourself: Stone, fifty feet. Middle of the biggest public square you guys’ve got. Preferably holding one arm aloft in salute, and creepy eyes with no pupils. Although, word of warning: These statues look the best when they’re being pulled down with ropes.
7. New Campaign Slogan: “Da, We Can.”
8. Justin Bieber at Your Birthday Party: This kind of thing totally worked out for Ghaddafi.
9. Tweet More: C’mon dude. Take Russia into the twenty-first century by Twittering more. Your handle should be strong (@RussianChamp) or adorable (@VladyPoo). When you’re shooting critically endangered Amur Tigers with a tranq gun, we want to know about it.
10. Wear More Black: It makes you look thinner and brings out your cold, soulless, icy-blue eyes.
Apply these lessons, and you’ll be way more popular. Sure, not everyone will be pleased with you, but there are gulags for that.