Faxed to me-perhaps by mistake-was a plan by the Bush administration to rebuild New York after the terrorist attacks. Why me? Probably because my fax number is only one digit away from that of the Ironworkers’ Union local, which is probably a cover for the Friends of Pat Robertson Social Group, which is actually a Republican outreach organization that works behind enemy lines, distributing leaflets and gathering intelligence.
I was shocked and amazed by what I read. Skimming the page, I saw that the plan calls for a fleet of 2,000 speedboats, each named after a Texas town, to be docked at midtown piers for regular weekend service to the Hamptons. This fleet is to be owned by a private corporation that will also own the upstate reservoirs, charging a minimum for each glass of water that New Yorkers pull from their faucets. There is no reason, it states, that the water supply should not be privatized and streamlined for more efficient service and increased fiscal responsibility. Customers who do not pay on time would be cut off.
I started at the top. Most alarming, I read, the plan puts aside $10 billion for digging for oil beneath ground zero, pointing out that the income from a 100-story office building is insignificant compared to that derived from oil gushing from a hole right under the Nos. 1 and 9 subway lines. The only endangered species involved would be financial companies, local sandwich makers and T-shirt vendors, and there would be no problem in providing space for them elsewhere. Perhaps with the proper tax incentives, the administration suggests, they would like to relocate to Austin, Houston or Corpus Christi, which also has a harbor view. The next paragraph warns that it might be necessary to defend its vision against naysayers who complain that several of Dick Cheney’s former colleagues have already incorporated something called Ellis Island Fuels and are planning to issue a stock offering.
The plan recommends selling Central Park to the New York Yankees and building a conveniently located stadium above the reservoir, which could be filled in with sand and gravel cheaply imported from the Southwest. Objections to loss of recreational space, dog runs, ball fields and fruit trees could be met with the offer of a permanent Ringling Bros. tent at the north end of the park. Here, inner-city youth can learn to be human cannonballs prior to enlisting in the army, which will accept circus training in lieu of a high-school diploma.
On Cortlandt Street, they’ll build the extensive Yellow Horse stables, where New Yorkers can learn how to ride. Horses will also be available for sale. A relative of Dick Cheney’s has already registered his logo for saddle blankets, which will feature a stallion’s head atop a shrunken Empire State Building. Interborough trails will be created and maintained, so that instead of taxis driven by turbaned men waving American flags protesting too much, the means of local transportation will eat apples and have hooves.
The administration calls for the Statue of Liberty to be moved out of the New York Harbor, where she is a conspicuous target, and placed in Montana (on Cheney’s ranch?), where the F.B.I. can almost guarantee her safety.
The Bush fax also requires a large wooden horse to be pulled across the Manhattan Bridge and parked in Chinatown. This horse will be large enough to hold several thousand ranchers and cowhands ready to clear the land of urban blight in return for certain real-estate deeds to buildings confiscated by government inspectors. This will bring a healthy variety of economic activity to the island of Manhattan, which has been given to high-rise, Eastern-elitist thinking for far too long. The fax says that the stock exchange itself, depending as it does on technology, belongs in a location better equipped to its needs, like the Lone Star State, with all its sandy flatlands and accessible bayous.
Several paragraphs argue that since it is constitutionally impossible at the moment to bring God into the schools, it might be easier to bring the schools to God by granting tax rebates in excess of $150,000 a year for all parents-regardless of their income-who choose parochial education for their children. In return, parents will have to agree to attend speech-therapy classes in order to learn to speak more slowly. This will make New Yorkers much more popular in the rest of the country.
Since everyone knows that wit and high SAT scores are major New York resources, the plan calls for a large subsidy in the form of tax breaks and cash incentives to those parents who send their children to Dalton, Trinity, Buckley, Brearley and several other schools whose names I couldn’t make out due to small type. These schools will also receive vouchers payable to large construction companies whose chief executives have children at the particular school involved to pay for extending buildings skyward, adding , building indoor swimming pools and providing vacations for families of the enrolled at the European city of their choice.
The government will put all homeless shelters, halfway houses and hospital clinics serving the uninsured on barges that are accessible only by pricey water taxi, thus keeping the client lists down. ACLU offices will be condemned on health grounds by a grateful city administration; subsequently, the ACLU may find it difficult to locate alternate office space. Perhaps they will move to the Alaskan tundra, where they can easily operate without disturbing any breeding wildlife. Disney has offered to take over the East and West Village. Every year they’ll host a real county fair, with an emphasis on patriotism and heterosexuality as a positive gender choice.
Of course, this is just a plan. On paper, it sounds worse than it probably is. After all, it will be met with opposition. New Yorkers aren’t going to just roll over because we’re at war with terrorists-I don’t think. We like our taxis, and we are not going to let a theme park take over our annual Halloween parade, nor are we going to let anyone dig beneath ground zero no matter the profit factor. I think it’s just a rumor that Mike Bloomberg’s uncle runs an ostrich farm in Lubbock, Tex., and his aunt has made a bid to take over Balthazar. I hope I haven’t alarmed anyone by making this plan public, although I am thinking about moving to Paris just in case. Whoa, I tell myself, don’t get stampeded out of here.