Dear Mayor Bloomberg,
You’ve had a good run, been a real successful, under-the-radar-type mayor, and everyone likes you. Well, 70 percent of New Yorkers. Anyway, I’ve never heard anyone say, “Bloomberg, that fascist!”
Unless I missed something, your administration has been pretty squeaky clean. No big scandals, right? I know you’ve given hundreds of millions of your own money away, but you couldn’t have paid off everyone. I like how you still ride the subway, are listed in the phone book and get paid a $1 a year. I can relate.
There’s one thing you could do for me.
Not asking for a handout. No, I’d like you to meet me at this little gem of a lesbian bar called Rubyfruit. They have open-mike cabaret night on Wednesdays, and I thought we could both sing. Not a duet. You do a song, then I do one.
Rubyfruit’s having some serious financial issues and may be doomed. I know, I used to roll my eyes, too, whenever I heard about some so-called legendary place closing down, gentrification, Disneyfication, Manhattan’s a shopping mall now, it was so much better in the ’70s, blah, blah, blah.
I see you’ve been living here since 1966. Realize you were busy making your fortune, but remember what it was like back then, besides the muggers, serial killers, graffiti, dog turds? So much fun simply walking around. My prevailing memory is from early ’79. I’m exiting the Discomat record store on East 58th Street. It’s 6 p.m. and I got my Knack album, Get the Knack. Remember them? “Good girls don’t, good girls don’t, she’ll be telling you, good girls don’t—but I do.”
Anyway, I walked out of Discomat, and across the street they were blasting “YMCA,” and it was like a nightclub on Lexington Avenue. Now you go to the same spot at the same time and there’s this enormous store called the Container Store that sells containers and boxes and everyone around there’s looking serious, grim and desperate like zombies who live in those same big boxes. People used to boogie and roller-skate down the street!
And the women back then … O.K., maybe the women are prettier, nicer-smelling, more crafty now. I see you’ve got yourself a fine, sexy ladyfriend, Mr. Mayor—nice work!
But back then the women in New York didn’t get up at 6 a.m. for hot yoga; they went to bed at 6 a.m. in a hot, stinky sweat. And they liked—really liked—men! We weren’t the enemy! Mr. Mayor, I know you know what I mean!
So, Mike, I thought if you went to Rubyfruit and had a good time, maybe that would help the owner, Debra Fierro, who can’t afford the rent, which has doubled since she opened in 1994. She’s looking for a fairy godfather and if he isn’t found, her bar will close. So let’s deal with this now. All Ms. Fierro needs is maybe a few thou a month—let’s make it five, which won’t put much of a dent in your wallet.
Had another idea: Why not appoint me czar of “scene preservation”? Like Landmark Preservation, whatever. Bet you never heard of Siberia, which was my home away from home on 40th and Ninth Avenue. It’s gone now, thanks to astronomical rents. So how about this: Owners of cool establishments could come to my office on a high floor—not too high, don’t want the terrorists to get me!—at the Bloomberg building and present their case.
You probably never went to CBGB, but I’m sorry, it did disappear under your watch. Not blaming you, but I can’t understand why you billionaires have no problem shelling out tens of millions to support the crap inside the Whitney or the Neue Galerie. Seriously, who needs to see a painting of Egon Schiele whacking it? You know, they would have put your name up outside CBGB had you come to its rescue, maybe even changed it to CBGBB.
Let me tell you more about this swell lesbian bar on Hudson and Charles. It’s named after Ruby Fruit Jungle, the coming-of-age novel by Rita Mae Brown (in case you didn’t know, Mike, “ruby fruit jungle” is slang for female naughty parts).
Upstairs you’ll find mainly lesbians, but also male gays, straights, old and young people of all stripes. On the lower level is the piano bar and restaurant, and on a recent Wednesday I checked out the open-mike cabaret. The piano bar entertainer Jerry Scott was running late, so it was decided in the meantime that there would be an experimental happening.
Everyone could do whatever they wanted, and the only rule was it had to be done in one minute. A preppie bespectacled guy started off with one minute of Cole Porter’s “Do I Love You?” Next, someone rhythmically tapped a glass with a knife.
Twenty minutes later, Mr. Scott showed up. The room was full now with amusing, sophisticated and mostly gay veterans of the piano bar scene. Truth is, Mike, there aren’t many places to go anymore. Helen’s is gone and so is Danny’s, Judy’s, Sweet Basil, and Rose’s Turn. Not blaming ya, just putting out the info.
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