I drove into the city from Rockaway just before sunset on Halloween, determined to find a Tuesday-Friday spot, to take advantage of the suspension of alternate-side parking for Election Day. I felt out of practice, almost as if I were in a foreign country; my strategies are all geared to Monday-Thursday. I went all the way to the outer limits of my cruising range, and saw a band of Mexicans in sombreros walking up the street—and Marie-Antoinette in the crosswalk—before I gave up. Luckily, I had a plan in place: enough quarters to buy an hour at a meter, after which parking was free. A woman wearing a painted paper cat mask and a kimono stood on the corner, waving one white paw up and down. In downtown Manhattan, Halloween is for grownups.
We set our clocks back, and on Sunday morning I spent my extra hour cruising for a parking place. Actually, I spent less than ten minutes. Down the street, a left on the avenue, a decision not to turn right at the first block with Tuesday-Friday street-cleaning hours, because the car in front of me turned right, and I knew it would beat me to any spot on that street. Instead I took the next right, watching on the south side of the street: hydrant, driveway, hydrant, driveway, metered parking only . . . nothing. I went around the corner and up the next block, watching on the left: double-parked van, hydrant—there were a couple of spots on the Monday-Thursday side, but I was holding out for Tuesday-Friday—another hydrant, and, finally, up ahead a van pulling out of the last legal spot on the block. Yes! I nosed in to claim the spot while through traffic flowed past, then pulled out and did a proper job of parallel parking. All set for Election Day.
Mayor Bloomberg has been pretty friendly to the parking lobby, ever since he riled up so many car owners in Queens by implying that they were too lazy to get up in the morning and chip out their cars, which were embedded in the ice like mastodons in the Swiss Alps. Over the weekend, a friend was trying to talk me into voting for Bloomberg's Democratic rival Bill Thompson. What Thompson has going for him, according to my friend, is that he has two cats. (She seemed pretty desperate to find common ground between us.) I have to admit that there are a couple of reasons to stick it to Bloomberg: the term-limits thing (he was very much against an exception to term limits when Giuliani was so popular, in the wake of 9/11), and the cynical assumption that with his vast wealth he can simply buy New York City. Also, I am tired of getting junk mail from him—there’s another pamphlet every day—and his telephone campaign stepped over the line by calling me on Sunday.
So I ask myself the eternal question: What would Dennis Kucinich do? And I remember that Bloomberg and Thompson are not my only choices: I can vote for Reverend Billy, of the Church of Not Shopping. Actually, now it’s called the Church of Life After Shopping, but Reverend Billy really is on the ballot, as the candidate for the Green Party. He has about as much chance of being elected mayor as my cousin Dennis had of being elected President, but it will still be fun to vote for him (check out this video of him dissing Bloomberg), and better than not voting at all—a truer expression of patriotism.
Some flowers for All Souls' Day: