Category Archives: Fuckups

Brothel Management and Marketing: Spitzer’s Fall

People are talking about Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s catastrophic implosion everywhere today – in the elevators, on the street, huddled around water coolers (it’s true, I witnessed one such water-vessel caucus). The media is frenzied. The blogosphere is crapping its pants. These are the kind of lurid, juicy scandals that we love so much because it offers an opportunity to chatter publicly about the taboo. A secretary in my office told me confidently, “That’s nothing special. There’s dozens of brothels uptown in all those fancy townhouses.” I can only imagine.

And that’s the point, isn’t it? I see two threads in the Spitzer narrative. First, the voyeuristic details that were front-and-center when the story broke; details like Spitzer’s code name, Client 9, and the eerily mundane phone conversation between the call girl and her handler (“I mean it’s kind of like…whatever…I’m here for a purpose…”) bring this story out of the stratosphere of power and into normal life. These are exactly the kind of minute particulars a fiction writer sweats blood to dream up.

Perhaps more compelling, however, is the familiar story of power that leads to hubris that leads to a fall. Spitzer was powerful, but also egotistical. He embraced the nickname Eliot Ness, no doubt for the theatrical value, but I got the sense from various profiles that he actually believed it. The unwashed masses, myself included, derive a small, hard packet of moral self-satisfaction from shaking our heads and thinking, Jeese, I’d never do that, all the white wondering I wonder what it’s like to have that kind of life.

In any case, Slate has some excellent advice for those of you licking your greedy, exploitive lips at the prospect of pimping $3,000-an-hour prostitutes.


Rudy Giuliani: Turncoat Liar

I was living in Illinois on 9/11 and, like many people, saw events in New York unfold on network news. CNN, ABC, all of them were a bizarre mixture of hyper-patriotism, diffuse anger, and simple fear, with Rudy Giuliani playing the role of the sound-byte hero. I remember thinking vaguely, “huh, he’s really stepped up.”

Six years later, with Guantanamo and Extraordinary Rendition and a continual stream of Bush-originated bullshit, I’m a bit more savvy about what the news tries to feed me. I’ve also lived in New York for nearly three years and heard from people who lived here what the city was like in the 90s, and how much it continues to change.

Rudy Giuliani’s campaign for President is predicated on his credentials as a protector of the homeland (read: Fear-monger) and, by extension, his time as mayor of New York. I wasn’t in the city at the time, so I can’t speak to the Giuliani years personally, but I’m here now and he’s pissing me off. Giuliani has sold us down the river. He’s pulled a Benedict Arnold. He’s a traitor to the city that made him the worthless national figure he is.

Consider this quote from an excellent article in New York Magazine by Chris Smith, summarizing the thrust of Giuliani’s rhetoric:

Before Mayor Rudy, the city was a black-and-white jungle-land of sex shops, violence, and crushing taxes. After Rudy, New York is Oz: sunshine, happy young couples, and shiny gold-plated statues. The message, which Giuliani hammers in his appearances outside the city, is that he made big bad New York safe for the rest of the country. For the pitch to work, Giuliani has to demonize the city he inherited and claim all the credit for the improvements he left behind. The city itself is his original enemy.

There it is. Bashing New York to bolster his failing campaign, painting this immensely diverse city as a den of iniquity piled high with homeless person shit. By all reports, New York was a troubled city and, if my neighborhood is any indication, it still is. Rents are rising and forcing out entire immigrant communities. Infrastructure is aging and increasingly unreliable. There continues to be shootings, stabbings, corruption, police brutality, public gropings, and lots of dog crap on the sidewalk.  Through all this, however, New York is thriving and Rudy Giuliani would like American to think he’s solely responsible.

If you live in the city, read Smith’s article and get pissed. We know better than anyone that Giuliani is a turncoat assface. Spread the word.