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January 21, 2003

Bloombergermeister Meisterbloomberger
Remember the 1970 Rankin/Bass animated classic Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town? It's the one where we find out that in her youth, Mrs. Claus was a hot, bootylicious babe. Alas, she's now a hefty monument to the dangers of a high-carb diet. Memo to Mrs. Claus: less candy canes, more reindeer meat.

Anyhoo . . . in addition to Mrs. Claus, Misters Rankin and Bass introduce that Teutonic toy-hating tyrant, the Burgermeister Meisterburger. The story goes that the Burgermeister has a bugmeister up his buttmeister because he injured his foot stumbling over a stray toy on the steps of city hall. Consumed with vengeance, the Burgermeister decrees a ban on all toys and obsessively enforces the prohibition. Of course, jolly Kris Kringle undertakes a course of civil disobedience and repeatedly defies the toy ban. The Burgermeister, his authority undermined by an overreaching, unenforceable edict, is increasingly ignored by the governed and fades into irrelevance. To accentuate the point, we're shown a portrait of the Burgermeister plummeting from a wall into a trash can.

In the first known example of Life imitating Rankin/Bass cartoons, Matt Drudge reported yesterday that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg was so incensed that the Rolling Stones were smoking cigarettes during a live-televised concert from Madison Square Garden, he ordered police to immediately cite the wrinkley rockers on-the-spot. Drudge quotes a "stage source" as saying that the police arrived with summonses but never got around to serving them, choosing instead to watch the concert. (Fortunately, New York City's police have better judgment than New York City's mayor.) With Kringle-like stealth, the Stones slipped out of the Garden and eluded the tyrannical reach of the Bloombergermeister.

Hell's bells, rather than being pissed at the Rolling Stones for smoking in the Garden on live television, Bloomberg should just be grateful that Keith Richards didn't look square at the camera and inject heroin into his forehead. Then again, considering Bloomberg's mayoral track record thus far, he'd probably have less problems with the heroin than the cigarettes.

At a time when New York City is facing unprecedented financial and security perils, Bloomberg, a Democrat in Republican drag, exhibits an astonishingly twisted sense of priorities. After having seen up-close what the nation, and his city in particular, went through on September 11, 2001 and knowing that his city is a high-profile target for more attacks, how is it possible that the mayor of New York is fixated on something as trivial as cigarette use? Had Bloomberg established priorities in his business dealings this cluelessly, he would have ended up being a windshield-washing squeegebum annoying motorists for a handout.

So why the inability to prioritize now that he's mayor? Election to public office changes many people, particularly those people who are already a tad -- and I want to be delicate here -- nuts. And in Bloomberg's case, I think his election as mayor overloaded his already fragile wiring and transformed him into a full-blown Captain Queeg obsessing over cigarettes rather than strawberries.

Speaking of cartoons and the Rolling Stones . . . I wonder if Mayor Bloomberg realizes that The Simpsons season opener a few months ago has a scene in which an animated Keith Richards smokes a cigarette and that that image was broadcast to New York City!


Pick up your steel balls and dispatch the summons, Cap'n Mike! And while you're busy with that, the voters, hopefully, will toss your portrait in the trash.

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