After twelve years and three increasingly contentious terms as mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg will soon be replaced. The election is in November, but it’s generally assumed that since New York is full of liberals, queers, communists, and (worst of all) union labor, that the mayor will be chosen in next week’s Democratic primary.
Who’s going to win? I have no idea. It looked like Carlos Danger Anthony Weiner was going to make an unlikely comeback before he whipped it out again, and now the 29 candidates are scrapping it out for a plurality in the polls. As I write this, it looks like public advocate and beanstalk resident Bill De Blasio may not just come out ahead in the primary, but reach the 40% plurality that would allow him to avoid a runoff election with the runner-up.
Who am I going to vote for? I confess, I haven’t followed the election very closely, so I’m undecided. There are a few big issues at stake here: should Bloomberg’s “Stop and Frisk” police policy continue, and if not, who best to stop it? Who will best clean up the mess the public schools have become as Bloomberg has slashed their budgets? How best to address the city’s worsening fiscal crisis?
Those are all big issues. My wife, like a lot of people, is guided by one issue in particular: she’s for anyone but Council Speaker Christine Quinn, widely seen as Bloomberg’s enabler in his largely disastrous shakeup of the school system. (As she’s a high-school science teacher, it’s easy to understand why she feels this way.)
I am also a single-issue voter, and the fact that none of the candidates has mentioned that issue is the reason I haven’t committed to vote for any of them.
The biggest problem in this city isn’t poverty, or income inequality, or education, or the fact that they’re charging $6 for a can of PBR in Williamsburg. It’s the goddamn honking. There’s so much honking that some people don’t even hear it anymore, the same way people who live in the country don’t hear the crickets at night and I don’t hear the shitty dubstep when I’m bartending.
But I hear it, and I hear it everywhere. People honk their horns so often, and for so little reason, and we are all paying a greater psychic debt than any of us realizes. People honk when the traffic light turns green. They honk if someone pauses mid-turn to let pedestrians cross at a crosswalk. They honk if they see someone they know. They honk if they see someone they’d like to get to know. They honk if they’re horny. And, once in a great while, they honk to alert another driver to an imminent collision.
But I have a solution to this problem, and the first candidate to embrace it gets my vote and the full-throated endorsement of the alexcastle.net editorial page.
People honk so much because it doesn’t cost them anything. I don’t mean financially (although that’s also true) — I mean that a car’s horn is in the front grill, pointed forward, so that the horn is loudest to those in front of the car. Which makes perfect sense if horn use were limited to emergencies, as the Founding Fathers intended. But we all know that’s not the case: insulated from that noise by 2,000 pounds of steel and glass, a driver is free to honk away morning, noon and night, firing their bazooka of bad vibes willy-nilly at every intersection and at every car and every pedestrian and any old thing they please and barely hear it at all.
So my solution is simple: if the horn were as loud (or louder) inside the car as it is outside the car — if people had to suffer the same level of psychic distress that they’re inflicting on everyone else every time the lay their hand on the center of their steering wheel, you can bet they’d be a little more judicious about it. Is two entire seconds of someone in front of you spacing out at a traffic light worth making your own ears ring for the rest of the day? I think most people would decide it is not. But if someone is drifting into your lane on the highway, giving them a honk to avoid a 12-car pileup is more than worth a small amount of temporary hearing loss.
It’s obviously impractical to retrofit every car in New York with a second horn inside the cabin, so let’s start with the worst offenders (which conveniently happen to fall under the mayor’s jurisdiction): taxis, car service drivers, and worst of all, those goddamn Brooklyn dollar vans.
Any candidate — repeat, ANY CANDIDATE — that pledges to make car horns as loud or louder inside the car as they are outside will automatically get my vote, no matter what their other positions may be. If Rudy Giuliani comes out tomorrow and gets behind this plan, I’m his Huckleberry come November.
And just you watch: once this idea hits the mainstream, people are going to jump on the bandwagon in a big way. This is a major opportunity for the John Lius and Sal Albaneses of the race — to grab hold of a signature issue that literally everyone (with the exception of cab, car service, and dollar van drivers) will want to get behind. But the guy I’ve really got my eye on is the disgraced, ridiculous, walking punchline known as Anthony Weiner.
Anthony — may I call you Anthony? — you could not only get elected behind this plan, you could whip out your cock and talk dirty for the first ten minutes of every press conference and still be handily re-elected to a second term if you make this happen. Not only would it reduce noise pollution by roughly 700 percent, there would be real health benefits that dwarf the smoking ban and the calorie counters and the soda embargo: people’s stress levels would go down. When stress levels go down, cancer rates will fall.
Do you understand what I’m saying? You could be the mayor who cured cancer! Not even Bill Clinton cured cancer! Your constituents would sing folk songs about you! There would be a statue of you (fully dressed or in bulging boxer briefs, your call) in every borough before the end of your first term.
All I ask in return is a lifetime exemption from parking tickets, courtside seats for two Knicks Nets games a season, and the occasional use of the mayoral submarine. It’s win-win. Let’s fix this city together!