Today’s question, from Brooklyn:

Dear Real New Yorkers,

What tips can you provide on how to celebrate Labor Day?

Best Regards,

Perplexed in Park Slope

Dear Perplexed,

No need for confusion.  There’s no reason to buy petrochemicals and drive in heavy traffic, or go to crowded beaches or noisy parades.

All you have to do is think — about two words: Labor Movement.

Society is built upon the back of labor.  Yours.  Mine.  His.  Hers.  Real New Yorkers understand that, as a key portal for immigration to the U.S., our city was, is and always will be instrumental in providing the physical and intellectual strength needed to keep this country humming.  And, as we know — or should know — the U.S. consumer economy is a key driver of the world’s economy.

The bravery of the labor movement, born on our streets, resulted in a powerful middle class that created an unparalleled standard of living.  Now, today, many politicians believe there is currency in denigrating labor.  They claim that the modest remuneration of civil service workers is the cause of broken budgets.  They claim that teachers — TEACHERS, FOR GOD’S SAKE!!! — make too much money and have caused the collapse of our once-enviable public school system.

And many citizens believe the noise.  “Yeah,” they say, “who do these unionized people think they are, with their Cadillac medical plans, and pensions, and raises.  Where do they come shining off?”

Instead, a considered comment might be: “Hey, we deserve that type of package too — we’re holding down the fort for three fired co-workers, and now they cut my hours so I’m not entitled to healthcare benefits anymore!”

For the reality is, when the middle class makes more money, people buy more goods and services and pay more taxes.  And that, Perplexed, floats everyone’s boat.

Even the one-percenters howling at the moon over the (stagnated) minimum wage and the need for a few measly sick days a year.

I am reminded that Woody Guthrie lived in Coney Island for a time.  He came from Oklahoma, but he ended up a Real New Yorker.  His song, Tom Joad (based upon Steinbeck’s epic The Grapes of Wrath) tells a story worth noting and noting well on Labor Day.

Now, Perplexed, if you really want to get your dander up, about today’s labor inequities, give a listen to this performance by Springsteen and Tom Morello, on Springsteen’s homage to Guthrie’s song, The Ghost of Tom Joad. Consider Bruce’s opening remarks as he intros this song.

After watching it, I think you’ll know better what you should be doing and thinking this Labor Day.


The Real New Yorkers Speak



Welcome to The Real New Yorkers Speak.  This will be a regular feature on topics of the day.  No holds barred.  Any New York-centric topic is fair game.

Today’s question:

Dear The Real New Yorkers Speak:

I am a registered Democrat and the mayoral primaries are coming up tout de suite.  Who should I vote for?

The Real New Yorkers Answers:

Good question.  Here’s how I look at it:

  • Weiner: Anthony, Anthony, Anthony…what are we going to do with you? I had thought you were on the right side of the issues, I had thought you were a contender but, alas, you have serious emotional problems.  These days, the NYC mayor has to deal with both pothole issues and be an international ambassador and be a big-picture guy.  Do you really want this, this person representing Real New Yorkers on the global stage?  Once you’ve become the butt of the late night comedians’ jokes, you’re no longer viable.  Next….
  • Quinn: Ah, the mighty Quinn.  All the media training and soft, cuddly feature stories can’t whitewash who you really are, what you really did, and what you’re likely to do if elected.  If you would have voted for a fourth Bloomberg term, she’s definitely your candidate. But if you’re a Real New Yorker, move on…
  • Thompson: Four years ago, Thompson nearly toppled mini-Mike, despite sleepwalking through his campaign and being outspent by Bloomberg about a gazillion to one.  I think I like the guy, I really do.  But in the first debate, he came off so…so…so…dull.  If he’s capable of amping it up, he better start soon.  So far, I give him a grade of ZZZZZ.
  • De Blasio: Ok, I’m trying hard to ignore the fact that the PC patrol, such as Susan Sarandon, is coming out for Bill. I heard great things about him, from people who I respect and who are in the know.  But I wasn’t sure.  Then, I saw him in action at the first debate.  Hmmm.  He impressed.  He was the only adult on the stage, the only one with his lights on.  Weiner flailed.  Thompson failed.  Quinn parroted the key message points her handlers drilled into her big doughy head.  But De Blasio?  I think he’s a player, I think he’s a mensch and I think he can make a difference after 12 years of megalomania.  Now, does he have a chance against, say, a Joe Llohta?  Stay tuned.

Over to you, Real New Yorkers.  What do you think?


Stirrings in the Bronx?

They laughed when developers began buying up brownstone shells in Harlem in the early 2000s.  They laughed when Roberta’s opened in Bushwick.  They laughed when big $ hotels opened on Fourth Avenue in Park Slope.

So check this out: The Opera House Hotel opens in the South Bronx.

Hmmm?  Along with residential newcomers to the southern end of the Grand Concourse, methinks there’s something afoot here on The Mainland (the Bronx).  Check it out.  Could be the bad old days are finally fading.


The Real New Yorkers Speak

Our advice and opinion column — The Real New Yorkers Speak — will debut here next Wednesday.

We’ll cover topics of interest to all Real New Yorkers, from food & entertainment to housing to child rearing.

Tune in every Wednesday for audacious commentary on lifestyles in the five boroughs.  And, because this is YOUR column, feel free to send your topic suggestions.

See you next Wednesday!

The Real New Yorkers