April 29, 2023

Source: Bigstock

NEW YORK—The most likely place to be injured, even killed, in the Bagel is the sidewalk, any sidewalk, where bikes and scooters run free to mow down the old, the infirm, and those unable to perform lifesaving, matador-like avoidance moves. Yep, marauding bikers use the sidewalks of New York to beat the traffic and intimidate people, and have managed to impose their illegal presence on sidewalks as a beleaguered police force turns a blind eye.

It all started under the last mayor of the Bagel, one so bad that I dare not mention his name in the pages of Takimag, and it continues even more so under the present mayor, a nice but incompetent ex-cop no one dares criticize because he’s black. Total disregard of the law is now acceptable, with bikers openly performing glissandos past very fat and short traffic wardens who pretend not to see them mowing down walkers.

As I walk everywhere in the city and use a car only on rare occasions, I am a daily witness to this outrage, and after some narrow escapes I have loudly protested against the bully ruffians, eliciting an intriguing elision of “mthfkr” and other such elegant responses. Dripping with attitude, bikers and scooter riders are terrorizing mostly the very old, who can remember a time when walking on a sidewalk almost guaranteed a safe arrival.

“I’ve almost been run over by a couple of them, but I’m on their side. They’re the hardest-working stiffs in the Bagel.”

Actually, I gave up long ago on bike-free sidewalks, but I try to point out to leisure riders that bikes on the walking paths of Central Park are strictly a no-no. There are signs everywhere saying “Dismount and walk” that everyone ignores and most riders do not understand. “Dismount” is too hoity-toity a word. A much better understood and obeyed caution would be “Get off your f—ing bike, you f—ing asshole.” The most dangerous of all kamikazes are the food deliverers. They are mostly from Central America, do not speak English, and are dressed in all-black outfits and are always speeding. Oh yes, I almost forgot, the great majority have no lights as they hurtle down one-way streets the wrong way in order to deliver. The trouble is that I don’t blame them. They’re very hardworking, get paid peanuts, and come from countries where the rule of law is considered for suckers only. I’ve almost been run over by a couple of them, but I’m on their side. They’re the hardest-working stiffs in the Bagel.

Never mind. My son was once a bike messenger, hence I sympathize with those who use two-wheelers for work, but the arabesque-performing, greasy-haired, bum-clenching megalomaniacs are the ones I daily pray will end up in that sauna-like place below after their early demise. Which brings me to a different kettle of fish altogether, and a great lunch I recently attended, one that double-silver-star, Special Forces old buddy of mine threw to celebrate his 82nd birthday. Chuck Pfeiffer and I used to hit the clubs rather hard in the good old days—nights, rather—and we often ended up mixing it up with those who took umbrage at our right-wing remarks. The trouble being that Chuck is very big and looks very hard, whereas the poor little Greek boy “no look so tough.” While getting out of a flashy car he had once hired, we were confronted by two hard guys who made fun of my Anderson & Sheppard suit, hinting I was Chuck’s boy toy. I was getting ready to rumble when Chuck growled, “I’ll rip your hearts out and show them to you before you die…” End of confrontation.

In the land of bulls—, such talk is taken seriously, hence the ex–Winston Man had a free ride most of the time. He now has trouble walking and no longer drinks, which makes him a very dull boy, but I was glad to see him and he put me at the head of the table where I proceeded to get nice and drunk in the middle of the day. And I was very happy to see Julian Schnabel and his beautiful Swedish companion. Julian was very famous back in the ’80s, his paintings going for lotsa moola, as well as his films. He made some good ones, my favorite being Before Night Falls, about a gay Cuban artist trying to flee Castro’s paradise.

Julian has always been friendly, and for this reason I withdrew the contract I had taken out on his son Vito. Vito has pulled more beauties than I’ve thrown punches in the dojo, so about twenty years ago I decided he had to be eliminated. But I couldn’t go through with it, especially as the kid was funny and did not take life seriously. During the lunch I realized that if anyone had to go, it was the father. Julian has been much married, but his latest is a rare beauty of Swedish vintage, and a very nice person to talk to. Vito, incidentally, was the one who took Amber Heard to the island of Koronis long ago, where she woke up the host and complained that the shower wasn’t working, an obvious come-on to the host, George Livanos, that he ignored, an act that had me hitting my head against a large plaster plant in frustration.

Oh well, Alexandra dragged me home telling me it’s embarrassing to be seen with a drunk in the middle of the day. I agree.


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