- In Pictures
- Taste of Tribeca
- Under Cover
BY MICHAEL LUONGO
Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
Hello from my current location. I’ve seen what happened to some of my colleagues so I am not going to tell you too many details. I will have to tell you who I am because no one seems to remember me, even if I’m the dictator who started it all, thank you very much! It’s Ben Ali of Tunisia. Remember, it was my cruelty that started this whole Arab Spring fling. Tunisia in case you’re wondering is like Saudi Arabia but with a French touch, though some of us are a little more touched than others. Hey I even allowed a Club Med, bringing topless French women to our beaches, so I don’t know why my people think they had anything to complain about. But all I can say is, if you do suppress your people, and I am not saying I actually did, don’t go too hard on your sidewalk vendors. They have more power than you think. I don’t care if they sell pretzels, hot dogs, or coffee, whatever. And what is this I keep reading on Concierge.com about luxury food trucks? Only in New York, right? Maybe people whine for no reason where you are. Just keep them away from gasoline and matches and public squares.
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, formerly of Tunisia.
Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
Hello from Tehran! It’s beautiful here, you should come visit. There’s great hiking in the mountains nearby and I promise not to lock you up for several years. But I digress as I often do. This isn’t the United Nations or Columbia University I am addressing, it’s the mayor of New York! As you know Mike, few rulers in the Middle East know more about suppressing movements and getting away with it than I do, so I hope you’ll listen to me. I think the number one thing is making sure people really know you mean business by taking a very beautiful girl who is more or less a bystander, have one of your security people shoot her in the head, and make sure there are plenty of camera phones around to video her. Make it go viral, so that she becomes the symbol of your oppression. Look, your Republican Guards are already great at pepper spraying beautiful women protestors who show too much skin anyway and don’t have veils to protect their faces, so shooting them in the head is only the logical next step. Then these Wall Street Occupiers will know you are serious.
Your partner in oppression,
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
(think, “I’m a Dinner Jacket,” to pronounce it, just trying to be helpful again!)
Dear Mayor Bloomingdales:
Hey Mikey, that’s my beautiful wife’s nickname for you, because she just loves shopping so much when we’re there! And we both know, you’re like no other Mayor in the world. Especially now. Anyway, it’s me, Old Blue Eyes, but I hope that won’t make you think it’s Frank Sinatra writing to you, ‘cause he’s dead, and I don’t think he is doing too much singing anymore. Still, I always agreed with him New York, New York, is one hell of a town, so you have a grave responsibility to the world to make sure it stays exactly as it is. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my father, it’s how to crush rebels and the places where they live. Drive tanks over them, destroy where they are protesting. It’s working in Damascus, it’s worked in Homs and Google Hama and you’ll really know how successful my Dad was with that. Teach these Occupy Wall Street people a lesson they will never forget and their children’s children will never forget! Drive tanks through Zuccotti Park and bulldoze everything. It’s so close to Ground Zero which is still a disaster area anyway that I think no one will notice if a few more blocks of buildings go up in smoke. Trust me on that. Remember without 9-11, you wouldn’t be Mayor, so use the Ground Zero location to your advantage.
President for LIFE, and I mean it!!!
Dear Michael Bloomberg:
People will never be happy, no matter how benevolent you are to them, no matter how fatherly you have been to them! It’s true, give them something, and they will always want something else. Next thing you know, these Occupy Wall Street people will want subway tokens brought back again, just to feel the jingle of something in their pocket since they don’t have any money. But you can never look back! New York is the Cairo of the Century 21 and you must always look ahead! Keep reminding them who’s Pharaoh, it’s your third term and they should understand that by now, and always have your white shirt generals at the ready. Zuccotti Park, Tahrir Square, nonsense. However, if you ever do charge on them and the Hudson River opens up an escape route, don’t fall for the trap.
(Formerly,) President Hosni Mu-Barack Obama
Dear Mr. Bloomberg News:
Hi it’s me Gaddafi, Qaddafi, Kaddafi. We’re all the same person. I know you probably don’t want to listen to me because I am dead, and so my advice might not seem so useful. But praise Allah and my Ukrainian nurse for making it possible for me to write to you from the grave. You should have a Ukrainian nurse, Michael. In the words of another dictator, Mussolini, who once ruled Libya from a distance the way you like to rule New York, Va Va Va Voom, what a woman! Anyway, just as an aside, I love your Brooks Brothers outfits. It’s always great to be smartly dressed as a ruler, but you need to do more, like own the media! Oh you do already. Well then fight all the protestors like a mad dog! Ok maybe that didn’t work so well for me. Don’t listen to advice from a dead man.
The Late President Muammar Gaddafi, Qaddafi, Kaddafi
Meatlocker in Tripoli, Libya
Hey, it’s Bibi here. Let me make this simple. I’m not a dictator but I sure like to look like one on TV. Look if anybody knows about occupation it’s me, so listen up. After all, you Americans are used to me dictating policy for you. Nu, this Zuccotti Park. Since it looks like a refugee camp anyway, it’s the perfect place to build a settlement. Move some bankers into there. You want an occupation? We’ll show you what an occupation really is! You can build the banker settlement on the hilly part of Zuccotti Park, close to Broadway so everyone can see it and marvel from afar, and know you’re the one dominating, the one in control. And walls, that’s another thing I know something about. Make Wall Street live up to its name again and build a wall and then another. With lots of checkpoints. Extend it into the Bowling Green Line. All your problems will be solved. Until they aren’t. Sometimes the things you think are in your best interest aren’t, but you just have to keep believing. You don’t want to end up on the wrong side of history, do you, Michael?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Michael Luongo is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in New York. He recently won the Grand Prize in Travel Journalism from the North American Travel Journalist Association largely for his travel work in the Middle East, including within countries currently undergoing the Arab Spring. www.michaelluongo.com