January 12, 2004

Tilting At Blandsville

When I was a teenager in sleepy Salem, Oregon my friends and I (who are still my friends today) stirred up trouble to break the ennui.

We rigged up complicated traps for cars in our residential neighborhood. They involving fishing line, beer cans, and a lawn sprinkler. (Donít ask.) We dismantled street signs (I know, I know) and tore up the rival schoolís football field with the parentsí Thunderbird.

I canít do stuff like that anymore. Well, I can, but Iím married, have a professional job, and live in a house with a yard and two cats. So I try to act like an adult whenever thatís possible.

Sometimes I miss the days when I could get away with being a prankster. We were busted by cops for every above infraction and more, but not much ever happened to us. I wouldnít go back, but still.

Christopher Hitchens likes to go back. In his own way.

Is Fun City turning into Blandsville? So says rumpled Vanity Fair scribe Christopher Hitchens, who laments the mayor's quality-of-life initiatives as the product of "the tiny Bloombergian mind."

Hitchens, a British-born gadfly and barfly who once penned a takedown biography of Mother Teresa, spent a recent afternoon trashing all sorts of city and state laws, an account of which appears in the issue available Wednesday.

Wearing a disheveled suit and shades, Hitchens squatted on a milk crate in the subway, rode a bike without his feet touching the pedals, fed Central Park pigeons and puffed his way across the city in wheezy protest of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's smoking ban.

For all this lawbreaking, he received nary a warning.

Bloomberg's staff shot back that most of the laws Hitchens ridiculed were passed before the mayor took office in 2002.

"This current Niagara of pettiness and random victimization may well be Bloomberg's attempt at a wannabe reputation as heroic crime-fighter and disciplinarian," writes Hitchens. "One of the world's most broad-minded and open cities is now in the hands of a picknose control freak.Ē

Some people will probably look at this and think Hitch is just getting attention. I think he does it because itís fun.


UPDATE: Michele Catalano has more on the Bloombergian mind.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 12, 2004 7:25 PM
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