By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Jeff Rosenstock, the force behind Queens Theatre in the Park, called me to
chat about the Legislative Review – his annual political spoof starring
our borough’s camera-crazed politicos, I explained that personal
commitments forced me to pass on this year’s show. I was there at the
inaugural Leg Review and had a blast and attended several since then —
they’re always fun. Then when I got a preview of Gary Ackerman and Helen
Marshall’s material and a tease e-mail from rock-star wannabe Pete
Vallone, Jr., I was upset that I was going to miss the fun on Saturday
awoke Sunday morning to an email from Marcia Comrie, Trib
Contributing editor and wife of Queens City Council
delegation leader Leroy Comrie – a rather large ham himself –
detailing her family’s fun at the event.
know Ang [Trib political reporter Angela Montefinise] was
there covering for the papers so you don’t need my writing but:
you know Ack does a mean Bush? He came onstage tonight as Bush (complete
w/cowboy hat) and was rehearsing a speech trying to pronounce the words
(“nuclear and Massachusetts” come to mind). He was hilarious! Then
Helen [the Beep Marshall] joined him as Condi Rice [Bush’s National
Security Advisor] and they did that whole “Hu’s on first” skit we
got via email. If the Congressional thing doesn’t work out he could
consider hitting the boards. [Both Marcia and Ackerman had sent me by
email a modern day political version of the Abbot and Costello “Who’s
On First” spoof. This one was centered on the General Secretary of
China’s Communist Party Hu Jintao — pronounced “who.” The routine
at the left, is the work of a playwright named Jim Sherman.
Trib got mentioned in a “Jeopardy” question too. “What
Queens newspaper did Gary Ackerman found and is he now part owner of
again?” ’Twas pretty cool.
for Pete Vallone, Jr., well, let’s just say he’s a frustrated rock
star. Complete with ripped shirt, bandana tied around his head, dark
glasses and a guitar, he really took a good swipe at Charles Barron’s DC
speech set to the tune of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding.” He
also poked fun at the budget, David Weprin’s “make over,” and Mayor
Mike’s wealth set to the tune of “If I Had A Million Dollars,’”
the cute little Lotto ditty. And the cool thing is that he wrote his own
Weprin brothers also starred in a very funny skit (Trib
photographer Dee Richard had a cameo in theirs). David’s actually in on
the joke about his publicity loving ways and his “Cuban Roots.”
if you hear Benjamin Comrie [Marcia and Leroy’s almost-5-yr. old] tell
it, it’s his daddy who stole the show.
was a cool show!” He exclaimed at the end. “And daddy made it even
there was also a very poignant moment when Claire Shulman and Vallone,
Sr., appeared, dressed to the nines, and reminisced about their own glory
days in politics — using the song “I Remember It Well” as the glue.
“I remember when we met at City Hall”
“But now we meet at the Queens Center Mall”
“I remember it well.”
Joe Crowley has a future in music too. He did a very good job on Paul
Simon’s “Me and Julio,” complete with guitar and all the special
flourishes the song has. He’s really cool. Who’da “thunk” it?
didn’t know that when I first met Joe Crowley, he was onstage performing
in a band some twenty years ago; Gary Ackerman has been the funniest
person I know for the past 40 years, and Peter, Sr. and Claire stole
everyone’s hearts in their touching performances in the first several
Legislative Reviews. Sorry I missed the fun. Marcia, save me a seat next
Service Cuts and Playing Politics
Bloomberg and the City Council do not have an easy job.
are faced with the task of adjusting the current fiscal year (ending June
30, 2003) budget for a billion dollar shortfall.
nothing. . .they face a $6 billion deficit in the next fiscal year.
guys and gals who just came into office have to do what Rudy Giuliani and
Peter Vallone and company never had to. And it’s not their fault. The
economic downturn nationwide coupled with a greater impact due to 9-11 has
caused NYC revenue estimates to plummet. The boom times of the nineteen
nineties are gone. The fiscal constraint years of the new century are upon
there is no easy solution.
every new tax or revenue stream – as they like to call taxes – there
is a lobby or special interest group yelling.
every service or personnel cut there is a different lobby or special
interest group yelling.
believe that Mike Bloomberg has no political agenda other than to provide
the necessary services to our City and bring a budget into balance. He is
asking for larger numbers than he expects to get. Bloomberg is an
effective negotiator and this City is indeed fortunate to have his
business acumen, his independence and his accomplished, fearless style.
partners in this unenviable effort are the new City Council led by Speaker
Giff Miller, wise beyond his 32 years. Now, politics seem to play more of
a role in the Council positions, but they too, led by Miller, want what is
best for this City. Miller’s political agenda (he eyes the Mayoralty and
might be facing Bloomberg in 2005), has seemingly not interfered with his
and Miller must keep their eye on the ball. They must work together and
they can’t expect too much help from a fiscally messed-up State. New
York State suffers from greater budget miscalculations than the City.
message is simple. There will be new taxes. There will be service cuts.
There will be layoffs.
all have to be ready to deal with them and live with them. They are
essential in this economy.
Bloomberg and Giff Miller have the rare challenge and opportunity to bring
some sense and some solutions to this awful situation.
must work together. They must avoid politics. They must serve our City.
system seems to have worked. We have two people, gifted and capable, ready
to serve. We have a Council that cares.
are going to do their jobs.
rest is up to all of us.
Marcia Comrie contributed to this column
playwright Jim Sherman — written after Hu Jintao [“Who”] was named
chief of the Communist Party in China
take you now to the Oval Office.)
Condi! Nice to see you. What’s happening?
I have the report here about the new leader of China.
Great. Lay it on me.
is the new leader of China.
That’s what I want to know.
what I’m telling you.
what I’m asking you. Who is the new leader of China?
I mean the fellow’s name.
guy in China.
The new leader of China.
is leading China.
whaddya’ asking me for?
telling you Hu is leading China.
I’m asking you. Who is leading China?
the man’s name.
Will you or will you not tell me the name of the new leader of
Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China?
I thought he was in the Middle East.
Then who is in China?
is in China?
Condi. I need to know the name of the new leader of China. Get me
the Secretary General of the U.N. on the phone.
You want Kofi?
don’t want Kofi.
No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass of milk.
And then get me the U.N.
Yassir! The guy at the U.N.
Milk! Will you please make the call?
And call who?
is the guy at the U.N?
is the guy in China.
you stay out of China?!
And stay out of the Middle East! Just get me the guy at the
right! With cream and two sugars. Now get on the phone.
picks up the phone.)
Good idea. And a couple of egg rolls, too. Maybe we should
send some to the guy in China. And the Middle East. Can you
get Chinese food in the Middle East?
don’t usually happen like this, but this one did.
Publisher Mike Nussbaum and I were in my office trying to schedule a
meeting for the first week in December. On my wall hangs a Congressional
calendar printed by the “U.S. Historical Society?” and sent to me
compliments of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Now, I received an identical
calendar from Gary Ackerman and used to get them when Tom Manton was in
the House, but Carolyn’s came first and went up on the hook. The
calendars are pretty and each month has an adjoining photo of an historic
landmark — really appropriate for a political columnist’s office.
remember receiving some sort of addendum to the calendar almost a year
ago, but it was a single unattached sheet that has long ago disappeared.
I say, “Our meeting is the first Tuesday in December.”
walks over to the calendar, flips up the month of December, looks and
says, “December second.”
reply, “I thought it was on the third, let me check my email
insists Mike looking at the calendar, “If it’s Tuesday, it’s the
second; if it’s the third, it’s Wednesday.”
recalled the calendar addendum. Stood up from my desk and flipped the
calendar back to November reciting, “30 days has September, April, June
and NOVEMBER,” and pointed to the November 31st incorrectly
printed at the end of the month. Then I flipped the page observing the
entire month of December was one day off.
I remembered now. I had run an item on the printing error last January on
the QConf page. It was funny then as Mike and I recalled it.
was funnier now.
surprise, everything out of Washington, D.C. is not perfect.
by Dom Nunziato