Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23, 2013: Have Mercy

This essay is not about Hoboken. Or Tenafly. It’s about New Jersey and our very famous Governor, Chris Christie.

First some background:

New Jersey and New York are neighbors. We eye each other warily at times, but no doubt we are inextricably linked. Many of us file tax returns in both states. We visit frequently. We hurl insults. Perhaps we even love each other. Opinions vary.

But opinions do not vary that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (even if it is not the Port Authority of New Jersey and New York, did you ever notice?) binds us together. Each state’s governor gets to appoint highly-competent bureaucrats (otherwise known as hacks) to well-paid positions running this massive and important enterprise (otherwise known as divvying up the pork). Sometimes the appointees from one state talk to the appointees of the other. Mostly, not.

Now the story:

David Wildstein, appointed by Mr. Christie as the Director of Interstate Capital Projects, is an old friend of the governor, dating back to their high school days. Mr. Wildstein ordered the closure of two out of three lanes in one part of Fort Lee onto the George Washington Bridge in early September. He seems to have worked this out with his boss, the Authority’s Deputy Executive Director, Bill Baroni (a former state senator), also a Christie appointee. They say it was for a traffic study. A SECRET traffic study. So secret, they didn’t tell the Authority’s Executive Director, Patrick Foye, an appointee of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. When Mr. Foye found out about the pleas for mercy keening from Fort Lee, he ordered the closure reversed.

It has been suggested that the traffic study was really a political experiment (otherwise known as retribution) for the non-materialization of an endorsement by Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich, of the Governor’s re-election. Mr. Christie denies this, as do his appointees. In fact, Mr. Christie has denied even ever meeting Mr. Sokolich, though photographs of them gazing fondly at each other have emerged, as in this image from the WNYC website accompanying an excellent introduction to the characters in this drama.

Mr. Sokolich on the far left and Mr. Christie on the far right. A political tableau?
Both Mr. Wildstein and Mr. Baroni have resigned. Mr. Christie says he was going to replace them anyway. Everyone believes that.

This is national news now, with calls for investigations by Congress, etc., etc. You can read all about it everywhere, so rather than delve more deeply, I’ll celebrate in verse.

First – of course – a limerick:
Do you know about the mayor of Fort Lee,
Who failed to endorse Governor Christie?
                The outcome was grim
                Unless you like to swim
Or can hitch a ride with a nice manatee.

A haiku seems unavoidable:
Governor Christie.
Governor Christie Smash Bang.
President Christie?

I even got in the reference to a change of season (political season), get it?

And this being the holiday season, and given my great interest in Western early music, here’s something (along with a translation) you could call the beginning of a Parody Mass, and it uses as a basis something that is most certainly profane, though not as profane as the offering that concludes this entry.
Kyrie eleison.
Chris Christie eleison.
Lord have mercy.
Chris Christie have mercy.

To finish things off, here’s a contribution by the man himself, Governor Chris Christie. Like me, perhaps he is a great fan of the Pantoum from Ravel’s piano trio. Perhaps not. The Scherzo of that work is titled and follows the structure of a pantoum, a Malaysian poetic form that was popularized in Europe by Victor Hugo. What follows comprises twelve characteristic sayings of Mr. Christie, who without a doubt is a finer poet than yours truly.

          Are you stupid?
                    the guy out there, in overalls and a hat.

          I am tired of you people. What do you want?
          Cut the crap, OK?
          I worked the cones, actually. Unbeknownst to everybody I was actually 
                    the guy out there, in overalls and a hat.

          Cut the crap, OK?
          We’re going to turn the page now.

          Thank you all very much and I’m sorry for the idiot over there.
          He acted like an idiot. He’s an idiot. I don’t have any regret about it at all.

          I’m just not going to waste my time or my breath.
          I’ve heard more about this than I ever wanted to.

          Your rear end’s going to get thrown in jail, idiot.
          Are you stupid?
          You really are not serious with that question.
          I wouldn’t characterize myself as angry.

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