Writing about my arrival in New York in late 1978 got me thinking about those interesting times. I was a star reporter coming from what had once been a top ten University program that also launched Hugh Hefner and Roger Ebert, to name but a few.
And the first thing I did upon landing in New York City was write an op-ed piece for the New York Times outlining my plan for saving the city, which was going down the tubes at the time. In fact, word in the media was that New York City was going to become a ghost town and go belly up and bankrupt. Real estate had crashed. To give an idea, the Bronfmans scooped up a mansion overlooking the Hudson River not far from where I live now for $400,000. People with expensive real estate were bailing and a stampede was herding into Westchester County. I sometimes wonder now if the whole thing wasn’t a prearranged pump and dump in reverse. Anyone could have made a fortune in real estate just by buying a townhouse or two and sitting on them for five or ten years. That Bronfman house today is probably worth $50 million. When I moved to the Upper West Side, I lived in the ghetto. We had crack heads and street walkers fighting in the streets at 3 AM outside my building. A huge unemployment club hung out on the benches at Broadway at 98th Street, always scrounging change for malt liquors in a bag. But those folks were all wiped away in a flash, their SRO hotels all had strange fires, one after another, and then re-emerged as Yuppie condos. The first really cold winter took care of the homeless population.
Since my specialty was satire and black humor, I wrote an op-ed piece in the hopes that the New York Times would immediately recognize my brilliance and give me a full-time job. I had my sights set on becoming a reporter for the Times. But that letter came back with the standard rejection slip. “Sorry” wrote CMC, whoever that may have been. At least I got a written comment of some encouragement.
Anyway, that brilliant plan to save New York City from bankruptcy is now available on my smashwords site for free. And I did make it onto the staff of the New York Daily News within a few short years, fulfilling my dream of working for a big city daily, and after losing that post (for my wacky comedy style and love of street graffiti, no doubt), I scored a freelance assignment from the Sunday New York Times writing a profile on the National Deaf Theater, and eventually became friends with the Sunday Magazine editors, but never got that choice plum assignment from them I was hoping for.