Gangs of New York Reenactors League: An Open Letter to the Five Boroughs
Peter Tatara - December 13, 2006
Dear citizens of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island -- yes, even you, Staten Island -- I have a proposal. We are all citizens of, in my opinion, the greatest city on Planet Earth. Its art, culture, business, and society are peerless. The peoples, hopes, dreams, lives, and loves it contains are without equal. Or, they were. In recent years, New York City's prominence has begun to decline, and we, the blood in New York's veins, cannot let our great city continue this slip.
What am I speaking about? Specifically? When Disney cleaned up Times Square, New York's sleaze ratio dropped below that of Amsterdam and half the cities in South Asia. And only a week back, I heard London is now home to more brokerage houses than New York. It is my fear that no longer leading the world in financial trading and sensual massages is only the start, and that if New York's residents don't wake up, we will soon be eclipsed by towns of the ilk of Utica and Milwaukee.
But I say no. I will not cede New York's place in fashion, theatre, and over-priced celebrity-chef-owned restaurants. Us New Yorkers need to take our city's place on the globe seriously. How do I propose we do this? With the bold plan I outline below.
New York needs a new spectacle to make us the envy of the world, a new marvel which will define us as the realization of Babylon, Zipang, Xanadu, and Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.
So, what is this clever and daring scheme? To re-establish New York in the international scene, we must look to its past, to Gotham's storied titans of bygone eras. There have been countless books and films about the men who built our great city -- but seriously, who reads books -- as such I wish to draw upon one of the fine films set in New York. There are many -- from Ghostbusters to Ghostbusters 2. Of all the movies based on New York's heroes, though, one holds a special place in my deepest most heart. Gangs of New York.
I don't own the movie on DVD, but I watch it every time it's on TNT. Which is a lot. But not enough. I'd like to propose we petition TNT to air it more often -- or for City Hall to mail a copy of the DVD to every family throughout the five boroughs. But these thoughts are tangental. I have much larger designs to place us firmly atop the globe again. To all the citizens of New York City, I would like to propose the creation of a Gangs of New York Reenactors League.
Golly, this sounds great, but what exactly is a Gangs of New York Reenactors League? Simply put, it is an organized, bracketed, double-elimination street fight between civic, educational, corporate, fraternal, and governmental organizations. What's the purpose behind this sanctioned battle royale? Well, beyond the obvious benefit of being an excuse to dress up in tailcoats and giant hats, it will promote physical fitness, a renewed sense of neighborhood and community, and homeland security. The Taliban will think twice about attacking our city again when they learn all its citizens are armed with lead pipes and kitchen knives. I feel, too, that by focusing aggression into a positive, regulated brawl, we will reduce vandalism, violence, and general crime in New York City.
Speaking about my plan further, New York City's original gang wars were secret affairs localized to downtown Manhattan, but I would strive to make the Gangs of New York Reenactors League the exact opposite.
Dressing in formal wear and beating the snot out of each other with clubs and shivs will keep us true to New York's historic fracas, but the Gangs of New York Reenactors League should make its gatherings as high profile as possible. The perfect combination of reality TV, shock TV, and professional sports, the Gangs of New York Reenactors League deserves international television exposure, merchandising, and official sponsorship. (Speaking briefly on this last point, the Gangs of New York Reenactors League lends itself beautifully to sponsorship as corporations -- Time Warner, Bank of America, GE -- could not only fund teams but staff them with their most disgruntled employees.) Additionally, rather than sticking with the original brawl locations, the Gangs of New York Reenactors League will fight across all five boroughs, and with all these venues given global exposure, the city as a whole would see a drastic spike in tourism.
And above all else, we would receive the accolades and envy of the world.
Looking over my proposition, I cannot help but notice all the positive merits appear jumbled, listed with little detail nor natural progression. Please understand that this is not due to thoughtlessness -- It is the result, instead, of my overflowing enthusiasm to see the Gangs of New York Reenactors League made real. (And when this proposal is given a municipal nod, I will immediately contact several of my former co-workers to found the Fullghetto Alchemists, and we will take all comers.)
Now, I know, with everything I've above described, despite the numerous benefits, there will be those against the Gangs of New York Reenactors League, citing it will no doubt result in cuts, scrapes, bruises, bloody noses, broken bones, ruptured organs, comas, and a laundry list of other injuries. How is New York to deal with this? Rather simply, actually. For, you see, it is my proposal to -- along with the Gangs of New York Reenactors League -- enact city-wide Universal Heathcare. Break an arm? Lose a tooth? Hemorrhaging profusely? No matter the reason you need to visit a doctor, because of the Gangs of New York Reenactors League, it will be free.
And because of the likelihood -- actually inevitability -- of bystanders being caught up the League's various altercations, NYC's Universal Heathcare plan will truly be universal -- the city covering all hospital expenses of any and everyone living within its five boroughs regardless of if the illnesses are the direct result of the ancient laws of combat or not.
So, think it through, New Yorkers. I've laid out a plan to make us again the darling of the world, and now we must all convince City Hall to sign it into law. And, on that fated, glorious day, the cameras rolling, the first quarrel broadcast around the world and streaming online, I'll lead the charge in a pin-striped suit coat, a hefty candle stick raised above my head.
We've got to act fast, though. Already, I've heard rumblings that Hoboken is considering a similar strategy -- the Gangs of New York Reenactors Society -- to boost its profile. You're not going to let us be beaten by Jersey, are you?