Friday, 3/22/02: Hat Trick!

I'm proud to announce that honku has scored the New York City liberal media elite hat trick: Stories on NPR and in the Sunday New York Times and the New Yorker Talk of the Town. I swear I'm not running around trying to get this press. It's just sort of spreading by word of mouth. It's a phenomenon.

But I'll tell you -- being Clinton Street's famed poet-vigilante (as I believe the NY Daily News will be referring to me in an article next Wednesday) isn't all it's cracked up to be. The biggest impact so far has been a series of one ring crank phone calls starting at 5:30am Monday morning. I've been trying to think of who that might have been and I've come up with three possible suspects:

1. Someone from the lamppost litter lobby: Word has it that certain community stakeholders have been very unhappy with the proliferation of poetry on the streets of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. If you read Community Board Manager Craig Hammerman's quote in the Times and do the math, you'll see that I could be fined as much as $10,000 per day for posting honku's. Don't you love it that the Supreme Court protects cigarette billboards as free speech under the First Amendment, but you and I can get dragged down to the 76th Precinct and fined up the wazoo for posting a honku. Maybe if we were spending more money on our poems we could get them protected by the First Amendment too.

2. My downstairs neighbor: Ironically and unfortunately, I drive this poor woman crazy with noise. I feel really bad about it. Lately, she's taken to knocking on her ceiling when I type too loudly late at night. I can't imagine how she can possibly hear me type except that, like me, she has become insanely sensitive to any and all obnoxious noise.
Right now I have my keyboard on top of a soft towel and am trying not to shift my weight in my chair too much. Still, I picture her lying awake in bed, looking up at the ceiling, seething, thinking: "Oh yeah, tomorrow morning... You just wait, buddy." We can't do much about the honking so we lash out at each other.

3. The automobile industry: These guys are so big, so powerful, so insidious, it wouldn't surprise me if they have special operatives assigned to watch the media for anti-vehicle ideas that look like they have the potential to gain traction in the collective consciousness. When a good new meme emerges, like honku, the operatives begin a campaign of subtle harassment and discouragement including tactics that you'd never suspect Detroit to engage in -- like one ring crank calls at 5:30 in the morning. I'm sure that this is what's going on.

There are a lot of really great new honku's being written in the Lamppost Brooklyn Bulletin Board. Such as this one by the genius Candice Belanoff referring to the Ford Crown Victoria, the new yellow cab model of choice:

Crown Victoria
Honking Queen of Clinton Street
Abdicate your throne!

And judging from the volume of phone calls and e-mails that I've received in the last week there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm to actually do some organizing about the vehicle problems we're having in Downtown Brooklyn and elsewhere in the City. So, if you're interested in getting involved in some way, join the Honku mailing list. I've discovered a lot of great community groups in Brooklyn doing some good work and I'll try to keep you posted. For example, Transportation Alternatives and some others are rallying support to make Prospect Park car-free. I think this is a great idea.

In the meantime, if you want to take action and do one useful thing aside from writing a honku, give a call to Community Affairs Police Officer Paul Grudzinski. 718-834-3207. He's a nice guy. Ask him to make a sustained 3-week effort to enforce the No Honking $125 Penalty sign on the corner of Clinton and Pacific. But don't tell him that you live in California or Cleveland though, OK? Thanks.

-- Aaron