Sunday, 4/7/02: Bill DeBlasio is a Good City Councilman

I don't know if it's just me or what, but I'm noticing more and more acts of Clinton Street driver mayhem and insanity lately. On Thursday a limo driver in a shiny black Lincoln Continental and two guys in an expensive looking sedan went after each other right in the middle of Pacific and Clinton. It looked like the limo driver didn't move fast enough when the light turned green so the guys behind him blasted their horn. This pissed off limo man. He jammed on the brakes and the fancy sedan men almost hit him from behind. More honking. More start-stopping. The limo driver hopped out of his car. The fancy men got out. They talked trash at each other for about a minute. Finally, realizing they were idiots, they got back in their cars and drove off leaving a mom with a baby stroller, a baby sitter with two young kids and an elderly woman standing on the corner shaking their heads.

I've written a few letters now to my local politicians and officials to see about getting the No Honking $125 Penalty sign on Clinton and Pacific enforced for a period of three or four weeks straight. My feeling is that if we had police or Department of Transportation Officers enforcing the No Honking law in the same place, at the same time for an extended period, it could have a tangible impact on the problem. And could also raise a bit of money for the city. Currently the sign is never enforced.

I've never really written letters to public officials before and I pretty much assumed that it was a waste of time. But on Tuesday I went to the 76th precinct community affairs meeting. And before I could even say anything, Bill DeBlasio, my city councilman spoke and brought up all of the issues that I had raised in my letter to him, asking the precinct captain about greater enforcement. It was really great. I was amazed at how responsive DeBlasio is to his constituents. This is a good city councilman. Now the real test will be to see whether the precinct actually does its job and helps to enforce the law here in the neighborhood. We'll see about that.

A few of us went out last weekend and posted a bunch of new honku. This time, instead of just writing one honku and making 50 copies of it we printed up honku that others have written in the Lamp Post Bulletin Board and posted those around the neighborhood. As we went along we saw a lot of passersby stopping, reading and enjoying them. I was curious about what reactions Brooklynites would have to these honku written by Canadians, Californians and people all over the country.

This weekend as I walked down Clinton Street to go to the party of a neighbor whom I met and have started to become friends with from all of this honku stuff, I saw one very interesting reaction to a honku that we posted. A honkuist named Renee wrote:

Gazing at windows
I think of the children's sleep
broken by the noise.

And scribbled beneath it in bold black Sharpie marker was this perfect haiku reply:

Your thoughts are petty
I think of children who are
starving, dying, scared.

Interesting little backlash, right? I mean, I'm sure Renee and any other honkuist would agree that starvation, homelessness and issues like that are way more important than honking on Clinton Street. But if Renee cares about the honking problem and has the energy to go out and connect with others to work on solving that problem, why not support her in that? Why rip on her and call her concerns petty?

The most interesting thing about the honking problem to me is the way in which it taps into social, environmental, economic and political problems on a much more macro global level -- in particular, the screwed up relationship earthlings have right now to oil and the internal combustion engine. I mean, is there any doubt that the wars we're fighting and supporting in Central Asia and the Middle East are largely fueled and funded by oil money and managed by oil men?

Rather than trying to tackle this problem on the big macro level, which would probably be just too time consuming, depressing and discouraging for most of us, we're working on the micro level here on Clinton Street. We're looking at the place where cars touch our lives in a very direct, harmful way and trying to do something about that. If we can solve the honking problem on Clinton Street, then I bet there's a lot else that we will have done and can continue to do. So, my response to Ms. Sharpie is this:

we care about kids
why don't you write some starve-ku
we're working on honks

-- Aaron