The Things I’ll Ban when I Get Elected Mayor of New York City

May 30, 2013 | 8 5 min read


Unless he changes the rules again, Mike Bloomberg will stop being mayor of New York City at the end of this year. Since everyone else in the city is running for mayor, I figure I might as well get in on the fun. My qualifications? I have never posted pictures of my erect penis on Twitter, and I did not make a billion dollars overcharging people for groceries, as two of my rival candidates can claim. But I have spent most of my adult life getting priced out of one up-and-coming New York neighborhood after another, and I have survived two blackouts, a minor earthquake, a major hurricane, a terrorist attack, and a Republican national convention.

When elected, I vow to ban seven things. No exceptions, no whining, no ACLU lawsuits. They are:

1. Book Store Closings
Every year the staff at my favorite bookstore, St. Mark’s Bookshop, has to pass the hat because the store can’t afford the grand-larceny rent. Other bookstores, from huge chain outfits like Borders to small independents, keep going out of business. Under my administration, no bookstore will be allowed to close. Stores suffering financial difficulties will be eligible for no-strings grants that enable them to stay in business, hire more staff, and stock more titles. How will I pay for the grants? By levying a modest 0.001% income surtax on the city’s billionaires (sorry, Mike, but you can afford it!) and aggressively collecting unpaid back taxes from Bank of America and other corporate cheats.

2. Tourists
More than 52 million out-of-towners invaded New York City last year, an all-time record. From what I overheard on the street, the majority of these invaders were from France, Germany, and Ohio. This must stop. Under my administration, non-New Yorkers will be granted visas to enter New York City for a maximum of 48 hours if — and only if — they can prove they are business travelers here to make money and therefore will be too busy to mosey around Times Square, the High Line, the Chelsea Market, SoHo, Century 21, and the Staten Island Ferry, taking pictures, hogging scarce space, moving too slowly (or not moving at all), and holding endless debates on whether they should eat dinner at Applebee’s now or take in The Lion King first and eat dinner at Applebee’s after the show.

Don’t worry about lost revenue. Giddy New Yorkers will stop barricading themselves in their apartments at night and will begin flooding the tourist-free streets, spending money like drunken sailors in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and on tickets to The Lion King.

3. Dogs
I realize this is a hot-button issue, but banning dogs from the city is actually a pro-dog, not an anti-dog, move. I love dogs! Put yourself in a dog’s paws. Would you want to be a part of the braying, the stench and the fawning — “Look at that adorable Corgi trying to hump that Great Dane!” — at one of the city’s dog runs on a hot August afternoon? No! Have you ever been lashed to a pay phone and spent a couple of hours yapping at the sky while your master hangs out in the corner deli talking about what’s wrong with the Mets? No! If you’re a dog, you understand that you don’t belong in an over-crowded city made mainly of concrete, motor vehicles, and pushy human beings; you belong in the great outdoors full of grass and trees, where there are no pooper-scooper laws and you can run, copulate, and defecate freely. I realize this is going to be a tough sell with the doggie crowd, but if you really love your dogs so much, you’ll free them from your cramped apartments and those stinky dog runs and you’ll set them loose in the vast open spaces of France, Germany, and Ohio.

4. Tattoos
Another toughie, especially for prison inmates, hipsters, and J.R. Smith of the Knicks, but this one has a huge upside. When I close down all the city’s tattoo parlors, not one single tattoo “artist” will lose a job — because they’ll get new jobs removing tattoos. I’ll establish a free city-wide network of laser tattoo-removal studios that will employ all of the former tattoo “artists” plus all the MFAs who need to supplement the income from their day jobs pretending to do important things on computers at the front desks of Chelsea art galleries. Mandatory tattoo-removal will be a money-maker with an aesthetic bonus: no more otherwise-attractive young women with antlers inked onto their lower backs. (Full disclosure: My brother owns the patent to the InkBeGone laser tattoo-removal technology, and he’ll probably make some money when the city awards its multi-million-dollar contracts for laser-removal parlors.)

5. Car Alarms
This one, I’ll admit, is a no-brainer. Everyone hates car alarms. Even insurance companies hate car alarms because car alarm owners pay lower insurance premiums than schmucks like me who drive cars that were made before the invention of the car alarm. This sad state of affairs inspired the insurance industry to commission an independent study that revealed the shocking news that car alarms do absolutely nothing to deter auto theft. The only people who don’t hate car alarms are the people who make, sell, and install car alarms.

So close your eyes the next time a blatting motorcyle, a shrieking ambulance, or a loud car radio moves down your block. Instead of the symphonic zoop!zoop!zoop! grrrt!grrt!grrrt! hoo-weeeee! hoo-weeeee! hoo-weeeee! REE-a-REE-a-REE-a-REE-a of a dozen car alarms going off at once, try to imagine…nothing…just a warm bath of silence. Some people believe it’s impossible to rid the city of car alarms because of the powerful car-alarm lobby. But, remember, people said the same thing about squeegee men, subway graffiti, peepshows, and affordable apartments. And all those things went poof!.

6. Mandatory Smoking Bans
The last straw was when Mike made it illegal for me to smoke my fat, noxious Dominican cigars in East River Park while enjoying the refreshing river stench and those terrific views of fuel storage tanks and shiny high-rise condos on the Brooklyn waterfront. So I’m going to turn back the clock and make smoking bans voluntary. Owners of all bars, restaurants, theaters, and office and apartment buildings will be free to choose if they want to allow smoking on their premises, or ban it. Then they’ll be required to put up a sign in front of the building that says either DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT SMOKING INSIDE or COME ON IN AND KILL YOURSELF, WE’RE ALL DOING IT. Smokers seeing the former sign will keep on walking; non-smokers seeing the latter sign will do likewise. Everybody’s happy. Nobody gets told what to do. Same goes for public parks, which will have designated smoking areas on the sites of all the de-commissioned, de-odorized dog runs. I promise you, our parks will actually smell better.

7. Bullets
As the great philosopher Chris Rock has noted, AR-15 semiautomatic rifles don’t kill people. Bullets kill people. So I’m banning all bullets, from BB’s right on up through dum-dums and hollow points. This niftily avoids an un-winnable confrontation with the all-powerful National Rifle Association, which has concluded that the best way to stop school shootings is to get more guns into schools, preferably in the hands of expert marskmen employed as janitors and teachers’ aides. Since there is no National Bullet Association, to my knowledge, I say let New Yorkers own as many guns as they like — but don’t let them have any bullets. My ban will apply to everyone, including the police, Second Amendment wackos, and the gang bangers who live in the projects across Avenue D from my apartment. This is democracy at its purest because all New Yorkers, regardless of race, religion, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, income, or zip code, will finally have something in common: absolutely no one will get shot anymore.

In closing, I also promise to ban penis pictures on Twitter, street fairs, $25 museum tickets, overpriced groceries, Brooklyn, 3-D movies, ambulatory texting, February, artisanal cheese and pickles, Spike Lee, stretch limos, ice cream trucks, franchise restaurants, and The Lion King. But, as I learned from my predecessor’s misguided attempt to limit the size of soft drinks, it’s not smart to be overly ambitious. So I’ll save those bans for my second and third terms. Or maybe, after I change the law on term limits, my fourth and fifth terms.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

is a staff writer for The Millions. He is the author of the novels Motor City Burning, All Souls’ Day, and Motor City, and the nonfiction book American Berserk. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Granta, The New York Times, The (London) Independent, L.A. Weekly, Popular Mechanics, and The Daily Beast. He lives in New York City.


  1. Might I add banning any and all literature that takes place in Brooklyn? Paul Auster gets a pass every four years. I’d like to see us spread those settings out a bit…

  2. YAY for banning bullets! That way no one can get their hands on them, just like marijuana, cocaine, and crack! Someone whip out the old Prohibition laws ‘cuz this guy is on the right track!

  3. My, my , my, how some things have changed.

    As someone who spent a least 20 years visiting NYC, mostly for fun, now that you live there no one else can?

    I seem to remember you being quite taken with my tattoo many, many years ago and exactly why did I spend 10 years smoking outside you home, regardless of the weather.

    I have over the years called you many things, but until now, never a hypocrite.

  4. Bill, listening to you talk about urban dogs is like listening to Mitt Romney talk about how it’s dangerous that you can’t roll down airplane windows. I know everybody’s entitled to have an opinion, but man, sometimes voicing it—even “comically,” since this piece has the appearance of aspring to humor—just reveals ignorance. And not innocent ignorance, but rather that Romneyesque arrogance of ignorance, in which you plow ahead in the belief that your own moral superiority is surely worth the same weight as the legions of experts and experienced people who have a far better understanding of the issue. The dogs will do just fine without your yapping on their behalf.

  5. Great point, ColtBrennansGhost! All those things you listed are against the law, and yet THEY STILL EXIST! So why bother to ban bullets then?

    Same thing with the laws against child abuse and murder. Children are still being abused, and people are still being murdered, so what is the point of such silly laws?

    I say we should have no laws at all. Just lots and lots of guns. And bullets. Don’t even try to stop them. There’s no point.

  6. Candidate Morris,

    You’ve definitely got my vote. Once you’re sworn in, I hope you’ll ban that other thing so many of us New Yorkers love to hate: the damn Yankees.

  7. Dogs have been on my list for a long time. But you can add taxis (we need a whole new transportation system) and trees (this ain’t the country).

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