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The tomato/lettuce issue has not been resolved.
November 28, 2009 2:19 PM   Subscribe

Four letters of complaint written to the Mayor of NYC. Excerpted from a book.
posted by prefpara (34 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
From the link:
It's no wonder that in a city as large and populous as New York, a steady stream of letters are written to the Mayor throughout the year by its citizens, the majority having been penned for different reasons. [Linked] are just four such letters that I have plucked - with permission - from a truly fascinating book by the name of New York City Museum of Complaint, in which 132 complaint letters written between the years 1751 and 1969, all addressed to the Mayor of that time, have been compiled by Matthew Bakkom. The sheer variety of complaints and observations - in turn unique in their language and/or penmanship - combine to offer an incredibly intriguing snapshot of a type of correspondence rarely mentioned elsewhere.

Transcripts follow each letter.
In case anyone else was wondering about the context here.
posted by paisley henosis at 2:39 PM on November 28, 2009


Modern day NYC: fewer dead horses, more public music, similar sorts of crazy and drinking.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:42 PM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


The dirty rats have not seen the blood of women and children in the gutter.

No, but this guy has.
posted by katillathehun at 2:59 PM on November 28, 2009


Letters of Note is one of the best blogs going right now.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 3:17 PM on November 28, 2009


I sat and went through every page of this book at Shakespeare & Co near Union Sq a couple of weeks ago. It is big and heavy and beautifully printed and good. If I had any literate friends or family members, I would buy it for them as a holiday gift.
posted by damehex at 3:18 PM on November 28, 2009


That horse is still there, by the way.
posted by Flunkie at 3:20 PM on November 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


Sometimes in NYC on a hot summer day you have to wonder if that dead horse is still there.
posted by chillmost at 3:25 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can anyone in the know chime in about whether the horse is still there or not?
posted by Science! at 3:43 PM on November 28, 2009


Talk about beating a dead horse.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 3:45 PM on November 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


The tomato/lettuce issue was resolved, I suppose, in that the automat business model ultimately failed and there are no longer any automats, including that particular restaurant.

That guy's letter would get him into all kinds of lockdown today. I wonder what became of him?
posted by Countess Elena at 4:06 PM on November 28, 2009


The dead horse letter starts out with some beautiful penmanship.

wtf did I just type?
posted by Doofus Magoo at 4:26 PM on November 28, 2009


Now THAT'S a putrefaction of a different color!
posted by Greg Nog at 4:33 PM on November 28, 2009


I. Love. This.

thank you.
posted by The Whelk at 4:56 PM on November 28, 2009


...and I just found my husband's Christmas present. (Shhhhh!)
posted by gaspode at 5:03 PM on November 28, 2009


Man, I need to work on my signature.
posted by cmoj at 5:58 PM on November 28, 2009


Ok. I give up. I can't beat the horse letter.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:50 PM on November 28, 2009


Four letters of complaint written to the Mayor of NYC.

I give up too. "FUNY" is 4 letters but it doesn't call out NY City or it's mayor specifically.
posted by juv3nal at 8:55 PM on November 28, 2009


Awesome, just sent this book to a friend who could really use an absurd neat thing right now. Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:27 PM on November 28, 2009


(thanks damehex for the hands-on review, you have made a new yorker very happy)
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:27 PM on November 28, 2009


Tonight: after heading to Letters of Note from this post, I wandered onward and discovered that at the time of his death, Houdini lived one block away from where I live now. Tomorrow: field trip!
posted by ocherdraco at 10:37 PM on November 28, 2009


Absolutely fantastic.

Metafilter: Not a pleasant thing, I assure you.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:11 AM on November 29, 2009


there are no longer any automats

Get thee to Bamn!, pronto.
posted by cillit bang at 3:18 AM on November 29, 2009


I haven't been there in a while, but i think Bamn! closed up shop.
posted by makonan at 5:54 AM on November 29, 2009


The tomato ranter needs to internalize the idea of value added.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:57 AM on November 29, 2009


There's no dead horse in the Google Street View of 41 Henry St.
posted by plastic_animals at 6:06 AM on November 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Funny, I went to the movies last night and I had the exact same reaction as the automat guy: "Are you kidding? Six bucks? There can't be more than a nickle's worth of popcorn in there! You dirty rats have not seen the blood of women and children in the gutter!"
posted by The Bellman at 6:31 AM on November 29, 2009


I really liked the one in defense of public music. One of my favourite things about going to market on Saturdays is the guy who plays the accordian and the banjo and sings. I always have a couple bucks I leave aside to drop in his case. I love street side (public) music.
posted by sandraregina at 6:35 AM on November 29, 2009


I really liked the one in defense of public music.

I agree. I was particularly touched by the line, "the street musicians in many parts of our city bring to our poorer population, especially the children, the only music they hear." I often think about this sort of thing. We are so spoiled in the variety of music that is easily, cheaply available to us. If you wanted to hear Mozart, for example, in the days before radio you would have had to cough up the price of a symphony ticket. The only music that the children of the poor would have heard before the invention of the affordable gramophone would have been the music that their families and neighbors performed.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:30 AM on November 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's behind the van, plastic_animals.
posted by Flunkie at 7:50 AM on November 29, 2009


There's no dead horse in the Google Street View of 41 Henry St.

I think number 41 is the yellowey-white one with the, er, rather stuffed looking trashcans outside.
posted by cillit bang at 8:17 AM on November 29, 2009


Bamn caters (catered?) to the bro, or those of the backward-baseball-cap persuasion. Mini-Automats can still be found in drab offices and odd college campuses, where pre-packaged food sits, waiting for someone with no other option to feed in the dollars and receive a sad excuse for a sandwich.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:46 AM on November 29, 2009


Wonderful post, and I too want the book.

There can't be more than a nickle's worth of popcorn in there!

When I worked at a movie theater, they let us eat all the popcorn we wanted, since it was virtually free to the theater. But they have to mark up the foodstuffs heavily because they hardly make any money on the movies themselves.
posted by languagehat at 9:04 AM on November 29, 2009


A link to the originating book. I have two copies--it's absolutely beautifully done, the reproductions are incredible.
posted by mert at 2:26 PM on November 30, 2009


If anyone cares, I finally did make the field trip to find the Houdini house that I mentioned above. If house numbering hasn't changed since 1926 (which I will try to verify), this is the last place Harry Houdini lived before he died.

I'm going to do some more research and see what I can find out about the house and Houdini's time there.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:56 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


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