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A Letter From Marty Markowitz

February 8, 2011

Despite his near-silence on traffic injuries and deaths, Marty’s theatrical entrance-by-bike at his 2011 State of the Borough speech was, in one way, less offensive than something else that happened during his oratorical tour of Brooklyn.

When I read that Marty featured a pole dancing exercise instructor on stage at Sunset Park High School during his speech, I thought it was in bad taste.  Bike commuters may make up a small percentage of his constituency, but women still make up about half of the people who live here and as a relatively new dad I’m sensitive to the kind of world in which my daughter will grow up.  I’m also a huge fan of Chris Rock’s advice to fathers:

Okay, so the pole dancer at Marty’s speech wasn’t exactly a stripper.  She was an exercise instructor at Exotic Curves in Bay Ridge and all the more power to her for owning or being part of a business that must be doing well enough right now to catch to the BP’s attention.  Marty has long told Brooklyn to lighten up, so I guess I can make the connection between his clear commitment to personal health and his boosterism of local entrepreneurs.

But still.  Did Marty need to feature her in his speech?  It’s not exactly a hanging offense, but it also isn’t something I think an elected official should put on full display at one of the biggest events of the BP’s year.  (Not that it would happen in a million years, but Bloomberg would generate a national outrage if he told so much as a blond joke at a press conference.)  That’s the risk of mixing your political persona with comedy: sometimes the jokes fall flat.

So, I did what any other sanctimonious Park Slope liberal breeder nutjob would do.  I wrote him an email.


Sent: Friday, February 04, 2011 7:49 PM

Dear Mr. Markowitz,

As a father of a young daughter, I watched your State of the Borough
speech with mild disgust.  Even though you were promoting a local
business, to feature a woman pole dancing on stage during your
presentation — at a public high school, no less — was crude and in
poor taste.  Is that really the message you want young girls in your
borough to see and hear?  There were high school students and children
present at your speech.  Is that how we should promote our great
borough?  By putting a young woman in revealing clothing front and
center during your speech?  Our borough’s young women deserve better.

Brooklyn has so much to be proud of and so much to offer people who live
and visit here, that I’m disappointed you couldn’t find something
different to fill the time in your hour and a half of stage time.

I think you owe women and girls, who make up half of your constituency,
an apology.

Not too bad, right?  All I mentioned was “mild disgust,” disapointment, and a thought that perhaps, in the fourth largest city in America, Markowitz could have chosen any of a few thousand other local personalities or colorful businesspeople to entertain his audience.

I never really expected a reply, but I got one on Monday either from the man himself or from a punctuation loving staffer using Marty’s email address and a computer with an intermittently functioning shift button.

From: Markowitz, Marty

Mon, Feb 7, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Are you serious?????? First, there were no young girls present and
secondly, this guest did nothing lewd…she runs a business that is all
about exercise for men and woman…..this was not about sex
dancing….every year in my annual Borough speech I present bonafide
Brooklyn characters…and unique Brooklynites doing unique
things……that’s all there is to it…..marty

Good to know that this was not about “sex dancing” but his response left me curious: how many men take pole dancing classes?  I’m happy to hear from anyone who knows.

Let me be clear: I love this email response.  Someone else might have given me the classic non-apology: “I’m sorry if you were offended.”  But that’s Marty for you.  His response was vintage old-school Brooklyn: “I’m sorry if you were offended, wussy.”  To give him or his office credit, I can see the benefit of this response: it’s a straight-shooting, say-what-you-mean email, not some form letter to “Dear Brooklyn Resident.”  Sometimes you just have to laugh.

I have only one minor point of contention.  According to Marty, “there were no young girls present.”  Then I guess the dance troupe that also performed during his speech is made up of some impressively young looking adults:

  1. February 8, 2011 10:13 am

    Oh my god! hah! I love it, too. I think the use of the term “sex dancing” is a pretty good argument that he wrote that shit himself.

    He should put that email reply right onto one of those “leaving Brooklyn” signs.

  2. Mittens67 permalink
    February 8, 2011 12:01 pm

    He’s right! Lighten up. I thought part of the fun of being a coastal liberal was a little social permissiveness. You sound like you’re from Salt Lake City, not Park Slope.

    Part of the joy of living in New York are all the interesting characters that you run into. It’s not a complete homogenous environment (like Park Slope).

    Maybe more New Yorkers would have sympathy for the bike-lanes cause if the cycling activists weren’t intolerably whiny, needy and sensitive. You guys do make good points. They’re all just completely obscured by your tone, hence the overall unpopularity of your cause throughout the five boroughs.

    After all, there are some other pretty important issues in New York that you all seem to ignore, like, ya know, poverty and stuff. A lot of us can’t help being a little annoyed at all the histrionics over bike lanes when schools are being shut down, subway fares are rising and rent is soaring throughout the city.

  3. February 8, 2011 12:36 pm

    Mittens67, since the histrionics over bike lanes are generated by non-bicyclists, you’re not making a lot of sense there.

    And are you really whining about whininess? Seriously?

  4. Mittens68 permalink
    February 8, 2011 1:27 pm

    M67, did you read the whole post?

    “Let me be clear: I love this email response.”
    “Sometimes you just have to laugh.”

  5. Mittens67 permalink
    February 8, 2011 1:54 pm

    Keith: I’m talking about your side’s histrionics in my comment. The anti-bike lane crowd can get pretty silly too. They’re just slightly more tolerable because they don’t have a victim complex like you all do (even with Bloomberg and Kahn taking up your talking-points). And that wasn’t whining: it was criticism, which all you cycling advocates seem to have a really difficult time stomaching.

    Mittens68: I read the whole post. those lines struck me as sarcastic. I was criticizing the writer’s initial outreach to Markowitz, and their standing complaints about his Borough Presidency in general.

  6. February 8, 2011 3:19 pm

    Mittens, I don’t have a side, so you’re still not making any sense. If you think everybody in the world boils down to pro-bike-lane and anti-bike-lane, you’re too dumb to talk to.

    Is that a better tone?

  7. Mittens67 permalink
    February 8, 2011 5:32 pm


    Don’t be obtuse. Of course there are layers to the current debate over bike lanes and the city’s stance on cyclists, that debate is just dominated by extremists. Bloggers like this one, and some of the writers at Gothamist, do harm to their cause by striking an inaccessibly self-rightous pitch. Basically, there are a lot of very loud, very holier-than-thou, very entitled dorks.

    Sorry I assumed you were one of them — I thought I had pretty decent grounds, cause, you know, you’re trolling a cyclist-advocacy blog.

  8. February 8, 2011 5:57 pm

    Mittens: Don’t be a stereotype. Yes, there are layers. Don’t go into everything acting like there aren’t and you may find somebody else who’s capable of acknowledging that too. When you come in looking for the other guy to be a stereotype, you’re just going to act like one yourself.

    Here’s my view, since you seem to have taken the wax out of at least one ear:

    A pole dance can be other things too–exercise, local business, wacky branding–but it never stops being a pole dance. That means it’s both sexual (which I mind at a borough president’s speech) and a fundamental dehumanization of women (which I mind more). I’m not slavering over the issue, but I don’t think there’s any way to defend T&A in this context without proving yourself a basic-model dolt.

    As for the bike stuff, saying no to everything like a stubborn three-year-old is no better than preaching like a pissy teenager. Your loudmouths are no more fair-minded and sensible than theirs. And yeah, there’s shrillness in cycling advocacy–I’m a cyclist and they annoy me, too. But my take on the PPW thing is it’s basically a loud cadre of entitled egotists trying to demolish a city improvement project that really does improve things for their inferiors, and a standard-issue politician who smells money. Nothing new there.

  9. Jym Dyer permalink
    February 13, 2011 2:05 am

    =v= The “exercise” angle is a lie that doesn’t fool anyone. Those are not exercise shoes.

  10. Marcy permalink
    February 13, 2011 10:15 am

    I completely agree. Marty is a real putz, no respect for anyone.

  11. sydney permalink
    February 13, 2011 10:42 pm

    Sorry, but I also think Marty is right. As a woman, he owes me no apology! The woman who runs the pole dancing workout class is there on her own accord as well. If you want to shelter your children from reality then you can take them out of the room. Get over yourself man!

    • Keith permalink
      February 14, 2011 7:35 am

      So… pole dancing is reality, but showing respect for women (and your own constituency) isn’t?

  12. Marcy permalink
    February 14, 2011 8:30 am

    You’re right, Sydney! Anyone who goes to a political speech should totally expect to see a pole dancer there.

    Doesn’t sound like this guy brought his kid to the speech. Says he read about it.

    Plus as the photo shows…Marty had kids there…some student dance group.

  13. Cee permalink
    February 14, 2011 9:50 am

    I cannot stand thin-skinned politicans. Much less thin-skinned politicans who communicate like ten-year-olds with the !!!!!!! and the ………. Good for you for sticking up for your daughter. His uncapitalized argument might have more merit (if still no class) if he’d had a rent boy running around in glitter briefs–as it is, a pole dance is still pretty sleazy and yes, sexist. Stay klassy, Marty!


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