Bill de Blasio is a Poet

bill de blasio joe lhota together

The presumed next mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, writes poetry to his wife. “In an email sent by a spokesman, [his wife] called them ‘artful, loving and smile-inducing,'” the Wall Street Journal reports. “His campaign declined to provide a sample.” (If he wants to try some of them out in front of an audience, here are some suggestions.) The revelation came in an article about the mayoral candidates and the arts—what will support look like after Bloomberg?—and their interests are perhaps predictable: de Blasio and his wife like the edgier fare on Broadway, like Alan Cumming’s Macbeth, as well as the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora in Fort Greene, on the edge of the BAM Cultural District.

Joe Lhota, on the other hand, is infamous for plotting to defund the Brooklyn Museum in the late-90s when it hosted the controversial Sensation exhibit with the Virgin Mary and the elephant dung. He has said he has “no regrets” about the tactics he and the Giuliani administration used at the time—including trying to defund a major arts institution?—but also that his understanding of the First Amendment has evolved.

So, uh, any advocate of the arts should harbor suspicion of Lhota, but also be willing to believe people can change, I guess? His tastes are predictably more conservative: he liked Don Giovanni at the Metropolitan Opera, and supports the Brooklyn Historical Society (surely in large part because he lives in Brooklyn Heights?). As for his own artistic pursuits: “During meetings, he doodles geometric shapes and portraits on notecards,” the Journal reports. “On faces, he said, ‘I do a terrible job.’ His campaign declined to provide renderings.”

The candidates agree on two arts-related issues: neither would have used city funds to save City Opera, and both say that, though Bloomberg has been a patron and supporter of the arts, he has failed when it comes to arts education in schools. “The city doesn’t currently comply with state guidelines on arts education,” the Journal reports; Bloomberg allows principals to use money previously earmarked for arts on other areas at their discretion. Boo, hiss.

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

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