What if instead of advertisements, digital billboards in Manhattan showed pictures of the people who most recently left the city for good, never to return? An endless scroll of strangers who gave up on the dream of New York City? What then?
What if instead of CATS or Lion King running forever on Broadway, it was that one punk show you went to where you felt so very alive, ever so briefly?
What if we had a queen instead of a mayor? Exact same city government, we just call the office the Queen of New York.
What if we insisted that anyone entering the city had to swear , against all reason and measurements, that the Empire State building is the tallest building in the world?
What if, as a city, we took a vow of silence that we only broke on the Subway?
What if the libraries of Manhattan organized all the books by color, so that Red was up in Inwood and Dark Purple in the Financial District? What if Brooklyn followed suit?
What if there was a distinct melody for each neighborhood? What would Redhook’s be?
What if we stopped regulating buildings except that there must be a depiction of the zodiac prominently featured somewhere public facing?
What if NYPD had to tell you what they dreamed the night before before they were allowed to search, question or arrest you?
What if the roaches were all those big hissing motherfuckers, you know the ones?
What if FDNY trucks were a vivid and slightly repulsive chartreuse?
What if we designed the whole city to match that statue Dali built for St. John the Divine?
What if only the Bronx Zoo animals were allowed to vote?
What if we still had wards and Times Square’s western edge was still called Verdant Lane and what if the subway was pneumatic like Alfred Beach planned and what if I had never left?
What if New York City cared about Beauty half as much, no, a third, as it cared about money? What then?