Sheinkopf Speaks: Tragedy on NYC’s Quality of Life

atlantic avenue
The Subway Station At Atlantic Avenue. Credit: Harrison Leong, Wikimedia Commons

The subway station platform edge dancer sings, laughs loudly. 

So-called normal civilians worriedly watch the dancer, wondering when a feather push will send him to Potter’s Field once his remains are scraped off the wheels of an incoming multi-ton subway train.

Not to worry, says an observer of the situation. You can’t be worrying, he says. You’ll just hurt yourself. The dancer is really good, he knows what he’s doing. 

Then there’s the fellow at the 59th Street-Columbus Circle Station. He is a philanthropist. Your metro card not swiping quickly enough? He sees it and swings the gate open with a smile.  

Another local entertainer has been on the street lately singing and howling loudly. He stopped at one corner in front of a woman, bent over to pet her dog. So happy was he that he beat the woman badly and scarred her face. So overjoyed was he that on the next corner his newest audience left to hospital with a busted jaw. Arrested–the 17th time–and charged and the prosecution said let the laugher go on his way. And he will.

On a lighter vein, the fellow who sat on the sidewalk all summer and now in the cold has shown the way to a new activity. He has led others to use the area under the sidewalk shed as an open-air toilet. Why not? The only surprise is that our local officials did not arrange for a ribbon cutting with printed invites demanding a small fee–an increased tax of some kind–to be part of this new public work. Maybe that wonderful decades-old song extolling dancing in the streets would now with local legislative goading be slightly changed. P or D?  What’s a few letters?

Going to the theatre on a Sunday night? You can enjoy the show, grab a bite afterward and get stabbed. Deep knife wounds are one way to be woke, no?  And tourists? Who wouldn’t want to travel with a family to see America’s biggest city and have the chance to risk death on its streets? 

Columbia University PhD student from Italy returning home from sports practice gets stabbed, killed. It’s reported as the act of a gang member. That way politicians will call it something other than what it is: murder. This gang member with reported 16 prior arrests was out on parole having served 4 years in state prison.  

Some will think as they pack their bags and hire the moving van that we need to say yes to turning streets into urinals. They might also be woke enough to say hail to the subway gate opener philanthropist. And the street mad mauler who got walked out the door after violently destroying the lives of two women? The accused killer of the Columbia student?  The theatre district stabbing victim?

Politicians are living well dining nightly on the spoils of New York City’s dying carcass. Why should they worry? They are taking the advice of the one who observed the platform edge dancer. You can’t be worrying. You’ll just hurt yourself.


Hank Sheinkopf worked as a meat cutter and a police officer before being introduced to political consulting as a union organizer. Sheinkopf founded Sheinkopf Communications Ltd., a political-strategic communications firm, in 1981. Over the course of his career, Sheinkopf has contributed to more than 700 political campaigns across the United States including presidents, governors, mayors, and numerous elected officials.