The Industrial Workers of the World’s New York City General Membership Branch had plans to protest against the person responsible for giving the police department the license to bully the under-classes with not-so-random stop and frisk, prohibiting more than nine citizens from congregating on city streets without a permit, putting wrought iron gates around city corners he deemed un-crossable, and ultimately militarizing the first American city police force in the name of counter-terrorism through Governor George Pataki’s committee adding five sections to the New York penal code and one to the criminal procedure law. He and Giuliani, more than anyone besides George W. Bush under Dick Cheney’s CIA leadership, ushered in the American police state by buffering security, technology, information exchange protocol, and cooperation among agencies in the name of the national crisis caused by “terrorism.” Emerson realized immediately what was going on; all the anti-war, workers’ labor rights, anti-racism, and civil liberties he, his Pop, and millions of Americans had fought for had crumbled like the Twin Towers.
The IWW NYC GMB and other progressive adherents had had enough of this dangerous fool and decided to crash his garden party. Most agreed with the organizer's stale tactic to march (actually stroll) around in an oval on the sidewalk with picket signs in their hands chanting, in call and response: “Whose streets?” “Our streets!” or “The people-united-will never be defeated,” or “Everywhere the people go, people always want to know, who we are, so we tell them, we are the union, the mighty mighty union.”
Emerson had other ideas. He knew the police would keep the protest well out of earshot of Bernie Kerik and his well-heeled admirers. The protest, like so many others, would end up being a “mass-turbation,” as Emerson called it, not “off the pigs” or even a threat to do so. Certainly, their protest wouldn’t scare this little piggy who had roast beef or make him cry wee- wee-wee all the way home; only those who were in the protest would know it was even happening. Emerson had other plans.
"What’s in the bag, Mister Davinsky?” Adonis asked and looked down exaggeratedly as Jack Covert glanced over out of the corner of his beady eyes. They moved slowly around the picket line with a dozen other protesters. Red Zinger wanted nothing to do with it. “Are you being silly again, Emerson?” He said to Emerson, shaking his head.
It was almost eight o’clock. The city was clearing out as office workers headed home to the boroughs, suburbs, or New Jersey. Only a smattering of secretaries and bookkeepers working late or tourists on their way to Madison Square Garden even noticed them on the sidewalk.
“Hey, Emmy, you brought some snacks for us?” shouted Scuzzy from around the bend in the picket line.
“No food and no flyers,” he shouted back. “Hey, Adonis," he said to the Wobbly behind him, "do you have cigarettes?”
“I thought you said you stopped smoking,” Adonis said as he reached into his jacket pocket and took out a pack of Marlboro.
“I’ve got an American Spirit if you want one,” Jack Covert added, proud of his taste in additive-free all natural cigarette tobacco.
“Nah; it burns too slowly and the fire goes out if you stop puffing.”
“What are you talking about?” Red Zinger retorted, face askew. “Here it comes…” Red always followed the hard line.
“It won’t work without the expedient additives; American Spirit isn't fast enough. Better burn to the butt without having to draw on it,” Emerson replied aware of the riddle he was setting up.
He took the pack of Marlboro he was handed and removed three. Adonis didn’t mind. He reached out his lighter and flicked a flame but Emerson declined. Instead he pointed to his red burlap Sabo Cat bag and curled his finger for Adonis, Red, and Scuzzy to follow.
“Come with me; I need some help.”
They slinked away with him and moved across the street to a vest pocket park between two sky scrapers. One homeless man sleeping there looked away as they moved to the rear of the area. Emerson reached in his bag and brought out a cellophane baggie with some colorful items inside. “We’re going to blow up these balloons,” he said as he gave each man one. They looked sheepishly at each other and Adonis burst out laughing.
“Hush; someone will hear us.” He took out a small gray tank with a spigot and a valve on top.
“What have you got there; poppers?” asked Adonis still laughing. He was referring to Amyl nitrite, then popular with gay men to relax their anus muscles for sex.
“Sorry, Adonis; it’s not for your pleasure,” Emerson said mock seriously. “It’s helium for balloons. I got it at a toy store.” Emerson reached back into his bag and took out three small tubes of colorful paint. “Don’t get excited, Adonis; it’s not for brushing your teeth. It’s paint; I got it at the art store on Canal Street.”
He handed a balloon and tube of paint to three men. “Fill the balloons with this paint.” Emerson assisted. When it was done he moved to the bench and sat down with the small tank of helium. He motioned to Jack who handed him his balloon and placed the lip of the balloon over the spigot. He then turned on the valve and watched the green balloon inflate almost to pop. He then asked Jack to start a knot in the nipple but not tie it. He took a cigarette and pushed it through the loop at the bottom of the brown filter tip. The men watched in amazement.
Emerson took two more dark-colored balloons, filled them up with helium, tied the knots and stood up. He handed Scuzzy one. “Zinger, come with us to the street.”
Emerson, Scuzzy, and Red walked out to a space between two cars. There was a mild summer breeze blowing from the southwest. He let the balloon go and it flew over W. 32nd Street and out over Bryant Park. The direction was not to his liking so he moved across the street to the north side of the street and tried again. This time it met Emerson specifications and floated over the park in the direction of the outdoor party.
“You’re crazy,” said Red Zinger as they turned into the vest-pocket park, Emerson cackling and rubbing his hands together in mock Dr. Frankenstein.
The paint filled balloons were inflated with helium, cigarette affixed to the bottom like a basket under a hot-air balloon. “Okay boys; let’s go!”
When they reached the spot across from the street from the Day-Top Rehab Center, they stopped concealed between two parked cars, making sure there was no tree in their flight path.
“I’ll take that light now,” Emerson said to Adonis, the cigarette below the balloon in his mouth. He carefully lit it making sure not to inhale the smoke or burst the balloon. “Go ahead guys; light the other balloons but be careful.” Jack held the lighter as Adonis and Scuzzy took drags. Red Zinger shrugged his shoulders and returned to the picket line.
“What do we do now?” Scuzzy asked. Emerson looked over to the Kerik party. They could barely make out the sound of live disco music from the stage they had set up inside the park. From prior experience, Emerson knew that a Marlboro regular took five minutes to burn out up to the filter. The balloon was knotted at the two minute mark. When Emerson though the time was right, he prepared to give the signal.
“When I say “Let go,” let the balloons go but, be careful, make sure the cigarette doesn't get too close to the side of the balloon.” The three men held their balloons at shoulder level.
“You ready? One, two, three, release….”
The men let the balloons go and casually walked up the street to the protest, keeping their eyes on the trajectory of the balloons. The balloons flew higher in an east-northeasterly direction, over the Kerik garden party. Just as the balloons approached over the revelers heads,they popped, one by one, paint drizzling onto the party-goers below.
Had it worked? Emerson didn’t know, at first. Then, the protesters heard a collective groan from behind the police barricade. The paint-bomb drones had hit their marks!
Before long, couples in white gowns and black tuxedos began emerging, awaiting limousines, specks of iridescent poster paint flickering off their faces, hair, and clothes in the pale streetlights. Kerik, who had apparently rubbed the paint under his eyes, looked like he was wearing warpath markings.
Soon after the invasion of Iraq, President Bush appointed Kerik interior minister of the invading force. A year later, Bush nominated Kerik to be the head of Homeland Security but Kerik had to decline his nomination after his employing an illegal alien as his child’s nanny was exposed in the papers. A year later, in 2006, he pleaded guilty to two more ethics violations after he was investigated by the Bronx District Attorney. He had to pay $221,000 in fines. Then, in 2009, he was indicted on eight federal charges – conspiracy, tax fraud, and lying under oath and pled guilty and was sentenced to four years in federal prison.
Emerson guessed Kerik had done his dirty deeds and there was no longer any use for him; his ego would be a liability so the CIA dumped him, but not before the Wobblies of New York City made his party a colorful event. His bubble had burst.