Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A letter to the editor from an outraged rat

Today's guest contributor
Hey Crank!

I live in New York City, on the east side of Manhattan. My home is a hole under a bush in St. Vartan’s Park over on 36th Street between First and Second Avenues. I make my living mostly scrounging rotting sandwich crusts from garbage cans in and around the park. Sometimes I get lucky and find a few rice grains or some birdseed that somebody scattered for the pigeons.

It’s a tough life. Some days I go hungry. And it’s worth your life to ignore the predators out here, including an occasional New York red tailed hawk, feral cats, and those bastards from the city’s department of health who put out poisoned rat bait for us. Did I mention speeding cars when I try to get across the street?

Anyway, the other day I found a copy of The New York Times and I decided to rip off a few strips of paper to line my nest for winter. And guess what? 

I found a feature story by a reporter named Corey Kilgannon about a rat whose name is Toby. That’s right, the Times these days is writing feature stories about rats. You want to make your name in journalism? Forget people. Go for the rodents.

Now Toby isn’t your average rat.  She’s not struggling to get by, like me. She’s so well off she even has a personal trainer named Lydia DesRoche, who also admits, according to The Times, that “she has become sort of a social secretary, chaperoning Toby as she interacts with the smitten cast and crew backstage at the Ethel Barrymore Theater.”

Right, Toby is a well-fed, well-paid,  probably well-bathed, carefully cosseted Broadway theater rat, part of the rodent world’s One Percent. I’ll stake two mud soaked bagel crusts that her monthly upkeep costs more than the average out-of-a-job factory worker’s unemployment benefits. 

Toby’s in a Broadway play called, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” on Broadway. She lives better than the other 99 percent of us who are hiding out in holes in the ground and in sewers.

While the rest of us struggling rats get by on scraps and rotting food, Toby gets hand fed. She gets sleepover dates arranged for her, as if she was an incipient debutante at Spence, or Brearley, or one of those other academies for the one percent that charge $35,000-plus a year for tuition.

I’m not making this rat up. Don’t take my word for it. This is what the Times said:
 “While Ms. DesRoche takes Toby home on the weekends to her apartment on the Upper West Side, the rat goes home on weeknights with members of the cast and crew. There is no shortage of takers; members with children usually get first choice.” 
I’ll bet she gets free medical care, too.

Hey, this rat is better off than a lot of people I’ve run across, so to speak. With rents in this town easily getting to $2,800 a month for a studio apartment, Toby has her own spacious dressing room. Well, okay, she shares it with a dog who’s also in the show, but even so. I mean, check out this passage from the Times:
“Inside, yes, there are lightbulbs around the mirrors and fresh roses on the makeup counter (Toby likes to nibble on roses). Also, on the counter is a long tube, for scampering through, and a glass of water, which she climbs up into, and nearly hops into, as she drinks.”
Right. Ninety-nine percent of rats have no time for anything except scrounging for food and reproducing. I’ve got relatives so impoverished, they sleep in the subway, along with the homeless people. And this snotty, overprivileged rat has a light-up makeup mirror and her own toys. Toys! Not to mention the roses.

I mean, this is an outrage. I scooted past a flower shop over on Third Avenue the other night, and roses were going for eighty dollars a dozen. And this spoiled rat eats them? That’s in-your-face conspicuous consumption, if you ask me.

Hey, this is another example of how only the One Percent get the best of everything, from real estate, to rose salads, to  their own personal trainers and social secretaries, while the rest of us New York rats live in squalor and danger.

We’re sick and tired of being vilified pariahs. Toby undoubtedly comes from a family of very rich rats, because when the rest of us tried to raise money by putting together an act that consisted of some gymnastics and a bit of rodent-dancing, Fox News came down on us like a ton of bricks – like we’re liberals, or Democrats, or demonstrators, or gun-grabbers, or terrorists, or something. I mean, just look at this disgusting anti-rat political screed from Fox. Go ahead, I'll wait while you play it:

“We slant, you try and decide.” I mean, that was what I call a completely biased piece of reporting. Not one pro-rat spokesperson was interviewed.  All you see is a bunch of Fox pimps and their patsies making out like we’re disgusting. We weren’t being disgusting. We were trying to break into show business.

Anyway, Crank, please do me a favor and post this letter to your blog. It’s time people knew the rats have their one percent, too, and that characters like Toby are just as irritating to us as the Koch Brothers are to you.

Whether we're talking about rats or people, the one percent gets the best of everything. For the rest of us, life’s nothing but a rat race.

Roscoe Norvegicus

P.S. The Times article also quoted Lydia DesRoche, the rat’s personal trainer, as saying, ““I’m just a rat servant now — I’m the rat butler.” Right. And hell will freeze over before the rich rats give it up. Taxing away a tiny little bit of extra income from the one percent might deprive them of their ridiculous luxuries, like butlers, and that’s why they pay off legislators to write laws in favor of the rich. Meanwhile, the greedy S.O.Bs. don’t care if the rest of us starve, or drown in a backed up sewer.  

P.P.S. While the rich drink Perrier, us poor rats have to slurp our water from puddles in the gutter. Wake me up when the revolution starts.


Anonymous said...

I told you so.
George Orwell

Ten Bears said...

Well done, Crank, well done.

Mil said...

You make an excellent point, Roscoe. However, you might want to consider that, although most rodents in NYC don't live such a privileged life as Toby, she's actually doing a service for rats everywhere, by winning over fans for your species -- and proving you aren't the filthy, frightening individuals many humans think. I actually write and publish a whole magazine on rats, trying to help dispel all those negative stereotypes. It's called The Rodent Reader Quarterly -- the latest issue of which, I must confess, did include a glowing article about Toby (http://artistinsane.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Wild-Rat-Article.pdf). But, I also want to point out that a prior issue included an article defending your less fortunate relatives, like those you mentioned stuck sleeping in the subway, and combing Central Park for food. It even touched on the rats from the Taco Bell. (http://artistinsane.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Wild-Rat-Article.pdf) What's more, it was the hazards you speak of facing rats in Central Park that inspired NYC writer Tor Seidler to pen his acclaimed children's book, A Rat's Tale -- a compassionate story about a non-privileged city rat named Montague. You should see if you can sneak into the public library and check it out. In any case, I really enjoyed your letter. While Toby's earned her privileged life by way of her acting ability, you might just match her one day with your writing skills -- and likewise find yourself featured (via the Bestseller's list) in the New York Times!

Morgan the Pirate Gato said...

Hey Roscoe anytime you want to come for pizza just hop on a train to Ct. My family would love to meet you. They are West Side Highway rats.