You know what? I'd rather NOT have what he's having...
I, your erstwhile LowerManhattanite was born in Harlem. At Harlem Hospital.
I've lived in Harlem off and on for at least a quarter of my life.
Worked there, grew up there, had a daughter of my own born there.
It's the historic “Capital of Black America”, boasting its crown jewel of Black entertainment—The Apollo Theater, as well as being the home of the great Black arts movement—The Harlem Renaissance— in the 1920's. It is shorthand for “The Black Experience” in the eyes of many Americans, thanks to its dense concentration of population, and location in the bustling world metropolis that is New York.
And in its being shorthand for “The Black Experience”, it leaves itself wide-open for a motormouth racist like Bill O'Reilly to impugn everything about it, and all African Americans in general—just by his self-destructive, condescending, and ultimately impossible attempts to present himself as an open-minded, unprejudiced human being.
Bill's own words kick him dead in the ass. The sordidness, via Kos:
O'REILLY: You know, I was up in Harlem a few weeks ago, and I actually had dinner with Al Sharpton, who is a very, very interesting guy. And he comes on The Factor a lot, and then I treated him to dinner, because he's made himself available to us, and I felt that I wanted to take him up there. And we went to Sylvia's, a very famous restaurant in Harlem. I had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful. They all watch The Factor. You know, when Sharpton and I walked in, it was like a big commotion and everything, but everybody was very nice.
And I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship. It was the same, and that's really what this society's all about now here in the U.S.A. There's no difference. There's no difference. There may be a cultural entertainment -- people may gravitate toward different cultural entertainment, but you go down to Little Italy, and you're gonna have that. It has nothing to do with the color of anybody's skin.
O'REILLY: That's right. That's right. There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, "M-Fer, I want more iced tea."
(JUAN) WILLIAMS: Please...
O'REILLY: You know, I mean, everybody was -- it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all.
Know how you find out who's a racist? You don't ask the clown a trick question. You just open a mic, let him think he's king, and let him go...to...town.
How ugly is this statement from Bill-O? Let my Black ass count the ways...
1.) “I was up in Harlem a few weeks ago, and I actually had dinner with Al Sharpton, who is a very, very interesting guy. And he comes on The Factor a lot, and then I treated him to dinner.”
Who the hell starts an anecdote about a dinner with someone of importance by mentioning that he treated the guy to the meal? Who gives a Goddamn who paid for the meal? Unless the pay-er is trying to make himself appear more magnanimous than he thinks people assume him to be. “We went to dinner” is all one had to say, and ever does say—unless one is feeling a bit defensive about something he's not coming clean about. Wonder what that might be, Bill-O? “Give me a Nobel, people! I came out of pocket and bought a hungry n*gg*r a ham-hock, uptown!”
Whooo-lawd! Bill shaw-nuff do be takin' care a' peoples!
And please. You know Goddamned well that the sanctimonious asshole expensed it. The cheap, whoring bastard.
2.) “And I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship. That's right. That's right. There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, "M-Fer, I want more iced tea."
You couldn't get over that fact, Bill? What...in the wide world of sports would make the place “different” enough to even be an issue to consider? What were you expecting? Gruel served in shallow bowls with no utensils? Flies flitting about? Tasty “Uncle Charlie's Cannibal Stew” on the “Specials” menu? What?! “Even though it's run by Blacks”. That's right. There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, "M-Fer, I want more iced tea."?
Apparently the rumors of straight-razor fights in the vestibule, and craps games near the utensils station run by a gold-toothed pimp's not panning out left our ill-informed patron somewhat aghast.
Which is actually undertandable...as I get the same sense of shock and awe when I go to the Dan Lynch Irish Pub on Third Avenue downtown and see a full-on, “Quiet Man”, twenty-minute donnybrook not develop. Begorrah! Tis' a miracle, indeed!
And maaaaaan, when I'm at Umberto's Clam House in Little Italy and don't see a sweaty, pinstriped dude with a gingham napkin hanging down get shot full of holes by a coupleo of swarthy, shady gunsels in homburgs and pinky rings...my jaw just hits the floor, and keeps goin' right down to the basement...where they're stomping grapes into wine—or so I've been led to believe.
In his attempt to sound oh-so-condescendingly pleased that Crips didn't knife him in the bathroom, because this place is sooooo different from the other restaurants he frequents, the silly bigot tips his hand, gives us the tell, and then sits there smiling as if he's got a fan of cards we can't see.
I know the people who run Sylvia's—the Woods family, Sylvia in particular and her hard working daughters, son, and grandkids. I've eaten there maybe...a hundred times. If you've ever gone there on a weekend morning, you know you can barely get in through the crush of Japanese tourists filling the place, after getting off the rows of tour buses jamming Lenox Avenue and the nearby side streets. And if you've been up there any length of time in the last decade, as I have in living around the corner from Sylvia's for two years, you'd also know that the area is in a state of serious gentrification, with affluent Blacks coming “home”, as well as rich Whites buying in and opening businesses up and down Lenox, and cross-ways on 125th Street. But O'Reilly (who evidently doesn't know that Bill Clinton's offices are about 300 yards down the block from Sylvia's ) seems to think it's all “Superfly TNT” and “The Mack” goin' on in the Isaac Hayes-soundtracked streets of Harlem he read about in dog-eared, old Signet Iceberg Slim paperbacks. This story is gonna bug ownership in an odd way. They don't like to rock the boat, and don't mix “politics” with the tasty greens they serve. They come pretty much down the middle politically.
But the staff don't play. You don't come in there and disrespect, and treat that place—a NY cultural, and gastronomic icon—like some bumpkin selling fried fish sandwiches out the back of his Country Squire wagon on the side of the road. He's not gonna be punished in any way by FOX for his words. It's their worldview. We can hammer him over it, and make him feel squeamish for what he said when he realizes (Ha.Ha.) just how fucked up it sounded and was. It'll be just one more notch on his belt of racist assholery.
The folks who are gonna get his ass back are gonna be...the help. Not just at Sylvia's, but anyplace he goes where Black folks control aspects of the food. Kitchen and restaurant communities are small ones—and once this story gets around, and becomes legend among the people who staff these places...well...
Bill had best take his business elsewhere. You'd be amazed at what awful things can get into a sauce, or roux, that a man would never be able to taste goin' down, but would be candy-fucking-sweet as revenge to the undeservedly dissed people who bust their asses in these restaurants.
Black folks will never forget the scene in “Roots” where Leslie Uggams' beaten-down Kizzy spits in the water she's serving her addled, former slavemistress, the bitter, evil Missy Anne (as played by a frighteningly mean Sandy Duncan).
And come on Bill...you just knows how we loves bein' all kuh-razee an' bodacious, actin' out dem scenes from tha movies we watches, right?
Check your gravy closely from here on in, Billy. You'll need to.