Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014



It's the middle of summer! In the States, Tourist Season is in full swing. And nowhere in the US sees more tourists per hour than New York City's famed Times Square. It's picture-taking heaven. You can imitate the famed 'Victory in Europe Day' kiss. Or you can try to capture the endless array of neon lights and larger-than-life TV sets. And...of course... you can pose for a photo with a beloved costumed childhood character, like Elmo, Spider Man or Minnie Mouse. What fun!

However, there is one problem with the above mentioned Times Square activities. While the first two are free, the last one will cost you. Immediately after snapping the seemingly harmless photo-op with The Hulk, you're expected to pay a mandatory 'tip.' The request will not be polite. For example, Hello Kitty recently quipped after receiving a mere quarter: "This is no good, lady. We work for tips."  Last month, Cookie Monster held a toddler hostage until her mother forked over $5.  Simply put, the tourist destination has become a battlefield.

So what is NYPD doing? Why isn't Buzz Lightyear behind bars? Because the costumed menaces are not breaking any laws. So long as they don't block traffic, street performers are allowed in public areas. Unless they are caught in a physical altercation, the police have their hands tied. Meanwhile, the lure of mega-tourist dollars is luring mascots to Times Square in droves. A recent New York Post study counted a whopping 44 costumed characters shaking down visitors from 1:00 - 2:00 one afternoon.  These included 3 Cinderellas, 4 Minions, 2 Sponge-Bobs, 2 Capt Americas and so on..

In response, an unlikely coalition is forming to thwart the mascot mayhem.  Mayor Bill de Blasio is at the helm. "This has gone too far," he stated. "I don't know whether to call it an 'industry or not.. But it needs to be regulated." He has formed an alliance with the Sesame Workshop, owners of the intellectual property rights to Elmo and Cookie Monster. "We care about our fans and the image of our characters" said a CWW spokesman. "And we care about public safety in Times Square." Disney, Marvel and DC Comics are also mulling legal action to preserve Minnie Mouse, Iron Man and Batman's dignity as well.

Fortunately, we here at the DUNER BLOG have the solution to the problem! First of all: We agree with Mayor Bill that regulation and organization of the costumed mascot must occur. However, we do not trust the bureaucratic mess that is NYC to handle the loony people who spend ten hours a day in a sweaty Super Mario costume. The solution? Have the most respected man on Times Square head a special autonomous department to supervise and organize Times Square. There is only one man for the job:

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