The Mean Streets of Syracuse

By Mark David Blum, Esq.

They say the streets of Syracuse are mean, ugly, nasty … filled with the smells of a thousand bladders and buildings … as old and decrepit as ideas coming from City Hall.

There was once a time when I would argue that. To the naysayers, I never hesitated to point out how this is a united community. It is nearly homogeneous in nature and unified in ideology. Everybody wanted to be a part of a better Syracuse. There was never a shortage of people offering ideas, energy, and on occasion funding.

Over the past years, my position has softened. Every election cycle, the same names keep coming up. No new ideas are proffered. The best slogan the opposition can come up with is, “hey, we ain’t the other guys.” Slowly, my confidence in the City and its ability to lift itself from the doldrums has slipped away.

Proof positive came recently as I was meandering about the streets of Syracuse. Suddenly, right in front of the main doors of the once glamorous Hotel Syracuse, without hesitation or concern, a street person proceeded to puke out his guts. When I say “puke out his guts”, I mean he was vocalizing a deep upheaval rushing upward from the deepest recesses of his stomach … and it went on and on and on.


Leaning against the wall of the hotel, bent over, this poor soul could do nothing but express from his body all the poisons and sicknesses that probably were his only friends.

As I tried to escalate my gait and choke down my own sour thoughts, the BWAAAAAHHHH BWAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH kept resonating and following me down the street and around the corner. I couldn’t get away fast enough.

While nursing a soda to calm my gut and my mind working the way it does, the experience began to formulate into metaphors for life in Syracuse. (What, pray tell, is a day without a metaphor?).

I walked and thought and pondered the possibilities.

After finishing my chores and walking toward my truck, my mind kept on chewing on that street person’s vomit; searching files and databases for something that would bring some kind of relevance to the moment. How else can I entertain you people if I do not find joy and enlightenment in the pain and vomit of another wretched human being?

I got into my truck and headed to the toll booth. With the power of a lightening bolt tossed from heaven, I was struck suddenly with an epiphany. It came to me in the form of a toothless blonde angel manning the toll booth.

“Seven dollars, please.”


“Seven dollars.”

WTF? I was only there a couple hours.

She said I had been there just a little bit more than two and a half hours and the fee for parking in a City lot for that period of time was SEVEN DOLLARS.

Since I didn’t get a blowjob along with the parking, I felt that seven dollars was way out of line. There was only one thing left to do.


All over hers and the Mayor’s shoes.

At least in my mind I did.

To her, I was just the good boy that I am and forked over the money.

As I drove off into the sunset, however, I remembered why I parked in a City lot in the first place. The last six times I have been in the City and parked at a meter, I have gotten ‘white-gloved’. I have been ticketed by meter maids for a host of obnoxious reasons having nothing to do with whether the meter had expired. More importantly than whether my license plate was obstructed or I had something hanging from my rear view mirror was the fact that Syracuse meter maids are examining parked cars. It is not safe to park in the City because meter maids are engaging in searches of vehicles based on what they can see. Perhaps they are working on commission. Worse still is that police officers are closely inspecting the vehicles of people who come into Syracuse to patronize its businesses. Technically, it may be ‘legal’, but it is immoral and a terrible way to greet and welcome customers.

And frankly, that makes me want to PUKE.

So Syracuse, enjoy your seven dollars. Make sure you spend it wisely. Unfortunately, until you elect officials who are true visionaries and not the same old people and the same old family names, the rest of the world will continue to see Syracuse as nothing more than a wall to lean against while they puke.

Syracuse has the potential to be a beautiful City. Why does it have to behave so petty and cheap?

Back to the MarkBlum Report

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