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Nina In New York: With Pizza and Justice for All

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Pizza (credit: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar. File)

Pizza (credit: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar. File)

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A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.
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By Nina Pajak

Oh, Hiram Monserrate. Oh, Hi.

I don’t think there’s any reason to kick a man when he’s down, but you can’t ignore a story like this one. Every year or so—more often, if we’re lucky—we get a tale of a politician or other moralizing public figure whose fall from grace is so pitch-perfect, so witty, that we can’t help but appreciate the poetry. Larry Craig, Ted Haggard, Mark Sanford, Eliot Spitzer—they all make me stop and think that perhaps the universe does care sometimes. It sure does have a dark sense of humor.

Now we have Hiram. First of all, everyone knows you cannot trust a guy named Hiram. Know who else was named Hiram? Mr. Hiram Lodge, father to Veronica and all-around ornery, greedy bastard. No offense to other people named Hiram. I can’t imagine life is easy.

Non-fictional Hiram lost his senate seat after a distinguished career that involved waffling between parties in order to gain leverage among Albany’s leadership. He was ousted after getting a misdemeanor conviction for slashing up his girlfriend, who has since chosen to refer to the incident as an accident. Sure. Accident or no, he makes Mel Gibson look like boyfriend of the year. The good news is, he has also been charged with fraud for funneling state funds to a non-profit, and then using said funds to aid in his campaign. Now we hear that he is attempting to stiff his ex-wife on child support payments for his autistic son. You have to give him points for chutzpah. This guy isn’t some cut-rate sleaze. He is committed to the role.

So now, where is our buddy Hiram? Why, he’s working in a pizza place in Queens! It happens to be housed in the same space as his former campaign HQ. The irony is delicious (tastes like pepperoni). He is also maybe shadily owning this pizza place and doing something crafty with his finances, though he claims just to be an employee. A competitive pizza eater who goes by the name “Crazy Legs” reports that the pies themselves are practically inedible, which may support the “shady ownership” theory. And he’s possibly living with his mother. Let’s say “probably,” because it just paints such a vivid picture. I can see it—he’s living with Momma Monserrate who is always yelling at him to pick up his socks, dressing in a suit befitting a pizza manager, and walking over to the once-bustling offices where his political career took shape. Except instead of taking meetings and embezzling campaign funds, he is serving subpar pizza and $1 hot dogs and maybe still embezzling money.

All of this upsets me as a dedicated lover of pizza and elates me as a profound lover of twisted justice and a well-crafted story.

The moral? There’s very little that an outside party can do to humiliate a scumbag that the scumbag can’t bring on himself with so much more pizzazz.

And you can’t spell pizzazz without pizza.

Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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