Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.

There’s a new movie out that former NYC Mayor Edward I. Koch took seriously since dealt with graffiti, a scourge of the city for much of his mayoralty.

He really liked the movie, “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” but he prefaced it with this bit of history, including a reference to now-Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch. Overall, we can vouch for most of Koch’s story since we were there at the time:

“It is a docudrama about graffiti which I had my fill of when I was mayor.

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“In the 1980s graffiti was primarily found on subway cars, and it frightened the hell out of people. It gave the impression that government had lost control of the environment and that people could engage in anti-social and criminal acts with impunity. Some admired the graffiti calling it street art. In truth, a number of the drawings were amazing but most were pedestrian junk.

“I asked Richard Ravitch, the MTA Chairman at the time, to protect the cars in the layover yards where the graffiti was primarily created. My suggestion was to erect fences and have guard dogs protect the areas. He was horrified and said, 'The dogs will bite people.' I responded, 'That’s what they’re intended to do.' I then said, 'If you’re afraid they will bite, use wolves. No non-rabid wolf in North America has ever attacked a human being.'

“A Times reporter writing on the subject said, ‘True of wolves in the wild but not true of domesticated wolves.’ I replied, ‘I was only referring to wild wolves. When they become domesticated, replace them.’ Ultimately the subway cars were cleaned up ... Now back to the movie.”