Especially in New York, we all take out our pent-up feelings in different ways. Often, plushophilic ways, even. For instance, when one New York man became inconsolably sad last year, he dressed up as a Sad Panda and asked Wall Street passersby for money, often turning down media requests even when they came from hard-working interns. Then there’s Matt McCarty, the banker who, earlier this month, became so fed up with his job that he turned to teddy-bear-hustling. And now we have Angry Elmo, the Times Square heckler who’s just plain pissed off, demanding money from anyone and everyone in exchange for a photo, and getting even angrier if they don’t comply.
“I’m just disgusted,” said Amanda Kelly-Knox, 36, as she angrily steered her baby stroller away. “I don’t mind giving a dollar, but that furry red thing was aggressive. It swore at me. I wasn’t going to let my daughter anywhere near it. I also think it smelled.”
“What’s happened to society?” asked Jed Lehman, 47. “Now Elmo is trying to shake down kids for a dollar? Only in New York.”
Shunned and hurt, the angry Elmo — who said only, “I’m not being rude. Taking an Elmo picture without paying is rude. It’s called making a living” — refused to give his real name or take off his costume head. He was ordered off the streets by the NYPD a few months ago and again this weekend, upon his return. So for now he waits out in his cave somewhere, a masked, misunderstood, Frankenstein-like figure, taking out his frustrations in unconventional ways perhaps, but just trying to make a buck, like the rest of us.