“Today in Eric Adams” — the T.E.A. — brings you the best of the day in Eric Adams.
In the darkness of the predawn sky, before the rooster crows and the warblers fly beak-first into the windows of our dormant office buildings, a stately man strolls alongside a fruit stand while beaming into his phone. He speaks slowly, his voice tethered to an ethic of everydaydom that makes even a wealthy man legible, maybe even likable, to the regular degulars. Here he is, once again, blessing them with the compliment of his presence. “These guys work hard,” the mayor says, peering into the endless void of his own gaze. “You know, ‘Come out, get your first bit of fruit’ — ahahahaha. This is New York.” Yeah, the laugh was just like that, a vainglorious response to an unsaid punch line: Yes, there are produce shortages in grocery stores across the country, including in New York, but if you’re really about New York, you’d be out here right along with him.
Our host circles the camera around his “New York.” There is one man, perhaps knowing he will be featured on the mayor’s Twitter feed when the rest of the city wakes, who waves and matches Adams’s fruit-eating grin. The others have their heads down, fingers turning the day’s oranges, preparing for hurried and overwhelmed customers. Perhaps they had no idea the mayor would be transforming their regular opening procedures into political content. Their unnamed shop would be wielded (“Patronizing my small businesses, even my street vendors …”) to shorten the distance between a struggling working class and an outlandish mayor with outsize influence, while still effectively casting a bleak picture of the streets. These vendors are risking their immune systems for scarred and anxious people facing empty produce aisles elsewhere. Their commitment to labor and sacrifice is meant to convey Adams’s simple message: “We’re gonna get through this, New York,” delivered with his now annoyingly prevalent peroration tacked on for good SEO measure: “Get Stuff Done.”
Listen, it’s hard to bash on fruit — or on loving fruit, for that matter. Fruit goes incredibly hard. But withering garrulousness, million-dollar smiles, and a growing vlogging obsession haven’t brought relief for workers, from teachers to fruit-stand operators, which stands out even more on the day New York’s governor announces billions of dollars in pandemic and property tax relief. What we’ve seen so far from Mayor Adams is how much he loves the celebrity provided to him by the office; how it has allowed him to amplify his elite-among-plebs status. He loves being with the poor and working class who represent the romanticized hustler vision of the city. But we remember the story, in a not so distant past, in which a powerful politician waking up at the ass crack of dawn to randomly tweet things like “CHINA” could disorient an entire constituency, vastly swaying the day’s talking points from one silly contrivance to the next. We’ve yet to get all the way there with Eric Adams. But there are so many days left, and there’s been very little reprimanding. The mayor wasn’t always a celebrity, but now with access and influence, Eric Adams, self-appointed A-lister, has hit the streets. Alert all the fruit stands: The content mill is coming.