During his two terms in office, Bill de Blasio didn’t fully embrace the fun of being the mayor of New York. While his predecessors reveled in presiding over the weigh-in for Nathan’s famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, de Blasio neglected his duties for years. He swore off Groundhog Day festivities after he (allegedly) killed the Staten Island Zoo’s furry mascot. And unlike Rudy Giuliani, he never hosted Saturday Night Live (which, actually, is probably for the best).
But that all changed in recent months. As New York City began lifting pandemic restrictions and Eric Adams won the Democratic mayoral primary, all but ensuring that de Blasio’s favorite candidate would succeed him, the mayor began letting loose. From breaking the dress code to (verbally) scuffling with his nemesis Andrew Cuomo to sneaking out to Staten Island to crush stuff with a bulldozer, de Blasio has been acting like a high-school senior with just a few months left until graduation.
Let’s check in on what our senioritis-afflicted mayor has been up to, so we don’t have to scrawl “Wish we could have gotten to know each other better!” in his yearbook.
Crushing it at the Fresh Kills landfill
On September 16, de Blasio made an appearance at the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island for one of the livelier press conferences of his tenure. “There are some problems that are tough to overcome,” he said before a lineup of 50 dirt bikes and ATVs seized by the New York Police Department this year. “But there are other problems you can smash and you can crush, and this is one of them.” (The NYPD has been cracking down on the vehicles, which are illegal to operate the city.)
“To the good people in the bulldozers, thank you. Justice is about to be served,” de Blasio said before giving the go-ahead to “crush these things.” The massive crawlers ran over the dirt bikes, which represented the estimated 3,000 vehicles seized by the NYPD this year. “That really does the job,” de Blasio said with a sense of pride, pointing at the twisted metal.
Literally declaring this the ‘Summer of Bill’
When former governor Andrew Cuomo announced he was stepping down on August 10, a spokesperson for the mayor gave an odd statement: “The summer of Bill rolls on.” The comment seemed a bit insensitive given the reason for Cuomo’s resignation, but it was also a fitting epitaph following their yearslong feud.
It also perfectly encapsulated de Blasio’s big plans for the season, pre-Delta variant. Described by an aide as the “cheerleader” for a reopened New York City, de Blasio went on a tear this summer, riding the Cyclone at Coney Island and hanging out with Lin-Manuel Miranda to promote the return of Broadway.
De Blasio’s good-time tour continued when the Bushwick Pool reopened in June. The mayor donned a patterned short-sleeved shirt, blue shorts, and a jaunty hat to mingle and play cornhole.
Not everyone enjoyed the Summer of Bill as much as the mayor, however. Before the city’s Homecoming Concert was shut down because of rain from Tropical Storm Henri, de Blasio was booed pretty viciously while introducing Babyface. He was also booed at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island in July, making his return to the event less than triumphant.
Enjoying vaccine incentives a bit too much
After months of delivering grim press conferences on COVID-19, de Blasio was excited to start promoting vaccinations when eligibility opened up to the entire adult population this spring. But he had a way of making some perks look unenticing, like when he chatted while chowing down on some of the free food Shake Shack offered to the vaccinated. “If this is appealing to you, just think of this when you think of vaccination,” he said in an accidental instance of reverse psychology.
Then, at a pop-up vaccination site outside Barclays Center in May, de Blasio donned a Brooklyn Nets jersey. “The Nets are stepping up for Brooklyn, for all of New York” in the playoffs, he declared, so New Yorkers must step up and get vaccinated. But after the incident, his look got more attention than his call to action.
It was just one of many bold sartorial choices de Blasio made this summer. In August, the mayor borrowed Slick Rick’s Africa chain for a quick photo, a moment he called “the greatest honor of my career.”
Admitting he doesn’t know what the future holds
While de Blasio is just 60 years old, he already has a failed presidential bid under his belt, and he couldn’t run for another term as mayor this year because of term limits. So what’s next after he exits Gracie Mansion? It seems de Blasio is feeling some uncertainty, a classic symptom of senioritis. When asked in July if he was considering a gubernatorial run in 2022, he responded: “Dude, I don’t know what I’m doing next.”