Peekskill Misses the Point

After a recent episode of Saturday Night Live, Peekskill mayor Mary Foster publicly voiced her objections to a “Weekend Update” bit that negatively name-checked her city. You can see the offending clip below.

 The clip shows comic Fred Armisen portraying a buffoonish Governor David Paterson, and his portrayal has lots of unkind things to say about upstate New York. When asked about his possible future replacement, the response is this: “If Andrew Cuomo wants Albany he can take it. Those upstate goblins are going to tear that guy apart and use his blood for their cave paintings. Hey, Andrew, if you’re in Albany I can recommend a good place to go for dinner…it’s called Manhattan.”

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He specifically takes aim at Peekskill when asked what he is going to do with the rest of his time in office. The response: “Well, I’m going to do a farewell tour of upstate New York, hellholes like Plattsburgh and Peeskskill. I’m going to speak at their town halls, or whatever abandoned Shoney’s they huddle in, to give those rock-eaters something to cheer about. Those freaks love me out there, Seth. They find me refreshingly ‘off.'”

Apparently, Mayor Mary Foster did not find those remarks to be refreshingly “off.”

She did, however, seem good-natured in her objections, inviting the writers to come experience the city and then challenging them to a trivia contest or softball game. “This is a small city that has a lot of interesting people,” Foster was quoted as saying in the Journal News.

Still, while it wasn’t outraged umbrage—I didn’t get the feeling that Mayor Foster was “trying to get her own Saturday Night Live skewering,” as Entertainment Weekly alleges—I still don’t think her objections were all that necessary.

First off, I think Peekskill was chosen not for its quality as a town, but for the alliteration of its name—simple as that. I don’t agree with the idea that “the skit could have been just as funny if it was a made up town,” as Mayor Foster told the Journal News—it’s a sketch about a New York governor from a New York-centric show, so obviously they’re going to use real New York names. The joke doesn’t make any sense otherwise. I agree more with Journal News columnist Phil Reisman, who says “Peekskill” is just a funny-sounding word. (Though, if you ask me, “Coxsackie” is a lot funnier—and more upstate—but maybe that’s too funny.)

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The larger issue, though, is that while the SNL writers may have written those statements, I don’t think they ever really endorsed them. If they did, they wouldn’t have had their caricature of David Paterson say them. If Mayor Foster thinks Peekskill got it bad, then poor Paterson was massacred. “Finding something wrong with my administration is like finding a needle in a needle store,” he said regarding the New York Times‘s investigation into his alleged misdeeds. “You found out I was a bad governor. Who tipped you off, everyone?”

Obviously, his views on upstate towns are not to be emulated. If anything, they’re a comment on how city-centric and upstate-ignorant David Paterson is. I mean, there aren’t even any Shoney‘s in New York State, let alone an abandoned one for all of us to huddle in.

Everything he says about New Jersey, though, is absolutely true.


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