At this point, I would not be surprised about anything you told me about Cory Booker. If you told me that he punched a lion unconscious, and then resuscitated said lion with smelling salts on the condition that it wore a “Greetings from Newark” t-shirt, I’d be all like, “uh huh. Yep.”
I should back up a moment – you gotta understand that when I write these “Man Up” pieces, my take is usually, like, “aw cool, I’m writing about the guy who played Robocop. Ok, we’ll do some research and make fun of Detroit and talk about farts and then we’ll call it a day, no problem.” But every time – every damn time I end up growing a genuine man-crush for the subject of my article. And while that man-crush is very much in place for Newark Mayor Cory Booker, it’s also mixed in with a healthy dose of pants-pissing fear that Mayor Booker never disagrees with anything I do, ever, mostly because he’s the guy that would bring a pen to a gunfight — and win.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. For those of you who don’t know, Cory Booker is the Mayor of quickly-fading-punchline Newark, New Jersey. I’m not a political guy, and for all I know, Jimmy Carter makes sausage and George Bush makes beans. That said, I submit to you that Mayor Cory Booker is living inside a great big comic book. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out if he’s Batman, Superman, Captain America, or The Human Torch. All I know is, he’s doing a lousy job keeping his secret identity a secret. Leave your politics aside; here are the man’s acts of daily heroism.
Cory Booker started his superhuman career as an undergrad at Stanford. That’s before he moved on to Yale Law School, and finally to Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar (so, cripes, maybe he’s secretly Bruce Banner). Now, here’s what pisses me off: we’re three sentences in Cory Booker issue #1 and already he’s lived a more important life than I ever will. A Rhodes Scholar? Come on man. That’s not even believable. You’re setting the willing suspension of disbelief too high, comic book writers.
At least I can take solace in the fact that chances are, while at Stanford, he was probably a lazy, drunk schlub like the rest of us, eh? Oh, wait. Nope. He played varsity football, was on the All Pac-Ten Team, was class president, and started a hotline to help students in crisis. That’s when he wasn’t helping troubled youth in East Palo Alto. Then, he went on to embarrass Nitro and the rest of the American Gladiators in six consecutive episodes, probably.
Shortly after graduation, Cory Booker got involved in Newark politics. Now, if I got involved in politics, I’d, I don’t know, write some petitions or take a survey on what people thought of rezoning the park for a new Applebee’s or something. And kiss babies. I’d kiss the hell out of some babies. They’re all non-judgmental. Cory Booker, on the other hand, lived in a tent near some pretty rough neighborhoods and went on a 10-day hunger strike in order to raise awareness over drug dealing in Newark. Despite this, he was regularly outvoted 8-1. Don’t worry though – you’ve seen superhero movies. We’re still in act 1, folks. “Rising action” and all that. Give it a few minutes.
In ’02, Cory Booker ran for mayor against – I kid you not – “Sharpe James” because apparently “Dirk Von Dastard,” “Craig Fear,” and “Clem Angersworth” were already cast in other films. Now based on that name, I figured Sharpe James was definitely played by Kevin Spacey. But nope. He’d be played by a loose bag of chicken cutlets. Oh, was that a cheap shot, Man Cave Daily? Maybe I just didn’t want to leap feet-first into his bucket of federal fraud convictions.
Booker lost the 2002 election (like Rocky?) but he won the 2006 election (like Rocky II?) with 72% of the vote. Now: it was ass-kicking time.
The first thing Cory Booker did was target crime, mostly because Harvey Dent believes in Cory Booker. Since then, 11 of Newark’s 12 most-wanted have been apprehended, and, let’s be honest, the last one probably ran away when he noticed his buddies were all in jail. So how’d Mayor Booker capture everyone? Most would argue through some key hires and an increased police, presence. But I think it’s because he regularly patrolled the streets for crime until 4 AM like the G*ddamned Batman!
Like Batman, thanks to Cory Booker crime rates are way down. This is getting dangerously close to political territory, so I won’t drop any numbers. Just know that Newark is starting to be as close as the Batcave. But I will note that as of 2011, neither Booker nor his senior managers had received a pay increase since the start of their tenure. AND NEITHER DID THE JUSTICE LEAGUE.
So anyway, Cory Booker handily won his bid for reelection in 2010. That’s when the world got to see the start of Cory Booker 2: Throw The Booker At Them. See audiences thought that the protagonist was pretty charismatic in Cory Booker 1: Book Who’s Talking Now? but the people of Newark demanded more action sequences. That’s when the following crazy-ass wackadoo stuff started happening: (P.S. the actual real titles of Cory Booker’s cinematic adventures are “Street Fight” and “Brick City” which are way more badass titles and also not Molly Hatchet albums.)
During an awful snowstorm, a resident of Newark tweeted to Mayor Booker, asking him to send someone to help her elderly father shovel the debilitating snow out of his driveway. So Booker responded with a measured, logical, “I will do it myself. Where does he live?” Doesn’t that…doesn’t that sound like something Brock Samson would say? He mentioned afterward that he forgot to lift with his knees and hurt his back. You know who else came back from a debilitating back injury? The freaking Dark Knight. And then he just showed up at somebody’s house with diapers for their baby!
Later, HE RAN INTO A BURNING BUILDING. TO SAVE PEOPLE. FROM A FIRE. I bitch about sweating when it’s a little warm in the apartment and he RAN THROUGH FIRE.
This is my personal favorite story, because what lunatic sees a burning building and just rushes in, no questions asked? Now, my favorite part of the story is this quote, made by Mayor Booker himself:
“I suddenly had the realization that I can’t find this woman.” Booker said. “I look behind me and see the flames and I think “I’m not going to get out of here. Suddenly I was at peace…”
Holy crap man. That’s deep. That’s scary. He ran up there, and realizing he didn’t have a way out, came to terms with the fact that -
“…with the fact that I was going to jump out the window.”
THAT’S WHAT HE CAME TO TERMS WITH. NOT DYING. JUMPING OUT OF A WINDOW. WITH A PERSON.
All the while – Jesus Christ! – all the while his security officer is standing outside, like “that’s the end of my career. I’m totally hosed.” But it’s actually awesome because his security officer is named Alex Rodriguez and at this point, we’re all sort of used to Alex Rodriguez not coming through in the clutch. (ha-HAAAAAAA!)
Then, during Hurricane Sandy, he left his house and helped a bunch of homeless people outside of Penn Station get to shelter. And he opened his home to people who needed a place to stay.
Then, in November of 2012, in an event which I am “taking no artistic liberty in reporting,” (maybe a little), Cory Booker defeated Baraka. In case you’ve never played Mortal Kombat 2, this is what Baraka looks like.
Also, he got $100 million from Mark Zuckerberg. For no reason. Zuckerberg was just like “yeah, ok, a living superhero. I can get down with that.”
This is a man, ladies and gentleman, who has no known vices other than “books and coffee.” HE LIVES IN A WORLD WHERE BOOKS ARE A VICE.
And this one time he– no. You know what? That’s enough. This article could literally go on for another 10 pages of awesome shenanigans that Mayor Booker pulled. I could list each one off and you’d react with increasing incredulousness. But instead, let’s pause for a second and consider how this fella lives his life. Now, normally I’d just paste a small excerpt, but I think this is all important. Just…read this quote from a reddit AMA and tell me it doesn’t sound like Captain America. Emphasis placed by me.
…[M]y parents did a great job in revealing to me how lucky I am. I’ve taken to saying often that “we drink deeply from wells of freedom, liberty and opportunity that we did not dig.” My parents made such words real to me. They showed me that so many struggles went into giving me the America of today, an America we too often take for granted — an America that is, not because of the people we read about in history books, but because of millions of people, whose names I don’t know, who struggled, served and sacrificed for it. They coupled that with showing my brother and me that America still is not what it should be, could be, and often claims to be — it is not yet a place with “liberty and justice for all.” So the charge to my brother and I, the life mission my parents gave us was to make the best out of ourselves, seize the blessings and opportunities we were given but all for the purpose of making this nation more just; making our democracy richer, bolder, more inclusive. they wanted my brother and me to be a part of the fight because people whose names we don’t know, who we can never thank, who we owe so much to, did the same for us. We all have a choice; accept this nation as it is or take responsibility for changing it. Or as my dad said more colorfully stated, we could “go through life getting fat dumb and happy by consuming all the blessings afforded to us; or we could metabolize those blessings, let them serve as fuel in our hearts, minds and spirits to help advance our country. I sincerely live everyday trying to live up to this calling. Some days I do better than others, but at the end of my life, no matter what I do, I want to be a part of those many Americans who lived their lives in service of our higher ideals and aspirations and I pray that someday, somewhere there will be a kid like me who — even though he doesn’t know my name — was propelled forward by our collective service, sacrifice and struggle.
Hells bells, Trudy. I’m going to go lift some weights.
My point in this all, is no matter whether or not you agree with Cory Booker’s politics — or even if you’re political at all — I’m taking his example as a blueprint on how to win at life. No matter whether you’re a writer or a painter or an athlete or a Mayor, I think you need to be hungrier, and more passionate, and probably even crazier, to change the world into something you want it to be. And if none of that seems worth the effort, then what are you working for, anyway?
Want more real-life superheroes? They’re out there, and we’ve got ‘em.