Welcome, GOP! Hand Over Your Wallets

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Is it really good for Republicans to hold their 2004 convention in New York City? It's hard to say. At first blush it seems a bit odd; the New York brand of Republicanism is a bit different from, say, the Tennessee or North Carolina brands. Despite our Republican governor and mayor, this is a state — not to mention a city — overflowing with pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-civil rights voters. Not, in other words, an obvious place to deliver scores of GOP faithful for an extended stay.

Still, while we're not entirely sure why the elephants want to come here, we've got 6 billion reasons why we'll welcome them (or at least their sleek, well-stocked Republican wallets) to our fair city. Here in New York, tolerance is not just a catchphrase — we welcome the expense account dollars of any political group. Especially when the city budget is looking at a $6 billion shortfall. As our billionaire mayor might say, "Desperate times call for desperate pillaging of tourist wallets."

So please, GOP delegates: come to our city, stay in our overpriced shoebox hotel rooms, eat in our maddening four-star restaurants, and litter our surprisingly clean streets with your election-year literature. And when you're done with the business of the day, we strongly encourage you to partake in the goings-on in the city that never sleeps. Here are a few suggestions for after-hours activities here in Gomorrah:

  • Tour of Christopher Street, the West Village: Feeling a bit stifled by the buttoned-down atmosphere of the convention? Never fear: a few hours in the heart of New York City's gay life will leave you with your tie undone and your hair ever-so-slightly mussed. Party time!

  • Times Square: It's been cleaned up and Disney-fied, but even Giuliani couldn't expunge every last bit of sex from this stretch of neon and noise. Wander off the beaten path to find an endless array of peep shows, provided by the city's finest out-of-work Broadway dancers. Such a deal! Best of all, no standing in that bargain ticket line with the rest of the tourists!

  • Williamsburg: Worried that your kids think you're getting a bit, well, old? Hop the L train to Brooklyn. Stroll through the concrete maze of Williamsburg's industrial chic neighborhoods and take in the native culture, a bizarre mix of second-generation immigrants and would-be artists/DJ's/depressives who just couldn't stomach the gentrification of the East Village (they were bringing in supermarkets, man!).

  • The Whitney Museum: Your wife says she wants a Monet print from the Met, but don't you think she might actually be much happier with a Lichtenstein or a Warhol? We think so, too. Even after your visit to the gift shop, there's plenty to see at the Whitney, from avant-garde lawn sculptures to totally incomprehensible oil paintings. Note to party leaders: Please alert Museum staff well ahead of time in the event that John Ashcroft wishes to pay a visit. Staff will require at least a week for ordering and positioning special opaque draping materials.

    So there you have it — the special insider's guide to Republican fun in New York. We certainly hope to see you in 2004. Just don't forget your credit cards! We also accept checks. And cash. And most foreign currency. Or even some nice food…we could host for food…thanks…