A mayor almost everybody looks up to,...

A mayor almost everybody looks up to, even when he slouches

Posted in the Weird Forum


Sharon Springs, NY

#1 Feb 2, 2014
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York is so tall that city workers had to build an oversize podium for him, installing a custom sliding step that can be pulled out for shorter speakers.
His albatross-scale arm span is so wide that aides have trained him to avoid expansive hand gestures, to keep from accidentally smacking people nearby.
His legs are so long that the mayor insists on traveling in the front passenger seat of his city-issued S.U.V., avoiding a cramped back seat but possibly exposing himself to greater security risks.
In a city defined by its verticality, Mr. de Blasio’s Bunyanesque build has proved to be a political bonanza, allowing him to tower over smaller rivals and command a crowded room just by entering it.
But the tallest mayor in New York’s modern history is discovering that bigness can also be a burden, requiring a host of ergonomic adjustments and feats of stagecraft in City Hall.
There is the mayoral necktie, whose knot-to-length ratio has come under scrutiny. Average-size aides struggle to keep up with his long stride. At briefings, Mr. de Blasio adopts a studied hunch, to reduce the distance between his chin and the top of a commissioner’s head..
Mr. de Blasio has long described himself as 6-foot-5. But doubts about that measurement have lingered among skeptical tall people who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him and wondered if the mayor understates his height.
Those doubts, it turns out, were well-founded.
After an inquiry this week, aides to Mr. de Blasio acknowledged that the mayor is nearly an inch taller than he has publicly let on.
Mr. de Blasio stands 6-foot-5 and seven-eighths of an inch, according to a study commissioned by his office.
“The man I’ve known for 22 years is not what he appears to be,” said Chirlane McCray, Mr. de Blasio’s wife, who is 5-foot-3 1/2 inches and, according to aides, wielded a household tape measure to conduct the test.(The mayor was not made available for an independent review.)
The mayor is said by friends and colleagues to be proud of his stature and keenly aware of its impact, particularly in the highly symbolic realm of politics.
But Mr. de Blasio, who declined to be interviewed for this article, can also be sensitive about his height, concerned about appearing silly or out of place.
“He knows what it feels like to be the strange one in the room,” said Bertha Lewis, a 5-foot-6 friend of many years.
Eager to put shorter companions at ease, the mayor has developed physical techniques: a reassuring hand on the shoulder, a half-hug greeting that is warm, but not enveloping. Call it a gentle-giant vibe.
“There’s a fine line between being tall and engaging, and being intimidating and looming,” said Robert E. Cornegy Jr., a 6-foot-10 former basketball star and city councilman, who has discussed matters of tallness with Mr. de Blasio.
“You can be warm and inviting, and with one gesture, that can change sharply,” Mr. Cornegy said.“I imagine the mayor goes through that same internal dialogue every time he has to encounter somebody.”

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