10:50 am Aug. 21, 20121
"What I'm about to say is going to be awkward, for, I think, both of us," Michael Bloomberg playfully warned at a going away party for Stu Loeser, the city's longest-serving press secretary whose last day on the job was Friday.
In the back of a bar on Delancey
Street yesterday evening, Bloomberg, behind a small wooden podium, deviated only slightly from the notes he had prepared for the occasion.
"Who wrote this shit?" the mayor said, prompting laughter from the room of reporters and current and former administration officials, in an echo of one of his more famous lines from a press conference in July. "Stu told me to say that. He said, 'They'll love you for it.'"
As part of a proclamation declaring August 20, 2012 Stu Loeser Day, Bloomberg announced that Loeser "edited 3,310 mayoral press releases, presided over 2,534 press conferences, interviews and friday morning radio shows—his favorite."
Bloomberg added, "He said 'you got to make news each time,' and I do."
By the time the mayor arrived, just before 7 p.m., the small room was packed to the walls with city press hands, commissioners, and Room Nine reporters. (The only journalist who appeared to be resisting the open bar in favor of actual work was New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead.)
After his remarks, Bloomberg conducted a faux press conference, calling up Loeser's co-workers to answer the planted questions with funny anecdotes about their time working with him.
Bloomberg said it was a testament to Loeser's influence that so many important people had shown up, including first deputy mayor Patti Harris and police commissioner Ray Kelly, who were standing off to the side.
"He just mentioned you," Harris whispered to Kelly, who was busy typing on his Blackberry.
Loeser, according to Bloomberg's calculation, "shouted 'last question' 497 times. Actually, seven in one press conference."
Referring to Loeser's observation of the Jewish Sabbath on Saturdays, Bloomberg said, "Stu lived and breathed his job and worked tirelessly night and day, 24/6."
As the room laughed, Bloomberg said, "I told you with this audience we'd have to give them some time."
—additional reporting by Reid Pillifant