The mean streets of New York City are no laughing matter these days, even for famed satirist David Sedaris.
Upper East Sider who wrote his way to fame with bestsellers such as “Naked” and “Me Talk Pretty One Day”, opting to remain in the Big Apple when the pandemic hit as a witness to Gotham’s descent.
“Typically one out of every 200 people you pass in New York is crazy. Now it feels like one out of every two,” he says in his latest collection of personal essays, “Happy-Go-Lucky.” Writes in, which hits bookstores on May 31.
Sedaris would walk around town collecting materials for the book, preferably early in the morning.
“I started going out and taking walks after midnight because I thought I didn’t have to wear a mask after midnight,” he told The Post this week. “It was a time when you had to wear a mask on the road. And I thought, ‘Well, I’m not running with anyone so I don’t know why I have to wear a mask.'”
Not every encounter is worth the print.
There was a night on Park Avenue and East 72nd Street last summer when a stranger came too close for comfort.
“There was a woman on the corner. She said, ‘You want some nice, tight py?'”
“And he said, ‘Give me some of that d-k,’ and he grabbed my penis.
“And I said, ‘I’m gay!’
“She said, ‘I’ll fk you a- again!’
“And I thought, ‘With what?'”
Another “turbulent” brush came with a stranger on Seventh Avenue in the West 50s.
Sedaris said, “As he reached next to me, when we were face to face, he held back his fist and punched me in the face.”
“And then a fraction of an inch from my jaw, his fist froze and then went in slow motion and just grabbed my chin.”
The comedian turned serious when he spoke about the city’s misguided attitude towards the mentally ill.
“It’s a real problem in New York City and you’re not doing anyone any favors by saying, ‘Look, you’re free to poop on the street and take a nap on the sidewalk. They deserve better treatment and need to be in a facility. The street is not the place for them,” said the 65-year-old. “It’s heartbreaking.”
The prolific author, who has written 13 books – three of which were released during the pandemic – attempted to write a story about the issue, but thought about it better, realizing that readers could say, ‘You are blaming the victim.’
Sedaris, a Raleigh, NC native who moved to Manhattan in 1990, also hasn’t given up on mass transit.
He said, “The point is, it’s not personal if a mentally ill person pushes you in front of the train… but you’re still dead.”