Mayor John Pappas
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Quotes for
Mayor John Pappas (Character)
from City Hall (1996)

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City Hall (1996)
Mayor John Pappas: Leslie, I'm going to speak at the little boy's funeral. James Bone's funeral.
Advisor: I think that's a blueprint for trouble, sir.
Mayor John Pappas: I don't care. It's the right thing to do; I'm going to do it.
Leslie Christos: I don't think you'll be welcome there, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor John Pappas: Well, they've got me anyway.

Mayor John Pappas: I was warned not to come here. I was warned. They warned me, "Don't stand behind that coffin." But why should I heed such a warning, when a heartbeat is silent and a child lies dead? "Don't stand behind" this coffin. That boy was as pure and as innocent as the driven snow. But I must stand here, because I have not given you what you should have. Until we can walk abroad and recreate ourselves; until we can stroll along the streets like boulevards; congregate in parks free from fear, our families mingling, our children laughing, our hearts joined - until that day we have no city. You can label me a failure until that day. The first and perhaps only great mayor was Greek. He was Pericles of Athens, and he lived some 2500 years ago, and he said, "All things good on this Earth flow into the City, because of the City's greatness." Well, we were great once. Can we not be great again? Now, I put that question to James Bone, and there's only silence. Yet could not something pass from this sweet youth to me? Could he not empower me to find in myself the strength to have the knowledge to summon up the courage to accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task of making a city livable? Just livable. There was a palace that was a city. It was a PALACE! It was a PALACE and it CAN BE A PALACE AGAIN! A PALACE, in which there is no king or queen, or dukes or earls or princes, but subjects all: subjects beholden to each other, to make a better place to live. Is that too much to ask?
Audience: No!
Mayor John Pappas: Are we asking too much for this?
Audience: No!
Mayor John Pappas: Is it beyond our reach?
Some Audience Members: No!
Mayor John Pappas: Because if it is, then we are nothing but sheep being herded to the final SLAUGHTERHOUSE! I will not go down, THAT WAY!
[the audience begins shouting approval]
Mayor John Pappas: I choose to FIGHT BACK! I choose to RISE, not fall! I choose to LIVE, not die! And I know, I know that what's within me is also WITHIN YOU.
Audience Member: Amen!
Mayor John Pappas: That's why I ask you now to join me. Join me, RISE UP with me, RISE UP on the wings of this slain angel.
[Audience members begin shouting "Yes" at every pause]
Mayor John Pappas: We'll rebuild on the soul of this little warrior. We will pick up his standard and RAISE it high! Carry it forward until THIS CITY - YOUR CITY - OUR CITY - HIS CITY - IS A PALACE OF GOD! IS A PALACE OF GOD! I am with you, little James. I am you.

Mayor John Pappas: Do you know what LaGuardia said? Why is it that every time you can do something good, the nice people come in and mess you up?

Mayor John Pappas: [to Kevin Calhoun] When you're in Brooklyn, you're Frank Anselmo's guest. Don't piss up his leg!

Frank Anselmo: Your boy embarrassed me!
Mayor John Pappas: You're gonna have to live with it!
Frank Anselmo: Why?
Mayor John Pappas: Because he's my boy!

Mayor John Pappas: The first and perhaps only great mayor was Greek. He was Pericles of Athens, and he lived some 2500 years ago, and he said all things good of this Earth flow into the city because of the city's greatness. Well, we were great once. Can we not be great again?

Mayor John Pappas: Your power? What good are you to the people without it? But down deep you know there's a line you can't cross, and after a thousand trades and one deal too many, the line gets rubbed out.

Mayor John Pappas: I had the fire in the belly just like you, Kevin, and the odd thing is I still have it. Never left me! I had the dream... and I had the weight. Like one of those guys before me said, "If a sparrow falls in Central Park, I feel responsible."

Mayor John Pappas: Enough about me, enough about me. What are you going to do tonight, after I'm gone?
Kevin Calhoun: Me?
Mayor John Pappas: Yeah.
Kevin Calhoun: I don't know, I hadn't thought about it.
Mayor John Pappas: Well, you're going to get yourself a good meal. You're going to pass up that double cheeseburger from Roy Rogers, wherever it is you go; you're going go to Dominic's, and you're going to get takeout. On me. Get a decent meal there. But before you go to Dominic's, I want you to go to Macy's and get a chair. With legs, and arms. That apartment of yours looks like something that belongs in a homeless file. Oh, then it's off to Crate and Barrel for a knife, a fork, a spoon... oh, and a glass, while you're at it.
Kevin Calhoun: Then I'll have to get a dishwasher.
Mayor John Pappas: You don't have to wash them, just throw 'em out after you finish eating. It's on me. Get a life!
Kevin Calhoun: I've got yours; it's quite enough.

[Kevin suggests distancing themselves from a man in trouble]
Mayor John Pappas: "Distance"! Distance is something you do to your enemies. It's a thing of the nineties, to make friends extinct. Distance... is the absence of menschkeit!
Kevin Calhoun: Translate that for me.
Mayor John Pappas: You don't know what menschkeit means?
Kevin Calhoun: No, I don't.
Mayor John Pappas: Menschkeit, you know... something between men... it's about honor, and character... untranslatable. That's why it's Yiddish.
Kevin Calhoun: I didn't know you'd taken up the language.
Mayor John Pappas: Abe laid it on me.

Kevin Calhoun: Now there's four deaths, they're all connected, and that's all I know, that much I learned...
Mayor John Pappas: [interrupting] And that's all I want to know!
Kevin Calhoun: I'm just trying to circle the wagons here, John.
Mayor John Pappas: Circle the wagons? What do you th - Who do you think you are? Some gumshoe in a dime novel, loose-cannoning around the city? Consorting with known mobsters? Kevin, for God's sakes!
[long pause]
Mayor John Pappas: You see this desk? This desk belonged to Fiorello La Guardia, "the Little Flower". He was about 5 foot tall, used to read the funny papers to his constituents' children over the radio, and was about the best goddamned mayor this city ever had. You know what La Guardia said? "Why is it, every time you can do some good, the nice people come in and mess you up?" Kevin... be nice, don't mess me up.

Mayor John Pappas: Be careful how you judge people, most of all friends. You don't sum up a man's life in one moment. There are no cold answers, are there? There's no simple yes or no. A man's life is not the bricks, it's the mortar, pappy, it's the stuff that lays between, the stuff... the stuff you can't see. I've known Walter my whole life. God, the man is - he's a decent man, he's a good man.
Kevin Calhoun: This is tough stuff. This is body bag stuff. You tell me, if there's some other way.
Mayor John Pappas: There isn't. The die's been cast; it was cast a long time ago. Go easy: give him a blindfold and have mercy. Walter Stern was a tough man, but he was fair. We give back the same, no?

[heading into a press conference]
Kevin Calhoun: You look good.
Mayor John Pappas: Of course - I'm the mayor.

Mayor John Pappas: Lyndon Johnson said, "Everybody will give you ideas on how to get out of trouble cheaply and fast. And they all come down to this: deny your responsibility." John F. Kennedy said, "An error doesn't have to become a mistake, until you refuse to correct it."

Mayor John Pappas: You want an answer? Okay, pappy, think of it as colors. There's black, and there's white, and in between is mostly gray. That's us. Now gray is a tough color, because it's not as simple as black and white - and for the media, certainly not as interesting. But... it's what we are.

Kevin Calhoun: If I didn't know better, I'd be bursting with admiration. I thought I'd come here and find you on your knees; instead you're ready to turn adversity into triumph.
Mayor John Pappas: Oh, it's just a reflex, an old habit of mine. But it's still good to hear you say it... the way you say it, too. "Adversity into triumph." Good to you know still believe in me.
Kevin Calhoun: Did I say that?

Mayor John Pappas: You got the stuff, pappy. I love that.

Mayor John Pappas: You are only the boss, Frank. I'm the fucking mayor. Mayors rule.