City Hall (1996)
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?
Mayor John Pappas: Are we asking too much for this?
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.
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!
Kevin Calhoun: And you're just going to wait under that plastic awning for an hour and then ride a Queens bus and then slep on the subway into Manhattan...
Marybeth Cogan: [interrupting] Schlep! Schlep! Not slep, schlep!
Kevin Calhoun: Schlep?
Marybeth Cogan: Get the gumbo out of your Yiddish.
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."
Frank Anselmo: What are you talking about? He's a reed. You push him and... and he bends.
Paul Zapatti: Not this one. This one's a terrier! Hm, I had a dog like him once. I went to have him put down. He jumped out of my arms at the vet's and took off for the park. Heh, sometimes I still think I see him out there, watching me, gnawing on an old bone...
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.
Frank Anselmo: Uh, 99 out of a hundred times, we can... we can beat something like this.
Paul Zapatti: I don't like the odds.
Frank Anselmo: We go back a long way.
Paul Zapatti: I know, I know. I tried to close the door, Frank - couldn't get it shut.
Frank Anselmo: Uh, what do you want me to do?
Paul Zapatti: Take the pressure off yourself. Aah, here's the thing. They'll tell you, yeah, yeah, sure, you have the, you have the key to the cell, go ahead. But you won't be able to open it without singing, yeah? You're a singer, Frank.
Frank Anselmo: Give me a chance and I'll, I'll, I'll show you how quiet I can be.
Paul Zapatti: It's out of my hands, Frank. Do the RIGHT thing, will you? Make it easy for yourself.
Nettie Anselmo: Frank, honey - lunch!
Paul Zapatti: And your family. Yeah.
[touches Frank's face and leaves]
Kevin Calhoun: The only thing new about this world is the history we don't know.
Mayor John Pappas: You got the stuff, pappy. I love that.
Kevin Calhoun: You keep looking at that thing as if it weren't kosher.
Abe Goodman: A cut of meat is kosher. A piece of fish, savory foods, and all kinds of dang things are kosher, but a probation report is not kosher. A probation report is merely a probation report.
Kevin Calhoun: I am a good Louisiana lapsed Catholic, Abe, so just don't talk to me about kosher, just give it to me straight. What's wrong with this report?
Abe Goodman: It's too kosher.
Kevin Calhoun: Translate that for me.
Abe Goodman: Uhhhhh, the virgin looks pregnant to me. - Look, see, the supervisor signed this.
Kevin Calhoun: So what?
Abe Goodman: That's a lot of weight for a 4C. So what happened to the original little probation officer? Where is his signature?
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: 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!
Kevin Calhoun: Walter Stern looked so judicial. How could he be so corrupt?
Abe Goodman: The sweater unravels.
Marybeth Cogan: You're a mean prick, you know that?
Kevin Calhoun: Where I come from, that's a compliment.
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: Where you going?
Marybeth Cogan: The city.
Kevin Calhoun: Thought we were in the city.
Marybeth Cogan: Not if you're from Queens.
[Marybeth suggests lunch at a specific diner]
Kevin Calhoun: Now, who we gonna meet in this diner?
Marybeth Cogan: What are you talking about?
Kevin Calhoun: You surface in front of my car at the cemetery, you show just enough leg so I'd stop, and the Grand Central Parkway is the long way around. Who we gonna meet?
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!
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.
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?