In this week’s New Yorker, popular staff writer Ben McGrath profiles Mayor Bloomberg at significant length and in considerable depth. We learn about Bloomberg’s rivalry with (up-marrying) outer-boro congressman Anthony Weiner, Bloomberg’s presumptive successor until the extension of term limits; McGrath introduces Weiner by, among other things, referring to his hobbies: “Instead of spending his evenings on the charity cocktail circuit, [Weiner] plays goalie in a men’s ice-hockey league, with the same bunch of nobodies, week after week.” McGrath makes sure to mention that the team is called the Falcons.
This sets up some backstory about the Bloomberg campaign team placing a Post story about Weiner playing hockey while Congress was in session, and the revelation that, after Weiner dropped his plans to run for mayor, “a photograph of the congressman in his goalie mask was hung, scalplike, in the Bloomberg campaign headquarters.”
This is a very colorful detail, capping some revealing storytelling, and maybe any reporter would have fixated on it. This does, however, mark the second time in twelve months that Ben McGrath has talked about Anthony Weiner for the New Yorker, and the second time he’s ribbed Weiner’s hockey team in an article ostensibly about Mayor Bloomberg.
In a Talk of the Town piece last fall, about the extension of term limits, McGrath referred to Weiner as a “congressman, erstwhile front-runner in the 2009 mayoral race, and goalie for a middling men’s-league ice-hockey team”.
In a 2004 Gothamist Questionnaire, then-New Yorker staff pup McGrath, who used to write semi-regularly about hockey, used a photo from Slap Shot in lieu of a head shot and alluded to his college hockey days, and to his weekly match at Chelsea Piers. (Where Weiner also plays, he mentions in this issue’s long piece) It seems fair to suggest that the congressman and the New Yorker scribe have crossed sticks at one point or another, but the good-natured insults suggests quite a bit of intimacy: you have to be on pretty familiar terms to call a guy’s hockey team “middling” in, you know, the pages of a major national weekly.
This is pretty clearly an inside joke made about either a rival or a teammate; in which case “bunch of nobodies” seems rather like a clue, a winkingly ironic erasure of the writer. Yeah. I’m gonna say that Ben McGrath and Anthony Weiner are on the same hockey team. Alas, the Chelsea Piers website doesn’t have roster information.