This Groundhog Day, Staten Island Chuck once again proved hard to handle for a New York mayor. I caught up with the radical rodent for his frankest interview to date.
Did de Blasio drop you, or did you jump?
Ha! Let’s just say I wriggled.
Was that a political statement?
What do you think? I bit Bloomberg to show my support for the 99%. If you include rodents, the percentage is actually much higher. So, De Blasio got elected as a progressive, but he doesn’t get a free pass. If you want me to interpret my own symbolism, the point was: don’t drop the ball. I’m the ball in that metaphor.
Have you always been a political animal?
Not really. I just do what comes naturally. Look, February 2nd arrives, and I’ve been hibernating. These guys show up with TV cameras, and I’m like, "Hey, it’s not a good time! Do you realize I’ve been living off my own urine for months? I need to eat!" So I just go with my gut, I improvise. The political justification comes later. If you read a lot of Marx and Foucault, you sort of see, "Yeah, that’s why I did that."
Can you read?
No, I’m a groundhog. I listen to them on my iPod.
How’s your relationship with Punxsutawny Phil?
Why do you ask?
Well he’s the other…
What…the better-known Groundhog Day mascot? Would you ask Punxsutawny Phil about me?
Sorry if that’s a sensitive area…
No, it’s just…obviously, he’s the original, and I’ll always be in his shadow. He taught me everything I know, but there comes a point where you have to do your own thing, you know…overcome the “anxiety of influence.” Look at it this way: Punxsutawny Phil is like the Beatles, and I’m the Velvet Underground.
How has being from Staten Island informed your work?
Well, we are the “forgotten borough” so maybe that gives me my edge…I wanna bite the hand that feeds me, you know? Maybe that’s why Staten Island has produced so many counter-culture icons, like Joan Baez, the Wu Tang Clan…you can put me on that list, if you want.
OK. What’s your favorite movie?
I feel like you want me to say Groundhog Day.
That’s not it?
No, it’s Caddyshack.
A lot of people blame you for predicting, or even causing, six more weeks of winter. How do you respond?
Why would they say that?
Well, you came out of your hut and didn’t see your shadow, so, supposedly, that means a longer winter?
Really? Because I didn’t see my shadow?
Uh, yeah…and if you see your shadow, it means spring is coming sooner…?
You’re kidding. What’s that got to do with meteorology?
Nothing, really. But that’s the folklore...it's the whole reason for Groundhog Day.
You’ve gotta be shitting me. Really? Well, that’s just stupid.