How Would City Agencies Respond to the Slime-Covered Museum in “Ghostbusters 2”?
New Year’s Eve is a time for clean slates, unless you start off the year drenched in supernatural slime.
We’re of course talking about the challenges faced by Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore at the end of “Ghostbusters 2.” In the 1989 fright comedy, they save the city from a series of disastrous paranormal events on New Year’s Eve — culminating with “the Manhattan Museum of Art” (IRL, the U.S. Custom House at Bowling Green) becoming consumed by a “giant Jell-O mold” of psycho-magnotheric “mood” slime.
Surely at one point or another, every New Yorker has asked themselves just how the city would react to such an outlandish situation. Or, because we spend our days thinking of nothing but all the goings-on below Chambers Street, maybe it’s just us. At any rate, we decided to spend the end of the year asking city workers what sort of hypothetical game plan our public agencies would have in store for said crisis. That is, assuming they can’t ring up the boys in beige.
“I guess I would get my team together,” said Lt. Joseph Perrone, head of the Department of Sanitation’s Environmental Police Unit and its 13 officers — half of whom are on call 24/7. “I’m also assuming a lot of my guys are probably out and about in Manhattan right now [on New Year’s Eve],” he added. “So we would probably be responding in suits and ties at first.”
A change in dress code would be pretty rapid, into regalia that resembles something you’d see out of a firefighters unit: protective gear, replete with masks and oxygen tanks, and the team would be armed with radiation detectors and gas meters to see just what sort of slime they’re dealing with. Once suited up, DSNY would first try to figure out where the slime first emerged.
“Where’s it coming from?” Perrone would ask. “Is it coming from the top? Is it coming from the sewers?”
If it was coming from underground, like it was in the movie, he would reach out to the Department of Environmental Protection for help. They’re the ones with the access to equipment like front-end loaders that might be required at the scene. “They would be in charge of what would be needed to clean up this mess,” Perrone said. “Also, would we need some kind of material to stop the oozing? What is the material? Is there a way we can freeze the material? Make it into a solid?”
A lot of the response depends on what stuff the slime actually is made of. In “Ghostbusters 2,” it’s just concentrated bad vibes. If that counts as “hazardous waste,” DSNY thinks they could handle it by breaking it apart in pieces. If it’s just like everyday sewer slime — such as the real stuff running under our city at this very moment — that’s maybe an easier task. “We would bring in an army of sanitation workers and just clean it up,” Perrone said. “I don’t know how sticky it is or whether it would fit in a garbage truck, but I assume we would get it in there.”
He expects the federal government would want a piece of the action, too. “I’m sure there’d be some secret agency that would wanna know what the heck the stuff was,” Perrone added.
A dramatic New Year’s Eve incident at a downtown landmark sounds like something that would conjure the worst fears in everyone’s heads, but DSNY wouldn’t bust in assuming the worst, added Thomas Milora, director of the Environmental Police Unit. New Yorkers, after all, have a history of getting creative with their celebrations.
“Our first reaction is thinking that, you know, These are New Yorkers celebrating New Year’s Eve and substituted something else for confetti,” Milora said. “So we’re going there with good thoughts. Oh, look, here comes somebody celebrating with slime instead of confetti. And when we show up [we would expect] it’s not a horrible scene. It’s, Hey, what are you people doing?”
But the city can only do so much. If it turned out the slime originated from an old subway tunnel — like the ones the Ghostbusters themselves discovered — Perrone and Milora both know who they’re gonna call: “the MTA!”
screenshot: Columbia PicturesTags: bowling green, ghostbusters 2