The Rent Is Too Damn High, But the Ice Cream Is Free

Manhattan-20121029-00117Ray LeMoine

As the East Village got walloped by Sandy, another force of bluster made his presence known in the neighborhood.

On Monday afternoon, as mentioned on The Local’s liveblog, Jimmy McMillan was spotted cruising the streets in his Rent Is Too Damn High-mobile, an SUV plastered with his face, an American flag, and his trademark slogan. (And did we mention the purple-lit undercarriage?) He occasionally pulled up to chat with locals.

Shortly before midnight, after the storm subsided, he was back for an encore: the power had been knocked out but a full moon made it easy to spot Mr. McMillian’s car idling on St. Marks Place. The Local knocked on his window.

“Free ice cream on First Avenue and Seventh Street, around the corner!” shouted a grinning Mr. McMillian, between scoops.

rentRay LeMoine

Indeed, there was a freezer full of free ice cream at the deli at 118 First Avenue. The deli’s owner had come in at 8 p.m. to tend to the store, which was filling up with festive freeloaders.

Across the street, the owner of Stromboli’s, who used his car’s headlights to illuminate the pizzeria, said he had also given away freebies to customers who couldn’t use their credit cards while his reader was down. The Westchester resident planned to close the pizzeria around midnight and didn’t yet know where he was going to stay. He didn’t seem to concerned, though. If worse came to worse, he said, he would sleep in his car.