INWOOD — As Hurricane Irene churned up the East Coast toward Manhattan over the weekend, New Yorkers turned their attention to frequent bilingual updates from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Millions of New Yorkers watched the mayor deliver flat attempts at updating his Spanish-speaking constituents on the storm's progress, but for one Inwood resident the information became inspiration. And a Twitter account poking fun at the mayor was born.
“Hola Newo Yorko! El stormo grande is mucho dangeroso!,” ElBloombito first tweeted Saturday afternoon.
ElBloombito, written by Rachel Figueroa-Levin, tweeted more than 60 times throughout the hurricane following the mayor's frequent briefings, entertaining hordes of fans that quickly retweeted his messages. The account quickly went viral, collecting more than 5,000 followers by Sunday and more than 10,000 on Monday.
Some favorite retweets included:
Figueroa-Levin, 25, began tweeting after she had a good laugh at the expense of the mayor while staying indoors with her 9-month-old daughter, husband and their menagerie of pets.
“I was stuck in the apartment and couldn’t really do anything else,” she said of starting the feed. “But with something that could have been a terrible emergency that is not the time to practice your Spanish.”
She said the mayor’s attempt to learn the language is laudable, but if he really wanted to be certain Spanish-speaking New Yorkers received proper instructions during the hurricane, he should have had a fluent speaker take the reins.
Still, Levin, who voted for Bloomberg in the last election, said the Administration did a good job during the hurricane.
Figueroa-Levin, whose father is Puerto Rican and mother is Jewish, called the mayor a “class act and a great mayorador” on her personal @Jewyorican Twitter feed on Monday.
During a press conference held on Monday Bloomberg was asked if he was aware of the account.
"My Spanish skills I can tell you poco y poco they mejora, pero es deficil, tengo 69 anos y es deficil apprender una nuevo idioma,” Bloomberg said in mixed English and Spanish.
The mayor may have intended to say that his Spanish language skills have been slowly improving, but it is difficult to learn a new language, especially at 69 years old.
Levin said his answer was classic ElBloombito.
“His answer alone explains why the feed exists,” she said laughing.