John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
Can you tell which of these "facts" are true about Newark's firefighting, robber-tackling, erotic fiction-inspiring mayor?
So Newark Mayor Cory Booker saved a woman from a burning house last night. That means he can now add "firefighter" to his résumé, right below police officer, football player, councilman, Rhodes scholar, suicide preventer, snow shoveler, poet <pause for breath>, mediator, salsa dancer, and "America's sexiest mayor." And some other stuff, too.
Really, is anybody surprised that Booker dove into a flaming home, against the advice of his security team, and suffered burns to his hand while pulling a woman out of her bed? It just seems to fit the whole mythology of Cory Booker, Super-Mayor. (Try searching Twitter for #CoryBookerStories to see how he's morphed into Chuck Norris since this morning.) With that in mind, can you pick the true Booker facts below from the ones we just made up?
Cory Booker is so invested in his city that he gains weight if everything's not running smoothly.
True! As he told Menswear: "I was so stressed, with massive layoffs and terrible police negotiations, I gained 50 pounds. Even my relaxed jeans weren’t fitting me."
Cory Booker was offered a top job in the Obama administration, and a chance to run for Senate. He turned both down.
True! Soon after the 2008 election, Obama approached Booker about leading the White House's Office of Urban Affairs (a job that eventually went to the ill-fated Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion). But so far, he's stayed off of the national political stage, though The Daily Beast went so far as to call him an inspiration for Obama in 2010.
Cory Booker dates supermodels, exclusively.
Cory Booker will do BOTH your 2011 state and federal taxes.
Probably not, but he has been sharing a link to a good New Jersey tax service.
Cory Booker will shovel and salt your driveway if you ask him to.
Absolutely true. During the 2011 snowstorm, the man used Twitter to communicate with constituents who needed shoveling out. As he reassured one concerned family member: “Don't worry bout ur dad. Just talked 2 him and I'll get 2 his Driveway by noon.”
Cory Booker served as the inspiration for the hunky but emotionally distant rancher, "Cory Booker," in the erotic fiction "Cory's Salvation."
There is no indication that Shara Azod's steamy potboiler was based on the Newark mayor. But we wouldn't be surprised if some Cory Booker fanfic is floating around, somewhere.
Even when Booker isn't personally doing the rescuing, he still manages to fight crime in the city – in March 2010, Newark went homicide-free for the first time in 40 years.
True. This March, Newark saw its first murder-free month since 1966.
Cory Booker shaved his head to help increase the earth's albedo and counteract global warming.
False. He goes bald to mimic his idol, Vin Diesel. (OK, that's false, too.)
Cory Booker once chased down a robber who was armed with scissors.
Oh yeah, in 2006. First, he took off his jacket. Then he helped pursue the miscreant with guards who took him down. Reports have it that he was shouting, “Not in our city anymore! These days are over!”
Cory Booker saved a man from jumping off of a building.
True, though he did it before he ran for mayor, while working at a crisis-counseling hotline in East Palo Alto. "I remember having this profound conversation on the side of the ledge about why he shouldn't jump, and it was almost like a gift to me," he later told U.S. News and World Report.
Cory Booker occupied Wall Street.
False. While Occupy Newark protesters did receive "a personal delivery of doughnuts and coffee" from Booker back in November, like so many sympathetic mayors across the country, he eventually felt he had to order his police chief to evict them.
Cory Booker was so disappointed by the play of the New Jersey Devils that he laced up a pair of skates and played the game himself, without a helmet.
False. Booker's high-profile feud with Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek over rent and parking revenues at the Prudential Center did prompt the mayor to pen a piece of slam poetry on the subject, but he has never taken to the ice to play out any of the revenge fantasies in which we like to imagine he's since indulged.
Cory Booker was named America's "Sexiest Mayor," but all he wants to do is cuddle.
Another truth, at least according to an interview in Oprah's magazine: "I definitely want a partner, somebody to talk to at the end of the day.... Forget the sex — just having someone spend the night is a great thing."
Cory Booker invented Instagram.
False. The mayor was by all means an early adopter of the image-sharing and filtering app-based social network, but if he'd actually invented the thing, he'd be so rich now that he'd surely have already launched a self-funded campaign for governor of New Jersey.
Cory Booker likes to flash his Tec-9s and AK-47s on Facebook.
Yes he does, but the assault weapons are only ones that his cops seized.
Cory Booker loves animals so much he keeps a strictly vegetarian diet.
True. Someone once told Booker he should try being a vegetarian. His response: “I’ve been a vegetarian since 1992.”
Cory Booker loves his body so much that he doesn’t drink alcohol.
True. He once tweeted that he’s “never had a drink” in his life. Hmpf, some Super Mayor.
Cory Booker is so unselfish that for his birthday he raised $50,000 to help abused animals.
Partial Truth. For Booker’s birthday, on April 27th, he is trying to raise $50,000 for “Patrick’s Place” – a new animal shelter in Newark. He's already raised $16,000 toward his goal.
Cory Booker once had his Twitter accout hacked by a teenage girl, who wrote this tweet: "Yes, b courageous & follow your heart, just make sure u take ur head with u on the journey. The right 1s will always appeal 2 both."
Undetermined. The mayor is given to tweeting these type of inspirational quotes.
Even in college, Booker was a catch: He played tight end on Stanford University's football team.
True! According to the college's alumni magazine, Booker played "varsity football by day and [worked] as a peer counselor at The Bridge by night." He was even senior class president, though he swears he had no political aspirations at the time.
Cory Booker stars in a TV show that's a cross between 'The West Wing' and 'The Wire.'
That's the assessment of critics, who seem to love the Sundance Channel documentary, "Brick City." Here's the network's summary: "Against great odds, Newark’s citizens and its Mayor, Cory A. Booker, fight to raise the city out of nearly a half century of violence, poverty and corruption."
Cory Booker attracted a $100 million investment in Newark's public schools.
Well, Mark Zuckerberg cited him and Gov. Chris Christie as reasons why he gave the huge stock donation to the city. Zuckerberg said they were “great leaders" and had the "right market that's ready for change.”
Booker doesn't succumb to peer pressure, even when it would be politically expedient. Unlike basically every other politician, the mayor did not celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden.
True! In the hours after bin Laden's death, Booker took to Facebook to call for peace rather than jingoistic chest-thumping. He wrote Bin Laden "is dead. It was necessary and just. But I won't rejoice."
Cory Booker's fans include Steven Spielberg, Chris Rock, Bon Jovi, Rachel Maddow, Ashton Kutcher and Barbra Streisand.
True! Booker met Maddow in college; he and Kutcher volunteered at a service event together. His star power has attracted top-voltage stars to the city. (See: Mark Zuckerburg.) Gayle Smith (Oprah's BFF) calls Booker "her favorite mayor." There's also this gloriously profane Tumblr page devoted to his awesomeness.
Cory Booker once raced all over Newark trying to figure out ingenious puzzles that a terrorist with a huge bomb phoned in to them.
That was actually the plot to Die Hard: With a Vengeance.
Top image: Newark Mayor Cory Booker speaks to the media outside a burned house in Newark, New Jersey.
Amanda Erickson, Tyler Falk, and Sommer Mathis contributed to this story.