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No question about it, New Yorkers like to bitch. Bemoaning Gotham's noisy neighbors, putrid stenches, dirty streets, etc., etc., is a habit New Yorkers have enjoyed as long as there have been New Yorkers. Especially popular is the letter of complaint to Hizzoner, a habit that lives on to this day. Seriously, people have been writing these letters for centuries now. A number of just such letters have been unearthed from more than 30,000 boxes of correspondence in the Municipal archive.

And now thanks to an artist named Matthew Bakkom you can dig through some selected ones in his "The New York City Museum of Complaint" pamphlet which he will be handing "out in parks in Lower Manhattan in the next week." If that is too vague for you, they will also be available at the Miguel Abreu gallery on Orchard Street. And if that is too much for you, the Times has a slideshow of some choice letters that is worth a peek (like the classic 1935 letter to La Guardia above).

One favorite is a tragic one sent to Mayor O'Dwyer in 1949 from a man in Arkansas ("I am lonely and blue because I don't have a wife and a baby or two. And I am sad because I don't have any farmland to make a living on.") but there are lots of goodies in there. Why look through the letters, beyond plain old curiosity? Well, to start with you can get reminded of nearly forgotten scandals like when the Bronx Zoo put "a pygmy tribesman from Africa in a cage." Or you can do it to take comfort in knowing that the more things change the more they stay the same.

A letter to Mayor La Guardia from The New York City Municipal Archives