If there’s one thing we know about Donald Trump, it’s that he likes to put his name on things.
Trump Tower, Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Vodka, Trump Shuttle. Trump Steaks, Trump University — the Trump portfolio is vast and varied indeed.
But even under the harsh, unforgiving spotlight of a presidential campaign, one Trump brand has mostly flown under the radar: Trump Highway.
Apparently, Donald Trump was so taken with the the two-mile stretch of the southbound side of Manhattan’s Henry Hudson Parkway that runs past Trump Place Apartments that he up and adopted it.
Which means it’s basically one of his children now.
And if there’s another thing that’s manifestly true about The Donald, it’s that he loves his children (sometimes, perhaps, a little too much).
What happens when a man whose name is synonymous with “class” decides to stamp his name on a short stretch of previously unassuming parkway?
With his reputation and brand on the line, how could it not be glitzy? How could it not be beautiful? How could it not be the cleanest, shiniest, classiest road in America?
I decided to see for myself.
It’s not particularly walkable, but hey, it’s not too far from where I live, so I figured what the heck. I’ll dodge a few Miatas to take a look.
What I found was a great highway. The best highway. The winningest highway. Exactly the sort of pristine, well-manicured thoroughfare you’d expect from a man dedicated to providing the world’s most elegant driving experience.
Just kidding. I found a shitload of trash.
Roughly 75 pieces, after walking only about one-tenth of the length of it.
These are the top 23. The best pieces of trash. The classiest pieces of trash.
1. A sock in a tree.
2. Half of a credit card.
3. A bag from Tory Burch.
4. A hubcap.
5. Bangladeshi chicken crackers.
6. A Visa gift card sleeve.
7. A cigar wrapper.
8. Another cigar wrapper.
9. Another cigar wrapper.
10. A box of candy-coated peanuts.
11. A bottle of Mike’s Hard Pink Lemonade.
12. A blue car freshener.
13. An empty bottle of Jose Cuervo.
14. A crushed can of Red Bull.
15. A sneaker.
16. A latex glove with a cigarette butt sticking out of it.
17. A sheet of Hebrew School homework.
18. An old, muddy T-shirt that says “Cramming for Exams.”
19. A fold-out ad for a furniture store.
20. A portable car ashtray.
21. A single serving of yogurt!
22. An empty box of Trojan Magnum condoms.
23. A Coke with a straw still in it.
Now, I don’t expect the guy to be out there every day picking up used napkins and empty condom boxes with his bare hands.
As much as I’d like to see that — oh boy howdy would I like to see that — Trump is in his 70s and, well, kind of busy these days.
And while the string of roadside garbage certainly doesn’t make him or his organization look great, the amount of trash I found isn’t necessarily any different or worse than what you’d find on the side of any other urban highway anywhere in America. It’s most likely serviced by an outside contractor, per New York City Department of Transportation guidelines.
And honestly, not maintaining his Adopt-a-Highway all that well is, like, probably the 578th most offensive thing about the man (for more on this, see Trump’s nonsensical attacks on Mexicans, bigoted fear of Muslims, misogyny, surprisingly aggressive and frequently anti-Semitic white nationalist supporters, and also basically every quality that exists).
Why do 23 pieces of garbage matter this election year? Because Trump insists that his name is synonymous with quality.
It’s a name he claims is responsible for a substantial percentage of his net worth — $3 billion, to be precise. It’s a name that allows him to declare himself a runaway success at business. He professes to be able to do for the country what he’s done for the products that bear his name.
It’s the reason he wants us to let him run the United States of America.
And he went and stamped it on an Adopt-a-Highway that is, like, pretty filthy.
In this way, Trump Highway actually fits right in with the rest of the Trump business model. Like Trump Steaks, which are reportedly terrible, Trump Shuttle, which failed, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, which went bankrupt, or Trump University, which is under investigation for scamming students.
Individually, each one is a blip. But added together, they make you think…
Is Donald Trump really the results-driven, cut-no-corners, spare-no-expense, ultra-competent manager that he claims to be?
Or does he just play one on TV?