Friday, October 31, 2008

Plumbing the Depths of Liberal Anxiety



New York City is, as we know, a very liberal city. Hopelessly liberal, some might say. We New Yorkers have come to accept that, as Woody Allen said in Annie Hall, the rest of America views us as "left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers."

Even our Republicans are liberal (see Rudy, see Mike, see George). We've come to accept that we're not part of mainstream America. We accept our second class American citizenship. And we accept that, for the most part in recent decades, the people we support for president
don't win.

So that's why our heads are spinning right now. We look at the polls and see a black liberal Democrat leading and Democrats poised, yet again, to sweep the Congress, and none of us can believe it. It must be a giant ruse, a nasty joke, a con-game by the media and right-wing. And like the good liberals we are, we're all very depressed about it.

Our neurosis even invades the headlines:

Liberals Worry as Election Approaches

Democrats' gloom deepens

How else would a good liberal feel? Or maybe ... just maybe ... just possibly ... miraculously ... after years and years in exile, New York City is suddenly part of mainstream America! Could it really be true? In about 100 hours or so, we'll know.

A few notes to both my loyal readers:

Mr NYC will be on hiatus this weekend -- life events are stealing me away from the beloved keyboard. But I'll be back next week to blog on the history in the making.

This blog hasn't been as NYC-centric in the last few days and weeks and I apologize for that. Once the election is over, we'll get this blog (like American hopefully will be) back on track.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Be Kanye/Absolut

I've seen these ads on the subways around town and they're on TV too. I don't really see what this has to do with Absolut vodka but I guess they're so weird you remember them ... and thus it makes you want to drink Absolut vodka or whatever. These ads are so brilliant, I guess, that I'm not smart enough to understand them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Howard Stern All Morning, Classic Rock'n'Roll All Day": K-Rock Memories


My previous re-post about Alison Steele, and a comment by the great blogger Zen Denizen, triggered a flood of nostalgia in me for the old 92.3 K-Rock. It was the only radio station I listened to in high school during the early 1990s, and it used to be the classic rock station in NYC. While everyone else in my school listened to Z-100 or Hot 97, I was one of only a few who listened to K-Rock all the time. I even remember the line-up:

Howard Stern, 6-10AM
Pete Fornatel, 10 AM-2 PM
Dave Herman's Afternoon Rock'n'Roll Show, 2-6 PM
The Greaseman, 6-10 PM
Maria Molito or Dea Snee, 10 PM-2 AM
Alison Steele, the Night Bird, 2-6 AM

I don't know why I still hold such affection for, of all things, a radio station line-up. Maybe it's just part of getting older and something like this reminds me of a simpler time in my life. Or maybe it was just that it had Howard Stern and my favorite kind of rock music on the same station. But I think what I liked about it most was that Pete, Dave, Allison, and Maria were classy DJs who you could tell really loved the music they were playing and seemed to respect their audience. And in this time of radio consolidation and voice-tracking, etc. they were people who made radio an art form and a community ... the way it used to be.

Gerard Damiano, RIP

Gerard Damiano, 80, Dies; Directed ‘Deep Throat’

He was a boy from Queens who, whether it's something to proud of or not, made an impact on history. Not only was this the highest grossing "adult film" of all time but Deep Throat, of course, became the pseudonym for Mark Felt, the former FBI man who told Bob Woodward during Watergate to "follow the money." And we all know what that led to.

"I'm the Guy They Called Deep Throat"

Inside Deep Throat

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

February 6, 1990

If you had picked up The New York Times on this date, and looked at the bottom of the front page, you would have seen the following story: First Black Elected to Head Harvard's Law Review.

Then you would have probably gone on to read the "real news" of the day and forgotten all about this little story. Funny how the real news of that day is ancient history now but this little story is more timely than ever. And a week from now, well ... we'll probably be seeing yet another historic headline about this same person. Curious the fates are.

Mr NYC's Ode to Alaska

Senator Ted Stevens has been convicted of bribery. Governor Sarah Palin is headed for national rejection.

This kind of agita can't be doing much for our youngest state's self-esteem. My liberal bleeding New York City heart is actually starting to feel sorry for the state of Alaska.

So here's my little gift to the land of the midnight sun: Michelle Shocked's lovely song "Anchorage." It's sweet and happy and full of joy -- and I know the people of Alaska could use some of that right now. Enjoy!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sexy Area Codes


In status obsessed New York, even your area code matters. For decades, this city had only two area codes: 212 for Manhattan, 718 for the other four boroughs. Having a 212 demarcated you from the “bridge-and-tunnel crowd,” and getting a 212 (i.e. moving to Manhattan) became something for people in the outer boroughs to aspire to.
The advent of cell phones and a surging population has made new area codes in NYC a requirement. About ten years ago a new Manhattan area code, 646, was introduced for all new Manhattan phone number so a 212 number became an even more valuable commodity. The same is now true for cell phones. As more and more New Yorkers sucked up cell phone numbers, numbers for the original 917 area code ran out. I recently saw the Sex and the City movie and Carrie gets very depressed when she gets a new cell phone and finds out that she’s no longer a “917 girl.” She clearly feels less chic and trendy and, dare I say, less sexy. Well I still have a 917 for my cell so I guess I’m still sorta trendy and sexy. And I guess all those Manhattan old timers with 212s are the sexiest of all ...

Is Mike Bloomberg Our Noah Cross?



If you think the extension of term limits by Mayor Bloomberg and the city council has the whiff of crime about it, Clyde Haberman puts it in an novel -- nay, cinematic -- perspective. He compares Bloomberg to Noah Cross in Chinatown. Both men are certainly ruthless and power hungry but I don't think the whole "my sister ... my daughter ... my sister ... my daughter" part applies to Bloomberg (at least, let's hope not!).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Main Street NYC



We've heard a lot about "Wall Street" and Main Street" these last several weeks as the financial crises has deepened. Many people associate "Wall Street" with big, bad New York City and "Main Street" with good, moral, small-town America.

Obviously the reality is a lot more complicated than that. In fact, New York City is probably the most "main street" of places in the country -- we've got five of them! And as this article in today's New York Times indicates, while each our main streets differ, they are centers of community and, dare I say it, old-fashioned values.

P.S. Sinclair Lewis published a novel called Main Street in 1920, a liberal satire about American society at the time.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Classic Mr NYC

This is probably my favorite blog post of all. A year about I wrote about Allison Steele, an old-school New York radio DJ who did overnights on the old WNEW and K-ROCK for over 20 years. She was a phenomenal talent who had a voice that was truly magical. She died of cancer in 1995 but I've never forgotten her.

Remembering Alison Steele, "The Night Bird"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Because They Could

WOW!

Council Votes, 29 to 22, to Extend Term Limits

I've seen some ballsy, brazen, outrageous things in my time, and we New Yorkers aren't known to be shrinking violets, but this just amazes me in its arrogance and shamelessness. It stuns me. After the people of this city voted for it by referendum twice, and after polls showed that nine out of ten New Yorkers DID NOT want them to do this, the city council went ahead and amended the term limits law. Now all city officials can serve three consecutive terms instead of two. The city council just changed the law, against the will of the people, to preserve their own jobs and those of their fellow city politicians, Mayor Bloomberg most of all.

They did it ... because they could.

Oh, I know the counterargument. "Nobody has to vote for Bloomberg or any of these people. You can vote against them. It's possible they might all lose. It's just giving the people another choice. It's more democracy, not less."

Please.

This is the kinda crap Bloomberg and his supporters have been arguing and it's totally dishonest. What they're really saying is, "we like power and want to keep it." The city council wouldn't have passed this bill if they thought they'd all lose. Incumbents in this town below the Mayoral level almost never lose unless they get indicted or caught shtuping a dead woman or a live boy. And Bloomberg, he'll just go through the pillows on his couch and and pull out another $100 million to buy a third mayoral election. Does anyone have a chance against him and his vast resources? Come on!!

Mike, the "indispensable" Mayor, the only man qualified and capable of being mayor of this town. Gimme a break!

This is a sad, sad day in NYC. No, it's not 9/11, no one died here and I'm not going to claim that democracy died today either. It just took a vicious hit.

The ironic thing is that I was always against the term limits law and voted against it in 1996. But guess what? My side lost! The will of the people had spoken! And now the city council said that the will of the people isn't really that important, not if it gets in the way of saving their jobs and the political class. So they just ignored it ... because they could.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Memo from NYC


In just under two weeks, we Americans will head to the polls to elect a new President and Congress. Notice that I had the chutzpah to say "we Americans" because, according to some people, folks like me in Blue States aren't real Americans.


Recently Sarah Palin has said that she will campaign only in "pro-American" states. This past Friday some wackjob Republican congresswoman named Michelle Bachmann talked about how the media should "launch an investigation" into members of Congress who were "anti-American." Apparently people who are "anti-American" or insufficiently "pro-American" are people who disagree with the likes of Madames Palin and Bachmann. Joe McCarthy is alive and well and, strangely enough, wears high heels and a skirt! Who knew he was a transvestite?

As a native New Yorker, I take exception with these self-appointed guardians of "Americanism". According to these people, your Americanism boils down to where you live or how you vote. It does not, however, have anything to do with how you or your family lives or contributes to American society.

Never mind that my father and grandfather fought in two of our nation's wars.

Never mind that one of my great uncles, a guy from Brooklyn, got blown up in WWII.

Never mind that it was NYC and Washington, DC, towns infested with liberal Democrats, that got attacked on 9.11.2001.

If you don't vote Republican or live in a Red State, that stuff still doesn't make you or members of your family "real Americans."

How does this work anyway? One side of my family is from "anti-America" NYC, the other side is from Western Pennsylvania, which John McCain just called the "most patriotic part of America." Does that make me half pro-, half anti-American? Do the pro and anti halves cancel each other out? Please clarify this for me, it's so confusing.

And what of the "real America" anyway? What is life like out there in those "pro-American" Red states?

If you read this 2006 article from Vanity Fair, Red State Babylon by James Walcott, it's ain't a pretty site. If fact, it's a creepy, grotesque, moral cesspool. Compared to Red States, Blue States are law-abiding bastions of squareness. The Red State narcissism of the likes of Palin and Bachmann -- that feeling of down home, Joe Six pack, hockey mom cultural superiority to their Blue State brethren -- appears to exist in inverse proportion to reality.

Did you know that Red States have the highest rates of violent crime and suicide? And the biggest numbers of obese people and pregnant teenagers (I can't think of any of our political leaders mentioned here who might know something about that). And when they aren't busy killing themselves or each other, or overeating and knocking up their teenagers, they're busy dodging exploding crystal meth labs on their way to losing money in Indian and riverboat casinos.

And talking about money, Red Staters have no business complaining about high taxes. Ohhhhhhhhh no. (Heck no, as Ms. Palin might say.) According to the blogger TaxProf, Blue States are a giant feed bag of tax dollars for Red States. All those "pro-America" Red States would have third-world economies if not for the financial largess of the "anti-American" Blue States. We New Yorkers send close to $10 billion a year in extra tax dollars to the federal coffers that gets sent to build pork barrel projects in the Red States. That's money that never comes back home here and doesn't go into improving our schools and public transportation or paying our cops and firefighters more. I agree with the Republican: taxes should be lower -- for Blue Staters. Red Staters should either pay their fare share or give us back our money. Now!

Most of all, these right wing nuts do a great disservice to their fellow Red Staters. I have relatives and friends in places like Tennessee, Missouri, and North Carolina who are some of the most progressive, open minded, kind hearted, generous people you'd ever want to meet (some of my best friends are Red Staters, ha ha ha). And what nitwits like Palin and Bachmann, et al do is make people in Blue States think that all Red Staters are mean-spirited lunatics which, I can personally attest to, they most certainly are not. But this is how the Republicans try to divide and conquer -- and it's disgusting.

If all goes well, these culture warriors will feel the pain on November 4th. It won't end this "anti" and "pro" America stuff forever but if they see that it's a loser politically, maybe they'll try something a little more productive for change. And then, maybe, just maybe, America can heal itself.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sid & Nancy Live!






New York magazine has a great article this week about Nancy Spungen, she of Sid and Nancy fame. She died thirty years ago this month at the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd street, the victim of a heinous murder that, to this day, remains largely a mystery as to how and why it happened. She was only 20 years old.

Nancy was the princess of punk, the ultimate groupie, and one crazy chick. In death, she became elevated to the status of music icon even though she never played a note herself. Her relationship with Sex Pistols guitarist Sid Vicious (who couldn’t play either, but that’s a different story) has gone down in history as probably the most infamous relationship since Anthony and Cleopatra. Their sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll saga, short lived though it was, has left a permanent imprint on the psyche of rock music and America in general. They represented the end of an era, the coke-fueled, reckless train-wreck of the insanely selfish 1970s, Tom Wolfe’s Me Decade. Two years later Ronald Reagan would be elected president and a new conservatism would grip America. Sid and Nancy would have had no place in this world, a kind of collateral damage I suppose.

Sid was accused of Nancy’s murder, although whether it was intentional or the result of a drug binge remains unclear. Sid overdosed in jail four months later so Nancy’s murder has never been fully solved. In 1986, a movie about their crazy life together was came out called, simply enough, Sid and Nancy. Gary Oldman played Sid and the very under appreciated Chloe Webb was Nancy.

About a month before Nancy’s murder, they appeared on a local cable show in NYC (YouTube won't allow me to post it for some reason but this link should take you to it; the quality is grainy to say the least). This show is referenced in the article and it's a total riot.

Courtney Love modeled her whole life on Nancy Spungen’s. Let’s hope it has a happier ending. And let’s hope that, after thirty years, Sid and Nancy managed to find some peace in that big amplifier in the sky (preferably turned off, like the Six Pistols used to do to Sid during his awful playing).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Review: "Speed-The-Plow"

Twenty years ago Broadway saw the premiere of David Mamet's three-person play "Speed-the-Plow", a vicious expose of Hollywood and, by extension, the nature of American capitalism. I remember when it opened in 1988 (oh yes, I remember it well) because Madonna was making her Broadway debut. It also starred Joe Mantegna as hot shot movie producer Bobby Gould and Ron Silver as his uberloyal assistant Charlie Fox and has been revived many times since.

The most recent rival opened on Broadway last week and stars Jeremy Piven from Entourage as Bobby, Raul Esparza (Pushing Daisies and last year's Broadway revival of "Company") as Charlie, and Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men as Betsy (can you imagine playing a part originated by Madonna? The pressure!). The plot revolves around a can't miss movie project that Charlie brings to Bobby that they know will make them both very rich. In the meantime they make a bet for $500 that Bobby can sleep with his new secretary Betsy. Bobby lures Betsy to his house by asking her to read and report on a silly book that will never get made into a movie. But then ...

Needless to say, the clashing of sex and ambition leads to the story's not-terribly surprising ending. The moral of this story: doing what is right is unimportant if it gets in the way of making money. Making the movie that means something and has a positive message is irrelevant if it doesn't put people in the seats. A conscience is the enemy of ambition. Money conquers all.

This new production may be the most Mametesque of Mamet plays: a fast moving, bleak morality tale with super-stylized dialogue and a minimalist set. Piven is hypnotic as Bobby Gould, and while his performance reminds you a great deal of his character on Entourage, he crafts a man who wants to do the right thing but can't put his ambition aside. Elisabeth Moss does a decent job as Betsy but, to be fair to her, her part is a little underwritten (Mamet has never created a great female character in all honesty). The real star, the real blazing talent in this show, is Raul Esparza. He is a Broadway star if there ever was one and his Charlie Fox -- a totally heartless, self-centered narcissist -- is searing. I saw him in "Company" last year where he created a lovable Bobby but his talent is such that he does a completely convincing 180 to become the devil incarnate. His performance alone is worth the "price of admission."

So see "Speed-the-Plow" if you can. In these brutal economic times, it's a good reminder of how the almighty dollar controls us all.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Al Smith Dinner 2008

McCain and Obama put on a good show at the Al Smith Dinner last week but forget about them for a moment. Al Smith was probably the greatest governor this state ever had and did so much to pull its citizens out of poverty. It's great to see that, each year, his legacy is honored.

The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation

Colin Powell Endorses Obama

This is all the buzz this morning. How it will affect the election is anyone's guess.

Powell Endorses Obama

By the way, in case you didn't know, Colin Powell is a native New Yorker and graduate of City College. He was born in Harlem and grew up in the South Bronx. And today he made NYC proud.

The Brand Spankin' New TKTS Booth



Last week the new TKTS booth opened in Times Square to much fanfare. I went by it on Friday and it's really something to see. For those of you who don't know what TKTS is, it's the place where you can get same day, half-price tickets to various concerts and shows. Besides the big one in Times Square, there is another booth at South Street Seaport and also one at MetroTech in Brooklyn. Go here for more info.

This new "booth" is located at 47th street and Broadway and is actually more of a plaza now. The ticket windows are located on the northern part of the street and you check the available shows and prices on two large electronic monitors on either side of the block. The main attraction, of course, is the giant 27 step, ruby red glass staircase that encloses the booth. If you walk to the top, you can get a sweeping view of the whole blinking, vibrating, neon circus that is Times Square. It's also nice to know when there's another place where the public can literally get a new view of NYC.

Building this new booth took almost ten years due to numerous setbacks and various financial problems. It's great it finally came into being. See what other folks around town have had to say about it:

Atop the New TKTS Booth, Ruby-Red Stairs With a View of the Great White Way

The New TKTS Booth

New TKTS Booth to Take Credit Cards

Stepping Up: New Times Square TKTS Booth Finally Opens

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Today in NYC

For a city that has existed for almost 400 years, there can only be a few single, solitary days that are worthy of the history books (January 1st, 1898 or September 11, 2001 spring to mind, obviously). October 16, 2008 will certainly not go down in the history books as a particular memorable day in NYC history. But it's a day that, in my opinion, shows the dynamism that is our city -- something comes, something goes, something is ... fought over. To whit:

The Queen Elizabeth II, one of the grandest transatlantic ocean liners to ever traverse the globe, made its final visit to New York harbor today. After over 800 visits, it left our city for the last time tonight, on its way to Dubai, the great Middle Eastern capital. There it will become a floating hotel, never to visit our shores or ports again. Something will never quite be the same in our city without the QEII docking here. But things change, and some things are lost to those changes. And life goes on.

Meanwhile, the City Council is hotly debating term limits. Should they be extended -- and how? By the council? By the voters? Should they be abolished? Should they be extended at all? Passions and voices are flaring, tempers reaching the boiling point. As I type, the council is hearing testimony both pro and con. How this will be resolved no one knows. To be continued ...

And yet, in the middle of losing the QEII and the maelstrom over New York City politics, there was a quiet triumph. In 2001, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine suffered a brutal fire and it's main organ was destroyed. But in the last few months, it was reassembled, piece by piece. And now a great house of worship has a great functioning organ once again. It took a long time and wasn't easy, but it finally happened. It shows that, while it may take time, problems can be overcome.

So on this day, NYC shows it's a place of constant change and constant drama. Never a dull moment. Would we have it any other way?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ABE BEAME FOR MAYOR 1965

This political season has made me think of elections past. In 1965 (years before I was born, thank you very much), City Comptroller Abe Beame ran for Mayor against Congressman John Lindsay and conservative pundit William F. Buckley.

Beame lost this race to Lindsay, who went on to be one of the worst mayors this town has ever had (he gave us the financial crises that took more than 20 years to dig out of). Beame was finally elected in 1973 and served one term, losing to Ed Koch in 1977. He died in 2001 at the age of 94.

Beame was the mayor when I was born and I've always felt a certain affection for him. A guy like this, a real salt of the earth New Yorker, could probably never get elected in Mike Bloomberg's New York but I would vote for him in a second. Go Beame Team!

Battle of Long Island Part II



Our dueling presidential candidates are going to be at Hofstra University tonight, squabbling about which one of them is best suited to lead the free world.

Call this the Battle of Long Island Part II. The last one was in 1776 between George Washington and William Howe. This one is between John McCain and Barack Obama and, thankfully, no one will get killed in this one.

Well, maybe politically one of them will. This is one of John McCain's last chances to "turn this thing around." He must say something so brilliant that it wins over the mushy middle and/or Obama must say something so damaging that it torpedoes him with this same demo.

Right now Obama is a thumpin' the grouchy old man in the polls but, as the pundits say, the only poll that really counts is the one on election day.

Good luck to them both (well, not really but let's not go there).

Hofstra debate cards: McCain vs. Obama

Hofstra's hosting of debate a costly affair

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mr NYC to Tourists: Please Get a Subway Map!


I truly love and adore anybody and everybody who visits our fair city during these rough times and drops money into our city's economy. Keep it coming, your business is very much appreciated. But ... would all of you tourists, for the love of all that is holy, please look at a map before you get on our subways?

Today, a woman comes up to me before I'm just about to board an N train: "Can you tell me how to get to 125th street?"

"West Side or East Side?"

Big shrug. I sent her to the 2/3 line, hoping that'll get her to her destination.

This isn't even the worst of it. Past examples:
  • While on an R train, uptown: "'Scuse me, will this take me to Rector street?"

  • Tourists on a train in Queens thinking it was taking them to 39th street -- in Manhattan.

  • "Where's Canal Street?"
    "Downtown?"
    "Where's that?"

  • Or once when I was in Soho. "Excuse me, I need to go to Midtown."
    "Take the 1/2 train. The entrance is right there."
    "But that goes to uptown."
    "Midtown is uptown from here."

    "Oh ..."
When I went to London and Paris earlier this year, I made sure to look at the underground maps of those towns and plotted my journey around town. Looking at a map -- that exhausting, mind-numbing exercise -- has helped me get around on the Metros and subways of other cities like Chicago, Rome, DC, and St. Louis. Can't our tourists do the same? The subway map is not that hard to read, most routes, particularly in Manhattan, just go up or down, one way or another.

So, again, Mr NYC, like most New Yorkers, loves our tourists. I just ask them to look at subway map before getting on it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Central Park Zoo

During these lovely fall days and tough economic times, the Central Park Zoo is a fun and affordable treat for you and your friends and loved ones.

Located at 64th street and Central Park, it's $8 for adults, $3 for kids, and $4 for seniors. It's a small but easily navigable space and provides a breezy and enjoyable hour and a half of fun. The highlights include the polar bear and the penguins exhibits, as well as the rain forest exhibit where you exotic birds and some of the most beautiful reptiles (yes, you read that right) I've ever seen.

The sea lions, located in the middle of zoo, are the most fun attraction and at 11:30 AM and 2 PM every day you can see them getting fed. This is more of a show where the zoo workers direct the sea lions to dive off the big rocks and perform various tricks. In between, the zoo workers masterfully throw fishes of various sizes down the sea lions throats.

Check out the zoo website for more info.

Fait Accompli?

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has thrown her support behind Mayor Bloomberg's plan to extend term limits. It's not clear if the bill they want will actually pass but when the richest, most powerful people in the city are behind it, is there any stopping it?

Speaker Pledges Support, but Mayor Needs More

To be continued ...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Frugal New York

In these tough economic times, with money tight, it gets a little harder to enjoy NYC. There's lots of great to do here but, of course, a lot that costs tons of money. That's why you should read this article in today's times, about fun things to do and good places to eat that are either free or cheap.

Frugal New York

Some things I learned from this article: there are a lot of Indian restaurants on Lexington Avenue between 25th and 30th streets and I've gone to several of them (including a Kosher Indian place once). What I didn't know is that this stretch of restaurants has a name: Curry Row. Also, there's a second Chinatown in this city, out in Sunset Park in Brooklyn. Apparently there are some great, cheap restaurants out there. Check it out on Chowhound.

Did you also know (this isn't in the article but I'm just remembered it) that the area between 5th and 6th avenues between 31st and 36st streets is called Koreatown? Some friends and I went to a restaurant there once and they actually cooked the food in a stove in our table. You order something, then they bring out the food and throw it stove, and then you eat it right off it. From what I'm told, this is very typical in Korean restaurants but I hadn't experienced this before and it was very cool. I don't remember the name of restaurant but highly recommend going to Koreatown and checking one of these places out.

Christopher Buckley Endorses Obama

You know that something is seriously wrong with the Republican party when the son of William F. Buckley -- godfather of modern conservative thought, founder of National Review, and intellectual mentor to Ronald Reagan and generations of Republicans -- has decided to vote for a liberal Democrat for a President, and a black liberal Democrat at that.

Christopher Buckley has announced that he cannot support John McCain for President. He indicates that, among other things, choosing Sarah Palin as his VP shows a scary lack of judgment. Buckley believes that Obama, on the other hand, posses a "first class temperament and a first class intellect" and has reluctantly decided to jump onto the "Obama bandwagon."

This is a must read: "Sorry Dad, I'm Voting for Obama"

Saturday, October 11, 2008

President Bush's Statement on the Economy

Yesterday our fearless leader told us that he and his very competent administration are doing "everything" they can (whatever that is) to fix the economy.

The stock market just suffered it's worst week ever. Literally trillions of dollars of wealth have been wiped out. Some of that includes my own, as I can personally attest after getting my various financial statements.

Right now those irascible people who stuff money in the mattress are looking a lot smarter than all these financial hotshots who told us that we had to invest, invest, invest. Oh what a tangled web they've weaved.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fight Term Limit Changes

If you want to know how you can get involved in fighting against this high jacking of the city's term limits laws, the Working Families Party has a website giving you all of the info you need. You can find out how to petition against the changes and where there will be public forums against this.

Media City

Last night I attended a panel discussion on the upcoming election with Matt Taibbi and New Yorker writer Hendrik Hertzberg. They provided some interesting perspectives about the fickle nature of the American electorate, how wedge issues and cynical tactics are used to scare people into voting against their interests, and how Obama is really a once in a generation, maybe a century, presidential candidate. Matt and Hendrik provided some fascinating political insights that I hadn't really considered before.

Hendrik pointed out that conservatives -- who so often think of things in black and white, right or wrong, this-side-of-the-fence-or-other terms -- have an ironically postmodernist view when it comes to reality and truth; namely, they don't believe that objective truth exists, or that reality is even real. Obviously, the awfulness and dishonesty of the Bush administrations forces them to believe this but isn't it interesting how, when its their ox that's being gored, conservatives suddenly believe in, other all things ... New Age relativism.

Matt, who I blogged about here a couple of days ago, made another interesting point about how conservatives are now more guilty of practicing identity politics than liberals. Sarah Palin is proof positive of that. She was chosen as McCain's VP merely because she's a female "hockey mom" who loves to shoot things. Her qualifications are, clearly besides the point.

You can see this panel discussion yourself -- and some of the fireworks that erupted there -- on NYCTV, Sundays at 8:30 PM. Go to the Media City website for more info.

Postscript: shortly before the panel I bumped into Matt Taibbi and told him what a big fan I am of his work. Reading his super-smart, razor-sharp prose, you'd never think that he's a really nice, modest guy in person. He shook my hand, asked me about myself, and was very cool and gracious. Matt isn't only a great writer, he seems to be a really great guy.

You can pick up his brand-new book, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire, on Amazon or at major bookstores.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Matt Taibbi Nails It

Matt Taibbi is fast becoming the best political writer in America. In this week's Rolling Stone, he perfectly sums up not only what's wrong with American politics (in this case, embodied in Karl Rove) but with America itself -- and that makes our politics so vile. He writes:

"Rove is not a genius, or even very clever: He's totally and completely immoral. It doesn't take genius to claim, as Rove ludicrously did last fall, that it was the Democrats in Congress and not George W. Bush who pushed the Iraq War resolution in 2002. It doesn't take brains to compare a triple-amputee war veteran to Osama bin Laden; you just have to be a mean, rotten ..."

The reason Rove continues to survive is the same reason that Johnnie Cochran was called a genius for keeping a double-murderer on the golf course — because this generation of Americans has become so steeped in greed and social Darwinism that it can no longer distinguish between cheating and achieving, between enterprise and crime, and can't bring itself to criticize winners any more than it knows how to be nice to losers. He survives because an increasing number of Americans secretly agree with Rove's vision of rules, laws and "the truth" as quaint, faintly embarrassing rituals that only a sucker would let hold him back."

Hear, hear.

News About New York News

In the last week there has been a quiet mini-revolution in the world of NYC newspapers.

First, The New York Sun went out of business on September 30. Never read the Sun? Never heard of it? That would make you like most New Yorkers, and that's why it's gone. It was established seven years ago as a forum for neo-conservative political thought and to challenge the "liberal media" in this town. Well, it looks like the big bad liberal media won this round, don't it? And like its other discredited patrons -- the Bush Administration and the Republican Party -- the Sun has set on neo-conservative thought. But I'm not entirely happy that the Sun is gone. It has some really great arts coverage and that will be a loss to the cultural life of this city. And it's a shame that this town that use to have so many newspapers circulating around it now has one fewer.

Second, and more importantly, the Metro section of The New York Times is no more. That's right, the newspaper of New York City no longer has a section devoted exclusively to New York City. Obviously if you read the Times on the web then you won't notice this. In fact, it's because most people read the Times on the web that the Metro section is no more. All local news is now tucked at the back of the main news section, right after international and national news. I guess it now puts us New Yorkers properly in its place -- ba dum bum.

So life goes on. Most New Yorkers won't notice or care. But these are changes for the worse in my opinion. The media landscape is changing faster than we can imagine. Sad, but not unpredictable.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bloomberg's Case for a Third Term

Well, you know my opinion about this play for a third term.

Here's Mike's.

What's yours?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Mondel

Over the last few years, chocolate and sweets and everything yummy have become, along with cupcakes from Magnolia and Buttercup, trendy consumer items. There's the giant M&M store in Times Square, chocolate restaurants like Max Brenner's and Chocolate Bar, and fancy stores like Vosges and Dylan's Candy Bar (founded by Dylan Lauren, daughter of Ralph Lauren). All of these places are great but for my money, the best spot for chocolate and sweets in this town is a little boutique-like store called Mondel on 114th street and Broadway in Manhattan.

I've been going to Mondel for a long time and this store is over 60 years old. It's a tiny, old-fashioned place but when you walk in, the smell of quality chocolate and well-made sweets pleasures your nose and warms your senses. Behind the glass of the high counter top, they have a huge variety of truffles, cordials, marzipans, clusters, turtles -- you name it. They also have other sweets like gummie bears, Swedish fish, and jelly beans.

What makes Mondel so good is the high quality and deep, rich tastiness of their chocolates. This isn't mass-produced, assembly-line chocolate and sweets -- this is luxury quality but with a homemade taste. You can usually buy stuff in quarter pound, half pound, and whole pound bags. Yes, it costs a little more than some other places, but when the deep, rich, overwhelming excellence of their products tingles on your taste bud, you realize that it's worth every penny. Bringing someone you love or care about a bag of Mondel chocolates is an excellent, smart move since it shows that you really care about them.

Don't just take my word for how good Mondel is. Read what others, including another long time (now sadly deceased) customer named Katherine Hepburn, has to say about it:

Thank You, Kate

New York Food and Wine

nightgrapefruit

CitySearch


Never Fear, Mr NYC is Here

Been a little bit of a blogging deadbeat these last few days but life is what gets in the way of blogging sometimes. Of course that arrogantly assumes that the world has been waiting breathlessly for me to spew more nonsense into cyberspace -- I'm sure you've all gotten along just fine without it. Anyhoo, I'm back for now. Lots more nonsense to follow.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mike's Power Grab

I like Mayor Bloomberg. He's done a good job and he's probably the right person to be at the city's helm during this financial crises. Also, I'm against term limits because I don't think it's smart to lame-duck our elected officials or deny the public the right to vote for or against whoever they want.

But ... Mike's desire to do an end-run around the voter ratified term-limits law via a City Council bill is wrong. The voters approved this law twice and it's not right for Mike and these guys to essentially veto the will of the people. It's undemocratic and it's really nothing more than a transparent power grab.

If the term limits law is abolished or amended in this way, there's no doubt that Mike will win a third term. He's popular and super-rich; as a political independent, Democrats and Republicans will have no problem voting for him. But I think that this will really damage Mike's legacy, for three reasons:

1. Mike was for term limits before he was against them. This ploy will damage his credibility and legacy, even if he wins.

2. Mike was elected as an outside the establishment reformer, more interested in serving the public good than in accumulating power. This appears more to be about him keeping power than anything else.

3. There have only be three Mayors who have served three terms -- LaGuardia, Wagner, and Koch. Like Mike, they were very popular during their first two terms. But almost all NYC political pundits agree that there third terms were largely disasters. History has a nasty way of repeating itself.

Tomorrow Mike is supposed to officially announce his intentions to seek a third term. If he gets whipped by a severe backlash, don't say that Mr NYC didn't tell ya so.

Bloomberg Expected to Seek Third Term as Mayor

Third Term No Charm, Historians Say