Yet another piece of kooky 1950s NYC propaganda, this time produced by WNYC when the city owned its own public TV station. Again, you must see it to believe it -- and see how much the city has changed in the last 50-plus years.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
He's an inspiring story. An immigrant from Germany, he came to our shores in 1928 (back when Calvin Coolidge was President and Mayor Jimmy Walker was in his first term) and moved into his current house at the age of 36 (I'm a few years younger than that and can't imagine that the house I might move into in a few years would be the same house I'd be living in for more than eight decades!).
Mr Berner is a former tool and toymaker and still has a wonderful relationship with his family. All of us can only hope that we'll be so lucky to live so long -- and so well.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
City Island, that little nautical community off the coast of the Bronx, is a charming village-like place that is the subject of a new movie starring Andy Garcia. I've blogged about this place before and this article from today's Times gives some further insight into this almost secret part of NYC.
Then there's a Bowery. It is an historic and fascinating part of lower Manhattan. It used to be the epitome of the city's Skid Row, a place where the down and out found refuse and where no decent person would ever venture to. Today, it is a booming center of development although it has come at a steep price. Again, the Times today has an interesting story about the evolution of the Bowery -- and particularly poignant story about a man named George.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Guess what? You were!
Apparently more than 3,000 cab drivers were recently busted for gouging riders an extra $4 to $5 per trip. The city used GPS technology to figure out the length of various trips vs. what was being charged and figured out which cabs were ripping their passengers off. Some taxi drivers have had their licenses revoked and others are facing stiff fines. Personally I don't want any of these cabbies to lose their licenses or their livelihoods, I just want them to stop ripping of their customers!
But what the city gives with one hand, it taketh away with the other. In 2007, the principal of a NYC Muslim school was forced out of her job due to a McCarthyite witch hunt. A bunch of Republican activists put enormous pressure on the Bloomberg administration to fire her by charging that she harbored terrorist sympathies. Yesterday, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a report indicating that this firing was unjustified, biased, baseless, and political. And what's the city's response? Nada. They won't hire her back. They've dismissed the report and won't reconsider their decision. It sadly goes to show you that some injustices, in life even when they're recognized, will go uncorrected.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Narrated by a booming "voice of God", this little movie has a creepy charm all its own. But what makes it most interesting are the beautiful images of NYC from an a more innocent time.
It was such an innocent time that this move even refers to NYC as"Baghdad by the Sea" I doubt that anyone would call it that today. And remember: "Hit the "doit!"
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Recently, Vanity Fair published a big article about the Letterman scandal called Big Trouble at 11:35. Very interesting, revealing article about the scandal, David Letterman the man and entertainer, and the vagaries of show business. However, today, the extortionist plead guilty and will spend six months in jail. Letterman, his family and staff, all of his fans, and everyone else except the media must be relieved.
At least this is one NYC scandal that can be put to rest.
Monday, March 8, 2010
An upstate congressman just resigned due to allegations of sexual harassment; the governor is under siege for several reason; and another very powerful congressman is under investigation and has had to give up his committee chairmanship.
And all of this stuff is happening after, in the last few years, we had a governor and comptroller resign in scandal, along with another congressman who was forced out of office after it was revealed that he had a love child. Plus a former NYC police commissioner who is now in the pokey.
What a mess. The New Yorker has a great piece about this contretemps. Read it and weep ... literally.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
The broads are back! NYC's favorite social climbers have returned to remind us what a bunch of materialistic, shallow, pretentious, fake society women they are! I have to admit, I get a kick out of all these so-called "real" housewives shows -- they serve to remind me that money doesn't buy class, respecting others is important, and what a great wife I'm lucky enough to have.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
I'd never been out there before and had no idea what to expect. (Being from NYC, most other cities are underwhelming, to say the least.) However, after spending just a couple of days in this Northwestern ville, I can happily report that Portland, OR shoots right to the top of the list of my favorite American cities (along with San Francisco and New Orleans).
So here's a brief recap o' my trip.
Unlike those other cities, which are fun and colorful, Portland is fun and ... chill ... It's also very beautiful. Driving from the airport, we saw the huge, gorgeous Douglas-fir trees that make the Pacific Northwest famous. There aren't a lot of tall buildings in this town but the architecture is pretty, contextual, and tasteful. Like NYC, Portland is very compact -- even more compact, actually, because it's smaller and only has a population of two million people. Portland is divided into four quadrants and people there talking about living in either NW, SW, NE and SE. Driving across the city takes about twenty minutes from end to end, and about it's half an hour from any spot in the city to PDX (the airport). Unlike a lot of American cities, Portland has decent public transportation -- no subway but trolleys and a very good bus system. Apparently you can get from most sections of the city to downtown in about twenty minutes. All in all, a pretty easy city to navigate.
Our time in Portland was busy. We actually got out of town and drove up into the mountains nearby. The views and vistas there are stunningly beautiful. We drove to the top of the Columbia River Gorge which inspired us to do "downdogs" and "sun salutations" and other yoga moves, so Zen was the experience. Then we went hiking up several trails, passing several lovely waterfalls (one of which sprayed us and felt wonderful).*
Later we went to dinner at a very good restaurant in town called The Farm Cafe. They serve fresh, organic food along with excellent cocktails (this is a very popular spot so either go early or make reservations).
We then hung out for a little while at a great, great place called Voicebox Karaoke, easily the most upscale, classy karaoke bar I've ever been too. You can rent private rooms, each one very comfortable and unique, and they have great drinks and dumplings on tap.
Then we saw a show. Not a concert or a play exactly but what is apparently a live action sitcom called "Fall of the House." It's basically a raunchy version of Friends set in Portland but with lots of different characters and wacky situations. Shocking thing? It was good! And funny! And very well written! The characters were well developed and dimensional and we really enjoyed it. If you are ever in Portland and this show is on, I suggest you go.
Next day we went downtown and walked along the waterfront. Portland is cut in two by the Willamette river and bound together by several bridges, each one distinct and interesting. Then we had brunch at Mother's Bistro, a popular restaurant with very good food. After that, we went to Powell's, the largest bookstore in the country. Simply put, Powell's has lots and lots and lots of books. If you go, make sure you get a map. It has nine rooms (each with its own designated color) and four floors. We bought a few books, including a huge history of the world for our friend and host, and even managed at one point to get lost in the huge place.
After this, we went rollerskating ... and even did the hokey pokey!
Dinner that night was pizza taken out from a place called Dove Vivi. A very good organic pizza place, we had a sausage pizza and one covered with corn and red peppers. Mmmmmmm.
On our way the airport, we stopped by Voodoo Doughnuts for dessert. This is the first time I've ever had donuts made by punk rockers but they ... were ... awesome! We went there at 5 PM on a Sunday evening and there was a long line outside the store and it took almost half and hour to get in. I had a basic jelly doughnut but you can also get things like the Maple Bacon donut (you read that right) along with other exotic pastries. It goes without saying that if you like donuts -- and I love 'em -- and you're in Portland, you must go to Voodoo Doughnuts.**
And then, after a wonderful whirlwind trip, we came home to NYC on the red eye.
So, to sum it up, Portland is great. If you love NYC, you'll really like Portland. What impressed me most is that Portland still has vibrant neighborhoods and a downtown that doesn't shut up at night. We stayed in a neighborhood called Clinton which has lovely small homes with beautiful lawns but is also within walking distance (literally, just minutes away) of bars, restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores, banks, and park space.
Portland is a real city, not just a "metro area," and if you live there you feel like you're in a community. It's a very chill, relaxed city, where people work to live, not live to work, where time is as important as money, where the cost of living is reasonable, and where you feel like everyone is a good neighbor.
*For those of you who might hike these trails with a significant other, there's a book called Pokin' Round the Gorge that suggests secluded spots that are good for a little outdoor nooky. I have not read this book nor did our hike include this activity but I thought both of my readers might like to know about this publication.
**Voodoo Doghnuts is next door to a place called The Paris Theater. Unlike our Paris Theatre, however, they show different kinds of movies.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Managing to have a newspaper column that lasts 25 years in this town is nothing short of a miracle. Mr NYC wishes him a heartfelt congratulations.
Here is my 2007 interview with Micheal where he talked briefly about his career and himself.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
With no credibility and no support left, he basically can't govern. But if he quits, will a Governor Ravitch be able to lead the state effectively, considering that either Andrew Cuomo or Rick Lazio will be taking over as Governor on January 1st? (Now there's a depressing scenario.)
There's no good option for Paterson, just a least worst one. And I have no idea what that is. What do you think? Should he stay or should he go -- now?
The reasons for gentrification are not new. It follows a basic pattern: poor and working class areas (like Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan or Willamsburg in Brooklyn) became more expensive when upper-middle class and rich people started moving in. The people who lived there before are pushed out and the character of the neighborhood changes.
What's interesting about Zurkin's view of gentrification is that she belives it's driven by the desire of the gentrifiers for "authenticity", the "real" urban experience. As the book's online description indicates "the emphasis on neighborhood distinctiveness has become a tool of economic elites to drive up real estate values and effectively force out the neighborhood 'characters'" that make these neighborhoods so desirable in the first place. Her counter intuitive argument is that the more people try to preserve the "character" of neighborhoods, trying to preserve their "uniqueness", this turns into a racket by developers and "elites" to drive up real estate prices and open up expensive stores and restaurants that make these neighborhoods more and more unaffordable to anyone but the very wealthy. It's an interesting hypothesis -- and certainly to be a very controversial one amongst the NYC intelligentsia.
To get a better idea of Zurkin's theory, you can listen to her interview here.