Sunday, July 28, 2013

The People Who Will Be Mayor

In this consequential year for our city, twelve people are currently running to be our next mayor. Twelve! That's a quite a lot. If each one of them were an ice cream flavor, they could open a store. Anyway, this election has become a circus, as I have previously written about, and, if you want more musings about it and various scandals attendant to it, you won't get it here.

What you will get, however, is a serious look at what's at stake for our future. This big article in The New York Times Magazine does a good job looking at what one of these twelve people will inherit on January 1st, 2014:

"New York City stands at a crossroads. Things are good for many, but not for all. The balance      between the positives and the hazards could swing either way. In the first couple of years after the Great Recession, the economy’s growth, nearly 3 percent per year, outpaced the rise in national G.D.P. In 2011, 6.6 percent of the city’s households had income greater than $200,000 a year, while a third of the city’s population survives on Medicaid. Manhattan has become a tech rival to Silicon Valley, and bike lanes have come to Brownsville — a Brooklyn neighborhood where 4 out of 10 residents live below the poverty line. Wall Street, Midtown and the N.Y.P.D. are happy. Crime continues to decline: only one precinct, in East New York, has more violent crime than the Upper East Side faced two decades ago. And the population is growing. For all the fears of jihad, the end of capitalism and the advent of superstorms, the years since 9/11 have witnessed the arrival of a new generation. Perhaps as many as a third of the city’s residents did not live here a decade ago. And all those newcomers have contributed to the prize of this electoral season: the minority majority ... The list is long and growing: the public-employee unions — 147 bargaining units — working without contracts and hungering for retroactive pay; the rise in city pensions and health care payouts (pension obligations are projected to be more than $8 billion a year — more than the city’s combined operating budget for police, fire and corrections annually); the mayor’s plan to rezone East Midtown (among other things, opening up 73 blocks around Grand Central to super-skyscrapers); the first phase of the emergency measures needed to harden the city ahead of the next Sandy (projected cost: $20 billion); the mess that is public housing (approximately 400,000 New Yorkers trying to survive in 334 developments, another 225,000 in Section 8 housing and the all-but-orphaned-by-Washington New York City Housing Authority, which has a backlog of 220,000 repairs and faces $6 billion in unmet capital needs, a black hole expected to more than double in five years). " 

Riding on Rudy's 9/11 coattails, along with several hundred million dollars to boot and lots of racist fear mongering, Michael Bloomberg has basically anestitized the political culture in NYC for more than a decade. Democrats and other would be political opponents have barely stood up to him, either because they are afraid of his money or because they've been bought off. The press has given this mayor a major free pass, giving him barely any critical coverage or linking him to any of the scandals in city government (the corrupt housing department, for example) because, again they fear him -- and any reporter who dares cross him knows that his or her future employment opportunities may be few. Let's not forget, he isn't even supposed to be mayor any more, he was supposed to have left office in 2009. But Bloomberg used his power and, along with an equally power hungry city council, extended term limits. Under Bloomberg, the arrogance of power has never been more raw or on full display. He has made this a city of rich and poor, of insiders and outsiders, of those who can afford the "luxury product" of NYC and those who merely serve them. 

The next mayor will either continue these policies or give us a fresh start. And them's the stakes. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Who shapes the city?

Robert Caro's 1974 masterpiece The Power Broker offered a cautionary tale about the power of unelected urban planners shaping cities. Caro's story of Robert Moses, the master builder who for forty-plus years misshaped NYC (destroying neighborhoods with highways and ill-conceived urban renewal housing projects, not building badly needed public transportation, cutting the city off from its waterfront) is searing since, in many ways, our city is still grappling with Moses' legacy today.

For many years after the Moses-era, urban planners went into retreat. NYC and other American cities were grappling with high crime, fiscal crises, and white flight. No one had grand ambitions to build in, and redesign, cities that were struggling for mere survival. But in the last two decades, NYC and other American cities have undergone a renaissance as crime has fallen, finances have been gotten under control, and people have been flooding in. So now urban planners are back, big time, with grand visions of new buildings, parks, and other public works.


But these are not your grandparents' urban planners.


Take this article from the The New Republic. It's about a man named Edmund Bacon who was, in his day and in many ways, the Robert Moses of Philadelphia. There is a new book about Bacon that seeks to re-introduce him to another generation as a great urban visionary who built Philadelphia into the great American city it is today. This is going hand-in-hand with some people who are trying to restore Moses' reputation and reconsider his legacy that The Power Broker so powerfully damned. (FYI Ed Bacon was the father of actor Kevin Bacon. Cut loose!)


But the new urban planners aren't people trying to be another Robert Moses or Ed Bacon. Instead, they are largely private organizations and companies trying to put a unique stamp on cities. Here in NYC, the most popular recent example is the Highline -- the old abandoned railway tracked turned into a park in the sky. It was mostly private funds that went into this project raised by Friends of the Highline.


Now comes Citi -- Citi Bank, that is -- with its new bike share program. If you've been walking around NYC in the last few weeks, you've probably seen these clunky blue bikes stuffed in docking stations at various points around the city. They have the words "citiBike" pasted on them, and you pay an annual fee to use these bikes -- but not to the City but to Citi.

These are the new urban planners -- companies like Citi Bank, organizations like Friends of the Highline -- literally changing the face of NYC. They are making their own imprint on our town. This isn't the government providing services, it's private enterprise making a mark, and sometimes we have to pay an additional fee (some might call it tax) for the privilege. For example, the 9/11 memorial museum is not public institution like you might think -- it's private, and you have to pay an entrance fee.


So, instead of a grand visionary like Robert Moses using government funds or bonds for big public works, it's companies and various private organizations finding incremental ways to shape the city.


In some ways, this has been going on for a long time. The big New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square was originally created by The New York Times about 100 years ago ... to promote The New York Times (before it was used by Dick Clark to promote Ryan Seacrest). The July 4th fireworks and the Thanksgiving Day Parade were (and are) sponsored by Macy's to promote ... Macy's. This was then known as good corporate citizenship -- and also good corporate PR.

Of course, private developers have been building residential and commercial real estate for centuries -- but they weren't shaping the life and identityy of the city in quite the same way.


Personally, I think the new urban planners are a mixed bag. Things like the Highline and New Year's Eve and the parade and fireworks are great; things like the bike share program are good if you really want to bike in NYC and have the money; things like paying money to go to the 9/11 museum ... eh, not so much.


Yet one thing is clear: no longer is the government of NYC truly shaping the city. Big money is shaping the city -- shaping its identity, its soul, and its future.

Let's hope they do a better job than the urban planners of yore.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Silly Season

Every four years this country goes through the misery of a presidential election. The only good thing about them is that they usually produce some very interesting books (The Making of the President, The Boys on the Bus, Game Change, etc.), giving us naifs the behind the scenes drama of the campaigns and putting them into some kind of social/historical context.

There are still two months to go until the primaries, and four months until the general election, but I certainly hope that some ambitious journalist will produce a book about the 2013 NYC elections -- 'cause they're wild!

In a way, it was always destined to be so.
 
In 2005, virtually every incumbent was re-elected. In 2009, there were low-key elections for comptroller and public advocate but the public paid them very little attention and, of course (thanks to the outrageous term-limits change), the mayor and virtually every other city office holder was re-elected.

This year, however, the mayor and most other incumbents are term-limited so it has set-off a mad dash for the various public offices that govern NYC. We are poised to elect a new mayor, new public advocate, new comptroller, new borough presidents for Staten Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, as well as a chunk of the city council. And it has invited a new slew of candidates, including some very controversial ones.
 
But more on that later.
 
First, the mayor's race.  Both the Democrats and Republicans are having some brutal primaries and it's very unclear who will win either.
 
Republican Mayoral Primary
 
This race is between Joe Lohta (former MTA chairman, former Deputy Mayor under Rudy), John Catsimatidis (a.k.a Johnny C., owner of the Griestedes supermarket chain), and George McDonald, founder of the Doe Fund. McDonald is pretty much a non-entity in this race but the contest between Lohta and Johnny C. is intense. Lohta has the resume and institutional support (Rudy backs him, most Republicans in NYC back him) but Johnny has money -- lots of it -- and he's already running TV commercials. Plus he can argue that his business background makes him more like Bloomberg than the others.

This primary is reminiscent of the 1989 Republican primary that pitted Rudy vs. billionaire Ronald Lauder. Rudy had just left his job as US Attorney and had almost 100% Republican establishment support. However, Lauder spent $11 million in the primary and made it competitive. Rudy still beat Lauder but, many believe, the primary hobbled Rudy in the general election against Dinkins. Rudy had no significant primary in 1993 when he finally won the mayoralty.
 
The big question mark over the 2013 Republican primary is: will Johnny C.'s money overwhelm Lohta establishment support? Most Republican primary voters will probably vote for Lohta since they know he's Rudy's guy. But Johnny C.'s money gives him the advantage of doing an early, full-court press on these voters and it might help him with them. Also, McDonald could prove to be a spoiler. Some Republican primary voters might not want to vote for Lohta since, as head of the MTA, he oversaw toll increases. But they might not know or trust Johnny C. So McDonald might do better than expected and even force a run-off. This primary is almost impossible to predict but it will result in the first Republican candidate for mayor in more than two decades whose last name isn't either Giuliani or Bloomberg. And either he will follow in their footsteps or fail.
 
Democratic Mayoral Primary
 
This primary is, on the other hand, a zoo.

As usual, the other city-wide elected officials, the Comptroller (John Liu), the Public Advocate (Bill De Blasio) and the City Council Speaker (Christine Quinn) are running as well as the former Comptroller (Bill Thompson) who came within 4% points of beating Bloomberg in 2009. There are also a few minor candidates: a former city councilman who's been out of office for more than ten years, plus a church pastor and a comedian. But, of course, this primary was shaken up recently by the entry of Anthony Weiner, the former congressman who was forced to resign two years ago for Tweeting naughty pictures of himself.

For a while, Christine Quinn was easily leading the primary field in the polls but then a few things happened: Weiner entered the race and, shockingly, vaulted to the top of the polls; then Bill Thompson gained unexpected support in endorsements and money. Meanwhile, the anti-Christine Quinn forces have run TV ads against her, and her poll numbers have fallen badly. So, for the moment, Quinn and Weiner are tied in the polls with Thompson in third place. De Blasio is doing his best to gain more support but, so far, hasn't. John Liu would probably have been a leading player but, a few months ago, his campaign treasurer and one of his former fundraisers were both convicted of fraud so his candidacy has gone nowhere.
 
Because there are so many candidates, the primary field seems very fluid -- anyone of them could rise or fall quickly. At the moment, I would put my money on Quinn going into a run-off against either Thompson or Weiner. If it's Thompson, I think he will win the run-off since the people who hate Quinn really hate her and Thompson would be an acceptable alternative. But if she ends up in a run-off against Weiner, then she will probably end up winning because of Mr. Weiner's scandal. This will be especially interesting to watch.
 
Comptroller
 
Until recently, this was a sleepy race. The Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was the only Democratic candidate and it looked like he would avoid a primary. But then, just days ago, the hooker-loving former Governor Elliot Spitzer jumped into the race and suddenly an election that wasn't even getting any attention in NYC was getting international coverage. And now Spitzer is leading in the polls!
 
There's also a Republican candidate named John Burnett (who's also black!) so this race has suddenly gone from sleepy to wide awake.
 
Public Advocate
 
This is the probably the least exciting of the big time elections in NYC. This race is refreshingly scandal free, and all of the candidates are certainly qualified for this job that requires so few qualifications.
 
There are four major candidates in the Democratic primary: State Senator Dan Squadron, Councilwoman Tish James, former Deputy Public Advocate Resha Saujani and a college professor named Cathy Guerriero.  Squadron is a young guy who has been in the state senate for four years and seems like the hyper-ambitious type who probably views this job as stepping stone to the mayoralty and beyond (I'm sure he has dreams of being president, he seems like that type). Tish James is from Brooklyn and used to actually work for Elliot Spitzer when he was Attorney General. Saujani is best known for her disastrous congressional run in 2010 and for her work in the PA's office under De Blasio -- as well as for her connections to Wall Street and the tech sector. Ms. Geurriero is the only totally fresh political newcomer; in addition to teaching, she successfully coordinated former Pope Benedict's trip to NYC in 2008.
 
There hasn't been much polling in this race, although I saw one where Ms. James and Ms. Geurriero were effectively tied. As a black woman with high name recognition in Brooklyn, James is probably getting a lot of support from minority and Brooklyn voters. Ms. Geurriero's last name has apparently garnered her support from white ethnics in the outer boroughs. So, at the moment, it looks like it's a race between these two ladies but I'd put my money on Tish James, since she's getting all of the establishment support and has the strongest qualifications.
 
Borough Presidents
 
There are competitive races in each borough except for the Bronx, where Ruben Diaz Jr. is up for reelection. As usual, each of the races in Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island has tons of candidates. Whichever candidates are lucky enough to win the coveted New York Times endorsements will probably win their primaries and general elections (i.e. whoever wins the Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn Democratic primaries will win the general and whoever wins the Staten Island Republican primary will win the general -- although a New York Times endorsement will probably mean very little in that race).
 
Don't know much else about these elections. Don't much care either, since the borough presidents have virtually no power.
 
City Council
 
There are fifty-one races. In about forty-five of them, whoever wins the Democratic primaries will win the general elections and, in two of them, whoever wins the Republican primaries will win the general elections. There are about four competitive races -- both in primaries and/or general elections -- out in Queens but I don't know much about them and can't, at the moment, find much info to share.  
 
Mr NYC's Analysis
 
As indicated numerous times above, the polls in these various races are unclear and anything can happen. But, to me at least, looking at the dynamics and potential dynamics of this election, a few things are becoming clearer.
 
In the mayor's race, the Republican candidate will be either Lohta or Johnny C. While neither is as formidable or rich as either Giuliani or Bloomberg were, they are both potentially very strong candidates who could appeal to the Giuliani/Bloomberg coalition that has kept Democrats out of the mayor's office for twenty years. Lohta can claim to have been part of the 1990s turnaround of NYC. Johnny C. can claim to be an unbought, skilled manager like Bloomberg. Both candidates have committed gaffes recently (Lohta compared Port Authority cops to mall cops; Johnny C. compared taxing rich people to the Holocaust); also, as first time candidates, either might wilt under the spotlight of a general election. But, assuming neither doesn't, either one is well positioned to keep the mayor's job away from a Democrat.
 
Right now, it looks like the Democratic mayoral candidate will be either Quinn, Thompson or Weiner -- unless De Blasio or Liu suddenly surges. Either Quinn or Thompson would be strong in a general election: they are respected, have solid records in public service, and are progressive but acceptable to the business community. Should De Blasio suddenly do well, he could be strong in a general election as well.
 
Weiner, on the other, is detested by just about everyone except for a core of the Democratic primary electorate. He may have enough support to get into a run-off but it's difficult to imagine him winning it.
 
Gaming out various general elections scenarios is hard but certain scenarios seem clear.
 
Quinn or Thompson could probably defeat either Lohta or Johnny C. in a general election. Without an incumbent mayor running, Democrats have a natural home field advantage. Also, unlike 1993 (with high crime) or 2001 (with the recent horror of 9/11), at the moment it doesn't look like this election will be taking place in an atmosphere of crises  -- unless another crises suddenly emerges like it did twelve years ago. No crises and no incumbent means that most Democratic voters will probably gravitate towards the Democratic candidate. Crime and terrorism are no longer the urgent problems they were, but the cost of living and a declining middle class are -- and this makes the climate more favorable for the Democratic candidate.  
 
But ... if Weiner were somehow to emerge as the Democratic candidate in the general election ... then it's very possible that we will have our third Republican mayor in row. It seems impossible to me that a majority of New Yorkers will vote for this guy. While NYC is a Democratic town, NYC voters have become comfortable voting for non-crazy Republicans for mayor. And if Democrats end up nominating a toxic candidate like Weiner, either Mr. Lohta or Johnny C. can win.
 
Liu's problems make him basically unelectable, either in the primary or general election, but at the moment it looks unlikely that he'll even make it into a primary runoff.
 
This "toxic" problem extends to the comptroller's race as well. I recently saw a disturbing poll that put Spitzer ahead of Scott Stringer in the Democratic primary. If Spitzer gets through the primary, then the Democrats will have nominated for city-wide office an admitted whore-monger who was forced to resign his job as governor in disgrace. Suddenly, the Republican candidate might become a whole lot stronger in the general election. Voters will say "Spitzer? Ew! I might vote actually vote for the Republican."  Usually the winner of the Democratic primary wins the general election easily -- and this will happen with Stringer -- but if it's Spitzer ... then NYC might have a second competitive city-wide general election and might have it's first non-Democratic comptroller in 70 years.
 
You can be excused for shooting yourself in the foot once, but not twice.
 
Imagine: two disgraced former politicians at the top of the city-wide Democratic ticket. If this happens, I predict that the general election will be a disaster -- and the opportunity our city has to finally have a real progressive mayor in decades will be shamefully and inexcusably lost.

And it'll go deeper than just losing the mayoral and comptroller's race. NYC voters will think, rightfully, that Democrats have lost their minds and may start voting Republican in the competitive city council races and even for public advocate (I don't know who the Republican public advocate candidate is -- or if there even is one -- but who knows?). The trickle-down effect of nominating these guys could be horrible.

Then, in 2014, instead of finally having a mayor who cares about the middle class, we will have another plutocrat mayor -- plus a plutocrat ally in the comptroller's office -- who will do everything in their power to cater to the rich, hurt working people, cripple unions, allow "developers" to destroy neighborhoods, and continue with the economic regression that has been plaguing this town for decades.

The stakes for this election are incredible high. This is a "hinge of history" election where either our city will start address its social and economic problems -- or let them get worse. 

To be continued.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Gaby at the Chelsea

If you grew up in NYC in the 1980s and 1990s, like yours truly, you may remember the child actress Gaby Hoffmann. She was in some big movies, like "Fields of Dreams" and "Sleepless in Seattle" and several others. Gaby also grew up in the infamous Chelsea Hotel as a child of downtown artistic royalty.

Now she's grown up, 31 years old, and re-starting her acting career. Gaby was recently on the show "Louie" and will be on "Girls" next season, and is also starring in some independent movies.

But this article about her from the NY Times Magazine isn't about child actors or celebrity or any of that stuff. It's about what it was like to grow up in NYC during the last two decades of the 20th century -- and what it's like to be an adult in NYC in the first two decades of the 21st. 

Obviously, I can relate. 

No, I wasn't a child star (although I was a child ballet dancer but that's another story) but Gaby makes some observations about what it was like in NYC then as compared to now. Namely, you didn't have to be rich to live here and thrive. My parents weren't hip downtown artists but they were quirky uptown literary types -- and very middle class. Even though she's several years younger than me, Gaby apparently feels that this is a very different city from the one we grew up in. Her friend, the actress Claire Danes, makes this observation: "Growing up in downtown New York City in the ’80s, we were ensconced in art and progressive thinking,” she says. “Our parents all experimented with raising us in a fairly loose, unorthodox way. A huge emphasis was placed on creativity, and our artistic efforts were never dismissed as childish. There was a sense that we — kids and grown-ups — all had the potential to make something of value. Our drawings were not simply destined for the refrigerator. We never felt patronized.” 

I can relate. Whenever I drew a picture as a kid and gave it to my mom, instead of saying "I love it!" she'd say "It's beautiful honey. Now tell me more about it."

The author of this article sums up what's happened to NYC since the childhood of Gaby, yours truly, and all of us who grew up Then and are living here Now: "There’s a Whole Foods on 14th Street. The Palladium is an N.Y.U. dorm called the Palladium. Times Square is so bright and shiny that you can practically see it from space. Nobody has pubic hair anymore. And the Chelsea Hotel, a onetime stalwart symbol of all that was great and dirty and scrappy in this city, has been sold, and Gaby Hoffmann can do no more than squint through the dirty windows and scaffolding to see what used to be her home."

Sometimes I feel like I'm squinting at the whole city, trying to see the place where I grew up. There are more glass buildings than ever here but they reflect on a place that no longer exists.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

July Monthly Read

As Phil Rizzuto would have put it: "Holy cow!"
Really. Hard to believe it's been two months since I last blogged but a daughter, house and busy life have kept me away from the keyboard. Nonetheless, the city keeps grinding along, not caring a wit whether I blog about it or not. (How dare it.)



Well, I won't try to re-hash all the events the last two months but here are a few things that have been going on in NYC recently. 

1. The death of James Gandolfini. The great actor died a few weeks ago in Rome from a heart attack at age 51. His funeral last week was a big event

Of course he was great on "The Sopranos" and in movies like True Romance and In The Loop. His death is a big loss. He was so talented and compulsively watchable on screen. Like most great actors, you could feel the complex emotions and thoughts that were boiling under the surface of his characters. He made Tony Soprano so real that at times it's hard to remember that Tony didn't even really exist! Truly great. I was fortunate to see Gandolfini on Broadway in the play "God of Carnage" in 2009. My review of this play and his performance are here.

So long, Jim. You will definately be missed.

Interesting side note: Gandolfini's funeral was at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine's which is also where my grandmother's funeral was many years ago. Small world.
 
2. After Sandy. There has been much discussion about how to protect NYC from another hurricane or natural disaster. The big proposal is the construction of storm barriers along the NYC waterfront, particularly in the areas most vulnerable to flooding. This New York Magazine article explores Mayor Bloomberg's exhaustive proposal for building various storm barriers as well as ceding various low lying areas back to nature (i.e. not building on them again). This project will take years, decades even, to complete, and cost billions of greenbacks. But we probably can't afford not to do it -- the  city might not otherwise survive. 

What's great about this article is not only its exploration of Bloomberg's ambitious plan but also putting it in the historical context of NYC's waterfront -- and
our relationship to it. It's so easy to forget that NYC is unique because it is truly a city of islands -- over 40 of them! -- and so much of the city is literally water. Since I can't put it any better, I'll quote the article: "Glance at a map of New York, and what you see is a lot of blue, ringed by a piecrust of boroughs. This is a largely liquid city, a stunningly obvious fact that for decades was almost forgotten and that we’re only just beginning to remember ... New York’s relationship with its waters is a long and crazy romance, fueled by manic energy, gilded dreams, violence, abandonment, and elated rediscovery."

New Yorkers just don't live around water but also under it and in it. Water defines this city as much as buildings and parks, Wall Street and Broadway, the Mets and Yankees, delis and department stores. We've always had a complex relationship with our waterfront -- either ignoring it completely or trying to redeem it somehow. For decades, Robert Moses cut us off from the waterfront with highways and it's tak
en us decades to fix this with parks and places like Chelsea Piers and the South Street Seaport. Now with the explosion of ferries, we can get to places like Governor's Island which opens us the city even more. Reclaiming our waterfront for the people is a great thing but water can also be dangerous, as Sandy showed. Build to close to the water and it can literally be deadly.  "[T]he water is beautiful, alluring, and vicious. The storm demonstrated that we can’t get away, we can’t ­confine it, and we can’t beat it back. As the Bloomberg report makes clear, the only option is a cautious love."  

3. Whither Manhattan? Ever since the the City of New York (i.e. Manhattan), the City of Brooklyn, and the counties of the Bronx, Queens and Richmond (i.e Staten Island) consolidated in 1898 to become Greater New York, the identity of NYC has always been more or less defined by Manhattan.

The other boroughs, "the outer boroughs", were simply satellites of the mighty central isle, provinces of a great metropolitan empire. But the city, times, and the culture are a'changin'. Sure, Manhattan plays a big part in NYC culture -- still the center of fashion, theater, food, museums, etc. -- but these days the outer boroughs are stealing its crown.

Brooklyn is now considered the cultural hub of NYC. Look at the big hit TV shows set here -- like Girls and Two Broke Girls, plus other shows like the late Bored to Death and others -- and they're proudly set in Brooklyn, not Manhattan, In fact, Manhattan is now being influenced by the culture of Brooklyn!

And Queens is getting in the game too. In fact, amongst the biggest mucky mucks in the food world many believe the borough is one of the greatest and most exciting food destinations in the world. Not just the city but -- bang! zoom! -- the world! Having lived in Queens for six years, I can attest that this is a great, great place to eat. 

The cultural inferiority complex of the outer boroughs is clearly waning. And that's a great thing.

4. Woody Allen. How's he doing? When Ed Koch died earlier this year, NYC lost one of its great mascots. But, thankfully, we still have one of our greatest alive and thriving.


Woody Allen, the legendary film auteur, is still making movies. He's produced almost 50 of them, including great ones like Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters and the recent Midnight in Paris. Woody's been directing for forty-four years now, ever since the first year of the Nixon presidency, and he just keeps going and going -- and going and going and going and going and going -- winning a few Oscars along the way and writing a chapter in film history.

What's amazing is that while the film business -- not to mention the city and country in which he lives and works -- has changed in so many ways, Woody's approach to movie making remains the same. He just keeps making his small, personal films on low budgets but with big names. He even still types his film scripts on the same small manual typewriter that he's been using for decades. He doesn't Tweet or use any social media -- he just makes films and enjoys life. And at almost 80, he keeps going strong.  


5. Jean Georges. Wow! What a great restaurant! Recently the wife and I got a baby sitter and headed out to celebrate our anniversary. We decided to try to try this place and had one of the best meals of our life. There were two prix fixe menus -- a regular plus a Spring menu -- and she got one and I got the other. Many of the dishes included fish, chicken, plus egg dishes that included caviar. The food was unbelievable. We also got excellent cocktails that were, to put it mildly, damn strong. Best of all, the service was incredible. When the restaurant found out that it was our anniversary, they gave us a surprise anniversary cake, as you can see here. This great restaurant made for a memorable anniversary.   

6. NYC domain name. Hey, if they can do it for porn, why not for NYC? This headline says it all: New York City gets its own .nyc Domain Name

7. Mayor's Race. I was going to do a post about this but I realize that it's gotten so crazy and complicated that it deserves its own post. To be continued.

So there are my updates -- for now. More will be coming -- in less than two months.