New York Candidates Awash in Real Estate Cash
Thursday, January 31, 2008
This made me ponder: is the excitement and vibrancy of this town really just a big case of insanity? A cynic might might say, "Of course!" Others might dismiss it as the crankiness of a stuffy old Englishman. Mr. Waugh wrote this in 1944 and the city has transmogrified many times since then. But was he right? Isn't this true, now more than ever?
I decided not to let such a cheap description of my hometown go unchallenged, even if it has taken sixty-plus years. So let's dissect what he meant:
First, a definition of neurosis. It is, according to Wikipedia, "a 'catch all' term that refers to any mental imbalance that causes distress, but, unlike a psychosis or some personality disorders, does not prevent or affect rational thought."
Second, let's extract the subtext of Mr. Waugh's sentence: "New Yorkers are mentally imbalanced, distressed people who wrongly believe their disorder to be a positive thing."
Third, let's pause and wonder ... what does this exactly mean?
Mr NYC's opinion: everyone's crazy. I mean everyone. Some more than others, some a lot more than others, but doesn't just about everyone exist, mentally, somewhere out of the societal norms? Is there anyone, anywhere, who can be pointed to as a model of 100% absolute mental hygiene?
New Yorkers are like all people in the world, "neurotic" to varying degrees. But the energy of this town is very real, even if it's fueled by neurosis. It circulates through all its inhabitants, so palpable that even Mr. Waugh from the Mother Country could feel it. And today, more than half a century later, it still exists.
So let's raise a glass to neurosis and pray that New Yorkers never lose it, remaining properly distressed and "imbalanced."
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
So sorry (not really) about your failure in the primaries. I guess shamelessly exploiting one's attachment to an American tragedy isn't quite the political goldmine it once was, even if it has been and will remain to be (depressingly enough) a financial windfall.
Being a hero for one day (even if a lot of the problems stemmed from your own negligence, like putting the OEM in the friggin' World Trade Center fer chrissakes) doesn't quite cut it when you're up against a man who suffered brutal torture for five years in Vietnam, never once flinching, and has dedicated his entire life to the well-being of our nation. As I said yesterday, you're no TR, nor are you John McCain. Not even close. Not even a LITTLE BIT close.
I've heard first-hand accounts of how when you were the USDA that there were people in your office who's sole job was to get you in the papers each day. How will you now handle being yesterday's news? Not to mention that this marks the SECOND time you've dropped out of a race where one of your opponents might have been Hillary Clinton. She's a tougher broad than you, even when you're in drag!
Well, I guess it's back home to Park Avenue and the Hamptons, you friend to the working stiff. This marks the last time Mr NYC will ever write anything about you. You love attention more than anything else. Well, you will no longer get it here.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Whether or not you care for our former Mayor, it would be interesting to see if a NYC Mayor has a shot at living in the White House. In other countries, the Mayors of the biggest cities have gone on to run the entire country (Jacques Chirac was Mayor of Paris before becoming President of France; the wacky President of Iran was once Mayor of Tehran - okay, maybe they're not great examples but they're examples nonetheless).
But for some reason, no Mayors of NYC and few Mayors of anywhere have gone one to become President. And only one native New Yorker, one man born within this town's limits, has gotten the job. Lucky for NYC and the USA, that man was Teddy Roosevelt, one of our nation's greatest leaders. Funny enough, he actually did once run for Mayor ... and lost!
If you've read Mr NYC enough, you know what I think of Rudy Giuliani. And to him I say, on this night that will decide his political future, "Rudy ... you're NO Teddy!"
Monday, January 28, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
When The Judge, Judge Wapner, retired from the People's Court show some years ago, one of his replacements was ... Ed Koch, the former Mayor of NYC (he lasted from 1997 to 1999 or a one 1/6th of how long he was Mayor).
In this rather bizarre clip, Koch mediates a dispute between two people over a car. It's priceless to see and hear the former Mayor of the greatest city in the world say "sexual favas."
Saturday, January 26, 2008
1. The place is very noisy and crowded and the line moves at a glacial pace.
2. The tacos I had were small, didn't have a lot of seasonings or flavor (I love salsa, and the salsa on the tacos was spicy yet had no taste at all), and they were soggy. Plus there just wasn't something right about the ingredients - a guy on the message board linked here put it perfectly: "What can you say about a Mexican restaurant that makes burritos with white rice? 'WTF' comes to mind."
3. Chipotle is outrageously overpriced. Almost $7 for three lousy (and I mean lousy) tacos!
In short, very mediocre. Skip Chipotle and stick with Taco Bell. Thumbs down!
Thursday, January 24, 2008
If you've ever seen these phone booths and wonder why, in this huge city, there are only four left and why are all on West End Avenue (of all the godforsaken places), you will be shocked to learn that it's because of ONE person. You can either thank or scorn him, depending on your opinion of the phone booths. Personally, I'm glad in this cellphone/Blackberry era, we still have a few of these telephonic relics left.
DOES SUPERMAN LIVE ON WEST END AVENUE
See, even in NYC, one weirdo can make a difference!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Last night's game was a nail-biter and it was damn close but the Giants pulled it off and NYC is heading to the Bowl against the sinister forces of New England. Eli Manning, et al. were phenomenal in toppling a very formidable team.
Good luck on February 3rd. Go Giants!
But Smith isn't just a bold writer - he's also one of the great entrepreneurs of the alternative press. Before the NYPress, he founded the Baltimore City Paper and Washington City Paper and was lighting a fire under the media world long before things Gawker or TMZ came along. Smith sold the NYPress and moved to Baltimore a few years ago but his imprint on the NYPress and the New York press remains strong today.
Smith was kind enough to share his thoughts on journalism, politics, and what he misses about NYC.
What attracted you to journalism and, in particular, the world of alternative newspapers?
I was attracted to journalism as a kid, growing up on Long Island and having access to six or seven newspapers each day. I started reading the Voice in '65, when I was 10, and Rolling Stone when it started in '67, and wrote for the underground paper—The Crux—at Huntington High School. A summer job at the Baltimore Sun when I was 21 convinced me I didn't want to be a daily journalist, subject to the whims of self-important editors and in the company of reporters who wanted to be the next Bob Woodward.
Why did you found NYPress?
I founded NYPress in '88 after selling Baltimore City Paper the previous fall. I felt the Voice, which was still a paid weekly, had overpriced itself in the marketplace and that a quality free weekly could prosper.
You have strong political views. Tell us about your political philosophy and what kind of country you think this should be?
My political views are fairly straightforward: low taxes and tax reform (flat tax), strong foreign policy, steadfast defense of Israel, tort reform, Social Security overhaul and a sensible, humane policy on immigration. On social issues, I'm pro-choice, in favor of legalized gambling and prostitution, decriminalization of marijuana, dodge ball and kickball at recess in elementary schools and allowing gay men and women to marry.
You've been a big supporter of President Bush. Has he done a good job and has the country become a better place under his leadership?
Bush's tenure has had its ups and downs, but I believe he'll viewed more favorably in 20 years or so. His administration bungled the Iraq war after the initial invasion but it was the correct decision to get [rid] of Saddam Hussein, something his father should have done, like Bill Clinton as well. Bush had the right ideas about immigration and Social Security but didn't press hard enough for meaningful reform. That he at least partially caved to restrictionists in the Republican party, as well as kooks like Lou Dobbs is one of the huge disappointments of the past few years. His appointment of Roberts and Alito were significant achievements. Getting buffaloed by Teddy Kennedy on education--and backing down on vouchers--was not.
How do you see the 2008 presidential election turning out? Will it be a big
Democratic year or will the Republicans strike back?
It will certainly be a Democratic year in the Senate, if only because the GOP has twice as many seats to defend. Hard to tell, but it seems to me that if McCain isn't the nominee, a Democrat, even Hillary Clinton, will cruise to victory in November. McCain could beat Clinton, but probably not Obama.
What do you miss about NYC?
I miss the bodegas on every block in Manhattan. I don't miss the traffic, high cost of living, Yankee fans or the absurd competition among affluent parents trying to get their kids into the "right" private school. I miss decent takeout food, the ability to buy a copy of The New York Sun at a newsstand, outstanding Italian, Chinese and Thai restaurants, longtime friends in Tribeca and having a super who can fix leaky sinks and toilets.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Before he terminated people or governed California, The Arnold appeared in this 1970s B-movie masterpiece, "Hercules in New York."
In this flick, Hercules son of Zeus, bored with life on Mount Olympus, decides to escape his oppressive home life and have fun in NYC. These clips show him walking around town with a cute dame, then it cuts to his nebbishy friend.
Isn't it nice to know that NYC can even impress Greek Gods? And who knew they spoke with Austrian accents?
Thursday, January 17, 2008
CNN has won her heart and is sweeping her away to Washington where she will report on all the wonderful people who do such a heckuva job governing our country. Now America will have the pleasure of getting to ogle - I mean, watch her on TV too.
So long Sandra, we knew (and loved to watch you) when. I guess this town wasn't big enough for you. But if you can make it here, you can make it ... in DC. (Sigh)
CNN Newsource Hires Sandra Endo as Correspondent for D.C. Bureau
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Well it had to happen eventually: "Rent" is closing on Broadway. After 12 years, it will close on June 1.
I saw this in 1997, about a year after its historic opening, and enjoyed it (although it was a bit loud). I own the soundtrack and usually listen to it a couple of times a year - and I'll never stop.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
"Hi, friends and lovers. Here's a link to my kooky new blog, "La Daily Musto," which I'm doing in addition to the kooky old column, "La Dolce Musto." Can there ever be too much Musto? As one poster already commented,"Yes!" But still, just to humor me, please click on it, comment on it, or relieve yourself on it--but just get on it now! Thank you, kids!"
As the Times reported yesterday, 46 million people visited our fair city in 2007 and injected $28 billion into our economic bloodstream - or roughly half of Bill Gates' net worth. If only Bill would come here and go on a spending spree ...
Manhattan: City Reports Record Number of Visitors
Monday, January 14, 2008
Oh, and if that's not enough, he's one of the founders of the vastly influential Spy magazine that was a full decade or two ahead of its time (what Jon Stewart and The Onion are doing today, Spy invented in the 1980s).
I've done a lot of things because I've been lucky, and I'm eager to try to do things I'm not absolutely sure I know how to do. And I'm able to do a lot of things because I'm pretty disciplined with my time. When I'm working on a novel (or screenplay or theater piece), my writing time of 8:30 to 1:30 is pretty inviolate, and my journalistic work -- Studio 360, my monthly New York magazine column, the very occasional other magazine or newspaper piece -- happens after lunch. Also, I don't watch sports, never have, so that gives me an extra 6 or 10 hours a week right there. (For the record, Studio 360 is not technically an "NPR" show; it's a public radio show, but not produced or distributed by NPR.)
I don't see it so much as a matter of "special challenges" as I do a good opportunity to give each of the different sets of writing and imagination muscles a good workout. Novel-writing is its own, splendidly solo, long-term adventure; the non-fiction I do is short, generally engaged very much in the present moment; and radio is entirely collaborative. The different parts of my writing life feel complementary.
You were one of the co-founders of the great Spy magazine in the 1980s. Tell us about Spy and if you think The Onion, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report owe it a debt.
Spy was insanely fun to do, and remains a proud, um, er, legacy. And yes, I'm happy that we were pioneers of a certain kind of satirical journalism and journalistic satire, and happy too that bits of the Spy DNA seem to be thriving in the cultural gene pool.
The 2008 Presidential election is shaping up to be the most expensive, divisive, and historic one in American history. In a nutshell, tell us your thoughts about it and what it says about America in the 21st century.
I'm not sure it's so divisive. As of 1:03 pm on January 14th, at least, the favorites to win the major-party nominations are centrists, relatively speaking, John McCain and Hillary Clinton. Either of whom would probably make a fine president. Although I'm an Obama man. And might perhaps be persuaded to vote for Bloomberg. I've been saying for years that 2008 would be the most interesting presidential election of my lifetime, and so far I'm more right than I could've imagined.
What do you love most about New York City?
The vastness and density in all senses. That it makes boredom and complacency difficult and inexcusable.
Tell us about any upcoming projects and something about Kurt Andersen we might not know.
I'm working on a new novel, and (with some cultural heroes of mine) on the book for a musical theater piece. And I have become a huge fan of a certain species of electronic music -- Harold Budd, Kieran Hebden, Boards of Canada, etc.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
I haven't had a lot of Vietnamese food so I'm hardly an expert in this cuisine, but you can't do much better than Omai, on 9th Avenue between 19th and 20th streets. The food is exquisite and the prices quite reasonable. We started with some springs rolls, then had a delicious caramelized spare ribs and shrimp and red snapper. The atmosphere is pleasant and the service good. We even had a (very minor) celebrity sighting: Josh Charles from the late, great Sports Night (the guy who wasn't Peter Krause).
For dessert, it's definately worth trekking to Billy's Bakery on 9th Avenue and 21st street. After Magnolia, these are the best cupcakes in NYC. The lines are much shorter at Billy's, plus there's space to sit down inside and outside. Billy's looks like a bakery from a children's book which makes the tough-looking (but very nice) people who work there stand out.
So in an expensive and frenetic neighborhood like Chelsea, these places are pleasant and relatively inexpensive places to go. Enjoy!
Saturday, January 12, 2008
I recently turned 31 so it was great to see this film from the 1960s of a 31-year old Woody Allen venting his angst about women and the world in general.
It's amazing to think how little we men have changed in the last 40 years.
Of course in 1966 Woody Allen was a superhot stand-up comic and movie actor, coming off of "What's New Pussycat?" In 2008, Mr NYC is not even luke warm. Oh well.
Also, they filmed scenes for the movie "Single White Female," "The Paper", and "The Sunshine Boys" here. There are also some urban legends: did you know the fixed 1919 was conceived in front of the Ansonia?
This has been long, long, long, long, long, long (you get the idea) overdue. This article from yesterday's Times compares the new public toilets to the bridge on the Starship Enterprise. The first of these public toilets (they will be rolled out across the city in the next year or so) is located in the most beautiful public space in the city, Madison Square Park. I can't think of a more lovely place to go to the bathroom in.
Greetings, Earthlings. Your New Restroom Is Ready
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
WOW! Who woulda thunk that Plato's Retreat - that 1970s den o'sin - would have actually had its very own TV commercial?
Oh what a sleazy, cheezy, wonderful time the 70s were!
Btw, the Ansonia, where Plato's was once housed, is located on 73rd street and Broadway. Today's it's a very wealthy, family-friendly enclave. In many ways, it's more disgusting than ever ...
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Madison Square Garden’s ‘Godfather,’ Without the Respect
The Dolans are one of those families that are very rich, owns a lot of important stuff, and that people love to hate (the Times compares them to the Corleones; maybe they're more like the Darlings on "Dirty Sexy Money"). I didn't know much about them but apparently the city and state want to strip of them of special tax breaks and they ain't happy about it. The Don of the Dolans, James, and our Mayor Mike apparently hate, hate, hate each other. And that makes for fun infotainment.
We used to have the Rockefellers and the Astors. Now we have the Dolans and Bloomberg. Even in a big city like NYC in the 21st Century, rich families still hold sway.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Twenty years ago, there was a man named Morton Downey Jr who had a talk show on WWOR where he cordially invited people on whom he would then verbally abuse.
There was - and is - a Congressman
named Ron Paul who was and is running for President.
Mort and Ron and the now vanished Lisa Sliwa "got into it" about the drug war and, man, was it entertaining.
Heirs to a Headache