Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Money that Controls New York

Money talks and we all know what walks but, in NYC, some money talks louder than other money. And in NYC politics, real estate money screams the shrillest of all.

New York Candidates Awash in Real Estate Cash

New York's Neurosis

In his masterpiece Brideshead Revisited, novelist Evelyn Waugh wrote about New York City: "... in that city there is [a] neurosis in the air which the inhabitants mistake for energy."

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

Florida = Rudy's Retirement

Dear Rudy aka Mr 9/11,

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.

Oh, I know, I know, even if you're not so much of a hero, you're still "the man who cleaned up NYC." Even though crime began to fall under Mayor Dinkins - who hired lots more police? Even though it was really Bill Bratton who instituted things like CompStat and "broken windows" policing (and who, when he got the proper credit, you had fired and replaced with such great leaders as Howard Safir and Bernie Kerik)? Even though it was Clinton policies that led to NYC's incredible economic boom? Yes, take the credit. Never stopped you before.

Do you also take the credit for your campaign's utter and disastrous failure? "The path to the nomination is in Florida," you thought. "I'll get all these New York retirees to vote for me and that'll give me momentum into Super Tuesday!" Since when do a bunch of rich Early Bird Specialers make Presidents? My theory: you didn't want to campaign in colder states like Michigan and South Carolina, so you went to Florida for January where it's warm.

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.
And how long will it be until there's a FOURTH Mrs. G?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Yorkers in the White House

Tonight may or may not decide whether a city-boy, a native of these five boroughs, has a shot at becoming the President of these here United States (yes, that whole country outside NYC which crosses multiple time zones).

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!"

Fly Oceanic Air

Will there be service out of JFK?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Even Water Based Animals Wanna Live in NYC

This is too cute ...

A Seal Visits the Upper West Side

Apparently this means that the Hudson River is getting cleaner. Who knows, maybe we'll be able to swim in it sometime soon.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The People's Court with Ed Koch

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

Seinfeld Rips Larry King

And since we ripped off Seinfeld in the title for the below entry, here's Jerry ripping Larry King - who shows here why he's an utter tool.

What's the Deal with Chipotle?

If you're like Mr NYC, then you're a consummate lover of Mexican food (and a consummate lover, ha ha ha - okay, sorry). Anyway, if you're looking out for good, cheap Mexican that isn't Taco Bell, then you may have seen the Chipotle Mexican Grills dotted around Manhattan. They are supposedly the "quality" Mexican fast food place, an Au Bon Pain-like establishment very much catering to Yuppies. So being a wannabe Yuppie, I recently went to the Chipotle in Soho and, I must say, was more than disappointed. In short:

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

“It’s a goddamn phone booth! Who do you think I called?”

The New York Press has a great article today about the four remaining phone booths - yes, the actual metal and glass boxes that Superman changes in - in NYC. They are all, for reasons this article makes clear, on West End Avenue (between 66th and 101st streets).

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.


See, even in NYC, one weirdo can make a difference!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ruthless Rudy

Read this article in today's New York Times. It will send chills down your spine and heat to your head.

In Matters Big and Small, Crossing Giuliani Had Price

Monday, January 21, 2008

New York Giants Are Going To Super Bowl XLII - 2-3-2008


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!

Interview: Russ Smith, MUGGER Columnist and Founder of NYPress

Depending on your politics, Russ Smith can either make your blood pressure explode or your face smile with joy. But he doesn't care: he just tells you how he sees it. An unapologetically conservative voice in the media world, Smith writes the regular MUGGER column in the NYPress, which he also founded in 1988 (you know the NYPress, it's the free, funny, colorful newspaper you see each week in those green newspaper boxes on the street). Besides MUGGER, Smith has contributed to the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page and The New York Sun, amongst others.

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?

ush'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

Hercules in New york - Herc loves new york

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

A New York politics honey is going national ...

... and no, we're not talking about Hillary Clinton or Mrs. Giuliani. It's someone far more important: Sandra Endo, the lovely political reporter for NY1.

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

Seasons of Love - Rent (Music Video)

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

Mucho Musto!

You may recall that a couple of months ago Village Voice columnist Michael Musto was kind enough to do an interview for Mr NYC. Well, this morning I was honored to be included in an email alert he sent out, informing us big media folks of his new blog:

"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!"

Naturally Mr NYC will click on it and comment on it and link to it but I shall refrain from relieving myself on it as that might cause expensive damage to my computer. And no, there can't ever be too much Musto. At Mr NYC, we say mucho Musto!

The tourists are coming! And spending

Well I guess that the falling value of the dollar is good for something: it's made lots of foreign visitors want to come and spend money here.

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

Interview: Kurt Andersen, New York Writer, Broadcaster, and Entrepreneur

In the world of multi-media competition, few have thrived so successfully at it as Kurt Andersen. Host of the weekly radio show Studio 360 (where he interviews anyone and everyone in the arts), writer of the regular Imperial City column in New York Magazine (where he dissects American politics with surgical skill) Kurt has also worked in theater, television, the movies, and on the web. In addition, he's written the novels Turn of the Century and Heyday which examine American society past and present.

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).

Kurt's resume goes on and on, and you should check out his website to see the full extent his accomplishments. He is one of those only in America, only in New York success stories: a Nebraska boy turned New York legend, a sophisticated urbanite who feels the pulse of the heartland. Kurt was generous enough to share Mr NYC readers his thoughts on his work as well as on writing, politics, and, of course, New York City.

You've written books and for magazines, television, theater and the movies, you host a a radio show on NPR, launched websites, curated exhibits, and hosted documentaries and TV shows (please let me know if I'm missing something!). How do you juggle your time working across so many different media? Are you the true King of All Media?

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.)

What are the special challenges of jumping back and forth between writing for print and broadcast, fiction and non-fiction?

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.

You grew up in Nebraska, went to Harvard, and now live in Brooklyn with your family. What brought you to NYC and how has it changed or stayed the same over the years?

Growing up, my mental gyroscope was somehow pointed northeast by the time I was 10 or 11; my Nebraska-born parents raised their four children to live on the coasts -- not consciously or deliberately, but that was the de facto result of a house full of books, music, and smart conversation. Sometime during college, I came to know, lemming-like, that New York was my destination. I remember the first time I visited the city, when I was 16 going on 17, and it (the subways, the Village Voice, the signage ) seemed so thrillingly smudged and gritty and dense and strange. And it's still all those things in comparison to most of the rest of America. The big changes -- the remarkable drop in crime, the gentrification -- have more or less tracked with my own embourgeoisment, so I can't say I'm one of those people full of regret about the spiffing-up of places like Times Square and the Lower East Side.

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.

Thanks Kurt!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dinner and Dessert in Chelsea

Chelsea is one of the most charming neighborhoods in New York. There's so much one could write about it (the nightclubs, the historic Empire Diner and Hotel Chelsea, the High Line, London Terrace, the legacy of Clement Clarke Moore, so much more) that it deserves many entries, not just one. But should you find yourself, as we did recently, on a pleasant night in Chelsea and are looking for a good dinner and dessert, may I suggest the following:

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

Woody Allen on the CBC

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.

The Ansonia

A couple of days ago I posted a commercial for Plato's Retreat, the swingers club from the 1970s. As the commercial indicates, it used to be located in the Ansonia, one of the most beautiful buildings ever constructed in New York. The Ansonia used to be a hotel but was converted into an apartment building in 1992. Besides Plato's, the Ansonia has a distinctive history.
As this Wikipedia article indicates, at one time or another Babe Ruth, Theodore Dreiser, Arturo Toscanini and Igor Stravinsky all stayed there. Did you know the Ansonia gave the world Bette Midler? In addition to Plato's the Ansonia housed the Contimental Baths, a gay club, where Bette Midler first sang in NYC.

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?

If you're ever in the West 70's, go to 2109 Broadway and you'll see it. It's worth checking out.

The Ansonia

City Review

Public Terlets!!!

Oh, what a day! What a time to be alive! I'm so very excited - I never thought that in my 30+ years of living in NYC that I'd ever see public pay toilets in our fair city (or "terlets" as my Brooklyn ancestors would say).
Now people don't have to hustle into the facilities at Starbucks and Barnes and Nobles and MacDonald's or buy a drink at a restaurant (in order to be a paying customer who may use the restroom). No. For only 25 cents, you may now legally relieve yourself on city property.

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

Plato's Retreat

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

The Dolans: New York's Most Powerful Clan

The New York Times today has an interesting article today about the Dolans, the family that owns Cablevision and the Knicks and the Rangers, and was instrumental in killing Bloomberg's stadium initiative in 2005.

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

Ron Paul vs Morton Downey Jr, 1988

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.

New York Real Estate Nightmares

You'd think that inheriting a piece of New York City real estate would be the next best thing to hitting the lottery but, as the sages say, be careful what you wish for. You may come into big money but big money always comes with big problems. Hence, this article's raison d'etre.

Heirs to a Headache

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Woody Allen Interviews Billy Graham??!!!


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

... And a happy 2008 to you all

Welcome to 2008. Here's to a great new year.

Hopefully New York City and Mr NYC will be better than ever.