Thursday, April 29, 2010

Woody Allen on The Tonight Show: New Year's Eve 1965

This is a classic appearance Woody Allen made on The Tonight Show on New Year's Eve 1965. It was shortly after his first movie What's New Pussycat? had opened and suddenly Woody was a big star. He was about 30 years old at the time and was still, at the time, considered a daring comic. His comedy was cerebral and ironic, much different than the broad comedy of the time, and you can tell that Johnny Caron didn't quite know what to make of him. Forty-five years later, Woody Allen remains the gold standard.

You can check out part 2 here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

John Liu Iz Da Man

Last year Mr NYC endorsed John Liu for NYC Comptroller. Only one of three city-wide elected officials, the Comptroller is the city's chief fiscal officer whose job is to audit the city' government and manage its pension fund. Liu's candidacy and election was the only bright spot in an otherwise dull and unmemorable municipal race.

Well it appears that my vote was justified: Comptroller Liu just busted the Economic Development Corporation for hoarding over $125 million in secret accounts that it collected from taxes and fees. The city was doing everything it could to stonewall this audit and now you can see why: it didn't want to turn over this money to the city's general fund that would go to city services. Instead the city wanted the EDC to conceal this money so that it could go towards the city's development plans.

So, to put it blunty, the EDC was hiding this money to help developers and not the city's people. Outrageous.

This revelation just shows why it's so important to have checks and balances in government and, more importantly, the right people doing it. So good job Comptroller Liu, on behalf of all New Yorkers, thank you.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Keepin' the Yoga Real

A confession: Mr NYC is a yoga fan. Not a fanatic, I don't do it every day and say namaste to everyone I meet, but I do enjoy it and take classes about twice a week. It calms me down and Lord knows that's a good thing.

In the last decade or so, yoga has become something of a yuppie staple. And, like everything else, it's become commercialized what with hundred dollar mats and exercise clothes and super-expensive instructors. Not exactly chill.

But true, mellow yoga fans are fighting back! (As much as mellow people can fight.) Yoga to the People is a come one, come all, totally stripped down, back-to-basics yoga studio in the East Village that does yoga the way it should be: simply. There's a great article about it that gives you a sense of what yoga does, where it's gone, and where Yoga to the People is trying to pull it back.

Check 'em both out and see what you think. Namaste.

Royal New Yorkers

During her long reign, Queen Victoria was not only the monarch of her native land but was also dubbed Empress of India by one of her favorite prime ministers. India was then part of the British Empire (which covered a quarter of the globe at the time) and giving her this meaningless title is perhaps history's biggest act of flattery. Yet this silly title only helped to solidify her role as the world's most important ruler.

Today, there are very few monarchs left and many of them don't have much power. Even back then Queen Victoria didn't have any real political power. In fact, there's a whole bunch of descendants of European royalty living amo
ng us in NYC, quietly living their lives, devoid of any authority.

But if our city has one true monarch today it's Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He may not be an official royal but he's the closest thing we have. The richest and most powerful man in town, he wields political and economic power that even Queen Victoria might envy. He has been dubbed the King of New York and just about everyone agrees it's an apt title. None dare cross him. None dare question him. He rules. We are his subjects.

And he's not just the King of New York! He's also the Emperor of Bermuda. Mayor Bloomberg lives part time on that small island in the Atlantic ocean. This exhaustive New York Times piece examines Bloomberg's life in Bermuda, where he apparently goes at least twice a month and is well known by all. He travels there on his private plane, plays lots of rounds of golfs, hits the best restaurants, and parties down. Plus he has a lavish, enormous mansion that is apparently the most spectacular home on the island.

You gotta hand it to this guy. In the post-colonial era, where monarchs and empires are basically elaborate jokes, Mayor Bloomberg has managed not only to become the most powerful man in the world's greatest city but also the first citizen of an entire country. Louis XIV himself would be impressed. Mike really is the ultimate royal New Yorker, our city's first self-made king.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New York's Secret Garden

One of NYC's best kept secrets is the Central Park Conservatory Gardens. Far from the tourist crushed regions of the 60s and 70s, or the kid-infested areas of the 80s and 90s, the Conservatory Gardens rest in a quiet stretch of Central Park where real New Yorkers roam. And it is the most stunning part of Central Park by far.

When you walk through the beautiful Vanderbilt Gate on 106th street and Fifth Avenue, you feel like you've instantly left NYC in the 21st century and gone back in time to 19h century Europe. The Conservatory Gardens is a stunningly beautiful collection of three distinct gardens based on Victorian-era designs: English, French and Italian. The Italian gardens is full of wisteria as well as a twelve-foot high jet fountain. The French garden is full of pansies, tulips, and boxwoods, as well as another fountain called The Three Dancing Maidens. The English garden is the one you enter through the Vanderbilt gates and has a huge lawn and planting beds, as well as the Burnett Fountain which is based on the story The Secret Garden. If you want more info on the plants and designs of these gardens, go here.

The really stunnin
g thing about these gardens is not just how gorgeous the plants and flowers are but how amazing well-designed they are. They really look like something out of the great palaces of Europe -- you'd be forgiving for thinking you were at Versailles or Windsor Castle. Walking through these stunning gardens, you almost feel like you're going to bump into Queen Victoria or Emperor Franz Joseph at any moment (and you'd want to apologize for walking there). You can tell that theses gardens were meticulously planned and lovingly constructed. The thought, care, and a generosity of spirit that brought them to life is probably the most beautiful thing about the Conservatory Gardens.

And the fact that these were built for us regular folks, not just the rich, brings a burst of joy to your heart just like one of the gardens' flowers bursting open in springtime.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Classic Mr NYC

There's a new show on HBO called Treme, about a neighborhood in New Orleans trying to pull itself up from the ravages of Hurricaine Katrina. It was created by David Simon, the genius behind the brilliant shows Homicide and The Wire. There have been two episodes of Treme so far, both really good, and it's looking like this will be another great show.

Last year I had a memorable weekend in New Orleans which I lovingly blogged about. So as a tribute to this new show, you can re-read about that trip here. And while I didn't make it to the real Treme last year, I certainly plan on visiting it next time I get to NOLA.

More People, Less Cars

Last year the city made radical changes to Times Square, Herald Square, and Madison Square when parts of them were blocked off to traffic and were replaced by pedestrian plazas.

The results have been wonderful: people are free and safe to walk around these very hectic areas, they can sit in beach chairs or at tables and eat, read, or talk, and it has brought a new vitality and relaxed energy to these crazy parts of town. Less car + more people = good.

But wait -- there's more! Now the city wants to create a pedestrian plaza around Union Square, closing the blocks just north of it to traffic. I was actually in Union Square last night -- a gorgeous, beautiful, Spring evening -- and the area was blazing with people and fun. Most of Union Square is already blocked off from traffic and is basically a big plaza anyway so extending it will only make it better.

Perhaps the most ambitious plan, however, is the DOT's proposal to eliminate most traffic from 34th street. The plan is to have traffic only going one way and to install dedicated bus lanes. Getting across 34th street, either by car or foot, is a nightmare so this will make buses go much faster and hopefully alleviate these bursting streets of people and get traffic across much faster.

It's nice to know that after almost a century of genuflecting and deferring to the automobile, finally pedestrians and public transportation are taking priority, at least in our city government's mind.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bloomberg Bombshell!

Being a billionaire, our Mayor Mike constantly insists that we can't tax the rich more because "They'll leave! They can afford to leave! They create jobs!" Yada yada yada.

So basically, in Bloomberg's mind, we have to cater to the rich and not make them pay more taxes because, if we don't, they'll move their money out of NYC and the rest of us will be screwed even more. How convenient for these super-rich people ... like him.

But guess what?! They're already moving their money out of NYC! Ever heard of off-shore tax shelters? Creepy little countries in the Caribbean and Europe where people can hide their money and pay no taxes? Ever heard of laundering money through non-profits and so-called charities and foundations?

Nearly every rich person in this city and country has some of their
money off-shore or in some questionable tax-free organization. Including Mike Bloomberg! The New York Observer has an amazing story today called Bloomberg's Offshore Millions. Yes, that's right, our dear, incorruptible mayor shifts hundreds of millions of dollars of his money to accounts in the Cayman Islands as well as his charitble foundation.

This is really outrageous. Bloomberg keeps insisting that the rich are good for NYC because they pour their money into the city's economy. But just how good are they when literally hundreds of millions of dollars -- from this one New Yorker along who also happens to be the richest and most powerful person in town -- aren't going into the city's coffers or economy but literally out of the country? Why do we keep pandering to these people to the point of exhortation? I guess it's Mike Bloomberg and the rich people's city, we just live (or barely survive) in it.

This article is a quintessential example of why it's so vital that we have a free, robust press. Thanks to The New York Observer for doing this really important investigation and shedding light on this truly scandalous situation. This is reporting at its very best: afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New York's Princess

Last year I blogged about Amanda Burden, the city's planning commissioner. Well today Vanity Fair did the most-flattering of flattering profiles of her called Princess of the City. It's worth a read to find out more about the lady who's literrally re-shaping the face of our city.


State Sues Espada Over Nonprofit Clinics

Well it's about time! New York AG Andrew Cuomo finally nailed the little bastard. Espada won't be going to jail -- at least not yet -- but this is a good step in the right direction of removing this cancer on the New York body politic.

Espada is claiming that this suit is politically motivated -- but he's going to have to explain why he got a severance package of $9 million which is more than the clinic he ran was worth.

I wrote about little Pedro's exploits last year when he participated in a coup that tied up the state senate. If you wish to relive those halcyon day, go here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Life and Times of Tim

Have you ever seen a movie or TV show -- or even read a book? -- where you think to yourself "This was created just for me!"

That's how I feel about the HBO animated series "The Life and Times of Tim." Steve Dildarian, the genius behind this hilarious show, must have said "I wonder what kinda show Mr NYC would like to see?" -- and then created it. Watching this show is like looking into a surreal, dark version of my life. I don't know how anyone else but me can really enjoy it. (Seriously.)

To whit: Tim (no last name) is a skinny, underemployed loser who lives in NYC with his ball-busting girlfriend and has dopey friends. (This is basically my life except that my wife is an angel and my friends are much smarter than me.) Anyway, each episode -- which consists of two fifteen-minute stories -- has the goodhearted, weak, go-along-to-get-along Tim falling into all sorts of bizarre entanglements that always end horribly. Tim is basically a guy who wants to earn his keep, hang with his girlfriend and his pals, and enjoy life. Unfortunately bad stuff keeps happening to him, and his attempts to deal with it are always well-meaning and disastrous.

What I love about this show is that, for all the craziness, the show's humor has a wry intelligence. And all of the characters -- his girlfriend Amy, his friends Rodney and Stu, his black hooker Debbie, his crazy boss -- are well developed and interesting. Whether its faking a seizure in a bar so that it will help a horny young doctor score chicks or baking a "condolence casserole" or going to Cincinnati on a business trip with an insane co-worker, the situations in this show are as bizarre and original as you're likely to see anywhere. You just have to watch it for yourself. Check out the clip below.

"The Life and Times of Tim" airs Fridays at 9:30 on HBO. The second season has two more episodes left and you can get season one on Netflix. If you want to see the funniest show in a long time, you should check it out.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Charles Addams's New York

Recently I went to the Museum of the City of New York's new exhibit on the work of cartoonist Charles Addams. It's there until June 8 and you should definitely go ASAP.

You probably know of Charles Addams's most famous creation "The Addams Family" which started life in the pages of The New Yorker and has since been brought to life in TV shows, movies, and now a Broadway musical. Gomez, Morticia, their kids Wednesday and Pugsley, their relatives Uncle Fester, Cousin It and others have become American icons -- a bun
ch of creepy, kooky, mysteriously ooky folks who think they're as normal and put-upon as everyone else.

But the Addams family was only part of Charles Addams's oeuvre. For almost fifty years he produced thousands of cartoons for The New Yorker and other publications that gave creative and hilarious view of NYC. This exhibit is called Charles Addams' New York and it displays a number of his cartoons, both published and unpublished, depicting the city through his wonderfully subversive mind.

Most of his cartoons present a city-scape -- usually a building or a street -- that looks 99% normal. The eye scans it, seeing nothing particularly unusual. But his cartoons reward the attentive eye because, just when you think you've literally seen the whole picture, you notice that one thing, usually a hilarious small object, that totally re-writes the reality of the picture. One of my favorites is a picture of a construction worker sitting on a steel beam, eating his lunch. The picture is simple, straightforward, but then you see what the worker is looking at: a billy goat -- a billy goat -- standing on a higher beam. It's a very simple but hilarious cartoon -- and there are many, many more like it in this exhibit.

Good Job Mets

Yesterday the New York Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals with a score of 2 to 1 -- and it only took them seven hours!

Technically it took 6 hours and 53 minutes in a game that lasted twenty innings. You can read a full summary of this now-legendary game here.

This was the longest Mets game since a 24 innings game on Sept. 11, 1974. Ironically this was another Mets/Cardinals match which the Mets lost 4-3. Yesterday's game was the fourth-longest in Mets history and, according to the summary, measured by time it was the third-longest Mets game ever.

And we won. So congrats Mets, let's hope you wear all your opponents out going forward.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

No More Rubber Rooms

It's hard to believe but for years New York City Public School teachers who were suspended from teaching and awaiting disciplinary hearings were sent to so-called "rubber rooms." These were places where they sat all day, did nothing -- and got paid for it. (As far as I know these rooms weren't literally padded like Supermax prison cells but the tedium of being in them every day was apparently the same).

The teachers exiled to them were often accused of incompetence, sometimes of gross misbehavior, but ,whatever their alleged infraction, union rules made it impossible to fire them. Instead, they had to wait ... and wait ... and wait ... and wait, sometimes for years in these rooms, until they finally got their hearings. Meanwhile they earned their salary and full benefits, costing the taxpayers around $30 million a year. Think of that? $30 million to pay people to do nada.

This is ending. Today the Bloomberg administration announced that the rubber rooms will be no more; instead these teachers will be assigned clerical or other non-classroom jobs. So finally we taxpayers will be paying these semi-laid off teachers to do something productive and stop wasting money. Sounds like a good idea.

These rubber rooms sound almost like these terrorist detention camps: the people in them are basically being warehoused. Some of them clearly should be there while others ... well ... it's not so clear if their imprisonment is really legally justified. They're in limbo.

Last year the veteran journalist Steven Brill did a long story for The New Yorker about the teachers who populate[d] these rubber rooms. It paints a fascinating picture of why unions are good things overall (protecting workers from exploitation, abuse, firing women for getting pregnant, etc.) but how certain union rules can lead to unproductive waste (like rubber rooms). And it's also clear from this article that some these teachers are either just lousy or unfit to educated students.

Sometimes I have to wonder, however, if these rubber rooms were being used for less than noble purposes. Clearly sending teachers there was a form of psychological gamesmanship: the Department of Ed. wanted to make them so unpleasant and boring that hopefully the teachers would just quit. (WNYC did a great story today about life in the rubber rooms.) But the thing that really disturbed me was how teachers who had been teaching for years and years were suddenly declared "incompetent" and banished into these gulags.

Really? A teacher is told that she's doing a fine job for years and then, all of a sudden, is told "Oh, you're no good. Get out." It's odd. Makes no sense. It seems to me that if someone is being told that they're doing a job well for years and then, all of a sudden, they're told that they're a failure and need to leave ... well, something else is going on. I think this is about forcing out older teachers who have accrued high salaries and pensions so that the city doesn't have to pay as much. It's also about, as these stories suggest, new principals who come in, decide they don't like certain teachers, and then suddenly say they're "incompetent" and force them out.

Oh, but that would be being cynical now wouldn't it? And of course the Bloomberg administration never does anything that would make a New Yorker think it would do something sleazy? But at least the rubber rooms are no more ... and that's probably a step in the right direction.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Good News NYC

It's so easy to crack open a newspaper -- or should I say dial up a newspaper? -- and find bad news. But sometimes, if you know where to look, you can find good news (as increasingly rare as that is these days).

And if you like good news, you're already half-way there by dialing up Mr NYC.

So the big "good news" story of the day is this: New York City Takes Over Governors Island. Yes, that's right, after four centuries the City of New York will actually control one of its most historic, beautiful islands. It only opened to the public a few years ago, and it's finally going to be developed and integrated into the greater city -- with a school and other big projects on the planning board. First the Federal Government gave it back to New York State and now New York State is finally giving it to New York City.

Governors Island is moving on ... up!

This really is a great thing. Governors Island is a jewel in the crown of NYC, that king of all American cities. I visited it last year and can't wait to go back. Governors Island, welcome home.

And while this might not be counted as a good news "story" it's a piece of good news in the literal sense that it informs you about something in a positive way: the ever reliable New York magazine has an expansive feature story this week called The Best Places to Live in NYC. It sums up some of the best 'hoods in this town -- from the cheapest to the most expensive, from the least hip to the most chic, from the best food to the best dressed, etc. etc. etc. It's an interesting feature, with several short features, some interviews, and one very kick-ass PDF. Check it out.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Studio Square

Recently I went out with some friends to Studio Square, the new beer garden on the Astoria/LIC border. Its name is derived from its location since it's situated in the heart of that Hollywood in Queens, the Kaufman Astoria/Museum of the Moving Image area.

When this place opened last year, it caused some kerfuffle. After all, it was rather ballsy to open up a new, similar sized beer garden not too far from the original Bohemian Hall in the heart of Astoria.

But the two are quite different. Bohemian Hall is funky and ethnic, Studio Square is sleek and pretty. Bohemian Hall doesn't have much of an indoor area while roughly half of Studio Square is indoors in a vast space. Bohemian Hall serves lots of ethnic food along with its burgers and chicken sandwiches while Studio Square serves sushi and nachos along with its burgers and nachos. Plus, at SS, you can get drinks like Sangria which I don't believe Bohemian Hall has.

Studio Square is more yuppie, Bohemian Hall is more blue-collar.

There are things about Studio Square that were clearly designed to make it more "user-friendly."

For example, Studio Square is located between a couple of buildings and is behind high walls so the wind is kept to a minimum. Also, they have wonderfully long tables so lots and lots of people can easily congregate and not have to split up. And Studio Square has very easy to find bathrooms.

While I'll admit that my heart belongs to its forerunner, Studio Square holds its down quite nicely. You don't quite get the richness and sense of community at Studio Square that you get at Bohemian Hall but Studio Square is a place that I'll happily go back to sometime if I get the chance.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Newspaper Picture at Film Forum

Every so often Film Forum puts on a great series of old movies centered on a theme. From now until May 6, they are showing several great old movies about the newspaper business. Considering that this is a now-dying industry, perhaps this festival is a last hurrah of sorts.

There are actually many great movies about newspapers: The Front Page, His Girl Friday, Ace in the Hole, Sweet Smell of Success, The Philadelphia Story, and All the President's Men. And the greatest movie of all time, Citizen Kane, is about a newspaper publisher based on William Randolf Hearst, the original media king (in his day he was bigger than Rupert Murdoch, Summer Redstone, and Ted Turner put together).

So if you're interested in a time when newspapers mattered and journalists were well-regarded, this festival is definitely worth checking out.

So Long St. Vincent's

It's finally happened -- St. Vincent's Hospital, one of the most important in the city and a Greenwich Village institution -- is finally closing. After failing to get any money to plug its $700 million deficit, the hospital shut its emergency room yesterday and very soon the entire hospital will be gone for good.

Can you imagine that? A big empty hospital in the heart of NYC. So retarded.

It's a long story why this happened. Apparently the hospital had been losing money for years (fiscal mismanagement? A bad economy? Other reasons? All of the above!). The owners decided, obviously, that this couldn't continue, and the state and city government doesn't have the money right now to save it (they don't have the money to do anything these days, as we know); so now, after more than a hundred years, it's gone.


In a city that continues to grow and grow, we can't afford to have fewer hospitals. Not only will Manhattan be down an emergency room -- putting more strain on the already overflowing ERs in this town and possibly endangering lives -- but there will also be fewer places for mothers to give birth.

This lack of hospitals isn't only a Manhattan problem. It's city-wide. In Queens, St. John's, Parkway, and Mary Immaculate closed last year. That's three hospitals in a borough bigger than most American cities -- in a year! In Astoria, Mount Sinai Hospital desperately needs to expand to accommodate the overflow but, naturally, lack of money and some neighborhood resistance is making this hard.

I was at an event a few months ago where an official from this hospital made a convincing case as to why this hospital expansion is so necessary -- and then someone who violently disagreed piped up and raised her many objections (citing noise, increased traffic, etc. that the expansion would entail. You see how hard this kind of thing can be).

Mayor Bloomberg, I appeal to you directly: if your recent $100 million re-election means anything, if you want your third term to have a legacy to equal your first two, if you want to justify the overturning of term limits and the trampling of democracy, then please sir, fix the hospital crises in NYC!

You and your supporters claim that you have extraordinary leadership skills -- well here, more than anywhere else, is your chance to prove it.

So prove it!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mr NYC in Kansas City

One of the reasons for my radio silence the past couple of weeks is that I was out of town for a few days -- in that jewel of the American heartland Kansas City, Missouri.

KC is one of those cities many people have heard of but very few ever visit. It's not, strictly speaking, a great tourist town but it has a unique charm that is worth checking out.

First and foremost, it is a GREAT food town. KC is the best BBQ city in America bar none (and I looove BBQ). Our first night there we ate at Arthur Bryant's, considered by many the single best BBQ joint in the country. When you w
alk in, you think you're in a low-rent cafeteria from the 1970s. Everyone lines up with trays to get their food at a covered counter. The menu is simple and the prices reasonable. But OH MY GOD IS IT GOOD! I had the pork ribs (mmmmm) and the burnt-ends (MMMMMMMMMMMMM). Burnt ends are literally burnt portions of brisket that are cut-off and smothered in a spicy BBQ sauce. If you ever have the priveledge of eating in this joint, you must order the burnt ends -- along with rest of the menu. Getting hungry just thinking about it.

Some other goods eats: Town Topic. This is something we have increasingly few of in NYC -- a good old fashioned greasy spoon. It's basically a trailer that has amazing burgers. It's sort of like Shake Shack except better, cheaper, and funkier. If you ever find yourself in KC and are in need of a quick bite (particlarly if you're drunk and it's 2 AM - this place is open 24 hours), then you'll love this place.

Our fine dining experience was at Pierpont's Steakhouse, located in KC's beautifully refurbished Union Station. This has to be one of the most beautiful restaurants I've ever eaten in, with heigh ceilings and marble walls. There's a great bar in front of a huge pane of glass with very high shelves for the booze. The bartenders occasionally walk up the ladders to get bottles, it's quite a site. The food was fantastic, and I had a delicious steak
with all the fixins' and amazing red wine.

The final culinary destination, the morning we left, was a place called Niece's where we had a really great breakfast. Best of all, they have wonderful grits -- yes, I will admit it: I'm a New Yorker who likes grits. And if you have a problem with that, w
ell then ... kiss my grits!

But we did more than just eat in KC -- although if that's all we did it still would have been worth it. We visited the beautiful Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art that has a wonderful collection. The most notable exhibit is the work of Thomas Hart Benton, the 20th century artist and grandson of the famous Missouri Senator. Also, the museum itself it quite a sight to see, with beautiful grounds that are decorated with four enormous badminton shuttlecocks -- some modern art to mesh with the old.

My favorite destination on this trip was our four hour visit to the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum. Located in our 33rd President's hometown of Independence, MO, it is about half-an-hour outside KC and it is a charming place. You walk in and see a beautiful Thomas Hart Benton mural designed especially for the museum. Then, after paying your admission, you can walk into a recreation of Truman's Oval Office. A voice clicks on, welcoming you to the museum, and is the voice of old Harry himself.

Then you go into the exhaustive number of exhibits about Harry's life, his improbable rise to our nation's highest office, the many challenges he faced in office (becoming President when FDR died, then dropping the bomb on Japan and ending WWII, implementing the Fair Deal and the Berlin Airlift, and the Marshall Plan, de-desegregating the army, winning an improbable election in 1948, fighting the the Korean War and firing General MacArthur, and on and on), and then how he returned to Independence after his presidency and became an elder statesman. There are several interactive aspects of the museum and it is not only a shrine to this president but also an educational experience, making us ask questions about ourselves as Americans -- and what we want out of our leaders.

I can't hide my biases here: I'm a huge Truman fan. He was one of our greatest presidents -- a humble man from a small town in middle America who re-made our world. He was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things and his grit and determination -- particularly his policies of containment that eventually won the Cold war -- are today widely admired by all Americans. It's not surprising that today many of Truman's predecessors try to emulate him (even Republicans!). But none of them have yet proven to be his equal. As President Lyndon Johnson told Truman in a phone call in 1964, "We're all just a bunch of pygmies compared to you."

All in all, KC was a great trip and it's a great town. We stayed with a dear friend of mine who showed us it's wonder. Best of all, KC has the best airport in America. When you land, you walk out of your gate and are immediately in a hallway right outside the parking lot. There's not long treks from gate to gate or from the gate to the exits -- shaped like a circle, the KC airport is the most user-friendly I've ever been to. So Mr NYC gives KC a big thumbs up -- and looks forward to returning one day.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Some Interesting New York Women

As "Mr" NYC, this blog obviously has an ingrained male POV. Can't help it, nature deigned it that way.

But this is not a male blog, just a blog written by one. Personally, I've always thought that women are the much more interesting gender (as a man, of course, I should probably think that). A lot is expected of women, and they do a lot: they are expected to be "ladies"; they give birth; they are looked upon by their children and by society as the natural caregivers; they are expected these days not only to raise families but also to work professionally; and they have to look good the whole time while doing it less they be called "frumpy." In short, women do a lot nowadays. Must be exhausting.

So I find stories by and about women in NYC interesting. Man they're under a lot of pressure -- if these stories are to be believed.

First, there's this piece by a New York woman who's boyfriend turned out to be a bi-sexual. Now, as a politically correct person, I have no problem with this proclivity. There's even a old joke that "bi-sexuality doubles your chances for a date of Saturday night" -- so for those lucky enough to find both genders equally attractive, more power to ya'. But for those of us who don't play on both teams, it's frustrating to be competing with other men AND women (or, in this case, other women AND men). This lady has an interesting take on her experiences dating a bi-sexual -- an only in New York (or possibly San Francisco or Amsterdam) kinda tale. You can't help feeling just a little sorry for her -- in this big bad city, it's hard for a woman to find a good guy ... particularly when that guy wants to find guys too.

Then there's this whole species of New York women known as "bottle girls." New York magazine has an amazingly revealing expose about them this week. "Bottle girls" work in clubs, and their jobs entail being waitresses, companions, hosts, "friends", and even semi-prostitutes for rich men. It can be very lucrative work for the women who are pretty and savvy enough to qualify for it, but it can also be exhausting and totally dehumanizing. This article really shows what a brutal world of Social Darwinism nightlife in NYC is. Everyone is a victim: from the women who have to entertain and sometimes sleep with these (often) foul men, and the men who are coughing up vast sums of money for the privilege. (You really start to wonder, after reading this, if anyone is actually having a good time at these clubs. Guess some of them are.)
The world of "bottle girls" and the peculiar ecosystem of nightclubs was blown wide open by the recent Tiger Woods scandal -- which apparently catered to the great golfer's every libidinous impulse and eventually triggered his PR disaster.

Warning: as one of the commentators on this story wrote, after reading it you may feel the need to take a shower.

But here's one story that will make you feel just the opposite. It will inspire you. It will make you smile and feel happy that there are still such people in the world. Meet Joan McAllister, an 80-year old West Villager who has been writing and publishing a newsletter for poor New Yorkers since 1987. She distributes her newsletter to city-run shelters and apartment buildings and each issue gives the poorest of your city's citizens information on "jobs, child care, food, housing and their legal rights." This New York Times piece profiles this highly motivated, self-appointed advocate for the poor and how her efforts have helped countless people. A woman all New Yorkers can be proud of, a shining example to all men and women a like.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Scouting NYC

This may be the coolest NYC blog yet: a feature films location scout named Nick Carr has a blog about the movies and locations he has scouted for.

He has worked on such films as The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 and Doubt and, if there's a good location to use for a movie, he's the man to find it. He not only chronicles his scouting adventures on this blog but he provides insights about why certain locations were chosen for certain films. He also revisits locations for classic NYC films like Taxi Driver and Ghostbusters to let us know how they has changed or, in some cases, remained exactly.

You should definitely check out this blog and also listen to his great recent interview on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show.

Time and Memory

Egad, has it really been almost two weeks since I last posted on here?

Sad to say it has been, and it's not due to any diminution of enthusiasm on my part either for NYC or this blog -- it has simply been a matter of too much going on, too little time. I apologize for this silence. Nothing bad has occur ed so let not your heart by troubled, just lots and lots of stuff that has eaten up my time. So, if you're reading this, thanks for remembering this little spot of cyberspace.

And talking about time and memory, on March 27 this blog ticked past its third anniversary. Yes, for three whole years Mr NYC has been going strong. Hard, hard, hard to believe.

Here's the stunning little entry I composed last year on the occasion of this blog's second anniversay. Each anniversary entry has a link to the previous one, including a link to the very first entry ever, so if you'd like go back to Mr NYC's little milestones, click here.