Thursday, March 31, 2011

A fight starts over spaghetti on NYC subway

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Interview: Zack Hample of "The Baseball"

The first interview Mr NYC ever did was with Zack Hample, baseball fan extrodinaire and author of some very unique books about America's favorite past-time.

When we talked to Zack before it was about his book Watching Baseball Smarter:  A Professional Fan's Guide to Beginners, Semi-experts and Deeply Serious Geeks. His new book, just out this month, is The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches. In this book, Zack looks at the object of the baseball itself and how it has influenced not only the game of baseball but the popular culture and conscientious at large.

So tell us what made you want to write The Baseball?
I've had a strange fixation with baseballs ever since I started snagging them at major league games in 1990. Back then -- and for most of the next two decades -- it was just a fun hobby that I obsessed over. All I wanted to do was collect as many as possible, but eventually I realized just how special baseballs are, and I thought it'd be cool to write a whole book about it.

Why do baseballs have so much symbolic power? Is it something about how they're designed and how they look? 
First of all, the baseball is THE object at the center of the national pastime. Secondly, baseballs have changed more than any other piece of equipment in the history of the sport. And third, baseballs are fun. There have been all kinds of controversies related to the ball. People have done all sorts of wacky stunts and experiments with baseballs. There have been lots of foul ball scenes in movies and TV shows, including Ferris Bueller's Day Off, I Love Lucy, Sex and the City, and Sesame Street. The baseball is a cultural phenomenon. You can pretty much trace the history of the sport -- and in some cases, the history of America as well -- through the ball itself.

Give us a few examples of the baseball-related stories or observations in your book.
Oh, man, where to begin? There was the time that Pakistani drug dealers tried to smuggle heroin into America by hiding it in the core of baseballs. Or the time that a wayward foul ball crashed through the windshield of a small airplane in the South Pacific during World War II and knocked the pilot unconscious. Or the time that Babe Ruth attempted to catch a ball that was dropped from an airplane. Or the time that Dave Winfield was arrested for animal cruelty after throwing a ball that struck and killed a dove. Or the stories of ceremonial first pitches that have been thrown by astronauts in outer space. Or the time that Charlie Sheen bought the entire left field pavilion -- more than 2,600 seats -- at an Angels game because he was so determined to snag a home run ball. The list goes on and on.

Tell us something about baseballs that most people don't know.
There are 350 employees at the Rawlings factory in Costa Rica whose sole job is to stitch baseballs by hand. Each employee has a stamp with a unique serial number, and after every baseball is completed, it gets stamped with invisible ink. Later on, the factory's inspectors pull out defective balls, examine them in ultraviolet light, make a note of the serial numbers, and send the balls back for repair to the employees who stitched them. Cool, huh? But wait, there's more. Toward the very end of the manufacturing process, the balls get wiped with a cleaning solvent to remove any smudges from the cowhide covers. Sometimes the solvent happens to remove the invisible ink stamps, but not always, so if you buy a major league ball or snag one at a game, check it out under a black light and you might see one of Rawlings' secret serial numbers.

So what's the latest number of MLB baseballs that you've caught?
My lifetime total is 4,662. If all goes according to plan, I'll snag No. 5,000 this season, and by the way, the final third of the book is called "How to Snag Major League Baseballs." It will teach you how to go to a game and catch a ball, guaranteed. And you'll have a few laughs in the process.

The new baseball season is about to begin. What are you thoughts?  
Well, on a personal level, I'm thinking about trying to hit up all 30 major league stadiums. I've already visited them all -- I've been to 48 major league stadiums overall -- but I've never done it in one season. In terms of how the season will play out, I'm predicting that the Phillies will beat the Red Sox in the World Series.

Thanks Zack! 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Geraldine Ferraro RIP

Almost thirty years ago, a plucky congresswoman from Queens was plucked out of political anonymity and became the first woman to run on a presidential ticket. She was the 1984 Democratic nominee for Vice President, only one of two women to this day to be on a major party ticket (for the moment, I can't remember who the other one was).

Her name was Geraldine Ferraro and she was a trailblazer. She died yesterday at the age of 75.

She showed that a woman could work as hard and compete with any man. Her career were multi-various -- schoolteacher, mother, lawyer (working as a real estate lawyer, pro bono attorney, prosecutor), and finally, in 1978,  one of a very few women in Congress. She was instrumental in improving public transit around LaGuardia airport and sponsored the Economic Equality Act. She also worked on the budget committee and in the Democratic leadership in Congress. She was a class act.

Obviously she didn't become vice-president -- she and Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale went down hard in 1984. But it was the the first presidential election that I remember and it never seemed odd to this boy that a woman might run for vice-president -- or even president.  I remember watching her in the vice-presidential debate against the then incumbent VP, the utterly loathsome George HW Bush (who sadly become President later on and, of course, is the father of any even more awful man who became president). I remember that she did really well in that debate, scoring many policy points against her heinous opponent, and many people felt afterwards that she had won the debate. Too bad she didn't win the election -- but a bell was rung.

She ran unsuccessfully for senate in 1992 and then retired from politics. But the left a mark.

So Geraldine Ferraro -- a brassy, proud lady from NYC -- should be remembered for her great public service, for the positive impact that she had on the trajectory of women in America.

Rest in peace.

Four Years of Mr NYC

Today marks a milestone in Mr NYC history. Today we have crossed the threshold of four years -- a full presidential term -- of this blog's existence. 

Hard to believe. 

Feels just like yesterday when I started this thing on a whim and it's turned into something quite special (at least I think so but, obviously, I'm biased). There are lots of New York City blogs out there, some really great ones in fact, but I think this is the only blog out there that tries to capture this great city's spirit and mind in a unique, reverential way. Clearly that's an impossible task but I've always had a taste for the quixotic. 

Hope you've enjoyed it. I plan to keep doing this for a while. Into the future it goes.

Four more years! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review: "Arcadia"

"Et in Arcadia ego." Literally translated, it means "And in Arcadia I"; more figuratively, it is "And I too was in Arcadia." Arcadia is generally defined as a region of rural simplicity and contentment, a nice place to find happiness.

"Arcadia" is also the name of Tom Stoppard's great 1993 play, currently revived on Broadway.

It takes place in an English country house and alternates between the present and 1809. In the 1809 part, a  man name Septimus Hodge tutors a young girl named Thomasina Coverly. An intriguing character, Hodge is also a friend of the great poet Lord Byron (who we do not see in the play) and has been having an affair with the wife of another great poet, Ezra Chater (Hodge and Chater's wife were allegedly caught in a "perpendicular poke" in a gazebo, thus triggering the plot). Hodge's life is quite complex: he is called out by Chater to duel for his wife's honor and he is also developing an inappropriate relationship with Thomasina. As time goes by, it become clear that Thomasina is also a mathematically genius, understanding and discovering the second law of thermodynamics years before it officially was.

In the present, a writer named Hannah Jarvis and a literature professor Bernard Nightengale are  investigating a strange event  in the life of Byron. They believe that he, not Hodge, may have killed Chater in the duel. As they and other begin to go through the old treasurers in the house, they discover the truth about what happened -- and about Thomasina's early genius. 

"Arcadia" is a very complicated, intriguing play. You go in thinking this is a standard English drama set in the country -- albeit with a time twisting narrative and a murder mystery to boot -- but it turns out, instead, to be a discourse on how we come to understand the past (like mathematics, we try to make sense of it through deduction and reason and evidence -- but ultimately there are things we can never know and chaos plays a huge part). "The future is chaos" one character says. Living in these troubled times, that has never seemed more true.

Amazingly written by Stoppard, "Arcadia" is considered one of his best plays. The original Broadway production in the 1990s was a hailed as a masterpiece and, full disclosure, I'm a huge Tom Stoppard fan (I was unable to see "Rock'n'Roll" and "The Coast of Utopia" but did see the revivals of "The Real Thing", "Jumpers" and "The Invention of Love" several years ago). Stoppard's plays are so funny, his characters so interesting, and the language so beautiful, that he manages to effectively convey difficult ideas quite clearly. His plays are also very dense -- lots going at once. My brief synopsis above in way captures the full complexity of the play. After seeing it, I felt the need to go out and read the script for myself.

The current production is quite good if not great. The cast is mostly excellent with an actor named Tom Riley as the stand out playing Hodge. His performance is the glue that binds the play together, making a mostly awful guy as sympathetic as can be. Also great is someone named Margaret Colin who plays Lady Croom, Thomasina's mother, who rules the estate. In the modern day parts, Lia Williams is wonderful as Hannh Jarvis, the nutty author. Billy Crudup is good as Bernard Nightengale but his performance is a bit manic and overacted. I usually like Raul Esparza -- who was great in "Company" and "Speed the Plow" but I felt he probably wasn't right the part of Valentime Coverly (a modern day member of the family who helps Bernard and Hannah in their work). 

Also, and this has been mentioned by others, the sound in the theater was a little low so it wasn't always easy to hear the dialogue -- not good for a play trying to communicate such complex ideas.

Still, this production is very much worth seeing. When it's good, "Arcadia" is about as good theater as you'll ever see on Broadway. Tom Stoppard is incapable of writing a bad play and, even though this production is not the best interpretation of his work, you'll still be glad you saw this when you walk out of the theater.      

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tripping the Light Fantastic

Ever heard of James Randel Jr?

Probably not. He lived over 200 years ago. But you can file him in the "isn't famous but should be" file. Millions of people literally walk in his handiwork every day.

He created the grid system for Manhattan.

He's the guy responsible for shaping almost all the streets and avenues of the great borough, designing perhaps the logical urban landscape in the world.

At the time this was very controversial. The grid system was considered heretical, strange, weird. The great novelist Henry James called it a "primal topographical curse." Even some people today (like my own mother) will say that the grid system is "unimaginative."

But the results of Randel's vision are clear: the uniform simplicity of the grid system literally created the groundwork for Manhattan buildings and skyscrapers to rise and rise into the air. It made it easier for people to navigate the borough, streamlining pedestrian, and later motor, traffic. Without James Randel, NYC might not be what she is today. 

And this month marks 200 years since Randel, then a 21-year engineer working for the city, unveiled his plan that would forever shape this city's history. We should all tip a beverage of our choice to his memory.

But the debate about how New Yorkers get around town has not ended. Quite the opposite, it's hotter than ever. What's it all about?

Bike lanes!

Some people (namely bike riders) love them. Other people (namely everyone else) hates them. This week New York magazine has a long article about this raging controversy. For bike lane advocates, these new lanes are ideal, just what are needed to relieve congestion from the sidewalks and streets. Not only that but, since bikes don't burn fossil fuels or create exhaust, they're good for the environment (not to mention for the riders' waistlines). 

But the people who hate them, hate them with a blind white passion. They think the bike lines are ugly. And unsafe, since pedestrians walk in the bike lanes and then get run over by riders whizzing  by.  They think the benefits of bike lanes are vastly overstated and that they just don't fit into the NYC urban landscape. And now people are suing the city, hoping to get the law to force the city to rid of these hated routes. Congressman Anthony Wiener has declared that, if he ever becomes Mayor, he will rid NYC of bike lanes in one of his first mayoral acts.

Whew! Who knew that bike lanes would be so controversial? But it's only getting more so. And as this article points, there is a larger issue at stake. It's about what kind of city New York is going to be in the future. Will the car still dominate or will it be marginalized? How will these lane affect out future? 

Like many things, it's an unsettled subject for these unsettling times. And if the bike lanes remain or are removed, it will say a lot about what kind of town NYC will be in the future. 

Grid plans and bike lanes made me think, in an ancillary way, of that song, "The Sidewalks of New York." Particularly the lines:

East Side, West Side, all around the town ...
Boys and girls together ...
Tripped the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York


So even 200 years after the grid system came to NYC, here we are once again debating how we get around NYC. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I'm big in Russia

Well, sorta.

Since I don't make (hardly) any money off this blog, I almost never look at my stats to see how many page hits/views/whatever I'm getting. Frankly, I always assume that virtually no one reads this blog but I adore every person who does and am grateful for any and all comments I get (well, most ...).

So color me surprised when I checked out my stats yesterday. Shockingly, Mr NYC gets between 150 and 200 page views a day. That really amazed me since I thought it would be more like two. Even more surprising to me is that, after the USA, the country where this blog is most read is Russia. Comrades! Close on Russia's heels were the United Kingdom and Germany (I have one lovely reader from Germany who comments every so often and it's always nice to hear from her). Other countries on the most read list are Japan (my condolences) followed somewhat distantly by Canada, Denmark, France and China. 

Once I got a comment by a reader in South Africa. That was cool. 

So I guess you (okay, me) could call this an international blog for an international city.  And of course we have lots of readers here in the USA. 

Greetings to all my readers from across the fruited plane, around the world, and all the ships at sea!

And if you are an active reader to Mr NYC, 1) thank you, thank you, thank you, and 2) I'd love to know where you live (not your address or anything creepy like that, just your city/state or country). You can just hit the comment link on this post and drop it in. I'm sure your fellow readers would like to know too. Share and share alike. Thanks! 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

No Sex and the City?

We New Yorkers are a randy bunch. Go on the Internet and you can scan countless ads by people looking for sex. Go out to a bar on any given night and you'll find multitudes of sharply dressed men and women -- bright young things "in the season of the rising sap" as Tom Wolfe would say -- meeting and greeting one another, honing in on finding some "action."

The evidence that people in NYC are trying to "get some" is overwhelming. It's all around you. Everywhere you go.

That's why articles like this recent one in the New York Observer annoy the hell out of me. 

Entitled Sexless and the City: Web Warps Libidos of Coked-Up Careerists, it draws some sweeping generalizations about the libidinal behavior of young New Yorkers based on a few anecdotes. The author, Nate Freeman, makes the audacious claim that "Young New Yorkers no longer care about having sex. It’s not the endgame, nor even the animating force of social interaction. Men and women still get dressed up, but not for the purpose of taking off their clothes in another’s company. What used to signify desire or the desire to be desired now boils down to narcissism."

Mr. Freeman apparently hung out with a bunch of young twenty-somethings snorting coke, who then all went home without getting laid, and he came to the stunning realization that all young people in New York are now disinterested in having sex and more interested in doing drugs, posting on Twitter and Facebook, and looking good.

Spare me. 

You don't have to a Freudian to believe that Eros is a powerful motivator, especially in a  meat  market like NYC. It's not surprising that a bunch of coked up people aren't interested in sex, at least not the time their doing coke. Now I've never done coke and don't hang out with people who do but, from what I understand, it actually dulls your sex drive and can, in men, cause temporary impotency. And I've gone to countless parties where people don't hook up. So what? Doesn't mean they didn't want to! I always did!

As for the narcissism charge, it's not like narcissism is anything new amongst young hot shots, either in NYC or elsewhere. Yes, we are a very narcissistic generation but I don't know anyone,  male or female. narcissist or not, who wouldn't rather engage in sexual congress with someone else (gender depending on their inclination) than stare at himself or herself in the mirror or browse the web. In fact, you might argue, getting laid is the ultimate act of narcissism: when someone submits to you sexually, that person is validating your existence, validating your sexiness and desirability, validating your prowess and physical power. Sounds pretty narcissistic to me!

Articles like this really make me despair for the future of journalism. Why write something like this when the evidence contradicting it is so overwhelming? The point of this article is so laughably, obviously wrong, so ridiculous on the face of it, that I feel embarrassed for Nate Freeman and the editors of the Observer. Just read the comments section of this article and you'll see how right I am.       

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Partnership to Destroy Middle Class NYC

This Sunday on the cable network C-SPAN, on a program called Q&A, there's going to be an hour-long interview with someone named Kathryn Wylde. Ms. Wylde is the president of a harmless sounding organization called the Partnership for New York City. Harmless, that is, until you understand who exactly constitutes this "partnership" and what it's all about.

According to its website, the PNYC's mission "is to engage the business community in efforts to advance the economy of New York City and maintain the city’s position as the center of world commerce, finance and innovation. Through the New York City Investment Fund, the Partnership contributes directly to projects that create jobs, improve economically distressed communities and stimulate new business creation."

Well, if that's this organization's goal, then it's been a complete and utter failure. Unemployment in NYC outstrips the national average. So does poverty. Did you know that the Bronx contains the poorest zip codes in America, just miles away from some of the richest? How exactly does the PNYC help the distressed and poor in NYC and what have they done? What is its record of success? Amazingly, this organization doesn't include any info about that on its website -- perhaps, because, there is no record of success of which to boast about. 

And how is this organization helping middle class New York? Oh, that's right -- it isn't! In fact, the words "middle class" are no where to found on this organization's website!

"But hey Mr NYC," you might be saying, "why are you busting their balls? At least they're trying!"
Well, take a look at their board of directors and tell me if these are the people you think really care or have any interest in helping the poor and middle class in NYC. This board includes, amongst others: the odious Rupert Murdoch, the right-wing new tycoon who's done more to destroy journalism in this country that anyone else; Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, the organization called "a vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity" and that did more to trigger the global financial crises than anyone; Richard Parsons, the former head of Time-Warner who also recently fathered a love child; James Tisch, the CEO of Loews, who is always saying nasty things about President Obama; and Vikram Pandit, the CEO of Citi Group, who took home tens of millions of dollars in bonuses after the bank bailout. 

Reading this list of usual suspects, many of whom are responsible for the current economic mess this country is in, leaves you scratching your head. These people claim they want to save NYC -- after nearly destroying the world? And why are they still considered respectable, when many of them should probably be in jail?

Search me!

The reality about the Partnership for New York City is that it's an organization that has no interest in helping poor or middle class New Yorkers, or in creating jobs and making the city's economy work for everyone. It's an organization by and for the rich, trying to ensure they remain rich and get richer. This organization is a total fraud. Of course, the PNYC is not going to claim that it's for the rich because that wouldn't, you know, go over so well with the general public. Instead, they lie and say they're about helping people and creating jobs -- when there's no proof that they have or ever will done either.

Want proof? During the last election, Kathryn Wylde indicated that she absolutely did not want Democrat Eric Schniederman to win the Attorney General's race. She told New York magazine, " “The business community is unsettled by the idea of another activist attorney general." Ms. Wylde was concerned that we might keep having AGs that actually prosecuted financial crimes which screwed the middle class instead of covering up for Wall Stret like the Bush and Obama administrations did and have done. Sadly for Ms. Wylde, her candidate, Republican Dan Donovan, lost badly. Happily for the rest of NYC, Schneiderman won. But, as you can see, he has powerful enemies.

I don't know if I'll have the stomach to sit through this interview on C-SPAN tomorrow night, but for those of you who do watch it, just remember: she and her organization are liars She and her organization do not care about the people they supposedly claim to care about. They care about themselves. And that's it. 

Postscript: if you haven't read Matt Taibbi's last great article, "Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?", you must. It sheds a lot of light on what happened to our economy and how people like those who make up the PNYC are responsible for the tragedy are are living in. His conclusion about this whole mess is, as ever, spot on. He writes: 

"The mental stumbling block, for most Americans, is that financial crimes don't feel real; you don't see the culprits waving guns in liquor stores or dragging coeds into bushes. But these frauds are worse than common robberies. They're crimes of intellectual choice, made by people who are already rich and who have every conceivable social advantage, acting on a simple, cynical calculation: Let's steal whatever we can, then dare the victims to find the juice to reclaim their money through a captive bureaucracy. They're attacking the very definition of property — which, after all, depends in part on a legal system that defends everyone's claims of ownership equally. When that definition becomes tenuous or conditional — when the state simply gives up on the notion of justice — this whole American Dream thing recedes even further from reality."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How To Pretend You're a Real New Yorker

Stupid Me

Due to a technical mishap, I accidently deleted a comment by the great ZenDenizen who wrote about my previous post on Scarpetta:

"Glad you liked it, I've been wanting to try it myself. Have you ever read Scott Conant's tweets? He's pretty funny in self deprecating way since he even retweets negative stuff posted about him."

Thanks for the tip Zen! Here's a link to Scott Conant's Twitter for your reading pleasure. 

Monday, March 14, 2011


Today I finally made it to Eataly, the Italian food court/supermarket in Madison Square. This place opened recently to much acclaim, and it really is a great addition to the culinary scene in NYC.

Like Italy itself, Eataly is exciting, beautiful, and totally disorganized.

There are multiple entrances. You can enter either on 23rd street, which leads into the main supermarket part of the store, or you can enter on 5th Avenue, which takes you into the gelateria. We went in via 23rd street, and the moment you enter, you encounter boxes of Italian cookies stacked on the side walls. Here you can also pick up a big basket or a small cart for your shopping convenience. When you enter the store proper, you come upon a sumptuous grocery market, with beautiful fruits and vegetables on display. Here you can get the basics, along with exotic mushrooms. Going through this section, you find yourself in a mad scene. Walking around, you find a ham counter. A cheese counter. A pork counter. A meat counter. A bread counter. Then there are rows and rows and rows and rows and rows of pastas, sauces, vinegars, olive oils, preserves, more cheeses, more meats, more everything! The food ranges from the modest and modestly priced to the more extravagant and expensive. There's also a section where you can buy guienue Italian cooking wares along with cookbooks. 

And this is just where you can shop.

Eataly also has multiple restaurants. The one I went to is called La Pizza and Pasta where, shockingly enough, they serve only pizza and pasta. But of course they also sell delicious wine by the glass and they pour it at your table. There are other restaurants, ranging from the modest to the more expensive, and you can check them all out on the Eataly website -- I would exhaust myself if I tried to describe them all.

In fact, exhausting is what best describes Eataly. There is just so much food you can buy, so many places you can eat, so much stuff you can get, that you can't possibly check it all out in one visit. I didn't get to spend much time at the coffee bar or in the bakery, nor did I check out Eataly Vino, the wine store that has its own separate entrance on 23rd street. But this place is really a trip, great experience, the kind of place that makes you grateful to live in NYC. 

If you love Italian food, then you must check out Eataly. Just make sure you wear comfortable shoes and give yourself a lot of time. 

Two postscripts:

1. The supermarkets and restaurants at Eataly blend into each other. You'll be walking through some aisles of food and suddenly find yourself in an area surrounded by tables and chairs and waiters. If you want to sit down, don't! Make sure you find (and it can be a little tricky), the host or hostess who will put you on a list. This is a very popular, crowded place and you'll probably have to wait 20 minutes for a table. Probably best to put your name down, do some browsing, and then come back when your table is ready.

2. Eataly was createad by PBS cooking host Lidia Bastianich whose appearance on WNYC last year with Christopher Walken I blogged about in September. This woman is a culinary genius.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Recently some friends and I checked out a restaurant on the edge of the Meatpacking district  in Chelsea called Scarpetta. It's a trendy restaurant serving nouvelle Italian cuisine, rather upscale and refined -- a place where the beautiful people congregate.

What else would you expect in this neighborhood? 

Scarpetta surprised me, however, with its utter lack of pretentiousness. There was no music blasting  and, while the place was crowded, it was also spacious and comfortable. Best of all, the service was outstanding and friendly and, most importantly, the food was amazing. 

The restaurant doesn't have a huge menu but what it does serve, it does very well. Also, unlike many hip restaurants that charge top dollar for tiny portions, the entrees here are big and hearty. I ordered the Pappardelle, the pork and pasta dish with saffron. It was very tasty and beautifully prepared. My wife ordered the duck and foie gras ravioli and just raved over it. We also ordered spaghetti with tomato and basel as an appetizer and the sauce and basel were so fresh that it made our mouths tingle. 

Scarpetta also has an excellent wine list, and we ordered a red wine (can't remember the vintage, alas), and the bread they served with the table was easily the best I've ever had at any restaurant ever (and I've eaten at Per Se).

So if you're looking for a classy night in Manhattan with good food, Scarpetta is a great bet. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Going, Going ... Gone?

Today was D-Day for "Spiderman: Turn off the Dark" director Julie Taymor. The Tony-winning star director has apparently left the show and it's not clear if she walked or was fired. Anyway, this saga of a musical will apparently continue to enthrall Broadway gossip mongers for months to come -- the show is allegedly going on hiatus for a couple of months (maybe even three) as the brains behind this debacle try to pull gold out of garbage. Well, best of luck, and best of luck Julie in whatever your future holds for you.

Another person having a lousy day is State Senator Carl Kruger, a powerful Brooklyn politician who just turned himself into the authorities for apparently being a bribe-taking, influence-peddling scumbag. This has been a long time coming and it couldn't have happened soon enogh. Kruger is a really bad guy who has basically used his office as a private business and he has helped kill more progressive and reform legislation than probably anyone else. This is great news -- hopefully he'll be replaeed by someone better. We shall see.

Hotel Seville - 1970s NYC Commercial

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ask Mike Anything

Well he only has a couple years left in office but Mayor Mike is still doing new things. Now he has a Twitter feed call #AskMike Anything where New Yorkers can send their CEO any questions they like. 

I can't really think of anything I'd like to ask the Mayor besides why he decided to appoint Cathie Black school's chancellor (but something tells me he wouldn't answer that).

The Way Around Town

When someone or something becomes controversial, it's either because they're doing something incredibly good or incredibly bad. Either way, they are shaking up popular consensus, challenging commonly held practices and assumptions, saying to people "no, don't go this way, go that way."

This directional metaphor for controversy fits aptly to Janette Sadik-Khan, our city's transportation commissioner. 

Since her appointment a few years back, she's installed pedestrian plazas in Times Square, Madison Square, and Herald Square, routed bike routes around town, and reduced the number of parking spaces around town. She is probably the only transportation chief in any major city today (or ever) who has publicly said that the car should take a back seat (pun totally intended) to public or alternate transportation options. If Robert Moses was the quintessential 20th century transportation chief, trying to make NYC a car-centric town, Janette Sadik-Khan is 21st century transportation chief, trying to do the opposite.

Her efforts have ruffled quite a few feathers amongst some politicians and car owners in NYC. For them, bike lanes and pedestrian plazas are nonsense. They don't understand why the streets don't exist completely for them. They think they should be able to drive pollution spewing vehicles anywhere and everything in this town. They don't want this city's transportation infrastructure to change.    

But Sadik-Khan does and she's showing the leadership to do it. I think, years from now, people will look back at what she's done and be grateful that our city's transportation policies changed, taking us in a better direction.

Still Here

Apologies for the week's long radio silence, life has a way of throwing several things at you at once that force blogging to take a back seat. Fear not, however, all is well and all is bright, just been very busy with doing boring but important stuff. Now back to blogging!