Sunday, November 25, 2012

How Obama Won NYC

In the presidential election just past, it probably goes without saying that President Obama swept the vote here. In fact, "swept" is an understatement -- he got 81% of the vote, close to Soviet levels.

Romney got 18%. Ouch.

If Obama was running for mayor of NYC, he would have won the biggest landslide in city history.

So what were the demos of Obama's NYC win? This article tells the story.

Obama won every borough. He won every precinct in Manhattan except one. He did very well in Brooklyn, naturally, except in areas with high Orthodox Jewish populations. He did well in Queens but his margin in white neighborhoods was small and, perhaps not surprisingly, he did much better in black neighborhoods. In Staten Island, easily the most conservative borough, Obama won 50%-49%. And in the Bronx he got an an astonishing 91% of the vote.

Obama will never be on the ballot again but NYC can take pride that it sent him back to the White House for four more years. 

Along with Ohio. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Classic Mr NYC

Now that winter is coming -- WINTER IS COMING -- it's nice to start thinking warm thoughts. And there's nothing warmer than a Turkish bath.

This clip from 2008 about the Russian & Turkish Baths should do the trick.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Truman Capote Reads From Breakfast At Tiffany's April 7, 1963.

Truman the Great

In America and NYC, no one united the worlds of literature and celebrity better than Truman Capote. In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, he was a true American icon, a character of his media age, famous for his flamboyant personality as much as for his writings.

A poor boy from Alabama, he came to NYC as a young man and made good. He impressed literary agents and authors with his writings and quickly established a career. But he was beloved for himself as much as for his work. He appeared on talk shows, was seen at all the movie and art gallery openings and fancy parties in town; he knew everyone worth knowing, he was king of toute le monde. In 1966, he threw what has become one of the most legendary parties in town, the Black and White Ball at the Plaza Hotel that is still talked about to this day.

Truman Capote was also gay, an blatant out of the closet homosexual at a time when that was illegal in most of the country. Plus he was a quote machine, saying hilarious things like "Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act."

Imagine if Capote were alive today and had a Twitter account!

Capote was as entertaining as his work.

And what work he did! He published famous novels and novellas like The Grass Harp and Breakfast at Tiffany's (giving Audrey Hepburn her most famous role in the movie version). He also wrote In Cold Blood, a brilliant non-fiction work about murders in Kansas, that is viewed as his greatest book.  He wrote lots of short stories at a time when they were regularly published in magazines. He worked hard and partied hard, an inexhaustible human being.

Then, in 1975, it all fell apart.

Selections of a novel he was working on called Answered Prayers were published, satirizing some of the most famous people in New York society. Suddenly Capote, the very heart and soul of NYC society, was shunned, ridiculed, ostracized. He was no longer invited to the dinner parties of the rich and powerful, banished by his friends -- instead, he started doing lots of cocaine and hanging out at Studio 54. He wrote less. His health suffered and, in 1984, he died at the age of 60.

He didn't even get a third act. The story of how this happened is chronicled in this month's Vanity Fair and is a must read.

However, in many ways, Truman Capote has had the last laugh. His work and his legacy is secure. In Cold Blood has been voted one of the greatest works of non-fiction in the 20th century. His books have been turned into movies in the last several years. And he himself has been portrayed in movies like Capote (winning Phillip Seymour Hoffman an Oscar) and Infamous. There was also a stage play about twenty years ago called Tru, about the last years of his life.

It's sad that he didn't live longer and produce more work. But for all his wildness, Truman Capote gave this city and this country's literature gifts that will forever endure.

P.S. Capote allegedly got the title for Breakfast at Tiffany's when, after having picked up a young gay sailor from out of town, Capote asked him the next morning where he'd like to go to breakfast. The sailor, who knew little about NYC, allegedly said "Let's get breakfast at Tiffany's." And that was that.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

David Durk, RIP

In the early 1970s, the NYPD had become a notorious, brazenly corrupt institution that everyone in the city feared.

Politicians, the public, even honest cops themselves, dared not speak truth to power to expose the maggots that was eating away at the world's greatest law enforcement organization. 

Until some people did.

You may have heard of Frank Serpico who blew the whistle on police corruption and was rewarded with a great 1973 movie starring Al Pacino called ... Serpico

But he didn't act alone. 

David Durk helped him and together the two braved exposing the corruption that led to the formation of the Knapp Commission. In many ways, he was even more responsible for it than Serpico.

Together, they saved the city.

David Durk died last week and the city should take a moment to remember and everything he did for it.  

TLC's Extreme Cougar Wives - First Look

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Waterfront NYC

Since NYC is a city of islands, needless to say its waterfront is an integral part of its identity.

Our waterfront has been a huge part of our history -- from the time that Dutch pilgrims landed here, to Revolutionary War which was fought on our city's shores and in our harbor, to the presence of the Statue of Liberty, to the time when our city became a world capital.

Of course, our waterfront has also been a controversial part of our city's history, particularly since Robert Moses did so much to separate us from it.

Hurricane Sandy showed us some of the problems that our waterfront contains and, in its wake, our waterfront's history is in much dispute. 

Apropos of that, you must listen to this segment from WNYC about the history and future of the city's waterfront. What will it look like as we rebuild from Sandy? It's a matter of huge debate that our future mayor will have to deal with. 

I hope that we can rebuild the homes on the Rockaways and Breezy Point but that they are built stronger and more storm proof. Also, if storm blocks need to be built in the harbor, then they should be. Protecting our city's waterfront is a vital issue to our future -- and it's something we must get right. 

President Obama Promises to Rebuild on 2nd Visit to Sandy-Damaged Area

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bravo, America Part II

Considering that it was a week ago, I realize that I'm a little late to the victory party, but here goes: November 6, 2012 may very well be remembered as the day that America finally became a progressive nation. 

For real, this time.

Not only did we re-elect President Obama, our first black POTUS, but progressive candidates made gains in the house and senate and on the state level. Most interestingly, marriage equality and pot legalization passed in several states -- unusual acts of compassion and common sense that have been mostly lacking in our history. This election came down to "We're all in this together" vs. "You're on your own" -- and "together" won.

For the last four years, the Republican party and reactionary forces in this country did everything they could to destroy President Obama and impose their hard-right, mean-spirited agenda on us. They made it very clear that their only goal was not doing anything to help improve the country but to deny Obama a second term. They failed.

They failed spectacularly. Oh man, oh man, did they fail!

They spent literally billions of dollars to beat Obama and his supporters -- and instead Obama and his supporters beat them (and with a lot less money too).

These people could have done a lot more good if they had donated that money to charity or spent it to educate, house and clothe poor people. Instead, they just spent it on TV ads.

Hell, they should have just lit it on fire! Metaphorically, that's exactly what they did.

Now Obama is not a perfect president (no president is) but look at his record: he pulled American out of its worst recession since the Great Depression, saved the auto industry, helped millions more people get health care, got us out of two badly run wars, and killed the world's worst terrorist. Pretty good record. Mitt Romney and his Republican allies, instead, wanted to take us back to the bad old days of President George W. Bush, and America -- correctly, smartly -- said no to that.

Romney will be fine, however. He has hundreds of millions of dollars, a pretty wife, 5 sons, and 18 grandchildren to console him. Besides, he'll be getting his own planet someday so missing out on the presidency isn't that bad.

As for the rest of the Republicans, they're doing some "soul searching" which would make sense only if they had souls. If they had souls, maybe they wouldn't be so nasty ("legitimate rapes" etc.) and would have won. I shed no tears nor have any sympathy for them. They're feeling pain right now and they richly deserve it.

Second terms have been historically problematic, and I'm sure Obama will have his troubles over the next four years. But however rough it gets, just remember what we were spared.

Here in NYC, meanwhile, I feel that this election shows that NYC and the rest of America are developing more of a kinship. This was a victory for urban America as much as anything else. Speaking for New Yorkers (if I may), I think we're just happy to no longer be foreigners in our own country. More and more, as this election showed, the country is more like NYC and less like Texas.

Our new slogan should be, "NYC -- We are America!"

Love it or leave it.
Four years ago I shared my thoughts on the election of Barack Obama to the presidency which were typically brilliant.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sandy in NYC: The Aftermath Conclusion

It's been almost two weeks since Hurricane Sandy hit NYC and the city is still reeling. However, we're getting ourselves back together, piece by piece, one step at a time.

For the people whose homes were destroyed, however, or who had family members perish in the storm, their lives will never be the same. I hope our city and its leaders will still remember and help these people long after Sandy has receded from the headlines.

Meanwhile, the city is doing everything it can. Mayor Bloomberg has announced a Rapid Repairs program that will work with construction companies to help people fix their homes very quickly. This is a great thing.

If you want to hear more of the personal stories about the aftermath of this storm, this story is heartbreaking and heartwarming.

The city still has a long way to go. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Still Here!!

Big apologies for the lack of blogging lately, life has been busy -- dealing with fallout from the hurricane combined with jury duty combined with raising an 10 month+ old daughter has left Mr NYC a 'lil busy and a 'lil tired.

Needless to say, there's lots to blog about -- the aftermath of Sandy, the election, other stuff -- so I hope to get on it today and tomorrow.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bloomberg Endorses Obama

No, really,

He really, really did,

Read it here.

NY1 to the Rescue!

Here in NYC, as Sandy came and went, the thing that got a lot of us New Yorkers through it was NY1.

For those of you outside NYC, you probably have no idea what NY1 is. It's a local cable channel, basically our CNN, an all-news station focused completely on the goings on in town. 

In a city that's flashy, glamorous, and exciting, NY1 is in many ways the attentive, quiet, and very responsible older parent who keeps its crazy offspring in check. You watch NY1 for information, not entertainment -- and it's the last of a dying breed of news channels that cares about news and not nonsense.

During the storm and its aftermath, the coverage on NY1 has been outstanding. All New Yorkers should give the station their thanks -- and, thankfully, NY1 is also getting it's due.

Sandy in NYC: The Aftermath V

Sandy in NYC: The Aftermath IV

The fallout of Hurricane Sandy, of course, has a human toll. You can read some of the human stories, here and here.