Sunday, February 17, 2013

New York - Bloomberg Gives Final State Of The City Address

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Kathryn Bigelow: The NYC Years

You may have heard of the movie director Kathryn Bigelow -- the first woman to win the Best Director Oscar (for 2009's Iraq war film The Hurt Locker).

Ms. Bigelow is much in the news today for her current hit Zero Dark Thirty, about the 2011 killing of Osama Bin Laden. This film has generated a lot of controversy since it depicts the use of torture which, according to those who helped find the world's worst terrorist, was never used. Zero Dark Thirty claims to be, oddly enough, a journalistic take on this historic operation but also "just a movie" which supposedly allows it some creative license. The debate rages on.

And if this article really is accurate (hopefully no creative license was used), Ms. Bigelow has always been very creative.

Sure, she's been making movies for a long time (Point Break, Strange Days, etc.) but the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar in history got her start as an artist in NYC in the 1970s. She was part of the last great generation of Manhattan-based artists that spawned giants like Cindy Sherman and Julian Schnabel (also a movie director). Not only was she part of "the scene", creating avant-garde art and going to shows, but she was also part of a the emerging world of cinema studies, even writing for obscure movie journals. 

Before she conquered American cinema, she learned a thing or two in the NYC art-world. 

Seeing Kathryn Bigelow's big, glossy, action-packed movies today, it's great to think that she really got her start right here in the downtown art scene.

As the late Mayor Ed Koch said, NYC is where the future comes to rehearse. And in Kathryn Bigelow's case, that is most definitely true.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Bloomberg's Next Mission: London

Mayor Bloomberg has less than a year in office left and the big question is: what will he do next?

When you have north of $20 billion, you don't exactly need to find a regular job to pay the bills. However, Bloomberg is a super Type A personality and isn't exactly the type of person to retire so he can go play golf and catch the early-bird special. No, he's a driven man -- first he built a global corporation and then he reshaped NYC. What's left? 

How about another major city in another country? Like London.

No, it's doubtful that Bloomberg will become mayor of London. After all, he isn't a British citizen (as far as I know), so there's no point. But according to this article, he has an eye on conquering the town with his enormous wealth and influence in other ways. He wants to be a "player" in that town, as much as he is in NYC.

In many ways, he already has conquered London. His company is building a huge office building there and Bloomberg is already part of the top echelon of British society. Most of all, the British Prime Minister and the Mayor of London have looked to Bloomberg for advice on how to govern -- so his influence is already there. But the rumor is that Bloomberg, after he leaves office, plans to spend more time there and become less of American citizen and more of a global citizen. When you have homes all over the world, after all, that's easy to achieve. It'll be interesting to see what he does.

But that's the great thing about NYC -- when you live here, you are a global citizen of sorts. The world comes to NYC. Of course with Bloomberg's billions, it's easier to be more of one than others, but in this town of global citizens, at least he's in good company.

NYC Anniversaries

Last week saw the passing of former Mayor Ed Koch, an NYC institution if there ever was one. At 88 years old, it seemed impossible that he wouldn't be around forever.

But there are a couple of other NYC institutions that are still going strong.

Most notably, Grand Central Terminal. The great train station on 42nd street on the east side has been shuttling Americans from our city to the rest of the country for 100 years -- it opened on February 1st 1913 at 12:01 AM. Grand Central is the gold standard of American train stations, a monument to American ingenuity and an icon in our city's landscape. Thirty-five years ago it was almost torn down but thankfully New Yorkers of all stripes pulled together to save it. This beautiful station -- sorry, terminal, since trains terminate there -- has almost a million people passing through it every day. It also has amazing history and you can read about it here

Then there's the music of the night that's been playing continuously for 25 years. 

Ed Koch was still mayor when "The Phantom of the Opera" debuted in January, 1988. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical based on an old movie about a phantom that haunts a Paris opera theater is not only the biggest hit ever to be on Broadway -- by far -- but also the single most successful entertainment enterprise ever. It has grossed billions of dollars in NYC and around the world. Many shows, including some big hit musicals like Rent, have come and gone in the time that "Phantom" has been on Broadway. Heck, if you were born when "Phantom" first opened, you would be old enough to star in it! Here's to 25 more years, an NYC icon that keeps going strong. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Megacities New York

Ed Koch RIP

The 105th Mayor of NYC died on February 1st of heart failure at age 88.

Ed Koch was mayor when I was a kid, the first that I remember, and at the time it seemed like he always was -- and always would be -- mayor. After it left office, it felt like he still was mayor, always appearing on TV and radio, giving his voluminous opinions.  

Koch was a larger than life figure. He is credited with saving the city from fiscal calamity when he took office in 1978, and he piloted the city throughout the 1980s before losing his bid for a fourth term in 1989. He had a mixed legacy -- good fiscal management, much needed housing projects, along with ignoring the AIDS crises and vast corruption within his administration. But he lifted the city's spirits at a tough time for the city and continued to do so in the nearly quarter century after he left the mayoralty. 

The city won't be the same without him.