New Yorkers watching Will Smith walk through the ruins of an uninhabited Manhattan onscreen in I Am Legend knew just how he felt; it was a week for contemplating loneliness. Rudy Giuliani, indulging in fantasy population control of his own, envisaged a city in which he’d deported 400,000 illegal aliens. (“I would have had fewer problems,” he’s quoted as saying in a new book.)
While Barack Obama squired around his new BFF Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton toured the backroads of Iowa seeking friendly faces to vote for his wife. Mayor Bloomberg offered his two cents on environmentalism to Chinese leaders in Beijing. Governor Spitzer’s popularity fell to a new low.
As Ben Bernanke announced the Fed would lower interest rates (but not enough for Wall Street), UBS made another huge mortgage-related writedown. Vikram Pandit was named CEO of Citigroup, while rumors spread that Chase could buy ubiquitous rival Washington Mutual. (Meanwhile, Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes compared the lending crisis’s effects to the crack epidemic of the eighties.) MTA fare hikes — an extra five bucks a month for unlimited MetroCards — looked almost reasonable compared with the market-pricing plan proposed by a consultant to the Transportation Department that could create $15-an-hour parking meters. The Knicks settled with sexual harassee Anucha Browne Sanders, finally, agreeing to end all appeals and pay her $11.5 million.
Labor unrest continued to percolate: Some Access-a-Ride drivers walked out, leaving the city’s disabled citizenry stranded; MTV Networks freelancers demanded benefits in Times Square. Madonna sued her Upper West Side co-op for not allowing her to buy a neighbor’s apartment. The Met Opera opened a jumbo production of War and Peace. A near collision at JFK coincided with news that officials may trim the airport’s flight schedule. And the 2nd Avenue Deli readied to open again, this time nearer to Third. —Mark Adams