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Spring Nearly Sprung

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As the city entered the drab late-winter run-up to St. Patrick’s Day, life seemed to be elsewhere. A few film-industry types straggled home to Tribeca from L.A. with their gift bags. But fashionistas were in Paris for the fall collections, art tourists decamped from the city as The Gates came down, and London bookies still had New York in fourth place among the five contenders to host the 2012 Summer Olympics—ahead only of Moscow. Local events took on a tawdry, tabloidish quality. A scarily expert body-dismemberer was at large in the city; a kindly nun in Harlem was reportedly beaten by an ungrateful drunk whose lost keys she had returned; a 42nd Street subway shuttle overshot its track and smashed into a concrete bumper in Grand Central; here and there dogs were zapped by stray voltage from manhole covers. The hip-hop radio station Hot 97 solidified its reputation as the O.K. Corral East when someone in 50 (“Fitty”) Cent’s posse allegedly shot a member of fellow rapper Game’s coterie outside its Greenwich Village studios. Meanwhile, a jury was being picked for the trial of hip-hop princess Lil’ Kim, who was charged with lying about a 2001 gun battle that, coincidentally, also took place outside Hot 97. The judge instructed the jurors not to listen to the rap station during the trial, which they all agreed would not be a hardship. Brooklyn, perhaps impressed by neighboring Queens’s recent rejection of Wal-Mart, gave the cold shoulder to Cracker Barrel, which has been accused of discriminating against African-Americans and gays. “I do not believe they are ready for Brooklyn,” Borough President Marty Markowitz said of the Tennessee-based restaurant chain. Yet, for all that, the week offered promise of future delights. Plans were unveiled for a jumbo glass cube that will grace the plaza of the GM Building by fall, a sort of New York answer to the Louvre’s Pei Pyramid. And momentum mounted to restore the High Bridge, an elegant 1840s-era promenade spanning the Harlem River. Soon, perhaps, pedestrians will again be able to stroll from Manhattan over to the Bronx. And that would be a fine thing to do on a spring day, should spring ever come.


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