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When in New York. . .

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It was a week in which New York’s attention, like much of the world’s, was pulled toward Rome. Sadness at the death of John Paul II radiated outward from the Polish neighborhood of Greenpoint through the rest of the city. “I think he was the perfect pope,” said Mets catcher Mike Piazza, who revealed that he had thought of becoming a priest before his athletic prowess led him in other directions. Mayor Bloomberg flew himself and a city delegation to Rome on his private jet for the papal obsequies. Cardinal Edward Egan, one of fourteen American prelates with a say in selecting the new pontiff, followed on a commercial flight. Who will the cardinal vote for when the conclave gets down to it next week? He’s playing his cards close to the vest. “My vote would always be for the one who I thought should be chosen because he’d do the best job,” Egan slyly disclosed. New Yorkers of a more literary turn of mind reflected on the career of Saul Bellow, dead at 89. Happily, Bellow is survived by his peerless Upper West Side characters Artur Sammler and Moses Herzog, both destined to outlive us all. The handful of rich New Yorkers lucky enough to be legal residents of Monaco for tax purposes shed a tear, quite possibly, at the passing of Prince Rainier III. As these three world-historical figures ascended to the Great Perhaps, life in the city carried on in its usual sublunary style. The alleged acting boss of the Genovese crime family was busted, as was the guy who used to play Big Pussy on The Sopranos. One of the Olsen twins got a dog. Mice were observed scurrying over baguettes used to spell out a designer’s name in a window display at Barneys. The most dramatic event of the week, though, was the emergence of a missing (and presumed dead) Chinese-food deliveryman named Ming Kung Chen from an elevator in which he’d been trapped for three days. Delirious with hunger and thirst, Chen said that he passed the time meditating—perhaps on the old Mandarin saying “Life fleets like a weaver’s shuttle.”


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