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Semisweetened Victory

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After being forcibly fed a diet of electoral politics lo these many weeks and months, New Yorkers reacted with relief when the whole thing was finally over; not that it ended badly. Democratic Party leaders shed a crocodile tear or two for Freddy Ferrer; took heart at gubernatorial victories in New Jersey and Virginia; and moved on—having absorbed the important lesson that, in a political campaign, money trumps salsa. Republicans wondered whether the Bloomberg model of managerial competence, fiscal prudence, and social tolerance (except, alas, for smokers) wouldn’t play well at the national level too. And the city as a whole pondered just how the mayor might be planning to use his landslide-enhanced clout; would he push for a high-tech congestion-pricing scheme to ease city traffic, à la London? Would he remake Governors Island? Would he make some real headway at ground zero? Amid such speculation, other high rollers were making their presence felt. Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem flew into town to announce, over breakfast at Michael’s, that the royal family of Dubai had spent more than $1.1 billion to acquire a pair of Manhattan trophy properties, the Essex House and the Helmsley Building; a move that may turn out to exemplify the “greater fool” theory of real-estate profit. Buyers at Christie’s bid up prices for postwar and contemporary art to improbable heights. And at the Brick Presbyterian Church on Park Avenue, a magnificent new 6,288-pipe organ—the gift of a single heroic but anonymous donor—was inaugurated in a thrilling recital by the Dutch organist Ben van Oosten. Rather less pleasing noises were made by Judith Miller, who, after much fuss, finally parted ways with the Times; which she unsportingly called “a convent with its own theology and its own catechism.” Finally, the Fulton Fish Market’s long-awaited move to the Bronx continued to inch toward reality; it’s a project that makes the rebuilding of ground zero seem a paragon of swift and efficient execution. “The parties have agreed to a deal, and at this point the corporate lawyers are just chasing a bunch of semicolons around the page,” said one insider. They are notoriously tricky; those semicolons.


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