Think this latest taxi-fare increase — which doubled the cost of standing time — sucks for passengers? Think again. Cab driver and self-styled livery-industry pundit Alexander Stone Dale calls us from time to time to give us his take on the business. Here's his latest insight:
The new fare increase — it's brilliant. It's an asshole tax! Only four of my passengers paid more than they normally do. And all four were totally stupid assholes who didn't want to hear about it, wanted to go the way they always go, weren't concerned about my fucking convenience, weren't concerned about anything. And all four freaked out. It was amazing. If you're not an asshole, cab fares have remained unchanged.
Essex Street Market not just for obscure South American root vegetables anymore: "Epicurean gentrification" under way. [NYT]
Fire-struck Medina reopening after a year and a half; London sushi chain to land in financial district. [NYT]
$4.25 mil gets you Hamptons hot spot Star Room. [NYP]
Alan Richman now No. 1 on New Orleans shit list: "I'd like to throw him in the back room at Tipitina's with all the Neville brothers and see if he still thinks Creoles don't exist." [NYT]
Related: Richman Kicks New Orleans While It's DownGrey Dog Coffee plays the kid card to clinch liquor license for new location. [Gothamist]
Caterer Marcey Brownstein opens up a place in Chelsea; possibly the only time you'll see muffulettas and edamame on the same menu. [Strong Buzz]
Lindsay Lohan wrote a long and incoherent e-mail, which for some reason referenced Al Gore and Bill Clinton. Amy Sacco says she's actually not selling Bungalow 8, the Observer's reporting to the contrary notwithstanding. (Daily Intel readers already knew that.) Mary-Louise Parker may be dating her Weeds co-star Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Pataki consigliere Charles Gargano says he'll keep his seat on the Port Authority board, even with his man gone from Albany. Frustrated Knicks fans, here's your chance to vent: Garden chief Jim Dolan is performing with his band tonight at B.B. King's. (It is, however, a cancer benefit, so don't be too mean.) Paramount/Dreamworks execs are pushing Beyoncé over Jennifer Hudson for a Best Actress Oscar nod, and Jennifer Hudson is okay with it. Lenny Kravitz went to the dermatologist. Anna Wintour found The Devil Wears Prada "entertaining" and has had the same haircut since she was 15, she tells Barbara Walters during her "10 Most Fascinating People" interview (in which Wintour actually does wear Prada). TomKat didn't invite Oprah to their wedding, and they didn't invite her to their post-honeymoon bash, either. Kevin Federline showed up at a book reading for the free booze. Jordan's Queen Rania and King Abdullah are on the rocks. Damon Wayans was fined $320 for dropping the n-word sixteen times at L.A.'s Laugh Factory. Jessica Alba and the Duff sisters are hosting a New Year's Eve party at a club in Miami and are doing it for free. Ellen Pompeo wants to gain five to ten pounds, because they'd go straight to her boobs, she told Playboy. Robert Evans is suing the electrical company that installed a screening room in his home that mysteriously burned down. Liz Smith cried at the end of Dakota Fanning'sCharlotte's Web.
We have nothing to add to today's Post wood. We just wanted to make sure you saw it. And we wanted to make sure you realize how much poorer life in our fair city would be without the delightfully gleeful nut jobs at the Post. Thank you, Rupert, for this philanthropic contribution to city life, and may you never — even in the face of continuing multi-million-dollar losses at the paper — become a surrender monkey.
Iraq 'Appease' Squeeze on W. [NYP]
• A massive, almost Gangs of New York–style group fight in the unlikeliest of settings — Union Square's Greenmarket — left one teenager dead. The two bands of high-school rivals, numbering around 50, wielded "canes, belts, fists and more." Another teen is in serious condition at St. Vincent's with multiple stab wounds. [WNBC]
• Vegetables are bad for you, part two: Two more Taco Bells closed, both on Long Island, amid region-wide E. coli poisonings (99 to date and counting). The infection has been traced, surprisingly, to the scallions the company sprinkles atop its ground mystery meat. [amNY]
• Reading is bad for you: P.S. 150 in Queens is pulling a young-adult book about coming out, a poetry collection that uses naughty words, and other titles. [NYDN]
• Tishman Speyer, taking a break from its historic buying spree, casually set another record by selling 666 Fifth Avenue — which the company bought six years ago for about $500 million — to the Kushner family for $1.8 billion, the largest sum ever paid for a single building. [NYT]
• And the Times runs a thoughtful piece about the perils of taking the little ones to Broadway shows. In a case of unfortunate placement, however, the article is rendered unbelievably gross by its proximity to another report: "Broadway Actor Denies Sex Charge." Yet another peril. [NYT]
Art Basel has sucked New York's boldfaced types down to Miami's $4.99 early-bird dinner buffets. We are left with a surfeit of socialites, a David Mamet play without David Mamet, and Geraldo.
• Ugg Australia grand opening. 79 Mercer St., nr. Broome St., 7 p.m. Guests scheduled to include Molly Sims, Jacinda Barrett, and Dr. Lisa Airan, who's the only socialite in the Socialite Rank Top 20 with a medical degree. She's an emergency-room trauma surgeon in the South Bronx. Just kidding, she's a dermatologist.
Will Donald Trump's quest to build his Spring Street condo-hotel be trumped by his own Website? Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, certainly hopes so. Berman fired off a letter today to Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster and Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden calling attention to what he says is "is further proof that Mr. Trump and his development partners have every intention of violating the law." The area, zoned for manufacturing, is not generally open to construction of residential buildings, but hotels are allowed. Last month word spread that the city will approve Trump's project with a provision that will restrict stays there an apparently hotel-like 100 or 150 days. But visitors checking the TrumpSoho.com Website today to find out how they can live downtown Donald style were asked to indicate whether they plan on using the units as a "primary residence," "secondary residence," or "investment property." That section has since been removed (Curbed has a screen shot), but Berman and his crew, whose past successes include downsizing the far West Village to ice out hulking towers there, hope the snafu will make city officials examine the project much more closely. For the record, no permits have been issued yet. —S. Jhoanna RobledoGreenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation Letter [pdf]
CurbedWire: Trump Soho's Delicate Question [Curbed]
He's apparently a big Friends fan.
A fan inexplicably yelled "Monica!" between songs at the first of the prolific troubadour's three Town Hall shows Monday night, and that was all the cue Adams needed. "Don't get me started on the Geller family," he said, and then got started. On a monologue: "Why can't they keep it together for America? And, I mean, he wants to go play a sergeant on Broadway?" Adams was referring now to David Schwimmer's recent and not particularly acclaimed stint in The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. "No one's gonna believe you're a sergeant, man. They're just waiting for Chandler to walk in!" No one, thankfully, asked him about Joey. —Rebecca Milzoff
MIAMI BEACH — Money walks. And strides. And even pushes, as it did when the huge metal doors swung open at Art Basel Miami Beach today and several thousand collectors poured into the art fair. Soon enough, developer Aby Rosen was chatting with Larry Gagosian by a Lichtenstein nude, Benedikt Taschen was inquiring about prices for most of the Zwirner booth's works, and Keanu Reeves was drawing a small, neck-turning crowd as he shopped. The Miami Beach Convention Center was so crowded that some dealers from rival fairs closed their booths for the afternoon. "Everybody's here," said Robert Goff, of the buzzy NADA fair, where Steve Cohen and Charles Saatchi are usual shoppers.
Art Basel is expected to attract 40,000 shoppers over five days, and a quick look at its wares shows how radically the art market has changed since last year's event.
Today's Observer brings the sad news that Bungalow 8, the West Chelsea lounge you're nowhere near famous enough to get into, will likely soon be divested from club queen Amy Sacco's empire. "I'm gonna do whatever I feel is necessary for myself," she tells the paper. "But I'm not going to stay if I can't get my customers to walk down the block." Mother of mercy, is this the end of Bungalow?
We asked someone who'd know: Party boy about town Fabian Basabe, who was a Bungalow regular until he filed a pesky little lawsuit in August after he was denied entrance and subsequently, he claims, punched by the doorman. Basabe was less gleeful than we'd have expected, but he also got right to the point:
I think that when certain people started going and other people stopped going, it died. There isn't that kind of exclusivity on 27th Street anymore. The Gramercy Hotel and Double Seven blow Bungalow away.
You thought NASA wanted to establish a base on the moon just to further the causes of science and exploration? Hardly. The space race is back, baby, and this time the enemies challenging America's rightful dominance are — zut alors! the French. Pardon? That's right. Apparently bored of Tang and freeze-dried ice cream, NASA will soon be sending astronauts to space with meals crafted by Rachael Ray. The cheese-eating surrender monkeys, however, have contributed menus to the International Space Station, via the European Space Agency, by none other than multi-Michelin'd Alain Ducasse. Grub Street has the details — and, now that the battle is joined, will no doubt imminently have news of France's surrender.
Ducasse, Ray Feeding Astronauts [Grub Street]
Bushwick: Goodbye, Enequist Chemical Factory. We look forward to breathing your toxic dust long into the future. [JustiNYC]
Dumbo: Marty Markowitz turns on the first borough-sanctioned light display (above) in Brooklyn Bridge Park. [DumboNYC]
Greenpoint: Cautionary note: Don't ask a blogger to feed your cat while you're away. You just might find pictures of your filthy apartment online, with commentary. [New York Shitty]
Long Island City: Condo construction displaces more artists, but at least now there's a ceramics sale. [Joey in Astoria]
Tribeca: Buster's Garage appeals to the liquor control board by talking up the bitchin' $10 happy hour. [Tribeca Trib via Curbed]
Though we agree that table-scoring strategy is important (we winced when we recently overheard a woman pleading with a French gatekeeper, "I speak French, does that matter?"), Zagat's recent tips of the trade aren't exactly that useful: As the authors admit, all you really have to do to score a table these days at La Esquina is call, and their advice on clinching the perennial prize of every Moscow Mule worshipper (Milk and Honey's secret number) doesn't quite ring true. Per Google, the new number is nowhere on the Internet (owner Sasha scolds sites that post it, and he disconnected the old one 212-625-3897 not long ago), so don't waste time on the recommended Web search. Next time the digits change, simply ask sister bar Little Branch for them. In the meantime, call two, one, two, eight, one, zero, seven, six, five, four. Daniel Maurer
Ajay Naidu known for his role as Sameer in Office Space and for parts in The West Wing and other shows reported to the set of Griffin Dunne's new romantic comedy, The Accidental Husband, while also doing post-production work on his directorial debut, Ashes. We wondered how a man who was at the mercy of Craft services and who had recently quit sugar (making it "doubly hard to get around and be satisfied in New York") could survive for a week. Luckily, his co-star Uma Thurman convinced him to eat a cookie.
Speaking of loving the Times, this seems as good a time as any to make a few points about Hank Greenberg, dual-class ownership structures, that prig Hassan Elmasry at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and the great, good benevolence of the Ochs-Sulzberger family. It's simple, really: Notwithstanding whatever noise to the contrary you've been hearing lately, the New York Times Co. will not be sold. Say it again, together: The Times Co. will not be sold. The Sulzbergers have all the power, and — much as one might like to mock their current leader, Arthur Jr., and much as he may have made a series of a stupid strategic decisions — they're not going to let anyone else buy it.
And that's a good thing.
See, this is why we love the Times. (And why we love our readers, who called the Times piece to our attention.) Yesterday, while bestowing due huzzahs upon the delightful news that the MTA will not raise fares in 2007, we were tripped up by an unexplained statement in the Daily News. "The agency gets revenues from real estate transactions," New York's hometown paper baldly asserted, going on to claim that the mammoth Stuy Town sale will result in a windfall for the Transit Authority. How, we wondered, does this happen? In today's Times, William Neuman, bless his metro-y heart, explains:
Mr. Kalikow spoke yesterday at a meeting of the authority's board, at which officials announced that a tax windfall from the sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village would help pay for new paint jobs in 200 subway stations.
The $52 million needed to paint the stations will come from a total of $81.6 million that the transportation authority will receive in mortgage and transfer taxes from the sale, which totaled nearly $5.4 billion. The authority receives a percentage of the transfer and mortgage taxes collected on real estate sales in New York City, and the taxes have become an important part of the agency's financing.
You might have seen yesterday's news that Time Warner chairman and CEO Dick Parsons, speaking at the Reuters Media Summit, did not explicitly reject the possibility that he might run for mayor in 2009. ("[W]hile saying he was not running for the job, he suddenly sounded a lot more like a man who wants to keep the option open," is how the Timesput it.) You might also have seen Cindy Adams told-you-so-ing that "I told you this months back, at which time Mr. Parsons said no-no-a-thousand-times no." We'll just quickly point out that Ms. Adams's item, from April 19, merely said "Time Warner big mouths … [were] salivating over boyohboyohboy what a shot this African-American multimillionaire businessman would have." And we'll further point out, while these told-you-sos are being told, that Geoffrey Gray reported in August 21 issue of New York, that "[i]nsiders say that it's all but official: Richard Parsons, Time Warner's chairman and CEO, will run for mayor."
Business Chief Hedges, a Bit, on Running for Mayor [NYT]
A Movie Star Goes for Moore on B'Way [NYP]
Is Parsons the New Bloomberg? [NYM]
Clinton Hill: Living in a storefront means big windows and your very own pull-down gate. [ClintonHillBlog]
Dyker Heights: You've never heard of this neighborhood, but you've gotta see the Christmas lights. [Gowanus Lounge]
Harlem: Finally, white people have a place to turn for answers about neighborhood real estate. [Bagel in Harlem]
Park Slope: Mail carriers no longer making it to the top of brownstone steps; issues of McSweeney's lost to the elements. [Brooklyn Record]
Daniel Maurer recently wrote about the fact that El Sombrero is no longer offering their margaritas (or, as we like to call them, "crackaritas") to go.
Dear Grub Street,
The crackdown at the Hat is the biggest heartbreaker. I am totally convinced that those margaritas were filled with crack. Cold, sweet, delicious, barely detectable crack. The guy gave me a wink and said they would be back, just give them time. So my fingers are crossed.
Dear Grub Street,
FYI: The secret ingredient of the "crackarita" was not tequila at all but Everclear. I used to live across the street in the apartment above the wine store and saw them pour a bottle of Everclear into every batch.
Elizabeth and Mario,
The restaurant says it uses Tortilla Tequila Silver, an obscure favorite of fratire author Tucker Max that's pretty much the cheapest tequila money can buy.