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This Week, Give Cab Drivers a Little Credit


If you've ridden in New York taxis for a long time, you're probably already wary of the credit-card machines that have been installed in many of them. The ones that have been in cabs for a couple of years now never really worked, and not handing over cash just feels weird. The Post reveals today that cab drivers are also suspicious of the devices. In fact, many of them would do anything to prevent you from swiping. According to the tabloid, they'd rather just grab your cold, hard cash and will lie about broken machines or fake policies to make sure that's how you pay. The Post doesn't specifically explain why some drivers would rather have you pay them in cash, but the implication that most cabbies are cheats is pretty heavy throughout the piece. The problem is so bad that the head of the Taxi and Limousine Commission himself was once prevented from using a credit card by a deceitful cabbie. The cabbies' union claims that the problem is the equipment, not the drivers. After the jump, some technical advice on what to do to avoid this problem.

Chace Crawford's Stetson Cologne Auditions?

We are under strict orders from our boss to keep our Gossip Girl posts down to just one a day, but sometimes life doesn't go your way. Like today, for example. A tipster sent us the link to a cache of sixteen (possibly fake, definitely titillating) glamour-shot portraits of a young Chace Crawford. Are they early head shots? Are they cut-and-paste jobs like the ones of Daniel Radcliffe's giant manballs that were racing around the Internet earlier this year? Or are they actually just test photos from Ian Somerhalder's brief "Dirty Blond" experiment? We're not sure. But something about the football-and-board-shorts photo smacks of full-on, Abercrombie-aspiring, local-mall-cattle-call-attending reality. After the jump, a couple more images that are sure to tickle your funny Nate Archibald bone. In the comments, let us know what you think. Are they real? Or are they just Chase's head airbrushed onto Ian Thorpe's (pre-carb-bloated) body?

‘It Takes a Special Kind of Man to Want to Stick It in the Girl in the Philip Treacy Lobster Hat’

We came across a copy of Simon Doonan's upcoming book, Eccentric Glamour: Creating an Insanely More Fabulous You, and even though it's not coming out until April, we are going to tell you a little bit about it now, because it is kind of awesome. In it, Doonan interviews the insanely fabulous and the fabulously insane — everyone from Dita Von Teese to Malcolm Gladwell — about their unique personal styles. The book is "intended as a wake-up call to the women of America to eschew the contemporary porno-chic trend and inject a little classy eccentricity into their fashion choices," Doonan wrote in the Observer last summer, and it's more a rumination on what glamour is than the style manual the title implies, but if you use it as such, you might be lucky enough to end up like Amy Fine Collins, who says her fashion choices cause her to get lots of attention from "homeless, gay, black street people." How fun is that? Just don't try and take them with you to the Waverly Inn.

PETA Gets Way Too Personal With the Olsen Twins

Now, everyone knows how we love the Olsen family, so it pains our heart to do this, but we really have to recommend that everybody go over to the PETA Website and play their Dress Up the Trollsens game. See, that's the new nickname they have for Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. You can go on their site and dress "Hairy Kate" and "Trashley," who begin the game naked, in what we can only assume is the makeup they used during their auditions to be extras in I Am Legend. In their closet, you'll see items like a "Choked Chinchilla Cap" and a "Mauled Mink Shaw" (the "Dead Doggie Shoulder Bag" and "Kitten-Trimmed Mittens," we must say, are a stretch, even for PETA). The creepiest part isn't the bloody clothing, nor is it the fact that both twins have the same naked body-warts that plague Mr. Burns on The Simpsons. It's that their giant dead eyes follow your cursor as it moves around their bodies and does whatever it wants. They just dully regard you with a silent mix of sneering disdain and mild terror. For anyone who has ever had a fantasy about having sex with either of them, that should just about cure it. Because we're no Lance Armstrong, but we suspect that in real life, that's exactly how it goes. Dress Up The Trollsens [PETA]

Dan Doctoroff's Replacement: Innie or Outie?

With the official news of Dan Doctoroff's departure as the city's economic-development czar, the hunt is on to find a lame-duck replacement for him — one that can carry out the mayor's ambitious NYC2030 plan. So, one source tells us that City Hall recruiters have been feeling around for any takers and have so far reached out to at least two possibilities. One of them is Alan Fishman, the former president of Sovereign Bank who now chairs the mayor's Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. (A call to Fishman was not immediately returned.) The other person that's said to have been asked about Doctoroff's job is Sean Donovan, who now runs the mayor's Department of Housing Preservation and Development. “This could be a very good choice,” one politico told New York. “Shaun and Dan have very different philosophical approaches to development. Shaun has a great reputation for working with community groups and community boards and can build allegiances there, and that was always Doctoroff’s weakness. He wanted to bulldoze things through.” Donovan is the choice most frequently mentioned in press reports, but Fishman could be the private-sector outsider we hear that City Hall has been secretly hoping for. Time, and more rushed press conferences, will probably tell. —Geoffrey Gray Earlier: Dan Doctoroff May Still Save Us

At 3 P.M. Today, What Will Sumner Do?

According to a press release sent to us from embittered Viacom freelancers, 3 p.m. is the hour that they will storm out of the offices today to protest large changes in the company's benefit program. Though Sumner's army of evil attempted to make some concessions last week, it seems like it's still on. From the release:
The holiday season has arrived and you work for one of the largest media corporations in the world. You receive your invitation to the company’s annual holiday gala event, and along with it, you are given the alarming news that in a few weeks, large portions of your employee benefits – including health insurance and retirement benefits – will be slashed or cut.

It sounds like a tale only Scrooge could spin, but this was the case for thousands who work each day for Viacom but are classified as ‘freelancers’, some of whom have been working for the company as long as 9 years.
Wow, Scrooge? Someone get these creative people a raise! Any readers planning on walking out, too? Send us what's going on in the interior; we're dying to know. E-mail us at intel@nymag.com. After the jump, the full press release.

The ‘Sex and the City’ Trailer Arriveth!


Five months before the movie hits theaters (and approximately one week after filming ended and we had found out everything that happens in the movie because they filmed all of it in front of us), the Sex and the City movie preview is on YouTube. Click above to view it in all its meringue-y glory. And look for the tagline, which is so perfectly punny we actually shrieked when we saw it: "This Spring," reads the large purple lettering, "Get Carried Away." CARRIE-D AWAY? Oh God. We have five more months of this to deal with. What's next? "It's the Biggest Event of the Season"? "This Year, Things Get Harry With Charlotte"? "You'll Be Jonesing for More"? By March, it'll be "This Spring, Get Read Your Miranda Rights." And by May, we can just see it: "This Spring, Find Out Who Got Into Stanford!" Earlier: Our complete coverage of the Sex and the City movie

Meet Phil V. Donahue: Patriot, Professional ‘Mean Santa’

Phil V. Donahue
Like anyone else, we always assumed city bureaucrats were dull, passionless paper shufflers. But today the Times proves us wrong by introducing us to one Phil V. Donahue, the director of personnel at the city's Board of Elections and our new favorite person. As you can see, Phil looks like Santa, if Santa joined ZZ Top. He also, the Times tells us, rides his Harley-Davidson lowrider from the Bronx to his office in the morning, belongs to that group of bikers who show up at the funerals of American soldiers, and, most importantly, recently filed a request with his board suggesting that he be sent to Afghanistan and Iraq to help soldiers with their absentee ballots because, he says, "They’re risking their lives for our rights and freedoms and a lot of them aren’t even getting the right to vote, and they’re more affected by the election than anyone." Aw! He wants to go on his Harley, too. But wait — Phil gets even awesomer. Like many New Yorkers, he has a whole other career: "My evil twin is an actor," he told us when we called him up to ask him if he was the selfsame Phil V. Donahue IMDb told us was in an upcoming independent movie, Street Revenge, in which a local street gang finds a briefcase full of money that they later find out belongs to one of New York's biggest crime families. "I play a dirtbag biker named Luke," he tells Intel. "My dirtbag biker partner and I are hired to hold a hostage. She is the daughter of the owner of a waste-management company who will not pay his share to the Godfather. Much bloodshed and destruction come about." Phil has also been in several commercials, he says, and has been known, during the holidays, to appear at parties as a "Mean Santa." We can't think of anyone better equipped to go over to the Middle East and tell those insurgents who's boss. Go, Phil! Election Official Wants to Help Troops at War Vote [NYT]

Who Will Save Christmas From the Gay Grinches?

For the past 21 years, gays of all stripes have flocked to the annual Holi-gay "Toys for Tots" charity event, where they've drunk and flirted and the only price of admission was a Malibu Barbie or fire truck to be donated for poor city children. Last year, over 4,000 hairdressers, publicists, and lawyers packed into the Metropolitan Pavilion, breaking fire-code regulations. And so this year, the organizers decided to charge a $35 admission (plus a toy). The fee was introduced in order, the organizers said, to defray costs and stay under capacity, but a number of gay New Yorkers were disgruntled and boycotted the party, saying the "gay elite" was trying to price out less-affluent homosexuals.

Just in Time for Hanukkah, Sherri Shepherd Explains Judaism Away

We love Sherri Shepherd. Since she came on The View, the show has had more energy, more weaves, and a hell of a lot more on-camera drinking. Also, it's had a lot more interesting Christian moments. Like today, when Sherri claimed that Jesus Christ arrived on Earth and started the Christian religion before anything else in history happened. During a discussion about the Greek philosopher Epicurus (341 B.C.–270 B.C.), the following debate popped up among a lot of cross chatter:
Whoopi: Keep in mind probably when he was around there was no Jesus going on.
Sherri: No, they had Christians back then.
[Cross talk]
Sherri: They had Christians, they threw them to the lions.
[Cross talk]
Whoopi: I think this might predate that.
Joy: They believed in polytheism.
Sherri: I don't think anything predated Christians.
Joy: No, the ancient Greeks were earlier. It went Greeks, Romans, then Christians.
Sherri: Jesus came first before them.
Whoopi: [Gently, bless her] Not on paper.
Now, Sherri is not wrong about people in the Bible being thrown to the lions way before then. But people called them Jews then, because Jesus didn't come until 300 years later. All in all, probably a fair mistake. Just not one we expected to hear in the same episode as Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul talking about aborting an 8-month-old baby. The View [ABC]

Find the Perfect Man With Our Male-Model Manual

If the delicious cornucopia pictured above didn't already get your attention, allow us to direct you to our latest offering: men! More specifically, those newly featured in our ever-handy Model Manual, to which we've just added 41 male specimens. Don't know your dreamboat's name? No worries — he doesn't necessarily need one, right? Plus, we've taken the time to organize them all by their distinctive traits, from Brazilian boys to sugar daddies. After the jump, please do enjoy a solid afternoon's worth of lusty procrastination.

‘Gossip Girl’ Spoiler: The Musical Number Cometh


Late last week we went to a concert at Luna Lounge to see sister band the Pierces play. Turns out they are making a cameo appearance in the Greatest Show of Our Time. And what's better, it's during an ALL-CAST CHOREOGRAPHED DANCE ROUTINE. This is a bold move by the Gossip Girl writers. The musical-number episode normally comes much later in the life of a series, about the time when the Long-Running Celebrity Guest Star makes regular appearances, or when somebody develops an ill-timed pregnancy. But Gossip Girl is playing its hand early (like, tomorrow) and we're not going to turn down a good thing. Allison Pierce told us that there's a fistfight involved in the episode, and a new male character is introduced to come between Dan and Serena (wait, didn't this already happen?). Click above to see a preview. The band shared a dressing room with Blake Lively and Leighton Meister on set. “We hung out with them. They were very cool, they weren’t snobby or anything, they were very sweet,” Catherine Pierce said. “Blake has a little teacup poodle. It’s like two pounds, and it had the funniest personality. It was like a little live-action teddy bear. She had him on the table with all the food and he was running around.” Aw, adorable! Also, no wonder Blair is barfing up all her food… —Fiona Byrne

The Astor Dachshunds: Holding Out for a Hero

Brooke Astor
The dogs! Brooke's dogs! Somehow the treatment of beloved Brooke Astor's beloved dogs is now a barometer of the meanness of her son, Tony Marshall, recently indicted for "swindling" his mom out of millions. "He killed the dogs!" one of Brooke's friends gasped in horror. Of course, Tony didn't kill the dogs. But in the Dickensian tropes that envelope this scandal — he fed his own mother gruel, Tony's son charged — Tony has become Fagin. Every meanness is credited. He wanted to put the dogs to sleep, said the Daily News, quoting an anonymous source. In her last days, he wouldn't let his mother see her dogs, Tony's son charged. All this is, of course, contrasted with Annette de la Renta's loving consideration of the dogs. De la Renta, who became Brooke's legal guardian in the end, is the dog rescuer. She's got mutts; they roam her apartment. She invited dogs to her daughter's wedding. She even bought Brooke one of her dachshunds.

Beloved YouTube Animals Strike in Solidarity With WGA

The headline pretty much says it all. Click the image to the left to watch the genius video by Colbert Report writers Frank Lesser and Rob Dubbin. It's even got (granted, predictable) celebrity cameos!

Ben Stein Thinks Paul Krugman Probably Just Has Low Self-Esteem

This morning, we told you about the various reactions in the blogosphere to Ben Stein's column in the Times business section this weekend, about what he perceived as opportunistic fear-mongering at Goldman Sachs. The piece, which included a dig at "economic journalists and commentators who sell newsprint by selling fear," touched a nerve with a few journalists, among them Stein's New York Times stablemate Paul Krugman, whose current column announces that the financial crisis is "back with a vengeance" and heralding the "breakdown of our modern-day banking system." Like a mean girl on MySpace, Krugman wrote a narky snippet about Stein's piece on his Times blog, but Stein says the sticks and stones cannot break his bones. "It is hardly to be expected that I could question an institution as powerful as Goldman Sachs and not get some response," Stein told Daily Intel. "As to Paul Krugman, I don't like to deal with people so full of hate. His recent piece on [Milton] Friedman [in the New York Review of Books] was so thoroughly debunked by Anna Schwartz that I would well imagine he's not happy." To make matters more interesting, Stein's piece and Krugman's column have been duking it out on the Times Most-Emailed list all morning long. At the time of this writing, Krugman is at three, and Stein is at four. Who will win the battle of the economist nerds? "It's Christmastime," Stein tells us beatifically. "I wish everyone peace." Earlier: Ben Stein Takes on Goldman Sachs, Internet Goes For Stein's Sack

'Gossip Girl' EP Finally Explains the Great Dumbo/Williamsburg Contradiction!

Stop the presses! We have some very important, breaking Gossip Girl news. (No, it's not that they've been filming in New York all week, surrounded by the real-life girls they are absurdly meant to portray.) The producers of the Greatest Show of Our Time have reached out to Daily Intel to once and for all put to rest the Most Obnoxious Real-Estate Conundrum of Our Time. That is, whether the Humphrey family lives in Williamsburg, as mentioned in the pilot episode, or Dumbo, where all exterior shots and activities around their loft have taken place. Behold, an e-mail from executive producer Stephanie Savage:
When we wrote the pilot script, we felt like Williamsburg was the appropriate place to situate the Humphrey family, and we shot all our Brooklyn locations in Williamsburg (Rufus' gallery, Dan and Serena's date, Dan and Rufus put up flyers). However, the interior of the Humphrey loft was shot at a private residence at The Foundry, in Long Island City, so that wouldn't work for the exterior shot.

Two Gawker Editors Decide Not to Be Douche Bags


Holy poop you guys, did you get that IM from the intern down the hall? Something totally crazy is going on at Gawker!! Writer Emily Gould and managing editor Choire Sicha, are QUITTING. Sicha is that hot gay who helped shape the site as its second solo editor from 2003 to 2005. He left to work at the Observer and then came back early this year. Gould has been working on the site since November of last year. Neither have jobs lined up, we hear. SO BRAVE. This certainly marks the end of an era for the site, which (as Vanessa Grigoriadis pointed out in her recent story in New York) has been making a shift toward an emphasis on comments and page views over edited content in recent months. It also comes on the heels of the departure of another Gawker mainstay, Alex Balk, who left for Radar magazine's Website recently. Perhaps more interesting, Gould and Sicha's departure puts today's Who's Quitting Gawker Media tally at four: Valleywag correspondent Megan McCarthy has also announced that she’s leaving the Silicon Valley blog for the warm corporate arms of Wired, while Jalopnik founding editor Mike Spinelli has removed himself from the blog's daily operations and is instead acting as editor-at-large, which he himself acknowledges is an "inflated" title. Obviously the timing of these departures is coincidental, but still. What does this all mean? And more important, were you the first one of your friends to find out? And, wait, you commented, right? Wow, anyway, we have no idea what happens next. Who will they hire? That sound you hear is the thumping of a thousand editorial assistants running to their apartment roofs to take a picture of themselves in a bathing suit. A Long Dark Early Evening of the Soul With Keith Gessen [Gawker] Related: Everybody Sucks: Gawker and the Rage of the Creative Underclass [NYM]

Tell Us Why You Love New York

New York
Why do we love New York? Because you can always reinvent yourself. Because you can have everything delivered. Because we’ve got both Rudy and Hillary. Because it all happens here. We love this city for a multitude of reasons, but for our third annual Reasons to Love New York issue, we want to know why you love the city. Tell us about your favorite people and places, the culture you can't live without, the food you have to eat, the politics you can't stop arguing about, even the things you love to hate. Anything goes when it comes to explaining why this city is the city, and no idea is too specific or small. So contribute to the lovefest and send your reasons to reasons@nymag.com; we can't reply to all submissions, but see if your love for New York made the list when the issue hits newsstands on December 17. Update: We're still looking for reasons why you love New York. Some of you have left great comments below telling just what tickles you about this ol' town. Is it, like WEXY says, because you can "see an Indie rock show at the Bowery Ballroom on Friday, see a Next Wave show at BAM on Saturday and go to the Giant football game on Sunday and stop off at a pub on Eighth Avenue where people know [you] on the way home for a bite to eat?" Or is it simply, as ANNIEC explains, because you "don't know how to drive?" Keep emailing your reasons to the above address, or commenting down below!