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What We Can Learn From a Subway Report Card

We've been hearing for a few months now about these alleged Rider Report Cards the MTA is asking straphangers to complete, grading the cleanliness and performance and whatever else of their favorite subway lines. We finally got a glimpse of one today, when a member of Team Daily Intel was handed one at his usual J/M stop on the way into work. What do we learn from an actual handout? So many things! That station and train announcements are supposed to be both easy to hear and informative. (Who knew?) That there's supposed to be a lack of both graffiti and scratchitti in stations and cars. (And that there's apparently such a thing as "scratchitti.") That they're planning to do this survey on each line each year. Like that they've already completed grading the 7, but only the 7. And, finally, that New York City Transit president Howard H. Roberts Jr. has the most easily forgeable signature of any major city official. Just something to keep in mind.

A New Look for the Old East Village Baths

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After 115 years, the old-school shvitzes at the Russian and Turkish Baths on East 10th Street are getting just a little bit less old. A just-started renovation will add a new, larger sauna and steam bath to the East Village institution, where your bubbe and zayde bathed a century ago — when the Lower East Side tenements often didn't have their own plumbing — and customers today range from Hasidic Jews to celebrities like P. Diddy and Colin Farrell to neighborhood locals, both hipster and non. "We're basically getting rid of an old sauna and putting in a brand-new one," 30-year-old Jack Shapiro, who manages the baths with his brother, told us. They're also adding a new steam room and "prettying up" the stairs to the institution's second level. August, of course, is the time to do this, because sauna business slows down when it's already so hot and muggy outside. But it doesn't stop completely. "After you take a 180-degree steam here," Shapiro explained, "100 degrees outside ain't bad." —Mary Reinholz

Anna Wintour Fails to Lighten Up, Even Under Blazing Sun

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Why does Anna Wintour look so mad? She's at the U.S. Open; she should be having fun! Is it because she's been exposed to sunlight? Nope. It's because one of her dreadful aides has failed her once again. A Daily Intel spy spotted Miss Anna reaming out the hapless helper outside of Court 13 on day one of the Open yesterday because she was briefly denied access to the stands. Seems officials wouldn't let her — or anyone else, not that that matters — in until a changeover. Bad assistant! Very bad!

Rachel Sklar Available for All Your Quoting Needs

Rachel Sklar
There's already been much ado about Charlie Gibson's refusal to play along with Stephen Colbert's goofy "WristStrong" campaign, and the Times article that exposed the mini-controversy. Colbert asked the Gibson and Katie Couric and Brian Williams to wear bracelets on air in order to raise awareness of "wrist violence," and Katie and Brian, the fun anchors, are playing along. In the article Huffington Post media editor Rachel Sklar said their participation shows "good humor" and "humanity," and then Portfolio blogger Jeff Bercovici jumped on her for it — pointing out that the whole reason people like hearing the news from Charlie Gibson is because he isn't fun, he's serious. But our question is why was blogger Rachel Sklar quoted as a TV news expert in the first place? Why not someone with experience in the biz who could lend more insight — or an insider? Because the article was written by young Brian Stelter, a.k.a. the wunderkind behind the blog TVNewser, that's why. Before he was recently hired by the Gray Lady, he was Sklar's co-worker and buddy at Mediabistro. Silly Stetler — you can't just quote your friends. This is the Times, not the Observer! Two Out of Three Anchors Join Colbert in Wrist Stunt [NYT] Charlie Gibson Only Cool in the Ratings [Mixed Media]

Moving an Upper East Side Wine Institution

Sherry-Lehman Wines & Spirits
Think moving is a pain? Try doing it with 60,000 bottles of wine. That’s what the venerable Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits shop did this weekend when they left their famous Madison Avenue space for new digs on Park Avenue and 59th Street (it'll open tomorrow). Just before the big day, we chatted with owner Michael Aaron about the store's history in hooch. "Andy Warhol used to come by all the time," Aaron said. "When he designed the Mouton-Rothschild label for the 1975 vintage, we put the bottles on display. I called Andy and said, 'Please stop by, because the bottles are so fantastic-looking.'"

Deutsche Bank Tries to Rescue Its Good Name

130 Liberty
Ever wonder what Deutsche Bank thinks about all of this anger over the deaths of firemen in the Deutsche Bank building? You know, because every news story refers to the dangerous hollowed-out edifice as "The Deutsche Bank Building" even though Deutsche Bank sold it in 2004? Well, guess what — Deutsche Bank hates it. We hear they've had publicists scrambling to contact news agencies who are covering the story and get them to refer to the building as 130 Liberty Street, or at least "the former Deutsche Bank building," so that Deutsche Bank won't keep being associated with the accidents there. One such journalist pointed out "that the name Deutsche Bank was like the Chrysler Building — no one cares if Chrysler is still in the building, it's still called that." Though, the Chrysler Building didn't kill anybody lately. We sort of see Deutsche Bank's point.

Lauren Bacall: Canine Before Comfort

Lauren Bacall
Nothing gets between Lauren Bacall and her dog. The legendary Big Sleep star is about to set off on an epic voyage to reach Norway, where she'll be filming the indie flick Wide Blue Yonder. On the way, she'll have to stop and do a costume fitting in England, where it's illegal to fly in with a pooch. Rather than be separated from her 5.5-pound papillon, Sophie, she'll fly to Paris, and then drive to Calais on the northern coast (the Eurostar train prohibits pets, too). There, at U.K. Customs, poor Sophie will be examined. "It's a nightmare, just a long nightmare," Bacall griped to Intel as she was packing in her Dakota apartment. After the exam, they board a boat. "We have to be in the car on the ferry and not get out of the car until we arrive in Folkestone, in England," she said. "I'm not quite sure how I'm getting to Norway yet, but I do know the border patrol has to be notified 48 hours before you arrive. The whole scene is so ridiculous!" Yes, yes, it is. —Geoffrey Gray

Roger Stone's Alibi: No ‘Frost/Nixon’ on Monday Nights

Everyone agrees that, whatever else happened, the bizarre late-night phone call to Eliot Spitzer's dad was made on the evening of August 6, a bit before 10 p.m. Bernard Spitzer's lawyers says it came from Roger Stone, a Republican consultant; Stone says Democratic operatives broke into his Central Park South apartment and used his phone to frame him. He couldn't have made the call, Stone said in a statement posted to his Website, because "[o]n the night this call was allegedly made, I was at the theater catching the play NIXON and FROST [sic]." We'll ignore the ironies that Nixon is modern politics' greatest dirty trickster, that Stone worked for Nixon, and that the fulcrum of Frost/Nixon is a (fictional) bizarre late-night phone call. We'll just note this: August 6, 2007, was a Monday. And like many Broadway shows, the play, which closed this weekend, took that night off. "We were completely dark on Mondays," a rep from its management company told us. —Geoffrey Gray

When Mayor Says He Won't Run, ‘Draft Bloomberg’ Gang Doesn't Listen

Mayor Bloomberg
Only five members of the Committee to Draft Michael Bloomberg showed up last night for their weekly meeting (down 50 percent from last time we checked in) upstairs at Old Town Bar. It may have been the rain that kept people away, or maybe it was just the fact that Bloomberg himself told Dan Rather this week, "Nobody's going to elect me president of the United States." But the spirit of those five was not dampened, despite the rain and promise of defeat! Strategies for petition drives were crafted and plans for T-shirts were finalized. "My people say it's not at all over," said group leader Karin Gallet, who says she communicates regularly with current and former Bloomberg aides. "They say he's definitely still in the ball game." We'd tease them for their optimism, but they're probably right. Though if politics is a "ball game" and Bloomberg is, at best, a relief pitcher — does that make these guys the people in the bleachers with the big foam fingers? Earlier: These Ten People Want to Make Bloomberg President

Who's Supporting Brooklyn-Bound Obama?

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Barack Obama is in Brooklyn for a fund-raiser tonight, and we were curious who — in addition to Caroline Giuliani, of course — might be turning out. So we looked to mybarackobama.com, where we discovered all sorts of affinity groups for supporters of the Illinois senator. There's Burners for Barack (for Burning Man attendees) and Octogenarians for Obama ("We are never too old to back Barack"). There are groups for Final Fantasy fans (they plan to "fight back against the Shinra companies of our world" via Obama) and flight attendants vowing to harness their "unique ability to fly around easily" to spread the word. There are spiritualists and psychic mediums who "emphatically believe" that Barack's the man for the job and Prince Fans for Obama, who believe he "upholds the ideals" of the singer and that "if Prince wasn't apathetic towards voting due to his religion, he would vote for Barack Obama." Ballers for Obama are planning three-on-three basketball tournaments to help raise cash for the campaign, and Canadians like him, even though they can't vote. And then, of course, there's NYC 4 Obama. "We have a lot of really serious supporters here as well," insisted Molly Lombardi, spokesman for that group. —Janelle Nanos

‘Thursday Styles’ Today: Let's Talk About Sex, Baby

So apparently there's a new etiquette problem facing New York's Stylish class: People have become too willing to talk about porn in public, and sometimes their offhand pornversations can be embarrassing to their friends and loved ones. These people talk about porn as though it's socially acceptable (maybe it is?) — and in a mere two days you'll be able to learn all about them in the "Thursday Styles" section of the Times. How do we know this? Because a few folks here, and several people we know elsewhere, received an unsolicited, self-promotional mass e-mail from a certain "Styles" reporter looking for sources to talk on the subject, with a near-immediate deadline of tomorrow. In a subsequent "Thursday Styles," by the way, we suspect you might learn about the new trend of reporters scooping their own work by e-mailing a good chunk of their competition about it. But that's just a hunch. Style [NYT]

‘Page Six’ Starts World-Domination Quest With a Scribe and a Song?

Chris Wilson
Looking through "Page Six" this morning, we were a little jarred by this sighting: "MAXIM Deputy Editor Chris Wilson howling out a Monkees song with N.Y. Observer writer George Gurley, followed by fellow Observer scribe Spencer Morgan and his girlfriend, Vanity Fair fashion editrix Alexis Stewart, belting out Heart's 'Magic Man' at Sing Sing." Hm, we thought – this must be the first time they've done an item about a former "Page Six"–er and his writer friends singing karaoke. We would chalk it up to August gossip fatigue, if we didn't remember this item, from June 10: " MAXIM deputy editor Chris Wilson and New York Observer scribe Spencer Morgan belting out Kenny Rogers' and Dolly Parton's infamous duet 'Islands in the Stream' at the karaoke joint Sing Sing. Morgan was the Dolly to Wilson's Kenny." Wow – two items about Wilson and Morgan at Sing Sing? We hope somebody's getting some free tunes out of this, because otherwise, "Page Six"'s quest to be the new TMZ.com is off to a rocky, rocky start. Earlier: Page Six to Try to Take Over World, Make it Canoodley

Giving Our Junk Mail a Second Chance

Like most journalists, we are fairly regularly inundated with PR materials for various products, services, and, especially, books. Like most journalists, we give these things a quick once-over, realize they have nothing to do with anything we ever write about, and promptly toss all the packing, and all of the press releases, and all of the accompanying background material, and the sturdy folder all that paper came in, into the trash — or, if we're feeling responsible and industrious, into the recycling. Sometimes we hang on to the product itself, often we toss it on a free-stuff table, and occasionally we throw it out, too. Which we were about to do yesterday with a set of books that arrived unbidden and irrelevantly on our desk — until we noticed the titles: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Composting, Water, and Energy. At which point we laughed a little bit, and then we threw them out.

‘Gossip Girl’ Just As Tawdry, New Yorky As We'd Hoped

Blake Lively
So we got our hands on a preview DVD of the new show Gossip Girl. You know, the new CW show based on the megapopular book series? For anybody over the age of 20 (okay, let's be honest, 28), it's basically Sex and the City for the New York City private-school set. The show films in the city, and we were delighted to note how many NYC landmarks are defiled in the first episode alone. Without giving away the (extremely vigorous) plotline, here are some of our favorite bits:

‘Page Six’ to Try to Take Over the World, Make It Canoodley

Richard Johnson and Ann Coulter
"Page Six" proliferated to three pages of the Post again today, which reminded us of all the rumors we've been hearing lately about the brand's plan to turn itself into an unstoppable, unavoidable, hegemonic global powerhouse. See, chief "Six"-er Richard Johnson has been interviewing celebrity reporters, editors, and bloggers over the last few weeks as part of an effort to birth a multimedia gossip juggernaut. "Essentially 'Page Six' is looking to hire reporters and editors to expand the brand on a variety of platforms, Web, television, magazine, etc.," said one candidate who was interviewed. "They think they need to extend their gossip reach out of NYC and into L.A., Miami, Vegas — maybe even Nashville." In other words, the Posties want "Page Six" the Brand to become a little bit TMZ.com, some Entertainment Tonight, and hopefully a pinch of that old lady at the Grand Ol' Opry with the price tag on her hat. We hear these plans are set to kick in starting at the end of this year. Which means the paper was actually right — the three bimbos of the apocalypse were a sign!

Also, Winnie Cooper Became a Mathematician

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How have we never before realized that the Times employs as a business writer — one based out of Singapore, as we understand, specializing in Asian financial crises — Kevin Arnold's doofusy, bullying older brother? Well, apparently it does, and we finally noticed this morning. Looking back, we see that's the moment we realized everyone grows up, and sometimes the ones you never expected much from turn into respected newspaper reporters. The Wonder Years [IMDb] U.S. Stocks Open Lower After a Major Asian Sell-Off [NYT]

Olivia Palermo's Dad Tries for Bankruptcy, Fails

Olivia Palermo
Up-and-climbing socialite Olivia Palermo may still be smarting from her feud with rival Tinsley Mortimer, as "Page Six" reports today, but she's got bigger problems, ones that have million-dollar price tags. Palermo's pop and personal slush fund, real-estate consultant Douglas Palermo, recently lost a hefty bankruptcy case. Palermo senior's appeal to get out of paying over $2.75 million to a creditor was rejected after the judge found that Palermo had used multiple fake organizations to obscure his actual worth from lenders. Instead of paying his bills, Palermo joined private clubs and sent his children, Olivia and Grant, to expensive schools. He also issued "hundreds of checks" to his Korean dry cleaner, which he used as an "unofficial credit line," and skimped on alimony payments. That's gotta sting for flashbulb-friendly Olivia — if dad's in debt, does daughter have to … work? Doubet LLC vs. Douglas E. Palermo [U.S. Bankruptcy Court] Socialite Snit Scars Benefit [NYP] Related: The Number One Girl [NYM]

The Mayor, His Wife, His Press Secretary, and His ‘Very Good Friend’

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We've been reading a lot about Rudy Giuliani lately. There was that Voice piece yesterday on why his kids are right to hate him. There's the New Yorker profile we finally got around to reading last night (and which seemed only to provide a Steinbergian New Yorker's View of Rudy to the rest of the country — was there anything in it, other than that his father, in addition to being a small-time gangster, was also a mean disciplinarian, that you didn't already know?). And there's the Harper's cover we've been looking at on our coffee table for a week or so now, though we can't quite bring ourselves to crack it.

Tyra Banks and Thom Felicia Consider Farrotto, Fatherhood at Centro Vinoteca

Tyra Banks and Thom Felicia
So last night we stopped by Centro Vinoteca, the buzzing new restaurant from chef Anne Burrell. Tyra Banks was there on a double date with friends and her new beau, banker John Utendahl. The staff immediately popped a bottle of Champagne for her as she and her orange wig sat down in the coveted corner booth upstairs. Also there, among a gaggle of pretty girls, was adorable 'mocialite and former Queer Eye design guru Thom Felicia, who was celebrating a new big life decision. He and his boyfriend are going to make a gaybie! One of their friends will provide her own egg and uterus, and if it's a girl, they're going to name it "Lake." If it's a boy, they'll name it "Lago." Awesome. Related: Batali Protégé Goes For Her Share of the Limelight [Grub Street]

How Much Does a Blog Mogul Make?

Nick Denton
Yesterday, someone calling himself Shylock slapped together some data on the traffic over at Gawker Media, the network of blogs run by immensely cranium'd publisher Nick Denton and written by a rotating cast of editors. Sparing you the calculations on page views and ad rates, we'll cut to the chase: Shylock figured that Gawker Media was making some $52 million in annual revenue. It's okay: We oopsied a little too. But blogger Greg Allen then took a far more sensible take, deducting all sorts of things from that massive retail number (like ad space that goes unused, probably discounts for advertisers who buy in bulk, commission for sales staff, etc.) and came up with a mere $20 million in annual revenue. We're skeptical Allen is exactly correct, but his figure sounds more reasonable, and, hating math as we do, we'll stick with his number. But, even so, that's still only revenue. When expenses are considered, just how many dollars does the chinny cherub actually get to stuff in his big, British pockets? Let's investigate!