A stretch of freakishly cold and rainy August weather seemed all too appropriate for a week of unseasonably chilling news. A blaze at the Deutsche Bank building, unoccupied since 9/11, killed two firemen, possibly as a result of criminal negligence and the lack of a pre-fire plan. The CIA admitted that pretty much every spy this side of James Bond had viewed a 2000 report about two of the future Twin Towers attackers — and none had mentioned it to the FBI. Attorneys for Bernard Spitzer (father of Eliot) released tapes of a threatening phone message that referred to his “psycho, piece-of-shit son.” (The call came from the line of Republican strategist Roger Stone, who said someone had broken into his apartment to frame him while he was at Frost/Nixon — though it turns out there wasn’t a performance on the night in question.) Stone was subsequently fired by his client, Joe Bruno.
As the city draped itself in black last week to mourn the death of its unofficial monarch, Brooke Astor, stock-market troubles aside, the summer’s darkest days otherwise seemed to have passed. A dirty-bomb scare was canceled for lack of interest (or evidence), and Lexington Avenue reopened at 41st Street for the first time since the steam-pipe explosion, which most of us thought was terrorism at the time. The federal government promised Mayor Bloomberg $350 million for congestion pricing (pending Albany approval).
In a week in which a freak twister whipped through Brooklyn, downing trees and smashing cars, everything seemed like it was spinning, starting with the MTA PR department after the same tornado-producing storm washed out the subway system. (They blamed the city’s clogged drains.) Thrice-married adulterer Rudy Giuliani talked in circles when asked if he considers himself a “traditional Catholic”; his daughter Caroline sent heads whirling by linking to a Barack Obama booster site on her Facebook page. Team Obama played down reports that its candidate had pulled a 180 by backing out of a fund-raiser at midtown’s extremely Caucasian Harmonie Club. Mayor Bloomberg, who quit the Harmonie before running for mayor, was called for jury duty downtown and didn’t seem too upset about being blackballed from an asbestos case.
Citizens left the city in droves as August began, apparently fleeing the cloud of uncertainty that seemed to have settled over the city. Governor Spitzer called the appointment of a special prosecutor in the Joe Bruno investigation “unnecessary,” then offered to testify under oath. The families of 9/11 victims were told that this year’s anniversary would not be marked at ground zero, but then it was announced they’d convene at a spot overlooking the site.
The city was shaken last week when an explosion tore open the ground near Grand Central and spewed scalding vapor into the midtown sky, but steam was being blown off everywhere. The Dow broke 14,000. Mayor Bloomberg unloaded on Albany Democrats for screwing up his deal for federal transportation funds, but steamroller Governor Spitzer helped pave the way to a compromise. Would-be First Lady Elizabeth Edwards slammed Senator Clinton for not standing up for women. Rudy Giuliani made his first extended tour of Iowa, taking time to praise two forces unpopular in NYC: nuclear power and Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia. Andrew Cuomo sued ExxonMobil to clean out Greenpoint.
Mother nature cooked up a heat wave to celebrate last week’s 30th anniversary of the ’77 blackout, but GOP front-runner Rudy Giuliani was feeling hot under the collar. The top national firefighters union dubbed the ex-mayor’s 9/11 heroics an “urban legend,” while the name of his southern campaign director, Louisiana U.S. senator David Vitter, turned up in a D.C. madam’s little black book. (“He’s not a freak,” attested a New Orleans brothel owner in Vitter’s defense.) While Eliot Spitzer and Joe Bruno’s feud turned up the heat in Albany, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver stood firm between Mayor Bloomberg (who was hanging with his fellow moguls in Sun Valley) and a half-billion dollars in federal traffic-decongestant funds.
As the rockets’ red glare faded over New York Harbor and the city awaited the auspicious date of 7/7/07, residents had reason to feel lucky. Bombs bursting in air were a somewhat ominous reminder of the bungled London terror attacks, and, in the patriotic spirit of things, no one seemed to mind waiting as suspicious packages along the West Side Highway, on Liberty Island, and at JFK airport were examined. (The last threat turned out to be a big box of cologne.) Senator Hillary Clinton made good on threats to unleash husband Bill to march with baton twirlers in Iowa, but Barack Obama rained on her parade by raising $32 million to her $27 million in the second quarter of the year.
This week's issue of New York is a double issue, which means no issue next week, which means no "It Happened This Week" today. But that's okay; we don't need one. We all know what happened this week: The iPhone went on sale. iPhone! iPhone! iPhone iPhone iPhone. Remember how a few hours ago we told you there was virtually no line at several AT&T stores? Yeah, we just checked the one closest to the office — that's at Madison and 46th — and, well, not so much anymore.
As the city was drenched alternately by rain and perspiration, Mayor Bloomberg fanned presidential-run rumors by lighting out for the Western territories and announcing that he'd cooled on the Republican Party. The mayor's greenhouse-gas-battling congestion-pricing plan hit Albany gridlock. After a Harlem assemblyman accused Governor Spitzer of "acting like a Democratic Giuliani," South Carolina police arrested the real Giuliani's state campaign chief for acting like a Republican Pablo Escobar, charging him with cocaine distribution. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly mandated that cops who fire a gun will henceforth be tested for a different controlled substance, namely booze.
Rudy Giuliani's overheated twelve-point plan promising a little something for everyone was nicely in the spirit of a week characterized by hot air. Hillary Clinton felt a warming trend in Hollywood and bagged the presidential endorsement of Steven Spielberg. J.Lo and Marc Anthony, Puerto Rican Day Parade caliente surprise guests, were not among the 208 spectators arrested, who the police insisted were mostly gang members. Property-tax payers and library users were the big winners in the city budget passed by Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Christine Quinn. Governor Spitzer got fired up about legalizing medical marijuana for "life-threatening" conditions.
With public enemy no. 1, Paris Hilton, temporarily behind bars, the city turned its attention to more-mundane threats — like the alleged plot to blow up JFK airport. For Mr. 9/11, Rudy Giuliani, the foiled plan confirmed that he was the only presidential candidate qualified to keep the country safe — or to use the phrase Islamic terrorist, for that matter. “If you hear them utter those words,” he said of debating Democrats, “give me credit for it.” Budget officials warned that scary $3 subway fares were in the offing but estimated that some of that cost could be offset by making the city a gay-wedding destination. The other option is Rollerblading everywhere: The city’s transportation commissioner seemed open to closing Central Park to auto traffic during the summer.
Any week in which scalpers can demand five figures to hear The Police play “Every Breath You Take” at the Garden and the pollen count goes through the roof is bound to leave the city gasping for air. The world’s most dangerous tuberculosis patient stopped into town for three days of quarantine at Bellevue. Mayor Bloomberg opened a gigantic walk-in asthma clinic in East Harlem. Pretend Manhattan district attorney Fred Thompson moved closer to joining the presidential race, leaving real-life Big Apple crime-buster Rudy Giuliani no time to catch his breath.
The arrival of Fleet Week’s giddy sailors on shore leave marked a summery spate of punch-drunk recklessness, with five intoxicated Long Islanders starting a brawl at Space Mountain at Disney World and Jets cornerback Justin Miller hitting a female Barack Obama staffer in the face at a Chelsea nightclub. And it just got odder from there: A coyote bit a kindergartner on the head in the Jersey suburbs. A 60-year-old woman delivered twins, to the displeasure of her adult children. (“It’s my life and it makes me happy,” explained the new mom.)
It was a spring week in which green was bursting out all over. Mayor Bloomberg hosted a global environmental sleepover; Bill Clinton, sounding more Gore-like every day, came down from Harlem to tout the mayor’s congestion-pricing plan. Rudy Giuliani revealed that he’s earned $17 million since last year and picked up bonus 9/11 hero points by tearing into a fellow Republican debater who suggested that the U.S. in some way invited the attacks. Jerry Falwell, who blamed the towers’ fall on Gotham’s immoral minority, passed on to a better place.
It was a good week to consider one's legacy, as the world's most beautiful women Scarlett, J.Lo, Cameron, et al. descended on the Met decked out in some of the world's shiniest dresses to honor a long-dead, but once terribly important, French designer. Mayor Bloomberg spent the week giving high marks to himself, for fulfilling campaign promises. But he denied that he was seeking immortality in Albany by gunning for Eliot Spitzer's job in 2010. (State Republican chief Joseph Bruno's insistence notwithstanding, Mayor Mike said any reports of Albany envy were "totally made up.")
There was something inspiring in New Jersey governor Jon Corzine’s insouciance last week: rising from his deathbed, paying a photo-op $46 fine for violating the seat-belt law, and then speeding off toward home at 70 miles per hour. His predecessor, Jim McGreevey, nonchalantly announced that he planned to study for the Episcopalian priesthood (in laid-back Chelsea, no less). New York governor Eliot Spitzer raised reelection funds in California; fellow Dems back in Albany grumbled about his sudden devil-may-care attitude toward campaign-finance reform.
Just in time for sudden-onset spring, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled his ambitious 2030 plan, which called for a greener Apple — Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff promised arboreal enhancement “every single place where it is possible to plant a street tree” — and an $8 tax on people who drive into the city. (Staten Island retaliated with a project to up its “downtown cool” quotient.) President Bush stumped for No Child Left Behind in Harlem, sat for the Charlie Rose treatment at the Waldorf-Astoria, and stopped in at a $1 million meet-and-greet at 740 Park Avenue, hosted by old Skull and Bones chum Steve Schwarzman.
In a week when the Dow hit a record high and Manhattanites sought tax-season shelter, everyone was rethinking their fiscal strategies. The bottom line of a police investigation into the crash of New Jersey governor and former Goldman Sachs chief Jon Corzine was that he would have profited from buckling up and not being driven 91 miles per hour. The Reverend Al Sharpton hedged, then divested himself of plans to salute rap mogul L.A. Reid (whose portfolio of labels includes Roc-A-Fella). Small-cap-eschewing retiree Don Imus, old enough to cash in his 401(k), insisted that “I could go to work tomorrow. Bigger deal. More money.” Forbes investor Bono’s Spider-Man musical will reportedly make its initial public offering in July.
The comedy of errors that led to the tragic fifth act of talk radio’s King Lear, Don Imus, set the stage for a most Shakespearean week. Imus, who lost his multimedia kingdom for his comment about “nappy-headed hos,” lent his earphones to the Falstaffian Reverend Al Sharpton, who proceeded to bury him, not to praise him. New Jersey governor Jon Corzine was en route to broker peace between Imus and the Rutgers players but wound up in a condition of the worst degree.
The combined holy powers of Easter and Passover together couldn’t prevent April’s week-that’s-all-about- money from coming early this year. Rather than respectfully waiting until Tax Day, the root of all evil crept its way into the headlines last week. Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani didn’t hold off till April 15, Federal Election Commission Filing Day, to announce their first-quarter contributions: $26 million for HRC and $15 million for Rudy, placing him between Mitt Romney (!) and John McCain. Barack Obama cleverly waited to announce his own number — $25 million. That surprised nearly everyone, except maybe billionaire Obama pal David Geffen, who lost out on his dream of owning the L.A. Times to another billionaire, Chicagoan Sam Zell.