A high-level Republican official says that Rudy Giuliani, should he decide to run, won't have the blessing of Bush or Rove. Recently fired Citigroup exec Todd Thomson, who got himself in trouble for flying Maria Bartiromo around, has flown his wife to Montana, on vacation. Diddy has been partying a lot with "friend" Sienna Miller while his wife Kim Porter stays home with the twins. Martha Stewart is a Hillary supporter, and the launch of high-profile Condé Nast business mag Portfolio may not be going as smoothly as planned.
• A single-engine plane crashed into the driveway of a New Jersey home last night, killing the pilot and barely missing a row of houses. Details are still murky at the moment; the flight originated in North Carolina and was headed for the Essex County airport in bad weather. [WNBC]
• Governor Spitzer is about to sign off on a $1 billion government-financed stem-cell research initiative. Before we get too proud, however (or scream godless pinko), let's recall that California is spending three times the amount on the same. And their governor used to kill clones personally. [NYT]
• The NYPD has been cracking down on one of its formerly invincible nemeses — diplomats who use their immunity to park wherever they want. The city's already collected $3 million and is still owed $18 million more, from 77 countries. Worst offender? Egypt ($1.9 million in unpaid tickets). [NYDN]
• Miss New Jersey USA has resigned because she's pregnant, and you can't compete while pregnant. (By the way: Why not?) The runner-up, Erin Abramson, is presumed to be running around the living room yelling "I won I won I won I won." [amNY]
• And a French-born New Yorker got slapped with an insulting "foreigner fee" at Aquagrill; the story is remarkable for marking the first time in the years the Post published a photo of a French person without Photoshopping a weasel head on him. [NYP]
• Joe Bruno's lobbyist son emerges as the crucial link between the embattled State Senate GOP leader and pony-loving businessman Jared Abbruzzese. The Feds allege an unsummarizable roundelay of sweetheart deals, lobbying stints, and commission fees. [NYT]
• Three central New Jersey high schoolers are dead after a head-on collision between their car and a van less than a mile from campus. The van's driver was also killed, and her unidentified teen passenger hospitalized with serious injuries. [AP via amNY]
• A Brooklyn principal barred a special-ed student from entering a district spelling bee, telling him, "You don't have the brains to do it." This after organizing a special schoolwide bee seemingly aimed at eliminating him. [NYDN]
• City firefighters are putting up flag decals on their lockers in defiance of Fire Department's order to remove all personal adornments from department buildings. Expect an interesting debate on whether a locker is a private or a public space (and a staggering amount of porn in the trash bins behind firehouses). [IHT]
• And speaking of trash, New Yorkers generate a lot of it. Almost twice as much food waste, in fact, as any other city. Best recyclers? No surprise there: Park Slope. [NYP]
Seriously, what was that smell? Comedy fodder it may be, but evacuations at Rockefeller Center and Macy's — not to mention PATH closures in the middle of the morning commute — are nobody's idea of a good time. (Nor, can we imagine, is it much good for business.) So wouldn't it be good to know what really happened, to make sure it doesn't happen again? We're no experts, but we think so. And yet a quick perusal of today's news makes it clear: Nobody had an idea when it was happening, and nobody has an idea now. The first assumption, in our city of forever-frayed nerves, was terrorism; that version, no matter how tantalizing to local news teams, got thrown away as soon as the smell failed to sicken anyone. (Terrorists trafficking in minor olfactory nuisances would be something out of early Woody Allen.) Hours later, ConEd deflected all blame and swore that there was no gas or mercaptan leak. Finally, the Department of Environmental Protection "theorized" the smell could have wafted over from New Jersey — which became the Post's accepted, front-page-worthy rationale — but when you can't muster a more forceful sound bite than "It's within the realm of possibility," you may as well admit you have no clue. (Also within the realm of possibility: a Second Avenue subway, victory in Iraq.) In reality — and like with last year's syrup smell — there are no leads to pursue, no actions to take, no lessons to learn. That stinks.
N.J.'S P.U. Ripens Apple [NYP]
A Rotten Smell Raises Alarms and Questions [NYT]
• So who's to blame for yesterday's sulfuric odor across Manhattan that today has tabloid headline writers gleefully trafficking in fart puns? The leading version is an emission from a swamp across the Hudson. New Jersey, we thought better of you. [NYP]
• A security guard employed at the Office of the State Comptroller in Albany is being charged with exposing himself to two 13-year-old girls this past Saturday — at the office. Kinda puts Hevesi's indiscretions in perspective. [AP via amNY]
• A Bronx mother who had earlier claimed her baby was stolen at gunpoint on New Year's Eve is now suspected of abandoning the 1-month-old in a Dumpster. The cops are frantically searching landfills. [WNBC]
• Meet Stavon Simpson, a slightly less evil mom. According to the D.A., she took the $186,000 life-insurance payout from the dead father of her child — bequeathed expressly to the daughter's education — and decided it would be better spent on a Land Rover and things like the cable bill. Because the most important lesson is confidence. [NYDN]
• And, you still can't get gay-married in New York, but you can get gay-divorced. One half of a feuding ex-couple cited the union's illegality to get out of a separation agreement; in a Solomon-esque decision, a city judge has ruled that the contract stands even if the marriage itself doesn't. [NYT]
• The city's comptroller has red-flagged a $10 million contract between the Parks Department and Dominick Logozzo, a Brooklynite with serious mob ties; the deal entrusts Logozzo with the management of a city-owned golf course. Best part: Logozzo is also an investor in the Zone Diet, which the Feds claim is a front to hide Mafia profits. [NYP]
• Governor Spitzer unveiled his initiatives for New York in his first State of the State speech yesterday, and it left half of Albany slack-jawed. Among other things, the Spitz wants to guarantee health insurance for all children, reduce the cost of worker's comp to boost business, and spend billions on school aid — all that while cutting taxes. Sounds, uh, good. [NYT]
• According to a suit filed by "several disgusted janitors," there is hanky-panky afoot in New York's Equinox fitness clubs — as the Daily News puts it, "sleazy gay sex." Gay sex in gyms?! Say it ain't so. [NYDN]
• Busta Rhymes turned himself in to the cops on a misdemeanor assault charge, having allegedly roughed up an associate in a money dispute. Not too exciting, but an upgrade over Rhymes's previous brush with the law: a ticket for talking on a cell while driving. [amNY]
• And a metallic, gold-colored lump of rock, most likely a meteorite, crashed through the roof of a New Jersey home and embedded itself in the floor, delighting scientists. Okay, progressive politics or not, Jersey is still freaking weird. [NYDN]
So you know how the New York State minimum wage rose to $7.15 on January 1? Turns out New Jersey's has been there since October 1. Then, starting February 19, of course, New Jersey will allow gay couples to enter into civil unions. (New York's top court ruled out such unions back in July.) And now, reports the Times, a legislative committee in New Jersey has recommended the state abolish the death penalty, which would make the Garden State the first to do so since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the punishment 35 years ago. All of which brought us to a shocking realization this morning: Who knew we were living on the less progressive side of the Hudson?
Panel Seeks End to Death Penalty for New Jersey [NYT]
• Yesterday's already depressing story — a Brooklyn mother leaped in front of the F train, and survived, shortly after her son was found dead in their apartment — continues in the maximally depressing way possible. The woman has admitted to killing the boy, saying "demons overtook" her. [NYP]
• On the lighter side of the police blotter, Naomi Campbell's arrest warrant kicks in today, should she fail to appear at Manhattan Criminal Court for a hearing about her latest alleged phone-throwing ways. Campbell has already missed the previous hearing; her lawyer says he's considering a plea bargain. [ITV]
• This one could have ended badly. A pilot landed his Cessna in the middle of a city park. Paul Dudley was heading to New Jersey's Linden airport when he heard the engine sputter and decided to land in Brooklyn, coming to a leisurely stop in a field near the Verrazano Bridge. [amNY]
• NBC is cutting costs and cleaning house, laying off about twenty people across its flagship news programs (Today, Dateline, and Nightly News) and reportedly readying to shed twenty more. Dateline, which has been faring worst in the ratings, took the deepest hit. [NYT]
• And the City Council is proposing a law that could send parents to jail on a misdemeanor charge for kids' drinking. One wouldn't have to actually serve alcohol to a minor to be liable; turning a blind eye would suffice. Hey, kids — another way to get even with Dad: Rat him out with one drunken phone call! [NYDN]
In a pre-election week punctuated by acts of contrition, none was sorrier than John Kerry's mea culpa for seeming to instruct a group of college students to do their homework lest they "end up in Iraq." Having single-handedly halted Democratic momentum, Kerry said, "I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted." President Bush, who has lately donned a hair shirt over piddling aspects of his handling of the war, nevertheless vowed never to fire Rumsfeld or Cheney. Congressman Charles Rangel said he was sorry for calling the veep a "son of a bitch," but showed no pangs of conscience for observing that Cheney hadn't "shot anyone in the face lately." Remorseless campaigner Andrew Cuomo showed he had no hard feelings toward ex-rival Mark Green by accepting a $50,000 donation from Green's developer brother, Stephen, before scolding current opponent Jeanine Pirro's "shameful" paying of her driver $148,000 in county-funded overtime.
• More reasons to avoid Newark Airport: First a plane plops down on a narrow taxiway instead of a landing strip. Now two jets clip each other's wings on a runway while one is taxiing and another is being towed. No injuries, but what the hell? [amNY]
• A teenage trick-or-treater was killed in a hit-and-run after being chased onto Harlem River Drive by a knife-brandishing attacker. In a moment of discord, the Times puts the victim's age at 13, the AP at 15, and the Daily News at 16. [NYT, AP via amNY, NYDN]
• In other Halloween news: Two million took to Sixth Avenue to gape at 50,000 costumed marchers, one reveler got stabbed after catching his girlfriend parading with another man, and, of course, someone had to come to school in a Hitler costume, which he's now defending as "satire." Lovely. [NYDN, NYP]
• George Steinbrenner was rushed to the hospital after reportedly fainting while watching his granddaughter perform in a college play. He's fine, but the performance got canceled amid the ruckus. It may be worth noting the granddaughter was playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret. [WNBC]
• Historical, yes; preservationist, not so much. The New-York Historical Society wants to build a glassy 23-story tower behind its palatial HQ as part of a renovation. The haughty neighbors are predictably up in arms over blocked park views. Perhaps they could drop that annoying hyphen as a compromise? [NYT]
Tonight was supposed to be the coming-out party for a revitalized Atlantic City: a Rolling Stones concert at Boardwalk Hall followed by a "rocker chic" Halloween party at the Borgata's new nightclub mur.mur D.J.-ed by — who else? — MisShapes. The New York press corps was being trucked in, as were Gisele, Eva Mendes, Naveen Andrews from Lost, and those second-tier Sopranos cast members who'll show up to anything. But there's a problem. Just a few minutes ago, Mick Jagger called in sick. The only explanation: sore throat, doctor's orders. Now people with tickets to the sold-out concert — not to mention the in-progress New York caravan, a member of which called us from the road to bitch — can't get no satisfaction. Now there'll be an after-party that isn't after anything — plus a night at the Borgata, gambling and shopping tomorrow, opening-night dinner at Buddakan Atlantic City tomorrow night, and three simultaneous Halloween parties after dinner. (It's so hard to be an entertainment reporter, eh?) The concert has been tentatively rescheduled for November 17. No word if Gisele will show. One certainly hopes Mick will.
— Jada Yuan
Yesterday, miraculously, Christopher Street lost its title as the gay-friendliest stop on the PATH train. And with some sort of gay unions suddenly soon-to-be legal on the far side of the river, one can't help but remember that those trans-Hudson tubes, like so much else, keep the two states tightly linked. What are the chances of this era of good gay feeling making its way across the George Washington Bridge? At first glance, says Jon Dolan at Early and Often, things look good. Eliot Spitzer has said he's in favor of gay marriage, and polls show the majority of New Yorkers agree. But it may not be that easy: There is, after all, the Republican-controlled State Senate to consider. It's all explained at E&O.
Spitzer's Support for Gays Will Not Be Tested [Early and Often]
• The tabs are aghast at yesterday's taxicab rate hike, with the Post using words like "adding insult to injury" and the Daily News predicting a ruined Christmas. Completely buried in populist outrage: The TLC will also cease requiring cabbies to be legal U.S. residents. [NYDN, NYP]
• The Times gets a take on New Jersey's new gay-rights situation from the Gay American himself, the state's former governor, Jim McGreevey. Would he tie the knot with his partner Mark O'Donnell? Yes! [NYT]
• In celebrity-crime-victim news, Jesse L. Martin's SUV was broken into and burgled in his hometown of Buffalo — just as the police made a second arrest in the violent theft of Mayor Bloomberg's car in New Jersey. [WNBC]
• The MTA says that free hand-distributed newspapers are a major cause of flooding on subways. (They clog the drains.) Earlier in the year, the same papers were blamed for the uptick of underground fires. amNew York to add twelve extra pages for the story's comprehensive coverage. [amNY]
• Speaking of flooding: NASA has rigged a computer model to demonstrate how a 2050s New York City would deal with a major storm. Not very well, it turns out. Flooded areas include "the Rockaways, Coney Island, much of southern Brooklyn and Queens, lower Manhattan, and eastern Staten Island from Great Kills Harbor north to the Verrazano Bridge." Oh, no! Even Williamsburg, too! [Mongabay]
New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled today that gay and lesbian couples in the state must be afforded "the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes." That could mean same-sex marriage, or it could mean Vermont-style civil unions, and the Court gave the state legislature 180 days to decide which. Only three months ago, New York's highest court punted in a similar case, refusing to give similar instructions to our legislature. We checked in with Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, to ask whether it's time for New York's gays — well, more of New York's gays — to start house-hunting in Montclair.
So who'd have thought that side of the Hudson would go first?
I haven't read the decision in full yet, but it's not just New Jersey going in the right direction. Every state that borders New York, with the exception of Pennsylvania, has passed a comprehensive regulation or law that protects gay and lesbian couples. New Jersey will soon have probably marriage, Connecticut and Vermont have civil unions, Massachusetts has marriage, and Quebec and Ontario have marriage. We're surrounded by jurisdictions that understand that gay and lesbian couples need protections, and we're alone.
Leave it to the Times to turn a unremarkable detail — Michel Gondry is filming his next cinematic flight of fancy in Passaic, New Jersey, and using residents as extras — into a poignant upstairs-downstairs tableau of clueless locals worshipping at the feet of the French auteur. See, it turns out, urban New Jersey and Hollywood fantasy are different! Who'd have thunk it? The "Metro" section supplies all the shocking details.
• In an all-too-logical development, gubernatorial shoo-in Eliot Spitzer is set to withdraw his support of Alan Hevesi, the subject of yesterday's scathing 26-page Ethics Commission report. The question at this point is not Hevesi's survival — he's done — but whether he can nick Spitzer on the way down. [Newsday]
• You didn't expect an election involving Roger Toussaint to ease down a civil, sportsmanlike high road, did you? If you did, however, you'll be shocked to hear that both sides in the race for the transit-union presidency are now accusing each other of outright fraud — quadruplicate petition signatures and such. [amNY]
• The FBI is searching a Greenwich church for child pornography. The alleged culprit is one Robert Tate, the church's musical director, but what lends the story an extra frisson — and, these days, you need one to stand out from all the other church-pedophilia scandals — is Christ Church's boldface-name-heavy flock. Not only does it include the Bushes, but George W. was reportedly baptized there. [WNBC]
• Michel Gondry is filming in Passaic, New Jersey, and the Times pulls out some jaw-droppingly patronizing prose for the occasion ("Real movie stars … Nothing like this had probably ever happened in Passaic … nothing like this might ever happen again.") You promise? [NYT]
• And Apple is cementing its hold on New York by announcing it will launch its third Manhattan store, on one of the city's dullest retail stretches: West 34th between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Here's hoping for a giant glass pyramid, or an army of holographic Steve Jobses, or something. [Reuters]
It's what you might call the Letourneau-Fualaau trend, not because Mary Kay and her now-husband, Vili, were the first female teacher–male student sex pairing but because they're probably the most famous. (And also because their names are the most euphonic.) Whatever the name, female teacher–male student sex seems to be everywhere now — even, today, on the front page of the Times, which reports that a Bayonne, New Jersey, guidance counselor, Diane Cherchio West, had a particular fondness for teenage boys. She became pregnant by one while he was still a student; she then married him and had two more kids with him. She later had an affair with another, using her awesome guidance-counselor powers to rearrange his class schedule around their romps. Back in May, Ariel Levy examined this phenomenon for New York, looking at all the recent examples of Letourneau-Fualaau-ism (there are plenty), wondering why the women do it and considering what it's like to be a high-school guy whose teacher falls for him. Hot for teacher? Not so much.
Dirty Old Women [NYM]
A History of Sex With Students, Unchallenged [NYT]
Late last week, zealous New Jersey assemblyman Michael Panter proposed a ban on foie gras in the state. This whole force-feeding-of-geese and-ducks thing is a perennial controversy — Marshall Sella offered a meticulously balanced analysis of the "culinary culture war" last year in these pages, before Chicago became the first city to outlaw the delicacy. In fact, from the moment humans began stuffing birds to pump up their livers, men and women of conscience have expressed their qualms with the practice. The great nineteenth-century gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote remorsefully of the fowls: "They have not only been deprived of the means of reproduction, but they have been kept in solitude and darkness, and forced to eat until they were led to an unnatural state of fatness." Not that he minded the results. "It is very true that this unnatural grease is very delicious, and that this damnable skill gives them the fineness and succulence which are the delight of our best tables." Charles Gerard, a contemporary of Brillat-Savarin's, was decidedly less guarded in his endorsement: "The goose is nothing, but man has made of it an instrument for the output of a marvelous product, a kind of living hothouse in which there grows the supreme fruit of gastronomy."