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Save the Whale, and the Musicians

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• After Jon Corzine recovers — speedily, we hope — we see a lot of PSAs in his future. Not only was the New Jersey governor not wearing a belt at the time of his crash last Thursday, but the car was doing 91 mph. [NYDN] • Cynthia Greenberg, an activist who claims to have been kicked in the head by an NYPD officer at an antiwar rally, will get $150,000. The city is making the case go away after Greenberg threatened to produce videotape. [NYT] • The German Army has fired the instructor who told his soldiers to imagine scary black dudes in the Bronx before squeezing the trigger. Chalk the victory up to the unlikely alliance of YouTube and Bronx beep Adolfo Carrion. [amNY] • As live-music venue closings reach a critical mass, musicians descended on City Hall yesterday to protest. Turns out guitarist Marc Ribot speaks fluent municipal-ese ("that industry brings hundreds of thousands of tourists," etc.). [Metro NY] • And a baby minke whale has made its way into the Gowanus Canal. As of this moment, it's still navigating the filthy waters, and rescue plans are being drawn up; on a related note, is "Fin City" really the best the Post could do? [NYP]

Everything's Up to Date in Jersey City

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On the off chance you missed today's USA Today, we thought we'd point you to some big news on the front page of America's paper: The model of America's urban future, apparently, is Jersey City. The onetime industrial burg across the Hudson is "clean, green and growing," USA Today says. It's gaining residents, jobs, and office space, and it's got plans for a "mix of loft-style residential condos and rental units, restaurants, clubs, galleries, theaters and artists' spaces" in the so-called Powerhouse Arts District. So Jersey City's up-and-coming and a good place for artists. Who knew? Model of Urban Future: Jersey City? [USA Today] If You Lived Here, You'd Be Cool By Now [NYM]

Après le Deluge

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• Nor'easter weekend scorecard: 400 flights canceled, 1,500 homes left without power on Long Island, and 3,200 National Guard troops dispatched to the flooded areas. [amNY] • New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, injured in a car crash Thursday, remains under sedation at Cooper University Hospital. Corzine broke his left femur, collarbone, sternum, many ribs, and a vertebra. His prospects are good, however, after additional surgery yesterday. [NYT] • Terrible rain and wind didn't stop 200 anti-Ratner activists from making it to a rally protesting planned demolitions at the Atlantic Yards site. The developer is taking out several buildings to create a seven-acre, 1,600-car "temporary" parking lot. [MetroNY] • It's creepy enough that the New York socialite Toni Grossi-Abrams was murdered in Panama and her charred body found in a suitcase. Now the prime suspect in the case is a thrill-seeking Pennsylvania mother whose ex-husband "wouldn't put nothing past her." [NYDN] • And in more Americans-abroad mischief, a Beacon School teacher is in trouble after taking his history class to Cuba for a spring-break trip. Cuba is still illegal for Americans to travel to, of course, and students face a $65,000 fine each. The principal claims, unconvincingly, that she hasn't heard about the trip. [NYP]

Imus Scandal Claims Another Casualty

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• New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine is in critical condition, and on a breathing tube, after a serious car crash sustained on his way to moderate Don Imus's meeting with Rutgers basketball players. Early reports say an out-of-control driver caused Corzine's car to swerve and hit a guardrail. Richard Codey is acting governor for the moment. [NYT] • It took a mere day for the other shoe to drop: CBS has fired Don Imus after about 30 years (and countless slurs) on the air. And now the talk-radio world is a safe and happy place again, of course. [NYP] • Turns out New York City is not just a ravenous consumer of bootleg DVDs but also a major factory of them, so videotaping films off the screen, which used to get you fined a measly $250, is now a misdemeanor with jail time attached. [IHT] • More scary housing stats: There have been 554 foreclosure auctions in New York City between January and March, up 56.5 percent from last year's fourth quarter, as folks begin defaulting on loans. [Prime Newswire] • And Governor Schwarzenegger — he of the Hummer fleet — is in New York teaching us about the environment. Okay, fine, California did pass a groundbreaking emission-reduction law and refuses to buy coal-derived electricity. Still: annoying. [NY Metro]

Gee, Man

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• Friendly fire from fellow FBI men killed an agent in the middle of an operation in Readington, New Jersey. The Feds were taking down a gang of armed bank robbers, one of whom escaped and remains on the loose. [NYP] • David Bistricer of Clipper Equity, the thwarted would-be buyer of the Starrett City housing megacomplex, is back. This time, he cobbled together a camera-ready coalition: a lobbyist with Spitzer connections, an architect, and two black ministers. [NYT] • More awesomeness from Rudy Giuliani's traveling road show: The presidential candidate began a stump speech in California with a Godfather impersonation, then referred to his wife as "a civilian, to use the old Mafia distinction." Yeah, he's a shoo-in. [amNY] • Geese are driving ducks out of Central Park, so the city is bringing in border collies to drive out the geese. Before we make a "who's going to drive out the dogs" joke, let's pause and reflect on the fact that there's a company called Geese Police Inc. on the city payroll. [NYT] • And a strong contestant for the dumbest con ever: An unemployed Brooklynite siphoned off $3.6 million from a city account at JPMorgan Chase (by rigging up 604 individual electronic transfers), spent it through Jewelry TV, then tried to pawn the baubles for cash. [NYDN]

Jersey Jackals

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• The Times reveals that the Garden State has been regularly raiding its own state-worker pension fund, funneling billions into other government projects. Given the size of its public sector, disaster looms; New Jersey, we thought better of you. [NYT] • Activists in East Harlem faced bulldozers in a dramatic, and failed, showdown over a community garden. The site, on 110th and Fifth, is being cleared for the future Museum for African Art — and, of course, a luxury condo tower. [amNY] • The Giuliani campaign, God's gift to tabloids, has turned to Rudy's international-policy experience: "I've probably been in foreign lands more than any other candidate" as a private consultant, he assured New Hampshire and hinted he'll hit Iraq next. [NYDN] • The Knitting Factory, the Tribeca music institution, is promising not to go the way of Tonic, Sin-é, CBGB, and many others: Should the rent skyrocket when its lease runs out, the club will try buying the whole building. [MetroNY] • And midtown's old-money hangout/tourist trap '21' Club has even longer arms than previously thought: It just stopped the Pittsburgh Pirates from naming a stadium sports bar "Club 21." Because otherwise the two would be indistinguishable. [NYP]

Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

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• We were kinda hoping this wouldn't come out until, say, a week before the primaries, but take it away, Times: Rudy Giuliani was briefed on Bernie Kerik's unsavory dossier, including the commish's possible mafia ties, in 2000. Then Rudy made him the city's top cop. [NYT] • New Jersey governor Jon Corzine has already picked a side of the Dem roster for 2008: He's officially endorsing Hillary. (The State Senate president, Richard Codey, is a John Edwards man.) This is not insignificant considering N.J.'s extra-early primary date. [WNBC] • Long Island police are investigating nightmarish scenarios after severed limbs "with pink toenail polish" washed up in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester. There's also a torso in a Wal-Mart suitcase, and revolting details galore for the curious. [Newsday] • Since we're reminiscing about Rudy, how about a big fat Catholic controversy around a work of art? Cosimo Cavallaro is planning an Easter exhibit of an anatomically correct (of course) chocolate (of course) Jesus (of course), and he swears the timing is coincidental (yeah, right). [NYDN] • And meanwhile a polyester-resin security guard named Artie, installed in the lobby of a Uniondale office tower, causes no controversy whatsoever. Probably because he's inedible. [NYT]

Corzine, Former Girlfriend Just Want to Be Friends

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New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine used to date (famously) union leader Carla Katz of Communications Workers of America Local 1034. Now, according to the leaders of five other locals, that relationship is ruining their chances at a better contract. But instead of accusing Katz of being the governor's puppet, other union leaders think she's too tough, that "there was probably no contract that was acceptable to her," one of them told the Times. Besides that, Katz's peers believe that she tried to negotiate directly with Corzine away from the bargaining table. The theory is that Katz wants her union cred spotless because she's accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from Corzine in tuition bills and mortgage forgiveness. While the passion may be cold — the couple insists they broke up in 2004 — the financial heartstrings are still attached. And that's why Katz is in trouble whatever she does. If she caves, she's accused of accommodating her ex-boyfriend. If she takes a hard line, it seems self-serving. And when it's all over, Katz still gets to explain how her $100,000 salary pays for a $1 million condo. In the meantime, listen closely: That sound you hear is Nora Ephron writing her next romantic comedy. Peers Say a Union Leader Compromises Contract Talks [NYT]

Going Postal

20070316heds_small.jpg • So, yesterday's Village gunman was an ex-Marine and, um, a journalist: he wrote for the Mohave Valley Daily News, a newspaper so small that even its Village-gunman coverage comes from AP. Also, he was a stringer for the Wall Street Journal. [MVDN] • The suspense is killing them: New Jersey is moving its presidential primary to February 5 from February 26 (a year after moving it up from June). So are 25 other states. Oh, let's just have the damn thing right now. [NYT] • A sick nurse exposed an astonishing 700 patients to tuberculosis at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. Anyone who's been in the maternity, nursery, or psychiatric wards between November and February are well-advised to swing by for a free test. [NYP] • We Only Fly When it's Nice Out: In what is fast becoming an expected occurence, the temperature drops, a little snow comes down, and JetBlue cancels 215 flights, almost all of them to or from JFK. [amNY] • And, this is the lameness that transpires when the U.S. Postal Service tries to do something fun: mailboxes painted to resemble Star Wars' R2-D2, coming to Times Square. "It's not Jabba the Hutt, honey, it's a tourist." [NYDN]

Jim McGreevey: Here, Queer, Used to It, and Protesting

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Is Gay American Jim McGreevey ready to become a gay activist, too? It seems possible after his appearance at a gathering last night at the city's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center in the West Village. Irascible author-activist Larry Kramer, 71, was speaking on the twentieth anniversary of his speech launching ACT UP, the way-gay, street-theatery activist group that goaded major improvements in AIDS policies before lapsing into its current, barely-there incarnation. With predictable dudgeon, Kramer assailed Hillary Clinton, saying that, when it came to payback for her gay supporters, she "is cockteasing us, just like her husband did." He then called for "a new gay army with gay leaders, fighting under a gay flag."

Rudy!

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• The Post stokes Giuliani's presidential fire by reporting that the ex-mayor leads Hillary 48 to 43 percent nationwide and ties her in "blue states" (including New York). Don't ever stop printing those, lest he change his mind! [NYP] • Four gay couples have already not-quite-married in New Jersey, which on Monday became the third state in our fair country to offer civil unions. (Why just now and not Monday? There's a 72-hour waiting period.) In Asbury Park, the mayor officiated. [WNBC] • Here's a nice little companion item to yesterday's report that Manhattan workers take home twice the national average in wages: They also, according to a strangely balanced-sounding statistic, pay 47 percent more in taxes. [MetroNY] • Having solved every problem that has ever plagued the State of New York, the Assembly turns its attention to the inadequate enforcement of the "pooper scooper" law within the city. Apparently, a $50 to $100 fine is not enough of a deterrent to the cash-rich Manhattanites (see previous item). Would a $250 one help? [amNY] • Dr. Denton Sayer Cox, a onetime prominent physician who treated Andy Warhol, is hospitalized himself after a stranger beat and burned him with an unknown chemical in his Upper East Side triplex. Police allege, and the News relishes, a gay pickup gone awry. [NYDN]

Scientific Proof: Manhattanites Are Superior to Queens Residents

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• As home sales slump in other cities, New Yorkers, wallets fat with Wall Street's big year-end bonuses, kick off 2007 with a surge in purchases of everything from tiny studios to whoppers like a $2.5 million home "in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn," the Times overexplicitly reports. [NYT] • Who's slimmer, Manhattanites or folks from outer Queens? Likely the former, according to a new Columbia study finding that New Yorkers who live near lots of stores and subways have lower body-mass-index levels than do those from more suburban parts of the city. [Medical News Today] • From Teaneck to Asbury Park, hundreds of gay couples show up at town halls in New Jersey today as the state becomes the third to offer civil unions. [NYP] • Bill Clinton "stands in" for his wife at an Albany summit of state black and Latino lawmakers, many of whom stay mum on whom they'll back for the Democratic presidential bid, HRC or her duskier rival, Illinois Senator Barack Obama. [NYDN] • Mary's Fish Camp, Artisanal, and, yep, good old Eisenberg's are among the venues offering the twenty best sandwiches in New York City, from fancy-shmancy grilled-cheese redos to old-fashioned egg salad. [amNY]

Introducing Jewish Dolls (Penn Diplomas Not Included)

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As the saying goes, who knew? Seems there's a toy company that makes explicitly Jewish dolls for little Orthodox girls to play with. We know this because we just received a press release announcing that they've come out with a new line of Sephardic playthings, thus augmenting their previously Ashkenazi-centric line. Each doll, the release says, comes with a "10-piece wooden toy Shabbat kit, a Hebrew/English name birth certificate, and matching Magen-David (Star of David) bracelets (for doll and owner)." And, actually, we think those accessories are kind of necessary: Judging from what we found on the Website, we don't quite see how these straight-haired, button-nosed dolls are supposed to be Jewish. Except that they're wearing frum-ish long denim skirts. And come from Teaneck. Gali Girls [Official site]

Breaking: Rich White People Can Tolerate Obscenely Rich Black People

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Such is the lesson of the Sunday Times piece on tony Alpine, New Jersey, home to generations of wealthy, Waspy, bankery sorts and, lately, the hip-hop elite. But there are, sadly, some exceptions:
Ms. Stone, who helped secure mortgages for leading rappers like Cam'ron and Biggie Smalls, said it had not always been an easy move to make: "A few years ago, I had a client — she was a major artist too — that had excellent credit, over $2 million in the bank, was buying a house for a million-five, and because she was a new, young artist, the underwriter didn't want to give her a mortgage."
Also, because she was black. Alpine, N.J., Home of Hip-Hop Royalty [NYT]

Small Victories

20070207heds_sm.jpg • Nassau County Democrat Craig Johnson was elected to the State Senate, in what everyone sees as Spitzer's proxy victory over the state's head Republican Joe Bruno. Us, we're just mildly annoyed at having to cover an election in February. [NYP] • Do you own property in New Jersey? Here, have a 20 percent tax credit and remember who loves ya: The Garden State's senators apparently almost died passing the bill in a marathon, midnight-oil, multi-day session. [NYT] • A new study chalks up much of New York's economic growth to the efforts of recent immigrants. New arrivals, it states, open their own businesses at the rate of almost five to one compared to the natives. [amNY] • Buying phony police badges and dressing up as a cop is very, very lame, not to mention illegal. But doing the above and having the nerve to commandeer a man's SUV — well, one kind of has to applaud. [Newsday] • And, we won't report on the mad-astronaut story, since it doesn't concern NYC in the least, but we will tally up the headline puns: "Lunar Toon!" and "Astro-Nut" (News) versus "Space Case" and "Astro-Nut" again (Post). Post wins on the alliterative strength of "whacked-out Nowak." [NYP, NYDN]

Rudy No Longer Thanking God George Bush Is Our President?

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.

Airplanes and Stem Cells

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• 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]

We Ain't No State Senator's Son

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• 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]

Something Is Rotten

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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]

Oh Mother

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• 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]