Why Do New Yorkers Live Longer? Flavored, Sugared Water!New Yorkers live longer than other Americans, and in last week’s New York cover story, Clive Thompson tried to explain why. We walk more than most Americans, he pointed out, we climb more stairs than most Americans, and many fewer of us die young of onetime urban plagues like murder and AIDS. We have great hospitals and lots of healthy-eating options, and, as he noted, people who are ambitious and hard-working and appearance-focused can be just as Type-A about their health as about everything else. But leave it to a marketer to isolate the mysterious X factor, the key reason New Yorkers live longer than everyone else. It came in a press release this morning, and it’s beautiful in its simplicity: “Life Expectancy for New Yorkers Increases as Snapple Grows in Popularity.” Why didn’t Clive think of that? Oh, the press release was, of course, from Snapple.
Big Pussy Wants to Send a Little Pussy to SchoolSimply airing TV commercials featuring an insidiously catchy jingle is apparently no longer an adequate way to sell cat food, and so the Meow Mix people yesterday opened the “Meow Mix Acatemy” (Get it? A-cat-emy? Hilarious) in the Daryl Roth Theater on Union Square. For the next week, New Yorkers will be invited to “learn to think like a cat” by taking seminars with titles like “Feline Freud,” “Understanding Your Cat’s Meow,” and “What Is My Cat Doing and Why.” For the opening-night festivities last night, a fifteen-piece marching band from St. John’s University played that dastardly tune, accompanied by cheerleaders chanting “LETSGOCOOLCATS!”
The Cutest Jailbird We Ever Did See
And how does New York commemorate Lindsay Lohan’s latest meltdown, which took place on the other coast? By dressing the Lohan wax sculpture at the Times Square Madame Tussauds in prison stripes. We kind of wish they’d redone the face, too, to match that crazy mug shot. Oh, well.
Flick Marty in the Face!You know what toy we’ve always wanted? A Marty Markowitz bobblehead. Well, that’s not quite true; what we’ve really wanted was a talking Marty doll. (Pull the string and it’d say, “You’re leaving Brooklyn? Oy vey!” or “How about a nice slice of cheesecake?”) But a bobblehead is pretty damned cool, too. And according to a press release we received yesterday from the Brooklyn Cyclones, the team will be giving out Marty bobbleheads at their Sunday, August 5, game, against the Aberdeen Ironbirds. The first 2,500 fans to arrive will get one, and now we’re tempted to go. The bobblehead currently on our shelf is Noah, and he (of all people!) is feeling lonely.
Minor-League Options [NYM]
Brooklyn Cyclones [Official site]
Little Britain: Peace in Our Time!
This is what we came home last night to find waiting with our doorman. (We have never, for the record, mentioned our name to the Tea & Sympathy people, nor said exactly where we live.) It was tasty, we were charmed, and now, we confess, we think we’ve reached acceptance. We’re Daily Intel, and we live in Little Britain. God save the queen!
Earlier: Daily Intel’s coverage of Little Britain
Little Britain: We’ll Close Our Eyes and Think of CakeOh, thank God. Turns out our little conversation with the Little Britain people didn’t end yesterday afternoon, as we feared it would. Not at all. They still like us, they assured us last night. They really still like us! And now they’re offering us cake (and using fun Britishisms):
From: info@ campaignforlittlebritain.com
Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2007 8:26:25 PM
You know we love you.
You’d definitely have a point if all the business on the block hadn’t signed individual letters of support, if we hadn’t collected over 1,000 signatures in person in the stores, if we hadn’t received over 90 letters of thanks from community groups we’ve supported over the last year, if a fine, upstanding pillar of the community hadn’t spoken in support at the Community Board 2 meeting. But they all did.
Correction: The British Are Bemused! The British Are Bemused!If anthropomorphization is when human characteristics are applied to things not human, what’s the opposite? Because we got another letter today from the Campaign for Little Britain, which writes very much as though it’s one human being but signs its notes as though it’s an intangible entity. In any event, our new pen pal Campaign takes issue with both our response to his (her?) letter yesterday, and with our (punning) headline description of the Brits as angry. Here’s London calling, from a far-too-close place:
Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 1:11:08 PM
Subject: Angry? Me?
Not remotely angry. Bemused, perhaps.
The British Are Angry! The British Are Angry!Earlier this afternoon we noted our disgust with the PR-driven plan to rename a block of Greenwich Avenue as “Little Britain,” a ploy by the proprietors of two British-ish businesses on that block to get themselves onto the city’s official street map. We objected to many things, among them the attempt to liken this designation to Chinatown or Little Italy, which, we argued, organically developed because of the immigrant populations who clustered in the area, not because a tea shop got a few bucks from Richard Branson to hire a PR firm. The Campaign for Little Britain responded, refuting some of our claim and charmingly using the words “recognised” and “cheers”:
Sent: Monday, July 16, 2007 2:20:24 PM
Got to take issue with your article, it is in the tradition of already recognised neighborhoods, check out Little Brazil, Koreatown, or Little India — they were started by businesses, too.
Defy British Imperialism: A Belated Call for a New York Tea PartySo did you notice in yesterday’s City section that little article about the proposal to rename a stretch of Greenwich Avenue in the West Village as “Little Britain”? Yeah, we almost missed it, too — but it reminded us about this insipid idea, first announced a few months ago, about just much how we object to it, and that we ought to explain why. See, here’s the thing: It’s all a marketing gimmick. For a private business. The couple behind the plan own Tea & Sympathy and A Salt and Battery, respectively a tea shop and a fish-and-chippery, on that stretch of Greenwich. And they want the name of the street changed simply to boost their own business. (Hey, great idea: Let’s rename Madison Avenue between 49th and 50th “Magazine Avenue!”)
A Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar Had Given Them the Call
The House of Malcontents, the guerrilla-art group that turned an F-train car into a living room a few months ago, struck again in Central Park Saturday, transforming Cherry Hill into a scene from Alice in Wonderland, complete with croquet and Lewis Carroll–themed works from a dozen local artists. The group didn’t get a permit for the frabjous event, which started just before brillig, but, unlike last time, there wasn’t a frumious police officer to be seen. Here, Cheshire Cat Angela Brown, Mad Hatter Gabriella Ripoll, and Queen of Hearts Carol Tessitore play a (non-lethal) game of croquet. —Michael Y. Park
Earlier: A Subway Car of One’s Own
‘America’s Next Top (Spokes)Model’ Comes to ChelseaMost reality/ talent-show contestants have earned their spots on TV by waiting on line for hours, doing their thing for some judges, and schlepping out to Los Angeles. But when Smartwater (“Hydration you can feel!”) sponsored an America’s Next Top Model audition in a Chelsea club last night, there was one more step: The eight tri-state finalists gathered at Stereo also had to flack the product — even posing with a bottle of the stuff — in hopes being sent west. They’d arrived at eleven in the morning for hair, makeup, and, one assumes, some Smartwater brainwashing. And it took. By the time the event started at 8 p.m., nearly every word from the girls touted the water’s substance and style.
Who Needs the Kwik-e-Mart? (We Do.)
It’s funny. Some buzz-building marketing campaigns just irritate us. (Yes, yes, even as we sometimes, inevitably become part of them.) But others, for whatever reason, we think are kind of cute. Here’s the 7-Eleven adjacent to Port Authority on 42nd Street, decked out in promotional gimmick for the Simpsons movie. We’re going to stop for a Squishee on our way home from work.
The Hard Life of a Party Reporter: Choppering Upstate for LunchWe’re not going to say we weren’t tempted when the Champagne company offered to fly us by helicopter for a lobster lunch in the courtyard of an old Vanderbilt mansion upstate, but we also remembered that we are reporters. We only gave in to temptation when we were promised there would also be plenty of socialites in attendance for us to make fun ofreport on. This proved not to be true: We counted just Valesca Guerrand- Hermès, Genevieve Jones, and floral designer/man- about-town Antony Todd, though Olivia Palermo was perpetually supposed to be on the next helicopter over. Still, we got the lunch.
Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big ShillingA flyer that recently turned up in the in-box:
It’s all you need to know about New York in the aughts: luxury condos (in east midtown!), Jay McInerney, and “his favorite summer wines.” We’d make a joke, but then, wouldn’t that be redundant?
These Goofs Are Made for Walkin'Matt Green is back! Who? He’s the dude who with a college friend last summer got improbably enormous amounts of media coverage for riding every subway line in the city in under 24 hours. (If the idea sounds familiar, it’s the drunken bet that comes up at roughly every third rooftop keg party.) This year, he’s tanned, rested, and teamed up with a new partner, a different college buddy, for a new feat of pointless publicity inspirational endurance: In a Napoleon Dynamite take on David Blaine, the duo will embark on a five-day, 150-mile walk over the five boroughs, doing Wacky Things as they go. According to Metro New York’s Amy Zimmer — apparently Green’s Boswell — said wackiness includes riding a Bronx Zoo camel, using the bathroom in each of the five Borough Halls, and reading a list of jokey demands from the City Hall steps. Hilarious! We wincingly predict a cluster of reality-TV producers at the finish line, checkbooks in hand.
Burning Some Dust in NYC [Metro NY]
Jon Bon Jovi Goes to Brooklyn, Does Not Build a House
Yesterday we schlepped out to the Brownsville section of Brooklyn because we were promised Jon Bon Jovi working on a Habitat for Humanity house. “Delta Air Lines joins Jon Bon Jovi and members of the Philadelphia Soul arena football team on Tuesday, April 3, 2007, at 1:00 p.m. to participate in a build with Habitat for Humanity-New York City,” said the press release (the emphasis is ours), which seemed pretty clear. Bon Jovi! Brooklyn! Together! Yay! But then we got there and discovered the dude merely giving a press conference. Wasn’t Jon going to “participate” in that “build”? “You really don’t want to see me grabbing a hammer,” he said. (Actually, we did, which is why we spent an hour on the D.) “But I’ll be happy to purchase them.” Sigh. How about Marty Markowitz, also on the scene — was he excited to have a genuine rock star purchasing hammers for Brooklyn? “I can’t really tell you I know his stuff,” the usually indefatigable borough president said, “but I know people are crazy about him.” We should have stayed in midtown. —Jonah Green
Free Heather Mills’s Leg!
We’ve been gripped lately with a harrowing fascination that shames us to the core. Someone we love to hate has given us something we love to love, and the resulting struggle to reconcile the contradiction has left us feeling a little, well, dirty.
We’re referring, of course, to our dark obsession with Heather Mills’s fake leg.
Happy Teletubbies Day, New York!
We watched them arrive, moptops-at-JFK-style, on Monday, but now we’ve reached the big moment. By proclamation of Mayor Bloomberg, today is Teletubbies Day in New York City. The furry friends crossed Seventh Avenue in Times Square yesterday to prepare for the milestone — and, having noted this, we now promise we’ll never speak of them again.
Earlier: A British Invasion
PR Swag of the Week: Great Scot!
A New York colleague received in yesterday’s mail what at first seemed to be a standard-issue bit of flackery: a press kit for Tartan Week, which is apparently both “an annual celebration of the contribution millions of Scottish-Americans have made to our great nation” and, it seems, an attempt to boost tourism to Scotland. The package was about what you’d expect: a color-copied itinerary of Tartan Week events, ads for the week’s blue-chip sponsors — like Glenfiddich, Continental Airlines, and what appears to be the government of Scotland — and a brochure about visiting “the best small country in the world.” And then there was the woolen thong. Yes, a woolen thong. Complete with a cute little bow. Is it local garb? Who knows? But: Itchy. And, if it is, sort of undercuts the come-visit pitch, no?
The British Are Coming!
• Remember Steven Johnson, the freak who terrorized Bar Veloce in 2002, splashing kerosene on patrons? Well, he just got 240 years in prison. Yeah, we don’t know what took five years, either. [NYP]
• Renaming corners, part one: A coalition of local businesses, backed by no less than Virgin Airways, is campaigning to call a slice of the West Village “Little Britain.” The stage-one strategy apparently involves sub–Benny Hill humor. (“What’s one more queen in the Village?”) [MetroNY]
• Renaming corners, part two: Elaine Orbach may yet get the intersection of 53rd and Eighth named after her late husband, Jerry. After striking out with the grumpy Community Board 5, she found fans on Board 4 — which controls the west side of the same avenue. [NYT]
• In a high-tech twist on a classic, a married couple is suing a Park Avenue clinic for allegedly inseminating the wife with the wrong man’s sperm: The father is white, the mother Dominican, the baby black. [NYDN]
• And New York has joined more than twenty states moving their presidential primaries up to February 5. With any luck, Assemblyman Keith Wright’s coinage for the occasion — “Super-Duper Tuesday” — won’t get any kind of traction in the media. Oh, crap, we just did it. [NYT]
Young Conceptualist Gets an ‘A’ in Grant WritingBubbleBath, a March 24 event in Union Square to be staged by 21-year-old School of Visual Arts student Anthony DeFranco, sounds simple enough: He will give away 400 bottles of bubble solution to passersby. Cute. Or is it? That shallow perception might shatter when you skim the talking points DeFranco and the school are peddling to the media:
• The project is inspired by the writings of Pythagoras (misspelled as Pythagorus) about the “harmony of the spheres.”
• It will also celebrate the arrival of spring.
• Its official supporters and sponsors include the NYC Parks Department, Union Square Partnership, and Community Board 5.
• It is DeFranco’s mission “to bring people together, to help them to connect with each other and to hear the music that we are all making.”
• It took two years — two years! — to develop.
The punch line? It’s DeFranco’s senior thesis for a BFA in graphic design.
BubbleBath Press Kit [BubbleBathNYC.com, .pdf]
BubbleBath on MySpace
PETA to Protest Florida VacationsHow do you say “It’s on!” in Animal Kingdom–speak? As New York reported in this week’s magazine, animal-rights activists were considering a protest of the Orlando, Florida, tourism bureau’s plans to stage a “mini-Orlando” in Times Square tomorrow morning. Why? The stunt is set to include penguins, flamingos, and live gator-wrestling, and PETA doesn’t think too highly of moving tropical animals to frigid New York — let alone wrestling them. Now it seems the activists weren’t kidding: We’ve received a press release promising a protest at 8:30 a.m. Maybe they’ll even catch Anna Wintour on her way into work! — Tim Murphy
Pre-Valentine’s Product Testing: Do Pheromones Work?
When the publicist for a company called Pure Romance called last week to offer a pheromone-based perfume called Basic Instinct for potential Valentine’s Day coverage, we were, of course, drawn in. So we slapped the stuff on a dedicated New York reporter and sent her down to The Otheroom, in the West Village, to see how it worked. (We also forbade her from paying much heed to the slight allergic reaction it caused on her ears, nose, and throat.) Five men at the bar gave her a whiff. Did it work? Well, at the very least, we now know that telling a man you’re wearing pheromones can make an effective pickup line.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
We’re as confused as this dog is: Snow? In Union Square? Today? (Hell, at all this winter?) It can’t be! Actually, it can. Apparently, the world’s top snowboarders are converging on Union Square at three o’clock this afternoon for a Jeep-sponsored competition. They’ll “participate in a rail jam format on a customized urban rail,” whatever that means, and the winner gets $30,000. But first, the snow. We’ve got none this year, or at least none to speak of, so it’s all been trucked in. Ten tons of the white stuff, says NY1. Which, once Fido has his way with it, will be yellow stuff.
Union Square Street Sessions [Snowboard-mag.com]
Snowboarders Launch Winter Jam 2007 [NY1]
Charmin Squeezes One Last News Item Out of Us
We are heartbroken to report that our favorite object of defecatory dreams — the neat-and-clean-and-always- stocked-with-toilet-paper Charmin public toilets at Times Square — closed on New Year’s Eve. Lest they be forgotten forever, however, the friendly flacks pushing the paper — and, yes, we know we’re currently giving them exactly the PR hit they wanted — inform us that one couple had perhaps the most important night of their young lives in the giant public bathroom. Neal and Jalista, of Easton, Pennsylvania, were engaged on the evening of December 30 in the Charmin space, which apparently they deemed even more romantic than becoming betrothed in the restroom of the ESPN Zone next door. May your lives together remain squeezably soft, you crazy kids!
Earlier: Daily Intel’s coverage of the Charmin toilets.
Despite our odd obsession with the Charmin Times Square toilets, we confess this hadn’t previously occurred to us. But thanks to the latest installment in the Times’ ongoing coverage of the recent invention of the Internet — today we learn about YouTube videos of Times Square marketing — we decided to check YouTube for some videos of Times Square marketing. Oh, the mother lode! Feast your eyes on an oddly hypnotic, entirely unnarrated four-minute travelogue of a visit to our favorite public bathrooms. (There are plenty of other, related videos available, too, if this one doesn’t quite do it for you.) It’s almost like being there — but you won’t need to wash your hands when you’re done.
Charmin’s Times Square Bathrooms [YouTube]
Times Sq. Ads Spread Via Tourists’ Cameras [NYT]
Lurid, Infected, Leering
• A gruesome murder-suicide in Brooklyn left four dead and almost redefines “lurid.” Investigators believe an ex-con bludgeoned to death his girlfriend (who was also his half-sister), killed her two children, then overdosed on the scene. [WNBC]
• A former NY1 reporter says she was sexually harassed at work and fired for complaining about it. Among other things, a colleague Photoshopped giant breasts on her photo, which apparently passes for a joke at NY1. [NYP]
• E. coli is here! The first registered NYC patient (who has already recovered) is a Staten Islander who got the bug, like the other 60 victims, by eating at a local Taco Bell. [amNY]
• The Daily News is shocked to learn that about 70 percent of recent subway graffiti has been made by European kids looking for an “authentic” NYC experience. Next they’ll tell us those guys on Astor Place are not real punks. [NYDN]
• And the Times ponders the rise of “experiential marketing” in Times Square, wherein companies do something moderately freaky and hope tourists will photograph it and/or blog about it. Here at Daily Intel, we would never fall for such gimmicks. [NYT]
M&M’s Opens Times Square Store, Tortures Willing Pedestrians
If you’re anything like us, nothing attracts your sweet tooth like “heavy, thin, old and young New Yorkers” sprayed in candy coating. So when we received a press release from the M&M’s people announcing that they’d be marking the opening of their new Times Square location by spraying those folks in their favorite M&M’s colors — and then branding their chests with an M, candy style — we knew we’d have to attend. Intern Everett was on the scene, where he snapped some pix and reported that nothing says yum like bikini-clad people, standing in 40-degree weather, getting sprayed with cold paint. Hey, at least the victims froze in their mouths, not in their hands.
Kenny Kramer Wants to Remind You That He Isn’t a Racist, Has Things to Sell
Michael Richards’s recent wacko racist rant has led to outrage, identity crises, and — oh, yeah — a good opportunity to sell T-shirts. The real Kramer just e-mailed us and everyone else who’s ever taken the Kramer Reality Tour to offer his take on the fake Kramer’s predicament. “It became necessary for me to put a disclaimer right on the home page of my website, explaining that Kramer is a character that Michael played on TV and I’m the person Kramer was based on, etc.,” he wrote, although we suspect he’s the only one who’s ever confused the two. And if you were worried this unpleasantness has hurt the real Kramer’s business, you can relax. “Kramer Reality Tour DVD, as well as tour gift certificates, ASSMAN license plates, and Seinfeld T-Shirts are still available and make great holiday gifts,” he continued. Yadda yadda yadda. Kenny’s full e-mail is after the jump. —Lori Fradkin
And Now For Something Negligibly Different
If you’ll indulge us for a minute in an observation that has nothing to do with New York: What’s up with the USA Network’s ceaseless ads for the holiday episode of Monk? Have you seen them? In the most confounding gimmick on television since someone green-lighted Joey, the December 22 episode of Monk, which the network has already been plugging for weeks, will be broadcast in black-and-white. Then, immediately thereafter, it will be broadcast in color. No alternate ending. No change of cast. No live transmission. No nothing. The audience is invited to watch both and decide which version is “more Monkish.” We’re not sure who watches Monk in the first place (a quick survey of friends and relatives turned up no one), but, please, don’t ruin things by telling viewers that the same nostalgic frisson is attainable by setting hue saturation to zero. Next up: A very special muted-unmuted episode.
Monk [USA Network]
Nascar and Tiffany: Together at Last!
Much to our chagrin, we missed Nascar’s so-called “Victory Lap” around midtown yesterday — starting at Times Square, across 42nd Street, up Madison, back west at 53rd, and then down the home stretch of Seventh Avenue to Times Square. (We tried to snag a pic as the cars passed our beloved 444 Madison, but the only person in the office at the ungodly hour of 9 a.m. was a little too slow to get downstairs with her camera phone.) A press release sitting in our in-box, however, offered us another chance: A big Nascar event at Tiffany & Company. We do not quite understand the cross-promotion between the two organizations (is there insufficient Elsa Peretti at the speedway?), but, hey, we figured, at least it’d be a chance to see some stock cars on city streets. Wrong! The event featured drivers dressed like normal people, not in logo-festooned jumpsuits, and the only automotive excitement on display was some cabs decked out in quasi-stock-car livery. So there you have it, kids. Nascar at Tiffany. With taxicabs. Yee-haw.
A Nascar Victory Lap Crawls Down Broadway [NYT]
Daily Intel Exclusive: Charmin Restroom, Perfect for Partying
We’ve been as excited about Charmin’s free-public-toilet-in–Times Square publicity stunt as the next rag. (Okay, fine, more so.) So of course we went to pay a reportorial visit. And what we didn’t expect was to find the place a completely tripped-out, Clockwork Orange–y disco candyland filled with twirling mirror balls, blue neon, deranged reggae-calypso reworkings of the brand’s jingles, white pleather, and spasmodically dancing employees.
It’s as if Charmin, while doing its New York research, discovered people were going to be doing coke in the stalls anyway, and just, um, rolled with it.
When Good PR Stunts Go Bad (Although for Good Causes)
We received a press release last week from the Salvation Army, promising the world’s largest collection of holiday bell-ringers in Bryant Park this morning, and we were vaguely intrigued. It was a stunt, clearly, and a silly one at that, but, still, something about the image of a few hundred guys and girls in Santa suits, all clanging away together, warmed our cold hearts — mostly because we thought it’d be photographically interesting, all that red felt amid the gray and fading green of the park. As it turned out, the Salvation Army could muster only 62 ringers, none were in Santa outfits, and — this is the part that truly mystifies us — we’re told they didn’t even ring their bells. (You gotta ring them bells!) Bah humbug.
Salvation Army [OnlineRedKettle.org]