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Spring 2009

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So What Have You Done With Your Life?

FINANCE • Time to feel bad about yourself. Crain's unveils its 40 Under 40 list. [Crain's] • Merrill Lynch will pay out $40.3 million to settle claims that it provided misleading research to investors about Internet stocks. [Bloomberg via DealBreaker] • Instead of simply giving their employees more money, small businesses try to dupe them into thinking jumping out of an airplane is a perk. [NYT]

Susan Orlean Thinks You're Fat

Long before politicians realized their idiotic public gaffes would be indexed forever in YouTube, writers faced a similar but somehow graver problem: ill-advised books published early in their career that stick around on shelves forever to haunt their authors. On Radar Online today, Claire Zulkey catalogues many of those wish-they-were-forgotten titles, hitting many of the greatest hits, like Lynne Cheney's sapphic romp and Scooter Libby's oddly bestial mystery. We were most interested, however, in a less well-known work that made the cut. New Yorker scribes Patricia Marx and Susan Sistrom — that's Susan Orlean to you — apparently once interrupted their careers to author the compelling The Skinny: What Every Skinny Woman Knows About Dieting and Won't Tell You!, which, according to Amazon commenters, is a "sick book by unhealthy women" filled with "tips on self-destruction." We'd love to ascribe this detour to youthful desperation, but the book was published in 1999 — one year after The Orchid Thief and while Marx was firmly ensconced in a career as a novelist and Saturday Night Live writer. The book's money quote? "Eat all you want, but never swallow. Spit always." And to think of all the money Si Newhouse has wasted on their expense accounts. Read in the Face [Radar Online]

Bush Visits Wall Street, Discovers Income Inequality

The president was in New York yesterday, and he brought some odd tidings for our city's financial industry. In a speech strategically delivered across the street from the New York Stock Exchange, George W. Bush — who on a trip to New York years ago delivered his famous "Some call you the elite, I call you my base" line — spoke out against excessive executive pay and lush severance packages. Meantime, an editorial in the same day's Wall Street Journal posited that any legislation curbing executive pay would immediately translate into higher taxes. As the person hectoring the gaggle of Wall Streeters about fiscal modesty was the same person who had drastically cut taxes for everyone in attendance, the listeners could be forgiven for mild confusion. The Sun calls the crowd's response "muted." But of course it was: The real target audience for the speech was the general public. "The fact is that income inequality is real," said Bush. "It has been rising for more than 25 years." And you're first noticing that now, George? Pardon the pun, but that's rich. Bush Warns Wall Street on Pay [NYS] George W. Bush: The Elite, My Base [YouTube]

All Hail the Top Chef

Well, hey, who'd have thunk it? Turns out Ilan won Top Chef. (Of course he did. No surprise ending has been this preordained since John Faso thought he stood a chance against Spitzer.) But, still, even though the result wasn't in doubt, the great existential question of reality television demands attention: What did it mean? Thankfully, Grub Street's Josh Ozersky joined New York's favorite couch potato, Adam Sternbergh, to answer just that question. Read their colloquy on Grub Street. Ilan Won, Yes, But What Does It All Mean? [Grub Street]

Anderson, Celebutante

Fox News compares Anderson Cooper to Paris Hilton, and CNN isn't happy. (Which we imagine was the point.) Steve Madden will underwrite Fashion Week's Designers for Darfur even though IMG backed out. Hillary Clinton is trying to infuse her campaign with some stand-up comedy. Jeremy Piven jokes that he'd like to settle down with a girlfriend if he weren't "gayer than Liberace in 1972." Parsons fashion chairman Tim Gunn to become chief creative officer of Liz Claiborne (but still do Project Runway). Bill Clinton will not be the next president of Harvard.

Trans Fats Versus Razor Blades; ‘Times’ Inspired by Our Restroom Report

Bruni ponders bathrooms, giving a shout-out to Grub Street's Restroom Report; apparently the Sultan had a pretty nasty encounter with the ones at Gordon Ramsay. [NYT] Hamptons officials loosen up and consider lifting the music ban in restaurants — if there's very tight regulation of it. [NYP] E! wrap-up on the Top Chef finale, including a plate-by-plate account of the competition’s Last Supper, which is more interesting, to us anyway, than whether Ilan got his money and new oven. [E!] Related: Ilan Won, Yes, But What Does It All Mean?

Public Life Means Having to Say You're Sorry

Inspired by Italy's Veronica Lario — who in a front-page letter printed in yesterday's La Repubblica requested a public apology from her husband, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, for flirting with and ogling various comely young women and then, even more remarkably, received one — we'd like to see if we, too, can elicit a public apology or two.
To everyone involved in ground-zero reconstruction:
It's been five freaking years, and this is all that's been accomplished? You should be ashamed of yourselves, all of you. (And, yes, at this point that includes you, too, sainted widows and family members.) We think you owe us — all of us, all New Yorkers — an apology.
Sincerely, Daily Intel

Cuomo Follows in Spitzer's A.G. Footsteps, Tackling the Big Issues

A press release issued yesterday afternoon by Andrew Cuomo's Attorney General's Office:
Department of Law, The State Capitol, Albany, NY 12224
Department of Law, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271 Department of Law 120 Broadway New York, NY 10271 News from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Press Office / 212-416-XXXX ONTARIO COUNTY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER BANNED FOR FAILING TO DELIVER PHOTOS AND DECEIVING CONSUMERS Prohibited from operating in New York State and must pay over $10,000 in restitution and penalties

So Dark the Con of Man

• The Times declares Spitzer's political honeymoon over; the governor's first state budget, which cuts $1.2 billion from health care and increases spending by 6 percent, seems guaranteed a hard time in both the State Senate and the Assembly. [NYT] • Firefighters: Every time we come dangerously close to deifying them, they do something crazy. Like, in this case, by buying fake "St. Regis College" diplomas online, at $500 a pop, and submitting them to the Fire Department for promotions. [Newsday] • A Long Island con-artist duo lured married marks into one-night stands, videotaped the trysts, then proceeded to blackmail them. The scammers' photos, printed in the Post, make the "luring" part positively puzzling. [NYP] • In a feat of participatory journalism, a Daily News reporter spends a "day dressed like Sienna" (Miller). For our money, she looked more like JT LeRoy. [NYDN] • And a New York marketing firm scared the bejesus out of Bostonians with promo signs for Aqua Teen Hunger Force, which the Boston Police Department somehow mistook for bombs. Nobody objected here, where "a box of fries … giving passerby the finger" is a relatively normal sight. [amNY]

Wal-Mart Claims Proof of Fired Marketing Veep's Affair

The operatic battle between Wal-Mart and its fired senior vice-president of marketing communications, Julie Roehm — the juiciest Madison Avenue scandal in years, and the subject of an upcoming piece in New York — escalated today when Wal-Mart claimed it had "irrefutable and admissible evidence" that she had an affair with Sean Womack, a vice-president who reported to her. "Julie Roehm didn't tell the truth about the inappropriate relationship with one of her subordinates," Wal-Mart spokesperson Mona Williams said from London. "Despite these denials, Wal-Mart now has irrefutable and admissible evidence of the relationship" between Roehm and Womack. "I would not tell you this if we didn't know it was true." A romantic relationship between employees violates Wal-Mart policy. The company apparently decided to respond after Roehm filed a lawsuit seeking money she claimed Wal-Mart owed her. The suit also referred to "false and malicious" statements by Wal-Mart in the press.

How Not to Have a Soul-Crushing Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is typically the busiest restaurant night of the year, so of course it sucks. But the food, rendered an afterthought, suffers most of all: The restaurateurs are busy counting their money, not watching the kitchen, and the couples, well, they’re wondering why they’re participating in this charade in the first place, seeing as how the flame flickered out years ago, and … what were we saying? Oh, right. We understand why Valentine’s dates might not seem to be worth the trouble, so we thought long and hard about which holiday recommendations to make.

Will Woody Allen Escape the Upper East Side?

amFAR New York gala. Cipriani, 110 E. 42nd St., nr. Vanderbilt Ave., 6:30 p.m. An AIDS charity benefit so gala-riffic that Woody Allen is (scheduled to be) venturing south of 59th Street for something besides a Knicks game. Other expected guests include Beyoncé, Sharon Stone, Liza Minnelli, Michael Eisner, Richard Gere, and Rosie O’Donnell. • Joey McIntyre performance. Plumm, 26 W. 14th St., nr Fifth Ave., 11:30 p.m. On the guest list: Drew Lachey, Joey Lawrence, and 400 VH1 producers.

Pay Attention to the Man Behind the Box

If you’d rather wait to experience it in person (assuming you can score an invite to the next launch party), you’ll want to avert your eyes from the centerfold-worthy interior shot of the Box in this week’s magazine. William Van Meter’s profile of its primary owner Simon Hammerstein is also plenty revealing: Turns out the Rogers & Hammerstein progeny is a reformed raver. There won’t be any glow sticks at his dinner theater — just a twenty-inch-tall woman named Firefly, a G-stringed Russian gymnast, and (why not?) the “Hammerstein Beauties.” —Daniel Maurer What’s in the Box? [NYM] Related: Simon Hammerstein’s Personal Pimpmobile?

No, One Does Not Go to Lucky Cheng's for the Food

We know we're biased, but we say this in all seriousness: Grub Street has just published its best Ask a Waiter thus far, and what we have to imagine will be the best Ask a Waiter ever. It's with Dirty Delta of Lucky Cheng's, and you'll learn everything you ever wanted to know — plus much more — about being a drag-queen waitress. What does Dirty think about the East Village institution's food, for example? "You don't come to Lucky Cheng's to eat gourmet food," she says. "You come to see some bitch in a G-string acting crazy at your table." But of course. There's so much more at Grub Street. Dirty Delta of Lucky Cheng's Serves Orgy Bowls to Britney Spears [Grub Street]

Dirty Delta of Lucky Cheng’s Serves Orgy Bowls to Britney Spears

Dirty Delta came to New York eighteen years ago and was introduced to the gay scene via nightspots like Club 58. It wasn’t until she got a job at Lucky Cheng’s a month after it opened that she fell in with the drag queens; for thirteen years the bartender and server has seen the East Village institution through visits from disco divas (“Grace Jones came in and tried to cop pot. We had to let her go”), East Village freaks (“my family”), as well as swarms of “crazy bachelorettes and crazy birthday girls.” As it turns out, her most unforgettable encounter (that we could print) was with a certain pop star.

The Secret Feuds of Dentists

In one corner: Dr. Larry Rosenthal, dentist to the likes of Donald Trump, Michael Bolton, and Matt Dillon, who uses New Age babble on his patients and is said to practice something called "self-esteem dentistry." In the other corner: Relationship guru Ellen Fein, the author of the despicable treatise The Rules ("Rule Five: Don't Call Him and Rarely Return His Calls"), who says Rosenthal gave her "gigantic teeth." (Oh, Ellen: you should see Matt Dillon.) In revenge, as today's Daily News reports, Fein proceeded to register domains LyingDentist.com and BadDentist.com.

In East Harlem, the Bohemians Can't Spell

Brooklyn Heights: Our compelling bocce coverage continues! Brigate Bocce almost beat the Old Dirty Barristers in the opening week of FloydNY's winter bocce league, but then they didn't. [Brooklyn Heights Blog] Chelsea: Apparently unable to save his landmark mural Venus from being blocked by an imminent condo tower, artist Knox Martin will now save whales with a new mural downtown. [BlogChelsea] Clinton Hill: Bank of America is throwing a grand-opening party to convince you that it's just like all the other homegrown, mom-and-pop storefronts on Myrtle Avenue. [Clinton Hill Blog] East Harlem: Attention, "Sophiscated [sic] Bohemians"! Prudential Douglas Elliman has a brand-new luxury tower that captures the "soul and lifestyle" of "the 'New' East Harlem." [Uptown Flavor] South Slope: The illegal demolition at 574 Fourth Avenue continues, according to the Concerned (and video-enabled) Citizens of Greenwood Heights. [Gowanus Lounge] Tribeca: Could entrenched Tribecans actually not want newbies flooding into all those rising new towers? The residents of 49 Vestry suggest as much. [Curbed]

Spoiler Alert: The Story of Oedipus, With Scenes of “Vegetable Sensuality”

If you missed its debut on the Sundance channel last week (or its showing at the actual Sundance festival), prepare to veg out to the above: Jason Wishnow’s take on Oedipus is, the subtitle informs, “the story of Oedipus, in 8 minutes, performed by vegetables.” The stop-motion flick, featuring elaborate stage sets worthy of Ben Hur, depicts what is perhaps the goriest vegetable-on-utensil violence since food surrealist Jan Svankmajer’s Exhaustive Discussion as well as the only tomato-on-potato incest scene we can remember (and trust us, we’d remember). The day after a party for the film at Manitoba’s (owner Handsome Dick isn’t exactly a veggie guy, but we’ll disregard that), we asked director Wishnow what it was like to spend two years of his life shooting produce.