it happened this week

When in Rome


When a taxi just isn’t enough.Photo: Christ Trotman/Getty Images

For VII days, all roads seemed to lead to Rome. Emperor George Bush suffered an Et tu? moment when Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki stuck a last-minute dagger in his plans for a triumphant triumvirate dinner. The Baker-Hamilton commission recommended pulling the Army legions out of Iraq; the Pentagon’s Cincinnatus, Colin Powell, crossed the rhetorical Rubicon and called the conflict a civil war. (The president declared that the die was cast, and that “we can accept nothing less than victory.”) Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked Americans to lend him their ears, so that he could explain how the U.S. is too supportive of Zionists. Homeland Security gladiator Michael Chertoff offered a mea culpa for throwing New York City’s anti-terror funding to the lions.

After cops shot a bridegroom 50 times, Ciceronian orator Al Sharpton came, saw, and conquered the media moment, even as Queens threatened to burn. Albany consuls Pataki and Spitzer bemoaned the decline and fall of the Empire State’s health-care system and backed the closing of five city hospitals with a hearty “Excelsior!” (Pataki, aware that tempus fugit, also rushed to push through the Atlantic Yards coliseum.) A Cleopatran Craigslist cutie was busted for trying to extort $125,000 from a Pepsi executive. Danny DeVito had watchers of The View running for the vomitorium after boozily bragging about the Caligulan delights he’d enjoyed on an overnight White House stay. (“Every place in that bedroom was, ah, utilized,” he slurred to a horrified Barbara Walters.) 30 Rock’s Tracy Morgan had his own in vino veritas moment during a Henry Hudson Parkway drunk-driving bust, tipsily telling cops he’d “had some beers.”

Nascar held a chariot race in midtown. Coney Island’s Astroland — the Circus Maximus of Tilt-a-Whirl parks — was sold to a developer. Scientists determined that an artifact found aboard a sunken Roman ship was a 2,000-year-old astronomical computer. And soothsayers saw bad omens in the entrails of John Gotti’s grandson’s arrest report: pills, pot, and a barbarically unflattering Caesar haircut. —Mark Adams

When in Rome