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Fall 2008

  1. in other news
    The Jungle of Magazine SubscriptionsToday’s Times reveals the hellish life of a traveling magazine crews — you know, those kids who go door to door selling subscriptions to Reader’s Digest and Rolling Stone “to earn points for a foreign trip.” The sellers, mostly troubled teens trying to escape gang life, are wheeled from town to town in vans and given less than $10 a day in food allowance, their wages held hostage for later payment that may never come. At the end of a ten- to fourteen-hour shift, they’re dumped in fleabag motels — the day’s lowest seller sleeps on the floor — where they kill time ingesting industrial quantities of crystal meth and rutting like rabbits. If that is sounding in any way appealing, there’s also this: Crew managers also administer savage beatings.
  2. gossipmonger
    Tom Brady Does Not Love New York, or Bridget MoynahanTom Brady put his New York pad up for sale as soon as he found out ex-girlfriend Bridget Moynahan was pregnant. Speaking of officially pregnant: Naomi Watts. Speaking of maybe pregnant: Christina Aguilera. Hillary Clinton, or someone from her office, got mad at David Geffen for throwing a party last night for Barack Obama. Former As Four designer Kai Kuhne flipped out after his credit card was denied at Sway. A Chelsea nightclub doesn’t want handicapped customers upstairs.
  3. the sports section
    Damn Yankees This week’s revelation that Derek Jeter and A-Rod are no longer BFF has thrown New Yorkers into a collective inner turmoil unseen since the darkest days of the transit strike. Although the relationship’s psychological subtleties have been parsed exhaustively across the nation’s sports pages, much of the city remains confused and distracted. In an effort to facilitate some kind of public catharsis — and, frankly, to explore our own emotions on the subject — we’d like to offer a one-act play, Joe Torre’s Come and Gone. It’s after the jump.
  4. photo op
    Off Broadway Audiences Are Even More Unsophisticated Than You Feared Spotted the other night in the restroom of a small Off Broadway theater. The “Stop Disease Method of Hand Washing” includes the following steps: Use soap and running water, rub hands vigorously, wash all surfaces, rinse well, and dry.
  5. the morning line
    Wanna Buy the Freedom Tower? • Guess what Port Authority is going to do with the Freedom Tower once the construction is over? What every owner of a half-built property dreams of doing: Flip it. By its completion in 2011, the skyscraper may be up for sale, say Spitzer and Corzine. [Metro] • Meet Mathieu Eugene, the City Council’s newest member and the first Haitian to fill the seat. Eugene won a low-profile, low-turnout special election in Brooklyn after his predecessor, Yvette Clarke, moved on to Congress. [NYP] • Busta Rhymes, on trial for kicking a fan and beating up a former chauffeur, rejected a deal that would land him in jail for a cred-building six months. The alternative: probation, anger management, and two weeks of lecturing kids about violence. [NYDN] • In New York, we wage our war on Christmas all year round — and we’re winning it, too. The U.S. Supreme Court washed its hands of the Brooklyn-filed case that challenged the citywide ban on school nativity displays. (Menorahs and Islamic crescents, however, are totally okay). [FoxNews.com] • And in New Jersey, a similar battle with a techie twist: A public-school history teacher is in hot water after a student taped him proselytizing (“If you reject [Jesus], you belong in hell,” etc.) and saying that dinosaurs were on Noah’s ark. [NYT]
  6. party town
    Cheers to MoMA• Jeff Wall exhibit opening. MoMA, 11 W. 53rd St., nr. Sixth Ave., 7 p.m. Scheduled attendees: Michael Ovitz, Henry Kravis, William Wegman. Floral arrangements will be provided by Ron Wendt Design. Change “Ron” to “George” in that previous sentences and you’ve got yourself a real party. Or check out our Agenda listings for tonight, selected by New York’s culture editors.
  7. in other news
    MTA to World: Look How Vulnerable Our Subway Is! Because we know you read the USA Today as carefully as we do, we know you were, like us, a bit disturbed by the how-terrorists-can-destroy-the-subway-system primer printed, with no particular news peg, in yesterday’s colorful paper. Some of the cited details might sound familiar, but what stays with you after reading the piece is the sheer October-2001-grade hysteria of the quotes, all of which come from pretty high up. The city’s 600 miles of track are, in the words of Senator Chris Dodd, “ripe, easy targets.” All the costly security upgrades undertaken so far, says MTA preparedness chief Lewis Schiliro, amount to “incremental risk reduction,” which doesn’t sound good at all. None of the nation’s subway systems will be as safe as they should be, he gravely threatens, unless agencies like his get more federal money. Okay, then. Is the money coming? Yes and no: The Homeland Security Department is doling out a paltry $172 million for transit security this year — nationwide. William Morange, MTA’s security director, any words for the boys in D.C.? “Even if you don’t have the money, do the testing for us. Do something.” Schiliro, take us out on the up note! “The magnitude of the problem is almost incomprehensible.” Thanks. Protecting NYC Subways an ‘Incomprehensible’ Task [USAT]
  8. in other news
    College Kids Like Obama More Than Hillary, ‘Desperate Housewives’ The big newspapers tell us the currently important dramas in the 2008 presidential race are the “money primary” and the “talent primary.” But what about the college kids–clicking–on–things primary? A story published on The Nation’s Website last week on Barack Obama’s appeal to young people mentioned that the Facebook group “One Million Strong for Obama” boasted 272,000 members. In the five days since the story was published — covering a road-trip-friendly three-day weekend — the group added 17,000 new members. (Any Facebooker can join the group, which is unaffiliated with the campaign and features information on rallies and donations and so forth.) “One Million Strong for Hillary,” meantime, has held steady at around 3,700 members. That’s about as many people as Obama attracted in each of the last five days — or, put another way, about 24,000 Internet-savvy college-age kids less than are “Addicted to Grey’s Anatomy.” Obama’s Impressive Youthroots [The Nation]
  9. neighborhood watch
    H&H Bagels Completes Harlem GentrificationClinton Hill: What the hell is this Legos-meets-Mondrian thing that’s sprouted up on Reuben north of Myrtle? [Clinton Hill Blog] East Village: Apparently only the “big” L-stations get those train arrival-time signs. So much for Third Avenue. [CitySpecific] Flatbush: Seems like this ain’t the only Brooklyn hood the city has failed to provide with those free, slickly packaged condoms. [Flatbush Gardener via Gowanus Lounge] Harlem: If only Bagel in Harlem had stuck it out another month or so. She could have picked up H&H bagels at the Saurin Park Café. [
  10. buy low
    Live and Work in a Tribeca TriplexA bargain-basement price on a new downtown triplex probably means you’re buying the basement, but at 53 Murray Street, you’re getting the raw sub-basement, too. At $3.25 million for 5,335 square feet, the apartment costs just over half of Tribeca’s average, according to StreetEasy. The sub-basement is great for architects, artists, and other tinkerers, with three rooms on the upper floors usable as bedrooms, says Shari Markoff of the Shvo Group. The basement includes a north-facing bedroom that gets decent light (though it faces another building). So if you need only one bed, Markoff suggests, you might festoon the first floor with fanned magazines and potpourri and welcome customers there. “It could make a great spa,” she suggests. “Or it could be great for a not-for-profit.” If you’re in start-up mode, a location near the Fulton Street transit hub and a price you can defend to your investors will help anybody sleep at night. —Alec Appelbaum
  11. in other news
    James Wolcott Does Not Have a Small Bladder, He InsistsYesterday we learned Times movie critic A.O. Scott doesn’t watch the Oscars; in the same long weekend, it turns out, we also learned that Vanity Fair’s resident cultural curmudgeon, James Wolcott, can’t sit through a two-hour play. From his VF.com blog: More and more, I see shows described as “intermissionless,” and I hear the rattle of leg irons. It isn’t that I’m incapable of “holding it in.” It isn’t that I’m likely to pull a Costanza and trample any senior blocking the aisle to make a beeline to the bathroom while the cast takes its bow. It’s that I don’t like feeling trapped, stuck for the duration … Moreover, intermissions are so civilized. You retire to the lobby, order an overpriced drink, compare notes and discreetly eavesdrop, step outside to take the air, or, if the first act was dire, flee. (“I count it as one of the great moments of my life when I first realized one could actually walk out of a theatre. I don’t mean offensively — but go to the bar at the interval and not come back. I first did it at Oxford: I was watching …”) Oh, sorry. Drifted off there. But don’t worry: There’s lots more. We can’t wait for it. Really. We’ll just nip out to the lobby first for a second, and — Exit Ramp Closed [James Wolcott’s Blog/VF.com]
  12. gossipmonger
    Rev. Al Crusades for Chris Rock’s MomAl Sharpton is demonstrating against Cracker Barrel on behalf of Chris Rock’s mom. Or maybe Sharpton is funding her lawsuit. Lydia Hearst had her hair colored. Ryan Phillippe really likes Flags of Our Fathers, which he’s in. Ice-T and his stripper wife appear mostly naked on his new album cover, prudish retailers object. Leo DiCaprio plans to turn a town ecofriendly for a reality show. Sheryl Crow is glad she didn’t have to have a mastectomy, she told a luncheon at the Waldorf. Megarestaurateur Stephen Starr wins Zagat honors, gets snubbed by local press, plans two more NYC spots. Assemblyman Mike Gianaris had a Vegas bachelor party. A lunch guest wanted to know if Tiger Woods had accepted Christ as his personal savior. Director Vadim Perelman got out of sex-harassment charges, holds “no grudge against the people of Connecticut.” Teen singer Teddy Geiger got a fake phone number from a DeGrassi: The Next Generation star. Eddie Murphy knocked up his girlfriend, a former Spice Girl. Some rich banker bought adman Martin Puris’s apartment without using a broker. Danielle Steel has a new perfume, which she’s doing just for the money, which she doesn’t need. Lance Armstrong and Matthew McConaughey are not gay, and George Bush won’t help Lance fight cancer.
  13. new york fugging city
    The Fug Girls Play Bookie, Make ‘Project Runway’ OddsWe’re not really betting women — well, except for all those days at the track, and those weekends in Vegas, and that football pool. Oh! And March Madness. Okay, so we are really betting women. With the finale of Project Runway mere hours away, here’s a highly unreliable, knee-jerk handicapping of the four designers left. Our incredibly unscientific odds-making methods include weighing the snippets of finished outfits and works-in-progress that we saw in last week’s episode; combing through the photo galleries of Laura, Michael, Jeffrey, and Uli’s respective runway shows; and using our finely honed psychic abilities to read Michael Kors’s mind. (Oh, he’s not going to send us any dresses, but he does like your hair like that. So good job, you). So what odds are we giving?
  14. cultural capital
    Moby Goes Raw! The invitation to last night’s Hennessy shindig at Capitale listed the ubiquitous Moby as one of the “confirmed celebrities.” This was odd, because although Moby might be ubiquitous at Manhattan events, he is not actually omnipresent — and he was in fact ten blocks away, rocking out in the dingy confines of Tonic. Moby, you ask? Rocking out? Indeed. Perhaps it was the critical yawning that greeted Hotel, his ultraslick double album that sounded like it was commissioned for hotel lobbies. Maybe it was something else. But the fact remains that Mr. Melville, the world’s leading purveyor of feathery melodic techno, has been stealthily refashioning himself into a guitar-wielding post-punk front man. And that persona was on full display last night.
  15. the sports section
    Seeking the Mets’ A-Rod If you’ve lost track of where we are in the playoffs, this is the part where the Mets lose — as they did last night in St. Louis, 4-2 — because they don’t have any pitchers. So let’s fast-forward directly to the scapegoating. Word on the street suggests that we’re going to need an A-Rod soon — by which we mean, of course, not another MVP third-baseman but a mildly underachieving great player on whom we can beat out all of our repressed collective aggression. And, fortunately for Schadenfreude connoisseurs, a possible successor has already stepped up: Mets third-baseman David Wright.
  16. the morning line
    Like Candy From a Little Leaguer • Yesterday we told you that Queens assemblyman Bruce McLaughlin was about to surrender on some corruption charges. That was, it turns out, an understatement. The Feds cuffed McLaughlin for stealing a cool $2.2 million in awesome ways and from awesome sources — including Little League teams. [NYDN] • A report by the state comptroller (yes, our chauffeurless pal Alan Hevesi) says Wall Streeters earn an average of $289,664 — more than five times the city’s average. Even more spectacular, the financial industry’s pay rates grow faster — a shocking 36 percent over the last two years. Of course, someone has to pay for bottle service. [NYP] • The battle is on for the title of the 300 millionth American (Manhattan’s splendidly named Zoë Emille Hudson is but one contender). The Times raises a great and uncharacteristically naughty point: Why does everyone assume that yesterday’s arrival was born yesterday? And not, say, smuggled across the border? [NYT] • LIRR is shifting 2,000 feet of track to fix the dangerous gap between the train and the platform at Shea and plans to do the same at other stations. Each year about 60 people fall in; we recall that last month one such victim was a former state senator. Coincidence? [amNY] • And the Village Voice’s “Best of NYC” issue is out, complete with the ailing weekly’s trademark mix of picks offbeat (Best Aroma Inside an ATM), earnest (Best Bus), and unfortunate (Best Performance Art Space for Dinner and a Movie goes to Monkeytown, which announced its closing weeks ago). [VV]
  17. intel
    300 Millionth American Born in New York! (Except Not Necessarily)The Census Bureau, as you no doubt read, announced that the nation’s population would officially hit 300 million at 7:46 this morning. It’s an exciting milestone for the country, no doubt, but it became ever more exciting for us as New Yorkers when a press release arrived with word the magic 300 millionth had been born right here in New York. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center — and, boy, wasn’t life easier back when it was just Columbia Presbyterian? — scheduled a news conference this afternoon to introduce this 300 millionth baby, Zoë Emille Hudson, delivered on the Upper East Side. We wondered how Presbyterian got so lucky to get this milestone baby, so we called up the PR contact listed on the press release to ask. A few hours later, someone called back. Daily Intel: So how do you know you have the 300 millionth? Hospital flack: Of course we don’t know. We just know we had a baby born at 7:46, and that was the time the census had set for the 300 millionth American. Daily Intel: So was it all a PR event? Hospital flack: I know that Elmhurst Hospital did something today. I heard Maimonides did something. So that’s three in the New York area that all had babies at 7:46. We got some national coverage. CNN was here, ABC evening news was here. I know Good Morning America was going to go down and do something in Atlanta. So there’s got to be places all over that had their babies and did stories locally. Daily Intel: You know, the the Times article today said demographers think the 300 millionth probably happened months ago. Do you have a rival candidate? Hospital flack: No clue.