Everybody Loves a Good Bad DebateIf you decided to watch the Democratic presidential debate last night instead of American Gladiators, you made the right choice. The brutal (and hilarious) squabbling between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was just as entertaining, if not more, as watching an overmuscled guy in spandex use a pillow stick to beat the living hell out of a civilian. “Senator Obama, it’s hard to have a straight-up debate with you because you never take responsibility for any vote,” snapped Hillary at one point, to boos. Obama, referencing the attacks on him by former president Bill Clinton, shot back, “I can’t tell who I’m running against at times!” Snap! But unlike on Gladiators, there was no clear winner in the debates. Below, a roundup of speculation and analysis on who came out on top and who couldn’t get past the “The Eliminator”:
• Everyone lost a little bit by reducing themselves to familylike squabbling. “Any good psychologist would recognize the three classic defense mechanisms on display,” explains Richard Wolffe. “Denial, repression and suppression.” [Newsweek]
Happy Martin Luther King Day!In honor of MLK, we will not be posting today. If you don’t have the day off, we hope work isn’t too tough without our mildly amusing banter and pictures. We also hope you get a new job soon.
the sports section
Eli Manning Wins One for the GeeksThe main story line going into the Giants-Packers NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field revolved around Eli Manning: Had he really turned the corner during the final game of the regular season against the Patriots, or was his solid — even superlative — postseason play thus far merely a tease?Lost in all that was the fact that Manning’s opponent under center had also turned his own corner this year. After breaking the all-time interception record last year, Brett Favre led the Packers to their best season in years by finally learning how to not be a hero — that is, play within himself and resist the moon-shot interceptions that have plagued his whole career.
Heilemann: Bill Clinton Wades Into Nevada’s Democratic Muck FestThere’s no way that a post of modest length can convey the scale, depth, and texture of the weirdness that was the Nevada Democratic caucuses. But let me just say this: In the course of covering Bill Clinton for nearly two decades, I have been in his presence when he has held forth at great length and in mind-numbing detail on topics ranging from Arkansan watermelons to the political lessons of sumo wrestling. But never have his discursive skills been employed to more surreal effect than they were late Saturday night, in the wake of his wife’s 51-45 victory over Barack Obama, when he was overheard riffing on the turnout at Caesar’s Palace, the thrill of winning the Mirage, and the voter demographics at the Mandalay Bay.
early and often
Bloomberg Meets With Perot’s Ballot Expert, Also Lance ArmstrongNow, we don’t know Elizabeth Benjamin from the Daily News’ Daily Politics blog, and we have never met Azi Paybarah from the Observer’s Politicker. But sometimes we want to give them a standing ovation. On days when Mayor Bloomberg’s maddening presidential flirtations make us want to pull our hair out, rip at our fingernails, and start talking really loudly on the subway to nobody in particular, they maintain a cool composure. Every hint, tease, and come-on that the mayor makes toward entering the 2008 presidential race they report with grace and ease. Like, today, for example, when Bloomberg sat down with Texas ballot-access expert Clay Mulford, the guy who put Ross Perot’s name in voting booths in 1992 and 1996. This is yet another strong signal that the mayor is setting up plans to make an independent run, but he once again made an exasperated denial of any such plans to reporters today. “Read into that what you will,” Benjamin reported coolly. “Another sign that he’s running for President or another well-placed tip that keeps the buzz alive.” Paybarah doesn’t even offer up an analysis, other than explaining the ballot logistics. We don’t know how you do it, people. We literally don’t have eyebrows anymore.
Bloomberg Meets With Ballot Expert [AP]
Gwyneth Alive and Ingesting!CHRISTAL: Look! Gwyneth Paltrow is out and about after the hospital and her husband attacking a guy!
JPRESS: And she must be healthy, because she’s carrying a fifteen-pound Balenciaga Moon bag with just one arm.
CHRISTAL: Good for her. Though, she looks a little Kirsten Dunst–y here.
JPRESS: Yeah. Women of 35 just can’t be wearing pigtails.
CHRISTAL: Dude, she’s Gwyneth Paltrow. The lady doesn’t have to eat, let alone conform to hair norms.
Get Better, Gwyneth! [PageSix.com]
Earlier: Did a Fast Make Gwyneth Sicketh?
Update: Man, Us Weekly is on this story like brown on organic rice. They talked to Gwyneth’s PBS-cooking-show co-star Mario Batali, who came to the rescue, as always. The problem that brought her to Mt. Sinai was just “a little gastrointestinal situation,” he explains. Um, Mario? Now you’ve made everyone think about Gwyneth Paltrow pooping. Not cool, dude.
Historic Brooklyn Navy Yard Houses Get a Stay of ExecutionBrooklyn Navy Yard: The Feds have indefinitely delayed plans to tear down ten nineteenth-century houses here in order to build a supermarket. Patina before potatoes! [Brownstoner]
Dumbo: The waterfront Empire Stores warehouse is so decrepit that the park surrounding it has been closed for safety, and everyone’s pointing fingers over who let the Civil War–era pile languish for so long. [Brooklyn Paper via Curbed]
Elmhurst: This no-frills Queens hood isn’t slated to do so well in the real-estate boom, but maybe it’ll fare better than expected with loving testimonials like this: “At sunset, the dirty black bricks of the six-story apartment buildings turn deep red and almost dark pink. At night, it’s peaceful.” Ahhh… [NYDN via Queens Crap]
Padma Leaves a Bad Taste in Fiamma’s MouthManhattan Moms, an East Coast equivalent of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Orange County, will premiere early next year. A lot of the city’s foremost graffiti artists congregated for a book party at Auto in the meatpacking district. Billy Joel is in talks with the Mets to perform a bunch of gigs at Shea Stadium. George Steinbrenner will have a high school named after him in Tampa. Padma Lakshmi was rude to the staff at Soho eatery Fiamma, but Martha Stewart overtipped and was nice. CNN gave out an award to someone for forcing “one of the world’s largest oil corporations to pay more than $6 billion to clean up toxic waste in the Amazon rain forest,” but didn’t name Chevron as the company because they are an advertiser.
in other news
Let Us Ride Bikes!
We missed this in yesterday’s paper, presumably because we were so distracted by Bloomberg’s unsuccessful shuttle diplomacy in Albany: While London, Stockholm, and Singapore all have successful congestion-pricing programs, and while Scandinavian capitals have longstanding center-city transportation cultures built around bicycles, and while an art installation in Soho last week made bikes available to New Yorkers for a few days, Paris is now trying to beat its traffic problems by making some 10,000 bicycles available for nominal fees around the city — there’ll be 20,000 and change by the end of the year — for people to rent from one of 750 stations, ride to where they need go, and return to another station. This plan sounds like it could be another good way to get some cars off the road and emissions out of the air. Could it be congestion pricing 2.0, Mike? Of course not! It’s an interesting and innovative idea; Shelly Silver must hate it.
A New French Revolution’s Creed: Let Them Ride Bikes [NYT]
Gore 2008!At an Air America relaunch, Bill Clinton said Al Gore has the money to run for president. Rudy Giuliani is raising money in Jerusalem. Paul McCartney is playing new songs at a free Highline Ballroom show tonight. Tom Wolfe is worried Gus Van Sant’s adaptation of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test won’t do the LSD trips justice. Mel Brooks thinks Cloris Leachmen is too old to reprise her role in Young Frankenstein. Paris Hilton is naked online again. At the Apollo’s spring benefit, David Dinkins said he likes Kyra Sedgwick. Dumbo developer David Walentas will play polo with Adolpho Cambiaso, the world’s best player, in Bridgehampton this summer. Beyoncé wouldn’t sign a British fan’s painting. Britney Spears exposed herself again, and snuggled with gal pal, at a Hollywood club.
They’ll Always Have ParisParis, je t’aime — a collection of eighteen micro-mini shorts set in, and in tribute to, the French metropolis of croissants, angst, and amour — premiered at, natch, the Paris Theater on 58th Street last night. The shorts were made by brand-name auteurs — the Coen Brothers, Alexander Payne, Alfonso Cuarón, and Wes Craven among them — and a slew of boldfacers came out to walk Yves Saint Laurent–sponsored black carpet. (Black, rather than red, is apparently plus chic.) Natalie Portman was there, channeling Audrey Hepburn again, plus Maggie Gyllenhaal, Elijah Wood, Emily Mortimer, Steve Buscemi, Gena Rowlands, and Ben Gazzara. What are these New Yorkers top memories of the City of Light? Tales of excessive drinking, bad hairdressers, and, bien sur, the Eiffel Tower await after the jump.
Barbarians at the Energy GridFINANCE
• A group led by Kohlberg Kravis is taking energy giant TXU private for $45 billion, besting the Blackstone record by $6 billion. But can Kravis beat Schwarzman’s party? [NYT]
• Gary Crittenden named Citigroup CFO. Job description: Fix CEO Charles Prince’s mistakes. [NYT]
• Goldman media banker Sebastian Grigg may defect to Credit Suisse. [DealBook/NYT]
in other news
Vive la Résistance (to Chain Stores)!
New York may be becoming a little more Paris-like — we’re even going to have sidewalk pissoirs — but we still have a lot of catching up to do. For instance, imagine Mayor Bloomberg railing about the “banalization” of Times Square (or, for that matter, of anything). His Parisian counterpart, faced with the familiar march of megaretail up the Champs-Élysées (Adidas, Gap, Benetton, Virgin), dealt with it in a delightfully French way: He legislated against it. H&M, for instance, was outright banned from opening a branch on the boulevard. “We don’t have anything against H&M,” the Times quotes the deputy mayor as saying. “It just happens to be the first victim.” Of course, this being France, the area’s historic establishments — independent movie theaters, for instance — get serious subsidies to stay open. Sadly, it’s as hard to imagine the City Hall sniffing at, say, the banality of T.J. Maxx as to see it doling out $40,000 a year to keep the Quad afloat.
Megastores March Up Avenue, and Paris Takes to Barricades [NYT]
show and talk
Ask a Retailer: Paris Edition
The buyers from Kirna Zabête and Intermix reported from Paris on their favorite collections from the spring 2007 shows. What will you be wearing next season? Space-age outfits, goddess dresses, and Lucite heels. One hopes not at the same time.