Despite our shortage of agriculture, New York City’s war on its teeming vermin ecosystem has made us No. 1 in the state in pesticide use, according to a just-released nypirg-Environmental Advocates report. We season our schools, offices, and apartments with 1.6 million gallons and 7.8 million pounds of deadly stuff each year. According to EA’s Audrey Thier, the city’s liquid pesticide of choice – used in more than 800 products ranging from flea collars to bug sprays – is chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxin sold under the name Dursban. It’s “so dangerous the EPA has now banned it for virtually all residential uses,” Thier says. Dursban either may poison people outright – “You just get really violently sick” – or may cause something similar to lead poisoning by “impeding normal brain development in fetuses, infants, and children.” But will we recognize New York without it? Some studies link chlorpyrifos exposure to decreased alcohol tolerance and increased anger, confusion, and depression.
Don’t those fact-checkers at The New Yorker know how to suck up to the boss? Last week’s pseudonymous “Talk of the Town” drollery about retired Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Sr.’s habit of writing to his paper’s letters page under the name “A. Sock” – an item that turned out to be by editor David Remnick himself – managed to spell Sulzberger as “Sulzburger” throughout. The big guy wouldn’t say whether he blamed the checkers or himself, but a spokeswoman offered: “You know that the Times itself has misspelled both Sulzberger and Katharine Graham many, many times. So that’s going to be our only comment.”
A Philadelphia ‘zinester named Karl “King” Wenclas has launched a cranky crusade against the Guggenheim Foundation and its recent grant to Rick Moody. Grumbles Wenclas in a photocopied mass mailing we received, “We see with Rick’s Guggenheim grant tax-free money going from rich people to – other rich people!” (The author is the son of Hiram F. Moody Jr., an investment banker.) “Being totally ignored gets old after a while,” complains the unfamous Wenclas. Moody won’t comment on his family finances, but Guggenheim Foundation president Joel Conarroe notes that selection for the awards is “absolutely need-blind … We then assign money according to the budget request that the person sends in.” Grants are usually about $35,000. He wouldn’t say how big Moody’s check was, but observed that Wenclas “must really get upset about the MacArthur awards, which are half a million.”
The just-released Maxim Holiday Buying Study revealed that 87 percent of the magazine’s readers “are not apprehensive about an economic downturn.” Furthermore, 62 percent say a recession won’t affect them in the workplace, and 38 percent are still betting on stocks. So does this manly Pollyannaishness show that Maxim readers really are testosterone-sozzled dumbasses? “Nope, nope,” says editor Keith Blanchard. “I got battered this year,” he admits. “But the worst-case scenario is the crash of ‘87, where we have a correction and then six months later everything has worked itself out.” Actually, it took five years – but Temptation Island should make this recession fly by.