Donor Fatigue

November 15, 2004

Donor Fatigue
Post-Kerry, just how tapped out and angry is New York’s Democratic Party money machine? “New Yorkers contributed around 33 percent of Kerry’s money, which produced some exhaustion,” says fund-raiser Orin Kramer. They’re disappointed to find themselves again in the wilderness when a return to power seemed within reach. (No ambassadorships, no state dinners—and Teresa is said to know how to entertain.) There’s talk of a repeat of 2002, when the Dems took such a drubbing that enraged contributors temporarily closed their wallets. Looking forward to 2006, some city fund-raisers want to see evidence of a more centrist strategy before they give more money. “Contributors will expect congressional leaders to demonstrate that they understand what voters in red states said in this election,” says Robert Zimmerman, one of the biggest Dem fund-raisers in the city. “Candidates have to listen to their opinions.”
—Greg Sargent

FAO’s Play Date
Overindulgent city parents worried that FAO Schwarz won’t reopen in time for the holidays need not fret. Toy-world sources say that the twice-bankrupt retailer’s flagship, across from the Plaza, is going to reopen over Thanksgiving. FAO won’t confirm it, maybe because it already missed planned reopenings this summer and in September. “They seem to have a bunker mentality, because they think they’ll get slammed again by the press,” says one toy insider. Expect ample child-spoiling opportunities, though, from $30,000 playhouses with running water to a Madame Alexander make-your-own-custom-doll factory (32 hairstyles). “I don’t know why it’s such a big secret,” says toy consultant Chris Byrne. “Maybe it’s a lowered-expectation strategy.”
—Susan Avery

Sushi Update
Chef Masatoshi Sugio has developed a sort of cult around the preciously presented, unusually sauced sushi at his tiny, out-of-the-way Sushi of Gari on far East 78th Street. Through an interpreter, Sugio tells us that next month he’s opening a bigger place at Columbus and 78th Street, which should make the commute easier for such devotees as Yoko Ono and Kevin Kline. Apparently, the main barrier to expansion was not real estate but finding someone to make sushi his way. “I had to train the new chef for many, many years to understand my style,” he says.
—Beth Landman

The MoMa Ghost
Is the lavishly antiseptic new Museum of Modern Art haunted? Staffers say that the destruction of the Dorset Hotel to build the David and Peggy Rockefeller galleries seems to have stirred up the unquiet spirit of a “woman in white” who’s been terrorizing security guards (maybe the new $20 entry fee got her ectoplasm up). As MoMA prepares for its November 20 reopening, the story going around, as reported by several staffers, is that the apparition has been seen or felt at least three times, driving one guard from the building. A museum spokesperson denied that there was any paranormal activity in the new MoMA, just rumormongering.
—Lydia Crafts

Donor Fatigue