What’s an Auxiliary Cop?Last night’s murder of two auxiliary police officers in a bizarre Houston Street shoot-out accidentally shines a spotlight on the underreported vocation of auxiliary policing. Who are these uniformed, unarmed cops-but- not-quite, whom you probably wouldn’t be able to tell from the “real” police on the street, and why do people sign up for the gig?
Think of It as Job Creation: Machiavellian Spitzer Opens, Closes Senate VacanciesAs we have mentioned, there was a State Senate election last night in Suffolk County, and Democrat Craig Johnson defeated Republican Maureen O’Connell. Since Long Island is historically pretty GOP-py (Johnson will be the first Democrat it sends to Albany in twenty years), Spitzer is trumpeting the win as yet another pass of the ole steamroller over Joe Bruno–led Republican majority. That’s all fine and good, but it doesn’t answer our foremost burning question: Why the hell are we having elections now?
Well, interestingly enough, the sudden Senate vacancy is not only Spitzer’s own doing, but also a direct consequence of his most outwardly bipartisan move. The governor-elect had pulled the county’s previous senator, Republican Michael Balboni, out of the seat when he appointed Balboni his new security chief. Having thus appeased some of the GOP majority, Spitzer then gleefully set about reducing that very majority: personally stumping for Johnson as Balboni’s replacement, taping ads for him, and co-financing his costly campaign. Genius.
Democrat Wins Senate Seat on Long Island [NYT]
Random Fact of the Day: Don’t Worry About Falling Pennies
Here’s a bit of information we’re passing on to you for no good reason except that we find it moderately interesting (and that it was sent to us by a pretty high-level editor at the magazine, and we feel we ought to humbly accept his advice): Contrary to received wisdom, a penny dropped from the Empire State Building cannot kill you. “A penny isn’t the most aerodynamic of weapons,” says the Website LiveScience, which is owned by the folks behind Space.com. “A combination of its shape and wind friction means that, tossed even from the 1,250-foot Empire State Building, it would travel fast enough merely to sting an unlucky pedestrian.” We’re thrilled to have one fewer thing to worry about as we journey through midtown. Now if LiveScience could only do something about crowds of slow-moving tourists.
A Penny Dropped From the Top of a Tall Building Could Kill a Pedestrian [LiveScience]
Quantifying the Pointlessness of the Golden Globes
With your TV tuned to the Golden Globes tonight (8 p.m., NBC), the question you should be asking is not the David Carr–esque “Will Scorsese finally win?” It’s the Joel Stein–ian “Who gives a damn what these people think anyway?”
As well publicized as the mechanics of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association are, every year someone is shocked to hear that the second-most-fussed-about award in Hollywood is being handed out by a cagey club with membership in double digits. So, in honor of tonight’s event, we present Daily Intel’s quick tutorial on the HFPA, lovingly garnered from CNN, Luke Ford, and other sources including our acquaintance on the inside (voting member Serge Rakhlin).
Estimated number of actual full-time journalists: About two dozen
Entry rules: Nearly impossible to crack — any applicant can be vetoed by any one member
Trademark privilege: Allowed to be photographed with the stars after the junket (originally, to prove to the overseas editor that the interview took place)
Other perks: Two paid trips to any film festival each year
Status among U.S. film critics: Extremely low (colleagues, from David Denby to Richard Schickel, describe HFPA members as “fawning,” gift-addicted flacks)
Arguable low point: 1982, naming Pia Zadora “New Star of the Year” weeks after enjoying a weekend in Vegas courtesy of her wealthy husband
Arguable high point: 2006, awarding Best Drama to Brokeback Mountain; 2007, reluctantly renouncing $62,000 goody bags
Hollywood Foreign Press Association [Official site]
Ever Upward, to a Gabled Roof
The New York State Capitol in Albany, completed in 1899 after 32 years of construction and in front of which Governor Eliot Spitzer was inaugurated yesterday, is one of only ten capitol buildings in the United States without a dome. Now you know.
Building Big: New York State Capitol [PBS.org]
How Much Time Will We Get to Cross the Street?The city announced last week that it’s testing new pedestrian signals that would count down how much time you have left to cross a street. How much time do we get? Is it the same everywhere in the city? And — this being New York — does anyone pay any attention to these things, anyway?
Can You Pee in the Park During the Marathon?
Some 37,000 masochists will hit the city’s streets Sunday for the New York City Marathon. Everyone — even Rosie Ruiz, these days — knows runners can’t hop on the subway. But are there other rules governing the race? You bet your itty-bitty spandex briefs there are.
How Is a Trans Fat Like Rat Poo? (Answer: Not Much)City health officials apparently consider trans fats — those peskily delicious heart-disease instigators Bloomberg’s goons want to eradicate from New York’s menus — in the “same category as food spoiled by poor refrigeration or rodent droppings,” according to an AP story earlier this week. Really? They’re that bad? How? And what exactly is a trans fat, anyway?
What’s Up With Pirro’s Pigs?
The Jeanine Pirro–keeps–on–truckin’ piece on the front of today’s Times “Metro” section reports that the GOP candidate for attorney general “rides around in a silver Ford Explorer, teasing her staff, chatting about her pets.” What it doesn’t mention is what those pets are — two potbellied pigs, which the paper of record previously described as “pampered.” It reminded us of something that has long intrigued us: Why would you want pigs as pets? And how do you pamper them?
The Second Avenue Subway Is Brought to You by the Letter TWith this week’s announcement that construction on the Second Avenue Subway might be getting a so-called “early start,” we were reminded that the new line will be called the T. Why T?
Well — and this is the truth — it’s because Jeff Erlitz, the MTA’s superintendent of operation planning, likes the letter. Peter Cafiero, now Erlitz’s boss as senior director of rail-service planning but merely his colleague when the decision was made, was pulling for P. “I have twin daughters, Louise and Paula, and there’s an L line but no P, so Paula is always begging me for a P,” recalls Cafiero, who neglects to concede that his own name also begins with the letter. Cafiero made his case, but Erlitz overruled him. “I asked him yesterday what he had against P,” Cafiero says, “and he said he didn’t remember.”
Why Are There Dough Mixers in School Cafeterias?When the Post broke news this week of 111 city school cafeterias failing their health inspections due to infestation, one detail really stood out as repulsive: In the Bronx, a dead roach was found in a cafeteria’s dough mixer. That’s really gross, of course. But it also made us wonder: Public-school kids get fresh-baked bread? In fact, do public-school kids get any homemade — as opposed to premade, conglomerate-provided — meals? And does that mean there are actually real chefs working in those kitchens?
What Ails Mrs. Hevesi?Early and Often brings the exciting news that state comptroller Alan Hevesi’s name has received the greatest of honors. It has been verbed. To “hevesi” apparently means “to illegally convert governmental assets or resources to one’s personal use; and, when caught, to offer to make full restitution and public apology.”
It also reminded us of another issue we’ve had about Hevesi’s whole hevesi-ing episode. Namely, that he claimed he’d used the state employee to chauffeur his wife both due to security concerns and also because his wife is — as all the papers say — “ailing.” Why is the comptroller so concerned for his wife’s safety? And, more intriguingly, what ails Carol Hevesi?
So You Want to Throw a Parade?At eleven o’clock this morning, the 77th annual Columbus Day Parade, sponsored by the Columbus Citizen’s Foundation, started making its way up Fifth Avenue. Yesterday the Hispanic Day Parade marched the same route. On Saturday, the Korean American Parade took over Broadway. In total, New York will see some 79 parades this year. How do you get permission to put on one of your own?