Sea Carousel at the Battery

April 26, 2006



I was at an event last night for the Sea Carousel at the Battery, a beautifully designed 21st century carousel. The top photo is a life-size model of one of the rides (the second photo shows how the little fishies will glow … which, quite honestly, was no match for the fantastic view from a deck in Greenwich Village). The high-tech carousel itself, designed by Weisz + Yoes, uses “smart” glass that will switch from translucent to opaque where scenes of undersea life will be projected when the carousel is in motion. When the ride is not in motion, the nautilus-shaped building will be see-through, with the floor and fishies glowing. Thirty sea creatures, which harken back to fish that were at the site of New York’s first aquarium from 1896-1941 in Lower Manhattan, will swim in Battery Park by 2007.

Jane Jacobs, 1916-2006

April 25, 2006

There are very few public figures whom I would mourn more than Jane Jacobs. She died this morning in her adopted home of Toronto, where she moved with her family from New York City so that her son would not be drafted during the Vietnam war. Of course, her life and letters are well known by most anyone reading Polis, but her impact has been so personal for me and many others. Reading a magazine interview with Jane Jacobs many years ago led me to The Death and Life of Great American Cities (her seminal work published in 1961, although it reads as if it could have been written last year), which then took my journalism career in the direction of urban planning and design, economic development, and all the concomitant issues of city life. She was a maven for citizens everywhere.

Breathtaking Inanity: Village Voice in “Turmoil”

April 19, 2006

vvm1.gif Against my better judgment,* I’m veering way off the usual course here at Polis to comment on the “turmoil” at the Village Voice. See, its been purchased by the New Times company, ending a long-standing rivalry between the two competing alt-weekly chains in order to dominate what has rapidly become an obsolete media market.

The breathtaking inanity of this otherwise little league media story became evident with a quote by New Times editor Mike Lacey, who has been firing Voice people en masse since taking over last fall. His main complaint has been that the Voice writers are all commentators and navel gazers, and that they don’t do any real reporting. New Times reporters do real reporting, he declared to The New York Observer. They actually get on the phone and talk to people!

“We can our wrap our hands around the throat of the beast, find out what happened, and give that to readers,”” he said. ““It’’s fun. It’s a kick-ass way to make a living.”

“Wrap our hands around the throat of the beast””? A ““kick-ass way to make a living”? Is this guy serious? To my ears, that sounds as retrograde as if David Schneiderman had said when he bought the Village Voice in 2000, ““We’’re going to stick it to the man! It’s a groovy way to make a living.”” Lacey’’s absurd bravado is just as amateur and outmoded as the Voice’s unreconstructed leftism. There’’s something sad about a fat, middle-aged man in the throes of total irrelevance talking about ““kicking ass.” Read the rest of this entry »

Toll Bros. Take New York

April 5, 2006

I have a piece in today’s Times about the Toll Bros. (i.e. builders of McMansions) moving into the New York market, but the paper didn’t use any renderings online. So here’s three. The first is 110 Third in the East Village, and the second is North8 in Williamsburg, and the third is the first tower of three also in Williamsburg (click to enlarge).



April 2, 2006

Ah, Tompkins Square Park on a beautiful spring Sunday…. who needs blooming daffodils and singing robins when you have witty social commentary? UPDATE: Curbed alerts me to MySpace – The Movie!, a satirical series of short videos about MySpace idiocy. Totally hilarious.