Breathtaking Inanity: Pirro and Kerik, BFF

September 27, 2006

pirro2.jpgI haven’t had a good Breathtaking Inanity post recently, so the Republican nominee for New York attorney general (formerly the Republican candidate for Senate to challenge Hillary Clinton), Jeanine Pirro, once again steps up to fill the void.

First, a recap: She fumbled through her announcement to run for Senate, shuffling for a lost page of her speech for an uncomfortably long time, completely unable to proceed without the text in front of her. Then she waffled on her position on late-term abortion, leading some observers to comment that she’s not quite ready for prime time. Then came a scoop from New York Observer’s Politicker that she’s taken campaign donations from a company suspected of ties to the mob. It was also widely noted that her husband, a Republican lobbyist, served 11 months in federal prison for his conviction on tax fraud in 2000. He also fathered a child in an extramarital relationship in the 1990’s (a different news report said the child was conceived in the 1980s — I don’t know or care which decade is correct). I predicted that she wouldn’t make it through the Republican primary to even challenge Hillary, which turned out to be true when she was forced out by fellow Republicans.

Now she’s running for the AG’s office against Andrew Cuomo. In this race, she’s already had to cancel a pro-death penalty press conference at Ground Zero when it came out that a man who had been wrongly imprisoned for sixteen years was being let out of prison at the very same time. So? Well turned out the prosecutor who replaced Pirro in Westchester (a position she quit to run for Senate), did not object to letting him out of jail based on evidence proving his innocence that PIRRO REFUSED TO HEAR.

Now for today’s news, I turn to the AP:

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Republican state attorney general candidate Jeanine Pirro has been told she is under federal investigation for allegedly plotting to secretly record her husband to find out whether he was having an affair, two people familiar with the situation said Wednesday.

I love it. The best part is, who did the alleged bugging for her? Bernard freakin Kerik, the would-be homeland security czar but for his den of iniquities at Ground Zero and ties to the mafia. From the Times:kerik.jpg

Seething with anger, and choking up as she laid bare her marital problems, Ms. Pirro said that two federal agents approached her at her home late one recent night and revealed that the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York was investigating her surveillance discussions. They had been caught on tape by Bronx authorities who were conducting a separate investigation of Mr. Kerik.

It doesn’t get any better than this. Politics is indeed show business for ugly people, some of them sublimely stupid ugly people.

Dumbo Clocktower

September 26, 2006


In a rather confusing post, Dumbo NYC is reporting that two penthouses at 70 Washington St. have been purchased for $3.4 million and will be combined, which includes the clocktower space where I took a series of photos a couple of years ago (several of the Manhattan Bridge, above). I don’t really get it because the clocktower is the only penthouse space up there, unless someone purchased the floor below and is combining apartments that way. Regardless, the four, 16 foot-high clocktower windows that face in every direction, well, let’s just say the views are spectacular beyond description. To see the full slideshow, click here.

UPDATE: Apparently, I’m the one who’s confused (putting the dumb in Dumbo, if you will). The photos I took are from inside the Dumbo clocktower in 1 Main Street, not 70 Washington St. See comments.

Real Estate: Unplugged

September 26, 2006

Phew! If you want a no-holds-barred, bare-knuckle assessment of the real estate market, check out a Q&A in New York Magazine with Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics at the Stern School of Business at NYU. If this guy is even half-right, we’re in for a wild ride. Just a sampler:

…since 1997, real home prices have increased by about 90 percent. There is no economic fundamental—real income, migration, interest rates, demographics—that can explain this. It means there was a speculative bubble. And now that bubble is bursting.

And he’s just getting started.

Consider Tribeca

September 25, 2006

One of my new favorite blogs is The Built Environment, which recently posted about Tribeca.

TriBeCa is defined by its edges. Even the name — Triangle Below Canal — comes from its northern boundary, not a landmark like Flatiron or a geographic characteristic like Cobble Hill. It is this lack of a uniting feature, geographic or constructed, which causes TriBeCa to feel so decentralized and empty.

I like how The Built Enviornment integrates images with text to construct a post, rather than allowing one to merely support the other. Not to mention, it’s intelligent, well-thought out stuff (minus the tiresome need to snark everything up). To see this post and others, click here.

Photo Double Feature

September 24, 2006

flood03.jpgThe occasion of Katrina’s one year anniversary has naturally precipitated a lot of documentary activity, from Spike Lee’s HBO special “When the Levees Broke,” to architectural photographer Robert Polidori’s show at The Met, which I went to see recently (as well as Ecotopia at the International Center for Photography, which I’ll get to in a minute). As I stood there gazing at the large format photographs taken on four separate trips to New Orleans over the past year, it occurred to me how wide the gap has become between the time-space it takes to document and transmit these disasters all over the world (and even turn them into works of art), and the reality of actually recovering from these disasters. The former happens instantaneously, and the latter seems to take ever longer as the disaster recedes in the distance. There’s something a little disorienting about gazing at these tragically beautiful photos as if the event were something that happened long ago (a Times review of the show refers to New Orleans as “the modern Pompeii”). I understand the need to document and exhibit, but it seems to have the perverse effect of absolving us from having to face, in real time, the human suffering that is ongoing.

Oddly enough, the show at ICP, Ecotopia, did not have the effect of removing one from disaster, but transporting the observer closer to it. Perhaps that is because New Orleans hits so close to home, or perhaps because Polidori’s photos are almost like still lifes without a human or animal in site, while most of the picture-1.pngimages in Ecotopia include something that at least has the potential for movement. Even Mitch Epstein’s photo of the aftermath of Katrina in Biloxi shows the Gulf alive and well in the background. Many of the other images, from the tragic to the whimsical, succeed because there is humanity. Patrick Brown’s slideshow documents the poaching and trafficking of endangered species throughout Asiapicture-2.png while Harri Kallio recreated life-like dodo birds (which have been extinct since the late 1600s) and installed them in their native habitat on the Island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and photographed them. It’s a brilliant construct, not to mention a lot of work! The entire show is quite a comment on our anxiety about the world and its very survival, and the impact that’s having on art and culture. Definitely a must see. (Click to enlarge the images.)

BTW: Check out Xlist (Now Playing…) for short reviews of things seen, heard, read and experienced.

Sky Mirror Sucks

September 23, 2006

skymirror1.JPGBefore the Sky Mirror was even installed at Rockefeller Center, I wrote a post (click here) guessing that it would not compare well to The Bean in Chicago’s Millennium Park even though it’s by the same sculptor, Anish Kapoor. Alas, how right I turned out to be! It’s not at all interactive like the The Bean is; it’s not nearly as photographable, and you can’t really get near it. It’s a bigger disappointment than I imagined. Granted, it was a cloudy day, but really it’s just a big shiny satellite dish. The only good thing about the Sky Mirror is that it’s a temporary installation. Otherwise, it would be quite embarrassing to have such an inferior work of public art compared to Chicago.

Location: St. Marks Pl.

September 22, 2006


This flyer was posted outside my building. According to New York Songlines, St. Marks Place, particularly the block where I live (between 2nd and 3rd Aves.) has a rich history, including my own building where Abbie Hoffman lived in 1967-68 in a basement apartment and cooked up the Yippie movement. Others who have lived on the block include Lenny Bruce and Deee-Lite band members. Across the street was the Electric Circus that featured Andy Warhol and the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, the Velvet Underground, etc. Yoko Ono held “happenings” in the space that is now Trash and Vaudeville. I know St. Marks has made cameo appearances in several novels and films, but I’m unaware of any films based on the street itself. Recreating 1979 actually shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s a little cleaner, a whole lot safer (so I’m told) and there are some new restaurants, but there’s plenty of old school that still exists, like Trash and Vaudeville, Grassroots Tavern, the Sock Man, DoJos, Gem Spa, and the ubiquitous tattoo and body-piercing joints — not to mention regulars doing the heroin nod on the street, usually in front of what was a “deli” that sold crack pipes as recently as six months ago. P.S. The last picture in the flickr series at right was taken on St. Marks Pl. over the summer, and there’s a whole slide show under Photo Essays at the top.