New York City

From the time that he announced he was running for Governor more than three years ago, to his shocking, embarassing political downfall on Monday afternoon, I never cared for Eliot Spitzer. To me, he embodied the type of politician, so ambitious to rise in stature that he would do all he could to crush dissent.

Where he was once described as crusading, tough, principaled and ethical, the words most closely attached with the shamed New York governor are now arrogance, brashness, conceit and hubris. Spitzer’s meteoric rise will always be seen in the light of his trysts with high-priced hookers, rather than any of the good he did or may have ended up doing for his state.

I suspect that Spitzer never really cared so much about the end result of New York State because his eyes were set on other sights; Justice Department, State Department or maybe even the White House. To Spitzer, dealing with the disparate factions of this diverse state were likely an annoyance, he seemed so much the man to look down on others.

When it was announced here in Albany that he was involved in a prostitution ring, even his own party members seemed to chuckle. This was not a man well-liked by many of those who dealt with him. It was just not easy to have sympathy for the “Steamroller”, the “Sheriff of Wall Street”. Down in in the City, the Wall Street traders rejoiced, handing out cigars, buying strangers drinks and giving ecstatic high fives.

Although most of Spitzer’s high-profile targets from his days as New York Attorney General didn’t say it, we know that in their cavernous offices, behind their cherry wood desks they felt free to let loose their pleasure with his downfall.

One who wasn’t so mum, Kenneth Langone, a former New York Stock Exchange boardmember told CNBC he hoped that the Governor, who had once tried to bury him to make some headlines, would roast in the fires of his own hell.


It’s been more than two years since I moved out of New York City. I live about two-and-a-half hours north of the city in the state capital, where I am from originally, but my four years in New York City–Brooklyn in particular–have definately shaped me.

I always saw myself as living in New York City some day and in May of 2001, recovering from a bout of depression suffered at college in Boston, I took the summer to live with friends in Brooklyn instead of going home to my parents’ place.

I’d been to the city many times, but it took me just three weeks there to decide I wanted to live there and so I stayed, transferring to my alma mater, Brooklyn College where I would eventually graduate.

I really love that place and as expensive, grimey and frustrating as it can be, I miss it and surely will choose to live there again at some point.

This morning the New York Times City Room blog was updated with an article about the late Marvin Franklin, a Metropolitan Transit Authority track worker who was killed last spring while doing work on the notoriously pokey G-train line in Brooklyn.

Franklin’s story is one that is not particuarly dramatic, but interesting all the same. A lot of people take jobs that are not personally interesting or invigorating to them. They spend precious years of their lives toiling away at projects that speak neither to their personal ambitions or their soul. Marvin Franklin was apparently different. The veteran transit worker was an experienced artist who used the setting of his work-a-day life as inspiration for his drawings and paintings.

Three years away from retirement, Franklin, according to several articles about his death, was gearing up for a career teaching fine arts.

Unfortunately for Mr. Franklin, a subway car crushed him to death before he could realize his ambition. Fortunately for us, Mr. Franklin’s work is on display at the MTA museum in Brooklyn.

Because Mr. Franklin did so much work reflecting one of the largest transit systems in the world, the museum with the assistance of his union, has selected to display his images of subway riders and homeless station dwellers.

New York City’s subway system are the veins that carry it’s lifeblood. As corny as that sounds, anyone who has lived in New York City for even a few months knows that its trains and cavernous, dark tunnels become a part of their life. All of us who have lived in New York City have waited with sleepy eyes and tired muscles at some stop late at night be it Bay Ridge Avenue in Brooklyn, 170th in the Bronx or Whitehall in Manhattan, waiting, waiting, waiting for our train to arrive.

We’ve all seen minutae, malaise and drama on the train. I once saw a man beat his girlfriend on a Bronx-bound 4-train, a drunk Brooklyn teenager drop his trousers and pee all  over an R-Train car or a rude evangelist get booed out of a car. The train is a stage in New York’s theater. It unites all New Yorkers, visitors and tourists, if even for a three station trip.

Looking at pictures of Mr. Franklin’s art work, I can see that the artist was able to really capture that. Not knowing much about art, I can only say it reminds me a little bit about some of Edward Hopper’s New York City scenes. People become a part of the setting while at the same time the subject.

I look forward to visiting his exhibition in Brooklyn the next time I go down to the city. Looking at his pictures really makes me miss the place that I cursed and shouted at under my breath. It’s too bad he didn’t long enough live to teach his craft.

Unless you’ve been in a cave, you know full well that the Boston Red Sox won the World Series for the second time in four years.

Of course, if you know that the Sox have won the highest honor in the baseball world, you know that there’s been some shakeups in the New York Yankees organization:

  • Joe Torre out
  • Alex Rodriguez gone
  • Joe Girardi hired as manager
  • Don Mattingly
  • Larry Bowa leaving

Before you know it, there will be other changes. Don’t bet on Ron Guidry coaching pitchers next year or even the staple of the Yankees four series titles, Mariano Rivera, even wearing pinstripes in the 2008 season. Add to that Jorge Posada leaving, and you could see a vastly different Yankees roster on April 1.

It’s clear that the Sox ascendency as the best team in the American League has George Steinbrenner and his son Hank in fumes (it has me in fumes and I’m a Mets fan). Therefore, the Steinbrenners, and their henchmen Brian Cashman needed a scapegoat and they got it in Joe Torre. (more…)

I know what they say, if you’re a New York Mets fan you’re supposed to loathe and despise the New York Yankees. It’s expected that if the crosstown Bronx Bombers are playing out in Los Angeles against the Angels, you root, root, root your ass off so that they suffer some type of on-field meltdown or catastrophe: Jason Giambi getting a golden sombrero, Derek Jeter jamming his shoulder sliding into third, A-Rod being emotionally too fragile to drive in the man from third, Mariano Rivera blowing a four-run lead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. All these things can be kind of amusing when one is surrounded by obnoxiously over confident Yankees fans, but if it helps out the Boston Red Sox I want no part of it.

I’m going to say in the blogosphere what I’ve been saying to my insipid Yankee-hating, Red Sox fan roommate about his beloved boys from Boston: I will never, never, never root for the Sox over the Bombers so long as I live. That’s a promise.

All grudges are based on something personal, and I will be the first to admit that my hatred of the Boston Red Sox may have some personal foundations. For a while before I moved to Brooklyn (I live in Albany now), I was a college student in Boston and had to endure the constant whining, crying, self-important insistence that by virtue of the fact that the Red Sox hadn’t won the World Series since before radio broadcasts existed I was somehow an ass for not routing for them.

Going to Emerson College for two semesters, a school known for it’s not so manly guys, I was was familiar with the fact that many guys who move to the city to go to school adopt the Sox as their favorite team. They do it for several reasons: A) Their fathers never threw the ball around with them as a kid and it was their first time to really connect to a sports franchise, B) Being in the “Hub” they believe that they must root for the team that is most associated with Boston and C) That by routing for the Red Sox they are pulling for a team that is somehow more genuine, real, and less corrupted than the other profit-driven teams in Major League Baseball, particularly the “Evil Empire” in the Bronx, the New York Yankees.

Certainly, I will never admit to being a New York Yankees fan. For four years I dated a girl who lived on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx and we would have to agree to disagree about which team was more likable in New York. But never during our relationship and subsequent friendship have she and I differed over who we would support should the Yankees make the trip up the Mass Pike to Beantown or the Sox head down the Taconic Parkway to play one another. We were always on the same page: Go Yanks!!!

It disturbs me a bit when I hear fellow Mets fans say that they were happy when the Yankees imploded in the 2004 American League Championship Series against the Sox. Having watched every pitch of the 2003 series in my Bay Ridge apartment and nearly every pitch of the 2004 rematch, I’ll admit that I had a little too much invested in the Sox losing, but I must say that liking the Mets in no way should require one to root against the Yankees arch nemesis on Yawkey Way.

So where does this impervious and peculiar bedfellowship with the Yankees come from, particularly when in recent years the crop of Yankees players with their arrogance and cowardice (Giambi, Kevin Brown, Gary Sheffield, Tom Gordon, Carl Pavano) have driven me nuts with a mixture of anger and glee? It comes not from a hatred of Red Sox players or fans, for to take sports that seriously is a little bit frightening. Rather, my dislike of the Boston Red Sox comes from an attitude imbued by Fenway fanatics that theirs is somehow a benevolent team cast unfairly against a heartless, soulless divisional foe that is resembles more of a comic book crime syndicate than a professional sports franchise.

The attitude that New England’s favorite sports team was worthy of a World Championship in a sport that embodies the spirit of capitalism and competition as well as baseball without earning it really bothered me. That spirit was conversely what caused the the Sox to win the Series to fairly and squarely beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. Still, doesn’t mean I should ever have rooted for them. And so I didn’t. I never will. Ever. Did I say that already.

I think that a lot of the bitterness that exists from Red Sox towards the Yankees fans has less to do with baseball than it has to do with an alienation over the fact that New York City is a far bigger and influential town than the city of 500,000 on the banks of the Charles River. I’ll never forget being told over and over again by New Englanders at Emerson that New York City sucked, that New Yorkers were rude and arrogant and entitled, just like I’ll never forget during the 2000 World Series against the Yankees walking on Massachusetts Avenue wearing my Mets cap and being approached by guy with a Sox shirt who stopped me to say, “Fuck New York”, before walking away into the bittahness of his life.