Alec on HuffPo: New York and Me
14th August 2011
Although it was perhaps a tepid August news cycle that prompted Diane Cardwell to circle back for another view of my comments to Sarah Maslin Nir, I was bewildered by the thrust of Cardwell”s piece in The New York Times. The value of specific Central Park West property aside, my own included, (all of which is determined, last I checked, by market forces as opposed to individual edict) I nonetheless contend that the Upper West Side is the most middle class part of Manhattan where I have lived.
The Eldorado, covering any entire CPW block, is “tailpiped” along the north side of 90th Street and the south side of 91st, by public housing. The Upper West Side, particularly above 86th Street, has a lot of public housing.
While I have lived in the area from CPW to Riverside Drive and 96th Street to 72nd Street, the Upper West Side appears to have a more visible diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, diversity of income, and age than any other part of 212.
I am not an expert in the field of the economic and social demographics of NYC. However, in spite of the rise in costs of CPW real estate over the past 20 years (now nearly rivaling Fifth Avenue, which once seemed impossible), much of what I see between the Central Park and the Hudson River seems unchanged. And I”ve lived there for 25 years.
Yes, Teachers Too is gone. The Mayflower Hotel, streetwalkers on Upper Broadway and Williams Chicken, as well. The Central Park Conservancy appeared and gave New Yorkers their park back, while creating a role model for other such endeavors around the City.
Some of the celebrity residents of 300 CPW that Cardwell mentions are gone too. Moved to the less economically checkered East Side.
There are modernized subway stations along Broadway. Bike paths. Less funky antique shops. Less drug dealers along West 80th Street. But in terms of what I see, day to day, in Soho, TriBeCa, Upper East, Chelsea, the West or East Village, Flat Iron, the UWS is more middle class than any of those areas.
What Cardwell has against me selling my own apartment at market value is anyone”s guess. Does she plan to sell her own property based on this socialist index? In that case, call me.
Now for Sarah Maslin Nir.
In her aforementioned piece, Nir feels me out about the 2013 mayor”s race. (Another item from a slow news day when we”re talking about who may not be running for some office.) In it, I criticize Mayor Bloomberg and Christine Quinn.
Bloomberg is nothing less than a gentleman in person. Gracious. Affable. In the past, I have watched many politically astute and engaged friends fall under the spell of Bloomberg”s ultra-confident management aura. Many felt that the alternatives, at least in Bloomberg”s first two races, were untenable.
But Bloomberg”s position on banning anti-war protests during the 2004 Republican convention in the intellectual/media bastion of New York City turned my stomach.
The disposition of the 9-11 site has been handled inexplicably by city, state and federal officials. A ten-year anniversary looms, and nothing has materialized, other than plans for another White Elephant office tower in an area that was already overdeveloped at the time of the attacks. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in New York in February of 2002, outgoing Mayor Rudy Giuliani told a small crowd that none of the square footage lost in the attack needed to be replaced in order to protect the City”s inventory of commercial office space. I recall that event vividly because I was there.
Ten years of real estate titans and politicians “negotiating” to what end? What role has the mayor”s office, or the entire City government for that matter, played in bringing about the best result on behalf of all New Yorkers?
The term limits issue is another matter. Bloomberg”s detonation of a voter approved referendum seemed odd. What did he or the City stand to gain? Bloomberg leaves office as he entered it. A colossus in the world of finance with a deep, seemingly unsatisfied hunger for popular approval.
It is Quinn, however, who has her work cut out for her. Quinn, a tough, dedicated and once principled city council official with cred piled online casino high — both as a woman and an advocate for the LGBT community — is Bloomberg”s handmaiden. I believe unconscionably so.
Perhaps voters and media alike will forget Quinn”s poor judgment, the way they often do when the beneficiary of that action (Bloomberg) fades from view. But when Bloomberg is gone, New Yorker”s will have the chance to elect someone who is not incessantly and metronomically invoking the business model of governance. There are some out there who offer a possible return to a New York where the interests of its residents don”t come last, behind utilities, corporations, unions, developers and authorities like the MTA.
But Quinn is not one of them. Quinn is in the Quinn business, by way of the Bloomberg business. By way of selling out on the term limits issue in exchange for… what?
Don”t be surprised if Quinn pulls out a heartfelt apology for her “error in judgment” re: the term limits fiasco. Just around the same time that Bloomberg campaign operatives hand her the mother of all databases with which to raise funds.
My comments to Nir about going to school to specifically study issues involving the fiscal realities of running a city like New York actually was aimed at addressing concerns about other show business figures popping up in important races. Like running for governor of California on a resume that highlights leading the President”s Council on Physical Fitness.
Am I running for mayor? For any office? I”m not sure.
But I think I appreciate, understand and care about New Yorkers, regardless of my career as an actor (maybe as the result of it?) in spite of Diane Cardwell”s oddly snide suggestion to the contrary.(what is it about Times writers and money?) I thought that as a savvy writer for the Times, Cardwell understood the role of money, and thus the value of my apartment, vis a vis the campaign.
I hope I get a good deal on my apartment because I may need it. Bloomberg spent $90 million and beat Bill Thompson by a unexpectedly slim five-point margin. So, I”ll only have $81 million to go.
Originally posted in the Huffington Post 8/11/11 07:19 PM ET