Andrew Kozinn, the owner of Saint Laurie, the men’s tailor and clothier at 51st and Park Avenue, sounded worried. “I’m a child of the 60’s, and I did my fair share of protesting, and I don’t think I deserve to be a target,” Mr. Kozinn said the other day. “This time I don’t have the patience.”
What Mr. Kozinn was referring to, of course, was the upcoming World Economic Forum at the nearby Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Thursday, Jan. 31. He wasn’t specifically worried about the forum itself, but rather the expected insurgent delegation of protesters, whose predecessors have wreaked havoc at previous economic summits in Davos, Genoa and Seattle.
Mr. Kozinn, a man of small stature who, with his tortoise-shell glasses, looks something like an adult version of Harry Potter, said he was concerned that his natty store could become a potential target for the angriest protesters, who have been known to smash a window or two, or 250.
“Sure, we’re selling clothing for the successful and the people who can afford it, but I would hate to be a target because of our bourgeois clothing,” Mr. Kozinn said. “Protest, fine, but I don’t know what would happen if they started breaking windows. I worry about what I would do–and let me tell you, it wouldn’t be run. It had crossed my mind; I have a nightstick.”
Mr. Kozinn wasn’t the only one in the neighborhood who was considering his or her defense options. When the organizers of the World Economic Forum decided to move their 2002 meeting from the remote Alpine village of Davos, Switzerland, to the Waldorf, which takes up the block of Park Avenue between 49th and 50th streets, they couldn’t have picked a better neighborhood to display the spoils of capitalism. But they also picked an accessible one. Davos was pretty hard for Oberlin kids and Black Bloc anarchists to get to, but with the Waldorf just down the street from Grand Central, and a whole host of activists–supporting everything from anti-globalization, animal rights and Mumia to rain forests, paganism and “magickal” powers–have pledged to show up.
And that means an intense weekend for the residents and businesses in the area and particularly the Waldorf itself, which is home to, among others, oil heiress Lilly Lawrence, Ron Perelman ex Patricia Duff, and the table-dancing hotel heiresses, Paris and Nicky Hilton.
Pamela Graber, the executive director of the Waldorf Towers, said she expects a controlled weekend. “We started planning four to six weeks ago,” Mr. Graber said. “We feel that the quality of service will be the same as always.”
Not surprisingly, the police will be out in force. Some 4,000 officers will be in the area from Jan. 31 through Feb. 4; a departmental spokeswoman said that 49th Street will be closed between Third and Madison avenues, and 50th Street between Third and Fifth avenues, for the duration of the forum. Police are also planning a series of vehicle checkpoints–at 46th and Park, at 49th and Lexington, and at 51st and Lexington. (The police have also designated a permitted protest area at 50th and Park Avenue, right next to the Waldorf.)
Mike McNamara, the manager of 485 Park Avenue at 58th Street, a residential building, said he had full faith in the NYPD. Still, he said he was worried that the two jewelry stores on either side of his building might attract looting if things got out of hand.
“I read in The New York Times that they [the protesters] view big corporations as legitimate targets,” Mr. McNamara said. He said he’s also worried about Citigroup, which is right across the street from the Waldorf.
But down the block, Jenner Lopez, a doorman at the Ritz Tower, said the residents at his building hadn’t expressed much concern.
“To be honest, I don’t think it’s affected them in any way. I haven’t heard anything from them,” Mr. Lopez said. Then again, he said, “if I started worrying about every little thing, I’d be dead.”
Mr. Lopez said that if a riot broke out, he’d just close the Ritz’s door. That was also the strategy at the nearby Mercedes dealership at 56th and Park. “All we can do is close our doors,” said Frank Cantave, a sales manager there.
But Mr. Kozinn, feeling feisty, said he might be a little more confrontational if pushed.
“I’d come after them with a bolt!” Mr. Kozinn said. “I’d smother them with wool!”
How to Schwing Your Way Onto Saturday Night Live
Amy Poehler, one of the newest cast members of Saturday Night Live , was having lunch at Serafina on Lafayette Street. She wore a red sweater and jeans, said “yes, sir” to the waiter and referred to me once as “the gentleman.”
I told Ms. Poehler if I asked a question she didn’t like, she could say “skip.”
“‘What’s your bra size ?'” Ms. Poehler said, erupting. ” Skip ! That’s your first question: ‘How do you like to do it?'”
After 11 episodes of SNL, Ms. Poehler, 30, is becoming more visible, appearing in as many as five sketches a show. But when she took a knitting class recently, the teacher was suspicious. The teacher asked Ms. Poehler: “They introduce you in the beginning ?”
Recently, however, she had opened a bank account at Citibank, and the guy at the bank was impressed. “He goes, ‘ Saturday Night Live ! How’d you schwing that?'” Ms. Poehler said. “And I’m like, ‘How did I schwing it? I just schwung it.'”
Ms. Poehler grew up in Massachusetts. Her parents were schoolteachers.
“My mother took too many Valiums and smashed the mirror,” she said in a fake theatrical voice. “My father came downstairs, and he said, ‘You stupid drunk,’ and slapped her. And I ran to take the car and meet the teenage hoodlum by the Dairy Queen, and I got pregnant by my professor, robbed a liquor store. And I used to throw up in empty milk cartons and hide them under my bed.”
She was kidding around, of course. Ms. Poehler attended Boston College, joined an improv troupe, got hooked and moved to Chicago in 1993 to study at Second City. She lived cheaply, rode her bike everywhere, did catering.
“I was never desperate,” she said. “I sucked dick by choice, not by necessity.”
In 1995, Ms. Poehler’s group–the four-person Upright Citizens Brigade–moved to Manhattan, found an old burlesque theater, put on crazy fake heads and handed out fliers on Astor Place. U.C.B. turned into a major hit. Ms. Poehler still performs on Sunday nights at U.C.B.’s West 22nd Street theater, in an improv show called “A.S.S.S.S.A.T.” She now lives in Tribeca, with two dogs and a boyfriend.
I had an “homage to Amy” I found on the Internet. Some guy had written a poem: Methinks you truly are a goddess / Thou are likened to a flower / I hope I don’t make you nauseous .
Ms. Poehler scanned the poem. “I like this,” she said. “Oh, my! Wow, that’s very nice.
“My father loves to, like, check out the news groups and tell me about it, and finally I’ll just be like, ‘I can’t, I don’t want to hear anymore about it,'” Ms. Poehler continued. “News groups are brutal: ‘What’s up with the ugly girl?!!! Her face looks like … ‘ or ‘I’d fuck her, but only from behind!'”
Ms. Poehler said she’s learned how to deal with fame, but she still gets annoyed. “There are certain professions where people feel like if they wanted to they could do [it], which they could never do,” she said. “Especially SNL –everyone’s grown up with it, they’ve seen it, they have big opinions about it, and they think that you want to hear them. It’s like, everybody I know that is successfully working has worked really hard and really paid their dues. I guess as you get older, it’s like”–and here Ms. Poehler switched to a crazy-old-lady voice–”‘I used to stand outside in Chicago 10 years ago and hand out fliers and nobody came.'”
Ms. Poehler paused. “It’s like the banker guy asking me, ‘How did you schwing that?'” she said. “Oh, I guess I worked 10 years to get on the show. I guess I gave up making money for 10 years. I guess I decided not to do what you did, which was to have a steady job and own a house. I gave up 10 years of that–so I guess that’s how I schwung it.”