People Who Talk During Movies: Shouldn’t They Be Banned?

When faced, at the movies, with obnoxious fellow audience members who are talking or kicking the back of your chair, you have two basic options (unless, of course, their banter is better than the dialogue onscreen): You can confront them and risk physical injury, or you can move to another seat.

A June 29 incident at the Clearview movie house at 400 East 62nd Street suggests that the latter is the wiser course. At 8:45 p.m., the victim (who was attending a screening, where the assumption is that you’ll encounter a slightly higher caliber of moviegoer) told the police that his viewing pleasure was marred by three noisy males seated nearby.

So the complainant, a West 106th Street resident, turned around and “told the perps to be quiet,” as the cops later put it in their unembellished prose. Perhaps he wasn’t as diplomatic as he might have been; then again, folks who prefer to settle verbal disagreements through violence probably don’t require a lot of provocation. In any event, once the movie was finished, the three men confronted the moviegoer and punched him in the face.

The good thing about screenings isn’t just that they’re free, but that there’s usually a guest list, as indeed was the case here. So although a canvass of the area by police had negative results, there’s still some hope that justice will be done: Movie Exchange, the host of the screening, took down not only the names, but also the demographic information of all the audience members.

In other words, with a little effort, the cops might well be able to determine not only the suspects’ identities, but also their annual incomes and how much they spend on DVD’s each month. Furthermore, the victim, who received medical attention at the scene for redness and pain to his face, assured the police that he’d be able to ID his assailants.

Trust Me, I’m Rich

It’s a sad commentary on the commodification of the art market that you can probably get better service from dealers by dropping the brand name of your luxury car than, say, engaging in a discussion of Max Ernst.

At least that’s the strategy one shopper employed on July 5 when she entered the Hilde Gerst gallery at 987 Madison Avenue and informed the saleswoman on duty that she wanted to start an art collection. She added that she had $200,000 to blow on that questionable goal (questionable in the sense that, as anyone who owns art will tell you, it’s such a speculative investment that you’d probably be better off playing Powerball).

As proof of her purchasing power, the suspect—who was described as 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, with dreadlocks—added that she’d recently bought a $100,000 Maybach. Then, giving time for that information to sink in, she asked to use the bathroom. When she returned, she announced that she “had to feed the meter” and drop off her bags and quickly departed the gallery.

After she left, the saleswoman went into the office—which happens to be adjacent to the bathroom—and discovered that her Nicole Miller pocketbook was missing. It contained $200, an additional $200 in Australian money, a $40 Ann Taylor wallet, a $150 Sprint cell phone, an N.Y.U. ID card, a Texas driver’s license and a credit card.

The wallet was recovered at Saks Fifth Avenue, and her credit-card company indicated that there’d been unauthorized charges made with the card. The 21-year-old saleswoman, who resides in the N.Y.U. summer housing downtown, told the police that she suspects the alleged “collector” made off with her latest acquisition in one of the bags she was carrying before fleeing not in her Maybach, but in a common taxi cab.

Looted Lit

Unattended-property crime—in other words, letting your attention stray from your possessions because of an implicit (and unwarranted) belief in the honesty of your fellow man—is the most common crime on the Upper East Side.

So the question arises: How long can you take your eyes off your property before it goes missing? The answer seems to be “Not very long,” if an incident on July 4 is any indication. An employee of Crawford Doyle, the bookseller at 1082 Madison Avenue whose first editions are a welcome respite from the designer dresses, jewels and bric-a-brac that bedeck the windows of the average upscale Madison Avenue boutique, was opening the store’s front gate at around 11:40 a.m. when the alarm went off.

He dropped the bag he was carrying and rushed inside to silence it. Upon his return, however, he discovered that the bag was gone. We can only hope that the crook who made off with it has a literary bent; if not, he is certain to feel poorly compensated for his efforts. The bag contained a copy of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, valued at $500; three Virginia Woolf books worth $1,000; a copy of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged; and what was described as a rare children’s book valued at $50.

To prevent unattended-property crime, the police suggest that you always be aware of your surroundings, err on the side of caution when it comes to human nature, and never let your valuables out of your grasp if you can help it.