Richard Nouveau’s So-Called Life

The e-mail from “Millie Margiotta” at the “Turtle Bay Association” looked convincing enough when we returned to the office this week: a neighborhood group was trying to raise hell about some skanky developer named “Richard Nouveau” who wanted to rename part of East 50th Street after himself. There are plenty of egotistical developers out there and plenty of hyperbolic neighborhood activists.

But it only took a Google search to find out that last week Metadish exposed the whole street renaming thing as a hoax. When we e-mailed “Millie” back asking if she hadn’t gotten the memo, “she” responded: “[T]his is unfortunately very real. We would love to speak with any members of the press in further detail.” So we called the number given, which was for the real Turtle Bay Association, of which a real Millie Margiotta is vice president.

“We know nothing about it,” the volunteer who answered the phone said. “Millie is trying to get in touch with people who are lawyers. Millie didn’t write this letter. She didn’t send it out.”

The e-mail includes a link to Concerned Citizens for Change, which has an awfully nice website, and also lists five prominent nonprofits as “partnering organizations.” (A link would only boost CCC’s already disturbingly high Google rating.)

“We have no knowledge of this organization whatsoever and did not enter into any partnership with them,” said Michael Seltzer, the president of the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers , one of the purported partners. “If they don’t change the website then we’ll have to seek out legal counsel to see what our options are.”

Richard Nouveau is more or less fictitious himself, a product of some viral marketing genius trying to stir up blogger buzz (or a lame item like this one) for a new magazine about ways to spend a lot of money in New York City.

One of them, apparently, is to get sued.

-Matthew Schuerman