The press release from a publicist trumpeting some scintillating (or often, not so scintillating) “news” that was broken hours earlier in a Wall Street Journal or New York Times exclusive—what journalist doesn’t hate that? Of course, such breathless communiqués hardly ever make mention of the fact that all of the information being “revealed” is already available in a rival publication and has, at that point, usually been blogged about by several other websites.
It’s a thorn in the side of every journalist—that is, every journalist who doesn’t work at the Journal or the Times—an indignity that is usually borne with under-the-breath invective, some grousing to one’s immediate neighbors and an occasional, pointed email to said publicist informing them that your publication would have been interested in covering this had the Journal not published a story on it hours earlier saying everything there was to say.
The good news is that the City Planning Commission does not agree with those who want Madison Square Garden to disappear from its current location within 10 years.
The bad news is that the commission wants the Garden gone in 15 years. The Dolan family, which owns the Garden and its teams, had been hoping for a permit that would have allowed the Garden to remain on its current site in perpetuity.
This page supported the Dolan family’s position, but it appears to be doomed. Despite investing hundreds of millions in private funds to renovate the Garden in recent years, the Dolans apparently are no longer welcome to operate the world’s most-famous arena above Penn Station.
Every year, after being inundated by the various social responsibilities of the holiday season as well as various boisterous New Year’s soirées, the city’s movers and shakers take a perennial pause. Jet-setters dash off to the Caribbean, fashion mavens begin migrating to Milan and Paris, and socialites take to the slopes of Deer Valley and Aspen. Shindigger, your genteel stalwart, was in search of VIP action last week, but immediate options were scarce. That is, until we received a welcome “howdy” to partake in the Professional Bull Riders’ VIP schedule of events. Was Shindigger ready to exchange hefty pours of Veuve Clicquot for Pabst Blue Ribbon? Why the hell not?
On January 4, outfitted in our finest Western attire, we trotted into a clandestine palatial lounge space in the bowels of Madison Square Garden. (Yes—Shindigger does own a cowboy hat and some flannel for times such as these.) This was the Professional Bull Riders’ opening night VIP reception, hosted by model Chrissy Teigen. Top-ranked bull riders L.J. Jenkins and J.B. Mauney and NASCAR star Kyle Busch—ever the rebel, he uses his full name as opposed to rodeo-friendly initials—also made brief appearances at the opening festivities.
The MAS Summit has been going on for the past two days, and it has been a cornucopia of delights for the city-obsessed, full of zany proposals for affordable housing, green buildings, starchitecture, community-based development and a giant floating doughnut hovering over Grand Central. But so far the most thrilling moment was deliver by The Times‘ architecture critic Michael Kimmelman during a discussion capping day one with the Municipal Art Society’s president, Vin Cipolla.
The two of them basically meandered through a bunch of Mr. Kimmelman’s columns from his first year on the job, and the first question was about Penn Station, when the critic had the audacity to tell the Dolans to scram. He still believes it is one of the most pressing planning issues in the city all these months after he wrote the piece. “I think there’s a hunger to do something about this site, which I think is a blight on millions of people’s lives every single day,” Mr. Kimmelman explained.
By now it is received wisdom that the city’s preservation movement got its start the day Penn Station was torn down, and it has been galvanized ever since “to put a stop to the wanton destruction of our greatest buildings” by “would-be vandals” of the real estate trade, as a protest ad published 50 years ago tomorrow once loudly declared in The Times.
Both sides are still at it, but The Times’ Building Blocks columnist David Dunlap provides a tantalizing window on how it all began, including a glimpse at the above ad an a protest that followed on Seventh Avenue, a doomed fight that shocked generations into action.
Pity poor Mike D’Antoni, former coach of the NY Knickerbockers.
While you’re at it, pity poor Larry Brown, and poor Lenny Wilkens, and poor Don Chaney, and poor Jeff Van Gundy.
Jeremy Lin’s rocketing stardom is a game-changer, in more than a few ways. For one thing, the Knicks are winning and the Garden’s regularly packed, nowadays. For another, besides breaking records as the first Harvard grad since the 50s to play in the NBA, and only the fourth Asian-American to play in the league, he might be one of the few NBA players who can claim to have made a significant impact on financial markets.
Despite his lack of formal design training, Michael Kimmelman has excited many readers, both architecturally adept and not, with his focus on urban issues. The Observer has begun to hear some grumbles, however, that that is all he cares about—bike lanes here, old housing projects over there, riverfronts a world away. What does he think of the Atlantic Yards apartment buildings or the World Trade Center Memorial. Won’t he weigh in on some capital-a Architecture already?
Well, today, as always seems to happen, he has done us one better.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
When we first expressed interest in attending the Professional Bull Riders event last weekend at Madison Square Garden, PR man Jack Carnefix apprised us of the rules. Number one, we must “buckle up.” Number two, if we “go on Friday [we’re] going to want to come back Saturday. And if we go Saturday [we’re] going to want to come back on Sunday.”
(It is important to note at this point that The Transom is a wire-thin arts reporter, a Brit whose Queen’s English and Hugh Grantish stammer sounds like a royal parody.)
With weekend plans disregarded, there followed an anxious ride on the metro to Penn Station, early Friday afternoon, wondering what to expect. Will the bulls be chasing a fox? Would there be a ringleader with a bugle? Should we have bought our jodhpurs?
On our arrival, we joined the herd of cowboy hats and flannel shirts streaming into the arena, welcomed by the sound of Kenny Rodgers’s “Oh Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town.” At the bar more burly blokes in flannels and their denim-clad lasses drank Jack Daniels, all the time singing to an obscure compilation of country music that was foreign to this Englishman’s ears.
It appears New York is not as American as one had imagined. Or rather, is very American, but only when you give it a chance to be.
Not the Beer
PBR (Professional Bull Riders) stuck two of its finest bulls in front of the Stock Exchange this afternoon, in a bid to promote this weekends opening of the Built Ford Tough Series at Madison Square Garden.