Last night, on the eve of a verdict that will decide the fate of the incarcerated members of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot, an array of musicians, artists, activists and feminists amassed at the Ace Hotel to hear the words of the imprisoned Maria Alyekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnokova and Yekaterina Samutsevich. Letters from prison, lyrics to their songs and the women’s opening and closing statements from the trial were read aloud by a collaborative force made up of Riot Grrrls, a sexual limit pusher, a poet, an artist, a transgendered avant-garde cabaret singer and one Chloë Sevigny.
The members of the politically motivated group have been in a pre-trial detention center since March after a guerrilla performance inside the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in which they were only able to execute a 40 second rendition of their song “Our Lady, Chase Putin Out” before getting escorted out by security guards. The women could be facing a three-year prison sentence for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” Pussy Riot adamantly denies any malice to Catholicism; they maintain they were only making an artistic political statement. Over the past month, support for Pussy Riot has poured in from the likes of Madonna, Paul McCartney and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Peaches has released a tribute song, all proceeds will go to the band’s legal fees.
Karen Finley, performance artist and one of the most animated readers of the night gave The Observer her stance on the trial: “There’s a history of the church being a place for prayer but also for speaking one’s mind. Yes, we’re using these larger-than-life statements, but that’s part of the art and the expression.”
Imagine, if you will, the landscape of New York City 15 years hence. A drive to Citi Field in Willets Point takes you past a pleasant if overpriced cluster of residential buildings, rather than seedy chop-shops. Roosevelt Island is home to a sprawling $2 billion applied-sciences campus spinning out an army of developers to populate ping-pong-table-clad start-up clusters from Dumbo to Union Square. On Manhattan’s far West Side, the rezoned stretch of Hudson Yards offers millions of square feet for office space, housing and retail and 14 acres of open public space. You can already see traces of a more built-up, scrubbed-down New York in Luna Park’s freshly-painted Scream Zone, the first new roller-coasters Coney Island has seen in 80 years, and the rapidly-metastasizing arena at Atlantic Yards, which will soon play home court to the rebranded Brooklyn Nets.
It’s hardly a scenario Seth Pinsky could have imagined in September 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed just seven months into his tenure as president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), a not-for-profit arm of the Mayor’s office charged with fostering economic growth across the five boroughs.
At the time, Mr. Pinsky was a 36-year-old former lawyer and investment analyst, only a few years removed from a private sector gig refinancing real estate deals for the big banks as an associate at Cleary Gottlieb. He had one big win under his belt—jump-starting the World Trade Center redevelopment project—but he didn’t have “a political bone in his body,” as one insider put it. “People kept saying to me, ‘Wow, you’re the head of the Economic Development Corporation? We’re in an economic meltdown!’’ Mr. Pinsky told The Observer.
“At the time it meant, ‘You must be really crazy.’”
Perhaps the best way to describe Angela Pinsky’s advocacy for the real estate industry is by saying that when she joined the Real Estate Board of New York almost two years ago, she didn’t see her job as much different from the one she was leaving in the mayor’s office.
“I work on a lot of the same issues,” said Ms. Pinsky, who married Economic Development Corporation head Seth Pinsky last summer. “The thing about the real estate industry, it’s very civic minded. Many owners are family businesses and there’s this strong tradition in the industry of wanting projects and policies that are best not just for the industry’s own interests, but for the entire city.
Departing Deputy Mayors
Bob Lieber is moving on.
The deputy mayor for economic development since 2008, Mr. Lieber today announced he would be leaving the Bloomberg administration to work with real estate investor and former Andrew Cuomo employer Andrew Farkas, founder of one-time powerhouse firm Insignia (which later became CB Richard Ellis) and a person who had Read More
Felix Ciampa, chief of staff to Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Bob Lieber, is headed to work for the Dolans.
Mr. Ciampa will take a job as a senior vice president for government affairs at Madison Square Garden, a mayoral spokesman confirmed, a company that was recently spun off from Dolan family-owned Cablevision Read More
A repetitive refrain filled City Hall’s council chambers on Tuesday morning. For a good hour at a zoning committee hearing on the contentious plan to redevelop the Bronx’s Kingsbridge Armory into a mall, council member after council member battered the Bloomberg administration and the developer, the Related Companies, with a similar line of questioning: Given Read More
Gary Barnett wrote a letter. It was nine paragraphs and it circulated earlier this year to people like Michael Bloomberg, David Axelrod and Larry Summers.
“Even someone with a good job today is afraid to spend, because he is afraid he will not have a job a few months down the road.”
Mr. Read More
In the universe of the city budget, cuts are everywhere.
Nowhere was this more apparent than the city’s capital budget, the decade-long plan that pays for new parks, schools, firehouses, infrastructure and economic development with $47 billion in city funds. The Bloomberg administration is proposing to shrink its capital spending by about $8 billion from Read More
The Bloomberg administration is bullish on the future of Wall Street.
Bob Lieber, the deputy mayor for economic development and a former Lehman Brothers executive himself (he left when times were still good), was asked at a New York Building Congress forum on Tuesday morning what the Bloomberg administration was doing Read More
The Bloomberg administration is bullish on the future of Wall Read More