New York’s Finest Work Mayor Mike’s Chichi Shindig
For what may have been the first-but certainly won’t be the last-time, 79th Street between Fifth and Madison avenues (a.k.a. Mayor Bloomberg’s front yard) was turned into a frozen zone on Feb. 6. The occasion was, of course, the Pataki political fund-raiser attended by, among others, George W. Bush.
The atmosphere was somewhat surreal as one of the city’s main thoroughfares was transformed into a parking lot for the President’s waiting motorcade. Inside, couples had paid $25,000 to bask briefly in the Commander in Chief’s boyish charm. And brief the basking was: Mr. Bush wasn’t at the soirée for a half hour before it was time to go.
The army of cops assigned the task of safeguarding the leader of the free world that evening seemed to spend less time looking out for protesters or terrorists than acting as valets, helping the guests connect with their limo drivers. At one point, an Emergency Service Unit cop could be seen escorting an older lady in a white designer coat (and rather stunning diamond earrings) away from the frozen zone, her arm draped over his.
“Mrs. Thurston Howell III,” one cop commented to another.
Just then, a tan town car pulled up. “I’ve got to pick up Mr. Lefrak,” the driver told one of the officers stationed at 79th and Madison. “He’s at the party.”
“He’s got to come here,” the cop told the driver, denying him passage beyond the barriers and suggesting that his charge would have to walk to the corner, even though the car’s license plate said “Commissioner Emeritus.”
“You just told the commissioner to go fuck himself,” a fellow officer observed.
The cops had never seen such a license plate before, but it didn’t overly impress them. “If you pay the state enough, they’ll sell you any plate you want,” one of them shrugged.
The irreverence in the air probably had more to do with the cops’ attempts to ward off the cold by entertaining themselves than their attitudes toward a cocktail party that was costing roughly half their annual salary.
While the President’s tank-like limo banged a U’ey, a white-haired gentleman wandered over from the direction of the Mayor’s home. “I’m looking for my security,” he told several community-affairs officers gathered on Fifth Avenue. He turned out to be Richard Riordan, the former mayor of Los Angeles.
Mr. Riordan explained that while he no longer rules the City of Angels, he rates an LAPD driver because he’s running for governor of the nation’s largest state. After shooting the breeze with the officers, the easygoing politician departed with community-affairs officer Daniel Badillo of the 19th Precinct in search of his chauffeur.
A few minutes later, a man wearing a hat and a beard and looking, for all the world, like an Orthodox rabbi came running towards Fifth Avenue shouting, “Governor! Governor!” There was general consensus among the cops that the fellow wasn’t a religious leader but, in fact, Mr. Riordan’s sought-after driver.
If there was any confusion as to his identity, it was only because Governor Pataki’s chauffeur was apparently also looking for his employer, and because Mr. Riordan must still win a Republican primary and a general election before he can officially be addressed by that title.
Speaking of winners and losers, one of the first guests to spring from the Mayor’s mansion after President Bush and his motorcade departed was former Senator Alfonse D’Amato. He walked down the middle of Madison Avenue with an attractive young woman on his arm.
Mr. D’Amato was wearing a solemn expression of the sort one gets after having just had face time with the most powerful man on the planet-or when one is limo-less and searching for a cab on a cold winter night in Manhattan when there are none to be found.
Besides criticizing a person’s kids, attacking the family pet is probably the best way to change someone’s mood in a hurry. One young man discovered this firsthand on Jan. 22. The 27-year-old Connecticut resident told police that he had been in St. Catherine’s Park on First Avenue and 68th Street around noon when he observed a dog hogging a park bench. He was not pleased to see the beast sitting where he felt he didn’t belong, and told the dog’s master as much.
Not surprisingly, the dog owner disagreed. Indeed, he thought his dog had as much right to a seat as anyone else. So the complainant decided to help the other guy’s best friend off the bench. At that point, the dog owner-a 62-year-old East 73rd Street resident-apparently took the liberty of punching the fellow in the face.
According to a cross-complaint filed by the pet’s owner, he was visiting the park with his canine companion when the perp yelled, “Your dog doesn’t belong inside the park!” In addition to giving the pooch the bum’s rush, the Connecticut man also kicked and punched the dog, according to his master.
The older gentleman claims he merely pushed the assailant away and called the cops. When the NYPD arrived, both combatants took the opportunity to file harassment complaints against each other.