May 10, 2007

she was dancing so hard
she danced herself into a diamond

Tom McGrath, TBT (Dusk Grid), 2007, oil on canvas over panel

* From Harper's June 2007:

-- Rank of New Orleans among cities with the highest per-capita murder rate last year: 1

-- Portion of all Internet traffic today that is file sharing of music, films, and videos: 2/3

-- Amount Lockheed Martin has spent so far on Polecat, a new unmanned stealth aircraft: $27,000,000

-- Date on which the only prototype crashed when the self-destruct mode was accidentally activated: 12/18/06

-- Number of the sixteen states of the South where more than 25 percent of adults are clinically obese: 12

-- Percentage change since 1900 in Americans' average leisure time: 0

* Oh Rudy: Guiliani went to bat for the Yanks, and look what he scored. excerpt [it's long but worth the read]:

"The greatest love affair of Rudy Giuliani's life has become a sordid scandal.
His monogamous embrace of the Yankees as mayor was so fervent that when he tried to deliver a West Side stadium to them early in his administration, or approved a last-minute $400 million subsidy for their new Bronx stadium, New Yorkers blithely ascribed the bad deals to a heaving heart.

"It turns out he also had an outstretched hand.

"Sports fans grew accustomed to seeing Giuliani, in Yankee jacket and cap, within camera view of the team's dugout at every one of the 40 postseason home games the Yankees played while he was mayor. His devotion reached such heights that at the 1995 Inner Circle press dinner, he played himself handing the city over to George Steinbrenner in a lampoon version of the Broadway musical Damn Yankees, succumbing to a scantily clad Lola who importuned him on behalf of the Boss to the tune of 'Whatever Lola Wants (Lola Gets).' Mike Bloomberg understood years later that the song was no joke; he nixed Rudy's stadium deal in his first weeks in office.

"It is only now, however, as Giuliani campaigns for president, that we are beginning to learn that this relationship went even deeper. Giuliani has been seen on the campaign trail wearing a World Series ring, a valuable prize we never knew he had. Indeed, the Yankees have told the Voice that he has four rings, one for every world championship the Yankees won while he was mayor. Voice calls to other cities whose teams won the Series in the past decade have determined that Giuliani is the only mayor with a ring, much less four. If it sounds innocent, wait for the price tag. These are certainly no Canal Street cubic zirconia knockoffs.

"With Giuliani's name inscribed in the 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000 diamond-and-gold rings, memorabilia and baseball experts say they are collectively worth a minimum of $200,000. The Yankees say that Giuliani did pay for his rings—but only $16,000, and years after he had left office. Anyone paying for the rings is as unusual as a mayor getting one, since neither the Yankees nor any other recent champion have sold rings to virtually anyone. The meager payment, however, is less than half of the replacement value of the rings, and that's a fraction of the market price, especially with the added value of Giuliani's name.

"What's more troubling is that Giuliani's receipt of the rings may be a serious breach of the law, and one that could still be prosecuted. New York officials are barred from taking a gift of greater than $50 value from anyone doing business with the city, and under Giuliani, that statute was enforced aggressively against others. His administration forced a fire department chief, for example, to retire, forfeit $93,105 in salary, and pay a $6,000 fine for taking Broadway tickets to two shows and a free week in a ski condo from a city vendor. The city's Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB) has applied the gift rule to discounts as well, unless the cheaper rate 'is available generally to all government employees.' When a buildings department deputy commissioner was indicted in 2000 for taking Mets and Rangers tickets, as well as a family trip to Florida, from a vendor, an outraged Giuliani denounced his conduct as 'reprehensible,' particularly 'at high levels in city agencies,' and said that such officials had to be 'singled out' and 'used as examples.'"
"And there's another, more recent, and closer-to-home example of arrogant nondisclosure noted publicly by Giuliani. When former police commissioner Bernard Kerik pled guilty last year to charges involving a city contractor's gift to him of a $165,000 apartment renovation, Giuliani said that Kerik had "acknowledged his violations." As part of a $221,000 plea deal, Kerik agreed to pay a $10,000 fine to the COIB for accepting and then failing to accurately disclose the renovations. Not only are Kerik and Giuliani's concealed gifts of similar value, but Kerik, like Giuliani, made a partial payment for the renovations—$17,800, far less than full value."
"The goodies list seems endless. Giuliani spent $71 million on a stadium for the Staten Island Yankees, a low-level minor league team half-owned by Steinbrenner's son. So few people go to games there that the team has yet to hit the minimal attendance threshold that triggers some rental payments to the city. Though the lease required the team to submit turnstile attendance numbers to the city, the stadium operated for years without turnstiles, and the comptroller has repeatedly found that it shortchanges the city. The city also helped the Yankees reconfigure Yankee Stadium in lucrative ways, including adding the very Legends seats in foul territory near the dugouts and home plate that Giuliani wound up occupying. On December 19, 2001, also just days before the end of Giuliani's term, Bob Harding signed a letter approving a million-dollar replacement of the playing field.

"Those who know Giuliani well say that when he thinks he's in love, he waives all the rules of acceptable conduct. But the story of him and his team is not just a saga of disturbing infatuation and self-absorption. It is an object lesson in what kind of a president he would be, a window into his willingness to lend himself to a special interest, to blur all lines that ordinarily separate personal and public lives. It is not so much that he identified with the Yankees. It was himself that he was serving."

* In Baltimore? The Caribbean are playing Mobtown Theater Saturday May 12, 2007. With The Expanding Man.

* "An artist may have burdens the ordinary citizen doesn't know, but the ordinary citizen has burdens that many artists never even touch. " -- Patti Smith


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