Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Giuliani vs. Christie: Two GOP politicians from the Northeast have lots in common

April 11, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
April 11, 2014

In 2007, when I was working as a newspaper reporter in a small North Carolina town, my editor asked me if I was excited that Rudy Giuliani, a fellow New Yorker, might become president. I scoffed.

There were two reasons for this. One was that I thought Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, would never be able to win the Republican nomination. The other was that I thought Giuliani was temperamentally ill-suited to serve as president.

Giuliani became known as America’s mayor for his performance on Sept. 11, 2001, when he provided a calm and steadying voice even as President George W. Bush temporarily disappeared from view. A former U.S. attorney who had successfully prosecuted mafiosi, Giuliani was a Republican who presided over one of the nation’s most Democratic cities. His mayoralty coincided with — and, to be fair, helped prompt — the renaissance of the Big Apple. Unemployment in the city dropped nearly 40 percent during the 1990s; in the same period, assault also fell 40 percent, and rates of murder, robbery, car theft and burglary all dropped by 66 percent to 73 percent.

That’s all well and good, although it remains an open question just how much Giuliani’s leadership had to do with those declines. But while these positives were well-publicized, fewer Americans outside of the New York-New Jersey area were acquainted with the mayor’s negatives. In mid-2000, upon separating from his second wife, Giuliani moved out of Gracie Mansion and into the apartment of a gay couple. He had a penchant for dressing up in drag. Giuliani was essentially moderate — which is to say, liberal, at least in the context of the post–Bush-the-younger Republican Party — on issues such as gay rights, abortion, gun control and immigration. Giuliani’s family situation — by 2007, he was largely estranged from his children, and he was on his third marriage — was no help. One particularly damning episode involved his announcement to the press of his aforementioned separation from his second wife, which preceded the mayor’s actually informing said wife of their split.

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Fragrant flowers fill the New York City sidewalks with a certain kind of flair

August 6, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 3, 2013

Last week, I drove into Manhattan to meet an old school friend whom I had not seen socially in years. The rendezvous involved a fair amount of walking around the Upper West Side.

After dinner, Mark and I strolled downtown to get a drink at a wine and tapas bar he favors. We witnessed something that was perfectly mundane, at least for New Yorkers, yet struck me as being quite novel. We were passing a floral display that was being watered. Excess liquid dripped and splashed on the sidewalk. Fluid pooled and flowed across the sidewalk, draining toward the gutter. A burst of scent from the bouquets filled my nose as we ambled south along Broadway.

This is something that New Yorkers can see many times a day, but it had been years since I’d experienced it. Read the rest of this entry »

Rambling about (and aboard!) New York City’s Circle Line

August 1, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
July 30, 2013

Last week, I got to cruise around Lower Manhattan on the Circle Line. It had been approximately 10 years since I was last on the water around New York City, and far longer than that since I had last set foot aboard the Circle Line.

The Circle Line was an iconic part of my youth. The service’s tourist boats regularly ring Manhattan, circling the borough in jaunts of roughly three hours apiece. A trip on the Circle Line meant an opportunity to see skyscrapers iconic and otherwise, to feel the river breeze, and to pretend to be a Sailor and a Man of Action. (Pretend being the operative word there, as I became neither a sailor nor a man of action!)

My sibling now has little ones, and the Sibling, Sibling-in-Law and Parental Unit somehow decided — to my secret delight — that it would be a good idea to cruise en famille when the Sibling & Co. made one of their pilgrimages to the homeland.

The voyage that we took was (hum it with me! Yes, to the theme of Gilligan’s Isle!) a two-hour tour…a two-hour tour — not the iconic full-island journey of my youth but a semi-circle cruise. Be that as it may, the trip was fantastic, in my opinion.

We went on a mild mid-summer day; even so, the air conditioning in the cabin was a welcome relief, as was the breeze on the prow of the ship.

Our boat, the Circle Line Queens, backed out of its slip on Pier 83 at 42nd Street and Twelfth Avenue, in the Hudson River alongside the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, and pointed the bow south. The ship cruised between Manhattan and New Jersey; passed Liberty Island, the home of the Statue of Liberty; and turned around in New York Harbor to head north. We motored by Governors Island and up into the East River, between the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

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Doctorow recounts the lives of quirky, quintessential New Yorkers ‘Homer & Langley’

August 27, 2012

American historical novelist E.L. Doctorow revisits a familiar stomping ground, the New York City of decades past, in his 2009 novel, Homer & Langley.

The tale of the Collyer brothers is narrated by the younger sibling. “I’m Homer, the blind brother,” he discloses in the novel’s opening line. Doctorow’s narrative takes us from the brothers’ childhood in the early 20th century until — well, I don’t want to reveal the ending, although it is relatively well known.

That’s because Doctorow’s story is based on the actual Collyer family; the rather notorious Homer and Langley were inheritors and longtime residents of their parents’ elegant home on Fifth Avenue in upper Manhattan. A great deal of the narrative appears to have been invented by Doctorow, although just how much is unclear; the hardcover edition of Homer & Langley that I read had no author’s note, unfortunately, and Doctorow’s website does not appear to explain how the novel deviates from real life.

In any case, Doctorow’s fictionalized Collyers were born around the turn of the 20th century; Homer, the younger by two years, is a gifted pianist. A quick check of Wikipedia and some other sources indicates that the actual brothers were born in the 1880s; that Langley was four years younger and a gifted pianist; and that Homer actually practiced law, rather than Langley, as in the novel. Truth and fiction concur with on Langley’s enthusiasm for fad diets of his own devising. Read the rest of this entry »

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