Monday Bulletin: Remembering RBG, Marching Band Disbands, Condo Woes, Murph the Surf

The women’s suffrage statue in Central Park got a special sign this weekend, in memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Photo by Yvonne Vávra.

September 21, 2020 Weather: Sunny, with a high of 67 degrees.

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In 1972, Ruth Bader Ginsburg  became the first woman to be appointed a full professor at Columbia Law School. The Columbia Spectator, the University’s 143-year-old newspaper, reported the news of her appointment in a story they dug out of their archives and reprinted upon her passing. It is representative of what is called “the second wave of feminism,” the first occurring in late 19th and early 20th centuries, and focused on the vote. “Professor Ginsburg asserted that she felt that her selection by Columbia is ‘a sign of an awakening of the law school and perhaps of Columbia as a whole to the necessity of ending sexual discrimination’…(She) disclosed that next fall, in addition to teaching courses on the more traditional subjects of procedures and conflicts she will give a new course on sexual discrimination.”

From dignity to debauchery, The Spectator also reported on the demise of the Columbia University Marching Band, after decades of escapades so antithetical to RBG, and so outrageous they earned the story a content warning. “…on Sept. 12, the marching band voted to dissolve itself as an organization. In a statement, the band’s remaining leadership (known as the bored) wrote, “The Band has maintained a club structure founded on the basis of racism, cultural oppression, misogyny, and sexual harassment. While substantial efforts have been made in recent years toward undoing decades of wrongdoing, we as a Band feel ultimately that it is impossible to reform an organization so grounded in prejudiced culture and traditions.”

In 2015, HFZ Capital Properties converted The Astor, a turn-of-the-19th-century, three-towered building on West 75th Street, between Broadway and West End Avenue, into luxury condominiums. Five years later, the developer is facing potential foreclosure on four of his properties, including The Astor, Crain’s reported. “Sales of newly developed condos—priced largely out of reach for most New Yorkers—have been lagging in Manhattan for years….With the pandemic slowing purchases even further, defaults and foreclosures could become more commonplace….HFZ, meanwhile, is still trying to find takers for condos in those buildings. Listings include a four-bedroom unit at The Astor seeking $7.3 million.”

Upon his death this month, Jack Murphy, aka “Murph the Surf,” was remembered by the New Hampshire Union Leader for “one of the biggest and most audacious jewelry heists in history: the theft of the Star of India, the world’s largest blue star sapphire, from the American Museum of Natural History. On the night of Oct. 29, 1964, Murphy (and an accomplice) scaled an iron fence (at the museum) on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, then climbed up the fire escape to the fifth floor. They slipped into the office directly above the museum’s gem collection…Murphy, who said his idol was the debonair jewel thief played by Cary Grant in the 1955 film ‘To Catch a Thief,’ was wearing a green velour jacket, with a gun in his pocket, a turtleneck sweater and corduroy trousers, along with his sneakers. “You got to have a little flair,” he told the New York Times in 2019. “If you get arrested and end up on the news, you don’t want to look like a schlub.”

NEWS | 14 comments | permalink
    1. Bob says:

      Initial reaction before reading the article, not knowing much about the Columbia Marching Band: “Oh, that’s nuts, how bad could a marching band be? It’s a freaking marching band.”

      Reaction after reading the article: “oh.”

    2. JS says:

      My recollection is that the Astor developers purchased the building which was a rental – offered buyouts and then essentially forced out some of the older rent stabilized residents….

      • Pedestrian says:


      • UpperWest says:

        Non-stop scaffold for 5 years. Street retail in dire shape, with several empty stores there. West 76th St is a construction site, with a dangerous pedestrian crossing.
        One way or another someone needs to complete this “renovation.”

        • Margaret says:

          That scaffolding is the absolute worst. Its been blocking in the same movie poster for Suicide Squad since 2015.

      • your_neighbor says:

        Nobody in a rent controlled or rent stabilized apartment gets forced out. No doubt they were offered a buy-out that worked well for their future plans.
        No doubt WSR would have published a series of articles in 2015 if people were being illegally forced out of their apartments.

        Both 75th and 76th streets have been an eyesore for years now with the scaffolding and several hundred feet of street blocked off.

        • JS says:

          To neighbor
          My reference – “essentially” forced out – refers to the type of things some landlords do to harass tenants….

        • Ruth Bonnet says:

          Many people take the buy-out because it seems like a fortune — until they realize how much regular rents are. And then they’re in stuch, as my father used to say.

    3. Hyman Rosen says:

      What did one super-woke liberal college student say to the other?
      That’s not funny!

    4. Harold Rubin says:

      Remember he was also sent to prison for the horrendous murder of two women

    5. Jack says:

      When I first read about the Columbia Marching Band, in the New York Times, I thought, “That is fantastic! Their absurd woke navel gazing has fooled the New York Times!” Then, sadly, I realized it wasn’t ironic woke navel gazing…just typical woke navel gazing. Then I just got depressed.

    6. Joey says:

      The marching band will be sorely missed.