Monday Bulletin: Stephen Sondheim’s Upper West Side; RAD’s Wrongs; In Praise of Messy Apartments


You never know what you’ll see backstage at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Photo by Judy Vann.

November 29, 2021 Weather: Cloudy, with a high of 42 degrees.

Notices:
Our calendar has lots of local events!

News:
In a tribute to Stephen Sondheim, the immortal composer and lyricist who died Friday unexpectedly at the age of 91, The New York Times said simply that he “lived first on the Upper West Side.” In Stephen Sondheim: A Life, biographer Meryle Secrest provides details about his decade in the neighborhood. “The San Remo apartment building on Central Park West, to which Stephen Joshua Sondheim was taken in 1930 when he was six months old, has been a landmark almost since the first day it opened that same year….at the age of four he was enrolled in a prekindergarten class twelve blocks to the south on Central Park West….the Ethical Culture School was the ideal solution for parents uneasily poised between a strict adherence to dogmas and atheism….he started to take piano lessons from the age of about seven, studying with a Mrs. Moss, who had a small studio on West Eighty-Fourth Street just off Central Park West.”

A federal housing program was supposed to expedite repairs in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings by partnering with private managers, but Councilmember Helen Rosenthal told NY1, it’s making matters worse. “Last December, Wise Towers — four NYCHA buildings with addresses on West 90th and West 91st streets between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues — was converted to Rental Assistance Demonstration or RAD….Shortly after the private company…took over, Rosenthal’s office began receiving calls about lack of heat, hours-long water shutoffs, disrespect and intimidation from contractors and maintenance staff, and botched renovation jobs.”

 

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NBC financial correspondent Stephanie Ruhle was filming a segment about small businesses in one of the neighborhood’s favorites — West Side Kids, which has been selling toys “to celebrities and regular folks alike for 40 years!” joked owner Jenny Bergman. Ruehle was upstaged by a toddler who wandered into her shot…comedian Amy Schumer’s son!

“Thanksgiving! ‘One of NYC’s most beloved days of the year,’ announces notorious doors-off helicopter company, FLYNYON, advertising its $489 seats over Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.” So begins an opinion piece by local writer Julia Vitullo-Martin about the city’s ongoing helicopter noise and pollution problems. “New York has only one path out of the helicopter mess we’re in and that’s via our next mayor, Eric Adams,” she writes in Gotham Gazette. “He has declared war on lawlessness of all kinds — and we need him to launch a war on the lawless skies over New York.”

“Evictions have been mercifully rare in New York during the past year and a half, thanks in part to city, state, and federal moratoriums that have kept people in place through the pandemic,” The New Yorker explains. “But those protections weren’t able to save Aubergine, a picturesquely decrepit flophouse, salon, and culture-freak community at 546 West 113th Street. For half a century, a rotating cast of urban homesteaders—mostly young, often artists or academics—have found refuge in the five-story Beaux-Arts building, which is owned by Columbia University. Rent: five hundred and forty dollars a person. Earlier this year, citing safety concerns, Columbia moved to repossess the building.”

In a series about pandemic-induced shortages, The Economist, citing West Side Rag, discusses dognapping, specifically, an incident that occurred on the UWS. “Wild demand for pandemic puppies during lockdown had led to a shortage of dogs so extreme that shelters had as many as 50 owners vying for a single pup. Combine that with pandemic-related conditions such as high unemployment and reduced foot traffic and you have a perfect storm for dognapping.”

The controversial statue of Theodore Roosevelt that has been standing at the entrance to the American Museum of Natural History for more than 80 years is headed for North Dakota, 6sqft reported. It will be placed in a new Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library that is expected to open in 2026, the 250th anniversary of the United States. “According to AMNH officials, work to remove [the statue] will begin sometime this fall and take several months. A proposal from NYC Parks and the Upper West Side museum calls for two plaques with text explaining the statue and the reasons for its removal.”

Finally, a celebration of messy apartments — and the Upper West Side, by Faith Sallie, who you might know from NPR’s quiz show, ‘Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me,’ as well as her journalism and podcasts. For the past 15 years, Sallie has lived “exclusively in a square-mile-and-a-half area bordered by Central Park West and Broadway….I’m evangelical about the Upper West Side,” she told The Times. As for messy apartments: “If I were a set designer for a play and I wanted to show a house that was fun and not too fancy and a place of joy with parents who treasured their children, what would it look like? I think it would probably look just like our messy apartment.”

Happy Chanukah to all who celebrate (no matter how you spell it)!

COLUMNS, NEWS | 14 comments | permalink
    1. Bill says:

      There is no shortage of adoptable dogs. Plse adopt from your local Shelter Org or ACC. Plenty of pups and dogs for all. Very misleading info.

      • bystander says:

        Thanks, Bill. Glad you set the record straight. The adoptable dog shortage seemed unlikely to me. I am, however, always wary when people approach my dog. A friend was out with his admittedly adorable dog in a pooch pouch on his chest and somebody tried to grab him. Momo is still traumatized, and so is his owner.

      • Sarah says:

        The big problem is that the vast, vast majority of dogs at the ACC are pits or pit mixes. I adore pitties, but many rental buildings and co-ops prohibit them and many home insurance companies won’t cover them. The handful of non-pits are snapped up almost instantly. So many have no choice but to turn to rescues, which, needing to manage their own limited resources responsibly, only bring in small groups at a time. Fortunately, as Pupper West Side used to remind us, there are many excellent NYC rescues and you’ll find your friend eventually.

    2. Leon says:

      I can’t believe they are actually tearing down the Roosevelt statue. Ignorance, wokeness and creating drama where it didn’t exist yet again wins the day.

      If the artist was alive today, I bet they would have wished they had just left the other two men out of the statue rather than including them in an effort to acknowledge their contribution. No good deed gets left unpunished.

      Think of how the money being spent removing the statue could be better spent.

      • Bill Williams says:

        It’s an outrage and worse that the community didn’t mobilize to stop it. Then again they ruined the Hall Of Gems and Minerals also.

    3. Jay says:

      “A federal housing program was supposed to expedite repairs in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings by partnering with private managers, but Councilmember Helen Rosenthal told NY1, it’s making matters worse. “Last December, Wise Towers — four NYCHA buildings with addresses on West 90th and West 91st streets between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues — was converted to Rental Assistance Demonstration or RAD….Shortly after the private company…took over, Rosenthal’s office began receiving calls about lack of heat, hours-long water shutoffs, disrespect and intimidation from contractors and maintenance staff, and botched renovation jobs.””

      Right, the point of these public-private partnerships is to destroy public housing. Hardly news there.

      Though I am sort of surprised that Helen Rosenthal is attempting to call a bit of attention to the problem. She should have objected to the whole program from the start.

    4. EdNY says:

      I’m not sure what Adams or any other New York city or state official can do to solve the helicopter problem. The airspace is federally controlled, and a lot of the current problem comes from takeoffs in New Jersey. It will ultimately take federal legislation to completely solve the problem.

    5. JC says:

      Is that Larry David in the photo?

    6. Elizabeth says:

      There is no dog shortage in NYC.

      The NYC ACC is full of adoptable dogs (and other pets) that are constantly being overlooked and end up being euthanized for lack of interest.

      If you are looking for a pet, please, please go to the ACC first. The animals at the shelter need good homes.

      Thanks in advance for considering this an option.

    7. Danielle Remp says:

      For Stephen Sondheim, it seems to me, the UWS

      “was just an address
      — place for [him] to live in —
      no better than all right”

      He lived in music, on Broadway, and with works that crossed continents.

      In his lyrics, he imparted to us a post-Hammerstein age.

    8. Sheila says:

      I’m shocked that the decision was made to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue! Why not a plaque of explanation. Truly sad decision from the Board of Directors.