King of New York
Say what you will about Mike Bloomberg, but this fact is indisputable: he is the most powerful mayor in the history of New York City. Unlike some of his more flamboyant predecessors—LaGuardia, Koch, and Giuliani—Bloomberg’s power is not simply confined to City Hall. He is a kingpin of two of the city’s leading business sectors, finance and media, which he turned into one real powerhouse, financial media; and, as a result of obvious success, he is the leading philanthropist in the city, a sector of nearly unlimited, if undiscussed, power. In my view, because Bloomberg has such an iron grip over New York City, the recurring talk of his national political ambitions makes no sense: After all, why would the King of New York want to wade into the cesspool of corruption on the Potomac?
The Gotham Center’s Mike Wallace, the leading historian of New York City, agrees that Bloomberg will stay put. However, “It’s not just that he possesses power” here, says Wallace, “but having it gives him an opportunity to really make a positive impact on the city and leave a significant legacy, a chance I doubt he would want to pass up. Certainly not so he could spend the next four years shoveling out from under the mess that the current crowd has made of national and world affairs.” Most of the insiders say that the push for Bloomberg to run for president is mainly coming from some of his key staffers. They no doubt want to move up to the next level themselves—as well as know where they’ll be working after the mayor’s current term expires. Even so, Bloomberg has fueled the talk with high-profile trips across the country, most recently buddying up to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Cally. And, just as his predecessor used the mayor’s office as a (big) bully pulpit, making a national and international showcase of his war on crime, Bloomberg has taken on various urban ills—smoking, handguns, trans-fat—with equal fanfare.
Since men of unlimited means rarely have limited ambitions, there remains a chance that Bloomberg may indeed test the swampy waters of national politics. But I think that both the mayor and the local political media would be better off assessing his impact and legacy on the city he currently controls. Over the last few years, for example, the city has been undergoing a frenzy of over-development, with many more million-dollar condos on the way. Now that the real estate market is cooling off considerably, who will occupy the high rises? Bloomberg’s legacy for Brooklyn may well be massive, block-busting development projects surrounded by ghost towers. Rather than pursue the White House, would that the king attend to his own backyard.
Despite its Bumpy History, Merrily We Roll Along Glides Back to New YorkBy Billy McEntee
DEC 22–JAN 23 | Theater
The first time I saw Merrily was at Fair Lawn High School in New Jersey in 2008; Stephen Sondheim apparently attended a performance and spoke to the cast. I remember being amazed by the score, confused by the story, but moved by the endingin that amateur productions final gesture, as the chorus refrains me and you during Our Time, antihero Franklin Shepards piano comes back on stage and he, alone, faces it. Maria Friedmans production, now sold out at New York Theatre Workshop, concludes with a similar visual, and an idea clicked: music is the you to Franklins me, the thing he cares most about and what he has to lose when the people who make him sing fade away, dimming like distant stars.
Back to the Future: On Eric Adamss New YorkBy Andy Battle
SEPT 2022 | Field Notes
Eight months in, the contours of an Eric Adams mayoralty are gradually emerging. An Adamsite New Yorkmy city, in the words of a mayor whose fondness for the first-person possessive has become a calling cardis one that appears poised to reverse even the limited departures from the playbook of the post-fiscal crisis era realized during the de Blasio administration.
Painting in New York: 1971-83By Ksenia Soboleva
OCT 2022 | ArtSeen
What became clear to me upon seeing the show is the unfortunate degree to which art historians have left painting out of feminist history, when in fact the paintings gathered together here share a lot of the sensibilities conventionally acknowledged as central to the feminist canon.
52. (New York’s Waterways)By Raphael Rubinstein
MAY 2021 | The Miraculous
Upon graduating from art school, a young artist attends a boat-building school in Northern California. When she moves to New York City a few years later she puts her newly-acquired nautical skills to use by building a small boat capable of circumnavigating Manhattan.