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Found 26 results

  1. UN Blowback: More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims POZNAN, Poland - The UN global warming conference currently underway in Poland is about to face a serious challenge from over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe who are criticizing the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore. Set for release this week, a newly updated U.S. Senate Minority Report features the dissenting voices of over 650 international scientists, many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN. The report has added about 250 scientists (and growing) in 2008 to the over 400 scientists who spoke out in 2007. The over 650 dissenting scientists are more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers. The U.S. Senate report is the latest evidence of the growing groundswell of scientific opposition rising to challenge the UN and Gore. Scientific meetings are now being dominated by a growing number of skeptical scientists. The prestigious International Geological Congress, dubbed the geologists' equivalent of the Olympic Games, was held in Norway in August 2008 and prominently featured the voices and views of scientists skeptical of man-made global warming fears. [see Full report Here: & See: Skeptical scientists overwhelm conference: '2/3 of presenters and question-askers were hostile to, even dismissive of, the UN IPCC' ] A hint of what the upcoming report contains: “I am a skeptic…Global warming has become a new religion.” - Nobel Prize Winner for Physics, Ivar Giaever. “Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly….As a scientist I remain skeptical.” - Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson, the first woman in the world to receive a PhD in meteorology and formerly of NASA who has authored more than 190 studies and has been called “among the most preeminent scientists of the last 100 years.” Warming fears are the “worst scientific scandal in the history…When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.” - UN IPCC Japanese Scientist Dr. Kiminori Itoh, an award-winning PhD environmental physical chemist. “The IPCC has actually become a closed circuit; it doesn’t listen to others. It doesn’t have open minds… I am really amazed that the Nobel Peace Prize has been given on scientifically incorrect conclusions by people who are not geologists,” - Indian geologist Dr. Arun D. Ahluwalia at Punjab University and a board member of the UN-supported International Year of the Planet. “The models and forecasts of the UN IPCC "are incorrect because they only are based on mathematical models and presented results at scenarios that do not include, for example, solar activity.” - Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera, a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico “It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don’t buy into anthropogenic global warming.” - U.S Government Atmospheric Scientist Stanley B. Goldenberg of the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA. “Even doubling or tripling the amount of carbon dioxide will virtually have little impact, as water vapour and water condensed on particles as clouds dominate the worldwide scene and always will.” – . Geoffrey G. Duffy, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering of the University of Auckland, NZ. “After reading [uN IPCC chairman] Pachauri's asinine comment [comparing skeptics to] Flat Earthers, it's hard to remain quiet.” - Climate statistician Dr. William M. Briggs, who specializes in the statistics of forecast evaluation, serves on the American Meteorological Society's Probability and Statistics Committee and is an Associate Editor of Monthly Weather Review. “For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?" - Geologist Dr. David Gee the chairman of the science committee of the 2008 International Geological Congress who has authored 130 plus peer reviewed papers, and is currently at Uppsala University in Sweden. “Gore prompted me to start delving into the science again and I quickly found myself solidly in the skeptic camp…Climate models can at best be useful for explaining climate changes after the fact.” - Meteorologist Hajo Smit of Holland, who reversed his belief in man-made warming to become a skeptic, is a former member of the Dutch UN IPCC committee. “Many [scientists] are now searching for a way to back out quietly (from promoting warming fears), without having their professional careers ruined.” - Atmospheric physicist James A. Peden, formerly of the Space Research and Coordination Center in Pittsburgh. “Creating an ideology pegged to carbon dioxide is a dangerous nonsense…The present alarm on climate change is an instrument of social control, a pretext for major businesses and political battle. It became an ideology, which is concerning.” - Environmental Scientist Professor Delgado Domingos of Portugal, the founder of the Numerical Weather Forecast group, has more than 150 published articles. “CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or another….Every scientist knows this, but it doesn’t pay to say so…Global warming, as a political vehicle, keeps Europeans in the driver’s seat and developing nations walking barefoot.” - Dr. Takeda Kunihiko, vice-chancellor of the Institute of Science and Technology Research at Chubu University in Japan. “The [global warming] scaremongering has its justification in the fact that it is something that generates funds.” - Award-winning Paleontologist Dr. Eduardo Tonni, of the Committee for Scientific Research in Buenos Aires and head of the Paleontology Department at the University of La Plata. # # In addition, the report will feature new peer-reviewed scientific studies and analyses refuting man-made warming fears and a heavy dose of inconvenient climate developments. (See Below: Study: Half of warming due to Sun! –Sea Levels Fail to Rise? - Warming Fears in 'Dustbin of History') http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=37283205-c4eb-4523-b1d3-c6e8faf14e84
  2. The New York Times June 28, 2008 By BEN SISARIO MONTREAL — On Wednesday night, in the last of his three concerts presented as preludes to the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Leonard Cohen, the 73-year-old hometown poet-hero on tour for the first time in 15 years, said that on his last time through town he was “60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream.” Between waves of applause and hollers in French and English, he added, “I am so grateful to be here and to be from here.” Mr. Cohen’s math notwithstanding, hometown pride and musical reverence are at the center of the festival, which opened its 29th season on Thursday and runs through July 6. Billing itself as the largest jazz festival in the world, it attracts one million visitors a year to more than 500 concerts in a three-block music zone downtown and brings about $100 million in revenue to the city, according to Canadian government estimates. With CD sales in a chronic slump, the music industry has been turning increasingly to live events for income, and in recent years big smorgasbord festivals have sprouted up all over North America, aiming to present all kinds of music for all kinds of people. But with a setting ideal for tourists as well as for local residents, and a solid history of eclectic programming — among the attractions this year are Woody Allen, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Public Enemy and the local debut of Steely Dan — Montreal has held on to a rare prestige. “There is no parallel in North America and perhaps no parallel around the world,” said Scott Southard, a jazz and world-music booking agent who has 15 artists at the festival. “In Europe or Bonnaroo, for instance, they have to erect an entire village in a remote location. Here you have an urban environment without having to reconstruct the venue infrastructure every year.” Begun in 1980 by two concert promoters, Alain Simard and André Ménard, as a way to fill up what was then a dry summer concert calendar, the festival takes over four concert halls of the Place des Arts performing arts complex as well as numerous theaters and clubs around the perimeter. Several blocks of downtown streets are closed for outdoor stages, retail and food booths and children’s activities. Despite the size, Mr. Simard, the president of the festival’s parent company, L’Équipe Spectra, said that “the goal is not to be the biggest jazz festival in the world, it’s to be the best.” But as the festival approaches its 30th season, it is preparing to grow even bigger, with help from a four-year, $120 million government plan to develop the area around Place des Arts. The first phase, to be completed by next summer, includes a 75,000-square-foot park and performance ground, the Place du Quartier des Spectacles. The festival has also been given a 30-year lease and a $10 million grant from the Province of Quebec to renovate a nearby vacant building; when completed it will add one club for use year-round. As a tourist draw second only to Grand Prix du Canada, the Formula One race held in Montreal in early June, the jazz festival has become an important symbol of Montreal’s cosmopolitan lifestyle, said Charles Lapointe, the chief executive of Tourism Montreal, a nonprofit agency financed through a hotel tax. “The jazz festival exemplifies perfectly what we are presenting on the foreign market,” Mr. Lapointe said. “You can celebrate on the streets without any problems with security and express all the pleasure you want.” Civic pride and creative abundance was clear on Thursday, the official opening. (Mr. Cohen’s touring schedule prevented him from being part of the festival proper; he appears at the enormous Glastonbury pop festival in Britain on Sunday.) During the afternoon crowds gradually filled up the Place des Arts campus, slurping on ice cream cones beside the fountain and listening to the sound check for a tribute to Mr. Cohen featuring Chris Botti, Madeleine Peyroux, Buffy Sainte-Marie and others. Darting between indoor evening concerts by the veteran jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, the young British songwriter Katie Melua and the African performers Vieux Farka Touré and Salif Keita, a visitor could quickly take in half a dozen outdoor concerts, parades and magicians. Two-thirds of the concerts are free. The Cohen tribute drew an estimated audience of 100,000, filling the plaza and nearby streets. But the concerts by Mr. Cohen himself were the clear early highlight. Dressed like a spy in a crisp black suit and fedora, Mr. Cohen, who has said that after years in a Zen Buddhist retreat in California, his lifelong depression has finally begun to lift, sang a sleek and emotional set of nearly three hours. In “Bird on the Wire,” “Hallelujah” and “Tower of Song” he sang of being weighted down by cynicism and starving for affection, but between songs he doffed his hat and smiled broadly for sustained ovations. The festival, a nonprofit enterprise run by the for-profit company L’Équipe Spectra, has an operating budget of $25 million. And though about 18 percent of that comes from national, provincial and city sources, the biggest form of government support is the closing of several blocks of busy city streets. The bulk of the budget comes from corporate sponsorships (40 percent) and sales of tickets and memorabilia (39 percent). The prominence of sponsorships gives the festival a sense of hyperbranding. Looking over Place des Arts, it is almost impossible not to see a giant symbol of General Motors, the lead sponsor: besides GM logos on banners and fliers throughout the grounds, the company also has five displays of new cars for contests, and at least one of the many marching bands wended its way around, wearing black GM T-shirts. Festival organizers say that they have made efforts to ensure that the sponsorship is tasteful and not intrusive. Signs are only seen outdoors, where concerts are free, they say. There is no advertising for the paid concerts indoors, and the organizers say they will not rename the event to suit any sponsor. To create an egalitarian atmosphere, the festival also shuns velvet ropes. “You will never see a V.I.P. area on the site,” Mr. Ménard said. “There’s never a place where people walk and are told, ‘No, that’s not for you.’ The unemployed can stand next to the president of the sponsor company.” For the Cohen tribute on Thursday night, however, there was a small area of bleachers near the stage reserved for the news media and others. But a reporter who lacked the necessary badges was still able to enter with a few kind words. And unlike many large festivals, this one had a network of fenced-off pathways that made quick travel through even a crowd of 100,000 tightly packed fans on Thursday evening easy for anyone needing or wanting to get through. “The vibe is very peaceful,” Mr. Ménard said of the festival. “The fabric of this city is all about the quality of life. The fact is, we have long, deadly winters, so come summertime, everybody is in for a party — but a civilized party.”
  3. (Courtesy of The Montreal Gazette) Congrats Montreal Lets hope 2011 will be another amazing year.
  4. Trouble on The Main The former home of American Apparel on St. Laurent Blvd. now carries a For Rent sign. “I won’t deny that the construction on the street did affect traffic,” says Dan Abenhaim, the chain’s Canadian regional director. Other shop owners say the recession and high rents have hurt business on along the strip. Photograph by: John Mahoney, The Gazette By Irwin Block, The GazetteApril 24, 2009 The former home of American Apparel on St. Laurent Blvd. now carries a For Rent sign. “I won’t deny that the construction on the street did affect traffic,” says Dan Abenhaim, the chain’s Canadian regional director. Other shop owners say the recession and high rents have hurt business on along the strip. It’s known to generations as The Main and it’s as Montreal as smoked meat and the Habs. St. Laurent Blvd. is us, and in tribute to its Portuguese component, city officials on Friday inaugurated a dozen marble-topped benches between Bagg and Marie Anne Sts. But things are not going that well for some merchants, especially on the trendiest part of the street between Sherbrooke St. and Pine Ave. It’s still home to such fancy eateries as Buona Notte and Primadonna, but in the past months several major tenants have closed. They include an American Apparel store and a Mac Cosmetics outlet; the space formerly occupied by Sofia Grill at the northwest corner of Prince Arthur St. and St. Laurent is for rent, as are several other shops farther north. Dan Abenhaim, American Apparel’s Canadian regional director, said that after five years the firm decided not to renew the lease. “I won’t deny that the construction on the street did affect traffic and we decided we want to open in another location.” He also said that over five years “the street has changed and the traffic is more north of Pine Ave.” However, clothing shops are also hurting north of Pine, where Adam & Lilith has closed one of two adjoining shops on St. Laurent. According to assistant manager Carmel Pacaud, people are still attracted to the street but they are not buying as they used to. Other shop owners blame almost two years of disruptive road repairs that ended last year, as well as the recession and high rents. “The city has murdered the street,” said one real estate agent, who spoke on the condition his name not be used. People who were put off by the construction are not coming back and there is a moratorium on new restaurants and bars between Sherbrooke and Mount Royal Ave., he added. Rent at the former Mac Cosmetics store is about $7,500 a month for 1,600 square feet. Rents tend to decrease north of Pine. “It’s a little distressing, slower than usual” remarked Marnie Blanshay, who owns Lola & Emily ladies wear just south of the abandoned American Apparel. Many who were discouraged from shopping there by the ripping up and repaving of the strip have not returned, she observed. And because few retail clothing shops remain, hers is more of a “destination store” with fewer shoppers coming by to go from store to store checking out and comparing. “It reminds me of Crescent St. in the 1990s,” she said, adding that “the landlords believe it’s better than it is and need to reduce rents.” When rents go down, the creative people will return to reinject the street’s normal vitality, she said. “St. Laurent Blvd. is not a street where chains succeed.” Apart from Jean Coutu and Pharmaprix, American Apparel was the only chain outlet on the street, noted André Beauséjour, executive director of the Société de développment du Boulevard St. Laurent. He said the vacancy rate between Sherbrooke and Mount Royal is a “normal” two per cent. A stroll up the boulevard yesterday indicated that many stores that have become institutions – Bar Bifteck, Salaison Slovenia, Schreter’s, Coco Rico, Moishe’s, Segal’s grocery, Berson Monuments – are still going concerns. And there was the proverbial lunchtime lineup inside Schwartz’s. But if you have a concept, there is lots of space for rent, including the former Laurentian Bank at St. Laurent and Pine. – all 5,400 square feet. [email protected] © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  5. IluvMTL

    CityLab

    http://www.citylab.com/ https://www.facebook.com/thisiscitylab [h=2]Frequently Asked Questions[/h]General What is CityLab? CityLab is dedicated to the people who are creating the cities of the future—and those who want to live there. Through sharp analysis, original reporting, and visual storytelling, our coverage focuses on the biggest ideas and most pressing issues facing the world’s metro areas and neighborhoods. Is CityLab the same thing as The Atlantic Cities? Yes. Previously known as The Atlantic Cities, CityLab re-launched in May 2014 with an expanded editorial mission as well as a new name, URL, and mobile-first responsive design. Can I still read stories that appeared on The Atlantic Cities here? Yes. All of the content that was on theatlanticcities.com is now on citylab.com. Atlantic Cities urls will redirect to the new site. What is Navigator? Navigator is “the modern urbanist’s guide to life,” a section of the site that launched in 2014 offering tips and strategies for city lifestyles. Check it out here. What is CityFixer? CityFixer is our tool that offers “solutions for an urbanizing world.” It collects the best ideas and stories for a dozen of the leading drivers of modern cities — including schools, civic life, policing, and energy use. A click on “Aging,” for example, will surface all past CityLab coverage on the topic. Check it out here.
  6. The banking system in eastern Europe is increasingly vulnerable to a severe economic downturn, Moody’s has warned, saying western European banks with local subsidiaries are at risk of ratings downgrades. “The relative vulnerabilties in east European banking systems will be exposed by an increasingly tougher operating environment in eastern Europe as a result of a steep and long economic downturn coupled with macroeconomic vulnerabilities,” Moody’s said in a report. The ratings agency said it expected “continuous downward pressure on east European bank ratings” because of deteriorating asset quality, falling local currencies, exposure to a regional slump in real-estate and the units’ reliance on scarce short-term funding. Eurozone banks have the largest exposure to central and eastern Europe, with liabilities of $1,500bn – about 90 per cent of total foreign bank exposure to the region. Shares of the handful of banks with substantial investments in eastern Europe – led by Austria’s Raiffeisen and Erste Bank, Société Générale of France, Italy’s UniCredit (which owns Bank Austria) and Belgian group KBC – tumbled after the ratings agency said it was concerned about the impact of a slowdown and the ability of the parent banks to support their support units in the region. The Austrian banking system is the most vulnerable, with eastern Europe accounting for nearly half of its foreign loans, while Italian banks are exposed to Poland and Croatia and Scandinavian institutions to the Baltic states. Central and eastern European currencies have come under intense pressure in recent weeks. The credit crisis has raised fears over the region’s ability to finance its current account deficits and slowing global growth has heightened concerns over the health of its export-dependent economies. The Polish zloty plunged to a five-year low against the euro on Tuesday, while the Czech koruna hit a three-year trough against the single currency and the Hungarian forint falling to a record low. The Prague and Warsaw stock indices meanwhile fell to their lowest levels in five years, while the smaller markets of Budapest, Zagreb and Bucharest skirted close to multi-year lows. The euro dropped to a two-month low against the dollar on Tuesday on heightened concerns over eurozone banks’ exposure to the worsening conditions in eastern Europe. Amid the growing sense of crisis in eastern European economies, Hungary on Tuesday outlined plans to save Ft210bn (€680m, $860m) this year to prevent an increase in the budget deficit. Hungary’s economy is expected to contract by up to 3 per cent this year, much more than earlier expectations. Antje Praefcke at Commerzbank said eastern European currencies were in a “self-feeding depreciation spiral.” “The creditworthiness of local banks, companies and private households, who hold mainly foreign currency denominated debt, is deteriorating with each depreciation in eastern European currencies, thus further undermining confidence in the currencies,” she said. Ms Praefcke said further depreciation of eastern European currencies was thus a distinct possibility, which was likely to undermine the euro. “The collapse of these currencies is likely to constitute a risk for the euro,” she said. “So far markets have largely ignored this fact, but are unlikely to be able to maintain this approach if the weakness of the eastern European currencies continues.” Western European banks have piled into the former Communist countries in recent years as economic growth in the region outpaced domestic gains. The accession of 10 new members to the European Union in 2004, and of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007, added to optimism about the region. In 2007, Raiffeisen and Erste Bank earned the vast majority of their pre-tax profits in eastern European countries including Russia and Ukraine. Since the onset of the global financial crisis, Hungary, Latvia and Ukraine have all received emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund, with other countries in the region expected to follow.
  7. $14B in projects ready to go: Municipalities BY MIKE DE SOUZA, CANWEST NEWS SERVICE JANUARY 14, 2009 12:21 PM OTTAWA - More than 1,000 municipal infrastructure projects worth nearly $14 billion are “shovel ready” for job creation from coast to coast, according to a new list unveiled Wednesday by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The list represents an inventory of projects that are awaiting funds to start and was compiled following weeks of extensive consultations by the federation and its members. The federation says many municipalities have put these projects on the backburner, but could launch them this year and create thousands of jobs if money was available from the different levels of government. “The municipal world is ready to co-operate with the provinces, territories and the Canadian government to (tackle) the economic problems of Canada,” said Sherbrooke, Que., Mayor Jean Perrault, the president of the federation, during a media conference call. “The construction phase of an infrastructure project creates most of the jobs and getting projects underway this spring is crucial to offsetting the economic slowdown.” The projects include new investments in roads and bridges, waste management, buildings, public housing, water and waste water treatment facilities as well as public transit for cities and communities that are home to more than 19 million people across the country. The federation has been urging the Harper government to fast-track transfer payments from a new infrastructure program so that municipalities can get started on the projects and begin putting people to work as part of a stimulus package for the economy. Municipal officials have complained that there is too much red tape and administrative delays in getting the money flowing into their communities, but federal Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Minister John Baird has pledged to speed up the process by reducing red tape. Perrault said the funding should be modelled after the federal gas tax transfer which provides federal money for cities based on the size of their population. He also argued in favour of reducing double environmental assessments of new projects by both the federal and provincial governments explaining that many of the projects on hold in their list would not put Canada’s environment in jeopardy. “The environment is important. There are mechanisms and rules that we must follow,” said Perrault, “but what we told Prime Minister (Stephen) Harper and John Baird to reduce the red tape and that if there were environmental studies that overlap, why not have just one and ensure that it’s propitious.” Conservation groups and the NDP have both criticized the federal government for musing about reducing federal environmental assessments in favour of a single review of some of the smaller infrastructure projects. Baird said on Tuesday that the gas tax transfer program worked well since it did not require federal environmental assessments to operate. © Copyright © Canwest News Service Voici la liste des projets : http://www.fcm.ca//CMFiles/FCM%20Shovel%20Ready%20report_list%20En1KDL-1142009-4963.pdf
  8. By Anne Sutherland, The Gazette Benoit Labonté, borough mayor of Ville Marie, will be tabling a motion tonight that will provide for eight days of free parking downtown in an effort to help merchants in these tough economic times. He will propose that city parking meters will be free from 9 a.m. on Dec. 20 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 28. The gross loss of revenue from those metered spots will be $800,000, but Labonté said the net loss to the Ville Marie borough will be between $100,000 and $150,000. “We’re talking about one week in the year to help our tax-paying merchants, a kind of subsidy,” Labonté said. “The message we’re giving to citizens is come downtown to shop and don’t go to the suburbs.” Labonté and his Vision Montreal councillors have a three to two advantage on the borough council, so the motion is expected to pass. --
  9. The Bilbao Effect: is 'starchitecture' all it’s cracked up to be? Every struggling post-industrial city has the same idea: hire a star architect (like Frank Gehry) to design a branch of a famous museum (like the Guggenheim), and watch your city blossom with culture. After all, it worked for Bilbao ... didn’t it? Tomasz Kacprzak, chairman of the city council of Łódź, the third-biggest city in Poland, was telling me about the time he met David Lynch. “We went to his house in California,” Kacprzak said. “He loves Łódź. He wants to build us a cultural centre.” (Lynch’s plan for a 90-acre site comprising a film studio, cinema, gallery, offices and bar in an abandoned power plant in Łódź – the city that also inspired the cult director’s film Inland Empire – is expected to open in 2016.) “Actually,” Kacprzak continued, “Lynch’s house is not great. The interior. It is not modern.” “Oh, no,” I said. “Retro? Nineties?” “No,” Kacprzak said. “Eighties. Gehry’s house was much nicer.” “You went to Frank Gehry’s house, too?” This was interesting. We were standing in the soaring atrium of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, designed by Gehry. Through the window, in the courtyard, you could make out the back of Jeff Koons’ huge, Edward Scissorhands-style plant sculpture, Puppy. “Yes,” Kacprzak said. “We asked for the Guggenheim in Łódź.” “You wanted Gehry to design a new museum?” “No,” Kacprzak said. “The same.” He swept his arm over the pine, glass and steel that curved above our heads. “You wanted him to build the exact same building?” “Yes,” Kacprzak said casually. “The same. But we would use it for a concert hall.” Much is made of the so-called ‘Bilbao effect’, the idea that attracting a world-class cultural institution – in Bilbao’s case, a branch of New York’s Guggenheim art museum – will put your city on the map, and in turn attract more investment, brands, tourism and cultural energy. This was the first time, however, that I’d heard someone say they wanted to copy Bilbao’s building exactly, swooping metal sheet for swooping metal sheet. “What did Gehry say?” I asked. “He said, ‘OK – but it will very expensive.’” Kacprzak shrugged. “We are a small city.” So, of course, was Bilbao 18 years ago when it rose to fame almost overnight. The fourth-largest city in Spain had lost its former glory as a manufacturing centre: its factories shuttered, its port decrepit. But after Spain joined the EU in 1986, Basque Country authorities embarked on an ambitious redevelopment programme for their biggest city. They drafted in expensive architects to design an airport (Santiago Calatrava), a metro system (Norman Foster), and a footbridge (Calatrava again), and in 1991 landed their biggest fish – the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, which decided to bring a new branch of the legendary Guggenheim Museum to the city, and hired star California architect Frank Gehry to build it. The building was an instant hit. Critics agreed Gehry’s deconstructed meringue of sweeping metal, which opened in 1997, was a work of “mercurial brilliance”. The collection inside, featuring art by Willem De Kooning, Mark Rothko, Anselm Kiefer and Richard Serra, was world-class. The construction even came in on budget, at $89m. What’s more, Bilbao now had a landmark. Visitor spending in the city jumped, recouping the building cost within three years. Five years after construction, Bilbao estimated that its economic impact on the local economy was worth €168m, and poured an additional €27m into Basque government tax coffers – the equivalent of adding 4,415 jobs. More than one million people annually now visit the museum, which became the centrepiece of the Bilbao Art District: a cluster composed of the maritime museum, the fine arts museum and the Sala Rekalde art centre. In 2010, French designer Philippe Starck completed his renovation of a former wine cellar to create the Alhondiga culture and leisure centre (recently rebranded as Azkuna Zentroa). And Zaha Hadid has presented radical plans to redevelop the neglected Zorrozaurre peninsula and turn it into a high-tech residential and cultural island. A struggling city, decimated by the decline of its manufacturing base, had seemingly reinvented itself by – of all things – betting big on culture. Other post-industrial cities noticed. When I told Kacprzak’s story to Maria Fernandez Sabau, a cultural and museum consultant for cities around the world, she sighed. “Yes, many of my clients say the same thing: give us the Guggenheim,” she said. “Often the exact same building! But you can’t just copy it.” Don’t tell that to Abu Dhabi. Possibly in an attempt to buttress itself against the day the oil runs out, the city is building a museum complex called Saadiyat Island, which will feature branches of not just the Guggenheim (again) but the Louvre as well. In Hong Kong, the West Kowloon Cultural District will be home to M+, a new museum of Chinese contemporary art. There are plans for new cultural hubs centred on museums in Mecca, in Tirana, in Belo Horizonte and in Perth, Australia. It’s the same in the UK: Dundee has drafted in Kengo Kuma to build a new V&A Museum of Design, while Liverpool and Margate have welcomed the Tate Liverpool (designed by James Stirling) and the Turner Contemporary (David Chipperfield). Every city, it seems, wants to create the next Bilbao-Guggenheim-Gehry vortex. Praise for this model reached its zenith last month, as mayors, cultural attachés and city representatives descended on Bilbao for the UCLG Cities and Culture Conference. Walking the streets with Kacprzak from Łódź, I could see what the delegates liked so much. The city centre is clean. There are lots of expensive retail shops. “El Fosterito”, the glass-tube metro entrances designed by Foster, are slick and futuristic. And the people seem disproportionately well-off. Presiding over it all, like a monolith of gentrification, is the Guggenheim. Yet despite this icon of culture, the city seems strangely quiet. Where are the local galleries, the music, the graffiti, the skateboarders? Spain’s difficulties with youth unemployment are well-documented, but I expected more twentysomethings in what is regularly billed as a cultural capital. Does the Guggenheim actually encourage creativity in the city, as advertised, or is it a Disneylandish castle on the hill with a fancy name and an expensive entrance fee for tourists and the well-heeled? Is the Bilbao effect to spread culture, or just to spread money? “The Guggenheim put our city on the map, no question. But you also can’t get anything support here unless it’s top-down,” says Manu Gómez-Álvarez, an animated man of around 40 wearing earrings and a black hoodie, who is the driving force behind ZAWP, the Zorrozaurre Art Working Progress, a cultural group based on the Bilbao peninsula that Zaha Hadid proposes to completely redevelop. ZAWP is precisely the kind of cultural organisation that gets praised in megacities like London and New York. It’s a decentralised collective of young artists, theatre-makers, musicians and designers, with co-making spaces in the old industrial buildings of Zorrozaurre and a thriving entrepreneurial atmosphere in their colourful, funky headquarters – which also house a bar, a cafe, a gig space and a theatre. Gómez-Álvarez is leading a movement he calls Meanwhile, which aims to use the still-derelict buildings of the peninsula as temporary sites for plays, gigs, artistic interventions or even just cafes. Every proposal, at every turn, gets the same answer back from the authorities: no. “There’s no support for grassroots culture,” he says. “We waited 20 years before we got any funding from the government at all.” Last year, he says ZAWP finally received a grant – but they still don’t get a permanent home in the new Zorrozaurre, and will almost certainly have to move again. It’s hard to imagine: ZAWP’s premises are huge, stretching through half a dozen buildings and decorated in amazingly elaborate detail. And yet “we are nomads”, says Gómez-Álvarez. I asked Igor de Quadra, who runs Karraskan Bilbao – a network of more than a dozen theatre groups, venues and creative organisations – what he thought of the Guggenheim’s effect. He struggled to frame his words carefully. “It is fine for what it is,” he said at last, “but it gets a lot of attention from people who are just passing through. Events like this [uCLG forum] take up a lot of attention, but don’t leave much behind for Bilbao culture. Frankly, we don’t think about the Guggenheim.” The Guggenheim certainly doesn’t claim to be in the business of fostering local culture, nor would you expect it to. The museum has some Basque art and occasionally runs cultural workshops, but it’s an international art museum, rather incongruously plonked down in northern Spain. (Extreme Basque nationalists didn’t take kindly to its arrival: the week before it opened, ETA killed a police officer in a foiled attempt to bomb the museum.) There are, of course, Basque cultural organisations in the city, such as Harrobia Bilbao, a performing arts group established in a former church in the Otxarkoaga area in 2011, but their presence feels surprisingly marginal in a city that is supposed to be at the heart of Basque culture. “In English Canada, culture’s nice to have – in French Canada, it’s crucial,” says Simon Brault, head of the Arts Council of Canada, talking about a similar dynamic between French-speaking Quebec and the rest of the country. Brault helmed what you might call an “anti-Bilbao effect” – a completely different type of culture-led regeneration in another struggling post-industrial city, Montreal. Brault helped found an open, non-hierarchical cultural network called Culture Montreal, which rather than speaking only to the Guggenheims and cultural superstars of the city, was open to everyday Montrealers – bar owners, teachers, musicians. “An artist just in from Chile would be at the same table as the head of Cirque du Soleil,” he says. The aim wasn’t to secure funding for massive projects, but to put culture at the heart of the city’s regeneration. It was controversial at first. “The cultural groups thought it was a distraction and that what the culture sector needed was more money,” he said. “But within a year, we got what cultural groups had been asking for for 20 years: a seat at the table.” Rather than championing culture only for an elite group of professionals – and asking for money just for the huge institutions – Culture Montreal was better received by city and provincial governments, says Brault. Their goals were less arrogant: to increase cultural access for Montrealers, and to include culture as part of the solution to any civic problems. They achieved this, Brault says, by making everyone feel as though culture was a daily part of everyone’s life, not something for a sophisticated few. “There is definitely room for starchitects, but it’s always better to tap into local culture rather than buy it from outside. You can’t do culture in a city without involving citizens,” he said. So, which is the better way for cities – bottom-up cultural movements or big-ticket splashes? “Of course, there will always be top-down decisions,” Brault said. “The key is to look for a middle ground.” Hadid’s billion-pound redevelopment of Zorrozaurre will be a test for that middle ground in Bilbao. Will its 6,000 new houses, two new technology centres and park genuinely engage with local culture, or will it simply be a flashy area for rich Spaniards looking for a waterfront property? The Bilbao effect might be famous, but it’s here that it could be truly tested. Those cities around the globe hoping a brand-name museum will save them should be watching carefully. “The Guggenheim Bilbao was a rare occurrence,” says museum consultant Maria Fernandez Sabau. “There was an incredible confluence of amazing, talented people. You had a museum that was hungry to expand, available land for cheap, a government with money, an architect itching to make a statement, and a city that desperately needed a new reason to exist. You can’t just buy that.” http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/apr/30/bilbao-effect-gehry-guggenheim-history-cities-50-buildings?CMP=twt_gu
  10. A stunning painting of a possible future (or present depending on how you look at it)… walled cities of techno-utopia surrounded by the rest of the world living in the middle ages. Hi-Res: http://www.radoxist.com/picture/54 Low-Res:
  11. C'est souvent intéressant de voir comment des Montréalais se connectent avec le reste du monde. May 11, 2008 Art By CAROL KINO PITTSBURGH BY celebrity standards the cartoonist Lynda Barry leads a reclusive existence. When she first developed a cult following in the 1980s, she cut a highly public figure, with frequent appearances on “Late Night With David Letterman” and the like. But after the market for her work began shrinking in the late 1990s, she gradually withdrew, refusing to talk on the phone with reporters or her editors. Today she draws her 30-year-old weekly strip, “Ernie Pook’s Comeek,” on a dairy farm just outside Footville, Wis., where she lives with her husband, Kevin Kawula, a prairie restoration expert. Since moving there six years ago, the couple have been relatively self-reliant, growing much of their own food and chopping their own wood for fuel. Even though Ms. Barry has a new book coming out next week — “What It Is,” which explains her method of making drawings and stories — she isn’t always eager to emerge. “I can go three weeks without leaving, or driving my car,” she said in a recent interview. But you would never guess that from Ms. Barry’s behavior on a recent weekend here. On a balmy spring day she stood at the front of a classroom, effusively greeting 25 strangers who had signed up for her two-day workshop, “Writing the Unthinkable,” which is also the basis for her new book. “I can’t believe you’re here and you look so 3-D!” she said, grinning toothily at them from beneath thick black glasses. “I was wondering about you all last night!” On a table behind her she had laid out scores of scribbled 3-by-5 note cards, each of which held a nugget of information that she would relay over the next several hours (like “Don’t read it over” and “An image is a pull toy that pulls you”). On the blackboard was a chalk drawing of Marlys, the spunky pigtailed kid protagonist of “Ernie Pook’s Comeek,” the strip about growing up that made Ms. Barry a star of new-wave comics soon after it began running in alternative weeklies in 1978. “Dang! I’m in Pittsburgh!” Marlys was saying in a word balloon. And Ms. Barry, who at 52 still has the habit of twisting her own curly red hair into Marlys-like pigtails, addressed her students in a similarly exclamation-mark-studded style. As they snapped open their three-ring binders, she said delightedly, “That’s the only sound I want at my funeral!” Taking the workshop, which Ms. Barry teaches several times a year, is a bit like witnessing an endurance-performance piece. Aided by her assistant, Betty Bong (in reality, Kelly Hogan, a torch singer who lives in Chicago), Ms. Barry sings, tells jokes, acts out characters and even dances a creditably sensual hula, all while keeping up an apparently extemporaneous patter on subjects like brain science, her early boy-craziness, her admiration for Jimmy Carter and the joys of menopause. But this is just camouflage for the workshop’s true purpose: to pass on an art-making method that Ms. Barry learned from Marilyn Frasca, her junior- and senior-year art teacher at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. It involves using a random word, like “cars” or “breasts,” to summon a memory in unexpected, filmic detail; writing about it by hand for a set time period (as she says, “Limitation creates structure!”); and then not reading it or talking about it for at least a week. Within the workshop it also involves positive feedback. As students read aloud, Ms. Barry kneels before them, head bowed, listening intently, and says: “Good! Good!” (“I was a kid who was never read to,” she explains.) This is essentially the method that Ms. Barry has always used, not just for “Ernie Pook” but also her novels: “The Good Times Are Killing Me” from 1988, about biracial childhood friends, and “Cruddy” (1999), whose 16-year-old narrator recounts a long-ago murder rampage. She also deployed it for “One! Hundred! Demons!,” a soulful 2002 graphic memoir that she describes as “autobifictionalography.” “What It Is,” which outlines the method in detail, could be considered a picture book for grown-ups. Using ink brush, pen and pencil drawings as well as collages and luminous watercolors, many of them on lined yellow legal paper, it explores deep philosophical questions like “What Is an Image?” (The answer, Ms. Barry says, is something “at the center of everything we call the arts.”) It also includes an activity book, instructions, assignments and several passages of purely autobiographical writing and drawing in which Ms. Barry recounts her own journey to making art. As the book starts, we see her as a child, crouching as still as possible in a corner, waiting patiently for pictures in her bedroom to come to life. “We lived in a trailer then, and any pictures we had up were taped to the walls,” she writes. “Sometimes they fell. But this is not what I mean when I say they could move.” Later we see her as a young adult, puzzling over the method as she learns it from Ms. Frasca. And later, on the farm with her husband, we see her battling depression and frowning as she struggles to quiet her inner editor’s voice and get back to making pictures and stories happen “in a way that didn’t involve thinking.” Meditations, stories and images float past in a random fashion, segueing between darkness and hope, or adulthood and childhood, the way they might in dreams or memory. “I think of images as an immune system and a transit system,” she said; not only does working with them keep her emotions running smoothly, but it has also taken her to unexpected places. (As she told the class: “I am here in Pittsburgh because I drew a picture. And all of you are in this room because you saw this picture.”) Clearly her ability to draw and tell stories was her ticket out of a difficult childhood. When she was 5, her family moved from Wisconsin to Seattle, where they at first lived with five Filipino families (Ms. Barry’s mother immigrated from the Philippines) in a house whose rooms were subdivided by bedsheets. Her father, a butcher, decamped a few years later, leaving Ms. Barry and her two younger brothers at the mercy of what she describes as an unhappy mother. (Ms. Barry said she has had no contact with either parent for more than 15 years, and “it’s been mutually joyful.”) Although her more fictional work has always focused on children, she is not sure why. “I used to think it was easy to write about them because their world is small,” she said. “But it might be because writing about what’s happening with people my age, I’m too deeply in it.” (Surprisingly, her next novel is about a man in his 70s.) Perhaps she has memorialized childhood because she didn’t have much of one herself. By 16 Ms. Barry was virtually independent, supporting herself by working nights and weekends as a hospital janitor. “I lived at home,” she said, “but that was it.” The experience gave her great exposure to people’s stories. “I don’t think it was good for me, necessarily, but I saw stuff, and I grew up really, really fast. And I wrote all this really sad janitorial poetry.” With savings, a scholarship and work-study Ms. Barry made it to college, where she struck up a long friendship with a fellow student, Matt Groening, the creator of “The Simpsons.” In those days Mr. Groening was editor of the school newspaper, and she was a reporter. As a self-described hippie, “I used to love to torment him because he looked really straight,” she said. “I always kind of mixed up drawings and words,” she said, “but college is where I definitely started to do cartoons, and it was mainly for Matt.” In secret she began to concoct odd drawings and zany letters to the editor, which she submitted anonymously. Mr. Groening, who knew it was her all along, called her bluff and published the lot. “I had a policy of running all letters to the editor, and Lynda took advantage of it,” he said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “She was very, very funny,” he said. “It seemed obvious that creative self-expression was going to be her life.” It was a happy accident that Ms. Barry graduated just as alternative weeklies were springing up around the country and searching, as she put it, “for oddball comics.” She soon became one of a small elite, her strip appearing with Mr. Groening’s “Life in Hell” alongside the work of Jules Feiffer. At its peak in the mid-1990s her strip appeared in 75 papers. She also published books and collections, and in 1991 her theatrical version of “The Good Times Are Killing Me” had an Off Broadway run. But her career took a nose dive as alternative weeklies fell victim to corporate acquisitions and mergers in the 1990s. “Ernie Pook’s Comeek” now appears in only six papers, and the bulk of her books are out of print. These days, Ms. Barry said, her most reliable source of income is eBay, where she sells original artwork, and MySpace, where she markets her workshops. She hit a low point in 2002, she said, right after the publication of “One! Hundred! Demons!,” when her longtime publisher, Sasquatch Books in Washington, rejected an early proposal for “What It Is” and declined to publish more new work. “It was like an ax in the forehead,” she said. But today her career seems on the verge of resurgence. In early 2006 Drawn & Quarterly, a small comics publisher in Montreal, approached her with a surprise offer to reprint her old work and collect all the Ernie Pook strips. Ms. Barry leapt at the opportunity and proffered her new book. The plan is to publish one Ernie Pook collection a year, starting this fall. In early 2009 another new book, “The Nearsighted Monkey,” on which she is working with her husband, will be issued. To Ms. Barry her career trajectory still seems somewhat unbelievable. “The fact that anybody knows what I do and likes it feels surreal to me,” she said. “It feels like the Make-a-Wish Foundation.”
  12. MONTREAL — Monday’s CBC-Ekos poll found that 42 per cent of 1,001 Quebec anglophone respondents have considered leaving the province following last September’s Parti Québécois election victory. Promising them anonymity, I asked two anglos who are exceptionally familiar with this attitude for their thoughts. One of them, a natural-resources executive, is himself leaving Quebec this month. This born-and-bread Montrealer earns $300,000 to $500,000 most years, which puts him in top one per cent of income earners. He’s the sort of person whom students wearing the red square regard with suspicion while demanding that he pay higher taxes to help finance their entitlements. But they won’t get his help any more. His furniture is being shipped next week. Several months ago — after the PQ victory — he turned down an offer to become president of a natural-resources company working in Labrador. The reason: “The owners wanted me to live in Montreal.” What’s wrong with that? Primarily the taxes, he says. The fiscal crunch was bad enough when the Liberals were in power — Quebec in 2012 ranked second in Canada (after Newfoundland and Labrador) for combined local, provincial and federal taxes. When he earned half a million dollars in stock options several years ago, Quebec took 39 per cent in taxes. Ontario would have taken 30 per cent. So that’s where he’s moving — eastern Ontario. He’ll wave goodbye to the sovereignty threat and the income-tax hike that the Marois government imposed on Jan. 1. (It brings the rate for people earning $100,000 or more to 25.75 per cent from 24 per cent.) Was language also factor? No and yes, he says. No because he’s fluently bilingual — he’s a fan of French TV. “The anglos who left Quebec for language left a generation ago,” he says. “The rest of us learned French.” But, yes, the linguistic climate is still aggravating. The vigorous 60-year-old owns a modest natural-resources firm in Africa, and hates having to communicate to the Quebec government on corporate matters in French. What also rankles is how ordinary people — a cable technician visiting his West Island home, for example, or a security scanner at Trudeau — sometimes refuse to speak in English. “I feel like a foreigner in my own country.” Also weighing in his decision to leave is the PQ’s hesitation to push forward quickly with Plan Nord. His company’s employees are in Africa, not here, so no one is losing a job. But this most indebted of provinces is losing his considerable tax revenue — and that of others whom, he says, are likewise trickling into Ontario or into northern New York State. His parting thoughts. “The government needs to cut expenditures, cut tax rates and mean it when it says it is open for business.” It also has to grasp that the Internet makes for mobility. “Members of my board of directors live on different continents, and I hold board meeting from my home on Skype. Nothing keeps me in Quebec.” Moral: “The government has to make people want to live here.” Now there’s a radical thought. Sharing it is my second interviewee. He’s a partner in the Montreal office of a headhunting firm with operations in dozens of countries. This veteran recruiter of executive talent for local companies says, “Montreal has a shallow talent pool, and it’s become shallower since the PQ’s election. “The problem is not just that anglos are leaving Quebec — they’ve been leaving for years and years. The problem is also that we’ve built a great big fence around Quebec that effectively keeps outside talent out. Any dynamic economy has to cross-fertilize with other cities and bring in new talent.” The election has made that tougher. He estimates that 20 to 30 per cent of Americans whom his firm approaches now consider the city, at least at first view. Yet only 10 per cent of Canadians from other provinces do. Why the difference? “Canadians are more aware of conditions here.” He sighs: “I try to put a positive spin on coming here — I talk about the opportunity to learn French and the joie de vivre.” But the barriers to entry are imposing. Like the Ontario-bound executive, he says that, despite the low cost of living here, taxes are the No. 1 deterrent. No. 2 is Bill 101’s restriction on access to English schools. Other handicaps: the difficulty in obtaining social services in English, the shrinking size of the English community (which reduces the options on where some newcomers want to live) and, not least, the problems that two-income families encounter. Many executives’ spouses are lawyers, doctors, accountants or dentists, for example, and they cannot pursue their careers without passing French-proficiency tests. To be sure, these problems existed before the election. “But,” he says, “before the vote we had a government that at least was pro-business and sought political stability. Now we have a government that’s pro-socialism and is in effect pro-instability.” The bottom line: “Quebec is being starved for intellectual capital.” It’s a vicious circle: As Quebec loses talent it becomes more difficult to attract talent, and so more businesses leave and there is less demand for talent. It’s déjà vu: We saw far more intense versions of this scenario after the 1976 election of the PQ and the 1995 referendum. And if that history is any guide, we know that PQ sees the starvation of that capital as a worthwhile price to pay when pushing for sovereignty. Expect no relief. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Henry+Aubin+Taxes+Bill+drive+people+away/7981947/story.html#ixzz2LMmH4Xdi
  13. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/Heritage+building+revamped+LEED+certification/5397141/story.html#ixzz1XsiSv9iG
  14. End of an Era on Wall Street: Goodbye to All That By TIM ARANGO and JULIE CRESWELL Published: October 4, 2008 JUST before midnight 10 days ago, as a financial whirlwind tore through Wall Street, someone filched a 75-pound bronze bust of Harry Poulakakos from the vestibule of his landmark saloon on Hanover Square in Manhattan. Harry Poulakakos at his restaurant, which has been part of the Wall Street culture now being transformed by the financial crisis. “If Wall Street is not active,” he warned, “nothing is active.” Digging into a bowl of beef stroganoff the day after the bust disappeared — it was eventually returned anonymously — Mr. Poulakakos recalled some of the customers who had passed through his doors since he opened his bar, Harry’s, 36 years ago. Ivan Boesky once had a Christmas party there. Michael Milken worked over at 60 Broad. Tom Wolfe immortalized the joint in “The Bonfire of the Vanities.” Mr. Poulakakos says he even got to know Henry M. Paulson Jr., the former Goldman Sachs chief executive and now the Treasury secretary. Mr. Poulakakos, 70, has also seen his share of ups and downs on the Street, including the 1987 stock market crash, when Harry’s filled up at 4 p.m. and stayed open all night. But the upheaval he’s witnessing now — much of Wall Street evaporating in a swift and brutal reordering — is, he said, the worst in decades. “I hope this is going to be over,” he said. “If Wall Street is not active, nothing is active.” Mr. Poulakakos, rest assured, isn’t planning to disappear. But the cultural tableau and the social swirl that once surrounded Harry’s are certainly fading. “It’s the beginning of the end of the era of infatuation with the free market,” said Steve Fraser, author of “Wall Street: America’s Dream Palace,” and a historian. “It’s the end of the era where Wall Street carries high degrees of power and prestige. And it’s the end of the era of conspicuous displays of wealth. We are entering a new chapter in our history.” To be sure, living large and flaunting it are unlikely to exit the American stage, infused as they are in the country’s mojo. But with Congress having approved a $700 billion banking bailout, historians, economists and pundits are also busily debating the ways in which Wall Street’s demise will filter into the popular culture. It’s an era that traces its roots back more than two decades, when suspendered titans first became fodder for books and movies. It’s an era when eager young traders wearing khakis and toting laptops became dot-com millionaires overnight. And it is an era that roared into hyperdrive during the credit boom of the last decade, when M.B.A.’s and mathematicians raked in millions by trading and betting on ever more exotic securities. Over all, the past quarter-century has redefined the notion of wealth. In 1982, the first year of the Forbes 400 list, it took about $159 million in today’s dollars to make the list; this year, the minimum price of entry was $1.3 billion. As finance jockeyed with technology as economic bellwethers, job hunters, fortune seekers and the news media hopped along for the ride. CNBC became must-see TV on trading floors and in hair salons, while people gobbled up stories about private yachts, pricey jets and lavish parties, each one bigger and grander than the last. Finance made enormous and important strides in these years — new ways to parse risk, more opportunities for businesses and individuals to bankroll dreams — but for the average onlooker the industry seemed to be one endless party. In 1989, tongues wagged when the 50th birthday celebration for the financier Saul Steinberg featured live models posing as Old Masters paintings. That bash was outdone last year, when Stephen A. Schwarzman, head of the private equity firm Blackstone, feted guests at a 60th birthday party boasting an estimated price tag of $5 million, video tributes and the singer Rod Stewart. “The money was big in the ’80s, compared to the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Now it’s stunning,” said Oliver Stone, who directed the 1987 film “Wall Street” and is the son of a stockbroker. “I thought the ’80s would have been an end to a cycle. I thought there would be a bust. But that’s not what happened.” Now, with jobs, fortunes and investment banks lost, a cultural linchpin seems to be slipping away. “This feels very similar, historically, to 1929 and the emotions that filled the air in the months and years that followed the crash,” Mr. Fraser said. “There is a sense of extraordinary shock and astonishment, which is followed by a sense of rage, outrage and anger directed at the centers of finance.” A WALL STREET hotshot was in a real-estate quandary, and he wanted Barbara Corcoran to help him sort things out. “This is a finance guy making a ton of money and he was trying to decide whether he should sell the country home in Connecticut, the apartment here in the city or the 8,000-square-foot dream home in Oregon that he just finished,” recalled Ms. Corcoran, who has spent years selling high-end luxury properties to New York’s elite. Daintily pulling the shell off a soft-boiled egg at a busy restaurant, she said she had fielded call after call from anxious Wall Streeters trying to decide between signing contracts on multimillion-dollar properties or renegotiating because of the downturn. (Renegotiate, she advises.) Skip to next paragraph Enlarge This Image Mark Lennihan/Associated Press Limos lined up at the Lehman Brothers headquarters, pre-bankruptcy. Enlarge This Image Carl T. Gossett/The New York Times The New York Stock Exchange on New Year’s Eve, 1971, in the innocent days before the Gordon Gekko’s arrived, before the 1987 crash and before the credit crisis tarnished the second Gilded Age. But this particular financier, whom Ms. Corcoran declined to identify, was interested in unloading property so he could time the absolute tippy-top of the real-estate market, not because his wallet had thinned. “He decided to list the country home in Connecticut,” Ms. Corcoran said, shrugging as she bit into her egg. If there has been one thing that has kept pace with the outsize personas on Wall Street, it’s the gigantic paychecks they’ve hauled in. Since the mid-1980s, top traders, bankers, hedge fund managers and private equity gurus have reeled in millions of dollars in rotten years and tens and hundreds of millions — a handful even making billions — while the good times rolled. For instance, Steven A. Cohen, a high-profile hedge fund manager who leads SAC Capital Advisors, spent more than $14 million in 1998 for his 30-room mansion in Greenwich, Conn. Then he spiffed up the place with a basketball court, an indoor pool, an outdoor skating rink — with its own Zamboni — a movie theater and showpieces from the art collection on which he has spent hundreds of millions in recent years. So it’s unlikely that hedge fund stars like Mr. Cohen are headed for the bread lines. Two weeks ago, as Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, Bank of America rescued Merrill Lynch, and regulators and bankers anxiously tried to figure out how to save the Street from itself, the world’s affluent plunked down more than $200 million in a two-day auction in London, snapping up the latest works by the British artist Damien Hirst. Still, some will inevitably downsize. “The yacht is probably the first thing to go,” said Jonathan Beckett, in a telephone interview from Monte Carlo as he attended the annual Monaco Yacht Show last month. Mr. Beckett, the chief executive of Burgess, a yacht broker, said that for the past eight years there have been few sellers in the market. That is starting to change, said Mr. Beckett, who noted that a handful of yachts had been put up for sale, ranging in price from $10 million to $150 million. Even party time has shortened. “In the last couple of weeks, since the bottom fell out of the market, we’ve seen people become more reticent to sign commitments for some expensive venues,” said Joseph Todd St. Cyr, director of Joseph Todd Events, which plans weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs for clients whom he describes as nonshowy, sophisticated Park Avenue types. “I had one client who was ready to book the Plaza for a wedding, but now he wants to know what are his other options and whether the Plaza will back down on its minimum spending requirement, which runs about $80,000 to $100,000 for a prime Saturday night date,” Mr. St. Cyr said. “Bar and bat mitzvahs in this town had become a little bit of a show. There’s a little bit of outdoing the Joneses and the Cohens,” he added, noting that typical parties, if devoid of appearances by N.F.L. superstars or the Black Eyed Peas, range from $150,000 to $400,000. Even though some clients may not have been hurt in the downturn, they simply don’t want to have an overly ostentatious party in this environment, he said. SHOWY homes are also on the block. Joseph M. Gregory, Lehman’s president and chief operating officer who was replaced in June, a couple of months before the firm filed for bankruptcy, listed his oceanfront, 2.5-acre, eight-bedroom Bridgehampton home for $32.5 million this summer. Mr. Gregory could not be reached for comment. While brokers say they have yet to see an avalanche of high-end sales, they do say that upheaval is present in the minds of buyers. Once a hamlet for the moneyed old guard, Greenwich has found itself in recent years overrun by flashy hedge fund and private equity managers. But with the markets in flux, some high-end homes with price tags as high as $3 million to $8 million that sat unsold for six months or longer are now being offered as rentals, said Barbara Wells, a local Realtor. “I had a rental on the market for $11,500 a month. On Monday, we got an offer for $8,500, which we countered with $9,500. They came back with $8,000,” she said. “I told them they were going the wrong way but they said, because of what was happening in the financial markets, this is our new offer. And guess what? The owner accepted it.” Also shocking, she said, is the fact that some of the new homes offered for rent were houses built on spec. In all likelihood, the real estate market could be frozen for the next 6 to 18 months or so as buyers and sellers struggle to reach agreement on prices, Ms. Corcoran said. “The buyers have jumped to the sidelines and the sellers refuse to budge on their prices, completely in a state of disbelief that anything has changed,” she said. Job losses and lower bonuses are likely to hurt sales of apartments in New York, particularly starter abodes like studios, one bedrooms and basic two bedrooms. “The lowest-priced properties are always hit hardest first and recover last,” said Ms. Corcoran, who estimates that 20 to 25 percent of apartment buyers in the city work on Wall Street. “The rich have more wiggle room.” Skip to next paragraph Enlarge This Image Neal Boenzi/The New York Times, top; Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times Michael R. Milken, top, in 1978, and Ivan F. Boesky, bottom, in 1987. The two men, both of whom went to prison, became symbols of Wall Street’s excesses. Enlarge This Image Janet Durrans for The New York Times The Greenwich, Conn., mansion of Steven A. Cohen. After buying it in 1998, he added amenities befitting a hedge fund king, like an outdoor skating rink. Despite the malaise, she says she sees some hope. “This feels like 1987,” after the stock market crashed, she declared. “It’s not even close to ’73 or ’74, when people used to feel sorry for you if you told them you lived in New York City.” That said, Ms. Corcoran said that data she once compiled showed that apartment prices in New York had peaked in 1988, one year after the ’87 crash, and taken 11 years to recover. Of course, there’s another much-watched barometer of Wall Street buoyancy: traffic at some of the city’s high-end strip clubs. During the heyday of the Wall Street boom in the 1990s, Lincoln Town Cars, Rolls-Royces and Bentleys were often found idling outside places like Scores. Inside, according to people who were present at the time, groups of brokers routinely dropped $50,000 and even $100,000 in a single night. In the “presidential suite” at Scores, with its own wine steward who delivered $3,200 bottles of Champagne, the tabs grew quickly. While dancers may not receive gifts like the ones once lavished upon them — say, a $10,000 line of credit at Bloomingdale’s or a pair of $125,000 earrings — the clubs still appear to be filled with brokers, bankers and foreign businessmen. On a recent night at Rick’s Cabaret in New York, men in suits and ties were in full force. At around 10 p.m. — early for a strip club — 10 of the club’s 11 private rooms on the second floor were booked. “Men will never grow tired of the high-class strip-club experience,” said Lonnie Hanover, a spokesman for Rick’s Cabaret International in New York. Rick’s, which is publicly traded on the Nasdaq and has 19 clubs across the country, even plans to expand. “When times are tough, there is no better form of escapism than a night at a gentlemen’s club,” he added. IN the early 1980s, Mr. Stone (who gave the world Gordon Gekko and the “Greed is good” mantra in “Wall Street”) spent time in Miami doing research for his movie “Scarface” (with its cocaine-snorting gangster Tony Montana). When he returned to New York he noticed a shift in the city’s culture of high finance, a world he was familiar with from his childhood. While Wall Streeters weren’t packing guns, other similarities startled him. “What shocked me was I met all these guys who at a young age were making millions and they were acting like these guys in Miami,” Mr. Stone recalled. “There’s not much difference between Gordon Gekko and Tony Montana.” “Money was worshiped and continues to be worshiped,” Mr. Stone added. “Maybe that will change now.” Adoration of riches is hardly new, however. In the mid- to late 19th century, the Gilded Age — a term Mark Twain coined in 1873 — offered equally ostentatious displays of wealth and a broadening gulf between rich and poor. “In the Gilded Age, they built great, enormous palazzos in Newport that they lived in for six weeks a year,” said the historian John Steele Gordon, whose book, “An Empire of Wealth,” chronicles that era. “During the last 25 years, it’s certainly been a gilded age in the sense that enormous fortunes have been built up in an unprecedented way.” Part of Wall Street’s allure for the young and ambitious was that anyone — regardless of education or breeding — could hit it big and live like a kingpin. Consider, for instance, Jordan Belfort. In 1987, Mr. Belfort, then a down-on-his-luck former meat-and-seafood distributor, was standing outside an apartment building in Bayside, Queens, when a childhood acquaintance who worked on Wall Street pulled up in a Ferrari. “This was a guy who you never would have expected would be making this kind of money,” Mr. Belfort recalled in a recent telephone interview. “I was broke, broke, broke, down to my last $100.” Mr. Belfort hit the Street in the late 1980s, and he recounted his adventure last year in a book called “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which he published after serving almost two years in prison for securities fraud and stock manipulation. He recently finished a second installment, “Catching the Wolf of Wall Street,” to be released in February. When he first struck it rich, he followed a well-trodden path for Wall Street upstarts. “First thing I did was go out and buy a Jaguar,” he said. “Step One is you get the car. Step Two, you get a great watch. Then great restaurants, and then maybe a place in the Hamptons — a summer share with another broker.” Whatever the Street’s excesses, it did offer individuals and institutions reliable, sophisticated and often efficient ways to trade and invest, helping to spread some of the wealth. Markets were democratized as individuals who had never before bought a stock or bond dabbled in investing, even if that meant simply plunking down money in a mutual fund, or participating in their company 401(k) plans. New technologies and the ability to trade stocks cheaply opened the financial doors to more people. As home prices rose, meanwhile, homeowners were enticed to tap into their new wealth through home equity loans and then used that money to pay for their own version of a lavish lifestyle. DESPITE these gains in the middle class, though, the truly wealthy have pulled away from the pack. Not since the late 1920s, just before the 1929 market crash, has there been such a concentration of income among individuals and families in very upper reaches of the income spectrum, according to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Paris School of Economics. Some say that anger over the yawning wealth divide found traction in the highly charged and polarizing debate in Congress over the bailout bill. Mr. Fraser, the historian, says that anger is informed by the de-industrialization of the American economy in recent decades. Factory closings and the loss of manufacturing jobs that paid decent, middle-class wages coincided with the heady expansion of the financial sector, where compensation soared. “That means that people in Ohio and Pennsylvania have not been living as high on the hog as those on Wall Street,” Mr. Fraser said. “There’s a real sense of anger at that unfairness.” Even if the current crisis leads to a prolonged slowdown, people may still flock to finance jobs. But they may have to recalibrate their expectations. “There’s no question that people on Wall Street are going to make less money,” said Jonathan A. Knee, a Columbia Business School professor and author of “The Accidental Investment Banker.” Like any cultural force concerned about its legacy, the financial world has a custodian of its past. On Wall Street, it can be found at the Museum of American Financial History, just a block from the New York Stock Exchange. Located in a grand space once occupied by the Bank of New York, it features a long timeline charting major market events. The last event it notes is the popping of the dot-com bubble earlier this decade. Robert E. Wright, a financial historian at New York University who is a curator of the museum, said that there were still many unknowns about how recent events would be recalled. “If the economic system shuts down and we go in for a deep recession, it probably is the end of an era,” he said. Hedging its bets, the museum has already started collecting mementos from the current crisis to post on its wall.
  15. I'm a huge James Bond fan. I happened to stumble upon this: It would be awesome in the 23rd 007 film (coming in 2011), if Bond made an appearance in Montreal (even if it was short). Just imagine James Bond walking along a cobblestone street in Old Montreal on his way to a rendez-vous with a local informant. He hasn't yet set foot in Canada yet in one of the movies. Montreal seems like the perfect location (although Quebec City and Newfoundland are close seconds). When you think about it: The producer of the original Bond films, Harry Saltzman was from Sherbrooke. Joseph Wiseman the first major Bond villain (Dr. No) was from Montreal. It would do wonders for the city's tourism industry and international image!
  16. You’ll probably be surprised if you live in Brookside to know that the median home price went up 17 percent in the past year — to more than $3 million. Actually, that’s Brookside, N.J., No. 10 on Forbes’ list of most expensive ZIP codes. Here they are, with median home price and percentage change from last year. The two New York City areas are listed by ZIP. 1. Alpine, N.J., $4,139,041, -23% 2. Atherton, Calif., $3,849,133, -26% 3. New York 10014, $3,521,514, -24% 4. Duarte, Calif., $3,444,773, +18% 5. Beverly Hills, Calif., $3,367,167, -5% 6. Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., $3,362,493, -12% 7. Santa Barbara, Calif., $3,284,652, -9% 8. Los Altos Hills, Calif., $3,277,500, +4% 9. New York 10065, $3,176,534, -10% 10. Brookside, N.J., $3,121,115, +17% Interesting footnote: “Stop Acting Rich,” Thomas J. Stanley (John A. Wiley & Sons) The author who brought us “The Millionaire Next Door” and “The Millionaire Mind” is back with a volume on the value of thrift, subtitled “And Start Living Like a Real Millionaire.” Stanley’s research finds that those who want to be rich spend a lot more than people who actually are rich — and that the real millionaires’ frugality often had a lot to do with their accumulating real wealth. "About 90% of millionaires lives in homes valued at under $1 million." Meanwhile only about 27% of homes valued at more than $1 million are owned by millionaires. http://www.kansascity.com/business/story/1504749.html
  17. C'est ce que j'adore de Montréal, et de sa communauté anglophone: cette façon d'être elle-même vraiment distincte du ROC et des USA. Ça paraît dans la langue utilisée. Cette particularité est pour moi une richesse indéniable de notre ville et du Québec en entier. Même une grande source de fierté! http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Montreal+English+true+sais+quoi/6941480/story.html
  18. Selon un communiqué de presse du CTBUH: Je ne sais combien de mètres de plus ça donne au 1000 de la Gauchetière, il faudra envoyer quelqu'un mesurer
  19. I have to agree. Having visited Toronto during the past summer, I strongly feel that they butchered what was a nice building before. If I was a Torontonian, I would be fuming.
  20. NJ's new monumental build revealed RMJM Hillier have unveiled their design for Vista Center, a new LEED Platinum office tower in Trenton, which will be the city’s largest commercial development in decades. At a time of economic crisis, this major investment will bring new jobs, revenue and an iconic tower to New Jersey’s Capital City. Trenton’s Planning Board unanimously approved the preliminary site plan in late 2008. Vista Center is a 25-storey, 700,000-square-foot Class A office building planned directly adjacent to the Trenton Transit Center, the second busiest train station on New Jersey’s Northeast Corridor, which runs from Boston to Washington. The transit-oriented development will include 12,000 sq ft of ground-level retail, a parking garage for more than 1,140 cars and two public art components – a plaza with a signature sculpture and lobby with a video art installation. The project is targeting a LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Sustainable features include roof-mounted solar panels, energy efficient lighting with daylight dimming to lower electric bills, high performance façades with low-e glazing to reduce heating and cooling expenses, storm water collection and low VOC interior finishes ensuring healthier air quality for occupants. The Trenton Transit Center, which is the final phase of a $75 million renovation program, is a major hub along the Northeast Corridor, served by NJ Transit, AMTRAK, SEPTA and the NJ Riverline. The combination of four train lines and a location seconds from U.S. Route 1 provide exceptional connectivity to the region’s workforce. The concept for Vista Center emerged from a larger urban plan that envisions great potential for this area – adjacent to the Trenton Transit Center and within walking distance to Trenton’s historic neighborhoods, offices and cultural facilities. The tower and plazas will effectively fill in the gaps around the train station and provide pedestrian pathways. “The design aims to create a memorable gateway to the city that will attract people and businesses because they want to work in a building that is beautiful, healthy, energy-efficient, and you don’t need a car to get there,” says Sergio Coscia, RMJM architect and the project’s designer. “The City of Trenton and the developer are setting a wonderful example for the rest of the state and the region on the importance of investing in transit-oriented development and sustainable design.” http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/index.php?fuseaction=wanappln.projectview&upload_id=11331
  21. MONTREAL - Montreal must be the bad-news capital of Canada. That’s the impression I got from an email I received last Saturday from Jean-François Dumas, the president of a Montreal-based media-monitoring service, Influence Communication. Dumas was responding to my column in Saturday’s Gazette. In the column, I speculated that negative publicity outside Quebec about the Pastagate affair may be a factor in what so far has been a disappointing summer tourist season in Montreal. “Pastagate” refers to the furor last February over the unsuccessful attempt by Quebec’s French-language-protection agency to force a Montreal restaurant to add French translations to the Italian names of dishes on its menu. As I mentioned in my column, Dumas’s firm reported less than a week after the story broke that Pastagate had become the subject of 350 articles in 14 countries as far away as Australia, and many more articles in Canada. Dumas’s firm started monitoring media coverage in 2000, And he said in his email that for the first several years, it found that Quebec received “softball” (bonbon) coverage in the international media. Most of it, 58 per cent, was about either Quebec’s culture or its tourist attractions. “The foreign press essentially praised Quebec for its European character, its dining, its hospitality and its cultural richness and dynamism. “The foreign press essentially praised Quebec for its European character, its dining, its hospitality and its cultural richness and dynamism. “It was even said often that Montreal was an ‘incubator for cultural products and ideas.’ “The only criticism addressed to Quebec concerned its exploitation and exportation of asbestos to developing countries.” That began to change early last year, during the disruptive and sometimes violent student protests against the former Liberal government’s university-fee increases. In the last 18 months, said Dumas, a series of events had “considerably changed” Quebec’s image in the foreign media. “In fact, one might even say that Quebec has become one big news story” in itself — and a mostly negative one. Dumas listed a “Top 15” of the Quebec stories that received the most coverage in international media since the beginning of 2012 (see accompanying list). Except for the papal candidacy of Quebec City Cardinal Marc Ouellet, most of the stories were negative. (Pastagate ranked No. 11). And most of them were linked to Montreal. If that doesn’t make Montreal the bad-news capital of Canada, I don’t know what is. I can’t think of another Canadian city that has produced nearly as many big, negative news stories in the same period. The mayor of Toronto is alleged to have smoked crack? Pfft. The actual arrest of Montreal’s mayor only made it to No. 8 on Dumas’s list. A police raid at Montreal city hall just cracked the list at No. 15. In a demonstration of the media version of Gresham’s law in economics, the bad coverage of Montreal has driven out the good. Dumas noted that in the past 18 months, Quebec’s cultural and tourist attractions have lost 65 per cent of their share of international media coverage. And, he concluded, the damage to the images of Quebec in general and Montreal in particular is not good for their economies. “If one accepts that a city, a province or a country is a bit like a brand in foreign media, and that the interest of others helps generate tourism, immigration and investments, I believe that we should seriously question ourselves about the state of our collective assets.” Montreal hoteliers might agree. The latest figures obtained from the Hotel Association of Greater Montreal show that last month, compared with July 2011, the number of nightly room occupations in its 77 member hotels in the metropolitan region was down by 40,000. Top 15 Quebec news stories by volume of international media coverage since January 2012 (Source: Influence Communication) 1. Lac-Mégantic disaster 2. Magnotta case 3. Student protests 4. Helicopter jailbreak 5. Charbonneau inquiry and corruption 6. Quebec papal candidate 7. Metropolis shooting 8. Arrest of Montreal mayor Applebaum 9. Gatineau shooting 10. Explosion at fireworks factory 11. Pastagate 12. Turban in soccer 13. Resignation of Montreal mayor Tremblay 14. Shafia “honour” killing trial 15. Police raid at Montreal city hall [email protected] Twitter: MacphersonGaz © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  22. March 15, 2009 ON THE HOMEFRONT By JONATHAN MAHLER A few years ago, while working on a profile of Mayor Bloomberg for this magazine, I had dinner with his deputy mayor for economic development, Dan Doctoroff, at an Italian restaurant in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. At the time, the city was flush with cash — weeks earlier, it reported a budget surplus of $3.4 billion — the Dow was above 12,000 and still climbing and Doctoroff was presiding over a long list of extensive public-private projects across the five boroughs, bold strokes of urban re-engineering reminiscent of the days of Robert Moses. As a violent summer storm raged outside, Doctoroff sketched out for me Bloomberg’s ambitious plans for New York. The rail yards and warehouses of the far West Side would be replaced by condos, hotels and retail stores. Thousands of apartment units and a new arena for the Nets would rise on the site of the Atlantic Yards in downtown Brooklyn. Penn Station would undergo a gut renovation (and be renamed after Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan). Lower Manhattan would be transformed into a recreational playground, with cafes, performing-arts pavilions, ball fields, an outdoor ice rink, even a floating garden on the East River. I’ve been thinking a lot about that dinner over the past several months, while watching the Dow plummet and the city’s unemployment rate soar. All of Bloomberg’s mega-projects are now indefinitely delayed, victims, in part, of the credit crunch and the mounting municipal deficit. Even if he’s elected to a third term, the mayor probably won’t ever realize his grand vision for New York. And yet his legacy is already visible on the city’s landscape. It is less sweeping, perhaps, but no less significant: he empowered the private sector to remake the city bit by bit. This was partly a function of the way Bloomberg ran New York, a natural byproduct of his ability to govern the ungovernable city. “The perception under Bloomberg has been that New York is a good place to do business, and that’s very important for developers,” says Jonathan Miller, one of the city’s best-known real estate appraisers. But it was also deliberate. Bloomberg is a businessman. He believes in growth and has faith in the private sector. His administration expedited permits and signed off on building designs with minimal interference. It also freed up underutilized land — old piers, elevated freight lines, warehousing districts, rail yards — either by rezoning or by threatening to employ its powers of eminent domain. In many cases it offered attractive incentives, most notably tax breaks, to encourage companies to build. The administration did its share of construction too, adding parks across the boroughs and along the city’s long-neglected waterfront and, in partnership with private developers, initiating New York’s largest affordable-housing project in decades. You don’t have to be an architect or an urban planner to recognize how much the city was transformed along the way. Walk around most neighborhoods in Manhattan and many neighborhoods in the outer boroughs, and you will be confronted with new construction, whether the steel-and-glass condominium complexes that tower above the old factories and warehouses on the rezoned waterfront of Greenpoint and Williamsburg; the 43-story headquarters for Goldman Sachs that recently sprouted in Lower Manhattan (thanks, in part, to a generous financial incentive from the city); or the two virgin ballparks where the Yankees and Mets will soon open their 2009 seasons (with the help of big municipal tax breaks and an enormous infrastructure investment in the stadium’s respective neighborhoods). All of these structures represent the newest layer in a cityscape that bears witness to the cyclical nature of New York’s economy. The post-Civil War bonanza, when New York cemented its status as the nation’s commercial and financial capital, produced the iconic cast-iron structures of today’s SoHo; the city’s ur-luxury apartment building, the Dakota; and such Beaux-Arts masterpieces as the American Museum of Natural History. (Not to mention a park, Central Park, laid out on an undesirable strip of land that had housed pigsties, slaughterhouses and shantytowns.) It was during the Roaring Twenties that many of the city’s most recognizable steel skyscrapers — the Chanin and Chrysler buildings, among them — sprang to life. Post-World War II peace and prosperity ushered in a wave of Modernist structures like the Seagram Building and Lever House. The “greed is good,” precrash 1980s brought another real estate boom to New York, though one with a limited impact on the physical appearance of the city. Much of the development community’s energy was focused on converting rental units into co-ops. The new construction was largely confined to the island of Manhattan and, with the notable exception of the handiwork of a young real estate mogul named Donald Trump, was generally unremarkable. During the most recent binge, with property values soaring and capital readily available to both builders and buyers, developers didn’t bother with generic, low-slung apartment buildings and conversions. Soaring glass condo towers sprang up everywhere. New York, long criticized for its lack of cutting-edge architecture, became a destination for celebrity architects like Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Charles Gwathmey and Renzo Piano. That era is over. Since November, some $5 billion worth of development has been delayed or canceled. New York is again a city of abandoned lots, half-finished buildings and free-floating anxiety. “At this particular moment, I think that everyone who is honest with themselves can’t but help think about 1929, which came at the end of an extraordinarily fertile period for architecture,” says Robert A. M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture and designer of the apartment building 15 Central Park West, which in 2007 earned the distinction of being the highest-priced new apartment building in the history of New York. Even for the rare developers who still have credit lines, there’s the separate question of whether they want to bring a new building to a market with vacancy rates climbing all over the city. The city has been here before. Work on the Empire State Building was completed in 1931, when the Great Depression was already under way. Renters were scarce — so scarce, in fact, that the city’s tallest skyscraper became known as “the Empty State Building.” Not until 1950 did it become profitable. During the 1970s, those infamous years of white flight and urban blight, the city was so broke and certain neighborhoods so desperate and depleted that one former city-housing commissioner, Roger Starr, suggested that New York simply cut off services to them and let them die — “planned shrinkage,” he called it. The current downturn, like the previous downturns, is not something to celebrate; the city and its residents will suffer. But the building boom, while breathing new life into a number of long-struggling neighborhoods, was problematic in its own right. New York got some first-class architecture, but it also got more than its share of eyesores, and the proliferation of luxury-condo towers accelerated the regrettable transformation of Manhattan into an island of the wealthy. Too much of the new construction did nothing to enrich the fabric of the city. “Here we practice the art of the deal, not the art of the city,” as the architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable has put it. The downturn will give New York a chance to pause and reflect on this period of hyperactive development, and to think about what sort of buildings it needs in the future. Better still, the absence of private capital may spur federal investment that could enable the city to not simply patch up its deteriorating infrastructure but to reinvent it for a new, greener era. “Even though we’ve come through a period of real economic development, we have an infrastructure that badly needs investment and imagination,” says Vin Cipolla, president of New York’s Municipal Arts Society. For its part, the Bloomberg administration has no intention of scaling back its Moses-like ambitions. When I spoke recently with Doctoroff, who is now president of Bloomberg L.P., he told me that he and his colleagues had always envisioned their grand scheme as part of a long-term plan for New York. They never assumed they could outrun the next bust. “We are now in the middle of the 12th serious downturn since New York became a major financial center in the early 19th century,” Doctoroff said. “The lesson of every single one of these previous 11 busts is that the city always comes back stronger than ever. History is perfect on that one.” Jonathan Mahler is a contributing writer. His most recent book is “The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight Over Presidential Power.” Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company Privacy Policy Search Corrections RSS First Look Help Contact Us Work for Us Site Map http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/realestate/keymagazine/15Key-lede-t.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=future%20of%20skyscrapers&st=cse
  23. April 7, 2009 By MELENA RYZIK Apologies to residents of the Lower East Side; Williamsburg, Brooklyn; and other hipster-centric neighborhoods. You are not as cool as you think, at least according to a new study that seeks to measure what it calls “the geography of buzz.” The research, presented in late March at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers, locates hot spots based on the frequency and draw of cultural happenings: film and television screenings, concerts, fashion shows, gallery and theater openings. The buzziest areas in New York, it finds, are around Lincoln and Rockefeller Centers, and down Broadway from Times Square into SoHo. In Los Angeles the cool stuff happens in Beverly Hills and Hollywood, along the Sunset Strip, not in trendy Silver Lake or Echo Park. The aim of the study, called “The Geography of Buzz,” said Elizabeth Currid, one of its authors, was “to be able to quantify and understand, visually and spatially, how this creative cultural scene really worked.” To find out, Ms. Currid, an assistant professor in the School of Policy, Planning and Development at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and her co-author, Sarah Williams, the director of the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, mined thousands of photographs from Getty Images that chronicled flashy parties and smaller affairs on both coasts for a year, beginning in March 2006. It was not a culturally comprehensive data set, the researchers admit, but a wide-ranging one. And because the photos were for sale, they had to be of events that people found inherently interesting, “a good proxy for ‘buzz-worthy’ social contexts,” they write. You had to be there, but where exactly was there? And why was it there? The answers were both obvious and not, a Möbius strip connecting infrastructure (Broadway shows need Broadway theaters, after all), media (photographers need to cover Broadway openings) and the bandwagon nature of popular culture. Buzz, as marketers eagerly attest, feeds on itself, even, apparently, at the building level. A related exhibition opens on Tuesday at Studio-X in the West Village, just south of Houston Street, an area not quite buzzy enough to rank. The study follows in the wake of urban theorists like Richard Florida (Ms. Currid calls him a mentor), who have emphasized the importance of the creative class to civic development. “We had social scientists, economists, geographers all talk about it being so important,” Ms. Currid said. “It matters in the fashion industry, it matters in high tech. The places that produce these cultural innovations matter. We have sort of this idea — ‘Oh, Bungalow 8 matters,’ but what do we even mean by that?” Ms. Currid became interested in assessing social scenes when doing research for her 2007 book, “The Warhol Economy: How Fashion, Art & Music Drive New York City.” For the buzz project, snapshots from more than 6,000 events — 300,000 photos in all — were categorized according to event type, controlled for overly celebrity-driven occasions and geo-tagged at the street level, an unusually detailed drilling down, Ms. Williams said. (Socioeconomic data typically follow ZIP codes or broad census tracts.) The researchers quickly found clusters around celebrated locations: the Kodak Theater, where the Oscars are held, for example, or Times Square. “Certain places do become iconic, and they become the branded spaces to do that stuff,” Ms. Currid said. “It’s hard to start a new opera house or a new theater district if you already have a Carnegie Hall or a Lincoln Center.” The allure trickled down to the blocks nearby, Ms. Currid said, pointing to the nightclub district in West Chelsea, which started with Bungalow 8. “Why wouldn’t they want to be near the places that already were the places to be?” she asked. “It makes a lot of economic and social sense.” New York Los Angeles That the buzzy locales weren’t associated with the artistic underground was a quirk of the data set — there were not enough events in Brooklyn to be statistically significant — and of timing. “If we took a snapshot two years from now, the Lower East Side would become a much larger place in how we understand New York,” Ms. Currid said. But mostly the data helped show the continued dominance of the mainstream news media as a cultural gatekeeper, and the never-ending cycle of buzz in the creative world. “There’s an economy of scale,” Ms. Currid said. “The media goes to places where they know they can take pictures that sell. And the people in these fields show up because the media is there.” Distribution to a far-flung audience helps cement an area’s reputation as a Very Important Place. “We argue that those not conventionally involved in city development (paparazzi, marketers, media) have unintentionally played a significant role in the establishment of buzz and desirability hubs within a city,” Ms. Williams and Ms. Currid write in the study. Whether their research can be used to manufacture interest — hold your party at a certain space, and boom, buzz! — or help city planners harness social convergence to create artist-friendly neighborhoods remains to be seen. (Ms. Currid and Ms. Williams next hope to map economic indicators like real-estate values against their cultural buzz-o-meter.) For Ms. Williams the geo-tagging represents a new wave of information that can be culled from sites like Flickr and Twitter. “We’re going to see more research that’s using these types of finer-grained data sets, what I call data shadows, the traces that we leave behind as we go through the city,” she said. “They’re going to be important in uncovering what makes cities so dynamic.” Ms. Currid added: “People talk about the end of place and how everything is really digital. In fact, buzz is created in places, and this data tells us how this happens.” But even after their explicit study of where to find buzz, Ms. Currid and Ms. Williams did not come away with a better understanding of how to define it. Rather, like pornography, you know it when you see it. “As vague a term as ‘buzz’ is, it’s so socially and economically important for cultural goods,” Ms. Currid said. “Artists become hot because so many people show up for their gallery opening, people want to wear designers because X celebrity is wearing them, people want to go to movies because lots of people are going to them and talking about them. Even though it’s like, ‘What the heck does that mean?,’ it means something.” Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company Privacy Policy Search Corrections RSS First Look Help Contact Us Work for Us Site Map http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/arts/design/07buzz.html?ref=arts