Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The 400 Club

The Museum for The City of New York is naming today the 400 "Movers & Shakers" that have shaped the City since Henry Hudson arrived 400 years ago. The 400 come from all walks of life: politics, the arts, sports, etc. Below is some of those who made the list, the Museum's description, and Baldman's commentary:

William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008)
Author, editor, and columnist who helped elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse. Founder of the National Review in 1955 and its editor-in-chief until 1990 and host of TV's Firing Line from 1966-99.

Baldman Sez: Don't think he hung out on many stoops, but that is because he was too busy being the founding father of the modern conservative movement in America. If you find this video let me know: a Firing Line debate in the mid '70's on whether we should turn the Panama Canal over to Panama. On one side: Buckley & George Will. On the other: Ronald Reagan & Pat Buchanan.

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)
Industrialist who formed the Carnegie Corporation in 1911 to endow or fund many philanthropic causes, including 39 public libraries in NYC and the Cooper-Hewitt (housed in his Fifth Avenue mansion since 1972). Built Carnegie Hall in 1891.

Baldman Sez: My favorite philanthropist. As a poor kid in Pittsburgh, he tried to enter a private library but was denied entry because he was a poor Scottish immigrant. He never forgot that experience, and founded hundreds of libraries that are free to the public. Plus, I got to see The Band in Carnegie Hall about a year before Rick Danko died.

Sean "Diddy" Combs (1969- )
Rapper, producer, actor, fashion designer, and businessman who used his success in the music industry as a platform to launch Bad Boy Entertainment Worldwide in the 1990s, which oversees his other entrepreneurial ventures.

Baldman Sez: He may show up several times on this list, depending on the many names he has used.

Kitty (Catherine) Genovese (1935-1964)
A 28 year-old working woman. She was attacked and murdered on March 13, 1964 in Kew Gardens, Queens. Her death, reportedly witnessed by 38 people who did not come to her aid, galvanized attention as a symbol of the inhumanity of modern urban life.

Baldman Sez: Still a haunting story 45 years later.

Rudolph Giuliani (1944- )
As US Attorney (1983-89) he prosecuted organized crime; as Mayor (1994-2001), he is credited with reducing crime in the city in the 1990s and gained national renown after the events of 9/11.

Baldman Sez: Ran the city like Joe Clark ran that High School in "Lean On Me". The right man for the right job at the right time.

Jackie Gleason (1916-1987)
Tony Award-winning actor of the stage and screen. Best known for his comic role as Ralph Kramden on the 1950s hit television series The Honeymooners, set in a Brooklyn tenement.

Baldman Sez: The King. A stoop Hall of Famer. I used to ask cab drivers who was the best tipper he ever had, and The Great One's name came up over and over.

Pete Hamill (1935- )
Brooklyn-born journalist and author. Began as a reporter for the New York Post, later became editor in chief for it and the Daily News. His work includes nine novels, short stories, nonfiction, and many articles. Journalism, he says, is history in a hurry.

Baldman Sez: Another stoop Hall of Famer. My favorite newspaper columnist and essayist ever. I am willing to drop anything to hear him lecture all over the city.

Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)
Served as a lieutenant colonel for George Washington, a delegate to the Continental Congress (1782-83) and the Constitutional Convention (1787), helped form the Bank of New York (1784) and became the first US Secretary of the Treasury (1789-95).

Baldman Sez: My favorite founding father. You can learn everything you need to know about the founders by just examining Hamilton's life. Required reading: Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.

Elia Kazan (1909-2003)
Renowned stage and film director who created the Actors Studio, he cultivated both Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller and actors Marlon Brando and James Dean. However, he "named names" before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952.

Baldman Sez: Kazan is a great example of the movie industry's horrible ethics. They give prizes and praise to known pedophile Roman Polanski, but vilify Kazan for dropping dimes on known communists. For fifty years Hollywood has been on a campaign telling us how horrible it was that the communists could not find work in Hollywood after they were outed. So...? I'm sorry, my sympathy does not extend to those that did not find their dream job, but it does extend to those who were thrown into the Gulag.

John V. Lindsay (1921-2000)
As US Congressman from 1959-65 and Mayor of NYC from 1966-73, Lindsay's tenure was during a time of social and political tumult. Credited with calming social tensions, he is also famous for lapses in snow cleanup in Queens and fiscal management.

Baldman Sez: By far, the worst Mayor in the history of the City of New York. Out of control municipal spending. Unconscionable give aways to labor unions-that the City is still paying for today. Non aggressive policing. Welfare and drugs running wild. Tried to turn NYC into Detroit after the auto industry imploded. Required reading: The Ungovernable City by Vincent Cannato.

Robert Moses (1888-1981)
Master builder; from 1934-68 he transformed the physical character of the city, modernizing and equipping it for the automobile age through countless public works, including highways, bridges, beaches, public pools, and public housing.

Baldman Sez: Moses and Alexander Hamilton are I & IA on this list. If you don't read The Power Broker, by Robert Caro, you will never know as much about New York as you should.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003)
Harvard professor and four-term US senator from New York who pushed to shift highway financing toward mass transit (1991-92), wrote books on race relations and poverty including Beyond the Melting Pot (1963).

Baldman Sez: A real throwback. In a way, he was a lot like the founding fathers in that he took the time to think deeply about issues and government's role in solving social problems-if possible. Worked for LBJ and Nixon. While working for LBJ, became the first to link child performance in school to single parent households.

Rupert Murdoch (1931- )
Global media magnate, chairman and controlling shareholder of News Corporation. News Corporation owns and operates such New York institutions as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, as well as the Fox Network and MySpace.

Baldman Sez: What would I do without the New York Post & Fox News?

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903)
Landscape designer and father of American landscape architecture, he co-designed, with Calvert Vaux, Central Park and Prospect Park based on his egalitarian principle that green space should be equally accessible to all citizens.

Baldman Sez: Everyone knows that Prospect Park is better than Central Park, right? I mean, other than tourists.

Lou Reed (1942- )
Guitarist, vocalist, and primary songwriter for The Velvet Underground, a New York City-based rock-and-roll quartet known for its themes of gritty street life and drug use in the 1960s.

Baldman Sez: I am a fan, but I would put Reed on this list because of the following: When he was asked by Rolling Stone what was his favorite restaurant, he replied "Gray's Papaya".

Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999)
Hall of Fame center fielder for the New York Yankees (1936-51). Career batting average of .325, with 361 home runs. Was selected for 13 All-Star Games and played in ten World Series. Known for his grace on the field and dignity off it.

Baldman Sez: Here is my Joe D story: When Ronald Reagan announced that he was suffering from Alzheimer's, a friend of mine commented Reagan would soon pass away. Nonsense I replied. The guy can still chop down trees on his ranch, he is a physical marvel. So we made a bet: Who would live longer, Reagan, my guy, or Joe DiMaggio his hero? When Joe D died I called the guy up and said " Joe DiMaggio's 84 year consecutive living streak came to an end today." (I also won the same bet when Reagan outlived Frank Sinatra. When Sinatra died, the guy at first did not want to pay up on the bet because he wanted proof that Reagan was alive. "They never show him anymore" he commented. "How do we know he is still alive?" To refute his claim I found a statement from the newspaper that said "Ron & Nancy Reagan send their condolences to the Sinatra family." I went back to to guy and said " Not only is my guy alive, but he is commenting on the death of your guy." He paid. )

Walt “Clyde” Frazier (1945- )
New York Knicks Hall of Fame point guard 1967-77, who scored an average of 19.3 points per game with the Knicks (career: 18.9) and led the team to its only NBA Championships in 1970 and 1973. Known for his stylish attire and for Puma Clydes (one of the first athlete-endorsed sneakers).

Baldman Sez: Of course he is on the list. Could anyone else go for 36 points, 19 assists and 7 rebounds in a game 7? Against Jerry West?

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