By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
This is an April story
— in two parts.
The first part concerns
the Tribune and an April Fools’ tradition that is at least eight
years old. Our regular readers by now, should be aware that annually, the
weekly edition published on or just prior to April 1st, contains a page 3
with an April 1st dateline — it is of course a news spoof page. The
page, upon occasion has caused some mischief in the borough and some
headaches around the office. The headaches have caused Trib editor
Tamara Hartman to tone down the fun. Beware, next year, we’re gonna
“tone it up.”
Well, way back in 1996,
we ran one of our most controversial stories — headlined “Disney To
Redevelop Fort Totten As Theme Park.” A photo of Disney Chairman Michael
Eisner, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, Congressman
Gary Ackerman and Mickey Mouse breaking ground for the new Disney Theme
Park accompanied the story about the future Fort Disney.
We’re not sure
whether it was the announcement of nightly parades down Bell Blvd. or the
more than 25 million annual visitors, but some Bayside residents put their
homes up for sale.
I clearly remember
walking into Hyacinth, then my favorite gift shop, and having Sara, the
then-proprietor, flip out on me. She fell for the story, as did quite a
number of other Baysiders.
Sorry — seven years
That article which
appeared March 26, 1996 shared the page with two other stories. One
headline, “Beep To Blast Off” with an accompanying photo of Claire
Shulman in her NASA space suit in preparation for her outer space ride
with her astronaut daughter, Dr. Ellen Baker.
The third story, the
one that caused the least stir and we felt was the only believable one,
was penned by this writer.
Proclaims ‘Silence Is Golden’” was an exclusive look at the latest
invention of Queensborough Community College professor of physics, Dr.
Irving M. Cutterman who had invented “a machine that creates silence.”
The “sonic absorbing
oscillator — a frequency modulator capable of determining the frequency
of most sound waves. . . and transmitting a counter-balancing sound wave
that absorbs the potential sound,” was my explanation of the technical
end of the machine I had created for Dr. I. M. Cutterman.
I had created the good doctor years earlier, for a college
fraternity brother looking for a fictitious doctor to use for an excuse to
miss an exam.
As long as I needed a
doctor for my newest fictitious adventure, I chose to bring Irv back to
Well, as I explained in
1996, initial tests were able to silence Madison Square Garden, the
American Airlines V.I.P. lounge and the “Koeppel Nissan auto repair
were being tested for restaurant use, library reading rooms, school
classrooms and Long Island Railroad cars.
my article reported, were to be published in the American Journal of
Applied Science. Cutterman was also profiled elsewhere in that issue of
the Trib accompanied by a picture of my friend Alan Gershuny —
one of Queens County’s premiere political operatives.
Now the article did
cause reaction — only not locally.
We received a number of
calls — including one from Japanese television and another from a
British newspaper — both seeking help in contacting the good professor
Well, by pointing out
the April 1st dateline on the page and laughing a little, we were able
to put the “sonic absorbing oscillator” in the past — until this
April, that is.
The second part of this
story, occurred this month while I was surfing the web (and I’m not sure
how I wound up there) and came across an article published in the British
journal “New Scientist” on March 28, 2002, exactly seven years to the
day after our “Silence is Golden” Trib spoof.
The online headline of
the “The World’s No.1 Science & Technology Magazine” read:
“Silence machine zaps unwanted noise.”
“What?” I thought
The article explained:
“You will soon be
able to silence the deafening racket of a road drill or the thumping beat
from a nightclub without blocking the sounds you want to hear, according
to Selwyn Wright, an engineer at the University of Huddersfield in
He has developed what
he calls the Silence Machine. It works by analysing the stream of sound
waves from a noise source, and generating sound that is exactly out of
phase and neutralises the incoming sound waves.
The concept is already
in use commercially in noise-cancelling headphones to wear in passenger
aircraft. These cancel out the jet engine noise and let you hear the
in-flight movie in peace. And flat-panel speakers that produce anti-noise
have been fitted to fighter plane cockpits to make them more comfortable
But Wright’s system
is the first that can block out a particular source of noise to produce a
personal “sound shadow” in which everything but the unwanted noise
will still be audible.”
uses microphones for sound sampling and a computer to generate the
Wright explained to the
British Scientific journal that, “He expects an industrial-scale
Silence Machine to cost around £10,000, while smaller domestic versions
will sell at about £1,000. It could be used to create quiet zones in a
garden, for example, or around your house, blocking out railway, aircraft
and motorway noises, without affecting pleasant sound such as birdsong.”
Now, I wonder, since my
article is copyrighted in 1996, and I’m clearly published seven years
before Wright, am I entitled to royalties?
Or maybe I should call
Disney and start buying up homes near Bell Blvd.
Shhhh! Keep it quiet.
ANOTHER ASIAN ELECTED OFFICIAL? John Liu, rest easy, it’s not happening so quickly.
Meetings have been held by leaders of
the Flushing Asian Community to try to come up with an alternative
candidate to run in the September Dem Primary in the newly drawn 22nd A.D.
The seat, presumably drawn for an Asian, previously belonged largely to
labor powerhouse Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin who has opted to run in the
25th — an adjoining district — leaving the 22nd as one of two Queens
Assembly seats without an incumbent.
Paul Belliveau, a newly appointed
Community Board member with the backing of the politically active and
astute painter’s union (the folks that brought you Liz Crowley in the
30th Council District last year) and frequent Chinese candidate Ethel Chen
have emerged so far as the first two out of the starting gate.
Surprisingly, although there have been whispers, not many hats are flying
towards this ring.
Certainly Korean Terence Park, who like
Chen, lost to John Liu for Council, must be considered a possibility.
We’d expect however to watch Park join the regular Dem organization and
be rewarded with a (beginners) State Committee position.
However, still unhappy with Ethel Chen,
Chinese leaders have been meeting to find other viable Asian candidates.
Professor Lee, owner of the Flushing Sheraton LaGuardia Hotel and brother
of Howard Lee, publisher of the Chinese World Journal — the
area’s largest Chinese daily — has held meetings with Fred Fu of the
Chinese Businessman’s Association, heavyweight political fundraiser
Jimmy Meng and others. Although no names have yet emerged, inside whispers
have Meng considering a run.
That would place John Liu, everyone’s
Asian superstar, in the awkward position of possibly having to back
another Asian candidate who could dilute his stardom. Although no one is
saying it, Liu would likely be happier shining all by himself as the only
star on the Asian horizon.
Meanwhile Julia Harrison, the very
multigenarian longtime elected official of the area who was just term
limited out of the Council, has been mentioned as a powerful possibility
for this seat. Rumors also have Harrison threatening to challenge fellow
Democrat but longtime foe Senator Toby Stavisky. However, perceptive
pundits say that if Harrison still has energy left for the game, the
Assembly race for a vacant seat is certainly easier than taking on
incumbent Stavisky and the politically powerful political consulting firm
of her son, The Parkside Group. They further speculate that Harrison would
rather stay in the City than take the weekly wear and tear of the Albany
trek and most likely will hold out one more year and set her sights on
John Liu — never her Flushing favorite. If Liu keeps up his present
pace, nothing in this world will prevent his easy reelection in 2003.
Those who have seen Harrison recently suggest
she will not seek another last hurrah.
This seat is still up for grabs. Either
an Asian or a non-Asian could win it and there is still time for a star to
emerge. Although, no longer his district, Brian McLaughlin exerts as much
influence as any here. Insiders assume that barring any new friendly names
in the race, McLaughlin and his renamed William Jefferson Clinton
Democratic Club will be with the union candidate Belliveau. Count on John
Liu to be with Brian.
However, when a seat is vacant — no
incumbent — anything goes.
ADVANCING GOTTLIEB: Last week we told you that longtime political operative Jeff Gottlieb
(now staffer to Council Finance Chair David Weprin) was exploring a
challenge to Democratic incumbent Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersonn. We poked
fun, thinking that Gottlieb was just looking for some ink. Well, after
chatting with Mayarson and Gottlieb’s new political consultants — The
Advance Group — we can tell you the guy is serious — still crazy, but
Apparently, according to sources close
to team Gottlieb, he is exploring a run either against State Senator Toby
Stavisky or very longtime Assemblywoman Mayersahn. Our sources indicate
that the smaller Assembly seat, requiring fewer bucks to be competitive,
in a house controlled by the Dems is really Gottlieb’s goal and to that
end he has retained the Advance Group.
Now, Gottlieb’s political rabbi since
his break with the Hevesi Organization has been longtime district leader
and friend of Mayrsohn, Morty Povman. Insiders find it impossible to
believe that Morty would, in this case, be there for Jeff. Furthermore,
Gottlieb’s present boss, Weprin of the powerful family and club by the
same name, would not risk the wrath of fellow Dem leaders by giving
Gottlieb any leeway to make this race.
That leaves Gottlieb and the Advance
Group out on their own against Nettie Mayorson who has made more friends
in politics than most people know — she’s even kept most of them.
When we asked Nettie if she was
concerned about a challenge from Gottlieb, it sounded like laughter on the
other end of the phone.
Oh, if we get enough questions about the
spelling of the Mayerson name, perhaps we’ll share an old favorite story
with you; otherwise, just ask Nettie’s husband Ronnie.
POLTICAL BLISS? It seems with each of the two items above, someone is exploring a run
against State Senator Toby Stavisky. Granted the complexion of her
district will change radically if presently drawn new lines hold, but
beating an incumbent, even under those circumstances is an almost
impossible task. Couple Toby’s incumbency and tenacity with the Parkside
political consulting firm of Bill Driscoll, Harry Giannoulis and her son
Evan Stavisky and you have a mighty potent force.
Hey, Jeff and Julia and other wannabes,
remember Dan Hevesi is dropping out of the Senate after evaluating a run
against Toby. C’mon!
It’s not that we don’t want to see a
good race — we love them! It’s just that our friend Evan is scheduled
to get married this June and we’d hate to see him and his politically
astute bride spend their summer honeymoon running a petition challenge.
Good luck, Evan.
NICK KNACK: Speaking about marriage: At a beautiful ceremony at the Queens Museum
this weekend, former Tribune counsel now Federal Judge and dear
friend, Nick Garaufis married Trib reader and our new friend Betsy
Seidman. These two warm, loving and influential New Yorkers have chosen to
make Queens their home. Their commitment to this borough is evident in
their choice of the premier art museum for their ceremony and their
Bayside house to raise their family. Their commitment to each other was
also evident during the elegant and moving Saturday night wedding. We wish
Betsy, Nick and family our love and warmest best wishes.
by Dom Nunziato