Joel, Henry Stern & Me: We Didn’t Start The Fire
I am a Billy Joel fan, a Mets fan and perhaps more importantly, a Queens fan.
As everyone is aware, they all merged last week at Shea Stadium.
Even though I am not a crazy concert goer, or happening attender, Billy Joel's Last Play at Shea was an event I belonged at. Sure, I've seen Billy in person twice, even met and chatted with him once at a party, but this was history and I had to be there.
Sadly, I got a late start after tickets went on sale and wound up with nose bleed territory tickets for six of us. But it was to be the moment and not the seats - or so my wife and friends told me.
Well, outdoor stadiums are not acoustically made for concerts of this type. Sixty thousand plus bodies, open air and a huge but temporary sound system leaves a lot to be desired especially in the upper deck. We couldn't understand a single thing Billy said and it took more than a couple of bars and stanzas to be sure which song was which. Often it was the crowd singing along that clued us in to what Billy was singing.
Melissa Dorfman, e-mailed us a review, she like others raved about the Wednesday night event we attended. But sorry, I signed on to the "last" concert at Shea and like many others was disappointed when they added a show after our final concert.
Duh, if the possibility of an additional concert existed, they should have scheduled the Friday date first and then added one on Wednesday two nights before. So us final concert goes, were one-upped or dissed or duped.
The unannounced expected guests didn't go any better for the "final night" Wednesday group. Newsrooms had been abuzz with surprise appearances by Elton John, Eric Clapton and John Bon Jovi. None panned out. But all was ok for my group from Queens when homeboy Tony Bennett came out and crooned "New York State of Mind."
Well, all was almost ok. Each time Billy sang a Beatles song - a tribute to the group that made Shea a universally known concert venue, the crowd hushed in anticipation of the surprise arrival of Paul McCartney. It seems that it was the worst kept secret in town - Paul McCartney was going to perform at the final concert at Shea.
He did, however, not at our Wednesday final concert but at the Friday phony final concert.
And Queens Tribune cartoonist Dom Nunziato sent us a draft of his work below and captured for us the true spirit of Billy's Final Play at Shea.
Except for one thing: getting home.
With parking lots severely impacted and impaired by the construction of the new Citifield overburdening a poorly planned funneled stairway and pathway leading to the #7 and the LIRR taxed by some 10,000 more people than Shea's baseball maximum, the trip home for many was the worst part of a less than joyful event.
I assume when Billy plays the new stadium's inaugural concert, the ticket from Wednesday's "final concert" will give you the first shot at floor seats when Frank Sinatra and Elvis join him on stage.
I'd shout and yell and say I'm never going back to Shea, but I expect to be there for the playoffs and the World Series.
Seeing the Mets in post season will be just as good as seeing Billy at Shea.
I am a Billy Joel fan, a Mets fan and perhaps more importantly, a Queens fan.
The relevance of this as a political column, you ask.
Below, you have Henry Stern hammering away at the integrity or rather lack of integrity of the folks in Albany.
Regular readers of this column are aware that we dubbed the New York State legislature the worst in the nation, long before NYU's Brennan Center gave them the official stamp as the nation's most dysfunctional legislature.
And they continue to complain, continue to hold judicial salaries hostage to their own increases, they continue to take huge donations selling their souls or at least guilty of such appearances, they operate first to stay in office and accept funds and use State resources to achieve that at all costs. Henry's column this week is a good example of business as usual in Albany.
And now the governor picks Ivan Lafayette to perform what we are betting is a minimal show job at a larger salary than he made in the Assembly so he can retire at a higher pension and take more money from the people. And he will be applauded.
And the Democratic Party insiders, likely complicit with the timing of the announcement, will (try to) replace him by fiat forgetting that the name of their party implies they are supposed to serve the "people."
And Henry and I complain, but look to Albany and politics, "We Didn't Start The Fire."
We just tell the story.
Maltese Loses Key Ally In Seminerio
Stadium Memorabilia Selling Fast
Fugitive Convicted In 2001 Murder
Rally Howls For Affordable Housing
Sikhs and Arab Still Suffer Since 9/11
Queens’ Latin Jazz Coalition Finds Rhythm
Going From Here to There — Got Ideas?
Protest To Keep School Bus Routes
Rival Term Limits Bills Approach Council Floor
Stolen Torahs Returned
Seminerio Arrested For Mail Fraud
Teen Pleads Guilty To 2006 Park Murder
Mayor Endorses Maltese In Senate Battle
Huge Turnout Gives Huntley Win In Jamaica
Memories of Shea
On 9/11, Some Wounds Still Unhealed
Women’s Hospital Breaks Ground
Citi Field To Be Year-Round Attraction
Stolen Torahs Recovered By Police
Meng Beats Young in Primary for Flushing Seat
Term-Limits Reversal Is Lukewarm
Raises $3.3 Mil; Local Dental Group Uprooted
HENRY J. STERN
A classic expression of frustration and outrage in American
popular culture came in the movie, "Network", in 1976.
Peter Finch, playing the part of a television news anchor
who is losing his job, explodes while on the air, saying
"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any
more." The cry is picked up by people watching the newscast,
who open their windows and shout their indignation out
into the street.
That is the way many New Yorkers feel about politics in our state. They also believe that not much can be done about it. There was an expectation of reform with the landslide election of Governor Eliot Spitzer in 2006, but the unfortunate condition of his beautiful mind clouded his ability to make decisions, and sadly rendered him, at least temporarily, unable to deal with people in a courteous and responsible manner, which is part of a basic skill-set required of those who would lead others in a small-d democratic government.
The regression in Albany is made clear by a recent article and editorial, both in this week's Times. here's a bit of the news story:
"Gov. David A. Paterson has raised $3.3 million since taking office, by tapping into a broad array of special-interest groups and casting aside the self-imposed fund-raising limits of his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, according to reports made public on Tuesday.
"But a close look at Mr. Paterson's reports also suggested a pronounced return to the kind of fund-raising practices that have long raised the ire of government watchdog groups.
"His contributors span the gamut of Albany's special-interest groups, including its most powerful unions and business groups, like the dentists' political action committee, real estate interests and a variety of state and local labor unions. Nearly 50 individuals, business groups and labor unions gave contributions of more than $25,000 each, a sharp contrast to the $10,000 limit Mr. Spitzer voluntarily imposed on himself.
"Some of Mr. Paterson's most generous donors have crucial business before the state."
The editorial we referred to is aptly titled, "Dental Decay In Albany" and concerns the late-session introduction of a legislative zinger and its swift passage by the Assembly. Because the enactment of this bill into law is such a classic example of why our state government is rotten at the core, if not to the core. From the Times edit:
Dental Decay in Albany
"Here's the drill: Roy Lasky, one of Albany's most powerful lobbyists, controls the New York State Dental Association with a salary that can run to $300,000 a year, plus benefits. When some New York City dentists began to question how their dues were being spent, Mr. Lasky called on his friends in the Legislature for help. Lawmakers dutifully passed a bill that allows the state organization run by Mr. Lasky to take control of the city's group, including those who questioned his authority. The state group might also be able to take over the greater New York dental conference that generates millions of dollars in concession fees each year.
"What is perhaps more surprising, Governor Paterson signed Mr. Lasky's bill on July 7. On July 8, Mr. Lasky's dental association donated $25,000 to the Paterson for Governor campaign fund."
It was much easier to pass the bill than to pull a tooth.
What is particularly outrageous about the dental bill is that both professional societies were chartered by the state during the 19th century. If they are having a dispute, the proper place to resolve it is the courts or by open competition for membership.
We have not seen any evidence that legislative intervention was necessary to resolve a conflict between two privately-run, non-governmental organizations.
Should Governor Paterson return the $25,000 check he received from the state dental society the day after he signed the bill?
That is a question for him to decide, perhaps with the assistance of his ethical advisors. Paterson's amassing a $3.3 million war chest in just two months and ignoring the Spitzer limit of $10,000 per individual or group demonstrates the importance of the governorship and its ability to affect the special interests. Paterson's handling of the dental society's prompt expression of their appreciation will give an insight into the qualitative aspects of his fund raising. Does he have any ethical standard for accepting or declining contributions, and if so where?
There are about 210 state legislators, all with staffs including scribes. Won't one of them write an article defending Albany, or explaining why we are mistaken? We would love to publish it. There are said to be two sides to every story, let's hear yours. Do the reformers in Albany have anything to say? Call or e-mail us.
These stories capture the confidence shown by those who live and work by the rule of pay to play. Spitzer is gone, and they are emboldened.
Those of us with different values must understand their current position of weakness, and devise new strategies to overcome, or at least lessen, the power and influence of men whose priority is self-interest.
Not4Publication.com by Dom Nunziato