Sunday, October 24, 2010

From the Village Voice's Best of New York: Prokhorov, Stoudemire, and Markowitz

Once upon a time, the Village Voice could be counted on for cutting-edge reporting on local controversies and, while the newspaper still does some good work, the rate has diminished.

Which leads us to this week's Best of New York issue, and a few relevant entries.

Prokhorov: winning trumps all

In the category of Best Oligarch - 2010, we get (of course) Mikhail Prokhorov:
We're sorry that recent Russian émigré Mikhail Prokhorov couldn't sign LeBron James, even though he was rich enough ($13.4 billion) and tall enough (six-foot-eight) to look the hoops star in the eye. But give the guy a break: The owner of the New Jersey Nets (soon to be the Brooklyn Whatevers) is still the world's second richest Russian, the tallest of the world's richest, and one of the youngest of the top 100 (he's only 45). Talk about a guy who fits in well with our homebred corporate piranha: Prokhorov made his billions by feasting off Russia's helter-skelter, mostly illegal, and highly immoral conversion from merciless Communism to merciless capitalism. Now if he can just translate some of that money into a winning team.
In other words, winning will make us forget.

Unreliable narrators

Then again, the Voice Sports section also dubiously describes Amar'e Stoudemire as the Best Jewish Athlete - 2010:
Dynamic power forward Amar'e Stoudemire wasn't wooed by the Knicks from the Phoenix Suns because he has Star of David tattoos (which he does), but because he is fierce and can play basketball. Nevertheless, it turns out that Stoudemire's tattoos really do have significance—in a surprise to most to us, he began exploring his own Jewish roots and even has a Jewish mom. Who knew? Coming to a city that already has by far the largest Jewish population in the country (second largest in the world, behind Tel Aviv, and in a state where one out of every 11 residents is a Jew), Stoudemire has made New York City even larger. He is, after all, six-foot-10.
Actually, as New York magazine's Will Leitch pointed out:
And yet Stoudemire’s agent, Happy Walters, told TMZ straight out that Stoudemire wasn’t Jewish. (“He thinks there may be some Jewish blood on his mother’s side, and he is researching it,” Walters said.)
Here's the TMZ quote and here's Stoudemire's 7/29/10 tweet:
2 clear everything up: I'm studying history & want 2 learn about all religions. I think I might have some Hebrew Roots & i'm researching it.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
It appears that Mr. Stoudemire isn't Jewish under religious law. Mr. Stoudemire said his mother's links are solely from her study and appreciation of the Old Testament.
A highly entertaining counterpoint to the official Amareisreal Twitter stream is Fake Amar'e, described as "The fake thoughts of the Jewish version of Amar'e Stoudemire" and offering such pearls as:
Media day is so much better when you control the media.
Markowitz: Brooklyn Borough Staller

Brooklyn's colorful Borough President, Marty Markowitz, gets the Voice's nod as Best Between-Acts Concert Entertainment - 2010:
Wingate Field in Bushwick is the place to be every Monday night during the summer, when the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series brings through a cavalcade of old-school hip-hop, soul, gospel, and r&b stars. (This year featured Parliament/Funkadelic, BeBe & CeCe Winans, and an epic set from Salt-N-Pepa.) The free shows lure in thousands of lawn-chair-toting nostalgia enthusiasts in need of between-act cajoling, and for that, thank God, there is Marty Markowitz. We have no idea what being Brooklyn borough president actually entails other than emceeing these things (there's a weekly summer series at Coney Island, too), but we can confirm that it does involve inviting to the stage a motley crew of City Councilmen, radio DJs, preachers, wayward Applebee's employees, and assorted other yahoos. All of them have their charms, but none can compare with ol' Ramblin' Marty himself, soothing an oft-restless crowd in dulcet tones, never failing to enthrall even when he's announcing that Aretha Franklin canceled the show she was supposed to play there next week. It's infuriating at first, but eventually you come to regard it as a virtuoso performance: No one on earth kills time with more grace than Marty Markowitz. He is the Picasso of stalling. Go watch him paint sometime. Bring a chair.
Ah, it takes a certain kind of ignorance to say "We have no idea what being Brooklyn borough president actually entails other than emceeing these things."

For Markowitz, such cheerleading duties actually represent a large part of how he's defined the relatively powerless post, but it's not the only model.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, the Picasso of stalling managed to stall the Prospect Park West traffic-calming project for nine months. But thank goodness, sanity prevailed.

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