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Are You High? April 15, 2010

Posted by judylobo in art, Photography.
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A few weeks ago I got a call from-my favorite NYPD Detective, Matt.  It was around three in the afternoon and he asked me if one of those sculptures was on Fifth Avenue and 29th Street?  Matt had seen my previous photos of Antony Gormley’s art instalation.  I laughed and told him yes, there was a sculpture on that corner.  The police had just received a call that there was a ‘jumper.’  I told him it was going to be a long, hot summer of false alarms because the installation was going to be up until August 15th.

–  From today’s New York Post (By KEVIN FASICK and LARRY CELONA): Cops rushed urgently to the Empire State Building yesterday on a report of a possible jumper at the notorious suicide magnet — only to discover that the man perched precariously on the ledge was made of solid cast iron.

The life-sized figure was bolted to the iconic building by the boneheaded organizers of the “Event Horizon” art installation, which has infested the city with realistic-looking metal men. They’re placed on dangerous roofs and ledges around Madison Square Park and other Midtown locales — but none in a place so linked to death plunges.

ARE YOU HIGH? Bystanders gaze up and aim cameras yesterday at a “suicide jumper” on the Empire State Building — which turns out to be an art project that has led to false-alarm 911 calls.

Police sources say the scourge has led to daily 911 calls that distract operators from assisting in real emergencies.
“It’s a pain in the ass,” said one officer of the art project. “It’s a waste of manpower. We’re short cops to begin with and we don’t have enough cops to waste answering calls of statues committing suicide.”

The cop’s frustration was shared by dumbfounded Empire State Building staff. They couldn’t figure out why management would allow a statue to be placed on a building so notorious for suicides that some believed it inspired the term “86’d” — because people jump off the 86th-floor observation deck.

Six people have jumped from the building in the last 10 years, and 34 since the building opened in 1931.

The metal man was installed on the ledge as part of artist Antony Gormley’s exhibit in late March — and was in place on March 30 when a Yale graduate student became the latest to jump to his death from the observation deck.

The chilling art project, which was also installed in London in 2007, has had the full support of Mayor Bloomberg, and sources said he has no plans to intervene.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne claimed the department has gotten only 10 calls to 911 about “Event Horizon” — including three to the Empire State Building — though police sources insist they are a daily occurrence.

Yesterday’s scare even fooled a patrol officer who was nearby on foot and rushed over, fearing the worst.

“A new cop on the block ran up to me today and said, ‘You have a jumper on the 24th floor!’ ” said an Empire State Building security guard, who remembers at least five 911 calls being made about the statue.

“I said, ‘No, honey, it’s just a freaking statue.’ ”

Officers in the 13th Precinct and Midtown South have become so used to the calls that they don’t rush to the buildings with the same speed as they would in other neighborhoods, sources said, prompting concern there could be some delay getting aid to a real jumper.

Anthony Malkin, the head of Malkin Properties Crop., the landmark building’s management group, said the company agreed to participate in the exhibit after getting “over a dozen requests from meaningful people in the arts.”

He said, “We thought it would be interesting and fun to participate in this big public art exhibit, but we only did it on the condition that we first check with the NYPD, and that they said it was OK to do.

“My taste in art is very different, but I have to believe the artist is getting the reaction he is looking for. And if the city didn’t like it, they would ask us to take it down,” and “we would take it down immediately,” Malkin said.

“Until then, it’s our intention to leave it up.”

The figures also inspired chaos 11 blocks south on Fifth Avenue yesterday, where cops sped to a false alarm at the Flatiron Building after a 911 caller mistook its rooftop statue for a jumper.

Local cops were warned that the statues — scheduled to remain in place until Aug. 15 — were so lifelike they could cause pedestrian panic.

A tourist from California in Madison Square Park admitted she almost called 911 after spotting one of the figures. “I thought he was real,” said Kimberly Compton. “Why else would a man be up there if he wasn’t going to jump?” – Additional reporting by Kirsten Fleming and Todd Venezia

Here is my photo montage of the installation:

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The Great White Ugly March 28, 2010

Posted by judylobo in Animal Videos, art, Dogs and cats, Links, Photography, Politics, Videos, wildlife, Zoos.
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– The great white anger of the day is ugly to watch and baffling to those of us who live in diverse communities. Living in NYC is a bit like living near the Tower of Babel.  I hear different languages, see different colors, races and cultures everyday and like to believe I am richer for that privilege. The anger out there is all about fear. The United States these crazies used to know (or believe they knew) is fading into the distance. You think it is a coincidence that these same angry people do not want to fulfill the Constitutional obligation of a Census?  They are afraid the numbers will be even worse than they think.  Nobody says it better than Frank Rich.  Check out his column today for the real reason those very angry white people are hurling invectives and making overt threats.
‘That a tsunami of anger is gathering today is illogical, given that what the right calls “Obamacare” is less provocative than either the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or Medicare, an epic entitlement that actually did precipitate a government takeover of a sizable chunk of American health care. But the explanation is plain: the health care bill is not the main source of this anger and never has been. It’s merely a handy excuse. The real source of the over-the-top rage of 2010 is the same kind of national existential reordering that roiled America in 1964.’

– Yesterday President Obama did what many Presidents do (for the record, when Bush did the same thing it made me crazy)- he made recess appointments. He cleared 15 nominees to assume posts that have remained vacant for months due to insurmountable congressional roadblocks. Among the 15 named just days before the Senate departs for Easter recess are Craig Becker and Mark Pearce, the White House’s two, hotly contested nominees for the National Labor Relations Board.  Check out the article from THE HILL for the other names and details.

–  Check out Antony Gormley’s 31 life size sculptures in the Madison Square Park neighborhood through August 15, 2010. It is a great way to enjoy my neighborhood with its rich history and great architecture. See if you can  find all 31 sculptures and you never know – you might catch me and my dog Benny sniffing around.  Yes, that is Benny in the above photo doing his ‘art critic’ thing once again.

–  My latest video features one minute of the fabulous new penguin feeding regimen at the Central Park Zoo. You can see our new King Penguins along with the Gentoo and the Chinstraps. It’s a fish frenzy of fun!

Me? An Opinion? March 9, 2010

Posted by judylobo in Animal Stories, art, Dogs and cats, Links, Photography, Politics, Videos.
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Today the first of Antony Gormleys 31 life-sized figures was installed on top of 204 Fifth Avenue, the home of Pentagram Design’s New York offices.  The art will surround Madison Square Park.

I took Benny, my dog, out to watch the installation with me.  He peed on a tree while I was being interviewed by someone from the press. She asked me if I had an opinion about the art.  I chuckled to myself, ‘Me? An opinion?’  I think she was sorry she asked as I rattled on and on about public art ( which I like) and art in general.  She asked if people walking by might be afraid of the art.  I said very articulately, ‘Huh?’  She said that maybe people would think they were jumpers.  I laughed heartily.

Anyhow – it is a very cool installation.  There will be a total of 31 sculptures overlooking Madison Square Park with four life sized sculptures at ground level.

As Benny and I turned to go I see Harold Ford. Jr coming my way (I was the only one to notice him and there were people from the press all around the area).  He was yakking away on his iPhone, dressed most handsomely in a dark suit.  I stopped him and said ‘You should have hung in there. You should not have let Kirsten Gillibrand off of the hook.’  He told the person on the other end of the phone to wait a minute.  He looked me in the eye and said ‘Thank you Ma’am – I appreciate that and I will be back.’ He took my hand and gave me a firm handshake. In all of the excitement I forgot to take his picture.