Happy Cathie Black Friday. Attention fair-weather shoppers: any lingering rain should cease by 1 p.m., according to the Weather Channel. Here’s what we read.
In Union Square Park, an artist and self-appointed anthropologist who calls himself Normal Bob Smith has spent years as referee, ringmaster, curator and chronicler of the cast of regulars who who consider the park their living room. There are Junky the Barbarian, Pretty Boy Jake and Green Graver Girl, for starters. Then there are the categories of park regulars, which include scenesters, peepers, fundies, gravers and Griswolds.
Normal Bob has them all charted out. His maps show that peepers gather at the south side of the park, so they can blend in with pedestrians while peering under the skirts of women sitting on the steps. The gravers — Goth-ravers who usually dress in wide, black Tripp pants — gather nearby, near the statue of George Washington. The drug addicts do their nodding in the rear of the park, on the benches toward the east side. The Griswolds, or naïve tourists, gawk at it all from the periphery. [NYT]
Elissa Gootman of The Times tries to figure out why the mayor’s appointment of Cathleen P. Black as schools chancellor has engendered so much more resistance than his appointment in 2002 of Joel I. Klein, who was only marginally more qualified.
L’affaire Black, Ms. Gootman concludes, has become a proxy for what New Yorkers think of the mayor and his imperial, to-heck-with-term-limits governing style. “You can’t separate her candidacy from the mayor himself,” one public policy expert says. “A newly elected mayor who had just gotten mayoral control had a much broader mandate than he enjoys now.”
Meanwhile, as the state education commissioner considers whether to allow Ms. Black to manage city schools with the help of a seasoned educator, Chicago principals who have a similar arrangement advise against it. [Daily News]
Crime & Public Safety
The most serious crimes — murders, rapes, robberies — are all up so far this year, even though lesser crimes continue to decline. Some skeptics see this fact as yet another piece of evidence that the police are fudging crime statistics by downgrading minor felonies to lesser violations that are not counted in the figures. [NYT]
Michael Brea, the actor accused of hacking his mother to death with a sword in Brooklyn on Tuesday, tells The Daily News: “I didn’t kill her. I killed the demon inside her.” And he calmly describes the drawn-out killing in excruciating detail. “I didn’t want to kill her right away,” he says. “I wanted to give her time to get right with God.”
There is a dress code for New York City cabdrivers. Seriously. Its provisions include no tube shirts; no tank tops; no bathing trunks. But the rule has long been seen as at once overly specific and underenforced. Now, taxi regulators are issuing a new, broader dress code, in the hope that it can be more widely followed: all cabdrivers, the new code states, must “present a professional appearance.” [NYT]
Housing & Economy
By 10:30 Thanksgiving morning, a line of gaunt figures clutching bags of belongings stretched 300 long outside the Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea. This was the scene at soup kitchens across the city on Thanksgiving Day, with unemployment at 9.2 percent, home foreclosures at record levels and the chill of winter fast approaching. [Daily News]
The rampage of foreclosures that ripped through a small slice of Staten Island two years ago may be over, but it left behind a street littered with boarded-up homes, for-sale signs and broken dreams. [New York Post]
A Williamsburg kosher food company is locked in a battle with former workers who charge they were stiffed out of overtime pay — and then fired when they complained. [Daily News]
Government & Politics
Sales of bootleg cigarettes are costing the state as much as $20 million a month in lost tax revenue. [New York Post]
People & Neighborhoods
In his NYC column, Clyde Haberman of The Times tries to view the Thanksgiving Day Parade from the prime viewing corridor of West 61st Street and finds that just as it was last year, the street is privatized for the benefit of guests at Trump International Hotel and Tower and residents of fancy buildings on the block. Commoners are sent packing.
Elsewhere on the parade route, the family of a Long Island house painter ensures a good view by bringing its own scaffold to West 69th Street. [NYT]
The Wall Street Journal profiles Zelda, the wild turkey of Battery Park. [paid subscription required]