8:16 am Sep. 21, 2011
Each day, the New York tabloids vie to sell readers at the newsstands on outrageous headlines, dramatic photography, and, occasionally, great reporting. Who is today's winner?
Daily News: One of the News' oldest tropes is given new life today, and a new sort of mission. Back in the days when the relationship between cops and firefighters and New York's general population was less lovey-dovey than it has been since Sept. 11, a common thing to point out was that many cops and firefighters had, in some cases for more than a generation, lived outside the city.
Commuting in to precincts in burnt-out neighborhoods of the Bronx and Brooklyn, a sort of class-contempt element settled in. The perception was that uniforms came in from leafy suburbs to toil grumblingly amongst the animal city-dwellers, and that their contempt, sometimes racial and sometimes just classist, was palpable. Police officers and firefighters, many reasoned, ought to live within the city they served. That never got very far, though lots of reports were produced showing how few had a personal stake in making the city better.
Then, the city got a lot better (not all the way), and cops and firefighters became the city's acknowledged heros, and it all died down a bit.
But Michael Bloomberg's executive order stating that his staff must live within the city, and his tendency to hire for high-level deputy positions former captains of industry willing to take the position on as a $1-a-year challenge, has added a new element to the storyline. On the front of today's Daily News is a picture of Robert Steel, deputy mayor for economic development. His weird swoosh of hair makes him look a little like Freddie Miles, the snobby, oleaginous jet-set kid who first unveils the talented Mr. Ripley as a fraud in the movie of the same name, as played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Over a blue shirt he wears a bright red V-neck golf sweater; then the long Bermuda shorts and the saddle-style gold shoes. He's standing on a street of perfect asphalt with a cobblestone gutter, before expertly sculpted bushes and a perfect, emerald-green grass verge. In the inside photo, you can see the ivy-covered, heritage-brick facade of his house. In Greenwich, Conn.
The famous Milton Glaser "I ♥ NY" graphic is appropriated, though the NY is crossed out with a big red X and the letters CT added below. "Dep. mayor skirts residency laws at Conn. manse" reads the text in knockout-white above; "New York's not fit for my dogs," reads the text below.
OK, that's not quite fair: What he says is that he spends weekdays at his apartment on Ninth Avenue in Chelsea, but that his dogs stay up in Greenwich because what dog wouldn't? That is, New York is fit for him but not for his dogs. Still, he doesn't do well when he comes out to confront the News reporters. (It's hard to know how he could have.) He points out that his cars are registered in Connecticut because he doesn't drive in the city. That's because he pays a driver from a limo service for that. (This isn't helping, you, sir!) His campaign contributions are registered to his Connecticut address; Steel calls that a "mistake." He files his taxes in New York, he says, at "significant" personal cost, but declines to provide his returns. The city has no comment. (Yes, stay out of it Mike. Maybe it'll blow over.)
Skyboxes sell stories of the Yankees' win over the Devil Rays and a small box advertising the paper's 20-page pull-out commemorating Yankee Mariano Rivera's 602nd save, confirming that he is the best closer and one of the best pitchers ever to play the game. It's big, but the News went big yesterday, and puts its money where its front-page mouth is with this 20-page section.
The New York Post: That is something, unfortunately, that the Post can't do. The paper might have left it to the News to dress Rivera in purple today and made it seem intentional. But since the News yesterday announced today's pullout on its front page, the Post's "AMAZING POSTER," advertised across most of the front page today, has the feel of a desperate call to the bullpen for Rivera that was instead answered by Kyle Farnsworth.
How amazing is it? "Super slow-Mo" is the headline they've given it, and our preview is of Rivera photoshopped in three different phases of a pitch on the mound, tableau-vivant style: That is, on the same background, the event occurs in three stages, visible in the same picture. There's the difficulty of making the three not appear to bump into each other (that might look like some kind of triplet-Mariano Three Stooges routine) so some of his legs and buttocks become transparent in places, or are lopped off entirely in others. In the middle "stage" of the pitch what's happening to his mitt-arm is actually pretty creepy-looking. I won't be saving it.
But the front page got some help yesterday in the form of a press release from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Online poker house Full Tilt Poker had been under indictment since the Spring for allegedly skirting gambling laws, one of three online poker sites to be shut down in what online players have dubbed "Black Friday." They may be happier now that they've learned that the "stakes" they paid in to play with were all being spent by the principals, according to the Feds. The indictment was bumped up to charge the operators with running a Ponzi scheme in which new stakes were used for old payouts. The system was already about to crumble around them when the Feds came in with the gambling charges:
[By] March of this year, the company allegedly had only $60 million on hand, even though it owed about $390 million to gamblers across the globe, including $150 million to players in the U.S.
In a series of emails in June, Lederer told his partners the company only had $6 million left, and he openly fretted about a possible "run on the bank," admitting "at this point we can't even take a five million run," court papers say.
The headline? Well, it's just "PONZI POKER." "Online house of cards in $440M rip-off: feds." It's a great story, even if it's a tie. They could have stood to give it a bit more room, and a bit of art, and spared us looking at Mariano's amazing disappearing butt-cheek.
Observations: Anyone who is enough of a baseball fan to buy the paper based on Rivera coverage today won't have to think too hard; for everyone else there's too little left of the Post to consider that closely.
Winner: Daily News.