The Common Good Forum in the New York Daily News
LIZ SMITH: The Tone and The Tongues
How and When the Tone and The Tongues Changed in the World of TV’s Political Punditry … Mail! We Get Mail! … Mike Huckabee Asks — What’s Love Got to Do With it?
“THE ONLY pro, or crypto Nazi I can think of is yourself.”
“Now, listen you queer, quit calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in the goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered.”
So it went between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley in 1968, on the air, over ABC-TV during the 1968 Presidential campaign.
Yes, children, a lack of civility is not a 21st century phenomenon.
Prepping for the big fight.
ON July 13th, in Manhattan, there will be a screening of the documentary, “Best of Enemies,” which focuses on the fiery clashes between Vidal and Buckley, during the incendiary political year of 1968. Directed by Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville, this pretty much puts to rest the idea that people beating each other up, on TV, is something new. The film is subtitled “2 Men. 10 Debates. Television Would Never Be The Same.” Indeed! From then on, tongues were looser, language more extreme — remember Joe Pyne, or David Susskind? (Susskind could be a nasty piece of work, but he preferred to sit back, smirk, and watch his guests go at each other.)
The screening is hosted by The Common Good. Call 212-599-7040 for tix and location.
Wall Street Journal (Rob Copeland/ May 14, 2015)
New York State Common Retirement Fund’s Return Assumption Likely to Fall
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said he expected to lower the 7.5% return assumption for the state’s retirement system, after a yearslong rally in stocks and other assets.
A five-year review of New York State Common Retirement Fund’s investment target is scheduled to be completed later this year. The last time New York State Common lowered its return assumption was September 2010 when the target dropped to 7.5% from 8%.
“There’s a good chance we’ll be below 7.5% in a couple of months when we complete that review,” Mr. DiNapoli said. He made his remarks at a Manhattan event sponsored by nonprofit The Common Good and moderated by Bank of America Merrill Lynch prime brokerage executive Omeed Malik.
The Jewish Daily Forward (Masha Leon / July 22, 2014)
Jill Abramson Champions Freedom of the Press
“She was reading the New York Times before she could transfer to a bottle,”Gail Sheehy said of Jill Abramson, at the July 15 reception she hosted at her Manhattan duplex for the former executive editor of The New York Times.
Author of 16 books — including megahit “Passages,” Sheehy touted Abramson as “among the first to invade the all-male testosterone preserve at Harvard…and because of her, the New York Times has an equal number of men and women on [its] masthead.”
Sponsored by The Common Good as part of its Leadership Series, the more than 50 guests included former, still active and young wannabe journalists. Standing on a white plastic stool — so she could be seen — barefoot in-a-chic-black and white pattern sleeveless dress, Abramson declared: ”The First Amendment is first for a reason… Jefferson famously said if you had to choose between having a country with a government and no newspapers — or the opposite — he would say that having newspapers is more important than the government. The founders of this country were desperately afraid of highly centralized power and believed that a free press was necessary to hold the government accountable to the people” and that “stories from [accused] whistle-blowers — if they are indeed the sources — were very much in the spirit Jefferson envisioned.”
Abramson stated: “When Obama came into the White House, he pledged to have the most transparent administration ever… and in certain ways the Obama administration had been good — declassified millions of documents. But in terms of these leaks… they have been unusually tough, aggressive and I see that as a really disturbing trend.”
Asked about the future of journalism, Abramson admitted: “I know quality journalism still happens… it’s hard…. There are fewer outlets than in the past. But I am an optimist.” Apropos “gender bias” Abramson honed in on “the attention given to Hillary Clinton’”s hair and clothes… Women in all areas, including journalism, are scrutinized about trivial and personal qualities in ways that men are not… Hillary Clinton has been criticized, as being overbearing, too aggressive — qualities that found in a man, are seen as decisive and leaderly. Yes. There is a double standard for sure.”
A surprising and informative query was posed by Patrick Bahners of the Frankfurter Alegemeiner Zeitung. “I’ve been here two years… and am impressed by American journalism. In particular,” he noted, “the strict separation of reporting and editorial comments — almost like a separation of powers… That is not as strong in European journalism. One thing I learned was: the rule that you must give a source for every statement in political reporting where people are quoted.”
Did not get a chance to ask Abramson why she sported a classic NYC token tattoo on her right upper arm. More…
Capital New York (Joe Pompeo/July 14, 2014)
Jill Abramson Keeps Cordial on Radio Leg of Media Blitz
In one of her first interviews since abruptly being fired as executive editor of The New York Times in May, Jill Abramson said that she had “few regrets and only good feelings” about the nearly two decades she spent working for the paper of record. “I look back on it with a lot of pride because I had a wonderful career at The New York Times, and I loved being a reporter and editor there,” Abramson told hosts Pat Kiernan and Rita Cosby during their afternoon radio show on 77 WABC. She woudln’t discuss recent articles, however, claiming that part of the reason for her termination had to do with pay disparity concerns she reportedly raised with Times publisher and chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. “I’m past the point of wanting to rehash those issues,” she said, quickly reasserting herself when pressed by Cosby: “I’m not gonna talk about that.” Abramson’s departure from the Times, where she led the paper to eight Pulitzer Prizes while grappling with the ongoing digital transformation of the news industry, played out in iterative reports each floating a new piece of the puzzle about what may or may not have led to her firing by Sulzberger, and her replacement by Dean Baquet, who had been Abramson’s no. 2. Abramson had been keeping her head down ever since. But now she’s on a bit of media tour, showing a willingness to publicly address certain aspects of the drama. Shortly before her WABC spot, which appears to be her first broadcast interview since being fired, Cosmopolitan published a wide-ranging interview with Abramson that will appear in its September issue. Earlier in the day, interviews with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News Channel and Katie Couric of Yahoo were announced for Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Last week, Abramsom gave a speech at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York that was followed up with a brief Huffington Post interview; tonight, she’s set to give a talk about political journalism at The Common Good, a non-profit headquartered in Manhattan. Asked by Cosby about Sulzberger’s stated decision to let her go due to issues concerning her “management style,” Abramson said, “I respect Mr. Sulzberger, and he has said what he said, and that is his place.” Abramson also spoke about the Obama administration’s clampdown on leakers, an issue about which she has been particularly vocal over the past year. “I feel the most regrettable thing about this administration and its dealings with press are the criminal leak investigations that the Obama administration has pursued,” she said. “I think it’s a real threat to the freedom of the press and makes it difficult for journalists to carry out their duty to inform the public.”
Women’s Wear Daily (Alexandra Steigrad)
Jill Abramson’s Media Blitz
The recently ousted executive editor of The New York Times is suddenly everywhere — perhaps to the dismay of her former employer. By Alexandra Steigrad ABRAMSON’S BLITZ: Jill Abramson, the recently ousted executive editor of The New York Times, is suddenly everywhere. Perhaps to the dismay of her former employer. Abramson, who was dismissed in May, gave two interviews on Tuesday, one on WABC 77 AM radio with Rita Cosby and Pat Kiernan, and the other with nonprofit organization The Common Good. While the latter touched on the state of political journalism, the former addressed her departure from the newspaper. “I look back on it with a lot of pride, because I had a wonderful career at The New York Times. It’s true that my departure was abrupt,” Abramson said. “I love journalism today as much as I always have.” Although the reason for Abramson’s departure was never overtly spelled out, as widely reported, chairman and publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. released a series of statements pointing to Abramson’s poor management style. Cosby and Kiernan asked Abramson directly about her thoughts on that. “That is what he has said publicly,” she said, adding that she led a newsroom that “upheld the best of journalism. “I respect Mr. Sulzberger. He said what he said and that is his take,” Abramson offered, but bristled when Cosby asked her about sexism at the Times. “I’m now past the point of wanting to rehash these issues,” she said. “I’m not going to talk about that.” But she did talk about that in a story for Cosmopolitan, which will appear in its September issue. A shortened version was published on the magazine’s Web site Tuesday, in which Abramson admitted to experiencing “sexism” during story sessions at the Times. She noted that her ideas were often credited to male colleagues. “I didn’t pipe up in real time. I did grouse about it with other women in the office, which, in some ways, is safer and more cowardly but is very comforting and kind of gratifying,” she said. Abramson’s interviews precede two splashier appearances this week. Today, Abramson will sit down with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, at 7 p.m., for a live televised interview, and on Thursday, Yahoo’s Katie Couric will release her interview with Abramson. According to reports, she will talk to Couric about the challenges facing women in the workplace, life at the Times and the changing media landscape. Abramson has already touched on those hot-button issues following her termination from the Times when she delivered Wake Forest University’s commencement address in late May. In that speech, she spoke vaguely about her dismissal and about resilience in the face of discrimination.
New York Daily News (Ginger Adams Otis/July 15, 2014/Updated: July 16, 2014)
Jill Abramson Gives First Interview Since Fired From Executive Editor Job at N.Y. Times, Says She Has ‘Very Few Regrets’
Abramson, 60, gave her first interview Tuesday since she was fired in May. ‘I look back on it with a lot of pride,’ she told Pat Kiernan during his 77WABC show ‘The Ride Home. Jill Abramson said it was an odd experience to be the story when she was fired in May from her executive editor job at The New York Times. Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times, has “very few regrets” about her tenure at the paper, she said Tuesday in her first broadcast interview since her public firing. “I look back on it with a lot of pride. I had a wonderful time (at the paper), I loved being both a reporter and an editor there,” she told Pat Kiernan and Rita Cosby, co-hosts of 77WABC show “The Ride Home.” Abramson, 60, was abruptly fired from her executive editor spot by Times’ publisher Arthur Sulzberger in May — allegedly over her rough edges in the newsroom and her complaints when she discovered she was being paid less than her male predecessor. The veteran journalist said it had been tough on her when the news broke — and she found herself the topic of the day’s headlines. “To any journalist it is an odd experience to be the story yourself, but you know I tried to maintain my equilibrium and keep my head high through that,” Abramson said. Pressed by Cosby to address Sulzberger’s allegations that her abrasive style raised newsroom hackles, Abramson diplomatically sidestepped. “I believe I led a news (room) that was strong … I have heard from a lot of people who enjoyed being involved with me and the endeavor of putting out a fabulous news report,” she said. “So I respect Mr. Sulzberger and he said what he said and that’s his take,” she noted. Abramson declined to discuss the firestorm that erupted among many feminist groups when it was revealed she had earned less than the prior executive editor. “I’m not going to talk about that … I passed the point of wanting to rehash these issues,” she said firmly. More…
New York Post (Bob Fredericks/July 15, 2014)
Jill Abramson is ‘not ashamed’ of NYT firing
Ousted New York Times editor Jill Abramson said she feels no shame following being fired – and doesn’t even really miss the prestigious gig, a new interview revealed Tuesday. “Is it hard to say I was fired? No. I’ve said it about 20 times, and it’s not. I was in fact insistent that that be publicly clear because I was not ashamed of that,” Abramson, 60, told “Cosmopolitan” magazine. “And I don’t think young women — it’s hard, I know — they should not feel stigmatized if they are fired. Especially in this economy people are fired right and left for arbitrary reasons, and there are sometimes forces beyond your control.” The former first female executive editor of the famed broadsheet – who sports a tattoo of the “T” from the paper’s logo – also said she doesn’t even miss job all that much. ‘It can be a danger to define yourself by your job. I miss my colleagues and the substance of my work, but I don’t miss saying, ‘Jill Abramson, executive editor.’’ – Jill Abramson “It can be a danger to define yourself by your job. I miss my colleagues and the substance of my work, but I don’t miss saying, ‘Jill Abramson, executive editor.’ I don’t,” she claimed. “I was once told a former executive editor of the Times, who knew he was going to stop being editor, made sure to make reservations at a particular restaurant because he was afraid after that they wouldn’t give him a table anymore. That’s not high on my priority list!” She also talked about the photo of herself wearing boxing gloves and striking a pugilistic pose – a photo that ran on the cover of The Post after she was dumped by Times Publisher Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr. “I knew I was being fired beforehand, but it went public on a Wednesday. My kids were upset, and the loudness of the coverage was surprising. So I arrive at my trainer in Manhattan, where I always went early on Thursdays. He had these boxing gloves, and he said, ‘You need this.’ I said, ‘Take a picture of me.’ I wanted to send it to my kids to see I wasn’t at home crying and sitting in a corner,” she told the magazine, which posted the interview on its Web site Tuesday. “ Within a nanosecond, my daughter, Cornelia, had put it on Instagram, and it went viral. The next morning, it was on the cover of the New York Post. I did the boxing once more after that. It feels fantastic.” Abramson seemed more upset with a harsh profile in Politico – which called her “stubborn,” “condescending,” and “uncaring” – than she did with getting the ax from the Gray Lady. “I did cry after reading [that] article about me in Politico. I don’t regret admitting I did,” she said. The left-leaning Abramson also gushed about her close ties to the Clintons – whom she first met in 1978 when Bill was first launching his run for president. “Both [Bill and Hillary] have first-class minds, and that is a great building block for a successful presidency. I think he was a successful president, and I think she would be too,” Abramson said. Since her firing, she said, she’s caught up on reading and TV – with her favorites including the HBO hit “Girls” starring Lena Dunham. “I love ‘Girls’ although I didn’t love the last season. Marnie has completely fallen apart as a character, although Allison Williams is a good actress,” she said. “I’ve watched every Yankees game, and I’ve gone to a couple of day games that I would never have been able to. I’ve reread a couple of novels that I read in school.” She told the magazine she will return to Harvard – her alma mater – to teach in the fall. She also appeared briefly Tuesday on WABC Radio’s “The Ride Home with Pat Kiernan and Rita Cosby,”, and talked about how she felt as a journalist finding herself under intense media scrutiny. “It’s definitely an odd experience to suddenly become the story yourself but you know I tried to maintain my equilibrium and keep my head high through that,” she said. And she also took a shot at the Obama Administration’s obsession with press leaks. “I feel the most regrettable thing about this administration and its dealings with th e press are the criminal leak investigations. There have been eight of these cases,” she said, adding that Times reporter James Risen faces possible jail time for not revealing his sources. The hosts also tried to get her to talk about pay disparity at the paper under Sulzberger’s reign – but she wouldn’t take the bait, saying she was not going to “rehash” the details of her firing. More…
New York Post (Keith J. Kelly/July 16, 2014)
Abramson Begins to Break Her Silence
Jill Abramson, ousted as The New York Times’ top editor in May, is starting to break her silence — and has instantly sparked a very public battle over who got the first interview with the journalist. On Tuesday, the 60-year-old New York native was on WABC-AM 770’s drive-time radio show, “The Ride Home,” with Pat Kiernan and Rita Cosby . That came as a surprise to Katie Couric, who had been hyping what she believed was going to be a Yahoo! News exclusive interview with Abramson on the Web portal that was slated to air on Thursday. Meanwhile, Fox News Channel began promoting on Tuesday an interview Abramson will give to Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday at 7 p.m. during her FNC show. Once FNC began pumping its Abramson chat, Couric’s team took down its promo of an exclusive chat. At the same time, Cosmopolitan Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles may have beaten them all — the magazine interviewed Abramson six weeks ago. That talk was slated to hit newsstands in the September issue — but Coles rushed publication to Tuesday, when Cosmo placed it on its website. Abramson had given no inteviews since Times Chairman and Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. canned her on May 14. In the Cosmo interview, Abramson said, “I am not ashamed of getting fired.” She had made history 2¹/₂ years ago as the first female executive editor in Times history. The former Timeswoman concedes she was brought to tears by a lengthy article by Dylan Byers on Politico.com in 2013 that detailed growing disenchantment and anger with her among some forces inside the newsroom who had labeled Abramson stubborn and condescending. Abramson labeled it a “hatchet job.” Aside from the front page of The Post, she said she did not read a lot of what was written about her. “[A] lot of my friends [like Maureen Dowd, Michiko Kakutani, Jane Mayer, Ellen Pollock] were like my medieval food tasters. They read it, and if I really needed to know something, they would tell me,” she said. Abramson is teaching at Harvard in the fall and said she is still doing some writing, but tells Cosmo, “I know I really don’t want to run something again right now.” On the mend Dean Baquet, the man who in mid-May was picked to succeed Jill Abramson as executive editor of The New York Times following her abrupt ouster, quietly returned to the newsroom in recent weeks after having a malignant tumor removed from one of his kidneys on June 14 — two days after it was discovered as part of a routine physical exam. The road back has not been easy, insiders said, and Baquet took more time off than he initially planned. When The New York Times revealed on June 16 that Baquet had undergone the operation, it said he expected to be back in the newsroom after taking a week off. When he returned several weeks ago, he was only putting in half-days and has recently been trying to increase the time, sources said. “But he is still not back to 12-hour days,” said one source. Even before his illness was disclosed, he said he was going to take his time in appointing a No. 2 editor, and two months after his appointment, the job remains open. The lack of a clear No. 2 created some problems, since no one person was clearly in charge when he was out. A number of editors stepped up to run the news meetings, including assistant managing editors Susan Chira and Ian Fisher. A spokeswoman said the paper was standing by the original statement, that the “prognosis is good.” Baquet did not return a call seeking comment.
Twitter (July 15, 2014)
María Ramírez @mariaramirezNY So great to listen to @JillAbramson tonight. Every journalist should. Thanks to @TheCommonGood
Rita Cosby @RitaCosby Coming up on @77WABCRADIO: @JillAbramson joins us at 5:20pm to talk about http://TheCommonGood.net Tune in at http://WABCRADIO.com today!
The New York (Annie Correal/July 14, 2014)
The former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson discusses political journalism. 6 p.m. [$30, R.S.V.P. to learn oddly secret location More…
The New York Times (June 20th 2013)
Weiner Wants City to Test Single-Payer Health Care
Vowing to “make New York City the single-payer laboratory in the country” if he is elected mayor, Anthony D. Weiner on Thursday presented an ambitious plan to create a Medicare-like system for the coverage of municipal workers, retirees and uninsured immigrant residents left out of the Affordable Care Act. […] His talk, at a public lecture series sponsored by the Common Good, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, at a City University of New York branch on West 67th Street, stirred enthusiasm and interest. In the hour before he spoke, word of Mr. Weiner’s proposal galvanized other Democratic candidates for mayor to issue hurried news releases on health care.
New York Post (January 31st 2013)
Mark Kelly Talks Gun Control Following Gabby Giffords Testimony
Members of the nonprofit group The Common Good were given an off-the-record preview Tuesday by Mark Kelly, the astronaut hero husband of former congresswoman and gun assault survivor Gabby Giffords, of the testimony he would give before the Senate Judicary Committee on proposed gun-control legislation. He said, “Both my parents were cops. They owned guns, I’ve owned guns, Gabby’s owned guns. We are not anti-gun, but we need sensible laws to protect our families from senseless tragedies.” The crowd included Beth Rudin DeWoody, Sharon Handler Loeb, Michelle Paige Paterson, entrepreneur Peter Thomas Roth, Patricia Duff, Star Jones, lawyer Robert Pietrzak and Steve Buffone.
New York Post (January 22, 2013)
Bipartisan fun in DC
“One of the hottest invites in DC on Saturday night was the bipartisan inauguration party thrown by Patricia Duff’s The Common Good. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy rubbed shoulders at the posh Cosmos Club on Embassy Row. The New York congressional delegation was well-represented with Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler and Joe Crowley. San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro attended with his brother and identical twin, Rep. Joaquín Castro, in matching tuxedos, and told the story of how in high school they dated two girls (not related) with the same name. Grover Norquist was huddled in a corner with former ambassador and real-estate magnate Joe Paolino and lawyer Richard Farley talking about the debt ceiling. Other New York notables in attendance included Dennis and Coralie Paul, Victor Kovner and Orin Kramer.” [MORE]
City & State (December 5th, 2012)
Declaring for Manhattan BP, Menin Announces 216 Endorsements
Former Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin is a first-time candidate, but she certainly isn’t running like one. Before even announcing her candidacy for Manhattan Borough President she maxed out on fundraising, and yesterday at City Hall when she did formally declare her intention to succeed Scott Stringer, who is running for comptroller instead of reelection, Menin simultaneously unveiled a list of no less than 216 endorsements. The endorsements, which were broken down geographically into “East Side,” “West Side,” “Uptown” and “Lower Manhattan,” include a wide array of community activists, district leaders, state committee members, community board chairs, and prominent New Yorkers, including Tim & Nina Zagat, Geraldine Laybourne, the founder and former chair of Oxygen Media and Patricia Duff, founder and CEO of The Common Good. Though it was not stated in the release, the list was also a tacit jab at Menin’s probable opponents as it included a host of neighborhood leaders from districts represented by Councilmembers Jessica Lappin, Robert Jackson and Gale Brewer, all of whom are also vying for the borough’s top job.
CNN Money (December 4, 2012)
Alan Simpson paints dire market outlook
By Allan Dodds Frank— In a speech in New York City Monday to a non-partisan, politically-attuned group called The Common Good, Simpson said the stalemate that appears to be playing out in the news may be what is really going on in Washington with Congress, even behind the scenes. “I don’t really feel they are playing games now. I think they are totally confused,” Simpson said. “But they know the President has one basic thing on his mind: raising taxes on the rich and let me tell you folks: That’s going to happen.” Both Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the Democrat from the Clinton administration who co-chaired the commission that put out a 64-page plan for reform entitled “The Moment of Truth,” have been under non-stop
attack since their report was released two years ago. Simpson says Bowles “used to think we had a chance not to go off the cliff, but now he thinks it is a one-third chance. I think we will go off the cliff and the markets will call the shots and the chaos will be destructive.”
The New Yorker (May 30, 2012)
By HENDRIK HERTZBERG— In the non-fairy-tale world we actually live in, nobody pays much attention if some random urchin on a street corner starts shouting that a feared and lofty potentate isn’t wearing any clothes. But if the shouters are a pair of prestigious guardians of public rectitude and upholders of the ancient traditions of civic morality, then word that the emperor in question is not just buck naked but scrofulous and syphilitic just might begin to trickle down to the lower orders. Such a duo of über-respectables are Thomas E. Mann, a luminary of the ever so slightly left-of-center Brookings Institution, and Norman J. Ornstein, an ornament of the somewhat more firmly right-of-center American Enterprise Institute, both of whom used to communicate in tones of calm, non-inflammatory reassurance. Such a street corner is the Washington Post, and such a potentate is—well, here’s the headline over Mann and Ornstein’s double-length op-ed, which landed on Georgetown stoops a few Sundays ago: “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem.” Oh dear. How very impolite. A sample: We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party. The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges. “Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach. Elsewhere on this site, George Packer writes that while sentiments like these have been coming from some surprising quarters lately, “Mann and Ornstein are the unlikeliest polemicists of all.” Their Post piece was a bugle call for their new book, provocatively titled “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism. ” Naturally, Mann and Ornstein were in town the other day for a bit of book tourism. At a lunch sponsored by The Common Good, Patricia Duff’s floating political salon, Ornstein said that the nonpartisan reputations which he and Mann have earned over their long careers represent a store of capital, and that the Republican Party’s comprehensive lurch to the extreme right had persuaded them that “now is the time to spend that capital.” Both parties have become more ideologically uniform—more “parliamentary.” But they are not symmetrical. Moderation, a visible if not dominant tendency in the G.O.P. as late as the Bush père Administration, is now an almost exclusively Democratic phenomenon. Third-party fantasists like Tom Friedman and Matt Miller, pining for a Presidential candidate of centrist moderation, seem not to have noticed that we already have one—Barack Obama. When it was Mann’s turn to speak, he remarked that it is no longer accurate to describe the Democrats as the liberal party and the Republicans as the conservative party. It’s closer to the truth to say that the Democrats are the conservative party and the Republicans the radical party. “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks” is a cogent, concise, and, in its think-tanky way, passionate book. One of its strengths is that the authors go beyond simply (and quite persuasively) scolding the Republicans. They recognize that the G.O.P.’s “New Politics of Extremism” is enabled by “the American Constitutional System,” broadly understood…
The Huffington Post (May 30, 2012)
A Way to Fix Our Politically Polarized State?
By DAVID HELFENBEIN - Political Contributor/ HuffPo— I recently attended an event in New York City held by The Common Good, featuring Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, authors of the new book, It’s Even Worst Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism. Mann and Ornstein discussed the importance of expanding the electorate in order to decrease polarization in American government. In their book, they write how Republican-dominated state governments have moved in the past two years to narrow the franchise for partisan political gain. The authors believe that such concerted efforts to raise roadblocks to voting haven’t been evident since the days of the poll tax in the 1950s and 1960s and they believe that these new efforts may increase but also note that laws to restrict or constrain voting via voter ID or other methods in Mississippi, Texas and South Carolina must be cleared in advance by the Justice Department under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As evidence has shown, voter ID laws place both a costly and high burden on individuals which leads to the disenfranchisement of the poor and also affects many minority voters. The proposals that Mann and Ornstein suggest (should voter ID laws be enacted) include mandating that people must be able to obtain any government ID required for voting for free and at a reasonable proximity to voting locations and require that polling places accept student IDs in addition to government issued IDs. The legal and political consequences of disenfranchisement are, of course, not new. According to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, jurisdictions that have a history of suppressing minority voters must demonstrate that the newly enacted measure will not disproportionately disenfranchise registered minority voters. New laws enacted in several states, such as those attempted recently in Texas, have not met this standard…
Wall Street Journal (May 27, 2011)
Fashionable Crowd for ‘Style Wars’
By MARSHALL HEYMAN—The 1983 documentary “Style Wars” is often cited as an inspiration for contemporary artists, filmmakers and people who consider themselves—or, in fairness, we consider—coolhunters. Made in New York by Henry Chalfant and the late Tony Silver, it chronicles the lives of street artists who traffic in graffiti, break dancing and rapping. People with names like Demon and Spank and Quik and Iz the Wiz and Trap and Daze and Crash and Shy 147. People who sound like they would pretty much liven up any party. On Wednesday at Tiny’s & the Bar Upstairs, a relatively new venue in TriBeCa co-owned by the hockey player Sean Avery, The Common Good held a fund-raiser for the restoration of the damaged negative of “Style Wars.” (It was damaged through years of storage.) The Common Good, founded by Patricia Duff, is a nonprofit devoted to motivating and inspiring Americans to “become more involved in civic affairs and the political process.” “This is the coolest group of people ever,” said the actress Catherine Keener of the crowd, which included such folks as the designer/actress Mary-Kate Olsen (who said she’s looking forward to a two-week vacation, her first in ages, next month); Mr. Chalfant and his wife, the stage actress Kathleen of “Wit” (who was wearing a pin that read “Well behaved women seldom make history); the fashion designer Charlotte Ronson; the breakdancer Mr. Freeze of the Rock Steady Crew; the graffiti artist Eric Haze; the Brooklyn-based subway artist Lee Quinones; Jerry Ferrara, a.k.a. the Brooklyn-born actor who plays Turtle on “Entourage” and the filmmaker Spike Jonze who directed Ms. Keener in several films. To make it all even cooler, the B-Boys and Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs showed up at the after-party at the Bunker Club. There, Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys was spinning and folks like Brad Pitt, Mark Ronson and Mr. Brainwash (the subject of yet another renegade art documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop”) had donated art. “We’re really interested in engaging younger people,” said Ms. Duff, as she ushered guests from cocktails downstairs to that bar upstairs for dinner. “Good luck,” she added. “It’s a squeeze.” Well, they don’t call it Tiny’s because it’s big. A lot of cool people who seemed to be speaking their own artistic vocabulary crammed into a small (pretty warm, for what it’s worth) room to celebrate Mr. Chalfant, who was also being given an award. “Henry was always interested in those ephemeral masterpieces that disappeared, of which there was no record,” Ms. Chalfant said. “He recognized them as works of art.” Public institutions, it seems, have finally caught up with him: MoCA, in downtown L.A., recently opened a show called “Art in the Streets,” which runs through early August and was curated by Jeffrey Deitch. It is, according to MoCA, the first major U.S. museum survey of graffiti and street art. Mr. Chalfant explained that when he and Mr. Silver were following their subjects, people thought “these two then middle-aged white guys were organizing the biggest bust in history.” “Now his subjects are middle-aged white guys,” said Mr. Haze, as the burrata, arugula and rhubarb jam appetizer was being served. Mr. Chalfant went on: “It was not our idea in the beginning to put all these wonderful things in a film. We just picked up our cameras. You just set out to do something, but never in a million years did I imagine it would become this. I had no idea then. It really was just about fun.”
New York Post (May 21, 2011)
Pitching in to save ‘Style’
Last Updated: 2:51 AM, May 21, 2011 Posted: 1:44 AM, May 21, 2011 Top artists and actors are supporting a bid to restore the original damaged film of “Style Wars,” a historic documentary about New York’s early ‘80s street culture and graffiti art. Catherine Keener, Charlotte Ronson and David Arquette, along with nonprofit organization The Common Good, are hosting a dinner and party at the Bunker Club on May 25, where the film’s late director, Tony Silver, and producer Henry Chalfant will be honored. Guests expected include James Franco, Spike Jonze, Sean Avery, Hilary Rhoda, Rock Steady Crew and Mr. Brainwash, the star of the hit Banksy documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” The negative for “Style Wars” was damaged during years in storage. It is hoped it can be repaired using costly digital technology. To help raise money, art has been donated for a silent auction by Brad Pitt, Rachel Roy, the Beastie Boys, Mr. Brainwash and Shepard Fairey, among others. Read more: [MORE]
Mary-Kate Olsen: Style Wars with Sean Avery!
Better in Black Catherine Keener and Mary-Kate Olsen attended a celebration of Style Wars hosted by The Common Good, Levi’s Film workshop and Keener on Wednesday in NYC. Mary-Kate Olsen meets up with former flame, NHL star Sean Avery, at a dinner party celebrating 25 years of “Style Wars” on Wednesday (May 25) at Tiny’s and the Bar Upstairs in NYC. The 24-year-old fashion mogul, who previously dated Sean back in 2007, also met up with actress Catherine Keener who hosted the bash along with The Common Good and Levi’s Film Workshop. MK and twin sis Ashley have joined a handful of designers who are using the Made-in-America label to lure wealthy shoppers to their line The Row. “There is a customer that appreciates that the product is made in the United States and is willing to pay for the difference,” Brooks Brothers CEO Claudio del Vecchio told Bloomberg. FYI: Catherine is wearing Dolce&Gabbana. Credit: Jason Kempin; Photos
The New York OBSERVER (May 18, 2012)
Betabeat - Mark Ruffalo Goes Green for The Common Good
By DREW GRANT —Waiting in the lobby of the Midtown East home of the interior designer wet dream penthouse apartment of John and Andrea Stark, we heard the bellhop turn to one of our companions waiting in line for the elevator. “You’re the Hulk, aren’t you??!” The young man asked feverishly, as if hoping that the actor in our midst would suddenly turn green and start screaming in nouns and verbs. “Yes, Mark Ruffalo, nice to meet you,” he said. The elevator doors opened, and the anti-hydrofracking advocate attempted to enter, as we were already running a little late to an event for The Common Good, Patricia Duff‘s non-profit public advocacy group. The bellhop stepped in front of the open door, barring entrance. “Hey, can I get a picture?” He asked, breaking really the only rule of being a good hotel employee. The door almost dinged shut, but we grabbed it with our hands. Mr. Ruffalo looked slightly pained, but put on his game face. “Sure!” he said, while one of his people snapped a picture. “Okay, up we go! Can’t keep the ladies waiting!” The Hulk took a dapper step into the elevator and winked at us. Upstairs at the rug mogul’s lavish two-story condo, we grabbed a Grey Goose and introduced ourselves to Ms. Stark, who didn’t seem at all worried that her guests might spill canapes on the floor. Ms. Duff, wearing a stunning red ensemble, confidently introducing guests to Mr. Ruffalo before a short presentation up on the deck. Among those in attendance were philanthropist Elaine Sargent, lawyer Jonathan Goldberg, mystery writer Harper Dimmerman, tea guru Tracy Stern, fashion writer Michele Gerber Klein, plastic surgeon Dr. Stephen Greenberg, artist Jenna Lash, actress Cassandra Seidenfeld, Dr. Robert Grant, actor Franco Porporino Jr. and Bar Candy’s Erica Lancellotti. Fashionista Jean Shafiroff, fresh off her stint as a tastemaker on Ike Ude‘s the Chic Index, was also in attendance. Over by the entrance, the parents of Buzzfeed’s John Steinberg were talking about their son’s culture site. “Maybe I’m biased, but it’s my homepage on the Internet,” said the proud father. “It’s just a great source of political information.” “You should tried to get a job there,” his mother stage-whispered to us. “You know they just hired someone from New York Magazine!” Producer Austin Stark strode in around 7:30. “What are you doing here?” we asked. We hadn’t seen Mr. Stark since the premiere of his latest feature, Detachment. “Um, this is my parents’ house,” he told us. Oh: Stark, Stark. That made sense. We were waiting to run into Tony Stark at the bar. (It would fit with The Avengers theme of the evening.) Ms. Duff reintroduced us to Mr. Ruffalo. “We met on the elevator,” he replied drolly. Seeing if we could actually make Hulk smash, we asked Mr. Ruffalo about his current work opposing hydrolic fracturing. “At first I believed what people said, that it was going to save us from our dependance on coal, that it was going to be clean energy,” Mr. Ruffalo told us. “But then my family moved upstate, where they are actually poisoning the drinking water with all the carcinogens. You can’t drink the tap water where we are. And all this toxic water has to go somewhere. It’s filled with carbon dioxide, it’s just poison sediment leaking into the water. Do you know that soon there will only be 2.5 million liters of clean water left in the world? All our wars are going to be over drinkable water. And it’s going to be found on the coasts; at the Finger Lakes and the Hudson. And we’re depleting it! We’re speeding up the process of running out of water!” By this point, Mr. Ruffalo was almost yelling. “You might want to save your voice for the speeches,” one of the guests said gently. Literary agent Karen Zahler told him he should be writing a book. “Right, but when am I going to find the time?” As if on cue, the actor was whisked away upstairs to speak to the crowd. One thing can be said about Mr. Ruffalo: he is much more articulate about his chosen cause in person than he was on The Colbert Report.
New York Post (March 14, 2012)
New York City’s Newscast Legend Sue Simmons — Going, But Not For Long!
By LIZ SMITH And more from our Liz: do high heels hobble women’s power? … Gloria Steinem speaks … “Game Change” raises HBO to the heights “COULD YOU imagine a man giving up his power by having to focus on walking in shoes (with four-five- six-inch heels)? It’s the 21st century version of Chinese foot-binding,” So said “Debra,” posting to the New York Times website regarding female celebrities and other women keeping up this fashion statement. Hmmm. Perhaps. On the other hand, many women feel more powerful in their heels — and not just as sexual objects. High heels of varying heights have been around for centuries. For a few years only, in the late 1960s, women’s heels fell. (And skirts got much shorter.) But that didn’t last. Women want their heels. And their short skirts, too. * * * ARE YOU a fan of Gloria Steinem? I am. So the Common Good, courtesy of Patricia Duff, is offering the HBO documentary “Gloria: In Her Own Words,” on March 21 with a discussion following that will feature Gloria in person. There will be a Q&A led by the ebullient Gayle King, now of CBS. Call 212-599-7040 about this event, where you’ll be seeing New York’s “finest” women. The names are too VIP to print them all!
(March 13, 2011)
The Common Good American Spirit Award
Posted: 13th Mar, 2011 Leave Comments
Video: The Common Good American Spirit Award – Ruth Gruber —Sometimes these days worrying about politics seems like a trivial affair of getting misbehaving children to play fair in the sandbox. But then there are events with real weight, with real meaning, with real consequence that shock us into the realization that politics do matter, I mean really matter—such as when we find ourselves stunned by the deadly and bloody attack on regular Americans exercising their simple democratic freedoms, in Arizona where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 19 of her fellow countrymen were seriously injured or killed… Or watching with great trepidation and great hope as hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, across gender, age or economic lines, take to the streets to seize control of their government and their own destiny. These are events that bring reality into sharp focus. Politics not only matters; sometimes, even, it’s a matter of life, and death. Here with The Common Good, we try in our own small way to focus attention on the things that do matter. We are about re-invigorating a vibrant, working democracy in our great country. At its most basic that means advancing a more civil dialogue than we’ve seen in recent years—dialogue that allows people to break out of the box to seek solutions beyond dogma and beyond anger. Because we know that important decisions and critical problems left to another day or another election doesn’t work—not just because overblown rhetoric undermines debate and understanding, but because it undercuts Americans joining forces with a common purpose for The Common Good. Part of the American tradition of democracy is the small gatherings that become larger gatherings that, ultimately, can become movements. We’ve been engaging in small groups with influencers and leaders over the past three years to urge civil dialogue—and those efforts have begun to resonate in the larger picture. In the coming weeks and months, The Common Good will be initiating a larger grass roots effort to inspire and empower more Americans to play their part in our great democracy. We will take our forums to Town Halls at college campuses in other cities around the country; We will start The Common Good chapters to create a more thoughtful political process; We will register voters and We will promote everywhere the idea that everyone can—and should – count. As the cradle of democracy, we are the light of hope for so many in our country and around the globe. We must all be democracy’s caretakers as well. We can each make our lives a worthy expression of leaning into that light. We hope you will join with us. – Patricia Duff
Jewish Forward (February 25, 2011)
Ruth Gruber, Star of Documentary ‘Ahead of Time,’ Honored by The Common Good
On The Go
By MASHA LEON —Published February 17, 2011, issue of February 25, 2011. “I was born in a shtetl called Brooklyn… I thought everyone was Jewish,” journalist Ruth Gruber said. Author of 19 books, Gruber was presented with The Common Good’s American Spirit Award on February 3 by Ann Curry, news anchor of the NBC-TV show “Today,” at a screening of the Gruber documentary “Ahead of Time,” held at The Paley Center for Media. As a 20-year old exchange student at the University of Cologne in 1931, she earned her doctorate.
In September 2011, Gruber will celebrate her 100th birthday. She recalled her father saying, “What kind of a career is that for a Jewish girl?” about her decision to become a journalist. “My parents were apoplectic about my going to hear Hitler speak…. I will never forget his voice, calling for death to the Jews, death to America.” Recalling her life as a foreign correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune, she described flying to Israel “for my last interview with Ben-Gurion…. I asked him, ‘Will there be peace?’ He said: ‘Yes, there will be peace. It will come from Egypt…. A whole generation will grow up to live side by side…. They will help us. Not in my time, maybe in yours and maybe in your children’s.’” Among the evening’s guests and participants were Patricia Duff, founder of the not-for-profit, nonpartisan legal reform coalition The Common Good; Patti Kenner, executive producer of “Ahead of Time”; New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, and former first lady of New York State Michelle Paige Paterson.
Following the screening of “Ahead of Time,” Gruber, luminous in a sparkling multicolored beaded jacket, sat in a chair center stage and called for the house lights: “I need to see the people to talk to them!” And there was light. “A Romany gypsy told me, ‘You are going on a long trip,’” Gruber recalled. “In the 1930s I ended up in the Soviet Arctic for 18 months during the darkest days of Stalinist Russia!” She described living in the Arctic, where she had been sent by “FDR’s secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, who appointed me as his personal representative to Alaska.” Gruber also told of how in 1944, when she was 33 and Ickes’s special assistant, Ickes sent 33-year-old Gruber on what she described as “a top secret mission to escort 1,000 Jewish and Christian refugees on the USS Henry Gibbons” to sanctuary in the United States. “To protect me in case I got caught,” Gruber said, smiling, “Ickes said he’d make me a general.” Published in 1983 and then revised in 2000, her memoir, “Haven: The Dramatic Story of 1,000 World War II Refugees and How They Came to America” Three Rivers Press/Crown Publishing Group),was made in 2001 into the CBS miniseries “Haven,” in which Natasha Richardson portrayed Gruber. On a personal note, my husband Joseph’s cousin Joel Lasky (a retired filmmaker now living in Dallas) recalls playing with his “Haven” refugee classmates inside the barbed wire at Fort Ontario in upstate New York, where Gruber’s charges were encamped. Lasky recalls: “Dad [Harry Lasky] was the president of the synagogue and, as liaison between the Jewish community of Oswego and national Jewish agencies, provided extra food and other materials for the refugees.” Lasky also informed, “One of Gruber’s refugee charges, Rabbi Tzechoval, taught me the maftir [the additional Torah reading given on the Sabbath] for my bar mitzvah.” The miniseries led to an ongoing Lasky-Gruber correspondence. Another Gibbons survivor was then 6-year-old Doris Schechter (nee Dorrit Blumenkranz), now the owner of My Most Favorite Dessert Company. In “Ahead of Time,” there is a clip of Yitzhak Aharonovitch the handsome 23-year-old captain of the ship Exodus. The film also shows a 2008 visit by Gruber to Aharonovitch. With a twinkle in his eye, the now a frail 85-year-old man tells Gruber, “I never realized you were that much older than I.” (He died at 86.) Also in the audience was film director Bob Richman, film writer Naomi Wolf, and filmmakers Patti Kenner and Zeva Oelbaum. Duff stressed: “The Common Good” is “not mine, not yours, not ours,” and that the essence of the awards is “to reach out and inspire full participation in our democracy…and promote community and individual actions to better our world. Our organization works to bring people together from across the political aisle to find common ground. “ Award-winning journalist Catherine Crier was the evening’s host. Read more: http://www.forward.com/articles/135516/#ixzz1gMIHaZ8p
ELLE (February 7, 2011)
Ruth Gruber, Star of Documentary ‘Ahead of Time,’ Honored by The Common Good by LORRAINE CWELICH on FEBRUARY 7, 2011—Ruth Gruber in Alaska in 1941. Photo: Ruth Gruber A group of fierce women gathered at the Paley Center for Media last week to celebrate pioneering journalist Ruth Gruber, who turns 100-years-old in September. Two-time Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener, journalist Ann Curry and author Naomi Wolf—all trailblazers in their own right—joined Patricia Duff, the founder of The Common Good, in honoring Gruber with the American Spirit Award. Gruber, who was born in Brooklyn and attended NYU, earned a fellowship to study in Cologne, Germany and at age 20 became the world’s youngest Ph.D (in German Philosophy, English Literature and Art History). Gruber wrote her dissertation on Virginia Woolf, with whom she corresponded extensively. Woolf’s essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” inspired Gruber to challenge societal expectations of women’s roles, and to become a writer. When she returned to the U.S., Gruber embarked on an astounding journey as a reporter for The New York Herald Tribune, during which she not only witnessed history but impacted it. Just a handful of years after the invention of flight, Gruber became the first journalist—male or female—to fly into the Soviet Arctic. She gained the trust of Interior Secretary Harold Ickes, who dispatched her to Alaska during World War II to report on relocation opportunities for returning soldiers. While a student in Germany, Gruber had witnessed Hitler’s rallies and she became passionate about helping refugees from concentration camps relocate—undertaking a dangerous mission for Ickes, to bring a thousand immigrants from Nazi territory to New York. Gruber’s reports and photographs from the Exodus 1947 ship, which carried Holocaust survivors attempting to enter British-controlled Palestine, would become stuff of legend. At 40, Gruber married, had two children, and continued her career. “My mother would ask when I was going to settle down,” said Gruber. “I always said I’d get married when I wanted to.” Following the screening of Ahead of Time, the documentary chronicling Gruber’s life, Curry presented Gruber with her award. We asked Curry, the longtime host of the Today show (she is currently working on a story about Gruber to run next month), what lessons today’s journalists can learn from Gruber. “Ruth reaffirms a fundamental idea, that to truly empathize with the people you’re interviewing is one of the key ways to really get the truth that you need for a story,” Curry told us. “The dilemma is that journalists are so focused on the 5 W’s and H [who, what, when, where, why and how] that they’re not thinking about the human being. Half the time people speak to us when they’re suffering and they’re uncomfortable and vulnerable. Ruth emphasizes being mindful as to what it takes out of people to be interviewed by the press.”
“Young women can learn from her to never give up or take no for an answer,” said Curry. “She’s a woman who, even in a time of rampant, systematic, seemingly intractable sexism, accomplished so many firsts when women weren’t supposed to accomplish anything.” We asked Wolf, the author of the groundbreaking 1991 book, The Beauty Myth, about the challenges that contemporary feminism faces. “Dominant media images are still sexualized,” said Wolf, “but I see women breaking ground in every area, all over the world. Young women may still feel like they have to look like a porn star in the bedroom, but that’s not occupying the center of their lives; they’re being prosecutors and doctors and advocates. And what’s exciting is how women in the developing world are creating new forms of feminism, which I think Western women should listen to, support and partner with. There’s a new generation of young feminists that the media doesn’t pay attention to.” Gruber said that her advice to young journalists is, “Read, read, read; write, write, write. Rewrite 14 times if necessary, until you get it exactly right. Don’t let rejection deter you.” Keener, easily the coolest actor on the planet (Being John Malkovich, Capote), has the same kind of beautiful free spirit as Gruber. “It felt crazy that the first time I’d heard about Ruth Gruber was when The Common Good asked if I’d participate in their event honoring her,” she said. “Her life story is one of a great patriot in our time.”
The Common Good, which presented the event, is an extraordinary, non-partisan organization that encourages civilized, unifying dialogue to bridge this nation’s increasingly shrill political divisiveness, in an attempt to find common ground. Duff said, “In the fullest measure of the greatness of the American Spirit, Ruth Gruber is courageous, deeply compassionate and fiercely independent. She bravely took on not only what she was called to do by her government, but what her conscience also compelled her to do.” Gruber, who still wields her razor-sharp intellect in her daily writing and lives independently in her Central Park West apartment, told us that all the women in her family had long lives, with her mother passing shortly before her own 100th birthday. We asked Gruber the secret to her long, healthy life:
“Four easy words: NEVER NEVER NEVER RETIRE!”
MANHATTAN SOCIETY (February 4, 2011)
THE COMMON GOOD HONORS RUTH GRUBER: Messages “Ahead of Time” From The Paley Center & Inside The Egyptian Revolution of 2011
The Common Good (TCG) paid tribute this evening to an extraordinary American and citizen of the world at the Paley Center for Media on 52nd Street here in Manhattan. Catherine Crier served as the evening’s emcee. Today Show Anchor Ann Curry presented TCG’s American Spirit Award to Ruth Gruber. Gruber, the youngest PhD in the world, a former Bridge & Tunnel New Yorker born in Brooklyn, just like me (although I was born in Queens and grew up Queens and Brooklyn). In the words of TCG founder Patricia Duff: “Ruth is one of the most extraordinary and inspiring women of the latter half of the 20th century for her film-worthy exploits and accomplishments in journalism, government, and social activism.” The event was hosted by: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Catherine Keener, Kelly Klein, Barbara Kopple, Former First Lady of New York Michelle Paige Paterson, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Bob Richman, Rachel Roy, and Naomi Wolf. A packed amphitheater of politically and philanthropically engaged New Yorkers, including professionals in media, law, medicine, finance as well as artists, writers, political and community leaders, all of whom came to see the screening of “Ahead of Time”, a profile paying tribute to Ms. Gruber’s extraordinary life.After witnessing and photographing Gruber’s acceptance of the American Spirit Award, I briefly stopped taking photos to listen to her more carefully. What was most memorable was Grubers’ recollection of one of her discussions with David Ben-Gurion who told her that there would be peace in the Middle East. And when Ruth asked how and when, Ben-Gurion advised her “in yours or your children’s life time and it will come through Egypt.” The historical irony of Ben-Gurion’s statement was lost on few people, especially given the tumultuous situation in Egypt at the present time.
(February 3, 2011)
The Common Good’s Tribute To Ruth Gruber
Ruth Gruber attends The Common Good Tribute to Ruth Gruber at The Paley Center for Media on February 3, 2011 in New York City. Photo: Eugene Gologursky/WireImage Feb 03, 2011
February 3rd, 2011 MANHATTAN SOCIETY February 3 2011— The Common Good Honors Ruth Gruber with TCG’s American Spirit Award on Thursday, February 3, 2011 at The Paley Center for Media - 25 West 52nd Street, New York City, NY. The Common Good presented TCG’s American Spirit Award to Ruth Gruber. Catherine Crier served as the evening’s emcee. Presenting the American Spirit Award to Ruth Gruber was Ann Curry (Bio: Ann Curry). In the words of TCG founder Patricia Duff (NNDB Listing), “Ruth is one of the most extraordinary and inspiring women of the latter half of the 20th century for her film-worthy exploits and accomplishments in journalism, government, and social activism.” Hosted by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Catherine Keener, Kelly Klein, Barbara Kopple, Former First Lady of New York Michelle Paige Paterson,Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Bob Richman, Rachel Roy, and Naomi Wolf. Other VIP guests included: Lola Astanova, Debbie Bancroft, Kathleen Chalfant, Henry Chalfant, Rita Cosby, Dr. Lewis M. Feder, Rachel Lee Hovnanian, Ara Hovnanian, Lynne White et al. etc. SEE ALSO:London In New York blog: The Common Good Honors Ruth Gruber: Messages “Ahead of Time” From The Paley Center & Inside the Egyptian Revolution” PHOTO CREDIT:Copyright ©Manhattan Society.com 2011 | tel: Private | e-mail: ChrisLondon@manhattansociety.com
Publication (August, 2011)
Ruth Gruber in Alaska in 1941. Photo: Ruth Gruber
BY: OCSADMIN - AUGUST 27TH, 2011 FILED UNDER: BECOME BEAUTIFUL, HAIR BEAUTY, HAIR CARE, HAIR PRODUCT, HAIR STYLE15 COMMENTS
Policy Mic (February 3, 2011)/a>
Henry Kissinger: America and China Don’t See Eye-to-Eye
By HASSAN MIRZA
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger discussed his new book On China at an event in New York City on Wednesday hosted by The Common Good. Kissinger’s ideas about China are strongly rooted in the realpolitik ideology that played such a dominant role in U.S. foreign policy during the 1960s and 1970s. He discussed everything from modern Sino-American relations to his greatest success on his first secret trip to China — “not meeting Mao Zedong.” Kissinger’s big takeaway was that the U.S. and China need to work together and cooperate more in world affairs. But, I feel his analysis fell short on several levels. First, he emphasized that both China and America face international affairs nightmares “which arise at a moment when the world is in simultaneous turmoil.” China’s nightmare is to be surrounded by hostile countries, while America’s nightmare is a united Asia that organizes itself in a manner that makes it impossible to manage. But here, I feel Kissinger simplifies China’s perspective. He did not mention that in addition to fearing hostile surrounding countries, China also seems to fear internal uprisings which can divide the country and overthrow the Communist party.
Next, Kissinger provided some analysis of China’s and America’s strategies in solving international problems. The American mindset is more pragmatic and oriented toward problem-solving; the U.S. tends to believe that problems are solvable and tries to develop a strategy to fix the problem as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, the Chinese believe that few problems have ultimate solutions; so, they are more content managing conflicts rather than resolving them. As a result, Chinese negotiators are more willing to accept an impasse or deadlock in negotiations. Finally, Kissinger argued that the U.S. and China need to develop a better relationship, based on mutual respect and cooperation. Both must accept that neither the U.S. nor China will dominate the other in our multi-polar world.
Due to economic and military shifts, it has become more difficult for one country to carry the police stick and exert influence in all parts of the globe. I find Kissinger’s idea here to be too idealistic. The two countries are in an economic relationship, and getting them on the same page in terms of global affairs will be difficult. As the world becomes more multi-polar, shifts in alliances will only create more of a rift, rather than cohesion, between the two giants. For example, America supports India as a regional watchdog in South Asia, but for China, India represents a threat that needs to be tamed (China has recently strengthened ties with Pakistan). Still, at 88 years-old, Kissinger still holds significant sway over Chinese-American policy. See here for more event opportunities from The Common Good.Photo Credit: Oliver Atkins
MANHATTAN MAGAZINE (August 11, 2011)
The Common Good and Manhattan Magazine present Summer Cocktails
WALL STREET JOURNAL (August 6, 2011)
A Kennedy Works on His Pitch
The Wall Street Journal, 06 August 2011, 244 words, (English) …At a summer cocktail party for the charity The Common Good the other night at the Paramount Hotel, Bobby Kennedy III, a 26-year-old writer who is the grandson of Robert Kennedy, said he has been working 18-hour days for the past several…[MORE]
Vice Magazine (May 25, 2011)
STYLE WARS BENEFIT AND AUCTION - MAY 25
In 1983, the documentary Style Wars was unleashed on a public largely unfamiliar with concepts like art made with spray-paint or hip-hop. It is arguably the definitive historical snapshot of the era—one that continues to exert its influence on just about every facet of art, music, and daily life in metropolitan cities. On May 25, Catherine Keener, Public Art Films, The Common Good, and Levi’s Film Workshop will be hosting a benefit and auction to fund the restoration of the original (and unfortunately damaged) negatives of the film so that it can be converted into high definition and preserved for generations to come. We had a quick chat with Catherine and Henry Chalfant, the film’s coproducer, graffiti documentarian, and celebrated artist in his own right, about the event and how the film’s influence has perpetually grown over the years.
VICE: How did the idea for this benefit come about?Henry Chalfant: A while ago we discovered that the negative of the film was quite badly damaged, and I was explaining to Catherine that we were trying to raise money so we could come out with an HD version. The money it costs to fix it is much more than we have and more than the film makes from DVD sales. We thought, “How are we going to do this?” Tony Silver, the director of the film, is dece ased—he died about two or three years ago—but five years before that he had investigated what it would take to do this and it was just too expensive. Then Catherine stepped up and said, “Hey, I bet that we can have a fundraiser with people I know that will allow us to come up with this.” She very generously offered to do this. Catherine Keener: [laughs] It’s a very kind of Podunk operation.
It doesn’t seem that way judging by the people who are contributing art to the auction. I take it that it wasn’t too difficult to get your actor and artist friends to jump on board?Catherine Keener: You’d be surprised by how many people have really been inspired by Style Wars, and how much they love it. A lot them know every single line in it.
It just means a lot to people, including myself, just in terms of what’s come out of it culturally, and the art, and in terms of a social movement. I really feel like it should be preserved. Henry and I were talking yesterday about how it was made possible by grants from National Endowment for the Arts and public television. It’s public record, and it belongs to everyone. Henry Chalfant: It belongs to the public—the American public owns this thing. We feel like we’re the stewards of it and want to preserve it in its best possible light… forever.
I imagine there was a lot of resistance when you were first conceptualizing and shooting the film with Tony. Are you surprised that nowadays so many people want to ensure its longevity? Henry Chalfant: It’s beyond being about just graffiti and hip-hop, because it really is a story about New York. It’s a big drama about New York at the time, and you have players in it like Mayor Koch who might as well have been a stand-up comic. He’s wonderful in it. That’s a very New York thing—to have politicians like that who have a stage presence and humor and everything. It isn’t just about the kids. A lot of this I owe to Tony, who was an amazing filmmaker who conceived that idea—to make it a whole drama about New York. I’m really glad we did because I was so focused on the artists. Left to my own devices, I probably would have made something with a narrower focus.
In many ways, the film also validated graffiti as a true art form. Henry Chalfant: Yeah, especially in the halls of intelligentsia and the museum art world. There was resistance to it. I know from trying to publish our book—-Martha Cooper and I did this book called Subway Art and there was huge this resistance to that, we couldn’t get it published in New York or anywhere else in the US. We went to all of the major publishers of art books, and nobody would touch it. We had to go to Frankfurt Book Fair where we met the people from Thames & Hudson, and they jumped right on it.
What kind of artwork will be auctioned at the event?Henry Chalfant: The artwork is magnificent. We just got a Shepard Fairey piece in the mail today, made especially for this event. It’s full of references to Style Wars and spray-painting in general. Catherine Keener: We were all amazed that he was going to contribute something; Henry emailed me a photo of it today. I was shocked at how really generous it was—that he made a one-of-a-kind piece just for us. I called all of my friends, I called people that I didn’t know, I could call anyone right now [laughs]. Flea donated a bass and not only signed it, but basically tagged it all over. He’s also auctioning a private bass lesson. James Franco is painting a door for us, which I’m curious to see.The famed artist Marcel Dumas made a piece for us. Spike Jonze made a drawing just for this. Dave Eggers also did something. And all of the stars from Graffiti World, lots of their art will be there too. Henry Chalfant: We’re getting some great stuff from that generation who was painting back then, like Lee, Blade, Crash, and Daze. They’re going to be there; everybody’s going to be there.
It looks like you’ve got the appropriate soundtrack for the night sorted out, too.Catherine Keener: Adam Horovitz, DJ Kay Slay, and Questlove are all DJing. Mr. Freeze is MCing and bringing the dance crew. It’s going to be the party of the summer. Henry Chalafant: We’re also going to have a contemporary B-Boy demonstration by some really good dancers.
What you think about New York City graffiti nowadays compared to when you guys were filming Style Wars? How does it stack up?Henry Chalafant: Since we were filming the movie, things have really changed in terms of influence. When it started, pictures from New York went around the world and inspired people from California to Europe and beyond. They, in turn, started doing it and their work began to influence Americans. So there’s this incredible feedback loop that’s gone on. The original culture in New York kind of petered out for a bit—after the late 80s it was basically over. It was so tied to the trains, and the trains were eventually won back by the transit authority. But New York continues to be a part of the international culture that still produces amazing murals. There are lots of collaborations between French, German, and American artists. People travel all around now, and the internet allows instant viewing.
Do you think graffiti would have had a chance of gaining this sort of acceptance if it wasn’t for Style Wars?
Henry Chalafant: It was really serendipitous—being at the right place at the right time. I think why it spread—apart from the media—was that the message was so powerful and universal, and that it was mostly created by people who were a minority group in the US. They were kids without access to the major organs of media or institutions. This was a voice for them, and I think people in other parts of the world identified with these kids and the way they rose above all of their challenges.
Catherine Keener: Henry, I think that you were there at this time and captured this particular thing: New York, the art scene, kids who really didn’t have a means to express themselves artistically or in any other ways who just went out and did this thing and started a movement. The fact that you and Tony were there and had a camera and this amazing belief in what they were doing… maybe another film would have done it but I’m not sure it would have come together in the same way. People around the world identified with it and that’s why they grabbed it and ran with it. Each and every person had a voice. Everybody became an artist.
Henry Chalafant: And that still plays to this day; there’s a big contrast with doing work unsolicited on your own and being part of an institution where things are inevitably going to be limited. You’re free if you’re doing it yourself on the streets.
The auction will take place May 25th at 1920 Bunker (32 under 9th Ave.). There’s a $250 donation to enter, which we promise will be well worth it. RSVP to email@example.com. Check back for a link to the online auction.
INSTYLE Magazine (May, 2011)
The Common Good Presents Desert Flower with Liya Kebede
Actress Liya Kebede and President of The Paley Center Pat Mitchell attend the screening of “Desert Flower” at Paley Center For Media on March 17, 2011 in New York City. zimbio Tags: liya kebede, red carpet & event
YAHOO NEWS (March 17, 2011)
The Common Good Presents Desert Flower with Liya Kebede
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 17: Founder of The Common Good Patricia Duff and Actress Liya Kebede attend the screening of ‘Desert Flower’ at Paley Center For Media on March 17, 2011 in New York City. In this photo: Patricia Duff, Liya Kebede Photo: Stephen Lovekin Mar 17, 2011
PUBLICATION (March 20, 2011)
Desert Flower Premieres – Sunday, March 20, 2011
by CHRISTIAN MC KENZIE — On a recent Thursday night, InStyle magazine, National Geographic and The Common Good hosted the New York City premiere screening of “Desert Flower” at The Paley Center for Media. The Co-hosts for the evening included the film’s leading lady, Liya Kebede, UN Goodwill Ambassador, Ross Bleckner, and former First Lady of New York, Michele Paige Paterson. After walking the red carpet, guests were offered wine or Veet vodka, and were then escorted to the theater. The film is a moving biopic of the life of Supermodel Waris Dirie. The former Bond girl, who is also featured in the current H&M campaign with Liya Kebede, fled a life of poverty and arranged marriages in Somali. She then ends up being discovered in London by a photographer while working in a fast food restaurant. At this moment, the Cinderella story unfolds. She starts landing major campaigns including Oil of Olay, Benetton, Levi’s and Revlon. She also finds a love interest, played by indie film star Anthony Mackie. The BBC then approaches her to be featured in a documentary titled “The Day that Changed my Life” where she discusses the prevalence of the 3,000 year old practice of female genital mutilation (FMG), not only in her country of origin but worldwide. She later becomes a UN Special Ambassador to help end the practice. She also opens a foundation, the Desert Flower Foundation to become a full-time advocate for victims of FMG. The film releases in US theaters on March 18th. To view the trailer, visit Desert Flower. (L-R) Founder of The Common Good Patricia Duff, Actress Liya Kebede and President of The Paley Center Pat Mitchell attend the screening of “Desert Flower” at Paley Center For Media on March 17, 2011 in New York City. (March 16, 2011 - Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images North America)
April 25th, 2011
The Common Good Hosts Screening for “Living for 32”
Nouriel Roubini Blog (October 14, 2011)
Nouriel Roubini on the The Common Good Conference
Nouriel Roubini on the US & Global Economy: The Common Good hosts Professor/ Economist Nouriel Roubini with co-host Charles Meyers and Paul Beirne . The Common Good hosted “Dr. Doom” Professor Nouriel Roubini on Wednesday, October 12th as he discusses the coming challenges of the US & Global Economy as part of our Economy and Business Series.
The Common Good Economics TCG Hosts Economist Nouriel Roubini The Common Good hosts Professor/ Economist Nouriel Roubini with co-host Charles Meyers and Paul Beirne The Common Good Civil Dialogue Economy Occupy Wall Street Eurozone Greece Recession Ireland Portugal Dr. DoomThe Common Good Network
The Common Good hosts HBO’s “Too Big To Fail”
The Common Good hosts HBO’s “Too Big To Fail” followed by a discussion with special guests Joe Nocera and Mort Zuckerman discussing the debt ceiling crisis of 2008 the common goodtcghbojoe noceramort zuckermanandrew ross sorkincynthia nixon
The Common Good hosts HBO’s “Too Big To Fail”
The Common Good Hosts “Too Big To Fail” with Joe Nocera and Mort Zuckerman
Author: The Common Good Network
March 1st, 2011
HON. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York
The house of representatives Tuesday, March 1, 2011 Mrs. MALONEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to Ruth Gruber, an extraordinary woman whose life’s work has made her an icon and a role model. Over the course of her long and active life, she has been a ground-breaking journalist and photographer, a brilliant scholar, an exceptional writer and a compassionate government official. Most of all, she is a humanitarian whose leadership and intellect helped save thousands of lives. Ms. Gruber received the American Spirit Award from The Common Good (TCG) on February 3, 2011. In addition, TCG will be screening Ahead of Time, a 2009 documentary about Ms. Gruber’s life. Under the leadership of the dynamic Patricia Duff, TCG is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that strives to inspire broad participation in our democracy through the free exchange of ideas and civil dialogue. Born in Brooklyn in 1911, Ruth Gruber studied at the University of Cologne in Germany where, at the age of twenty, she received her Ph.D. Her dissertation on Virginia Woolf made her the youngest Ph.D. in the world, earning her international headlines and a movie star’s welcome when she returned to the United States. Ms. Gruber returned to the United States where she became a journalist. In 1935, she won a fellowship to write a study of women under fascism, communism, and democracy. The first journalist to enter the Soviet Arctic, she published her experiences in the book, I Went to the Soviet Arctic. In 1941, after reading her book, Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes sent Ms. Gruber as his field representative to make a social and economic study of Alaska. Her reports were forwarded to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and played a major role in shaping American policies in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, which were then on the frontlines of World War II. Among other things, her reports documented the strong work ethic of African-American soldiers. When Ms. Gruber returned to Washington, Ickes appointed her his special assistant, a position she held for five years. When President Roosevelt decided to accept a thousand European immigrants in the midst of World War II and the Holocaust, Secretary Harold Ickes asked her to escort the refugees to the United States. Largely but not entirely Jewish, the 984 refugees who were chosen to make the journey came from all over Europe. The refugees were permitted into the country with the idea that they would return home following the war’s end. Following their arrival in New York harbor on August 3, 1944, they were kept segregated on an old army base in Oswego, New York. Ms. Gruber served as their liaison with the outside world. When the end of the war came, Ms. Gruber lobbied the President and Congress, with the help of Catholic, Jewish and Protestant clergy and other advocates, and convinced them to allow the refugees to stay in America. Following the war, Ms. Gruber became a foreign correspondent for the Herald Tribune. In 1947, the New York Post asked her to cover the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine, which was formed to consider what to do with the Jewish Holocaust survivors who could not return home. She traveled to the displaced persons camps, covered the Nuremberg trials, and met with Zionist leaders in the Middle East. In 1947, while covering the Middle East for the Herald Tribune, she learned of the British refusal to allow the Exodus, a former cruise ship crammed with 4,500 refugees, to land in Haifa. The British loaded the survivors onto several boats and sent them first to Marseilles and then to Germany. Ms. Gruber was permitted to travel with the refugees from Marseilles to Germany as the pool reporter. Her dispatches, later collected in the book, Exodus 1947: The Ship That Launched a Nation, introduced the world to desperation and determination of the survivors. Her iconic photograph of refugees on board the ship under a flag bearing the British Union Jack overlaid with a Nazi swastika became Life Magazine’s photo of the week and was reproduced around the world. Ms. Gruber continued to work as a foreign correspondent until 1966, and has continued to write books up to the present day. In 1985, Ms. Gruber witnessed another exodus—she traveled to isolated Jewish villages to aid in the rescue of the Ethiopian Jews. She chronicled her experiences in Rescue: The Exodus of the Ethiopian Jews. In 1998, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from her peers in the American Society of Journalists and Authors as “a pioneering journalist and author whose books chronicle the most important events of the twentieth century.’’ When asked the secret of her success, she said: “Have dreams, have visions and let no obstacle stop you.’’ Ms. Gruber was married twice, first to Philip H. Michaels and, after his death, to Henry Rosner. In 1952, at age forty-one, she gave birth to her first child, Celia; her son, David, was born in 1954. Mr. Speaker, I ask my distinguished colleagues to join me in recognizing the remarkable career and achievements of Ruth Gruber, an indefatigable journalist, activist and humanitarian. Government Printing Office (March 1, 2011) Congressional Record Volume 157, Number 29 [Extensions of Remarks] [Page E388] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov] REMARKS TO THE US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: IN RECOGNITION OF THE MANY ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF RUTH GRUBER, AN AMERICAN JOURNALIST, PHOTOGRAPHER, WRITER AND HUMANITARIAN
GUEST OF A GUEST (February 3, 2011)
A Guest of a Guest
The Common Good Chair Patricia Duff and author/journalist Catherine Crier at the screening for “Ahead of Time.”
Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College
Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College
Election Insurrection: The Mid-Term Elections 2010The Common Good and the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College joined forces to present “Election Insurrection: The Mid-Term Elections 2010.” This timely forum brings together America’s top political journalists with an authoritative range of strategists from across the political spectrum to discuss the importance—and likely impact—of the November Congressional and gubernatorial elections. Please join us for this vital and enlightening evening of discussion and debate. Through civil dialog and civic initiatives, The Common Good seeks to inspire broader participation in our democracy and bridge the growing divisions that threaten our nation.
MEDIA ITE (November 2, 2010)
See The Common Good’s Panel On The Midterm Elections, Moderated By Dan Abrams
By HILLARY BUSIS —Our founder, Dan Abrams, is a busy man. When he’s not writing about his web properties or telling America what he thinks of Charlie Sheen, he’s asking venerated journalists to give their thoughts on on the 2010 Midterm Elections. On October 13, Dan moderated a panel discussion that was organized by nonprofit, non-partisan public advocacy group The Common Good. The event featured reporters and correspondents like Carl Bernstein, Katrina vanden Heuvel, and Steve Hildebrand. If you’d like to watch the entire thing, you’re in luck—it’s recently been uploaded to YouTube. Here’s the first part; visit The Common Good’s user page to see the rest.
COLORLINES – NEWS FOR ACTION - (August 27, 2008)
Hispanic Institute and The Common Good Panel Tackles Race and Gender in the Campaign Hispanic Institute and The Common Good Panel Tackles Race and Gender in the Campaign
By RINKU SEN August 27 2008— Yesterday I went to a panel on “The Culture Wars: the role of Race, Gender, Ethnicity, Religion and values in the Fall Campaign.” Dan Abrams of MSNBC’s Verdict moderated, and did quite a good job, and the line up included former Planned Parenthood President Faye Wattleton, Dee Dee Myers, Harold Ford Jr., Senator Amy Klobushar (D-MN), Markos Moulitsas, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Governor Bill Richardson, and the always obnoxious Tucker Carlson. Initially, there was a lot of self-congratulatory talk about Obama’s campaign closing the book on race and gender (Richardson, Ford, Klobushar) and then some push back. Carlson said this would happen only if Obama says he will end the fundamental unfairness of affirmative action – this is the same guy who called Hillary Clinton a ball buster on primetime TV. Myers said that despite the fact that young people don’t see race and culture (actually, they see it but don’t let it hold them up), Obama would still have to win among old white voters in the northeast and Midwest, and Biden’s job was to help him do that. It’s more likely that white voters with racial hang-ups will hold their noses and vote on other issues. Newsweek editor, Jon Meacham, told of polls designed to find the most racist people who will identify, and even among them Obama was way ahead of McCain. Of course, the overall polling numbers have the two in a dead heat . Abrams asserted that “values” would be the next racial code word. The conversation turned to gender and the feelings of Hillary supporters. Maloney, who has a new book out , took on Carlson’s castration comment about Clinton. That was cool. She was honest about the anger (white) women felt in their perception that race trumped gender in the primary – in two great moments, the racial moment was thought more important than the gender moment. I would have liked to see some critical thought applied to that idea, especially when she pulled up yet again the notion that the racial equivalent of the sexist statements about Clinton’s campaign would have had the media up in arms. If I ever again hear “if they had been saying x about blacks….” I may actually lose my mind. The white ladies seem to have missed the use of the middle name, the accusations of secret Muslimhood, and the fist bump business. No marginalized group of people has been exempted from media stereotyping. Because we don’t notice it when we’re not the target, it’s easy to project our jealousy, based on no evidence, of another group’s supposed power to preempt racist crap. It’s going to be hard to build solidarity when you can’t see your allies’ real situation because you envy this perceived power. Progressives should take the words “if this had happened to…” out of their vocabulary. Doing so would help build a political culture and alliances based on reality, rather than on resentment.
THE COMMON GOOD
Charity Begins at Home
by Christopher London, Esq. photos by Gregory Partanio I do not know who this celebrity called Jane Jacobs is. It’s not me. You either do your work or you’re a celebrity; I’d rather do my work. ~ Jane Jacobs The words of Jane Jacobs have long resonated with me, even before I was introspective enough to consider who my heroes were and why. Inspiration for my continued evolution has always come from a variety of sources, including both the feminine and the masculine. While New York Mets’ ace Tom Seaver was a man I had hoped to emulate, it was Jacobs, however, who helped to form my basis for embracing my role as a citizen on this planet. Jane Jacobs, in her 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, well understood the interconnectedness of all elements of the city. She used a biological metaphor to distance herself from those city planners and officials from her New York period, like Le Corbusier and Robert Moses, who saw the urban environment as something more abstract or inhuman. Jacobs famously wrote, “The city has something to offer to everyone, since it is created by everyone.” The people, streets, parks, neighborhoods, the government, the economy “cannot exist without one another and are, like the organs of the human body, connected with each other.” The fabric of our society is sustained by thoughtful interweaving of these elements, a failure to understand this could cause irreparable tears that could lead to a breakdown in civility. No one perhaps understands this more than Patricia Duff, founder of The Common Good (TCG), a non-profit, non-partisan organization that strives to inspire broad participation in our democracy by seeking to help bridge the growing divisions that threaten our nation through the vigorous exchange of ideas and civil dialog. According to Duff, TCG looks “at the bigger view of our nation to promote the common good by trying to make our democracy work better. We promote discussion and reasoned debate across the aisle and bring the best and the brightest of the nation’s influencers to discuss the burning issues of the day. We help provide informed and authoritative sources of information needed to make good public policy choices and we advocate for fairness and informed participation by all our citizens.” Members of TCG do not just get intimate access to some of the most thoughtful and provocative thinkers of our time but the very real opportunity to grow from exposure to such reasoned thought. thecommongood.net Angie Pontani, “The Reigning Queen of Burlesque,” the winner of the Miss Exotic World Pageant in 2008, Miss Cyclone in 2007 (in honor of the historic roller coaster at Coney Island), and founder of the World Famous Pontani Sisters, the glamorously retro-stylized and costumed dance trio that helped to pioneer the burlesque revival, is more than one of the most beautiful women you will ever meet in this town. Pontani is a veritable renaissance woman, whose nobility as a local citizen was best exemplified by her dedication to preserving Coney Island’s historic amusement district. There’s no doubt that Jane Jacobs would have been proud of the Coney Island project. As a kid who grew up in Sheepshead Bay, it’s hard not to acknowledge that she is also one of my heroes. You can see performances by Angie Pontani, the World Famous Pontani Sisters, and the leading acts in burlesque at the 10th Annual New York Burlesque Festival. Thenewyorkburlesquefestival.com HealthCorps’ Dr. Mehmet Oz and Michelle Bouchard, chairman and president respectively, lead a non-profit organization in a fight against childhood obesity, through programs mentoring students in high schools about health, nutrition, and fitness. Bouchard explained, “Our HealthCorps program incorporates mental resilience and balance into the health and fitness curriculum to help the next generation become healthy, active, and strong New Yorkers.” | Bouchard went on to explain why this commitment to mens sana in corpore sano (a sound mind in a healthy body) is what will ultimately lead to an evolution of society: “Communities, states, and nations have been built and destroyed by the actions of individuals. For individuals to take positive action and contribute to the community in a way that will build everyone up, requires individuals to first have the fortitude to build their minds and find personal balance. Strong, balanced minds build formidable communities where individuals exist in harmony. Teaching such fundamental concepts to teens helps grow a new generation of community leaders.” Super lawyer, Rosemarie Arnold, a leading victims’ rights advocate, recognized as one of the top trial lawyers in America, is a longtime supporter of Health Corps, and herself is the epitome of health and fitness. One can only imagine that on some level, in addition to her intelligence, vision, and training, it’s Arnold’s commitment to her personal health and wellbeing that has ensured her continued success and the almost routine achievement of extraordinary results on behalf of her clients. JetBlue|New York’s Hometown Airline™, which routinely earns the highest scores among the traveling public for customer satisfaction, exemplifies responsible corporate leadership in its commitment to the education and empowerment of young people in New York and across America. Dave Barger, CEO of Jet Blue, who serves on the boards of GenerationOn and PENCIL explained the logic behind Jet Blue’s support: “At its heart, GenerationOn is about educating youth to be part of the community. Being involved with such an organization is incredibly rewarding, but we do it because it’s part of our DNA, and we want to build a better society.” Barger added: “For kids, summer vacation provides a break from school. In reality, summer is an important time to get ready for the school year. Organizations like GenerationOn and PENCIL are hard at work when students are away, essentially preparing the theater for the curtain to go up in the fall.” New York City restaurateur, Drew Nieporent, leader of the Myriad Group, whom New York Magazine credits as “the man who more or less invented Tribeca,” and who has been recognized for his “Humanitarian” nature by the James Beard Foundation, is a culinary craftsman whose restaurants consistently provide among the finest dining experiences anywhere. Drew said, “It is one of my goals, and the culture of our restaurants, to be good citizens in the communities that we serve.” Nieporent’s explained the roots of his ethics: “I grew up in the 1960s and ’70s on a steady diet of counter-culture music and social commentary. I especially enjoyed, and still do to this day, Bruce Springsteen and The Who because they rebelled against oppression, and saw dignity in getting up every day and working hard. I also remember Harry Chapin saying that he plays one concert for himself, and one for the other guy. He became a founder and tireless worker for World Hunger Year, and his ethics made a big impression on me.” The Myriad Group embodies Nieporent’s ethics in its sponsorship of Little League Baseball and Youth Basketball, and support of schools in Tribeca. In terms of the hunger issue, Nieporent has been out front in his support of City Harvest, City Meals On Wheels (NYC), and Table To Table (NJ). Since 9/11 his group has continued to work with Tuesday’s Children and Windows of Hope. Suzanne Strassburger, CEO of Strassburger Meats, is a fifth generation member of the Strassburger family who has been delivering top quality prime and aged beef to the best steakhouses in the New York tri-state area for decades. Strassburger is also famously known as Suzy Sirloin, the woman behind the brand of Suzy Sirloin all-natural meats, catering specifically to health conscious consumers. Suzy Sirloin was a sponsor of this year’s Artists & Writers Charity Softball Game in East Hampton. Strassburger and her sister Andrea are longtime supporters of the The Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club and the U.S. Marines. The Strassburger tradition is rooted in a tireless devotion to providing premium quality to their customers while serving as good citizens in the community. Janet Fitzgerald, master instructor and senior training officer for SoulCycle, is at the forefront of the fitness revolution that seems to be taking over the world. As if training future instructors and leading her own classes several days per week are not enough, this Valkyrielike fitness guru, finds time to play it forward: “This summer, I will be producing our ‘Moulin Rouge’ ride, a revolutionary event combining fitness and the performing arts to benefit the Claire Walsh Foundation and the Lower Eastside Girls Club,” she explained. Czech transplant Barbara Regna, the wife of entrepreneur and philanthropist. Peter Regna, of Manhattan and Tuxedo Park, and a supporter of Young New Yorkers for the Philharmonic, shared her cultural connection as her source of inspiration “My father, Jaroslav, is a musician in the Czech Republic where I grew up. The sounds of the Philharmonic remind me of my childhood. It brings me back to those silly days when my parents dressed me up in stockings, ruffled skirts, and pearls and took me to late night concerts.” Regna emphasized that the New York Philharmonic is not just for cultural elites, “The Philharmonic performs informal and free concerts all over the world, anywhere from Beijing to Central Park and the Park Avenue Armory.” The vibrancy, reputation, and standing of a world class city like New York depends a great deal on the nature, character, and breadth of our cultural institutions, medical research, and treatment facilities, and educational institutions. Aside from being of tremendous value and a source of pride to New Yorkers, institutions like NYU Langone Medical Center, the New York Philharmonic, El Museo del Barrio, NYU, Columbia University, Parsons School of Design, and the Fashion Institute of Technology, make a statement to the world about the goodness of our community. Evolved societies that aspire to lead the world must continue to draw the best and brightest and exemplify that they provide a platform for individual success to those willing to work hard. But they must also illustrate that there exists a philanthropic cohesion, sense of purpose, and commitment to the maintenance of such a culture by its inhabitants. Philanthropist Yaz Hernandez and her husband, Valentin Hernandez, a Citibank executive, have helped to lift the spirit of New York’s Latin American community through their longtime support of El Museo. Hernandez, a woman who was recently called “the Upper East Side’s Doyenne” by the Observer’s LivingThere Magazine, said, “I am an American and proud of my Puerto Rican heritage. But I am a New Yorker, first and foremost. New York is my home. This is where I live. And if I am going to dedicate my time and energy to anything, it is to the continued improvement of New York City. The reason is simple: for me, charity begins at home.” New York presents a never-ending challenge but also opportunity. If you’re going to make it here and leave your mark on humanity, you’ll have to do so among the most intelligent, talented, and driven people on the face of the earth. Consider New York success stories like Ken Langone, chairman of the board of NYU Langone Medical Center, who rose from humble Italian-American roots to become one of this region’s leading philanthropists. Langone’s investments and tireless fundraising for NYU, along with such other notable philanthropists as Sylvia Hassenfeld; the Tisch family; Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller; Jan and Marica Vilcek, co-founders of the Vilcek Foundation, an organization which honors the contributions of immigrants to the United States, will have a a direct and meaningful impact on sustaining and advancing the course of New York experience and perhaps human history for generations to come. I salute those whose contributions to the common good illustrate that charity does begin at home here. Join Olympic Champion Tim Morehouse, Rachel Kun, Barbara Duerer, and others at ACE Junior Committee Fall Fling at the Crosby Hotel in Soho on September 20. For more information visit, acenewyork.org or contact Sandra Sanches at ACE (Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless) at 212.274.0100 ext.10. CL