Silly Season Arrives Early This Year

Yes, the world continues to spin out-of-control and, yes, we must endure mindless tragedies. But life goes on and includes articles that make it into newspapers that remind us how ridiculous life can be.


Let us begin our journey of this the first silly season of 2015 with a discussion of the term, “pied-á-terre.” To proceed, I must first admit that I am part of the unwashed who didn’t have a clue what this term of art meant until Saturday, January 9th when I read a piece in the Real Estate Section of The New York Times entitled: Why the Doorman Is Lonely. The author, Julie Satow, used this expression 11 times in her front page piece. For those of you also unfamiliar with pied-á-terre, the definition is: “A temporary or second lodging.”

Ms Satow’s used this term to emphasize her explanation that a significant percentage of upscale condominums and co-ops in NYC (25% to 40%) are not occupied by their owners. This apparently has significant tax and abatement ramifications but reading about it in the detail she provided is slightly less painful then setting my hair on fire.


Item number two: Amateur athletic status versus ESPN, the NCAA, the big time football conferences*, college playoffs and money, Money, MONEY! (*Southeastern, Atlantic Coast, Pacific 12, Big 12 and Big Ten.)

ESPN has ponied up $7.2 billion to televise the three playoff bowls for five years including the championship game played on January 12, 2015 in the AT&T Stadium (ex Cowboys Stadium) between Oregon and Ohio State a game the Buckeyes won, 42 to 20. All three games were incredibly successful generating the greatest viewer ship ever for any broadcast on all of cable television.

In recognition that these are their biggest amateur sporting events of all time, the NCAA has deemed that the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages is a right and proper part of the game day experience. So much for the absolute ban on any alcohol at all NCAA sponsored events including March Madness.

Further proof that the championship game is different, the participating universities can now grant each student-athlete up to $3,000 to pay for his family’s travel expenses. In the battle over whether or not football players should be compensated by their schools, put these developments in the yes column.


Item number three: FBI and Justice Dept. Said to Seek Charges for Petraeus. Oy vey! David Petraeus should have quit while he was ahead as a retired four-star general who led American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and a genuine American hero. But no, he accepted the president’s offer to become Director of the CIA, he was broadly supported by the Senate that confirmed his appointment. And then there was Paula Broadwell an Army Reserve officer who became his biographer and his lover.

He resigned in 2012 when their affair became public and now the FBI alleges that classified documents have been found on her computer and contend that Petraeus provided them to her. He says he will not take a plea deal to avoid trial. It is up to the Attorney General Holder to make the decision whether to seek an indictment a decision Mr. Holder said he’d make before the end of 2014 but didn’t. Now that this is front page news, it will surely end badly.


Item number four: A statue of Mohammad taken down from a New York City courthouse. This story has the implication of being topical and important. When this New York Appellate Court House next to Madison Square Park was designed, the builders included nine eight-foot marble statues of classical lawgivers to be placed on the roof. Included was one of the prophet Mohammed. Over time, both the building and the statues needed serious refurbishment and it was only then that it became public knowledge that the prophet was among them.

Debate followed over the appropriateness of this piece of art and the Egyptian, Indonesian and Pakistani embassies together with prominent Muslins objected to the State Department. Wiser heads prevailed and the statue was quietly removed during the renovations. The other eight were rehabilitated and reinstalled, but the prophet was “… spirited off to a storehouse in Newark.”

Just one problem with this piece by David W. Dunlap; the courthouse was erected in 1902 and the removal took place in 1955. Please explain to me what’s the point of this piece is except to contrast an age of naïve innocence with our current world of insanity.

Dunlap noted that the statue was last seen in 1983, “lying on its side in a stand of tall grass somewhere in New Jersey.”

I wonder if this field is the same mythical Jersey swamp where all of the bodies and artifacts of the lost New York are said to go? If so, perhaps it marks the place of Jimmy Hoffa’s grave?