October 22, 2008

Remember John Kennedy O'Hara?

... the Brooklyn Democratic gadfly who was railroaded by Crooklyn DA Charles Hynes? (For some background, see posts here, here and here.) Anyway, he dropped me a note the other day alerting me to a new website seeking to gain him a pardon from Governor Paterson.

It's a colorful, amusing site, and worth a visit. Even Sex and the City's Mr. Big has come out in support of O'Hara. Be sure to sign the online petition asking the Governor to remedy this cruel injustice. Free John O'Hara!

October 22, 2008 at 05:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 06, 2006

Cartoon Moment

This story from today's NY Daily News is just unbelievable. A lucky FDNY firefighter has a three ton Cadillac Escalade land on top of him after it is launched into the air by an exploding manhole -- and survives with only minor injuries. Amazing.

A manhole explosion sent an SUV flying onto a Bronx firefighter - but he was miraculously saved by his helmet when he crashed clean through a side window.

Firefighter Marc Kroenung, a 33-year-old married father of two, was helping extinguish a manhole fire Saturday when an underground explosion sent the Cadillac Escalade hurtling upward.

SUV on side

The giant SUV came down sideways, with the driver's side window shattering against Kroenung's helmet as the auto crashed to the pavement. He was left standing inside the overturned SUV.

"I just heard the boom and then I'm like, 'What just happened?' " Kroenung told the Daily News last night. "Then I realized I'm stuck." Kroenung was left trapped but not seriously hurt - leaving his fellow Engine 73 firefighters stunned, then joyous after they pulled him from the wreckage on Beck St. in Longwood on Saturday night.

March 6, 2006 at 06:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 03, 2006

Freedom Blocks, Anyone?

Pro Danish Demonstrator, NYC 3 March 2006

I missed the demo because I had to wait at home for the plumber to appear. (I know, lame excuse, but water waits for no man.) Anyway, it would appear that a good time was had by all and no fatwas were issued during the proceedings. Instapundit has links to blog coverage of the event, including lots of pictures. My nomination for best placard is the well executed example above, from a photo courtesy of the Resplendent Mango.

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March 3, 2006 at 09:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 19, 2006

Narcissistic Bad Guys

Living la vida locaToday's NY Post has an interesting story about some NYPD cops who busted a Russian identity thief in the act of using cloned ATM cards to clean out a cash machine at a Times Square diner. So far, so good, but the story mentions that the guy, Andrei Potupa, age 29, has a website with pictures of him in glamorous locations. Some fast Googling reveals this cornucopia of visual evidence of a felonious striver. And who says crime doesn't pay?

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February 19, 2006 at 05:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 16, 2006

Preserving Slums, One Building At A Time

Today's NY Sun has an interesting feature by David Lombino about two couples trying to renovate a dilapidated tenement in Harlem. Basically, the story explains (in part) why apartments are so hard to find in this town: the city government makes it nearly impossible for people to cut through the red tape to get anything done. For example, even though they planned to gut the building and essentially rebuild it from scratch, the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development required them to first remove all of the building's code violations. In other words, they had to fix it up before they could tear it down. (For pictures and detailed time line of the project, click here.)

As absurd as this sounds, based upon my own experience as board president in a loft cooperative building here in Manhattan, it is entirely typical.

February 16, 2006 at 03:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 19, 2006

Cortez Not A Prep For Prep Student

I received an email today from Ed Boland, Director of Development & Public Affairs at Prep for Prep, regarding the Page Six article published Monday, January 16th, alleging that accused killer Paul Cortez had been a student in the program. Mr. Boland assured me that after a careful review of their records, they had determined that Paul Cortez never had any affiliation with Prep For Prep. I have no reason to doubt his word, and I am confident that Cortez was never involved with this fine program.

I have had the opportunity to meet several Prep For Prep students who had received summer internships at a major investment bank I used to work for. They were all outstanding young and men and women, intelligent, hard working, and extremely motivated to succeed. My high school here in NYC, where I am presently a trustee, regularly accepts a significant number of Prep For Prep students each year. I have heard only the most positive things about the students who were admitted through the good offices of this program.

At the request of Mr. Boland, I am deleting my original post quoting the inaccurate Page Six story. I would hope that Page SIx (who are usually right on the money in terms of accuracy and breaking fresh gossip first), would also print a prominent correction acknowledging their error.

I'd also like to thank filmmaker (and I assume Prep For Prep alumna) Abiola Abrams, for writing me to alert me to this error. If you'd like to see what kind of things Prep For Prep participants are capable of doing, just take a look at her web site.

If you would like to help support the work of this group whose mission is to identify and nurture outstanding young men and women from minority backgrounds to prepare them become part of the next generation of American leaders, visit their web site here.

In a related note, I have been informed that a dance scholarship is being established at Ohio State University in honor of Catherine Woods, who allegedly died at the hands of her estranged lover, Paul Cortez. OSU's web site does not yet have information about how to support this scholarship, but you can contact them via their main development page.


Page Six did run a correction in today's NY Post:

January 21, 2006 -- THE administration at the posh Buckley School for boys on East 73rd Street is understandably embarrassed that its distinguished alumni include Paul Cortez, 24, who faces trial for the stabbing murder of his stripper girlfriend, Catherine Woods, and the rape of another woman a year ago. No wonder headmaster Greg O'Melia never returned our calls. But contrary to our report on Monday, Cortez was not part of the well-regarded Prep for Prep program, which puts high-achieving, underprivileged students through academic boot camp and places them in private schools. We regret the error.

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January 19, 2006 at 10:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 14, 2006

More on Cortez

Another friend of Paul Cortez has some thoughts to share about him:

I was also a student at Poly Prep at the same time as Paul Cortez and considered myself at one point to be very close to him. He was a very deep and magnetic person, the kind of guy that could draw a girl in with only a few words and a smile. Needless to say, many of the girls wanted Paul and he was well aware of that. Though he was coy, he was not the type to shoot anyone down or intentionally hurt anyone. Still, I also saw a dark side in him, similar to that described by the other anonymous alumni. During one of the shows he was in, he wore a WWJD bracelet and secluded himself to write poetry very often. I was fortunate to have been among the people that he shared these poems with. They were very deep, eerily similar to some of what the Post reported to find in his diary.

There was always a dark side to Paul but at the same time, he seemed very internal, not the type to get violent or hurt another person. He would say a lot of strange things about himself (he'd comment on how dark he was) and it was obvious that he was often very conflicted. On one hand, I guess that is the sort of thing a lot of high schoolers go through, but for Paul, it was very defining. He was always trying to be in tune with who he was. He would tell me, "I'm a bad person." He'd get quiet and look down at his bracelet and say, "I'm just a bad person, you don't understand." I tried to talk to him about this and get him to explain himself, but it often just went in circles, with him reciting some poem or quoting from some song he'd written. Back then, I decided it was just part of his allure, the mystery he tried to keep going about himself. I guess I never realized how deep those feelings ran for him. In one way I'm totally surprised and in another, I wonder how I never saw this coming...

From my own experience, whenever someone tells you that they are a bad person, you should believe them. They are trying to tell you something, if only you would listen. Of course, when this happened to me, I thought they were only kidding.


Geraldo's web site has copies of Cortez's holographic statement to the cops regarding his whereabouts on the day that Catherine Woods was murdered. The pages take a long time to load, but they are interesting.

Cortez' former band, Monolith, also evidently has a web page at Myspace, according to Huff's Crime Blog. I visited their web page, and there are several of their songs on it, but no mention of their former lead singer. There is, however, the headline "MONOLITH SEEKS NEW SINGER!!!".

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January 14, 2006 at 08:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 12, 2006

A Cortez Acquaintance Speaks Out

Someone who went to high school with Paul Cortez emailed me some reflections that she would like to share anonymously:

I've been reading the posts on your blog about Paul Cortez and the Catherine Woods murder. I am fascinated by this case because I wonder what lunacy possessed this guy to do something so horrible. My heart goes out to Catherine's family, and although nothing can bring back their daughter, they must feel relief in police finding the likely perpetrator.

I know Paul from high school and thought you might find some of the observations below interesting.

I went to Poly Prep with Paul for 3 years. When I first met him (we had a class together), he was a sophomore, having arrived to Poly (a small private school, 600 people grades 5-12 at the time, in which it's almost impossible to NOT know somebody. He seemed very friendly, very serene and happy with himself. He was on the football team, part of the Spanish club, and immediately scored a leading role in one of the school plays, a huge feat for a sophomore because those roles were always given to seniors.

We never became friends because we had different schedules, although we were involved in similar activities, like theater. But, now that I really think about, I remember that a certain gradual darkness was taking over him, the more I saw of him and the closer he became to other people at the school. This is something I didn't really think about (especially since I haven't seen the guy in years) until I started processing what I remember of him from high school days. The happy-go-lucky popular guy that I describe when he first got to Poly did exhibit some strange behavior.

The first "incident" I remember is that he locked himself in one of the dressing rooms back stage during rehearsal and did not come out for about 15 mins or so, until he finally let in a friend to talk. He was really upset about something, I don't quite remember what, I think it had to do with not getting some part or something to that effect.

Another "incident" I remember is a fight that he had with another guy, a friend of his over a girl, both of whom did theater. The friend was dating the girl and Paul began to get close to her and hooked up with her, after which he wanted to date her despite the fact that his friend was fairly seriously dating her. I remember a verbal fight between the two that almost resulted in a physical fight (instigated by the upset boyfriend). Through it, I remember Paul to have remained very calm and confident in himself, as thought what happened between him and the girl was just fate and he was not guilty in any way.

Through high school, he was definitely a big flirt, but I more remember most girls falling all over him, and him focusing on only a couple of girls through the time. One was the girl I speak about over. Another was a pretty girl that most guys in our high school drooled over, but who didn't seem to give him much time of a day. A third was an Argentinian girl he met while he was on a 3-week exchange program in Argentina and who came to our high school when she was in NY for 3 weeks.

The last thing I remember is that, close to graduation, he stopped speaking to all of his friends, and would sit by himself at the lunch table, or with a teacher. He was very close to many of the teachers, both male and female, and spent an unusual amount of time with them, to be ridiculed by some as a "kiss-ass." Of course I am sure part of that was jealousy, as in high school it was not considered "cool" to be a good student. I think before graduation he did patch things up with his friends. I saw him briefly the year after he graduated and he looked a bit run down.

Anyway, that's all I can remember for now. I hope this might give some insight into what caused this guy to do what he did, or whether the dementia was part of his personality all along.

Please feel free to post any of this on your blog, but I would ask to please remain anonymous.

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January 12, 2006 at 05:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack

January 10, 2006

Boyfriend From Hell

Yoga boy Paul Cortez reportedly kept a diary in which he wrote about cutting Catherine Woods' throat in order to save her from her life as a stripper, according to a story in today's NY Post.

Personal trainer Paul Cortez, charged with slaughtering his stripper girlfriend in her Upper East Side apartment, admitted his sadistic crime in a hand-scribbled diary that featured references to sacred writings favored by Hare Krishnas, The Post has learned.

"He's talking a lot about Hindi gods and people cutting off each other's heads as sacrifices," said a source familiar with the chilling diary that cops found in the home of yoga-trainer suspect Cortez, 25. "He talks about cutting her throat. It's because she won't change her ways. She won't quit her stripping, and she's living a life of sin.

"The impression is, he's freeing her from her earthly bounds that are just so distasteful to him. It implies that she would be better off dead."

Cortez also reportedly called Catherine's father to tell him about her professional activities, which led her to stop seeing Cortez for a time.

The Daily News also has additional details.

It will be interesting to see if any of Cortez' defenders who have made comments on this post will continue to believe that he did not commit this heinous crime.

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January 10, 2006 at 06:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 06, 2006

Petard Hoist?

The NY Post reports that the state's GOP Chairman has filed a FOIA request for copies of all of NYS Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's emails relating to his alleged threats against Lower Manhattan Development Corp. head (and Republican fund raiser) John Whitehead.

As everyone in the securities industry remembers, Spitzer's rise to fame as a hard-charging prosecutor began with his use of private emails between investment bankers and research analysts in order to shake down Wall Street brokerage firms for allegedly deceiving investors during the internet bubble. Now, the question is was Spitzer dumb enough (or arrogant enough) to forget the new Wall Street adage to "never put anything in an email you don't want Eliot Spitzer to read?" Here's hoping. . .

January 6, 2006 at 06:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack