Friday, April 1, 2022. The weatherman was correct. It was noticeably warmer yesterday in New York with the temps hitting the mid- to high-60s. With occasional Sun.
Life in the city these days. I read the news online these days. After a lifetime reading the so-called mainstream media, I find a lot of the reporting outside the mainstream by independent journalists is more credible and informative. I read mainly about the financial world and politics. I read to learn. I read the New York Post for the headlines and the “gossip.” It’s entertainment although nowadays often jarring with deaths and violence. It’s now part of the “gossip.”
I also read all of it to get a sense of “what’s going on” in this world of ours. This past week I saw a story about a 33 year old Frenchman named Pierrick Jamaux, well-known as a “cryptocurrency expert,” a position I know nothing about and most likely never will. Mr Jamaux had just arrived from his home in Hong Kong, and was here in New York about to enter his hotel — when he was “ambushed” by a man with a gun. And who wanted his watch.
Why? Mr. Jamaux was wearing a $450,000 Richard Mille watch. Yes, you read that right. What could be in a watch that would put the price up to 450Gs. And how many people can actually afford a $450,000 watch no matter what it does or contains to justify the price, who knows? Well, I don’t understand cryptocurrency – and you probably don’t too — although Mr. Jamaux is an “expert” and earns huge sums from the big time investors.
Whatever, his attacker had a gun and started shooting at his victim the moment he was confronting him. Mr. J at first, claimed, to have no idea what the man with the gun was after. Backing toward the hotel door and pushing the gun down from pointing directly at the victim, there were five shots — three hitting Mr. Jamaux’s legs. At which point he passed out bleeding and collapsed on the sidewalk with the attacker still struggling to get the watch off the guy’s wrist. Ahh, but the watch had some kind of “security” that made it impossible to remove (steal) the watch.
At the same time the robber was pointing the gun at Mr. J, Mr. J’s girlfriend and/or wife, attacked the robber from behind and began choking him. This could have been perfect in a movie. Whatever happened, while being choked, and not able to remove Mr. J’s $450,000 wristwatch, the robber moved to his car, an expensive late model SUV, and took off in traffic.
Jamaux has had six surgeries so far. “They hit my femoral artery — it’s something where you usually die in 5 minutes — it was a major surgery to save my life.”
Something to lose or win. This past Tuesday evening I was invited by Diahn and Tom McGrath to a fund-raising reception they were hosting for Congressman Tom Suozzi who is running in the state primaries for the office of Governor of the State of New York. The Congressman is a Democrat. The gubernatorial primary business is coming up.
I’m not a potential contributor and I don’t write about partisan politics, as a rule. Everyone has his or her own opinion and they can only be altered by the possessor. The aforementioned Mr. Jamaux might leave town if he were a citizen of this great city right now. However the McGraths are a great host and hostess team. I’ve been a guest at their dinners where they often have an interesting main guest who may talk about his or her work or life. It’s never been political. And there’s always a lot of discussion afterwards, and it’s always interesting.
This was my opportunity to observe a fundraising event. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be interested in attending but it so happened that I met Mr. Suozzi about 25 years ago at the McGrath’s house in Glen Cove when he was almost a kid to these eyes. I’d already heard about him from my friend Dorothy Hirshon, a brilliant woman who was very involved politically and philanthropically.
Dorothy raved about him. Because he was mayor of Glen Cove (and had an excellent reputation with the town’s residents), although in those days, he looked to these eyes, like a kid rather than a mayor. So on that afternoon long ago when they came for drinks at the McGrath’s house, I saw how consciously and graciously “the kid” handled all of the “adults” on the terrace. I admired his grace, or what would then be called manners, and wondered where a very young man would go politically as time passed. In many cases, it ends where it begins.
Over the past two decades, I’d notice his emergence politically into the national scene. So the McGrath’s invitation was tempting just to see how the kid turned out. It makes me laugh to write this, but it’s true.
I didn’t know when I arrived at the reception that it was a”fund raiser” introducing the candidate. In fact, I didn’t know Mr. Suozzi was actually running for office. It was called for 6. I got there a little after 6:30. The McGrath’s apartment overlooks the Park and at that hour the light is still bright enough. Mr. Suozzi arrived about the same time. I had the opportunity to shake hands and he reminded me that we once ran a photo of him on the NYSD. That impressed me, not to mention having forgotten.
At 7 o’clock Diahn McGrath placed a small platform (6”) in one corner area of the living room. She then introduced the candidate whom she and Tom have known throughout his entire political career.
To these eyes, 25 years later he no longer looked like a kid. He looked like a mature man, still young but not youth; a healthy and active man in his early 50s. I’d never heard him speak, having met him that one time. I’m not particularly impressed with most speakers and expect little to stimulate my brain. I do admire their abilities to persuade (and to conspire too, uh-huh). But that is the personality. Not everyone is up to the role — especially in these post-modern times — of persuading.
It was interesting to watch the Congressman speak. He has the youth of commitment. He started by mentioning a couple of facts. One, that the State of New York has lost more than 350,000 citizens who have moved out since this whole pandemic began. It is also the most highly taxed state.
Then he talked about politics and how it works and who the politicians serve. He made no accusations or even implied them. He was simply talking about how politicians keep their jobs and garner sometimes great rewards. For themselves. Just like the rest of us. But he reminded me of a youthful, energetic and common sensibly intelligent lawyer making case for making a better community. He doesn’t talk like a politician. He talks like someone who is there to assist in understanding What Is Going On Among Us. It’s a fascinating challenge because after all of this Mr. Suozzi needs to raise a huge sum just to compete with the competition for the Primaries.
I left Tom and Diahn’s apartment thinking about the office of the Governor. I’ve never really given it much thought, I can admit. I’ve been aware of the name but not much beyond that. The role has played a great part in the political history of this country. But the man in that role very often comes and goes. I wondered how that former mayor of Glen Cove and very popular for his successes in his community would look up there in Albany talking about what we’re seeing down here and what he can do to lead us out of it.
In this now long life, I’ve worked in seven different campaigns here in New York. The first time was knocking on doors on Carter Burden’s first campaign in 1969 for the Councilmanic seat of the neighborhood. I went to the headquarters on 79th and Second Avenue every week night at about five o’clock and get my assignment and partner in knocking on doors in the neighborhood, and talking about the campaign and their needs. It was a wonderful experience that is still with me.
None of it was about criticizing another candidate; it was all WHAT the voter needs and needed. This form of campaigning has just about disappeared in our society today and many of our so-called public servant live in another neighborhood in Fat City. Carter Burden’s campaign came out of the terrible loss of Robert Kennedy for whom Carter had worked. The New York media compared him and his then wife Amanda as the new successors to Bobby and Ethel.
Carter was known as a rich boy, well educated and son-in-law of Babe and William Paley. However, as a candidate he ran a very strong and professional campaign with lots of volunteers such as myself going out and meeting the voters and learning what they were thinking.
Watching Congressman Suozzi standing before a small group of guests of the McGrath’s, he made everyone aware of the enormous challenge any politician has in gaining ground. Although in politics, with the best of them, it’s never say “never.”