Loyal readers of WestView will, I hope, recall an open letter I sent to Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker some months ago just before the City Council was to hear the testimony of Bill Rudin, pleading the efficacy and rightness of converting a 161 year-old hospital into hundreds of luxury condominiums.
I suggested to my Charles Street neighbors, Matt and Sarah Jessica that what they were doing now, my wife Andromache and I had already done – that is – raised three kids on Charles Street. I also reminded them we had, on several occasions, used the St. Vincent’s emergency room, which they would not be able to do if Rudin won. Finally I asked them to speak out. To be the one and only celebrity voice to say that money is not synonymous with power.
So, you can appreciate my surprise when I read in the June 29 Sunday Times that Matthew Broderick did appear before that very same City Council committee to speak against the NYU expansion. The fact that Matthew made The Times was, of course, validation of my original request to evoke celebrity power; even Snooky could have made The Times.
As it turns out, Matthew is a born and raised West Villager. He sparked an outburst of support and a little attempt at humor by the Chairman Councilman Weprin – the same Chairman that heard Rudin.
As I write, I do not know how the committee or Council will vote, but I ask Matthew to continue his efforts. What NYU wants to do is gross. It wants to squeeze monstrous buildings with zero architectural merit into the existing campus. The most vocal criticism (they even made The Times) is coming from the tenured professors who now live in Washington Square Village and don’t want to see this formless ziggurat rise up literally in their backyard.
Yet what gets me is the growing naked arrogance of power. We read every day of banks manipulating the market for their own profit and lobbyists with unlimited campaign contributions that even draft the regulations to curb their own abuses.
I write this on July 4th and this morning I read in The Times the Declaration of Independence. What I found interesting is that it has a few singing phrases but mostly it is a legal catalogue of the abuses of the English government; it is a demand for a government that hears the voice of the people. More and more we read that that voice is lost to money and the power it buys.
Yes, it is too bad that Matthew did not make the Rudin City Council hearing – it might have made The Times, but we would have never saved the hospital.