by Caz Dolowicz Now and then are flashes in the world of business, finance, sport, art or blogging a colorful figure which comes we know not whence or how. But because it exerts enormous influence and kicks up a dust generally, and because it works in its own manner, upsetting precedent and succeeding by unguessable ways and means, we regard it with suspicion and call it hard names. Or we give it high admiration— and call it “a character.” Such a personage is Norman Oder of Brooklyn, proprietor of the Atlantic Yards Report. Truth be told, I hate to even say the name, but if you need to fight fire with fi-ya!, Norman is your man. Lately, he’s risked opprobrium— not for the first time— by noting that, whatever Forest City Ratner’s financial distress might be in the current economic downturn, that does not mean the loathesome (my word) company is pulling out of Brooklyn, much as many might wish that true. (“I shoulda pulled out, baby: too many dependents!”— Putney Swope.) Norman has also been going hard on the grotesqueries of public financing of sports stadiums, as every thinking person should. I knew in the 1970s George Steinbrenner was, as Jerry at the candy store said, “a fucking scumbag” for holding a feckless city hostage, entertainment value be damned. The same goes for the Mets, be they prevaricating losers in Queens or the talentless simps at Coney Island running around their pjs in a stadium ya’ll should not have paid even one bag of Mermaid Avenue chicken bones for. Remember the Thunderbolt? Baseball stooges probably don’t but I guarantee the great Neil DeMause— whom both Norman and I have learned much from— does. As for “scandal fatigue,” only when I see vile creeps like Randy Levine, Christine Quinn, Adolfo Carrión, David Yassky, Sara Gonzalez, Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Peter Vallone and the beyond loathsome Charles Schumer, among others, in leg irons then I’ll say enough. IT’S A GODDAMN FACT: There is no— repeat none— final ethical difference between supporting Atlantic Yards (or Willetts Point, or the repeal of term limits without a public referendum), and the Mets, or Yankees as businesses. I always believed this and it’s no small thrill for this old man to see a kid like Norman feeling the rage too: bravo!
As for sandal fatigue, I suffered it once myself walking home from work in downtown Brooklyn all the way down 5th Avenue to Bay Ridge, where I was slipping it to a cute little Irish number down on 90th Street. This was back in the Summer of 1962 or 1963. She liked that I had been an altar boy but now smoked pot and listened to Sinatra records and Charles Mingus. I didn’t mind her Joan Baez albums (tho’ you sorta had to be there) but I liked her Peggy Lee sides much better. Of course, we both loved the Coasters, the Drifters, Marty Robbins and— unusually for Brooklyn— Lefty Frizzell. Her old man picked up the hillbilly bug when he was in the Marines; I got mine when I worked as counterman at Nicky’s Diner on 2nd Avenue near the Army Terminal. If you’ve got the money, honey, I got the time. And even with the Verrazano Bridge looming out her window, we sure had some… Little did we know, however, that as we were lost in records, smoke, laughter, flesh and sweat, a quiet young Bay Ridge boy named Kevin Walsh was there also, looking up at lampposts and listening. To what ya’ll might wonder? Kevin’s staggering new music blog, Condensed Pop, just might have the answer.
Caz Dolowicz was born on Sands Street in 1923. A retired New York City Transit Authority Tower Operator, he lives with his wife & two cats in Bay Ridge. He won’t say they were never swingers— & might be again!— but he could use a pair of winter huaraches; anybody want to barter?