On the Harlem Watch: City Room Craps Out Astoundingly Bad (and Factually Inaccurate) Propaganda Piece Devoted To Attorney Blowhard

22Feb08

In which The Gay Recluse reads the usually dependable City Room and says wtf.

Yesterday City Room crapped out an astoundingly bad (and factually inaccurate) propaganda piece called “Should All of 125th Street Be Declared Historic?” in which they discuss a “proposal” — until now, completely unheard of (and for good reason) — being put forth by Adam Leitman Bailey, a “lawyer who was born in Queens and grew up in New Jersey … to halt gentrification in Harlem.” The proposal, we are told, would have 125th Street, from river to river, declared a “Harlem Historic Zone” to make it more “difficult to tear down the neighborhood’s old buildings and replace them with new ones.”

In the post, we are supposed to be impressed because Bailey talks fast (we are told twice), “is adept at multitasking [and] receives 30 to 40 e-mail messages each business hour.” Bailey, who represents “House of Seafood, Manna’s Restaurant and Million Nail Salon” (bold/ital ours) in what in reality is a humdrum real-estate dispute (that should receive no press whatsoever) wants us to believe that if these two restaurants and nail salon were to move, it would be akin to losing “the homes of the Founding Fathers.” [Seriously. This is the quote: “When the Brooklyn Bridge was built, they tore down George Washington’s house,” Mr. Bailey said by telephone this afternoon, speaking rapidly. “Was that a good idea?” (note the “speaking rapidly” part: like, wow — he must be a real expert!).]

Then City Room goes on to tell us that according to Mr. Bailey, “by tearing down the building, history will be forever lost, including the site of W.E.B. Du Bois’s first office space, and the backdrop for some of the speeches of Malcolm X (who was assassinated 43 years ago today at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem).”

Ok, City Room, listen up: The Audubon Ballroom is on 165th Street in Washington Heights, which is approximately two miles north of the building/street in question. Yes, Malcolm X made speeches in Harlem: does that mean that the whole fucking thing should be preserved in a blightastic time capsule? We — and 95 percent of Harlem, according to our informal survey — think not. As for Bailey, he’s a rich white asshole lawyer (and we feel very comfortable saying that, given that we share three of those attributes) who doesn’t even live in Harlem, much less shop there. That the following words even left his lips, much less made it to the New York Times (even on a blog) is an embarrassment to you, City Room, and — frankly — pretty much everyone who’s ever lived. “Mr. Bailey [invoked] the names of Abraham Lincoln and Branch Rickey, the Dodgers executive who signed Jackie Robinson, making him Major League Baseball’s first African American player. ‘Just because I’m not black doesn’t mean I’m not a good advocate and I can’t understand what you’re going through,’ he said [and then added that] his grandfather, a taxi driver, grew up in the neighborhood before it became an African-American mecca.’ ‘This is Harlem’s last stand,’ said Mr. Bailey. ‘I don’t think you can ever recreate it. If you are black, you feel proud to be there.'”

According to Mr. Bailey/City Room, if you’re black, you should be proud of this incredibly historic strip of 125th Street, only one of many to be found there.

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