Letters to the editor, Jan. 12

Modern look no match for historical building

Gramercy Park residents and other New Yorkers have for decades enjoyed the historic 19th century interiors of The National Arts Club at 15 Gramercy Park South. I am very disturbed that in recent months the interiors of this National Landmark building have been substantially altered by a painfully unsuccessful effort to introduce modernistic design elements into its 19th century Arts and Crafts rooms, making them unsightly.

To be more specific, a decorator has lit the Club’s dining room throughout with teal blue fluorescent light, back lit the dining room’s historic stained glass with the same hideous blue light, and has replaced the dining room chairs with ones upholstered in loud teal blue leather.

Antique oriental rugs in the parlors have been replaced with chichi leopard spot carpets, and the parlor couches have been re-upholstered with a similar trendy tiger striped fabric. The period Victorian flocked wallpaper has been torn down and replaced with a bland contemporary wall covering. The Tiffany marble fountain in the entrance foyer has been removed, and replaced with a nondescript bench. The results are dreadful. I have been told by club members, who are as upset about the changes as this writer, that they were not consulted by their Board concerning the new decoration scheme. After being re-decorated over the summer, the new interiors were given to them as a surprise at the club’s September re-opening. I would have thought that when decoration work of this magnitude was contemplated impacting several thousand club members, the more proper course would have been to present it for group discussion and approval before implementation.

Because of the building’s National Landmark status, the ownership of its interior design and any changes made have implications that go well beyond the club members’ interest: All New Yorkers have an interest in the rooms’ design. The National Arts Club has irresponsibly shirked its obligation to preserve its historic interiors; it is a pity that the club’s leadership does not appreciate what it had, and has allowed changes that degrade its club’s rooms and their users’ enjoyment.

Name withheld

Thanks, T&V and readers

On behalf of the entire Beth Israel Medical Center community, I wish to thank all the readers of Town & Village for, once again, displaying extraordinary generosity during the newspaper’s annual toy drive.

We are so appreciative to be the beneficiary of such an incredible display of holiday spirit – a tradition that now extends for several decades! Most importantly, the donated gifts made the holidays extra special for hundreds of patients and families undergoing care at the hospital and at our outpatient facilities. All who donated gifts joined with the Beth Israel community in helping to advance our shared commitment: We are here to help!

Congratulations also to you and your outstanding team at Town & Village. The paper is a valuable resource to all of us who make up the Lower Manhattan community. Keep up the good work!

To all of our friends and neighbors, best wishes for a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous New Year.

Harris M. Nagler, MD
Beth Israel President

Tele-town hall leads to more questions

I signed up and listened to the “Tele-Town hall on our Future.” I had submitted the questions below, none of which were even mentioned:
1. What other properties with rent stabilized/controlled tenants does Brookfield own/manage?

2. Why isn’t the TA worried about what will happen to seniors whose apartment are rent-regulated if their apartments are sold and rent stabilization ends — leaving them homeless in their senior years?
3. Why is the TA so gung ho on buying instead of working to improve rent laws?

Marilyn Levin, PCV

Take another look at the world

To the Editor:
I was dazzled by Mr. Suall’s defense of Ayn Rand, (Letter, “’Rand’ing and raving,” T&V, Jan. 5) an iconic elitist whose hero Roark was much like a metaphor for a Nietzschean uber mensch, an inspiration to the great leader A.H.! And I did read Fountainhead as a kid…

But what really made me laugh out loud was his statement that “More than fifty percent of the world’s population is now generally categorized as middle class”! Are you kidding me? Have you ever been outside of the U.S. or even of New York City?

Oh, puleeze!

H. Zwerling, ST

Totally awesome

She like… be… like… awesome to the max!

Who said this? A college student after watching Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve on ABC about Lady Gaga’s performance. Also it was said about the whole six-hour show. Awesome, really?

I found it decadent. I am aware that each generation is critical of the ones that follow. But this reminded me of the Roman Circuses… Before the decline and fall.

The media (with some exceptions) will do anything for money – TV, movies, radio, the web, advertisements, the sale of useless products… But, this has a quite pernicious affect on our youth as it becomes the norm. And the baseline for the future.

And, the use of language is the most prominent offender. Who would I use the word “awesome” for – well how about Einstein, Churchill, Steve Jobs, the cosmos…? Not the brilliant self-promoting Ms. Gaga.
I am no fan of Supreme Court nominee Judge Robert Bork… But, his book Slouching Towards Gomorra (2003) is prophetic. And scary! And, I don’t know what can be done to reverse the direction. This trend is just too awesome!

David Chowes, PCV

4 thoughts on “Letters to the editor, Jan. 12

  1. Re: Modern look no match for historical building

    Perhaps “Name Withheld” missed the news but The National Arts Club had been in state of disrepair and neglect occuring under the prior administration from which it is in the process of emerging. This questionable management has since attracted the Attorney General’s and District Attorney’s office, compliance with which has kept the board overly occupied (please see http://www.dnainfo.com/20110315/murray-hill-gramercy/national-arts-club-investigated-by-law-enforcement-agencies). The quantity of debris and cleaning required was enormous and was, for the most part completed in a period of a few weeks. (http://www.dnainfo.com/20110125/murray-hill-gramercy/national-arts-club-board-gets-housing-for-steal-tax-filings-show/slideshow/popup/55317) So rather than offer criticisms of the color choice of chairs in the dining room which can be debated at board and member meetings for years to come, I believe that people should applaud the tremendous efforts that Mrs. Bernhard and the board have made in getting a handle on such a daunting task.

    There is an old adage: “Opinions are free. It is work that costs something.”

    • Gee…. I wonder who wrote this response???? Diane Bernhard no doubt!!!! That club now looks like a Texan Cat House thanks to her “New” management style!!!!!

      • Marie,

        I assure you that I am resposnsible for the entirety of the content of my comment. Mrs. Bernhard was neither consulted nor influenced my response.

        Best regards,

        Shawn Burkley

  2. Now the world has really turned upside down. Re-upholstered furniture, blue lighting, replacing rugs, and how dare someone change the color of the walls. Make sure you get this printed in every news outlet and call in the authorities. In the meantime, put your creative writing skills into changing the real world; homelessness, pet abuse, fighting poverty and peace. I can see why you withheld your name. This is dumber than dumb.

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