It’s Tuesday. We’ll look at the relationship between Eric Adams, the Democratic mayoral nominee in New York City, and one of his predecessors. We’ll also look at someone who has five reasons to hope that today’s weather forecast is wrong.
Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for mayor, has an inner circle — five key aides — and a constellation of more than 20 advisers, from Mayor Bill de Blasio to the former police commissioner William Bratton to the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist.
“The best New York City mayor in my lifetime is a combination of Mayor David Dinkins and Michael Bloomberg,” Adams said during the primary, hailing Bloomberg’s “practical approach.”
Adams’s deepening relationship with Bloomberg has reinforced a perception that Adams himself perpetuated during the primary campaign: that he is a pragmatic, centrist Democrat eager to make New York safe, prosperous and functional.
But turning to past mayors for guidance is not the norm in New York. “It’s unusual and it’s rare for a mayor to rely heavily on a recent predecessor for advice and counsel,” said Chris McNickle, who has written books about Bloomberg and Mayor David Dinkins. “It makes all the sense in the world, and you would think somebody coming into an office as difficult as this would do so, but most mayors tend to distance themselves from their predecessors.”
Since World War II, one mayor — Robert Wagner, who served from 1954 to 1965 — needed little advice, said Richard Lieberman, a professor of history and the director of the La Guardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College. “He was the son of the most important United States senator in New York history up to that point,” Lieberman said. “Wagner didn’t need any group to tell him how to be mayor of New York.”
Wagner’s circle of aides did little to smooth the way for Mayor John Lindsay, who succeeded him. “When we came in,” said Sid Davidoff, a special assistant to Lindsay who went on to become a prominent lawyer and lobbyist, “there was no communication, and we didn’t want much.”
That is different from Adams’s approach: He wants to assemble a group that sounds like a kitchen cabinet.
“He was trying to pick my brain and think out of the box,” said Phil Thompson, the current deputy mayor for strategic policy initiatives, who also worked in City Hall when Dinkins was mayor. “He is trying to figure out how a mayor can do something for low-income communities of color to make a difference.”
Evan Thies, a spokesman for Adams, said the candidate and campaign officials have spoken to officials from the de Blasio administration as well as those who worked for Bloomberg. “That’s just what you do, check in with people who have been there,” he said.
But not all mayors have. McNickle said he had asked former Mayor Edward Koch “if he from time to time sought advice” from former Mayor Wagner, a three-term mayor whose son — known as Bobby — was a deputy mayor under Koch.
Koch “smiled and said it would be a nice thing to say, but it just wasn’t true,” McNickle recalled. “When I asked Bobby, he said the ego that allows one to become mayor isn’t one that thinks someone else has all the answers.”
Heads up, or maybe more precisely, umbrellas up — there’s a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon and at night, with temps in the mid-70s during the day. They’ll drop to the mid-50s tonight.
Suspended today (Shemini Atzeret) and tomorrow (Simhat Torah).
R. Kelly was found guilty
The six-week trial of the multiplatinum R&B musician R. Kelly ended with a guilty verdict on charges that he had masterminded a long-running scheme to recruit women and underage girls and boys for sex. The jury in federal court in Brooklyn deliberated for about nine hours.
Kelly’s lawyer, Deveraux L. Cannick, said the defense team would consider appealing the verdict, which could send Kelly to prison for life. Kelly’s history — with allegations of sexual misconduct that date back to the 1990s — had come under renewed scrutiny as the #MeToo movement gained force.
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Five pianos in Central Park and rain in the forecast
This morning Joel Bernache will tune five Steinway grand pianos. Then he will hope, as piano tuners do.
He will hope that midday sun does not knock them out of tune after he finishes. (The steel strings in the treble might get too hot to touch.)
More than that, he will hope that the forecast of “likely” showers or scattered thunderstorms in the evening is wrong. High humidity can make the felt and leather in a piano balky. It can also wreck the pitches of notes because it expands the wood, changing the shape of the soundboard just enough to make the notes annoyingly sharp.
The five Steinways are bound for a 7 p.m. concert by the 5 Browns, the piano-playing siblings, at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park. The number five runs through the program: Among the pieces they will perform is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.
Bernache is not the only one watching the weather. So are the Browns: The concert is to be carried on WQXR-FM. If there’s a downpour before curtain time, they — along with the radio audience, but not concertgoers in the park — could go to one of the few other places in the city that can hold five pianos, the Steinway factory in Queens. But light rain or drizzle? The show could go on, because the pianos (and the five Browns) would be under the arch of the bandshell — the only neoclassical structure in the park, which has largely Victorian architecture.
“For an outdoor thing like this, you kind of chase your tail all day long,” Bernache said. “If all five pianos are onstage in the morning and it’s overcast when I’m there, everything’s fine. Then the 5 Browns come to start rehearsal later, and by then it’s 74 degrees. As the temperature goes up, the strings on the pianos relax. This will lower the pitch on the pianos. And then later the sun comes out, and it’s afternoon, so it’s really strong sunlight. That’s actually the biggest obstacle, thermal radiation.”
Tuning five pianos is “a little tricky logistically,” he said. Performing outdoors can also be tricky.
Gregory Brown, the older of the two brothers in the group, recalled the premiere of a piece by Nico Muhly — a composer who has collaborated with everyone from Björk to the Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. The piece was called “The Edge of the World.”
Brown said a bug landed on the edge of the keys and stayed there until he had to strike that note.
That was when it flew into his face.
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My wife and I went to a restaurant on Broadway on the Upper West Side. It was a beautiful late-summer night, and we took a table on the street.
A bright-eyed young waitress approached us and asked if we’d like to start with drinks.
My wife ordered a tequila.
The waitress smiled and noted it on her hand-held device.
I ordered a screwdriver.
The waitress stared at me blankly.
It was noisy on Broadway, so I repeated my request: “A screwdriver, please.”
The waitress shrugged.
“OK,” she said, “But can you tell me what you need it for?”
— Ari L. Goldman
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Read more Metropolitan Diary here.
Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — J.B.
Melissa Guerrero, Jeffrey Furticella, Rick Martinez and Olivia Parker contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].