Thursday, April 10, 2008

More on The Power Broker

One thing about “The Power Broker” is that when you encounter it, in all its heft, your first thought is “I know nothing whatsoever about Robert Moses.”

But as you keep reading, it comes back to you in pieces. Oh, yeah, the playground fight- neighborhood mothers protest Moses expanding the Tavern on the Green parking lot through their playground. Many times when I’ve been near that playground and the Tavern, I've witnessed some of the prodigious rodent population (and I don’t mean squirrels). Fearless rats, cavorting in broad daylight. [N.B.: For Cheryl Davis, who’s writing a ten-minute play about that fight- it’s Chapter 42.] It didn’t hurt the mothers that Arnold Newman lived across the street from the playground, and took some lovely photos for the press. The mothers (and their lawyer) stood up to Moses at a time when he had begun to fall from grace. There were mobsters (like Vinnie the Chin Gigante, in his youth, and Frank Costello) found connected to subcontractors on Title I slum clearance contracts. Then once reporters starting digging through Tavern on the Green’s financial records … well, it got very messy. Not bribes per se, but certainly honest graft and the Tammany machine (what greases a machine so well as money?).

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