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President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump listen to taps during a Veterans Day event at Madison Square Park in New York on Monday. (Selcuk Acar/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Metro Minute

New York security blitz

Residents forgot what it was like to have a president in town

A New York moment: 

On Sunday night I was walking on the eastern side of Midtown near Trump Tower, and noticed police everywhere with checkpoints and dogs. But my mind didn’t put two and two together, and I asked a police officer what was going on. 

“Trump,” he said.

New Yorkers have nearly forgotten what it’s like to have President Donald Trump in town. Since his move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue nearly three years ago, Trump has rarely returned to his hometown, and now he has moved his residency to Florida. 

Back in 2016, concrete barriers and security tents surrounded the Fifth Avenue skyscraper where Donald Trump and his family lived. Police coated the streets below, adding an oddly martial air to nearby luxury stores like Tiffany’s. During protests after Trump’s election, New York police officers stationed themselves around various Trump buildings in the city, prompting city officials to ask the federal government to foot the $146,000-per-day bill.

This past weekend, Trump and first lady Melania Trump returned to New York for the Veterans Day parade. According to the White House schedule I received, he arrived in New York at 10:20 p.m. on Saturday, had a Sunday with no events, and then on Monday departed with the first lady from Trump Tower at 10:05 a.m. for Madison Square Park. He spoke behind bulletproof plexiglass and then returned to Trump Tower at 11:10 a.m. So he had about an hour outside of his apartment, out on the town. 

Despite the recent barbs Trump traded with New York officials over his change of residency, everyone was cordial about the parade visit. “If he’s really coming here to truly honor veterans, God bless him,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. And Trump himself said it was “truly an honor to come back to New York City.” But it’s nice for New Yorkers, already packed in and salted like sardines, not to have the extra security shutting down streets on a regular basis. 

Worth your time:  

A new Pew Research Center study shows that more American adults under age 45 have lived with a romantic partner than have ever been married. Time has further analysis of the research, chiefly showing that despite this new cultural acceptance of cohabitation, married couples trust each other more than cohabitating couples do. 

“Two-thirds of the married individuals trusted their partners to tell them the truth; only half of the unmarried did,” Time’s Belinda Luscombe writes. “About three-quarters of married folks trusted their partner to act in their best interest; fewer than 60% of the unmarried felt the same way. And while 56% of married partners believed their partners could be trusted to handle money responsibly, only 40% of cohabiters felt the same way.”

This week I learned: 

Android users can print out a “paper phone”—sheets with all the info you need from your phone so you can take a break from your screen. This is one of Google’s “Digital Wellbeing” experiments. 

Personally, I like the idea of taking a day away from screens here and there, but I think maps would be the biggest feature I couldn’t live without. 

A court case you might not know about: 

A man serving a life prison sentence tried a creative way out of jail: He argued to a court that his life sentence technically ended when medical staff resuscitated him after his heart stopped. The judges didn’t buy the argument

The prisoner “is either alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is dead, in which case this appeal is moot,” wrote the Iowa Court of Appeals.

Culture I am consuming: 

The podcast Dolly Parton’s America. I grew up in Dolly country, but a lot of her remarkable story is new information to me. 

Email me with tips, story ideas, and feedback at ebelz@wng.org 
 

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Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo

A polling site inspector processes a voter using the new E-Poll Book tablet in New York. (Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo)

Metro Minute

At the polls in New York

Election Day in New York City brings bundled ballot questions

A New York moment: 

Election Day is a time when New York City feels like a small town. When I strolled into my precinct voting location midmorning on Tuesday—a school gym, where wall posters reminded students to think about how their actions affect others—I was the 55th person to cast a vote. 

The woman voting next to me was listening to an audiobook through her phone’s speaker as she marked her choices. Nearby, neighbors greeted each other. Usually New York City voter turnout is lower than the national average, but turnout was very high in the midterms last year. 

Low turnout is likely related to New York’s notoriously dysfunctional Board of Elections. In previous elections a poll worker would look through paper rolls for my name and have me sign a paper to show I had voted—a system that seemed primed for problems. This year the board sent voters a card with a barcode, and poll workers scanned voters’ cards on an iPad. The poll worker scanning me in said the board was testing out the new system to make sure everything went smoothly before the presidential election next year. 

New Yorkers on Tuesday were mostly voting on 19 ballot proposals, which had been bundled into five yes-or-no questions. One yes-or-no question, for example, included proposals for ranked choice voting, special elections, and redistricting. Some Floridians have recently challenged this practice of “bundling” various issues into one ballot question, so far to no avail. Florida officials said bundling different proposals into one question is a reasonable way to limit “ballot fatigue.” 

Worth your time:  

Director Martin Scorsese responded in a column to the backlash against his comments about Marvel movies not counting as cinema. Those comments reflected his own taste, he wrote, but he added that Marvel captures a crisis in cinema. 

“In the past 20 years, as we all know, the movie business has changed on all fronts,” he said. “But the most ominous change has happened stealthily and under cover of night: the gradual but steady elimination of risk.” 

I reviewed Scorsese’s new film, The Irishman, which is out in select theaters now and hits Netflix at the end of the month. 

This week I learned: 

There is such a thing as a fogbow.

A court case you might not know about: 

Here’s some more (alleged) corruption from New York public officials: A judge is facing federal charges of helping an executive with his $10 million fraud at a company where she was a board member.

It seems like New York corruption cases often have some tragicomic detail. In this case, the judge had served on the state commission on judicial conduct. “According to its most recent annual report,” The New York Times reports, “the commission’s objective is ‘to enforce high standards of conduct for judges, who must be free to act independently, on the merits and in good faith, but also must be held accountable should they commit misconduct.’”

Culture I am consuming: 

The Quiet American by Graham Greene, published in 1955, which presaged American involvement in Vietnam. Greene is incisive about the human condition, but also about what would come to pass in Vietnam.

“He was young and ignorant and silly and he got involved,” says British journalist Fowler about his American friend Pyle, who is killed at the beginning in French Indochina. “He had no more of a notion than any of you what the whole affair’s about, and you gave him money and York Harding’s books on the East and said, ‘Go ahead. Win the East for Democracy.’ ... I’d liked to have seen him reading the Sunday supplements at home and following baseball.” 

Email me with tips, story ideas, and feedback at ebelz@wng.org 

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(RgStudio/istock)

Metro Minute

Disney minus

Mourning the studio giant’s decision to restrict repertory screenings

A New York moment: 

Vulture reported last week that Disney is blocking its catalog of Fox films from repertory screenings. What that means is you won’t be able to go see old Twentieth Century Fox films in a theater: Miracle on 34th Street, All About Eve, The Sound of Music, and many more classics. The article from Vulture explains Disney’s possible reasoning: It is trying to put films in its famous “vault” to create more demand for its new streaming platform Disney Plus, or it is trying to open up more theatrical screens for its new films from franchises like Star Wars.

Whatever the reason, this move is a huge disappointment to me. Some of the best, most memorable theatrical experiences I’ve had have been repertory screenings, including seeing All About Eve (1950), now one of my favorite movies, at a theater in New York a few years ago. Recently I saw Sunset Boulevard on the big screen—also a wonderful experience—and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. There is something special about setting aside a night, buying a ticket, and sitting down with a group of strangers to watch an old classic on the big screen. 

I would bet that many people wouldn’t sit down and watch some of these films on their couches at home, when Netflix has new and exciting content to offer. I think those repertory screenings also help smaller theaters across the country keep their lights on, since patrons want to come for a single special screening of an old film they love. With old films on Disney Plus and not in a theater, more people will sit alone at home being entertained, when they could be out laughing with their neighbors in a theater.

Worth your time:  

The annual tradition in Tokyo of a “mundane costume party” for Halloween is just what I would want from a costume party. This year, one person dressed up as “Guy who washed his hands and wiped them on his clothes,” another as “Guy who got woken up by an Amazon delivery.” 

This week I learned: 

Democratic presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Bernie Sanders appear to have the most donations from working-class voters. 

A court case you might not know about: 

Almost exactly a year ago, some members of the Proud Boys group got in a street fight after their event at the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York. Now two group members have been sentenced to four years in prison for assault in that fight. 

“I know enough about history to know what happened in Europe in the ’30s when political street brawls were allowed to go ahead without any type of check from the criminal justice system,” said Justice Mark Dwyer at the sentencing. “We don’t want that to happen in New York, especially at this time in the country when people are so divided.”

Culture I am consuming: 

The World Series. I, a Washington Nationals fan, watched a few of the games with our editors and staff (which includes some diehard Houston Astros fans) last week while we were all in one place together for our staff retreat. Everyone was cordial. I give my apologies to my Twitter followers for the flood of baseball tweets—they’ll slow down to a dribble now, as we enter a bleak baseball-less winter. 

Last night ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt interviewed Anthony Rendon, the Nationals’ third baseman and one of the big stars of the season who always keeps a calm demeanor regardless of the situation. He showed not a shred of emotion after hitting a home run last night to start the Nationals’ come-from-behind victory. 

“I joke with [Nationals first baseman] Ryan Zimmerman that your resting heart rate is 4 and when you get excited it’s 12,” said Van Pelt. “How are you able to at least project to the world total peace and calm regardless of the situation?” 

“I think I understand that there are bigger things going on in this world,” said Rendon. “And my Savior Jesus Christ gives me that patience and that slow heart rate. It’s better than taking bullets for your country on the other side of the world. This should be a breeze for us.”

Email me with tips, story ideas, and feedback at ebelz@wng.org 

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