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Eavesdrop: Anne Guiney

We are mere footmen in the hallowed halls where architecture criticism is practiced, but this has never stopped us from grumbling about the generally ho-hum nature of so much of what we read. Where’s the fire, the brimstone? To the ramparts, mes amis! Épatez les blowhards! We were thus delighted to see that the magic circle has opened just enough to admit none other than David Byrne, he of the Talking Heads and King of Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade. Welcome, dear sir! On the very day that the New York Times critic Nicolai Ouroussoff gave readers an ambivalent walk-through of his employer’s shiny new tower, Byrne did the same on his blog, but from the flaneur’s street-level view. His entry shows that the citizen-critic is off to a roaring start, and is underwhelmed, to say the least: “The Gray Lady gets a punk haircut, is how I would characterize it.” He proceeds to ponder the changing nature of news (hurrah, Wikipedia!) and writes, “I can’t help but look at this new skyscraper and think, ‘They sure are optimistic ‘bout print journalism.’” Meanwhile in Midtown…

As we idled our way through the Sunday paper a few weeks ago, we stumbled on a 16-page advertorial section devoted to the glories of, you guessed it, the New York Times building! As we read storylets with snazzy titles like “West Side Story,” “Taking Care of Business,” and “The Media is the Message,” we grew ever more puzzled. We’re all for tooting our own horn, but who was this supposed to convince? And what, exactly, were they selling? Newspapers are great? The Times is forward-thinking? Midtown is cool? Overwhelmed by these questions, we quickly took refuge in the Sunday Styles section, where all was right in the world: Ivy Leaguers still marry Ivy Leaguers, and expensive handbags are still really, really important.

In other non-news, our dearly departed, always self-satisfied, and often impolitic ally in innuendo, the Gutter, made a brief return! Readers of the real estate blog Curbed were treated to a rambling walk through Red Hook, complete with a garden of flowery language. Very little in the way of gossip, but a sight for sore eyes nonetheless. Aaah, Gutter, we are lonely without you.

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Anne Guiney