Thursday, May 26, 1977

New York Parks Cope With Growing Decay

In Central Park, the once green lawn of the Sheep Meadow is wearing away, gradually becoming a dust bowl with overuse. At the Bethesda Fountain drugs are routinely sold, and the Duck Pond each night becomes a receptacle for beer and soda cans.

In Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens a Federal demolition crew, 12 years late, takes apart the steel skeleton of the United States Pavilion, one of the last vestiges of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, the fair that was to presage a great new park for Queens.

Excerpt from Ferretti NYT 5/26/77

Monday, May 23, 1977

Liquor Authority Head Stops Discotheque’s Music

The head of the State Liquor Authority, Michael Roth, conducted a soft of one-man raid early yesterday and had one of the newest and most popular discotheques in the city, Studio 54, closed for selling liquor without a license.

It all started when Mr. Roth learned at a private party Friday night that the club was opened as usual despite the fact that his agency earlier in the week had cut off daily caterers’ permits to Mr. Rubell. The one-day permits had permitted the sale of liquor while Studio 54 awaited action on its application for a liquor license. But such permits are actually intended for a special function or event.

Police arrested co-owners Stephen Rubell and Ian Schrager and two bartenders on Friday night (May 20).Late Saturday night there was only fruit juice being served.

The cover charge, $8 a person, remained unchanged. To the 300 couples dancing amidst the flashing lights, it didn’t seem to matter.

excerpt from Eleanor Blau NYT 5/23/77

Saturday, May 21, 1977

Woman, 24, Raped in Central Park

A 24-year-old woman who was out for a walk with a male friend and her 5-year-old son last night in Central Park was raped by two men impersonating plainclothes police officers, the police reported.

The two assailants were both described as black men between 30 and 34 years old, around 6 feet tall, weighing about 180 pounds and wearing Afro hair styles.

“This sort of crime occurs frequently,” the police spokesman said. “We may not get the reports, but when someone shows a shield, it’s an easy way to get the drop on someone.”

He said that people are often deceived in police impersonation incidents. “That’s why we tell people to also ask for an identification card,” he said.

“And just because they had revolvers doesn’t mean much,” he said. “You can get revolvers anywhere. Handcuffs and shields don’t mean much either - you can get them on 42nd Street.”

The police spokesman added that investigators felt sure the assailants were not police officers because “no real police officer about to rape someone is going to reveal his true identity while he knows we have his picture here on file.”

Excerpt from May 21 77 NYT

Thursday, May 19, 1977

New York City’s Precinct Patrol Force Has Shrunk By 3,305 Officers in Two Years of Budget Problems

Since April 1975, total assignments of officers and superiors to the precincts have been cut to 15,943 from 19,248 for a citywide drop of 17.2 percent, according to records obtained by the New York Times.

The largest slashes occurred in the South Bronx, where precinct complements were cut by more than 30 percent. The Bronx also had the largest borough-wide drop at 24 percent. Officials said the Bronx absorbed the sharpest cuts mainly because of a declining population in the South Bronx and a leveling of crime rates in those neighborhoods.

NYT Raab 5/19/77

Wednesday, May 18, 1977

Robber Takes Cab, Bank for a Ride

Anton Nigosian had a small problem today at the end of a cab ride from Manhattan to his home here (Hackensack NJ). The fare on the meter read $15.05 and Mr. Nigosian told the cabby he could not pay it. Off they went to a local bank for the money.

Mr. Nigosian emerged from the bank with enough money to cover the fare, plus about $17,000 more, the police said. Within an hour he was arrested on a bank-robbery charge.

The adventure began about noon, according to the police, when Mr. Nigosian hailed a cab driven by Vincent Torres at 14th Street and Avenue B in Manhattan and asked to be driven to Hackensack. The 20-minute trip was uneventful until Mr. Nigosian came up financially shy.

He told Mr. T to wait while he got the fare at home. In a few minutes he returned, saying he was locked out and had to go to the bank to withdraw money for the fare.

Inside the bank, Mr N handed the teller a note demanding money and warning that he was armed. The note had been typed by Mr. N in the stop at his home. He had entered the house through the rear door.

The teller put about $17,000 in a brown paper bag and gave it to Mr N who left quietly and returned to the cab where Mr T was still waiting with the meter still ticking. Mr. N asked to be taken home again and Mr N obliged, but not before bank officials who had followed Mr N saw the cab drive off into busy main street traffic. By the end of the return trip the fare had grown to $30. Mr. N paid it and added a $2 tip. Mr T left for Manhattan unaware that an alarm for his cab was on all police radios. About a half mile from the Nigosian home, the cab was spotted and within minutes six police cars converged on Mr T. “He was shaking, as scared as he could be. He didn’t move his hands an inch,” said Lt John Aletta.

Mr T, declaring he was innocent of wrongdoing returned with the police to the N. house. Back-up units were called, the house was surrounded and Mr N was told over a loudspeaker to come out. He jumped out a rear first floor window but within view of police and was apprehended. Mr N told police he had been released 2 days before from an Odyssey House drug rehabilitation center in Manhattan.

Mr T was permitted to return to New York but he had to return the $32. He was given a receipt by the police and his Manhattan garage said he would not be docked for the missing fare.

Excerpt from Robert Hanley May 18, 1977 New York Times

Tuesday, May 17, 1977

5 Killed As Copter on Pan Am Building Throws Rotor Blade

A New York Airways helicopter idling on the heliport atop the Pan Am Building in midtown Manhattan keeled over on a broken landing gear yesterday afternoon and a huge rotor blade snapped off and slashed four people to death. A fifth victim died later at Bellevue Hospital. One piece of blade spun onto Madison Avenue, killing a woman walking on Madison and 43rd Street shortly after 5:30pm - in the height of the evening rush hour.

Authorities said that emergency medical crews encountered delays of 30 to 45 minutes in getting the injured out of the building because elevators had been shut down on the upper floors.

The accident occurred only about a minute after the aircraft landed after a flight from Kennedy. Its 20 passengers had disembarked and a half-dozen of 21 new passengers had gone aboard. Suddenly the right front landing gear crumpled and the huge aircraft toppled onto its right side near the northeast corner of the rooftop. Witnesses said scenes of horror ensued. “There was nothing but screaming metal and glass flying,” said one witness. “Everyone threw themselves to the floor,” said Robert Levengood. “There was blood all over everyone.” Some of the victims were cut to pieces. Shortly after the accident, the rooftop was a scene of carnage.

After slashing through the group on the roof, the blade and the glass shards tumbled down toward Vanderbilt Avenue at the base of the skyscraper’s west façade. After breaking off in a window half way down the building, part of a blade hurtled down and killed the woman on Madison Avenue and 43rd.

Wendy Goodman was in the library of the Yale Club when she heard “what first sounded like a hailstorm.” She looked up and “saw what seemed to be a shower - but it was literally a downpour of glass; it went on for about three minutes.”

A spokesman for New York Airways said its flight 972 - a 50-foot long 30 passenger Sikorsky S-61 - had made its 10-minute trip from Kennedy to the Pan Am roof without incident and had been on its pad idling for about one minute when the accident occurred. One of several struts from the right landing gear snapped. “The rotors might have been out of synchronization. And that’s what caused the strain on the strut.” Fire Commissioner John T Hagan. The spokesman said it was standard procedure to have the rotors going at their normal 1000 revolutions per minute during the three minute turnaround period. The blades whirl at a height of 15 feet but most people reflexively duck when entering or leaving the aircraft.

“The blades hit them and everything went everywhere - backs, legs, heads,” he said.

The blade that tumbled over the edge whirled down and plunged into a window on the 36th floor. An account executive for the Foote Cone Belding advertising agency had just stepped from his office and gone into the washroom to change into a uniform for a softball game when the blade crashed into his office. The executive, identified by a co-worker as Joe Frederick, was unhurt. “Had there not been a softball game he probably would be dead” said the fellow employee Edward Gant.

Excerpt from Robert McFadden New York Times May 17, 1977

Helicopter Accident Laid to Landing Gear

A wornout landing gear caused the fatal helicopter accident at the heliport atop the Pan Am Building in midtown Manhattan on May 16, said the National Transportation Safety Board.

As the gear collapsed, the New York Airways helicopter flipped on its right side and its whirling main rotor blade killed four persons about to board the craft. A flying blade piece killed a pedestrian two blocks away, 870 feet below. A similar failure had ocurred in LA in 1963 but the part was redesigned. This was the first failure of the redesigned part.

Excerpt from New York Times October 13, 1977

Monday, May 16, 1977

Pele (3 Goals) Is Whole Show as Cosmos Win by 3-0

Pele shone almost as bright as the sun today, displaying the brilliance that has made him king of the soccer field.

The 37-year old Brazilian, who plans to retire after this season, delighter 21,782 fans at Giants Stadium by scoring all three goals in the Cosmos’ 3-0 victory over the Ft Lauderdale Strikers.

The 3-goal performance, the 91st of Pele’s illustrious career, came against a goalkeeper who had often thwarted the Brazilian in international competition. World Cup followers probably remember the save made by Gordon Banks, the goalkeeper of the English national team in the Brazil-England game in Guadalajara Mexico in 1970 when Brazil captured the World Cup for a record third time.

It was on a bright sunny day, like today, that Pele leaped high to head the ball toward the corner of the English goal only to have Banks lunge from an impossible position and make the save. Pele’s remark about Banks after that game, which Brazil won 1-0 was: “He got up like a salmon out of fresh water. It’s a pity that save came to no avail.”

NYT Yannis 5/16/77

Sunday, May 15, 1977

12 Jockeys and Trainers Indicted For Fixing Races at Garden State

Twelve jockeys and trainers were indicted yesterday on charges of widespread race fixing at GSP in Cherry Hill NJ. The indictments were a result of an investigation that began in 193 and led to one indictment involving five defendants and four prison terms for race fixing at Atlantic City race track in Feb 1976.

State Attorney General William F Hyland said that Anthony Ciulla of Stoneham MA now serving a four-to-six year sentence for the Atlantic City race-fixing conviction was the state’s chief witness in the current charges. He has been moved from a state prison to a secret location for his own protection. His family is also in protective custody.

He noted that Mr. Ciulla faced an additional five years in prison in Rhode Island on a similar conviction there.

John Kevin Daly of Cornwells Heights PA and Ralph Baker of Barrington NJ, among the twelve indicted received probationary terms for race fixing last year at Pocono Downs in PA.

NYT 5/15/77

Marijuana Smokers Hold Village Rally

There was something in the air besides springtime yesterday as several thousand marijuana enthusiasts and the merely curious gathered for a peaceful smoke-in in Washington Square Park.

Some handfuls of free marijuana cigarettes were passed among the crowd by followers of the Youth International Party which sponsored the rally and a sidewalk march up Fifth Avenue to Central Park.

An eight-foot mock-up of a marijuana cigarette hovered over the crowd like a lumpy white zeppelin.

Dana Beal, a Yippie leader, presented a set of demands. These included not just decriminalization but free, legal marijuana with “a guaranteed weekly one-ounce stash for every head for 40 years, to match the length of time the substance has been illegal here.

In a brief incident an apparent dissenter from the activities threw a punch at Mr. Beal on the speaker’s platform but he was quickly pummeled and kicked to the ground and before long released.

Excerpt from Judith Cummings May 15, 1977 New York Times

Friday, May 13, 1977

A Punch You Felt in the Toenails

That’s how it was with Ken Norton Wednesday. He brushed off the tentative jabs Duane Bobick aimed at his mustache when they met mid-ring. Then he brushed off Duane Bobick as a contender for the heavyweight championship of the world.

Twenty or thirty seconds after the opening bell, Norton pitched an overhand right into the unbeaten redhead’s pleasant visage and Bobick tottered forward, his hands lifted before him as though in supplication. There was no mercy in Madison Square Garden. An uppercut to the throat brought tears to his eyes. Four, six, maybe eight overhand right later, Duane was on the deck thinking beautiful thoughts and Norton was eligible for the $2 million tete a tete with Muhammad Ali, their fourth.

As Bobick fell, Norton flung his hands aloft and pranced about the ring in a war dance of jubilation, as though confident his victim wouldn’t get up. “I knew he was hurt,” Ken said, “and that if he did get up he’d be hurt some more. When you land a good punch you can feel it in your arm, your shoulder, your hip, your toes, your toenails…” He was willing to go on but had run out of anatomy.

Though it is not in Ken Norton to gloat, he had reason to rejoice. The evening’s work was worth $500,00 to him. John Condon of the Garden, accepting a figure that Jerry Quarry computed in his head, told him this worked out to $9800 a second for the 58-second chore. “Praise the Lord,” Ken said, but he is in for a disappointment. Actually he was paid at the sweatshop rate of $8620.69 a second.

Cash customers had the privilege of seeing unbeaten Bernardo Mercado score his 16th victory in a grotesque charade with one Horace Robinson. The tall Colombian’s talent is minimal but his background romantic: he is owned and operated by Joe Conforte, who also owns and operates a stable of cooperative chickadees on Mustang Ranch, the brothel near Reno Nevadaw where Oscar Bonavena was shot dead.

It wasn’t a new Norton, but it was the old Bobick - the one Cuba’s Teo Stevenson pounded into the ground like a stake in the 1972 Olympics. Duane took that whipping like a man, and this one too. Later he sat in his dressing room, arms folded, head down. He seemed close to tears, but he still looked at the sunny side.
“Well,” he said, “I think I can catch the 12 o’clock train to Philly.”

NYT Smith 5/13/77

Wednesday, May 11, 1977

Woman, 82, Found Dead in Bushwick, Victim of Robbery

An 82-year-old woman was found dead in her Brooklyn apartment yesterday, the apparent victim of a robbery.

The slaying was yet another instance of assaults against old people that have evoked a public outcry and led to introductions of bills in the New York State Legislature stiffening penalties for crimes against the elderly.

excerpt from Eleanor Blau 5/11/77 NYT

Friday, May 06, 1977

Bronx Kidnap Car Used in a Holdup

Emanuel Goldstein a 65-year-old salesman didn’t want to talk about it afterward and nobody can blame him. As he was going into his garage at Co-op City to get his car out yesterday morning, two young men seized him, locked him in the trunk of his car, drove to Yonkers, robbed a bank, crashed into a bridge abutment and fled from the car on foot with the police in pursuit. “I don’t want to talk about it. It was very upsetting.” Detective Rocco Delbenne of the Yonkers police said policemen guarding the car after it crashed and the two bank robbers ran away “were amazed to hear this tapping and find the poor man in the trunk.”

Excerpt from Evans Asbury April 6, 1977 New York Times

Thursday, May 05, 1977

What’s New in the Discos: Guide to Latest Late Shows

Studio 54 is the celebrity’s disco – a winning combination of décor, lighting and special effects, exotic people and a wall-to-wall array of dancers.

It is Mr. Rubell himself, a man nearly half Big George’s height, who decides who shall go and who shall stay, and his criteria, he says, is chemistry.

“I’ll let anyone who looks like they’ll make things fun,” he says, standing behind the ropes and ignoring the repeated sound of his own name. “We like guys with guys because they make the dance floor hot, you know? I wouldn’t let my best friend in if he looked like an East Side singles guy.”

To get into the club, to dance beneath its neon sun or its fabric flames or its pulsing light poles or its glittering spoon and moon….”

excerpt from NYT 05/05/77

Sunday, May 01, 1977

Three Seized Before Theft Can Even Be Reported

Nearly 7000 electronic wristwatches valued at more than $1 million were stolen from a Queens’ warehouse before dawn yesterday, but the police said they arrested three men, recovered the watches and solved the crime two hours before the burglary was discovered.

Two plainclothesmen assigned to post-midnight burglary patrol spotted three men lugging 13 shipping crates into a house at 170 Himrod Street in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn shortly after 3 AM.

The officers stopped the men and checked the boxes which contained the watches worth $150 each.

Excerpt from New York Times May 1977