Monday, September 30, 2002
The New York Times Company
The New York Times
September 23, 2002, Monday, Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section A; Page 6; Column 1; Foreign Desk
LENGTH: 1063 words
HEADLINE: Educators Try to Tame Japan's Blackboard Jungles
BYLINE: By HOWARD W. FRENCH
DATELINE: YOKOHAMA, Japan
Across Japan these days, by the first or second grade, elementary school students commonly talk out of turn and wrestle with one another in class.
By fourth grade, they are using obscene language, often directed at the teacher or written on the blackboard. And by sixth grade, a growing generation of preteenage rebels has begun walking in and out of classrooms at will, mocking the authority of adults and even attacking teachers who try to restrain them. "When I was posted to this school in April last year, the sixth graders were so disorderly that teachers couldn't start classes," said Masakuni Kaneshima, 57, the principal of an elementary school in Kunitachi, a Tokyo suburb. "About a third of the students, that is, about a dozen from each class, wouldn't even enter the classroom. Together with the head teacher, my job became bringing these children to their classroom."
A plague of similar troubles have many Japanese asking whatever happened to their country's school system, not long ago the envy of much of the world for its reputation for producing not just wave after wave of high-achieving children, but of conspicuously well-behaved children, as well.
The spreading disorder in Japan's schools may pale compared with the woes of underprivileged schools in American cities. But coming on top of Japan's economic stagnation, the crisis known here as "classroom collapse" is the latest insult to the pride of a society that a little more than a decade ago thought it had pretty much everything figured out.
According to a report released last October by the National Institute for Educational Policy Research, about 32.4 percent of 6,614 elementary school teachers surveyed said their schools had at least one classroom that had experienced collapse. Similar problems show up in higher grades, too, with nearly half of all high schools reporting violence, higher dropout rates and problems like student prostitution.
Such data have stirred an anguish-filled debate over education in Japan that has found causes in everything from the country's seemingly endless economic morass to a continuing but awkward shift toward greater individuality.
Predictably, the discussion has also broken down sometimes into a blame game, with angry parents accusing schools of abdicating their responsibilities and many educators replying that the spread of classroom disorder is a result of negligent or overly indulgent child-rearing by parents.
"Up until now, Japan was a society in which children obeyed adults, but this relationship between children and adults is no longer workable, because the system was built around the idea that by doing well in school you could enter a good company, and having lifetime security," said Naoki Ogi, an education expert. "Over the last 10 years, however, Japan hasn't found a way out of its economic depression, and from the children's viewpoint, the academic record-oriented system has collapsed. Moral values are collapsing, too.
"So children feel they have no one they can trust, no adult society they can look up to."
At the Idogaya Elementary School in Yokohama, a four-story building with a large, open sandlot that looks from the outside like the very prototype of the Japanese elementary school, officials said that bits and pieces of all those factors had played a role in a classroom breakdown problem the school said it had brought under control last year.
In a reflection of the shame that attaches to social problems in Japan, among dozens of schools that were approached, Idogaya was the only one that would both acknowledge it had experienced classroom collapse and allow itself to be identified.
A tour of several classrooms, however, showed no traces of the problem. In a sixth-grade music class, students practiced Beethoven's "Marmotte" on their recorders, following the teacher's cues almost to perfection. Likewise, in a fourth-grade calligraphy class, there was nary a hint of giggling as students practiced writing characters.
Despite the scenes of wrinkle-free order, the principal, Chuji Yamada, said he had been sent to the school because of his reputation as a problem solver. There had been disorder in a second-grade class, he said, in which "three or four kids would run out of the classroom and ignore the teacher's instructions."
Mr. Yamada said Japan's elementary schools, starting with his own, shared plenty of the blame for the spread of increasingly unruly behavior. Schools are understaffed, he said, and most teachers never receive any continuing education to refresh their methods, or examine how to deal with new problems.
The lion's share of the blame, however, he reserved for today's parents, who he said were spoiling their children with money, cellphones and other gifts, while spending less time with them. Instead, parents expect the school to take the major responsibility for imparting manners and other social skills.
"More and more, I get the impression that people are becoming egotistical, only thinking about themselves," Mr. Yamada said. "They don't fulfill their responsibilities, but they claim their rights, both as parents and citizens."
One of Mr. Yamada's teachers, Kazuyuki Nakagawa, a 21-year veteran of elementary schools who acknowledged experiencing breakdowns in his own classrooms, said the lonelier, more materialistic upbringing of today's children was transforming their personalities before his eyes.
"Today's children will cry in a heartbeat, and they give up so quickly," Mr. Nakagawa said. "The reason is that they don't play with other children of various ages anymore. They've become impatient, and at the slightest little problem, their mothers will call the school to complain."
Most of all, however, Mr. Ogi, the education expert said, today's children are victims of high expectations, which typically begin with over-demanding parents in what are very often single-child households.
"Even if only a few kids in the class rebel, the others enjoy watching, and they love bullying the teacher," Mr. Ogi said. "We call it 'yoiko' stress, or good-child stress, which is widely seen among first graders. At home, they have to play the role of the perfect child, or else they don't get affection from their mothers. So when their mother is not present, in school, they tend to look for a release."
GRAPHIC: Photo: At Idogaya Elementary School in Yokohama, a problem of unruly students has been brought under control. (Stuart Isett/Gamma, for The New York Times)
The New York Times Company
The New York Times
September 23, 2002, Monday, Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section A; Page 18; Column 1; National Desk
LENGTH: 934 words
HEADLINE: Lights, Camera, Action -- Cut!
BYLINE: By The New York Times
DATELINE: LOS ANGELES, July 21
Jim Bosche awoke at 3:30 a.m. in his fourth-floor downtown loft one day last spring to find a white-hot light flooding through his bedroom blinds, the kind of intense beam seen in depictions of alien abduction.
Fifteen feet outside his window, a man in a cherry picker was shining a spotlight directly into his bedroom to provide reflected light for the filming of a movie based on the British mini-series "The Singing Detective." "I wanted to find the executive producer and do the same thing to him, while screaming loudly and running various types of machinery in his yard," Mr. Bosche said. "I felt invaded and violated."
Until four years ago, when the first few long-vacant commercial buildings in historic downtown were converted to residences, Hollywood studios and production companies had almost free rein in filming, especially at night and on weekends, when the area emptied of workers. But now the downtown core, a 24-square-block zone that has portrayed other cities in countless films and television shows, has about 2,000 residents, and some are complaining loudly about inconsiderate crew members, monopolized parking, traffic jams and the noise and lights of night filming.
Similar problems are cropping up in other cities, most notably Vancouver, British Columbia, and Toronto, which have used tax incentives and the lure of lower costs, to gain a big share of film-production revenue.
In Los Angeles, the most movie-linked city, the more the downtown area grows and establishes its own identity, the harder it becomes to use it as a stand-in for other places.
"Everyone agrees revitalizing downtown is important, but we need to remember that the production of filmed entertainment and moviemaking made L.A. and is vital to its future," said Morrie Goldman, vice president of the nonprofit Entertainment Industry Development Corporation.
"Downtown is our New York, our Chicago, our San Francisco, our gritty urban area," Mr. Goldman said. "It's our science fiction future. We have a real challenge to make sure we keep downtown accessible."
Last year, there were more than 27,435 days of filming in Los Angeles County, for movies, television shows, commercials and music videos, a decline of 18 percent from the peak of 33,328 in 1997, according to the development group. Out of that production-day total, a third were in the downtown area of about four square miles, which includes the historic core.
Film production brings the city $30 billion a year, the entertainment development group estimates.
"This is a bad time for this because we're losing so much filming to other locations," said Kristen Wagner, a freelance location manager, of the dispute. "I think it'll work out, but this is a period of adjustment, and it has to be handled delicately. Fighting is bad for both sides, especially ours."
No neighborhood in the country has more filming than this city's historic downtown, especially around the Old Bank District at Main and Spring Streets, where film production of some kind takes place almost weekly. Most residents, Mr. Bosche included, recognize the value of such production and want it to continue.
"It's a question of finding a balance of interests," said Brady Westwater, a supporter of downtown and soon to be living there. "Filming just needs to be moderated so it doesn't inconvenience residents unnecessarily."
The development group has the job of balancing those interests, and residents say it favors the interests of the film industry it was formed to promote. It is not legally required to notify residents about filming, but has assumed the responsibility of doing so -- inconsistently, residents say. With 150 film productions a day to oversee, the development group acknowledges that more needs to be done to keep up with the changes downtown.
"People are moving into these lofts," Mr. Goldman said. "We may think a building is commercial and not know people are living in them."
Residents say gaps in notification are only part of the problem. They contend that other rules, for example not filming between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., are sometimes ignored.
"They say they'll be done at 10, but they don't start breaking down until then," said Michelle Chin, a downtown resident. That could mean another hour if not more of activity.
With mounting pressure from downtown residents, the development group is taking heat from the Los Angeles County district attorney and the auditor-controller, who are investigating what they say is the possible misuse of public money by the organization. At issue is the group's spending to promote Los Angeles to producers, using $40,000 for tickets to Los Angeles Laker games, concerts and other events. In four years, it has also contributed about $200,000 to local politicians and $10,000 to the campaign against secession of the San Fernando Valley from the city of Los Angeles.
"We're a private corporation, not a public agency," Mr. Goldman said. "We feel once we've worked on these issues with the D.A.'s office, this matter will be resolved quickly and amicably."
Janice Wood, a public works commissioner, says she wants to work with the development group to improve coordination with residents, the city, property owners and the production companies.
"No one's the bad guy here," Ms. Wood said. "We need a technological solution. Right now the E.I.D.C. and the city communicate by fax. That's a pretty low level for something this complex."
A big test will come this fall, as eight big-budget features start production, the most activity in years.
GRAPHIC: Photos: Some residents are losing sleep over filming in downtown Los Angeles. They complain that movie crews are too intrusive in the area, which often doubles for other cities. Michelle Chin lives across the street from the old Farmers and Merchants Bank, said to be the most filmed spot in Los Angeles. Above, tubing from a mobile air-conditioning unit at a movie location. (Photographs by Gerard Burkhart for The New York Times)
Friday, September 13, 2002
Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
The New York Times
September 1, 2002, Sunday, Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section 1; Page 1; Column 2; National Desk
LENGTH: 1557 words
HEADLINE: On Ship of Condos, Life's an Endless Cruise
BYLINE: By WILLIAM L. HAMILTON
DATELINE: ABOARD THE WORLD, St. John's, Newfoundland, Aug. 31
Life, they say, is a journey. But who would think to take it on a cruise ship?
Billed by its Norwegian owners as the world's first and only residence at sea, The World, a 12-deck, 43,000-ton, 644-foot passenger ship, arrived here today -- a floating condominium with apartments, not cabins, ranging in price from more than $2 million to more than $7 million. St. John's is one of 140 ports in 40 countries that the vessel is to visit in its inaugural year, the start of a perpetual circumnavigation of the globe -- a home away from home away from home.
The World was launched in March, sailing from Oslo, and is scheduled to arrive in New York on Thursday.
Residents are on the average in their middle 50's, and generally self-made, first-generation wealthy. The World is a concept that Howard Hughes would have loved: exile reinvented, a life in comfortable circumstances that cosset but also constantly change, leaving a wake but never a trail. More than a few on board could have been Mr. Hugheses of another generation -- their determined isolation as deep as the mid-Atlantic.
"People that take a risk like this, on a new concept, they're the kind of people I generally like anyway," said Richard Reed, 60, an entrepreneur who has run martial arts schools and a software company selling billing services to health clubs. "I'm not going to sit around and wait for this concept to work itself out -- test a few boats -- there's an urgency factor to it, and it's called age."
The World's accommodations consist of 110 two- to six-bedroom condominium apartments with kitchens, decorated by carriage-trade designers like Nina Campbell of London and Juan Pablo Molyneux of New York.
There are standard cruise ship amenities like restaurants, a casino and a spa. But there is also a corner store, Fredy's Deli, which sells Rice Krispies, oyster sauce, matzo balls and cake mixes.
Condominium maintenance fees are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, but residents must scrub their own ovens, or pay extra to have them cleaned. The crystal table lamps are bolted to end tables, by regulation. Fireplaces and candles? Forget it. No pets either.
"We have to get along," said Geoffrey Thompson, 59, a retired advertising executive from Monterey, Calif., when asked about his neighbors on The World. "We share the same backyard." His backyard tilted from side to side in the horizon of his two-bedroom apartment's windows as he spoke, seated on a sedan-sized sofa. "There's more type A personalities on board per capita than anywhere else in the world," Mr. Thompson said. "No passive bones in the body."
The World was conceived in 1997 by Knut Kloster Jr., a Norwegian cruise ship magnate. The project was the butt of many jokes, even as The World proceeded into construction. Its size was scaled back at the boatyard, because of financing difficulties and concerns that it could not enter the smaller, more exclusive ports it was promising to prospective residents. The World, owned by ResidenSea Ltd., is registered in the Bahamas.
Eighty percent of the apartments, which have 50 year leaseholds -- the ship's expected life span -- have been sold. Plans for a sister ship have been put on hold until The World has sold completely.
Residents can board in any port and are asked, after an extended absence, to give 24-hours' notice. In fairer seas in more attractive locales, the ship expects an average of 340 people in residence, served by its crew of 320. Homeowners are at present 40 percent American, 40 percent European and 20 percent from South Africa, Australia and elsewhere. The ship also books nonresident passengers in its unsold apartments and 88 guest suites.
The apartments on The World are not being sold as investments, because of their expiring leaseholds.
"The clock started ticking the day the ship was delivered," said Jessica Estrada, the on-board sales manager. "It's a depreciating asset. It's a lifestyle, not a way to make money."
Sailing from Iceland to Newfoundland this week, a cold, lonely jog on The World's maiden Atlantic crossing, the oceans were bucking and the 100 passengers, including 15 residents, were the hard-core few.
Mr. Reed a silver-blond man who said he earned a black belt in martial arts in Korea with Chuck Norris, the action-movie star, was seated in his living room, which he had customized heavily to his own tastes. There was a black leather Harley-Davidson edition of Monopoly on the Chinese-style lacquered coffee table, an electronic Yamaha piano, a Russian impressionist oil painting of a bar scene and a flat-screen wall clock that displayed the earth and its time zones.
"On this side of this line is Wednesday and on the other side is Thursday," Mr. Reed said, pointing to the lit, blue panel. "You're on the move all the time and it's kind of hard to keep track of that."
In fact, several residents on board had trouble identifying the day.
Mr. Reed stows a telescope in his powder room. "You can't see the stars from land anymore," he said.
Residents are not permitted to claim The World as their primary residence, and must provide an address on land to ResidenSea when purchasing, which a company spokesman cited as proof that the ship is not being used as a tax haven.
Plans for security were not tightened after Sept. 11, though metal scanners are present for embarkation. ResidenSea officials said they would not sell to anyone with a criminal record. The company pays a security concern to perform international credit and criminal background checks on each condominium applicant.
Still, many residents, as if playing a game scheduled by the ship's "enrichment" director, are trying to figure out who among them might be on the lam, and why.
"Everybody's learning everybody's else's bio," Mr. Thompson said. "If the knowledge about somebody only goes back a few years, you kind of go, 'O.K., so where were they before that?' "
Mr. Reed also lives in a gated community, in Scottsdale, Ariz. He said that he never knew any of his neighbors there, a situation far different from life on The World.
"It's 600 by 100 feet -- you're going to run into them," he said.
Residents like Judy Kreiss, 60, and her husband, Norman Kreiss, 75, say they like the close-quarters' style of life.
"People who come to this life -- married couples -- really have to care about each other," said Mrs. Kreiss, who has been married for 10 years. The longest they have been aboard ship is two months. A framed photograph of one of their five dogs, Shorty, a terrier, sat on a shelf next to them. Shorty lives in San Diego.
"This isn't a life for people who aren't getting along, and so your neighbors are all people who have good marriages," Mrs. Kreiss said. "It's nice to have that reinforced all the time."
Mr. Thompson's wife, Karyn Planett, a travel writer, works with the ship's residents' committee. She said it was like a co-op board, but with many issues unique to a ship.
The group, which meets monthly, works with the company on the ship's itinerary, for example. Members have insisted on smaller, more interesting ports of call -- at Madagascar and in Londonderry, Ireland -- than short-term paying guests might prefer. But the company's bottom line is keeping the cabins full.
"They are owners of their apartments," said Rene Peter, the general manager on ship. "They don't run the company. They know as well what they bought into -- a certain space on the ship. The rest is all public space."
The World's developers say it is the precursor of what could become a new niche in the travel industry and in vacation-home real estate. Other residence ship projects that have been reported include the America World City, proposed by the World City Corporation with investors that include Westin Hotels and Resorts, and Freedom Ship, the barge-like craft proposed by Freedom Ship International, which anticipates 40,000 residents living on a 25-story ship. The Freedom Ship filed its business plan with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the spring. If the ship is approved and built as planned, it will be an $11 billion home with an airport, parks, a hospital, schools and factories.
With the cruise ship industry trying to recover from Sept. 11 and an industry recession generated late in the 1990's by overbuilding, the pressure to keep The World booked to capacity is strong. ResidenSea, based in Miami, is discounting its passenger fares and is aggressively marketing its empty apartments as rentals, from $1,800 to $5,460 a night.
Ms. Planett said that the residents were realists who understood The World's marketing challenges.
"The company has to be on a sound financial footing or we all suffer," she said. "So we know the reality of their need to fill the guest suites and to have itineraries that are attractive to sell. We like a traveler who buys into the concept, to see the world in a more leisurely pace than the standard cruise ship passenger."
She raised an obvious point, the spray flying past her $3 million apartment as it sailed below the southern tip of Greenland.
"If we're not happy, it's not going to work for anybody," she said. "But how to boycott? Do we do a rent strike? Rent strike to us means we'd be tied up in -- I don't know where. You pick a port."
GRAPHIC: Photos: Geoffrey Thompson, and his wife, Karyn Planett, top, in their $3 million condominium yesterday aboard The World as it was docked in St. John's, Newfoundland. The vessel has all the standard cruise ship amenities as well as a deli, staffed by Hermy Lubugan, left, and Lalaine Lebitania. (Photographs by Keith Gosse for The New York Times)(pg. 23); Condominiums cost as much as $7 million on The World, where there is real grass on the putting green. (Keith Gosse for The New York Times)(pg. 1)
Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
The New York Times
September 1, 2002, Sunday, Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section 2; Page 1; Column 2; Arts and Leisure Desk
LENGTH: 1629 words
In a New Times Square, a Wink at Futures Past
BYLINE: By AVIS BERMAN; Avis Berman directs the oral history project of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.
THE Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein liked to parody the modernist styles of his day. So it's altogether appropriate that five years after his death, he has given the new Times Square, with its sci-fi glass towers and Tomorrowland electronic signs, a monumental mural that harks back to a bygone future -- the future as it was evisioned in the machine age.
Even the helmeted head of Buck Rogers, that Depression-era space traveler, appears in "Times Square Subway Mural," a 6-foot-high, 53-foot-long panel that revisits the history of New York transportation. Made of porcelain enamel on steel, it has been hung in the mezzanine of the Times Square subway station, now being refurbished, between the shuttle to Grand Central Terminal and the northern entrance to the IRT platforms. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which commissioned the piece and will unveil it on Thursday, may rightly see the work as an emblem of a revitalized, forward-looking Times Square. But it's also a Lichtenstein sendup of modernist visions of the future.
"Roy talked about how unlike the prediction of the future the future really was," said Dorothy Lichtenstein, the artist's widow. To him, she said, "the forecasts of the future were always sleek and clean, while in reality, everything in a city is always pretty filthy and hard to keep up."
That Rogers appears in the mural, at the far right, as if straight out of a comic book from 1929 -- when he was first introduced, six years after Lichtenstein was born in Manhattan -- is telling. It underscores that the piece is not so much futuristic as it is retrospective and even nostalgic, evoking a between-the-wars Gotham, when the subways seemed undefiled and the city was being wrenched by industrial and architectural transitions.
Read from left to right, "Times Square Subway Mural" portrays a dynamic history of New York urbanism.
The first panel shows a portion of an arch patterned after the Guastavino vaulting in Grand Central; it is rendered to resemble tile and masonry, the materials of the 1904 subway. The next arch metamorphoses into a steel girder, distilling the Machine Age of the 1930's, when metal gained popularity as a symbol of modernism. Streaking through the arches is not a subway car but a winged spaceship, suavely streamlined in the period manner.
That technology would solve nearly all urban problems, or at least improve the quality of contemporary life, was the fervently promoted message of the 1939-40 World's Fair in Queens, which Lichtenstein visited as a boy. Balanced on the prow of the spaceship is an image of a white Trylon bisecting a red Perisphere, those iconic emblems of the fair and its "World of Tomorrow." The real Perisphere contained a model of a utopian city that would strike us as a green suburb, though Lichtenstein puts smokestacks and skyscrapers in the background of his retro-futuristic city. In the final segments, jazzy geometric forms lifted from his own paintings and sculptures stand in for buildings.
Lichtenstein was a prolific artist, but few people know that he also had a history as a muralist. He designed 11 murals, 10 of which were realized. The first, commissioned by the architect Philip Johnson for the 1964 New York World's Fair, was a single image of a red-haired flirt inspired by the heroines of romance comic books. The last, "Large Interior With Three Reflections," conceived in 1993 for the corporate headquarters of Revlon, is an intricate composition of three well-appointed interiors swirling in reflections, simulations of architecture and other perceptual tricks.
Although Lichtenstein's trademark style -- bright, crisp forms enclosed in hard black outlines that are legible at great distances -- seems tailor-made for mural formats, he was resistant to creating them. "He was never enthusiastic at the beginning," Mrs. Lichtenstein said, "because he was totally immersed in what he was working on, and he did not want to be distracted. He would only do the project if he could incorporate what he was working on."
Robert McKeever, a painter and photographer who worked for Lichtenstein from the early 1980's until his death in 1997, agreed. "He would mold the ideas he was working on to fit the mural commissions."
Yet, said Mr. McKeever, Lichtenstein was not as in thrall to the particulars of subject matter as might be thought. "What he was painting was almost immaterial to him," Mr. McKeever said. "The relationship of where things were to each other and how you perceive it were the most important parts of a composition. Whenever he had a new interest, he would stick it in a painting to see what would happen."
The murals not only turned into riffs on Lichtenstein's investigations into perception, but also indexes of his own preoccupations. (Lichtenstein's sources for "Times Square Subway Mural," as well as paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings connected with it, will be on view starting on Thursday at Mitchell-Innes & Nash gallery on Madison Avenue.)
Two books that Lichtenstein owned and consulted for his iconography illuminate his thinking process. The first, Philip Ashforth Coppola's compendium on the New York subways, "Silver Connections" (1984), printed detailed drawings of the 1904 ornamentation of the 42nd Street station. Lichtenstein recreated some of these decorative elements in the mural, most conspicuously the classical plaques and mosaics and the number 42.
The second book was "Buck Rogers: The First 60 Years in the 25th Century" (1988), by Lorraine Dille Williams. In Ms. Williams's words, Buck Rogers "always seeks the utter fringes of the future without violating the laws of science that make future developments a reality."
Fittingly for a painter whose self-portrait consisted of an empty T-shirt with a blankly reflecting mirror above it, the only mural that he ever proposed, Mrs. Lichtenstein said, was one that was designed to disappear. In 1983, Lichtenstein and several assistants painted "Greene Street Mural," a composite of the artist's previous motifs on panels 18 feet high and 96 feet wide. After the piece was shown at Leo Castelli's gallery at 142 Greene Street, it was purposely painted over.
"There was a lot of conceptual art around," Mrs. Lichtenstein said, "so Roy wanted to do this as an impermanent piece of work that would be the exhibition, but not an object. His work was becoming very costly, and he loved the idea of doing something that couldn't be sold -- just erased." Ever ready to debunk, with the "Greene Street Mural" Lichtenstein undercut the precious nature of the art product.
In 1985 the Metropolitan Transportation Authority established the Arts for Transit office to incorporate works of art into the rebuilding of New York's subway and commuter rail stations. Since then, more than 120 commissions have been completed. The artists include Elizabeth Murray, Tom Otterness, Nancy Spero, Eric Fischl, Mary Miss, Faith Ringgold, Vincent Smith, Al Loving, Ellen Driscoll, Vito Acconci and Romare Bearden. Another 75 to 80 works are in progress, according to Sandra Bloodworth, the director of Arts for Transit.
By the time the Times Square subway mural came along, in 1989, Lichtenstein was at ease with the genre and "liked the challenge," Mrs. Lichtenstein said.
"Once he had done a number of murals, he realized that they could relate to what he was doing, and he liked the idea of having another one in New York City," she said. Lichtenstein's other mural in a public space in Manhattan is "Mural With Blue Brushstroke" (1984-85), in the lobby of the Equitable Center building at Seventh Avenue and 51st Street.
The M.T.A. offered Lichtenstein a budget of $200,000 to execute the commission. He refused all payment, stating that he "would gladly make it a donation to the city of New York." The money originally allotted to him went toward other art in the station. (Jack Beal, Jacob Lawrence and Toby Buonagurio also created permanent works for Times Square.)
The Times Square commission is a departure from how Lichtenstein customarily proceeded on murals, which was to combine and layer motifs of works he was in the process of making. There are reprises of favorite visual devices, like his Benday dots and quotations from his own and other art, but the subject matter is honed to its underground site.
Lichtenstein drew the core composition -- a full-scale black-and-white maquette -- in 1990, and followed it with color studies. These preliminary pieces can be seen at Mitchell-Innes & Nash. In 1992, the renovation of the Times Square station was postponed and, after two years elapsed, Lichtenstein decided to go ahead and transfer the preparatory works to enamel.
"The delay was so long," Mrs. Lichtenstein recalled, "that he just hated the idea that this thing was hanging on and wasn't completed, in his mind. He said: 'Let's just do it. Then I don't have to think about it anymore.' " Other than the hanging of the work in the station 10 days ago, the mural was executed under Lichtenstein's supervision and fabricated exactly as he specified.
In December 1989, Lichtenstein received the Mayor's Award of Honor for Art and Culture from Edward I. Koch. He told the assembled guests at Gracie Mansion, "I've always thought that New York was the center of the universe, so this award has cosmic significance for me."
Doubtless the installation of his mural -- a venture in which Lichtenstein revisited his past and made a gift to the future -- in an essential hub of his universe, would have been an even more splendid reward.
Times Square Subway Mural
Unveiling on Thursday.
Related exhibition at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Madison Avenue at 78th Street.
Thursday through Oct. 19.
GRAPHIC: Photos: Roy Lichtenstein working on a collage for "Times Square Mural" in 1990, a year after the M.T.A. commissioned the work. (Bob Adelman/Roy Lichtenstein Foundation)(pg. 25); "Times Square Subway Mural," 1994, by Roy Lichtenstein. The work, 6 feet by 53 feet long, will be unveiled on Thursday. (Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/Mitchell-Innes & Nash)(pg. 1)
Wednesday, September 04, 2002
Copyright 2000 Chattanooga Publishing Company
Chattanooga Times / Chattanooga Free Press
November 5, 2000, Sunday
SECTION: PERSPECTIVE; Pg. F1
LENGTH: 1453 words
HEADLINE: Poll-taking can be a tough call
BYLINE: John Aloysius Farrell The Boston Globe
Call waiting. Caller ID. Answering machines. Computer modems. Cell phones. Home fax machines. Voice mail. Pushy telemarketers.
For most of us, they are conveniences or annoyances of modern life. For opinion pollsters, they can add up to big trouble. As the numbers and varieties of polls spiral, it's growing harder to get people to answer their questions, and harder to get accurate results.
"Response rates are not what they used to be," said pollster John Zogby, referring to the willingness of those called to participate in polls. "When I started in this business in 1984, they were averaging around 65 percent. Now we are down around 33 or 35 percent." Indeed, changes in technology and the attitude of Americans have lent an unexpected wrinkle to Campaign 2000: The science of measuring public opinion has come in for increased scrutiny and debate.
In recent weeks, several well-known polls have reported questionable shifts in public opinion, leaving pollsters self-critical and defensive and prompting what GOP pollster Ed Goeas called "the debate over polling." At least two major polling operations have had to adjust their techniques.
The controversy started in mid-September, when three respected polling operations announced dramatically different views of the presidential race.
A Sept. 15 Newsweek poll gave Vice President Al Gore a 14-point lead, while the bipartisan Voter.com-Battleground poll had Governor George W. Bush ahead of his rival by between 2 and 5 points. The CNN/USA Today/Gallup nightly tracking poll, meanwhile, was somewhere in the middle.
Newsweek subsequently adjusted its methodology by adding to the size of the polling sample. And Goeas, who conducts the Voter.com-Battleground poll with Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, tinkered with the order of its questions, and acknowledged that they may have been using a sampling method more suited for the final days of the campaign, when opinions are firm, than for mid-September, when the situation is more fluid.
The flap over the campaign polls is more than just inside baseball. It is symptomatic of a larger phenomenon that could affect the American political, media, and marketing worlds in the years ahead.
At stake is the validity of polling as we know it, in which polling firms contact 250 to 500 respondents by telephone on a given night and ask them about their voting, shopping, or entertainment habits. Candidates, corporations and advertising agencies all rely on such random sampling to tell them what the public thinks.
Part of the challenge is technical: The increased number of voters who have caller ID, computer modems, and similar devices in their homes has made the polling business more complex, costly and difficult than ever. It used to take Republican pollster Frank Luntz three phone calls, on average, to reach a respondent. Now it takes six.
But there have been attitudinal changes as well. At the same time that they are tying up their phone lines with new equipment, Americans are showing growing impatience with intrusive telemarketers who want to sell them on long-distance service, a hot stock or a local charity. A call from a polling organization is not much more welcome.
Polls are no longer a novelty. People who might once have been flattered to be interviewed by a big news organization now see it as an imposition, especially at the end of a long, busy workday.
And so pollsters are getting more busy signals, recorded messages, and abrupt (and sometimes rude) goodbyes.
Regional differences further complicate the problem. A Midwestern state like Missouri or Iowa, for example, is a pollster's dream: Folks get in from the farm or factory at suppertime, join their families for dinner and show a native politeness to callers.
Texas is more difficult, notorious for its huge number of telephone answering machines. And New York is a nightmare. Known for being blunt if not downright surly, many New Yorkers work past dark, have a long commute and arrive home later each night, giving pollsters a narrow window to catch them before bedtime. On the three coasts, the number of non-English-speaking people only increases the difficulty of building a good sample.
As they grapple with such changes, pollsters are arguing about methodology. Democratic pollster Peter Hart, for instance, surveys registered voters until the final weeks of a campaign, when interest in the race peaks and he can better determine who are the highly prized "likely voters."
Goeas, on the other hand, thinks it is better to screen for the "likely voters" earlier in the race, particularly by discounting younger voters, who tend not to follow through on their intent to vote, and people who register in "motor-voter" drives, then don't show up on Election Day.
Though 60 percent of young voters tell pollsters that they intend to vote, only 33 percent cast a ballot, said Goeas. "By allowing more of those young voters into your sample you are going to see more volatility."
Goeas prefers to poll only on weeknights, because busy suburban families are more likely to be out of the house on weekends, tilting weekend results toward the Democrats.
"On weekends you get a more Democratic, blue-collar sample. You are under-reporting Republicans, especially married voters," said Goeas. "Quite frankly, a mother who will take 20 minutes on a weekend to talk to a pollster is not a normal person."
When Zogby took the temperature of the New York Senate race recently, he found Hillary Clinton leading Representative Rick Lazio 48 to 44 percent with a whopping 71 to 23 percent advantage among an important minority that always turns out at the polls: New York's Jewish voters.
But Goeas challenged the accuracy of the poll because Zogby did his polling over the Rosh Hashana weekend, the Jewish New Year. The Republican pollster claimed that the most Orthodox Jewish voters -- cultural conservatives who were more likely to vote Republican -- were observing the High Holy Days and unlikely to respond to a pollster's phone calls.
Because Orthodox Jews were underrepresented, Goeas asserted, the Zogby results must be skewed, and Lazio is in better shape than he seems.
Not so, said Zogby: His firm had made adjustments in its methodology to correct for Rosh Hashana. It is Goeas whose polls are out of kilter for refusing to poll on weekends, when Democrats are more likely to be home, Zogby said.
"I've also heard you don't poll in East Texas on Wednesdays because everyone is at the Assembly of God Church. And that you don't call Manhattan in July because everyone is in the Hamptons," Zogby said, dismissing Goeas's theory with a chuckle. "I put not polling on Rosh Hashana in that category."
Given time and money, said Zogby, pollsters have shown great skill at compensating for regional, technical, and attitudinal changes.
"Has it made it impossible to do our job? No," he said. "You can overcome these difficulties. We are not in a crisis situation."
Still, not every client has time and money to spend on a thorough survey. To feed the voracious demand of the media, some polling firms are rushing into the field on a tight budget, relying on smaller or poorly screened samples and sacrificing accuracy, said Luntz, the GOP pollster.
The media, always looking for the most dramatic results, then compound the problem by hyping the polls that show the widest margins or shifts of opinion, instead of averaging the various polls to find a norm.
"The use of polls in this election cycle is completely and totally out of control," Luntz said.
The closeness of this year's presidential race, says Hart, has served to magnify the differences among the polls.
Even the best poll has a 3- to 5-point margin of error, Hart noted. So a poll giving Bush a 2- or 3-point lead can be just as accurate as another poll giving Gore a 2- or 3-point lead the very same night. Declaring that either candidate has seized momentum on the basis of one night's tracking is foolhardy, said Hart, who warned the public: "Don't fall into that trap."
Goeas noted there were also wide disparities among the polls during the 1996 campaign, but they weren't as noticeable because they all agreed on the overall trend: Bill Clinton was running well ahead of Republican Bob Dole.
In the 2000 campaign, the trend is that Gore and Bush are running neck and neck. A swing of a few points can put one or another in the lead -- changing the face of the race -- and so differences are magnified.
The good news is that, as voters reach decisions and pollsters identify and question "likely" voters, "it all becomes more reliable as you move toward the election," Goeas said.
Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company The New York Times View Related Topics September 28, 2000, Thursday, Late Edition - Final SECTION: Section A; Page 27; Column 1; Editorial Desk LENGTH: 724 words HEADLINE: Essay; The Wild Poll Pendulum BYLINE: By WILLIAM SAFIRE DATELINE: WASHINGTON BODY: Are you getting the feeling, as I am, that we are being jerked around by wildly swinging poll numbers? Pre-conventions, George W. Bush led by 17 points; post-conventions, Al Gore took the lead. Last week most major polls had Gore breezing to victory; this week, it's Bush edging him out. With every swing of the poll pendulum, media coverage changes to savage the front-runner. Similarly, whoever is in "free fall" can do nothing right -- until a "surge" by the formerly collapsing campaign restores smugness at headquarters. Is the American majority really switching every few days? Did Gore's Kiss change tens of millions of minds? This week The Washington Times headlined "Bush Surges Ahead of Gore After Chats With Oprah and Regis." Was a 13-point lead in the previous, wacky, Newsweek poll really all but erased by a Bush counter smooch on Oprah's cheek? No. The reasons for the unprecedented swings, and for the reporting that further exaggerates the swings, are (1) the pressured pollution of the public opinion polls, and (2) the horse-race media's hyping of polls as predictors of voting behavior. Have you noticed, in all the breathless reports of poll results as if they were reflections of coming reality, the disappearance of a category that used to be called "the undecideds"? If one of the candidates is reported leading by 44 percent to 42, that means 14 percent are determinedly undecided or pulling for splinter parties. And that is after "pushing." Because client news organizations in hot competition demand a hard answer to "who's winning?" the pressure is on pollsters not to take "I dunno" for an answer. The pollster pushes: "Which candidate do you lean toward today?" If the interviewee had just been impressed by a powderpuff TV interview, he or she will reluctantly "lean" toward whoever seems hotter on the Internet or in cable talk or whose name is more familiar. The poll then counts that person as taking a side. Next day, the same type of person's soft leaning could easily switch and would appear as a change of mind. It is not; what is reported as a "surge" is merely a sample of wavering out loud. Another reason for the seeming voter volatility is the social unacceptability of appearing uninformed. Many people who are unwilling to commit before the debates toss out a name to avoid appearing apathetic or unpatriotic. Sometimes pollsters will assuage their media clients' demands for results by means of allocation. If one candidate is ahead in a poll by 45 percent to 40, and 15 percent haven't made up their minds, a poll may allocate the uncommitted on the ratio of decided respondents, thereby exaggerating the front-runner's lead. The word "respondent" sends shudders through the nose-counting community. The dirty secret of political surveys is this: As recently as 1984, the response rate to pollsters' questioning was 65 percent; that is, two out of three people reached would answer. Pollster friends whisper to me that the response rate is now down to 35 percent. (Two out of three pollsters I called went mum or hung up on me, thus validating this reported figure in my mind, which never leaves margin for error.) What does this remarkable response refusal tell us? It means that two out of three Americans are guarding their privacy with answering machines or Caller ID, or are telling pollsters to "stop bothering me at dinnertime." Also, because we suspect that a response puts our private opinions on a telemarketer's data base, we are now much less likely to cooperate with pollsters. The one-third of potential interviewees who do respond are either the aforementioned pushables or people eager to make their views known: partisans, activists and the committed. Together, these are not representative of all likely voters and ignore the widespread indecision. All major polls in the 1996 election underestimated support for Bob Dole, the New York Times/CBS poll by 7 percent, affecting media coverage and voter turnout. Only the maverick, Zogby/Reuter, came in on the money. So I called John Zogby and laid on him my irate view of the abuse of polling. He in turn gave me this insight: "Since 1998, we have evidence that voters are more likely to reject the views of all pundits." Why do I need to know that? "If you want to help Bush -- attack him." http://www.nytimes.com LOAD-DATE: September 28, 2000
Tuesday, September 03, 2002
"God, help us! Help us right now!"
Dramatic rescue from Coppermine house fire
Northern News Services
By Nathan VanderKlippe
Coppermine (Sep 02/02) - Robert Ayalik was outside his house Friday evening when
a neighbour came by with startling news: a house down the street was spewing
Ayalik walked over to see what was happening. Smoke was coming out of Roy
Havioyak's house. Sitting on the steps to the house was Havioyak's wife, Alice
Kokak, covered in soot and grime.
She was rocking back and forth, saying, "Roy's in there, Roy's in
Flames began to erupt from the front porch of the house.
Knowing Havioyak's chances of surviving for long inside the house were slim,
Ayalik entered through a side door where it wasn't so smoky.
He called out and heard a weak voice calling back from the kitchen.
"I'm here," said Havioyak.
Ayalik took a deep breath and began crawling through the black clouds. Unable to
see more than a few inches, he bumped into household items as he went through
the burning home.
By chance he stumbled upon Havioyak and tried to drag him from the kitchen while
still crawling, but couldn't muster the power to move him far.
Out of oxygen, Ayalik put his nose to the floor and inhaled a chestful of smoky
air. Then he stood up and dragged Havioyak, who was now unconscious. He wasn't
certain he could find the way out.
"Given that there was so much smoke and everything, I had my eyes
closed," said Ayalik. "I was bumping into the walls. That was scary.
Then I found my way out to the entrance that I had entered through."
Teetering on the edge of consciousness himself, Ayalik dropped Havioyak on the
Ayalik's mother Alice, who had also arrived at the scene, noticed that Havioyak
had stopped breathing, and began pumping his chest.
Fearful that he might die under her watch, she began praying in a loud voice.
"God, help us! Help us right now! Help us immediately!" she yelled in
In the meantime, Robert Ayalik had regained his senses enough to begin
Soon after, Havioyak began breathing again. By this time - around 6:45 p.m. -
fire crews had begun arriving with two pumpers and two water trucks, each
carrying about 2,000 gallons of water. In total, about 20 men helped work on the
fire, which was under control within about 15 minutes.
Havioyak was taken to the health centre for treatment of smoke inhalation.
Ayalik took a shower to clean off the soot, then joined Havioyak at the health
"They were lucky to save the house," said Edward Dupont, the fire
chief. "The fire was very intense when we got there."
Havioyak is reported to be in good condition now. Ayalik said he doesn't feel
like a hero for saving his neighbour.
"I'm humbled that I was able to be used this way to pull out Roy," he
said. "And I'm sure other people would have done the same thing if I wasn't
According to Dupont, Havioyak had been in the front porch earlier that evening,
drinking and heating knives on a hot plate. But the hot plate was left
unattended, and the resulting blaze caused about $65,000 in damage to the house.