Monday, December 24, 2012

While I Tell of Yuletide Treasure

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This time of year is filled with seasonal traditions involving studies in contrasts by which we better know and appreciate the opposites that otherwise might not claim our attention.  The time of the winter solstice, the darkest time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere is when many of us practice lighting lights to sparkle in the deeper dark of the early evenings and extra-long nights to cheer ourselves with a celebration of human closeness just when the gloom and drear is most profound.  And the coming of the shortest day of the year is when we rejoice that from here on the days will be lengthening.*
(* The solstice this winter is extra special in that when it arrived at 6:12 A.M.on December 21st it was the earliest arrival of the winter solstice since 1896, 116 years earlier and just beyond the fringe of when almost any living human now alive was first  alive.  The solstice arrived on the portentous and numerically odd date of12/21/12, which was also the date that the Mayans ended their 5,125-year long-count calendar, causing some to predict it would be a day of world-ending apocalypse.)
This time of year is also a time when we fixate on the bunching up of wealth and treasure, combining it with a concentrated reverence for the importance of giving.  We save up all our shopping, to run out on or after “Black Friday” to make this time we give while giving less the rest of the year.  Our holiday stories are also about studies in contrast having to do with the bunching up of the “Yuletide Treasure” that we sing about in in “Deck The Halls”: Dickens’ Scrooge is a miser who for years collects wealth by the sharp moves he makes at the expense of others (later with a change of heart he is able to be freely generous with that same accumulated wealth), Theodore Geisel (Dr. Suess) envisioned the mean-spirited Grinch, a reverse-Santa Claus, who, intending to steal them, collected up in the sack on his back all the presents the entire community had intended for each other (later with a change of heart he is almost like a real Santa Clause by simply being able to return to the community what was theirs to begin with), and then there is the magical fable of “It’s a Wonderful Life” where the villain (who never has a change of heart in the story) is the mean Mr. Potter whose goal (realized in one of the film’s two competing alternate realities) is to own everything in the community so that if anyone wants a job or the comfort of an inviting home they have to come “crawling” to beg from him.

Noticing New York’s seasonal tradition has been to run annual reminders of how closely the “It’s a Wonderful Life” fable parallels the very real facts about the way that Bruce Ratner and his Forest City Ratner company have been assisted by government with atrociously deep subsidies and abuse of eminent domain to acquire a mega-monopoly in Brooklyn at everyone else’s expense. It is exactly the kind of study in contrasts on which we fixate at this time of year.

Much has been made of, and the media has been preoccupied since this Fall with, the brunched-up wealth and glitter of the Ratner/Prokhorov “Barclays” arena.  I wrote about this way: 
There are certainly those who look upon the “Barclays” Center and see impressive value there;  They crow about the spectacle of its glitter. A frequently used metaphor for a glittering and startling concentration of wealth piled up in one place is that of the treasure chest.  Some people who make proclamations about  what Brooklyn has gained with the “Barclays” Center, people like Ratner, Prokhorov, Bloomberg, Markowitz, and Charlie Rose gloat over the arena's glitter.  I see what they are gloating over as representing much the same thing as a treasure chest.  Like a treasure chest, the “Barclays” Center undeniably gleams with heaps of accumulated value.  But the “Barclays” Center, like those fictional fairytale treasure chests, comes by its impressive heaped up gleam because it is an accumulation of pirate booty, illegally seized and hoarded.

 All that piled-up wealth represents the brooches and necklaces that are not out in the community being worn as adorning ornament by the ladies, it’s the candlesticks and silver that are not festooning local dinner tables, it represents the gold that is not circulating through and enriching the general commerce of the community.  It also represents the cost of the fear, violence and suffering when that wealth was wrested from its original owners at sword point or with the discharge of blunderbusses.

    * * * *
The thing to remember is that the revelry around the glint and gleam of the “Barclays” Center is, at its core, a celebration of an immense and unforgivable transfer of wealth from the local community to a force of marauders.
(See: Wednesday, October 10, 2012, Weighing The Change In Brooklyn: The True Cost Of “Barclays” Center Glitter, The Cost Of “Barclays” Center Tickets.)

And, in contrast to all that bunched-up wealth there are the vast seized acres, there are the empty and underutilized parking lots that lie at the back of the arena, there are the nearby homes where the sound of the arena's bass penetrates in.  In “It’s a Wonderful Life” Mr. Potter always had a glamorous mansion, perhaps even more so, after seizing the bulk of the town: The question was whether it was worth having to crawl to him and beg for a job from him when he was the only game in town.
More fence going up around Ratner's superblock
Partial view of the very long fence around Ratner superblock now mostly used for parking
What is the glamorous glitter worth when Barbra Streisand plays Ratner’s arena but the public is highly subsidizing her performances to the turn of perhaps $700,000?  That is just the Grinch giving back what was the community’s in the first place.  It is actually worse because when the Grinch gave back the stolen presents he gave back everything totally and freely, relinquishing all claim.  When Ratner invites people into the “Barclays” Center he is like Mr. Potter, charging $4.50 for water that would have been free with the music at Freddy’s Bar, just one of the parts of the neighborhood removed as part of Ratner’s taking spree.  In the end the glitter of how much richer Ratner has become is, like in all the other traditional tales of the season, just a measure and metaphor for the off-screen impoverishment of the community.

The "Barclays" Center advertising oculus showing Barbra Streisand, one of the singers who has not answered an open letter from the community questioning why she was performing at the Ratner/Prokhorov arena 
Here are past Noticing New York stories that probe the “It’s a Wonderful Life” parallels in greater depth.  Just one last thought. . .In the end all these tales have the same moral: It isn’t about bunched-up wealth.  That isn’t what has value.  The value of life is all about sharing and people in the community mutually supporting each other with real giving.

Happy holidays to all.
 •    Saturday, December 24, 2011, Traditional Christmas Eve Revisit of a Classic Seasonal Tale: Ratnerville, the Real Life Incarnation of the Abhorred Pottersville
•    Friday, December 24, 2010, Revisiting a Classic Seasonal Tale: Ratnerville

•    Thursday, December 24, 2009, A Christmas Eve Story of Alternative Realities: The Fight Not To Go To Pottersville (Or Ratnerville)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why Atlantic Yards Outrage And Examination Is Important- A Reminder Presents Itself By Taking A Look At The City And State Power Structure

Bruce Ratner, from City & State's list of the 100 most powerful people in New York City- Where on the list does he belong?  Read on.
Readers might sometimes ask, as I often ask myself, why do I write so much about Atlantic Yards? Noticing New York was not created like Atlantic Yards Report for the exclusive purpose of covering the Atlantic Yards story. It was created to write about development in New York City and associated politics, the ways in which the city is shaping itself as a place to live.

Nor was Noticing New York created with a conscious intent to just carp about what I am critical of.  I’d be writing more often (as was my original intention) about those things that can be praised if I saw them as comparatively more important.   (Often I do praise forms of development unfolding naturally in the city but do so in the context of pointing out what the real estate industry is doing to thwart or undermine such progress.)  My goal has been to prioritize, to write first about those things that most glaringly need to be pointed out and emphasized in the public dialogue.

I could be writing more often about some of the other things that I’ve written about, like the dismantling of Coney Island, Hudson Yards, the Columbia University takeover of West Harlem, how a hospital, St. Vincent’s, was transformed into a real estate project which was all that was left when the hospital then went bankrupt, or how the city is handling growing density. I could also write about things that I have not yet gotten around to writing about but ought to, such as the NYU expansion.

Some of these things like the shrinking of Coney Island and the NYU expansion, involve much more complicated narratives that therefore need to be written about; They also take much more work to do so.  (Those wanting to catch up a bit on the Coney Island story should try to see the documentary “Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride” by Amy Nicholson, about which I will have to get around to writing my own review.)

By contrast, the Atlantic Yards narrative is a stark one involving far fewer shades of gray with its developer-driven purpose of transferring more wealth and power to those in whom wealth and power is already concentrated, the cheating and dishonesty, poor urban design and the persistent perversions of process.  It embodies in stark relief virtually every highly objectionable form of conduct in which local public officials and the real estate industry engage that sap the quality of life in this city.

If people can’t understand the Atlantic Yards narrative there is little hope that the populace will understand what is needed in order for this city to be properly governed and to avoid an impoverishment of the city . . . but if they do understand Atlantic Yards, it becomes a prism through which to understand so much else  happening in this city that similarly needs to be addressed. But you have to start with the worst: If you can’t stop the worst excesses then everything else is up for grabs.

I offer all of the above as prologue to calling your attention to Norman Oder's Atlantic Yards Report story on City & State's publication of its list of  "the 100 most powerful people in New York City politics."
Mr. Oder points out, with itemizing information and analysis about 33 of those named, that fully one-third of the 100 individuals are critically intersected with the Atlantic Yards mega-project in one way or another. Mostly they intersect as supporters of the mega-monopoly.  Only a few intersect as possible opponents who have been neutralized (the latter group including State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who, having accepted money from Bruce Ratner, hasn't investigated Atlantic Yards despite the hopes he offered in that regard when running for his office).  See: Wednesday, December 05, 2012, The NYC Power 100 and Atlantic Yards: many intersections (and Ratner behind Markowitz?).

The remarkable thing is that Bruce Ratner, the developer/subsidy collector behind Atlantic Yards, is ranked as only the 59th most powerful individual on the list given all the ways Atlantic Yards is insidiously integrated into the New York power structure and is subserviently being supported by so many theoretically powerful individuals   Mr. Oder notes the anomaly that Bruce Ratner is ranked as less powerful than Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz (who is at #40), “AY's biggest cheerleader”, now a lame duck.  Whose payroll will Markowitz wind up on when he leaves office at the end of his expiring term?  Up till now he has been getting money from Ratner for his long-term favorite activity, concerts put on with a “not-for-profit” structure.

Putting aside any rationalizations that people might use to dress up their positions, Atlantic Yards, when honestly assessed, can only be evaluated as a boondoggle that's deeply destructive to the fabric of the city.  It is therefore frightening to think that so many of the city's power elite are aligned behind making it happen.  It can only be explained in one of two ways: Either Ratner is himself so powerful that those theoretically in power dare not oppose his mega-monopoly, or they will tolerate his personal mega-boondoggle because in a quid pro quo way they expect that their turn will come to similarly feed at the trough.  Which is it?  Neither would be good news.  I think that the extent to which one or other is true depends on the individuals at whom we are looking.

Mr. Oder identified Atlantic Yards interconnections for only 33 of the individuals on the list, including the obvious ones like Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  I think it is possible to add to those 33; in some cases that may involve stretching a bit further to identify the Atlantic Yards connections; in other cases it involves stretching not so very far at all.  I come up with a list that, with Mr. Oder's 33, tallies to 47, or nearly 50% of the entire list.  Further research could perhaps lengthen the list still more.

Here, in reverse order, working up from the bottom of City and State's list, are the additional names with my own observed connections in italics.  The unitalicized text is from City & State. (The first numbers appearing below are my rising tally toward 47):
34.    93. Diana Taylor- Girlfriend of Mayor Bloomberg and Managing Director, Wolfensohn & Co.  (Ms. Taylor, is not only Bloomberg's girlfriend, on the board of Brookfield Properties and on the board of Hudson River Park was connected with the removal of Occupy Wall Street from Zucotti Park, a milestone event when it comes to the privatizing of public space, which in turn makes the similar privatizing of public space that is part of Atlantic Yards comparatively acceptable.)
35.    92. Martin Golden- State Senator Golden is one of very few Republican state senators in the city and a close ally of Bloomberg and unions.  (And he conspicuously testified in support of Atlantic Yards at hearings.)
36.    67. Charles Meara- Chief of Staff to Council Speaker Quinn- The speaker’s longtime top aide was also chief of staff to Quinn’s predecessor.  (If Quinn is on Mr. Oder's list of intersections shouldn't her Cheif of Staff be on that list for the same reason?)
37.    44. Edward Koch- Former New York City Mayor and Partner, Bryan Cave LLC  (Koch was a mentor to First Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris- see below- before she left to work for Bloomberg in the private sector about the time that Bloomberg began to show his interest in politics, with a corresponding shooting up of his wealth.  Harris, first in the private sector and then working in Bloomberg's mayoral administration, oversees the handing out of charitable donations which are used to keep the recipients politically in line and behind Bloomberg.  Among other things this was used to procure Bloomberg a previously prohibited third term.  Thus Atlantic Yards continued.  For a more specific Atlantic Yards connection see the notes on Ms. Harris below.  Koch, supportive of Harris, has never publicly criticized her.)
  38.    36. Charles Rangel- U.S. Representative- Rangel’s power has been diminished in recent years in the wake of scandals, which lost him the chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, but he remains a leader in Harlem and the black community and demonstrated his continuing might by fending off a strong challenge this year. (Rangel lobbied for a special tax break for Yankee Stadium, was expected to lobby for housing bonds for Atlantic Yards and lobbied for the special federal tax loophole extension obtained for issuance of bonds for the Ratner/Prokhorov "Barclays" arena.
39.    34. Thomas DiNapoli, State Comptroller.  (DiNapoli has the power and obligation to investigate misconduct at state public authorities and has not exercised it with respect to the excess and improprieties respecting Atlantic Yards.  DiNapoli also do not insist, as he could have, that Atlantic Yards receive no state financing without a new approval of the altered mega-project by the Public Authorities Control Board, which approval his office must bless.)
40.    33. Cyrus Vance Jr.- Manhattan District Attorney  (While New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman would be the most appropriate to investigate Atlantic Yards this could also be done by Vance, although the fact that his jurisdiction is Manhattan means the required nexus for investigation is much reduced.)
41.    31. Patrick Foye- Executive Director, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey  (Foye was previously in charge of the Empire State Development Corporation, the state agency agency theoretically in charge of Atlantic Yards during an important period when it continued to advance.)
42.    26. Joseph Lhota- Chairman and CEO, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Lhota was recently interviewed and featured in a Daily News article about the opening of the so-called Barclays Center, supplying quotes that helped create the misimpression that Forest City Ratner was supplying the public with free subway station improvements.  As noted by Mr. Oder the Daily News is partnering with Ratner and Prokhorov in the arena.)
43.    25. William Rudin- Vice Chairman and CEO, Rudin Management Company  (Since Rudin- involved with the St. Vincent's debacle- is Vice Chair of the Real Estate Board of New York it must be noted that Atlantic Yards would not be proceeding without REBNY's support.  Mr. Oder notes, for instance, that Real Estate Board of NY President Steven Spinola, also on this list, is an AY supporter.  REBNY supported the specially preferential tax abatement legislation for the mega-project which Mr. Oder mentions when talking about Assemblyman and former Brooklyn Democratic Chair Vito Lopez, who is also on the list.)
44.    24. Bradley Tusk- Founder, Tusk Strategies- Tusk orchestrated Mayor Bloomberg’s path to a third term, and continues to serve as a key political adviser to the mayor, not to mention a host of top corporate clients like Walmart.  (Tusk, who Bloomberg hired away from disgraced Illinois Governor Ron Blagojevich, apparently never had good judgment when it came to advising his principals to stay away from special deals for insiders.  Is it a stretch to suspect that Mr. Tusk assists Atlantic Yards by allowing Bloomberg to feel comfortable occupying a world where benefits are handed out to big corporations o the basis of relationships?)
45.    21. Merryl Tisch- Chancellor, New York State Board of Regents- One of the state’s top education policymakers, Tisch has established herself as an independent, forceful voice on New York City’s schools. Tisch, who married into one of the city’s wealthiest families, has also flirted with a run for mayor.  (The Tisch family Ms. Tisch married into is the construction and real estate family.  She is married to James S. Tisch, President and Chief Executive Officer of Loews Corporation, who is involved in construction through the hotel chain. James Tisch is also on the board of the New York Federal Reserve with Kathy Wylde- also on the power list as an AY supporter- and Lee Bolinger, both of whom advocate abuse of eminent domain.  And Tisch, with his name on some Channel 13 PBS station buildings, is on the board of New York's Channel 13 that with Charlie Rose programs has propagandized for Atlantic Yards while refusing to broadcast critical documentaries about the megadevelopment like "Brooklyn Matters" or "Battle For Brooklyn."
46.    11. Rupert Murdoch- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, News Corporation  (Murdoch not only owns the New York Post, which has followed in the footsteps of the New York Times in giving Atlantic Yards a largely free pass from public scrutiny.  More important, at a key time he curtailed valuable coverage of Atlantic Yards at the local level by buying up the local papers, including the Brooklyn Paper which, when acquired by him, ceased the critical and insightful coverage of Atlantic Yards it had been providing.)    
47.    6. Patricia Harris- First Deputy Mayor  (Not only does Ms. Harris, as noted above, oversee the handing out of Bloomberg charity with political strings attached; she also oversees the city Landmarks Commission. All indications are that Ms. Harris had a hand in signing the death sentence for Ward Bakery- to clear the site for Ratner and improve the odds of approvals he needed- when she and Mayor Bloomberg met with Bruce Ratner in a meeting that bore evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement of contributions to Bloomberg charities in exchange for project approvals.)
If you haven't yet read Mr. Oder's Atlantic Yards Report article about the the intersections of the other 33 individuals on the list with Atlantic Yards I suggest you proceed to read it now so you will have the whole picture.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A New York Magazine “Best Bet”: The Brooklyn Museum Offers Its Love Of Brownstone Neighborhoods, The Savaging Of Which It Lauded

Left, Claudia Pearson illustrations featured in Brooklyn Museum gift shop.  Right, townhouses and Freddy's Bar torn down for Atlantic Yards- Click on any image to enlarge
During a ten-year stretch roughly coinciding with the Great Depression, Universal Studios gave us a golden era of monsters: Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933) and werewolves as in the Werewolf of London (1935) and The Wolf Man (1941).  You might also consider including The Phantom of the Opera with two principal release dates framing that decade (1925 for the original and a remake in 1943).  The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde films, with versions made in 1931 and 1941, although in a similar vein, was not from Universal, produced by two other studios, Paramount and MGM, respectively.

The fun thing about the monsters was that each came packaged with some hokum mythology not necessarily genuinely derived from classic source material.  It was useful if the framework of the mythology was also serviceable for setting up damsel-in-distress scenarios.  One such myth that served very well in this regard was the curse afflicting the cinema werewolves: That when they transformed they were compelled to try to kill the things they loved most.

Why was I thinking about this old horror film trope about werewolves?  Because, reading New York Magazine’s “Best Bets” column I discovered that the Brooklyn Museum is selling in its gift shop tea towels celebrating the charm of brownstone Brooklyn designed by illustrator Claudia Pearson.  According to New York Magazine, Ms. Pearson is “Clinton Hill–based” and “drew inspiration from her surroundings” when she designed these towels.  Presumably they are sold in the Brooklyn Museum in partial acknowledgment of the museum’s own  “Prospect Heights” address and by way of making a statement of its oneness with a community comprised of and valuing what is being depicted.
New York Magazine's "Best Bets" feature

Claudia Pearson tea towels from New York Magazine website
Rummaging around the internet I discovered that the Brooklyn Museum shop also sells a “Brooklyn Brownstone Mug” similarly designed by Ms. Pearson.
Claudia Pearson's Brooklyn Brownstone Mug
The not so humorous irony in all of this is that these same Brooklyn brownstone neighborhoods the museum is celebrating in its gift shop are beset by the prospect of some significant destruction and dismantling, with portions even being removed from the Brooklyn map altogether.  The vortex around which this destruction swirls is Atlantic Yards, the heavily subsidized corporatizing eminent domain takeover a significant swath of Brooklyn by which Forest City Ratner is increasing its mega-monpoly stranglehold on the borough’s assets.  Ms. Pearson’s Clinton Hill brownstone neighborhood, together with the Brooklyn Museum’s Prospect Heights brownstone neighborhood, both border the Atlantic Yards site footprint along with the other significant brownstone neighborhoods of Park Slope, Fort Greene and Boerum Hill.

Going to the Brooklyn Museum's gift shop online we see how prominently Ms. Pearson's brownstone Brooklyn work is being featured
For all its negative implications for these neighborhoods and for the rest of the city’s population, Atlantic Yards was something the Brooklyn Museum, itself, helped to promote and bring about when, with key approvals hanging in the balance without which the mega-project could not have proceeded, the Brooklyn Museum decided to give a special award honoring Bruce Ratner, the head of the Forest City Ratner, the developer/subsidy collection firm responsible for it.  In theory, the giving of the museum’s Augustus Graham award to Ratner was to signify that Ratner embodied, as a man, the praiseworthy attributes of community service and selflessness, something quite the opposite of what the Atlantic Yards project has truly been all about.

If the museum’s award honoring Ratner didn’t itself tip the balance toward Ratner’s obtaining the approvals needed, it certainly combined to exert influence with the things that did.   The museum’s award to Ratner was publicly protested (with Ratner being characterized as a “vampire” among other things) but the museum has never apologized to the communities of Brooklyn for what it did.  While the error of making the award should have been obvious at the time, that was before the mega-project significantly degenerated, and more and more underlying negative facts about it got publicly disclosed.  (Abbreviating the list: The mega-project is now receiving much more subsidy than before, its design has been cheapened, unions have been double-crossed, the passage of time steadily exposes the sham and folly of the community benefit agreement signing and endorsements, the time frame for its build-out will be decades- perhaps forty years- not the ten years first advertised.  And then there was the way that rightfully or wrongly Ratner skirted indictments when implicated in investigations.) . . .

. . . Notwithstanding that the negatives of the situation have become much more conspicuously abject, the Brooklyn Museum still has not issued an apology to the community or sought to reverse the travesty of its award to Ratner by reclaiming or renouncing it.

Is there a way that the effect of the museum now honoring brownstone Brooklyn could be more starkly startling?. . . . Ms. Pearson could design and the museum could sell in its gift shop, products (see below), tea towels and coffee mugs that depict Freddy’s Bar and Grill and the little nearby townhouses torn down to create the so-called “Barclays” arena and the now empty acres and parking lots Ratner owns around it.  Maybe that would also be more appropriate in that the museum, as with its dusty old linen-wrapped mummies, often focuses on educating the public about what was and is now no more.

Should the Brooklyn Brownstone mugs in the museum shop show townhouses in the process of demolition like the ones below?
The Tracy Collins photos above that appeared in Atlantic Yards Report show the demolition of Dean Street townhouses before it was clear the land would ever be used for the Ratner project.  Land on which they were sited is still vacant.
With an image of the now demolished 489 Dean Street derived from a Tracy Collins photograph, the kind of "Brownstone Brooklyn" coffee mugs the Brooklyn Museum could be selling
A Freddy's Bar Mug?
Tea towels that feature the buildings next to Freddy's that were torn down (from a Tracy Collins photograph)
If the Brooklyn Museum, set up as a charitable organization to serve the public, actually values Brooklyn and its brownstone neighborhoods, what was it that caused the lycanthropic transmogrification whereby it howled harmonizing tones of praise and support for Ratner as he wolfishly prepared to devour more of Brooklyn and its brownstone acres into his increasingly gargantuan government-supported mega-monopoly?  The elixir that brought about that transformation was money.  Despite what the museum’s Augustus Graham award is supposed to honor, Ratner was not honored for what he had done for the community: He was honored for the money he had given to the museum that had gotten his people placed on the museum’s board of trustees.

Sometimes the idea that one kills the thing one loves is explored as a concept with serious real ramifications that are to be studied.  Jane Jacobs, the great urbanist observer and thinker who wrote “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” explored in that book a sort of `killing the goose that laid the golden egg’ concern in an urban planning context: She wrote (p. 246*) that the benefits of a diverse economy can be killed off by a rush of businesses coming in to take advantage of an “enviable location” so that the “enviable location” thereby ceases to exist.  Or, alternatively, in another context, you can find theories that “killing the thing you love” is a beastly symptom of the alpha male urge to dominate at all costs.
(* “. . . .making the same mistakes as a family I know who bought an acre in the country on which to build a house. For many years, while they lacked the money to build, they visited the site regularly and picnicked on a knoll, the site’s most attractive feature. They liked so much to visualize themselves as always there, that when they finally built they put the house on the knoll. But then the knoll was gone. Somehow they had not realized they would destroy it and lose it by supplanting it with themselves.”)
The situation with the still unapologetic Brooklyn Museum is neither of these.  Although it’s a damsel-in-distress scenario with the public and Brooklyn’s brownstone neighborhoods in jeopardy and although the treacherous peril of this world becomes all the more frighteningly dangerous when that damsel’s self-proclaimed lover suddenly reveals a sinister face that is opposite to that mild and friendly one that has been shown before, the elixir that provokes that Jekyll and Hyde transformation here is simply money and there is no real magic or mystery to the transformation. It is simply the hypocrisy that money can so readily buy.