Only In New York: Justice, Hollywood-style

CELEBRITIES these days are thrusting themselves into legal cases where they believe they see injustice. Busloads of them, including Woody Harrelson and Gloria Steinem, have joined the campaign to free Mumia Abu- Jamal, probably America's most famous Death Row inmate, whose execution date for killing a Philadelphia policeman is less than two weeks away. This week, meanwhile, should see the release from an upstate New York prison of Precious Bedell, sentenced to life in 1980 for crushing the skull of her two-year-old daughter in a restaurant toilet. If, as expected, Bedell's sentence is reduced and she walks free, she will have Glenn Close to thank. Close has been lobbying for her release for eight years. Not everyone is cheering, though. "Glenn Close should hang her head in shame", blared the New York Post yesterday.

I HAVE SOME sympathy with Victor Botnick, a one-time chief of the New York public hospital system, who was charged last Thursday with "interfering with the performance of a flight crew". Prosecutors allege that Botnick twice let off stink bombs beneath his first class seat on board a TWA aircraft travelling between New York and Paris. The first time was during the take-off of a Boeing 767 at Charles De Gaulle airport on 1 August last year. The stench was so bad, the plane had to return to the gate. All passengers and crew, their eyes watering, were evacuated and the flight was cancelled. Botnick is charged with repeating the prank on New York to Paris flight eight days later. Botnick evidently was displeased with TWA, something to do with botched reservations to Paris for his son's bar mitzvah.

I too have had my moments with TWA. The day I finally lost patience - the issue was missed connections in St Louis - I happened also to be travelling in first class. Having no stink bombs to hand, I simply drank too much wine and bored the poor woman next to me about my hatred for the airline. She listened politely. It was only after we had landed at La Guardia that she introduced me to the captain emerging through the cockpit door. He was a vice-president of TWA - and her husband.

I WILL remember interviewing Quentin Crisp last week, at his favourite Lower East Side diner, for a long time. They will be missing him now, where everyone knew his eating habits. We were mid-way through our interview when suddenly he raised his hand to point to the heavens. "Look, look at that," he said. "What is it?" The sky was brilliant blue and there, high above Manhattan, a message was being written out in white vapour. What was this aircraft trying to communicate? First it drew a large, fluffy, circle, then another. Finally, it puffed out an 'L'. There was no mistaking it, the plane had spelled out "LOO". What on earth? It was only as the pair of us began the very slow walk from the diner to the rooming house where Crisp lived that we saw the message being written out again. This time, it was to the south of us, rather than to the north, and we were looking at it the right way up. "Ah," I explained to Crisp. "007!" He remained puzzled. Had Crisp returned safely from his final trip to the UK, I doubt that going to watch Pierce Brosnan in The World is Not Enough would have been top of his list.

WE WERE a curious mix at the Four Seasons Restaurant last Tuesday for the first in a series of monthly breakfasts to be hosted by Harry Evans, perhaps the second most famous British expatriate in New York after his wife, Tina Brown. This is a familiar rite to those of us who remember the literary breakfasts he used to give until his abrupt exit two years ago from Random House. As we slurped melon slices, he charmed his panel of esteemed experts into telling us why America is crippled by a Congress with no interest in the common good and by an ignorant press. It was fun to watch Leona Helmsley, landlady of swathes of Manhattan, entering the room and calculating where she should sit. She found a space just behind Mort Zuckerman, owner of US News and World Report, and the sponsor of the breakfasts. The event was being filmed and clearly the cameras would be trained on Zuckerman and anyone close by for a part of the time. And Helmsley had something to show off - a 40-carat yellow diamond brooch.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits