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Invite for February 2004 MAGIC Party
PASSWORD: Jacques D'Amboise

Yes folks, this is the 3-year anniversary of the purebred party. Dangit. Come on by and celebrate. And dance like a mofo.

Some of you may not be familiar with Jacques D'Amboise, but you must become acquainted since he was somewhat of a hero in the NYC Public School system in the 70s and 80s. Born Joseph Jacques Ahearn in 1934, Jacques was a principal dancer with the NYC Ballet for many years, and in 1976 founded the National Dance Institute, a non-profit organization established to bring dance into NYC public schools. Fifth and sixth graders in public schools throughout the city got to audition to be part of his troupe. At my school, PS 59, we auditioned in the "Multi-Purpose Room" (cafeteria, gymnasium, after school program facility, indoor recess hang - gotta love public school amenities). The extra coordinated lads and lassies were part of his SWAT team, and all dancing students got to perform a final modern dance project at Madison Square Garden's Felt Forum. In 1983, the performance starred Mary Tyler Moore in the role of a police officer (I played a dancing rat). "He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin," a 1984 film documenting Jacques' work with National Dance Institute, earned an Academy Award, six Emmy Awards, an Association Award for the Advancement of Learning Through Broadcasting, and a heap more.

So Jacques D'Amboise was clearly a Francophile, changing his name like that. It's cool. Lots of French things are cool - Freedom fries, berets, garlicky and buttery snails, and my personal favorite, after really stinky French cheese, "La Liberté Éclairant le Monde" or "Liberty Enlightening the World, " the official name given to the Statue the Liberty by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi.

Our favorite green lady is in trouble - she's been closed since September 11th, for security reasons, and needs 5 million bucks to upgrade fire and emergency systems, create additional exits, etc. Liberty Island is open, but you can't crawl into that big hunk of copper like you used to, or sit on her 25-foot long sandal (that's U.S. women's size 879). A bunch of big wigs have donated over $3 million, Martin Scorsese just made a documentary, and Naomi Judd sang at a fundraiser, but they're trying to find more money, by individual donations and newspapers like the Daily News are asking people to give. This scenario is incredibly reminiscent of a century ago, when both NYC and France reached out to the public to help fund the construction of this Amazonian lady.

The statue was a gift from France to commemorate the centennial of the Declaration of Independence in 1876. It was a joint effort between the two countries - Americans would build the pedestal and the French would build the statue. Bartholdi designed the sculpture, which he modeled after his mother. Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) designed Lady Liberty's skeleton - four huge iron columns that support a metal framework holding the thin copper skin. The statue is actually covered in 300 sheets of copper, 3/32 of an inch thick, hammered into different shapes and riveted together.

Bartholdi began by creating the statue's right arm and torch, which were exhibited at Philadelphia's Centennial Exposition in 1876. In 1877, the 42-foot-high sculpture was moved to NYC and displayed in Madison Square Park to get people excited about the endeavor and to encourage donations for the construction of the pedestal. The arm and torch remained in the park for about seven years. In France, the completed head and shoulders of the statue were also displayed to raise money. In addition, the U.S. solicited contributions, and used art and theater benefits, auctions, and prizefights to help fund the project. But it was the efforts of Joseph Pulitzer (of the Pulitzer Prize) that generated the most money; Pulitzer used his newspaper, "The World" to criticize the public for not stepping up to the plate. His tactic worked and Americans were moved to donate more than $100,000.

Meanwhile, the Statue was completed in France and arrived in NYC in 1885 in 350 pieces. The re-assembly took four months and the Statue was placed upon a granite pedestal inside the courtyard of Fort Wood (originally made for the War of 1812) on Bedloe's Island, which in 1956 became Liberty Island. On October 28th 1886, ten years after the centennial, President Grover Cleveland unveiled and dedicated the Statue of Liberty. In 1903, Emma Lazarus' poem, "The New Colossus" - "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" - was inscribed on a bronze tablet laid in the statue's pedestal.

In 1972, the National Parks Service opened the American Museum of Immigration on Liberty Island. In 1982, fundraising began for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island. In 1984, the United Nations designated the Statue of Liberty as a World Heritage Site. Over $150 million was contributed between 1984 and 1986 and on July 5, 1986 the newly restored Statue celebrated her 100th birthday by reopening to the public.

Stuff about the Statue:

  • The lighting in the Statue's torch is equivalent to 2,500 times the effect of full moonlight
  • The seven rays of the Statue's crown represent the seven seas and continents
  • Winds of 50 miles per hour cause the Statue to sway 3 inches and the torch to sway 5 inches
  • One must climb 354 steps to reach the crown (but they can't do it until you fork over all cash hidden under your mattress)
  • The total weight of copper in the Statue is 62,000 pounds and the total weight of steel in the Statue is 250,000 pounds
  • Height from base to torch: 151'1"
  • Height from pedestal foundation to tip of torch: 305'1"
  • Length of hand: 16'5"
  • Length of nose: 4'6"
  • Length of right arm: 42'
  • Thickness of waist: 35'
  • Width of mouth: 3'

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