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Invite for November 2004 Party

You Better Vote November MAGIC
PASSWORD: Reggie Bar

This is a very important MAGIC GARDEN - y'see, it's almost Election Day and it will be an extremely celebratory and thought provoking evening. Come to toast change ­ not only in the form of the new MAGIC GARDEN location, the humbling of the Yankees, but you know what. And so before November, let us give praise to Mr. October himself, former Yankee Reggie Jackson and his delicious confection - the Reggie Bar. Mmmmmm good. I used to get them from the vending machine at the YMCA day camp.

Reginald Martinez Jackson earned the nickname "Mr. October" for his World Series heroics with both the A's and the Yankees. Reggie Jackson was the first player in major league history to amass 100 or more home runs for three different clubs: the Athletics, Yankees, and Angels. He was the American League MVP in 1973 and the only player to be named MVP in two World Series. Reggie was one of only two players to ever hit three home runs in a World Series game; Babe Ruth was the other.

In 1978, the NYC-based food company Standard Brands launched the Reggie! Bar. 25 cents. Orange wrapper featuring Reggie swinging. Chocolatey, peanuty, corn syrupy goodness. At the April 13, 1978 opening game at Yankee Stadium, every attendee received a Reggie! Bar. When Jackson hit a three-run homer in the first inning, fans tossed hundreds of bars onto the field. The game stopped until the ground crew cleared the field. The Reggie! Bar didn't fare well outside New York, and was discontinued in 1980, the year before Reggie moved on to the California Angels. But the idea of releasing limited-edition candybars in star players' hometowns caught on with marketing people everywhere. Of course, NYC is the trendsetter for the nation. And the galaxy.

Reggie appeared as himself on the following TV shows: The Love Boat, Archie Bunker's Place, Mr. Belvedere (highly underrated program), MacGyver, Blossom, and Suddenly Susan.

Reggie Jackson currently co-owns a sports memorabilia company, which produces his "Mr. Octobears" stuffed animals.

Speaking of overly sweet treats, students at Whittier Elementary in Waukesha, WI determined that it takes an average of nine minutes to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop. In related news, a group of engineering students from Purdue University recorded that their licking machine, modeled after a human tongue, took an average of 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

The licking machine and Tuesday's election mean only one thing (keep it clean) - machine politics. Graft, greed and corruption led to the rise and demise of the epicenter of machine politics - Tammany Hall. You've heard of Tammany Hall, sounds sort of like a Channel J name, but what is it? The Society of St. Tammany was a social and political organization formed in 1788 as a response to the city's most elite and exclusive clubs. Although ultimately controlled by wealthy men, Tammany attracted the support of the working classes and the immigrant population. Hmmm, sounds familiar. Most of its members were Irish-American craftsmen. It was named for Tamanend, a noted Delaware Indian Chief, and members used Indian insignia and titles ­ the lowest members were braves, the council members were sachems, the headquarters were wigwams. Tammany Hall dominated NYC politics from the mayoral victory of Fernando Wood in 1854 through the election of Fiorello H. LaGuardia in 1934.

In the early nineteenth century, Tammany supported progressive politics and opposed anti-Catholic and nativist movements. Throughout the 1830s and 1840s, Tammany expanded its political control by earning the loyalty of the many newly arriving immigrants; it helped newcomers in finding jobs, places to live, and quickly obtaining citizenship so that they would vote for Tammany candidates. (Rent "Gangs of NY" for more info.)

By the 1850s Tammany Hall became famous for taking bribes, giving city contracts to members, and stealing funds from the city treasury. In 1854 Fernando Wood became the first Tammany Democrat mayor of NYC. In 1863 former firefighter and chairmaker William Marcy "Boss" Tweed was elected to lead the general committee. During his political reign, he served as a lawyer, county supervisor, state senator, commissioner of public works, and became one of the most famous crooks in NYC history. (Please help bring the word "crook" back into everyday use.) He purchased a printing company, which became the city's official printer as well as a stationers outfit, which sold supplies to the city at heavily inflated prices. He used his law practice to extort money that was disguised as legal fees for various services rendered. Tweed used real estate to invest his millions of dollars from crafty business practices, and by the late 1860s he was one of the city's largest landowners. To cover up his scheming, he worked with the municipal government to create more orphanages, public baths and almshouses, and helped set up the Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital. Tweed also improved water supplies, sewage disposal and city streets. His influence helped to create landmarks like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History and the Brooklyn Bridge. He was instrumental in passing a new charter for the city for a Board of Audit, which was run by "the Tweed Ring." The Board supervised all city and county expenditures. Clever. From 1869-1871, the city's debt tripled to $81 million but Tweed's tweed pockets were overflowing.

In 1871 a series of cartoons by Thomas Nast and a New York Times article exposed the frauds of the Tweed Ring. The people who had been hired to build the city's new "Tweed Courthouse," known as the "Forty Thieves," were stealing enormous amounts of money. Using the construction of the courthouse as a pretext to embezzle millions of dollars, Tweed became one of the wealthiest New Yorkers of his time. Presenting inflated bills to the city for construction costs, Tweed was able to pocket municipal funds for himself and members of the ring. For example, Andrew Garvey, a plasterer and Tammany member, received $133,187 for two days' work on the courthouse. The courthouse cost over $13 million, which was more than twice what the United States paid for Alaska four years before. Tweed was arrested in October 1871 and convicted on 204 of 220 criminal counts, fined $12,750 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He escaped from jail twice, and the second time he got as far as Spain, but it is rumored that he was caught when police recognized his face from Nast's drawings. Tweed was tried in an unfinished courtroom in his own courthouse. It is estimated that the Tweed Ring illegally gained between 30 and 200 million dollars but Tweed died penniless in jail in 1878. The mayor refused to fly the City Hall flag at half-mast. The Tweed Courthouse at 52 Chambers Street now houses some Board of Ed offices. Tours are given on Fridays at 3pm, by appointment only. Call 311 for details.

After Tweed, John Kelly took control of Tammany Hall, creating a much needed system of management. Unpaid precinct captains were appointed to specific neighborhoods to make sure everyone had work, a place to live and no problems with the law, and to assure that the residents voted. YOU BETTER VOTE ON TUESDAY. Tammany continued to support progressive labor laws, opposed Prohibition and censorship, and survived from the collections of money and kickbacks into the 1930s. In 1932 Tammany suffered a major setback when Mayor James Walker was forced from office after investigations of civic corruption. At the same time, FDR was elected president and the New Deal restrictions on immigration made people less dependent on Tammany for jobs and assistance. (In 1933, FDR declared that "Home on the Range" was his favorite song. George W. Bush says "Wake Up Little Susie" is his favorite.) The election of Fiorello LaGuardia removed the City Hall from Tammany's control.

LaGuardia held court for twelve years and then Carmine De Sapio, the new head of Tammany, became increasingly influential. De Sapio's control ended when Robert F. Wagner Jr., leader of the anti-Tammany movement, was elected mayor. By the 1960s Tammany was no longer a major political force in the city.

The Tammany name is still used today to indicate political corruption. The last Tammany Hall building was at 17th and Union Square and now houses the Union Square Theater, where I saw "Batboy."

Theater? TV? Reality shows? One of the MAGIC GARDENERS is casting a new reality TV show ­ check the classifieds section of for details.

The arts? The MAGIC GARDEN's Be Nice Campaign, which supports a different cause/charity/fund each month, will be collecting for the Battery Dance Company (BDC). BDC is an internationally renowned lower Manhattan based arts organization that gives back to NYC through its Arts-in-Education program in the public schools, and its dedication to the availability of the Arts for everyone. It produces the Downtown Dance Festival each August.

When you donate, you will not only be supporting a worthy cause, but you will also have a chance to win fabulous prizes. This month's fund brought to you by Dina Strachan (from the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan), who is a board member of the BDC. Dina is also a board-certified dermatologist with offices in Soho and Harlem.

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