If Not for the Jazz...

RIOC's Unsettling Welcome the Welcome Sign Event

Updated 48 weeks ago David Stone
There are no words. Susan Rosenthal nestles under the Welcome Sign with Southtown Developer and Main Street Retail Manager David Kramer.
There are no words. Susan Rosenthal nestles under the Welcome Sign with Southtown Developer and Main Street Retail Manager David Kramer.
Roosevelt Island Daily thanks the Roosevelt Islander for this photo.

Is it possible that RIOC, the State agency that never makes a mistake, has lost the capacity to be embarrassed? That question came to mind after watching RIOC staff frolic as riders exiting the Tram curled away from them and their beloved RI Welcome Sign (or Monument), while live jazz added surreal pleasure to the event.

I arrived a half-hour after the Welcome the Welcome Sign event started, wanting to be around closer to the rush hour peak for Tram traffic, catch the maximum exposure.

RIOC got one couple to pose in the half-hour I stood by.
RIOC got one couple to pose in the half-hour I stood by.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

RIOC staff were on hand as was the usual cast of resident regulars, but the first thing that caught my eye was Roosevelt Islander publisher Rick O'Conor taking a picture of President/CEO Susan Rosenthal nestled with developer, Hudson's David Kramer, in a nook under the sign.

Is it normal for executives who oversee supposedly competitive contracts to nestle publicly with their vendors?

Or was the pair simply acting out, confirming a too close relationship many Islanders already suspected?

(Is it possible that Kramer's also lost the ability to be embarrassed? Earlier in the day, he was featured in a New York Post article questioning his too close for comfort relationship with a City executive while competing for a bid she supervised. Thanks, Sylvan Klein for the tip.)

A rose may be a rose from any angle, but a sign's not the same.
A rose may be a rose from any angle, but a sign's not the same.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

At the Historical Society's Visitor Kiosk, I talked with friends long enough for the sense of unreality - Did they really do that?- to clear my head, then returned for a video as the next Tram arrived.

Here's where I almost felt sorry for RIOC's staff, until on balance I remembered that empathy requires two-way traffic.

Watch as Alonza Robertson and Jessica Murray vainly try to lure arriving passengers into photo ops.

 

If a picture's worth a thousand words, what about a video?

Because the first wave of Tram passengers were universally, let's say, indifferent to the Welcome the Welcome Sign event, I decided to stick around for another. Maybe I just caught a bad group, maybe an over-crowded ride, maybe... whatever.

No.

The next scene was worse. Even the RIOC gang lost interest, chatting among themselves. If you watch closely, you can see Rosenthal waiting passively beside the Welcome Sign in the company of historian Judith Berdy who wants it moved as soon as physics allows. BDF (Best Developer Friend) David Kramer has already split.

 

Kramer has promised to remove the Welcome Sign, after three months, if residents hate it. What if they're indifferent or just generally annoyed?

Hey, we've still got jazz, the one thing that made RIOC's event palatable. 

 

The Roosevelt Island Jazz Collective played on.
The Roosevelt Island Jazz Collective played on.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

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