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    Self Serving, Opinionated, Biased & Critical

    It’s always sad when an author feels it necessary to degrade the memory of others, in their writing. Especially when the person they are degrading is not alive to defend themselves. In her very self serving, self promoting and verbose book entitled, “Saving Central Park: A History and a Memoir”, and even before she reveals herself to be the grand savior of Central Park, she begins her first chapter called “Near Death” by placing the blame for the parks demise on one if it’s past Commissioners, the late Thomas Hoving. Hoving had written an outstanding and exciting position paper for Lindsay during his campaign while he was curator of medieval art at the Metropolitan Museum. As a result he subsequently was appointed by the new mayor. This is not mentioned by Rodgers. In her jaded revisionist opinion, the parks decline into the dark ages is a direct result of Mr. Hoving’s tenure as commissioner, noting in an an old guard parochial manner that because he was a “a scion of the establishment” he should have taken the course and “perspective of a historical preservationist. Instead, he chose the path of radical showmanship”. That the young commissioner went about, “aligning himself with the vibrant hippie era of psychedelic drugs, mass rock concerts, student riots, and Vietnam War protests, he shook things up from the day he took office. It’s understandable after learning a little about the writers privileged middle class background that she would take this parochial buttoned up position. Did he shake things up, yes and thank god! The park was simply too dismal for words before he became commissioner. But how this author can make an undocumented statement that Mr. Hoving had aligned himself with “ hippie era of psychedelic drugs” I am not sure. It’s a patently false statement. I highly doubt the Metropolitan Museum of Art would have hired him to be the Director had he been hanging out with Jerry Garcia. I’m sure this would be frowned on by the matronly Rogers but Hoving did permit the Grateful Dead to play at the Nuremberg Bandshell while he was commissioner, not once but twice! The Conservancy tried to demolish this bandshell, but were stopped due to public intervention, thank god! Sadly, the Conservancy has erected a scaffolding around it and refuses to allocate funds to refurbish it. Hard feelings, I guess. She accuses Hoving of being a part of the student riots, and Vietnam War protests of the era, which is again patently false and misleading. Personally I don’t recall Hoving taking a position on this but the right to protest is as American as apple pie. In places like New York City the space for large scale protests are few. I suppose the author would have preferred that everyone just stayed home during Vietnam and not protested a war we had no business being in. The conflicts the U.S. inserted themselves in after Vietnam had no draft and hence there no protests, so I guess the Park was saved from undue wear and tear as a result. With regard to her attributing the “mass rock concerts” with its accompanying alcohol consumption, drug dealing and the environmental damage done to the park to Hoving, this again, is her attempt at distorting the actual facts and timeline. The massive extravaganza shows, like the Simon & Garfunkel concert, with more than 500,00 people, took place in 1982, long after Hoving was Commissioner. It should be noted that these large scale events are still permitted by the Central Park Conservancy today and for very large fees, or donations to the Conservancy. What Hoving was responsible for was accepting the proposal of a young man named Ron Delsner, recently honored by the Conservancy, to promote and organize some small concerts at The Wollman Skating ring . These were sponsored by Schaefer Beer. Mr. Delsner went on to a long and prosperous career promoting Rock concerts and bringing huge amount of revenue to the New York area and thanks in a very large large part to Hoving’s keen vision and judgement of character. According to the Rogers “Hoving also met with community leaders in East Harlem to say that from now on there would be town-hall meetings to hear what kind of parks people wanted.” This is just a really good example of the autocratic nature the conservancy under Rogers was! Who in their right mind would make a statement that meeting with community representatives to hear what the was on their minds was a bad thing. After all who were the parks established for, the people of New York. I don’t recall the author ever reaching out to the communities surrounding the park. What the Central Park Conservancy did was to establish strict rules and regulations with no feedback from the citizens of New York City. They just essentially took over and they did this in an extremely autocratic non inclusive manner that essentially said, we know what is good for the parks and you all don’t. So yes Commissioner Hoving met with the community and quite
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