June 6, 2008

Partners in Climb?

Over the weekend we'll hear more regarding any potential connection between these two events, but clearly, desperate times demand desperate measures. Forethought or last chance? Does it really matter when corporatists insist on raiding pension funds to fund their new private jet?
2 Men Scale New York Times Building Hours Apart
Two men, one a practiced French stuntman known for climbing tall buildings, the other a New Yorker who said he wanted to raise awareness of the dangers of malaria, scaled the 52-story New York Times Building in Times Square on Thursday just hours apart. Each was arrested when he stepped safely onto the roof.
The first, Alain Robert, the Frenchman, went up the north face of the year-old skyscraper in the morning, unfurling a bright green banner near the top. The words on the banner were illegible from the sidewalk, but from office windows inside the tower the message could be clearly read: “Global warming kills more people than 9/11 every week.”
The other, identified by the police as Renaldo Clarke, 32, of Brooklyn, climbed the Eighth Avenue side starting about 6 p.m.
[...] Both climbers grabbed onto one of the building’s most distinctive features, the ladderlike horizontal rods that form an exterior curtain surrounding the floor-to-ceiling windows. And then, in turn, they were off on a hand-over-hand trip up the face of a New York skyscraper, with no ropes or harnesses, a trip that left the cellphone-camera-snapping crowds that swirled below thinking of Spider-Man, or maybe King Kong.
[...] But witnesses said there appeared to be differences between the climbs. Mr. Robert seemed better prepared, with a fanny pack that contained chalk to help his grip and liquid to drink.
“When Alain came up this side, it was a cakewalk for him,” said Nick Mudge, 24, a chef at Covington & Burling.
Mr. Clarke — his hands blackened by dirt from the ceramic rods — looked “fatigued” as he passed the 43rd floor, Mr. Mudge said. “He stopped and hung by his arms. His feet were just swinging back and forth.”
[...] The crowd in front of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, across Eighth Avenue, let out a cheer in exuberant relief when Mr. Clarke made it safely to the top. But some spectators criticized the stunt.
“He’s disrupting the city,” said Zee Mosher, 33, a graphic designer with a portrait of Buckminster Fuller tattooed on his neck. “He’s endangering his own life and the lives of other people.” [Gosh, gee, Zee, don't cha think your neck billboard causes a bit of rubber necking which could potentially "endanger" others?]
The chief spokesman for the police, Paul J. Browne, said that Mr. Clarke, of Brooklyn, was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center for psychiatric evaluation after his arrest.
[...] Mr. Clarke was charged with reckless endangerment, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.
Mr. Robert, 45, who was released on bail early Friday, was facing the same charges as well as a charge of making graffiti, in reference to the banner he unfurled after his climb.
After being freed, Mr. Robert would only say that he was “very happy to be released.” He was overheard telling friends in French that he was tired.
At Mr. Robert’s arraignment early Friday before Judge Abraham Clott of Manhattan Criminal Court, an assistant district attorney, Heather Pearson, arguing that Mr. Robert’s actions had been “extremely dangerous to other people,” asked the judge to set bail at $20,000 and to require Mr . Robert to surrender his passport.

Judge Clott set bail at a much lower amount — $2,000 in cash or a $3,000 bond — and did not ask Mr. Robert to surrender his passport. Mr. Robert was ordered t o appear in court again on Wednesday.
A lawyer representing Mr. Robert, Daniel N. Arshack, told the judge that Mr. Robert’s climb was motivated by “personal conviction.”
“This was a political act, an act of free speech,” Mr. Arshack said.
[...] No formal plea was entered, but Mr. Arshack said Mr. Robert would plead not guilty to all charges.
At The New York Times Building, officers put up interlocking metal barricade s on the sidewalk, apparently to deter other would-be climbers, after Mr. Clarke was led out in handcuffs. The ceramic rods that surround the building — and served as a ladder for Mr. Robert and Mr. Clarke — start about 20 feet above the sidewalk on the 40th and 41st Street sides of the tower, and 35 feet above the sidewalk on the Eighth Avenue side.
[...] When a reporter asked why he had climbed the Times Building, he said, “For malaria.” He was wearing a T-shirt that said: “Malaria No More. Save the Children.” He also wore loose-fitting salmon-colored pants, a leather belt and yellow climbing shoes.
Mr. Clarke smiled, as if he was being carried victorious off an athletic field instead of being ushered into a police van. When he was asked how his climb would increase a wareness of malaria, he smiled into a reporter’s video camera and said, “I’m going to be on the news, no?”
“I got to the top,” he declared.
[...] Bruce Ratner, whose company, Forest City Ratner, was a development partner in the Times Building, issued a statement that said: “We of course deplore the reckless behavior today by the two individuals who climbed The New York Times Building. We have added additional security to the building and will work with the city to stop any similar effor ts. What happened today was not just a stunt. It was a violation of the law and a careless and dangerous threat to public safety.”[...]
Reporting was contributed by Charles V. Bagli, Russ Buettner, Sewell Chan, Glenn Collins, David W. Dunlap, Jason Grant, Christine Hauser, Corey Kilgannon, Eric Konigsberg, Jennifer 8. Lee, Trymaine Lee, Patrick McGeehan, Colin Moynihan, William K. Rashbaum and Paul von Zielbauer.
Want more? A few more slants and speculation on Mr. Clarke's motivation:
French 'Spider Man' climbs up New York Times building
Brooklyn man, French daredevil climb New York Times building
It was daredevil deja vu.
Just fives hours after the French Spiderman scaled the New York Times building on Eighth Avenue Thursday, a man from Brooklyn matched his death-defying feat by climbing to the tower's roof, raising questions about the skyscraper 's security.
Fueled by anger that hours earlier, Alain Robert, 45, had scaled his way barehanded up the facade of the 52-story Times building, Clarke took on the Times building that he had been planning to climb for two years, friends said.[...]

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