Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lost in History vol. 55: Top of the Rock!

Oh, Elliot Spitzer. How could you? How could you lie to your wife, your children, the good people of NewYork? How could you spend thousands of dollars (hopefully, we pray, thousands of your own dollars, as opposed to public taxpayer cash), over eight months, for a little whack in the sack? How could you shock and awe the nineteen million hardworking residents of the State of New York (state motto: Excelsior!) into a total legislative standstill when the state budget, currently standing at a $4.7 billion deficit, has mere weeks to get balanced and passed? Maybe it has something to do with you being reckless. Maybe it has something to do with you being “a fucking steamroller.” Or maybe, just maybe, you were psychically following in the steps of previous NY State Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who was also caught dead (literally) in the act of action with a much younger woman who most certainly wasn’t his wife. Let’s flash back, shall we?

Nelson Rockefeller, grandson of Big Daddy John D. Rockefeller, was born in 1908 to tremendous wealth and privilege, just like all the other members of the Rockefeller clan (this is, after all, the family of the richest man in American history, at a net worth of $200 billion in today’s cash.) Therefore, Nelson was taught to share his wealth with those far less fortunate. At the age of 24 he became at trustee of the Museum of Modern Art (which eventually built its garden on the site of Nelson’s childhood home,), and this developed into a lifelong passion for collecting and developing modern art. He became president of MoMA in 1939, one year after he also assumed presidency of Rockefeller Center. His political power and prestige began to grow in the mid-1930s when he invested time (and, one presumes, moniesmoney) in Creole Petroleum, the Venezuelan subsidiary of Standard Oil, the business that got Grandpappy Rock rich.

After bouncing around certain appointed posts for inter-American relations under Presidents Truman and Eisenhower, Nelson became New York State Governor in 1958 by defeating the incumbent W. Averell Harriman. Always setting his sights on the Republican presidential nomination, he was turned down for the post in 1960, ’64 and ’68, but re-elected Governor in 1962, ’66, and ’70. In fact, Nelson was the first Governor to establish a permanent office here in the city, using Albany as mostly a hop-stop to pass legislation. Our Man Mr. Rockefeller also established the Metropolitan Transit Authority in 1968, absorbing the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and dealing the death knell to Robert Moses. Eventually, Nelson got himself elected appointed Vice President under Gerald Ford, but that was the farthest along the political train the man got. All this is well and good, but (I can hear you asking out loud) what does this have to do with our perv of an ex-Governor?

Nelson Rockefeller died on January 26th, 1979. Rumors had it he had collapsed of a heart attack while working in his midtown office. The official story is that Nelson died while working, but it certainly wasn’t in his office, and the verb “working,” could also be argued. Truth was, Nelson Rockefeller was in the midst of a sexual tryst with one of his assistants: 27-year-old Megan Marshak, who, to this day, has never come forward with her story or explained what she was doing underneath the former Vice-President of the USA. It might’ve helped that in his will, Nelson left her the deed to his townhouse at 13 West 54th sStreet, as well as $50,000. An unsubstantiated rumor states that the coroners noticed Nelson’s shoes crammed onto the wrong feet at the scene of his demise —– this was the first indication that the man hadn’t simply passed peacefully.

We wish new Governor Paterson a smooth transition into office. It seems as if the man has a lot to live up to.

(first published on 3/18/8 in

1 comment:

lizgwinn said...

nerdy museum facts re nelson: as we all know, the museum was cofounded by three women including abby aldrich rockefeller, nelson's mum, (conger goodyear was just a tool). not only was the (1939!) goodwin & stone moma building built on the rockefeller townhouse site but it was intended at one point to be the crowning jewel at the top of an extending-farther-north rock center (pesky landowners got in the way despite nelson’s influence)
(if anyone cares to talk about this further, I am a 28-year-old assistant and pretty cute)