Donald Trump’s Jet

My question: Why is this plane, Donald Trump’s plane, registered outside the United States? It seems to be based at LaGuardia Airport in New York. I hope it’s maintained there… crewed there… certified there… taxed there. I suspect it’s not.

trump-jet.jpgI’m not a huge fan of Donald Trump. I’ll admit that. Trump is the classic case of a guy born on third base who thinks he hit a triple.

In the early 60s, my grandparents sold their little Cape in Laurelton, Queens and moved to Trump Village in Brooklyn. This huge and unwieldy cluster of co-op apartments, erected for the middle class a few blocks from the ocean in Brighton Beach, was built by The Donald’s dad, Fred.

I’ve got nothing against Fred. My grandparents were glad to have this apartment to call home.

On the other hand, I remember stories of Donald as a landlord, doing his best to make life difficult for older residents in luxury Manhattan buildings, renting at below market rates under New York City’s controversial rent control laws&#185. He didn’t come off as a sweetheart to me. In fact, he came off with no heart to me.

Can I maintain a dislike for decades? I guess so.

The reason I bring this up tonight is because Helaine and I are sitting here watching the Olympics. A few moments ago a promo for The Apprentice came up, with video of Donald’s beautiful 727.

It struck me funny that it’s Trump’s plane, because the callsign is VP-BDJ. All US registered planes begin with “N”. The “VP” designation means it’s registered in a British Overseas Territory.

There are loads of photos of VP-BDJ – and it’s a beaut. The shining colors belie the age of this airplane, first delivered to American Airlines a few days before I turned 18–back in 1968!

My question: Why is this plane, Donald Trump’s plane, registered outside the United States? It seems to be based at LaGuardia Airport in New York. I hope it’s maintained there… crewed there… certified there… taxed there. I suspect it’s not.

I hate it when success is built on avoidance rather than accomplishment. That’s what I’m scared of here.

&#185 – When I went to double check the facts about Trump, an entry of mine came up first in the Google search! Did I have it wrong? Was I sustaining my own cruel fable about Mr. Trump?

As it turns out, a deeper search found this revealing story, published in the New York Times on June 4, 1983.

Uncle Murray is Moving

New York is different that the rest of the United States. I can’t imagine there is a part of country where a higher percentage of the population lives in apartments. And, because of New York City’s rent control and stabilization laws, many people stay in those apartments forever.

My parents lived at 6543 Parsons Boulevard, Apartment 5E, from the early 50s to the late 80s. Our next door neighbors are still in the building, having moved in in 1953.

I’m not sure how long Uncle Murray has lived in his apartment, but it has to go back to the early 50s as well.

Before cable they had the worst TV reception I had ever seen. I remember trying to watch baseball games with my dad, Uncle Murray, Cousin Michael and some other family members. Every time a plane approached La Guardia Airport, the signal would go nuts. I seem to remember the TV sporting rabbit ears with tin foil for good measure – as if you could fool the signal into being watchable.

This from an apartment with a line-of-sight view to the Empire State Building where the TV transmitting antennas used to be… and are again, since 9/11.

The apartment is on the ground floor, facing out onto a busy street. It is in Queens, a short walk from the Flushing el, so not far from Manhattan by public transportation.

In that apartment you are never far from the noise of the neighborhood. If a car alarm goes off – if the bus goes by – if a horn is honked (and all of those seem to happen continuously) – you will witness it from inside the apartment, even with the windows closed.

But it is quiet in comparison to my grandparents’ 23rd floor apartment in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. From their windows they could see two elevated trains lines and the biggest yard in the New York City Subway system. The building was right at a curve which caused the heavy metal wheels on the train to squeal a little around the clock. It squealed as each set of wheels in the 8 or 10 car trains passed by.

I have been told Uncle Murray is leaving his apartment, moving closer to my Cousin Judy and her family in Maryland. It will be good for Murray to be closer to people who love him.

It will be the end of an era, as the last of the Fox family leaves New York City.

Uncle Murray will also end another, more universal, era. He is the last person I know whose telephone number is still remembered as a word and 5 digits. Uncle Murray is the last of the TWining-8’s for me.

Until he closed his store, it was the only other number I remembered non-digitally. That was STillwell-6 (I think).

When I was growing up, our home number was JAmacia-6-4308 and then AXtel-1-9790. At some point, the phone companies of America decided that wouldn’t do. I remember hearing some sort of propaganda about how all digit dialing would be easier to remember. I don’t think they were running out of numbers because you can make an exchange combination out of every number combo… though you’d need to use XYlophone for ’99.’

Later, AXtel-1-9790 became 291-9790 and then got changed to 591-0434 when we get our first area code – 212.

I never quite understood why there were exchanges like AXtel. What is an AXtel? Even Google asks, “Did you mean: axtell ?” ‘291’ could have been AWning-1 or AWful-1 or CYrus-1.

New York Telephone made some bad choices other than AXtel. On Staten Island there was an exchange, Saint George. Was that SA or ST?

Today, I know my number should be CEntral… though it’s a ’23.’

Back to Uncle Murray.

I can’t imagine how he’ll pick up and pack fifty years worth of memories? What will be found that had been lost? What will be found that should have been lost? Does he still have the Playboy Magazines I found under his bed forty some odd years ago?

I’ll have to call Uncle Murray this weekend. I want one last chance to dial that number.

Beauty’s Only Skin Deep

Even in the newsroom, there’s always gossip and chatter. Today, one main topic of discussion was the engagement of Donald Trump and the immense diamond given to his fiancee. As would be expected, the soon-to-be Mrs. Trump III is much younger than “The Donald.”

I certainly don’t know, but I would expect this to be a relationship which is defined in agreements drawn up by lawyers, for Trump’s benefit.

I have known the Trump name for a long time. My grandparents lived in a huge apartment complex in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn – not far from Coney Island. It was called Trump Village and was built by Donald’s dad, Fred. Back then, the Trump name was associated with housing for the masses, not the monied.

If I remember correctly, my grandparents lived one floor below the top in a building that was 23 stories tall (I’m sure my mom or dad will read this and send me the correct number). There were thousands of families crowded into this little enclave with nearly no parking for residents and less for visitors. Two separate elevated train lines snuggled up against the building, and the terrace view showed the expanse of the Coney Island Subway Yard.

Donald Trump’s name first came to my attention when he rescued New York City’s Central Park skating rink. It was a project which languished under mismanagment of the Parks Department. Trump moved in and voila – it was done.

In that one move, Donald made a name for himself.

He also made a name for himself in other ways. I remember, but can’t find the story now, Trump making life difficult for some elderly, rent controlled tenants in a Midtown Manhattan building he was refurbishing. Stockholders in his Atlantic City casinos haven’t benefitted from The Donald’s guidance either.

One of my co-workers said, “Who wouldn’t marry Donald Trump?” I think that really meant who wouldn’t marry his money? But money is only a small part of a larger package.

Lack of money can make you unhappy. But the opposite doesn’t apply. Money, by itself, can’t make you happy. Trump has two failed marriages behind him. If money was the end all, he’d still be on number one instead of aiming toward number three.

By the way, the same applies to beauty. Who is more beautiful than Halle Berry? Her most recent marriage just broke up.

I know Trump was a major (maybe the major) reason behind the success of The Apprentice. Still, I see him as an empty suit. I don’t know why exactly. I do know if he and I shook hands, I’d count my fingers afterward.

Am I misreading him? Maybe. Looking back at what I just wrote, I wonder if I’m too judgemental? I don’t see him as a man with many redeeming features. And, I don’t know why the charm others see in him evades me.