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CNBC is airing a program called “House of Cards” this month. Check it out if you get the chance. http://www.cnbc.com/id/28892719. You can also view the program on YouTube.

The program quotes an anonymous wall street e-mail:
“Let’s hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters.”
–Internal email, Wall Street, 12/15/06

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This is the former home of Apthorp Cleaners, which temporarily housed a flower shop that moved next door. Apthorp Cleaners is reopening on Amsterdam. My wife has forced me to show pictures of new businesses and businesses that have moved. She can do that; she has that kind of power over me. You think you could resist, but you couldn’t.

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Also opening on Amsterdam is this vitamin shop, run by the guy who ran the vitamin counter at The Health Nuts on Broadway. This store occupies the spot where there used to be a little shelving/storage store.

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Getting off the bus at Grand Army Plaza, Fifth Avenue and 59th, there was a noticeable absence of activity. This is the square where the horse carriage drivers queue and wait for passengers. It was 60 degrees, warm for February and perfect NYC tourist weather.

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The hardware store that’s been there forever is closing this month. They charged about a third more for things than the store on Amsterdam, or at least it seemed that way, but that didn’t stop people from buying extension cords, bulbs, sandpaper and $100 dremel kits. Until now.

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It is disheartening business photographing closed and closing stores in my city. That’s why I also spend my time trying to get a job. I’m an independent org change/training consultant specializing in SAP. I’ve been in the business more than 15 years. I’m out of work since last year so that I could recover from a back surgery. Thanks to carbon fiber, time and my family’s patience, I’m not homeless and I am a man in need of a project.

I’m writing in a bland coffee shop, not one of the interesting ones that you read about in Time Out New York or those little guides you can pick up at Penn Station. No. just a chain with free internet a couple of blocks walk from the apartment. It’s nearly deserted now that the lunch crowd has thinned and the afternoon after school kids haven’t shown up. It’s too quiet.

Finally, I’m miffed about the Lincoln assassination. I know, I know, that was almost 144 years ago. My tolerant wife – stunning blue eyes – and I just finished the Ken Burns series The Civil War. As you may know, John Wilkes Boothe, an otherwise insignificant character, puts a bullet in Lincoln’s skull near the end of the Civil War, angered by a speech Lincoln gave urging states to give newly freed slaves the vote.

Experts and historians talk about the War Between the States as a seminal moment in American history, when the principles of democracy were tested by otherwise unresolvable differences. Yet it seemed inevitable that the country would somehow stay together, that the North would muster the resolve, leadership, and manpower to outlast the South as it did, and that the South would resist until their cities and countryside were destroyed, their citizens and their soldiers starving. And it did. What a waste of resources. And it still took a hundred years for our country to pass a law that guaranteed black Americans the freedoms they supposedly gained in 1865.

Lincoln’s murder took away this country’s only poet-president and sent post-war history careening as it did toward today.

“I am loth (loathe) to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

–Abraham Lincoln, first inaugural address, 1861.

USA Today Headline (Jan. 30, 2009):

GDP down 3.8% in Q4, biggest drop since ’82

We are not comforted,” Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics said in a note to clients, pointing out that sales of equipment and software fell during the fourth quarter of 2008 at the fastest pace in 50 years.

Read the entire article:  http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2009-01-30-gdp-q4_N.htm

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