A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from March 28, 2005
Mark Green and Audrey Munson (“Civic Fame”)
Mark Green was elected "public advocate" in 1993 and again in 1997. His term limits (two terms) were up and he unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2001, losing to Michael Bloomberg.

In the late 1990s, I walked into his office and asked to speak to him about Audrey Munson, our "Civic Fame." The Public Advocate's office is in the Municipal Building, just a few floors below the famous statue.

I had written letters (all unanswered) asking the Art Commission to honor Audrey Munson. "Civic Fame" is on the cover of The Art Commission and the Municipal Art Society guide to Manhattan's outdoor sculpture, by Margot Gayle and Michele Cohen; foreword by Edward I. Koch (Prentice Hall Press, 1988). However, no one knew who Audrey Munson was, and she is never mentioned anywhere in the Art Commission's book.

The Public Advocate's job is allegedly to evaluate the administration of city services by city agencies. I had a copy of my 1996 New York Times "Audrey Munson" article in hand. What I wanted was for someone in the Art Commission to respond to me. Also, I wanted the Public Advocate to support Audrey Munson. I had suggested to the U. S. Postal Service that an Audrey Munson stamp be issued, honoring America's greatest model. The Public Advocate could help by simply writing a letter to the stamp committee in support of her.

An administrative staff person heard my request. Could I speak to Mark Green, the Public Advocate? Well, no, I could not.

Could my request be forwarded to the Public Advocate? It's important to the city! Well, no, it could not.

"This is not what the Public Advocate does," I was told. I was told to go to the mayor's office. "The mayor honors people," I was told.

This was my first adventure with the "Public Advocate." He doesn't speak with the public. He doesn't read what the public says. He couldn't even honor our "Civic Fame," the person above his head, with a simple letter that would have cost him nothing.

As a result, the Art Commission has never responded to me, and Audrey Munson (who died in obscurity in 1996) has still never been honored by the city she represents.

Posted by Barry Popik
Public Advocate (1993 election) • Monday, March 28, 2005 • Permalink

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