millisphere, noun: A discrete region inhabited by roughly 1000th of the total world population.
THIS summer I ran into Squirrel, an "art-mover" who had once gone to New York to install tukutuku panels as part of the US$2 billion-plus upgrade of the United Nations building.
Built in the 1940s, with a $65 million interest-free loan from the US government, the UN HQ has been a steady earner for the city of New York ever since. "The further you go away from the UN, the cheaper the hotel rooms are," Squirrel observed.
Depending on viewpoint, the United Nations is either a global humanitarian organisation or a bloated New York based bureaucracy controlled by the world's arms manufacturers.
Ever since the American Civil War, New York arms dealers have prospered from just about any conflict going, including New York physicist Robert Oppenheimer, who led the "Manhattan Project" which built the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In the nearby Trump World Tower is the World Bar where UN diplomats socialise and the Saudis own an entire floor for their delegation. Legendary TV newsman Walter Cronkite led a protest against the building of the Trump Tower claiming it would dwarf the UN building, block views and was aesthetically unappealing. Following advice from his mentor, Mafia lawyer Roy Cohn, Trump counter-sued and built his "slab of banality".
After the US decided to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the UN Security Council censured the US. "We will be taking names," the US threatened, cut UN funding and closed the Palestinians' office in Washington.
New York is 60 per cent Christian (33 per cent of whom are Catholic) and one in five New Yorkers are Jewish, over half of whom live in Brooklyn. During the 1970s, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and President Richard Nixon negotiated detente, and a wave of Russian Jewish immigrants arrived in Brooklyn, including mobsters released from Soviet prisons.
Since the days of Al Capone, doing business with the Mob has been almost inescapable in New York. Lately, the Cosa Nostra have been displaced by the Russian Mafia who have moved up from drugs and extortion into finance.
New York is the world's pre-eminent banking and finance city, providing two of the previous three chairmen of the Federal Reserve. The 2008 global financial crisis was caused by trillions of dollars of toxic derivatives going down a plughole somewhere in New York — where they were invented. The largest Ponzi scam of all time netted New York investment adviser Bernie Madoff $US65 billion.
New York is also the most important source of funding for US presidential campaigns. The last US Democrat primary was between New York native Bernie Sanders and former New York senator Hillary Clinton, who was defeated by a New York reality television star.
The "art of public relations" was invented in New York (to bring the US into World War II) and the city's broadcast networks — ABC, NBC, CBS & Fox — shape public opinion worldwide through both traditional and "new" media, promoting an ideology of vulgar conspicuous consumption and superficial patriotism.
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg is from New York, while the advertising agencies of Madison Avenue taught the world how to drive that conspicuous consumption.
New York markets itself as "the most energy-efficient city in the US", but generates 14 million tonnes of trash per year. Once dumped at sea, now the Mob moves the trash to landfills in surrounding states.
The millisphere of New York dominates the politics of the United States which, in turn, casts its shadow over the world.
New York intellectual property lawyers initiated the raid on Kim Dotcom's mansion in Auckland. Western outlaw Billy the Kid, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein were all from The Big Apple.
New York's "creativity and entrepreneurship" has its dark side — rather than calling other countries "****-holes", Donald Trump should look at his own backyard.
■When Fred Frederikse is not building, he is a self-directed student of geography and traveller, and in his spare time he is the co-chair of the Whanganui Musicians' Club.