Friday, January 18, 2019

AOC Takes the Floor

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The "Yutes" of NYC

In the great movie Heathers (which is 30 years old, sheesh!), the main character's mother asks, rhetorically, "Are you telling me this is not a time for troubled youth?"

The only honest answer to that is that it's always a time for troubled youth -- or, as they said in My Cousin Vinnie, "yutes." To be young is to be troubled, as, some might say, "natch." 

So what about "yutes" here in NYC -- are they troubled? 

Not really. Surely some are, but I don't think the young people of NYC are any more or less troubled than elsewhere -- unless, apparently, they live on Staten Island. I was a young person in NYC once, and I survived -- someway, somehow (but I wasn't on Staten Island).

One of the things we "yutes" of NYC did back in the day was go to video arcades, like Playland in Times Square that is now long, long gone. Video arcades have more or less vanished since people can now play games on their phones. Shockingly, however, there is one remaining arcade in Manhattan, in Chinatown, where yutes from all over the city congregate. Like many old school establishments that have been displaced by the Internet (like bookstores or shopping malls), this place had survived by becoming a gathering place, a hub of social activity. It's a perfect example of how a business can survive the digital onslaught by adapting and changing, and recognizing reality instead of fighting it.

That said, being a "yute" will always be difficult --  some things will never change!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

One of 'Em Daze

Yesterday, on January Fifteenth of the year of our Lord Two-Thousand Eighteen, the following things happened here in NYC and New York State that might, just might, mark the beginning of better days ahead.

In 'udder woids, S*&t happened.

Yesterday was 10th anniversary of the Miracle on the Hudson, that Mr NYC blogged about then ...

Yesterday, the New York State legislature passed a law ending "gay conversion" therapy which is really a human rights violation. Now young New Yorkers will be protected from this evil, barbaric practice ... 

Yesterday, Adam Moss, the great editor of New York magazine resigned. He made sleepy local mag into a national powerhouse and now a new editor will, I hope, build on his excellent legacy ...

And yesterday, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand declared that she's running for president (on late night TV no less). Who knows? Maybe she'll become the first female prez ...

So much happened, it's almost dazing. 

Remember, Mr NYC also has a Twitter account where I post and re-Tweet all kinds of interesting stuff so please click on the link to your right to get "value-added" from this blog!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Public Advocate: Special Election on February 26, 2019

Get more information about this special election, and who's running, here and here.

As far as I can tell, this is the first city-wide special election since, I jest not, 1950 -- when Acting Mayor Vincent Impelliteri was elected to complete recently resigned Mayor O'Dwyer's term. 

It's rather amazing to realize that, for almost 70 years, NYC has not had a vacant city-wide office (Mayor, Comptroller, City Council President/Public Advocate) requiring such an election. In those decades, New York State had had (at least) two governors, two Attorney Generals, and two Comptrollers resign. We've also had one U.S. President die and one resign (and, hopefully soon, a second). And in NYC ... stability. 

So this election is a historic moment, and I can't wait to be a part of it.

Friday, January 11, 2019

The People of Queens & NYC: Past & Future

Well, I guess it's official: The Economist, the magazine everyone in power reads/pretends to read, has discovered Queens.

With classic Oxbridge condescension, this haughty publication writes a long, totally inaccurate portrayal of this borough of 2.5 million people as containing either just-of-the-boat immigrants or Archie Bunker/Trump-like white people. As a resident of this borough for over a decade, I assure the people of Queens are not so easily categorized -- but trying telling The Economist that.

However, this lengthy article does have a wonderful history of how this northwestern patch of Long Island became Queens. It's worth reading just for that.

And talking about that, how about learning about a girl from Queens  (and other places), Padma Lakshmi, the former model and current TV cooking guru. Her's is an amazing story of a immigrant done good.

P.S. This has nothing to do with Queens but it does have to do with the people of NYC -- a profile of one of the last remaining Bowery flophouses in the city and the people who live there in defiance of gentrification and changing times. It's a reminder of how the past is never quite in the past -- and how some people will resist the future at all costs.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

"The Sopranos" @ 20

During my final winter break from college, walking around a recently New Year's Eve'd Times Square, I looked up and saw a giant billboard for a new show about to debut on HBO: The Sopranos.

The billboard featured, if memory serves, several men and women (plus a couple of children) standing around and looking menacing. I didn't recognize any of the actors in this new series except for two -- the guy who beat up that girl in True Romance, and the wife from Goodfellas. I had no idea what the show was about but, from the looks of it (including the gun substituting for the "r" in title), I guessed it wasn't about opera singers. I also figured that I'd never watch this show (heck, I didn't even have HBO at the time) and it would probably get cancelled quickly. The Sopranos, as advertised, looked dumb and hammy. Who cared? 

How wrong I was. It turned out to be a groundbreaking, brilliant show -- a dark satire about American life wrapped up in a traditional mafia drama. A middle aged man, under pressure at work and home, goes to therapy to get cured of his recurrent panic attacks and tries to understand his life and existential dread. The fact that this man is also a mafia boss and killer only made it more compelling. 

And how appropriate that the show began in 1999 -- The Sopranos brought television, and really American culture, into the 21st century. It was post-modernist, destructive, and it re-invented the serial TV drama with cinematic storytelling and production values. Today, most of TV looks like The Sopranos (dark, profane, violent, extremely funny, nonlinear plots) but, back then, NYPD Blue and ER were considered edgy TV. The Sopranos, pun fully intended, whacked that idea.

The Sopranos was set in New Jersey and created, at least in its time, a sort of "Jersey Chic" (before Jersey Shore would have that honor). NYC was the place where mobsters and their family and friends would go to do business, have fun, and commit various crimes before going back to their suburban homes and lives. In the opening credits, Tony Soprano drives through the Holland Tunnel and we see the city fade away in his side-view mirror -- this is a show that exists nexts to and in the shadow of NYC. In that way, The Sopranos was and wasn't a NYC show.

HBO is currently re-airing the show and you can also find it on HBO Go and On Demand. It's worth re-watching and this handy guide can help direct you to its best episodes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Two Views of Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn @ Night

" ... gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees ... had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an ├Žsthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Monday, January 7, 2019

Friday, January 4, 2019

BioBAT Art Space

"It's an art, not a science," is an oft-used expression but why can't it be both?

Starting today through March, in Brooklyn, the two will triumphantly merge.

The BioBAT center is a reconfigured factory at the Brooklyn Army Terminal that leases lab and office space to emerging science and technology companies. This week marks the center's inaugeral art show, The Spontaneous Emergence of Order, at its new Art Space (curated by previous Mr NYC interviewee Elena Soterakis, one of our most popular interviews and others).

The works in this show are based on scientific disciplines that gives us, the laypersons, a greater understanding of how these disciplines operate in reality -- specifically, how the chaos of the natural world finds its order through scientific principles. Through the beauty and creativity of art, one learns more about the central realities of science.

It's a fascinating, groundbreaking exhibition and one you should definately check out!