Saturday, April 21, 2018

Capital of Crime? It ain't NYC

"Rape! Murder! It's just a shot away! It's just a shot away!"

So begins the Rolling Stones' epic song "Gimme Shelter" from their 1969 album Let It Bleed. You've only heard it in every Martin Scorsese movie ever made, including probably Kundun

Anyway, if you listen to boring old men like Donald Trump or others, they'll try to convince you that America is more violent and crime ridden than ever -- when the truth is actually the opposite. Remember when Trump said of immigrants, "They're bringing crime. They're bringing drugs. They're rapists" -- turns out, the only ones importing crime to America these days are members of the Trump Administration. 

In NYC, the crime rate is at historic lows. In fact, this is how low it's gotten: this year, so far, there have been more murders in London than NYC. That's either an historic first or an historic first in a really, really, really long time (London is nearly 2000 years old, NYC only about 400). After all, there are lots more guns floating around the streets of NYC than London so what gives? Why has it become more violent now?

The answer: gangs. Violent, bloody, skinhead street gangs.

They've plagued Good Ol' London town for decades and now the mayhem they cause is worse than ever. Oh, but they're white. That's right, it's WHITE PEOPLE that are making London more crime ridden than ever. That sorta goes against the paranoid American grain of brown people being the root of all crime, here and everywhere. 

One thing that skinheads and violent people also love to do in England is "glassing" -- slamming a glass of beer over someone's head so that it shatters, the person is all bloody, and mayhem ensues. You saw it in the movie Trainspotting and it's apparently a favorite past-time of London pub culture. In fact, people who do it don't even go to jail! Imagine that in NYC -- you'd be in the pokey in no time.

Here are the lessons from the spike in crime in London vs. the historic lows in NYC: crime is not the sole province of brown people, poverty and cultural alienation of any stripe creates breeding grounds for crime anywhere and everywhere, and crime can be brought down anywhere and everywhere. Let's hope that happens in London too -- and stays true for NYC.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Memo from NYC

Today is Hitler's birthday. 

Don't worry, we're not wishing him a happy 129th or whatever. 

But this clip from legendary conspiracy theorist Mae Brussell is fascinating. On her radio show in 1981, she talks about why she thinks that Hitler is (or was) still alive. 

Okay, so that's crazy. But then she also talks about how and why Hitler appealed to so many Germans back in the 1930s -- and her observations, her theories about that, are chillingly accurate. If you consider our current political environment, everything she says about Hitler could be equally applied to ... you know who. That's the most scary thing: no matter whether it was the 1930s, or 1981, or 2018, some things about people and the world at large don't change. 

Some things stay the same -- and sometimes crazy people are brilliantly sane. 

No More Cars in Central Park

This June there will be no more cars in Central Park.

This is both a huge and minor announcement. 

Practically speaking, this means that the various "loops" below 72nd street, where cars are allowed for certain times of day, will be closed. That means no more cars anywhere in the park -- because cars have already been banned above 72nd street.

But it is a huge announcement since it means that, wherever you are in the great park, you won't ever have to look out for an automobile (except, probably, for ones from the parks or police departments).

It's always been surprising that it was above 72nd street where cars were previously banned. The vast majority of visitors (tourists, day trippers, etc.) flooded the lower part of Central Park. Having huge numbers of people compete with automobiles always seemed crazy to me. Fortunately, now, that'll no longer be the case.

A big win for sanity! 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

More Staten Island Stuff

Right now there's a "humdinger" of a Republican Congressional primary going on in Staten Island. Current Representative Dan Donovan is being strongly challenged by his predecessor, Michael Grimm, who held the seat from 2011-2014 until he went to jail for tax fraud.

In normal times, in a normal place, in a normal political party, a disgraced former elected official -- a convicted felon! -- trying to get his old job back would be laughed out of politics. 

Democrats Elliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner tried it 2013 and lost badly. But in today's Republican party, in a wacky place like Staten Island, Grimm has a real shot. He's allied himself strongly with Trump and Donovan is running scared. There's a very good chance that he'll lose to Grimm on June 26th. If he does, it'll tell you everything you about the moral rot in the GOP and, if Grimm, wins the general election and returns to Congress, on Staten Island. 

Let's hope neither comes to pass. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Howard Stern Inducts Bon Jovi into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame

Howard Stern has made many outrageous public appearances over the decades -- and here's his most recent one. 

Links 1901

Okay, so the title of this post makes no sense until you consider:

1. This is the 1,901 post on this blog -- that means we're 99 posts away from a clean 2000. (I got 99 posts but a ... oh, never mind). Anyway, I will work diligently on crafting those remaining 99 posts. Also, once I do another 117, we can then have a blog post for every year of the millennia AD. How cool is dat? 

2. I found a bunch of interesting links that have nothing to do with each other except that they cover the life of this town: we got subways, we got books, we got late-night podcasts. We got it all!

Onwards! Except if you're on the subway. Then listen to a podcast. Or read a book. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

So What's the Deal with Staten Island?

When you look at a map of the five boroughs that create the archipelligo of NYC, it makes sense that four of them go together: the lower part of the Bronx and western coastlines of Brooklyn and Queens are hugged together around the island of Manhattan -- the borough that ties them all together.

But what about Staten Island?

This borough, the so-called "forgotten borough, lies well south of its NYC brethren. It doesn't "hug" any part of NYC -- instead, it hugs the Jersey Shore. So why isn't it part of New Jersey? Why does it belong to NYC?

Long story short: politics. In the early 19th century, both New Jersey and New York claimed ownership to Staten Island that, at the time, was known as Richmond County (it wasn't part of NYC since NYC at that time only consisted of Manhattan the Bronx). Basically, NY wanted the island and NJ wanted access to NY harbor so, under the guidance of President Martin van Buren, they worked out a deal. Then, when NYC consolidated in 1898, Staten Island became part of NYC because, well, it was already part of New York State and had nowhere else to go.

Apparently there are some urban legends about how Staten Island wound up in NYC including how it was part of a bet on a boat race -- but it's untrue. It's a more dreary story -- like so much else in life. And, some might joke, like Staten Island itself.