Sunday, May 31, 2009

Eddie Murphy on SNL

It's hard to believe but it's almost been thirty years since Brooklyn-native Eddie Murphy first outraged America on Saturday Night Live. He was only 19 years old or something at the time and had been found by the SNL producers working the comedy clubs, his talent obvious to all.

If you ever read the definitive book on SNL, Live from New York, Eddie first appeared as a minor featured player during the 1980-81 season. He almost never appeared in sketches and, when he did, had little to do. This season has gone down as one of the worst in the show's history but it was obvious to everyone that Eddie was super-funny and had been criminally under used.

After that disastrous season, nearly all of the cast members (including Gilbert Gottfried) were fired save Eddie and Joe Piscopo. The new cast and the next three seasons were largely built around these two, and Eddie etched some of his most memorable characters that have become pop culture icons: Gumby ("I'm Gumby dammit!"), Mr Robinson's Neighborhood ("Hello little chidrin'"), Buckwheat ("Oh-tay!"), Velvet Jones ("Do you wanna be a ho?"), as well as such brilliant celebrity impression as Stevie Wonder and, seen here, James Brown.

Eddie Murphy left SNL mid-season in 1984 (twenty-five years ago!) and went on to have a rather up-and-down movie career (mostly down in my humble opinion). He also had a bad falling out with SNL in the 1990s when David Spade made a joke on "Weekend Update" about Eddie's flailing movie career at the time. Apparently Eddie is very thin-skinned and was so angry that he swore that he'd never again have anything to do with Saturday Night Live ever again.

Poor us.

Since then both Eddie and the show have basically jumped the shark but thankfully we can always watch the old episodes and remember that great time when Eddie and SNL were dangerously funny -- New York institutions both at their zenith.

Back in Civilization

After a magical wedding and glorious honeymoon, Mr NYC is back and can't wait to get blogging again. Lots to do, so much going on.

First, the wedding was amazing and everyone loved it. All the credit for making it so beautiful and moving so perfectly goes to my incredible wife. We then headed off to a resort spa in Arizona where we lounged next to multiple swimming pools and were copiously supplied with fresh towels, ice water, and good food. Now we're home, all tanned and, in some cases, burned, but very, very happy.

Second, I plan to do two significant posts on 1) the wedding night (NO! NOT THAT!) but on an amazing hotel upgrade we got that we still can't believe and 2) President Obama's nomination of a Sonia Sotomayor, an NYC native, to the Supreme Court.

All that and more! Stay tuned ...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Goin' Fishin'

I'll be out of town next week.

Might as well tell you why: Mr NYC is getting married to a wonderful, amazing woman and we'll be on our honeymoon.
I'm not planning to blog while enjoying my first days of marital bliss but, if I have the time, opportunity, and something interesting comes up, I may check in. Otherwise -- see you in June!

Bomb Scare!

Or not.

Four losers were arrested for planting what turned out to be fake bombs in order to blow up a Jewish temple and nursing home in Riverdale before going on to shoot down aircraft with a Stinger missile. However, before they could plant these "bombs" these bums were busted -- in the Bronx.

Thank God!

Big victory in the fight against terrorism -- or is it? These morons (who, btw, are not from NYC but from upstate in Newburgh) are four very angry, sad, pathetic men. Apparently they had converted to Islam in prison and became radicalized. What's unclear from all the reports I've read, however, is whether or not these guys had actually planned to commit these acts or were conned into it by this FBI informant.

If these guys were planning terrorist acts and this informant dropped the dime on them, then thank the Lord almighty and this guy is a hero. If, on the other hand, they were convinced into doing these things by this guy, then they're too stupid to remain in society and were justifiably arrested. Still, I get a little quesy when law encforcement goes out of its way to pressure people into almost committing crimes just so they can arrest people. That is, of course, if this was the case.

Anyway, our fair city can rest a little easier tonight.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Roosevelt Island Tram

You probably know there is a tram or "Red Bus" to Roosevelt Island that soars high above the city and gives people sweeping views of the Big Apple.

You can get on board on 59h street and literally fly over NYC for five minutes, all for only $2.

If you've never done it, this video gives you a good idea of what the ride is like. And if you want more info on how to get on board, go here.

Interesting side note: the Roosevelt Island tram is the only aerial lift in any city in the country. Yet another unique thing about this most unique of cities.

Monday, May 18, 2009

What's Happening?

There's something always going on in NYC, even if it's not necessarily grabbing the headlines.

The big news in town today is that we now have our first confirmed death from swine flu -- Mitchell Wiener, an assistant principal from Queens. Obviously Mr NYC extends his deepest sympathies to his family and to all those who are suffering from this terrible thing. Let's hope this is the only death our city will experience and that everyone recovers from swine flu.

But there's more going on in NYC beneath the media glare. This Sunday, right before Memorial Day, the city will implement its new traffic strategies in Times Square. Several blocks are going to be blocked off to cars and trucks and, by this fall, Times Square (and eventually Herald Square and Madison Square) will be transformed from traffic clogged intersections into pedestrian plazas.

This week New York magazine has a great profile of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan who is overseeing this and other changes to the way New Yorkers get around town. What's great about her is that she is determined to make this city less dependent on cars and make alternative transportation more appealing. Some critics says she is some kind of hippie-crunchy elitist who doesn't understand how "real" New Yorkers live but, if you see how she wants to make moving around this city easier, I don't know how you can object to what she's doing. I know I knock Bloomberg a lot on here but Janette is really one of his best hires.

Finally, if you want to better understand how the economic recession is affecting average (and not so average) New Yorkers, check out Downsize NYC which gives first-person stories about how some people are coping with their changes of fortune.

No, it's never dull in NYC.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Memo from NYC

Not long ago I wrote about what a whiny little bee-otch Dick Cheney has become -- blasting President Obama every time someone sticks a microphone before the former VP's creepy frog-like face. This week Timothy Noah has a great article in Slate that explains why Republicans are such sore losers in general.

His conclusions?

Since Republicans have won more elections then they've lost in the last 40 years, losses are a "shock" to the collective GOP "system" while, when Democrats lose, it confirms their "tragic view of life." Also, and I think this is his best point, Democrats view elections as a means to an end while Republicans view them as an end unto themselves: Democrats want power so they can use it to help people; Republicans just want power so that Democrats don't have it.

I agree completely with Mr Noah, but I have another theory as well:
Republicans generally have a more paranoid, apocalyptic, fearful view of the world. In their minds, everyone and everything is under constant threat from dangerous, unseen forces.






And on and on. You get the idea.

Republicans believe Democrats want to "destroy" everything good about the United States (even the United States itself) and turn us into some kind of weird totalitarian Islamic socialist caliphate -- one that, strangely enough, also recognizes gay marriage and gives everyone health care.

Go figure.

So, whenever these evil Democrats get power, Republicans feel the apocalypse is nigh.
And they, the super-patriotic Republicans, must save the USA from the unpatriotic Democrats. Thus Republicans believe that making life miserable and hellish for Democratic Presidents is a necessary, just, and patriotic cause -- but, of course, if Democrats dare criticize Republican presidents, then Republicans accuse Democrats of being "unpatriotic" -- and, of course, of trying to destroy America.

Got it?

Well, you won't see me accusing Republicans of being unpatriotic. I firmly believe that Republicans love America.

They just don't like Americans very much.

Health care, living wages, environmental standards, worker protections, reproductive freedom, fair taxation? All these things that might help people's lives? Nope! American's can't have those things!

But sending Americans to die in stupid, mismanaged, unwinnable wars? Preventing gay Americans from having full civil rights? Growing the gap between rich and poor? Lying about the heroism and sacrifices of veterans who happen to be Democrats? Yes to all that!

The logic behind Republican patriotism might seem a bit bizarre but remember, these are the same people who love guns, executions, war, and torture but really are ... pro-life!

But then, when I think about it, Republicans seem to be angry and sore even when they win. Have Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and all those creeps ever seemed happy to you? They're perennial, constant hate machines. Being so full of hate all the time must be exhausting. I can't even imagine it.

Well, Mr NYC wishes the Republicans the best of luck with all their hatred. Happy hating. The American people don't seem to be in hating mood right now. They support Obama and are optimistic about our future. But, politics are always cyclical and I'm sure the Republicans will be sore winners once again. And when they are, I'm sure their hatred will continue to flow, unabated.

Remember Richard Bey?

There once was a local NYC talk show, broadcast on Channel 9 from 1987 to 1996, that was so trashy, so bizarre, so over the top wild, that you hated it but couldn't look away.

The Richard Bey Show was a direct influence on shows like Jerry Springer and, in many ways, laid the groundwork for people like Howard Stern to become mainstream (this is perhaps a dubious honor but there's no question about their impact on the culture).

Richard Bey would interview people about their sex lives and stuff like that but the show's funniest gags would be things like the Mr Punyverse Contest (skinny white men tethered to fat black women who would then race each other) or Queen of the Trailer Park (trailer park women competing for the title based on who had the most miserable trailer park living conditions).

This was freak show entertainment at its lowest -- or maybe its finest? -- level and, considering what our presidential elections have become, who's to say that shows like Richard Bey were that bad? Talking about presidential elections, allegedly, the Richard Bey show was canceled in 1996 because he interviewed Gennifer Flowers around the time of Clinton's re-election and the powers that be were angry and pulled the plug.

After his show was canceled, Bey had a short career in radio but was fired in 2003 because he openly opposed the Iraq War.

Talking about getting it from both sides!

Richard Bey disappeared from the media spotlight for a while but it sounds like he's mounting some kind of comeback. There's a long article about him in the New York Observer and he'll be appearing as himself in the new Bruno movie. It'll be interesting to see if he becomes cool again. I sure hope he does.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Headless Body in Topless Bar

Here's another classic headline from a NYC paper -- this one from 1982.

Take Me Back to Funky Town

Mr NYC is nothing if not nostalgic. If you read this blog regularly then you know that plumbing the depths of New York's collective memory is one of my favorite things to do.

I'm not alone. For some reason, in the last few years, there's been a little boomlette of movies, TV shows, and other stuff that seeks to remember NYC back in what Tom Wolfe called the Me Decade -- the 1970s. Movies like 54, American Gangster, Summer of Sam, and the coming remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3; TV shows like Life on Mars and The Bronx is Burning (based on the book "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning"); and a new exhibit about John Lennon in NYC, all bring back memories of the city in that most of tumultuous of decades.

Call this anti-, or ironic, nostalgia.

NYC in the 1970s was supposedly not a pretty place. Literally and figuratively. According to history, the city was a horror show back then. You couldn't go outside without getting raped, mugged, molested, beaten up, or kept out of Studio 54. Robert Caro wrote in The Power Broker that the city was in "chaos and despair." Annie Hall in Annie Hall said it was "a dying city." That's when the city almost went bankrupt and President Ford told it to "drop dead" (he never actually said it but it made for one of the greatest headlines ever).

Apparently, NYC in the seventies just sucked.

Or maybe not. Maybe it wasn't so bad. Maybe it was actually kinda great. Some people are looking back at this low, dishonest decade and thinking that for all the misery, there was something special about it. They want to go back to funky town.

One of these people is James Walcott of Vanity Fair. He has a great article and a slide show in this month's issue about NYC in the 1970s that remembers the city as a strange, exciting place. It hadn't totally and completely sold out to money like it would in the 80s, 90s, and the oughts. NYC back then was still a place that embraced funky people more so than now. This includes the band The New York Dolls and Walcott has another great short article about this band and the late, great CBGBs.

Reading this, I couldn't help but sigh a little. I don't remember NYC in the 1970s at all -- I spent the three years I was alive in it crawling and running around my parents apartment. All of the exciting stuff was happening downtown, far away. And while the city has in no doubt improved since then, for everything we've gained, no doubt, as Walcott says, we've lost something to.

So all we have now is nostalgia.

P.S. I managed to write two blog posts in a row with "funky" in the title. Good for me. Mr NYC vows to keep it (whatever "it" is, presumably this blog) quite funky indeed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Funky Memorials in NYC

As works of art, memorials are usually very staid, conservative things. Since they are public exhibits and meant to remember the dead, obviously they need to be as tasteful as possible and offend no one. Thus most memorials, on strictly aesthetic grounds, are usually less than stunning l'objects art -- that is, of course, unless they are designed by someone like Maya Lin (who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in DC and the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial in Atlanta).

New York City doesn't have a lot of memorials of note with the clear exception of the Soldier and Sailors Monument on 89th Street and Riverside Drive (I guess Grant's Tomb counts as a memorial, sort of). There's also the World War I memorial in Astoria Park and, of course, the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero is built slowly, slowly.

However, some regular people have taken it upon themselves to create their own memorials in NYC. In Bayridge, Brooklyn, there is a rather incredible memorial to 9/11 of Jesus cradling the Twin Towers. While one might question its artistic merit, there is no denying its sincerity.And if you look around town, on the streets, you might come across some bicycles spray painted in white. These are called Ghost Bikes and the are meant to remember cyclists and pedestrians who have been killed on the streets.

While some might consider these exotic types of memorials strange, in the end, aren't we kind of glad they're there? After all, who says you have to be boring when remembering the dead?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Recession Culture

There is a great story in this week's New York magazine by Jennifer Senior about how the recession is changing the character of NYC. The city's economy is changing and it's way of life is changing -- thus we are now living in a "recession culture." However, if you think about what's happening to NYC and the country's whole economy, it's less of a recession we're living through than an economic "restructuring." It's restructuring in ways that are obviously painful but in other ways that might give the middle class reasons to hope.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Coming of Age in NYC: "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" and "The Wackness"

I recently caught up with two movies on DVD that came out last year: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and The Wackness. Both of these flicks are about teenagers "coming of age" in NYC and, as a former teenager who came of age in this great metropolis, I obviously felt compelled to watch and critique them.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist: Technically this is about teenagers from New Jersey but the movie takes place in NYC and is where the youg'uns "find" themselves so I think it counts. Anyway, Nick is a high school senior who loves, loves music and is in a band with a couple of gay guys called The Jerkoffs. He's just been dumped by his girlfriend who's a giant raging bitch but, like most dumb guys, he can't get over her. His ex goes to school with, and is frenemies with, Norah who is also a giant music geek. So one Friday night, just before Nick a
nd Norah graduate, Nick's band plays a gig at Arlene Grocery. Nick and Norah meet and, in an attempt prove to Nick's ex that he's over her, kisses Norah. After that, hilarity ensues: Nick, Norah, and the gay guys fail in their attempt to take Norah's drunk friend Caroline back to New Jersey, Nick's ex decides she wants to get back with him, and all the while they are trying to find out where a band called Where's Fluffy is playing (apparently this band is so cool and so good that their gigs aren't announced until the last minute and they always play at weird times and places). Needless to say, love and music triumph, as Nick and Norah realize they are the only two people cool enough to understand each other.

I REALLY wanted to like this movie. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist had the potential to be a great early 21st century, coming of age, NYC, hipster flick. Also, it clearly understands how important music is to some people and how growing up sucks. And it's a very affectionate love letter to downtown New York: the movies rushes from place to place, from Arlene's Grocery, to Gray's Papaya, to St Mark's Place, to Penn Station, to Brooklyn, to Veselka (easily my favorite East Village hangout). But the characters of Nick and Norah aren't really developed, I never come either to like or identify with them really. Micheal Cera from Juno and Arrested Development plays Nick and basically the movie doesn't give his character any complexity -- we're basically supposed to love him because he's cute, his character loves music, and we loved him in Juno. Someone named Kat Dennings plays Norah (I'm totally unfamiliar with her other work) and her character makes no sense: one moment she's a tough, smart, and resilient broad, the next she's a little wimp. Totally illogical. As for the story, it's hopelessly contrived. The whole "finding where Where's Fluffy is playing" is lame,
just an excuse to have the characters run around the city. And the ending is very dumb. So sadly, as much as I would love to tell people that this is a great coming of age in NYC flick, I can't.

The Wackness: Much better movie. It has its problems but in terms of story and character development, it's a quantum leap above Nick and Norah. So Luke (played by some kid named Josh Peck who I never heard of but he's really good) is a pot dealer. He's just graduated high school but his college plans are almost derailed when his parents go bankrupt. He has a shrink named Squires (brilliant performance by Ben Kingsley) who Luke pays with pot, and Squires is also the stepfather to a girl named Stephanie that Luke went to HS with and is in love with (Stephanie is played by Olivia Thirlby who played the best friend in Juno; she is an amazing actress). Anyway, it's the summer of 1994 and Luke has two missions: deal enough pot to pay for college and hook up with Stephanie. The only flaw in this plan is Squires, who becomes a bigger and bigger part of his life. Squires is basically going through a mental breakdown, his marriage to Stephanie's mother crumbling, and Luke begins to view him as the father he never had. Events and hijinks and misunderstandings ensue and, unlike the previous movie, The Wackness is totally unpredictable and has one of the weirdest and most strangely satisfying endings I've seen in a while. All ends well ... sorta.

The Wackness really moved me. Personally, I don't know how anyone who wasn't a teenager in NYC in 1994 can't appreciate it but, if you were one like me, you'll love it. This movie gets 1994 down PERFECTLY. I really felt like I was transported back to that time, when teenagers still thought they were cool by drinking Zima and sporting beepers, and Giuliani had just taken office (you may recall my previous blog posts on remembering the cultural impact of 1994 that we still feel today). The only big problem I had with this flick is in the character of Luke: on the one hand, he's this brilliant pot dealer (never gets caught) but at the same time he's a total loser with girls (until Stephanie). Here's the deal: if you're a drug dealer in NYC and you're smart enough to make a lot of money at it and not get caught, and even graduate high school in the process, then you are smart enough to know how to score chicks! Drug dealers have no problem getting laid! Women love hooking up with drug dealers! They friggin' offer themselves up to drug dealers! So I couldn't really buy this whole part of the movie. I realize the writer probably thought that this made Luke a more compelling character (hard nosed drug dealer, wimp with the ladies) but the logic left me cold. However, Josh Peck's performance is so wonderful that you forgive this and, with all the other great characters that populate this quirky flick, you give The Wackness a chance and, as character of Luke would say, roll with it. And Ben Kingsley is so incredible that it's worth seeing the movie for him alone.

Of course, if you want to see a much, MUCH darker coming of age in NYC movie, then watch Kids from 1995. It'll make you have a mental breakdown.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Save Our Swedes!

The Swedish government is threatening to close its consulate's office here in NYC. (I guess the economic hard times is hitting Scandinavia as well.) According to this piece by Clyde Haberman in The New York Times, this has the 30,000 Swedes who live in this town "irked."

Who knew there were that many Swedes in this town?

But since NYC is the ultimate melting pot, this doesn't come as much of a surprise.

And Haberman points out an interesting historical tidbit about Swedes and NYC: The Bronx was named after a Swedish farmer named Jonas Bronck (if you want proof of NYC being the ultimate American melting pot, just look at who and what inspired our boroughs' names: The Bronx was named after a Swedish guy, Manhattan was the name of an Algonquian
Indian tribe, Queens was after the British monarchy, and Brooklyn and Staten Island have their names in Dutch roots: Brooklyn was named after a Dutch town called Breukelen, and Staten Island comes from Staaten Eylandt after the Staten-Generaal, the Dutch parliament. Go figure.)

And of course Sweden has given us such wonderful cultural imports as Ingmar Bergman movies, Ikea, and Swedish meatballs.

But my favorite Swedish import above all has to be ...this guy ...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New York on Tap

Looking for a bar in NYC - with subway directions?

Check out New York on Tap. Very cool site.


Well, it looks like our esteemed elected leaders finally managed to hammer out some kind of bailout of the MTA. Good for them!

Considering that they had until May 31 before the so-called doomsday budget would have kicked in with its massive fair hikes and service cuts, I guess we should be grateful. Still, they could have acted sooner and saved us New Yorkers from weeks of financial agita.

But even though we've been saved from doomsday, this bailout still contains some pain. Here's the rundown:
  • MetroCards go from $2 to $2.25
  • Monthly MetroCards go from $81 to $89.
  • Metro-North and LIRR fares, and bridge and tunnel tolls, go up 10%.
  • Tolls and fares will be increased again in 2011 and 2013.
So some of this is pain deferred. That's the bad news. The good news: there's no service cut and also money for capital improvement projects like the 2nd Avenue Subway (the White Wale of NYC transportation).

Thus we New Yorkers can sleep a little sounder tonight know that our dear, beloved MTA has been made solvent again. Until next time ...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

All In The Family

All in the Family isn't necessarily considered a great NYC show but it really was: a great show about working class, outer borough New Yorkers. You never see shows like this on TV anymore - thank God for re-runs!

More Proof of NYC's Dying Middle Class

Once ‘Very Good Rent Payers’ Now Facing Eviction

And Mayor Mike is going to spend $100 million to get re-elected?

I have an idea: why doesn't Mike's campaign employ every New Yorker facing eviction? Then they could pay the rent and he could single-handily save middle class New York!

Seriously, as I've said before, Mike's been a good mayor in many ways but he has a tin-ear when it comes to the middle class in this town. The middle-class is dying and Mike doesn't seem to notice or care. The most we've gotten out of him about this issue is lip-service but no action.

The term-limits law was extended precisely because Mike is supposedly an expert on ... the economy. But what is the "economy" if not the entity that gives people the ability to the pay their bills? Mike's supposed expertise is in short supply when it comes to rescuing the middle class.

It's much too early, in my opinion, to endorse for Mayor yet but Mr NYC will endorse and vote for the candidate who has the best plan to save middle class New York.

Monday, May 4, 2009

John Lennon in NYC

Many thanks to the always great Zen at Debonair Debacles for giving the heads up to an exhibit opening this month at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex here in NYC. It's called "JOHN LENNON: The New York City Years" and, obviously, it's about his post-Beatles/Yoko Ono/hippie-free love period that tragically ended one day in 1980. Apparently this exhibit will include lots of his artifacts from that time including his handwritten lyrics!

It's hard to remember but John Lennon lived here for many years and became quite the New Yorker. It ways also during this period that he wrote probably his greatest song, "Imagine", and engaged in anti-Vietnam activities that almost led to his deportation.

I really hope to check out this exhibit, it looks fascinating.

Bolt Bus Update

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about Bolt Bus, the super-cool service that runs between DC and Boston. I had noted that it's generally a big city bus service (only stopping in DC, Philly, NYC, and Boston) and doesn't stop in any of the more mid-size cities in between.

Well, since Mr NYC has so much clout, the good people who promote Bolt Bus emailed me today to let me know that, starting May 7, Bolt Bus will now be running to Baltimore. In fact, between May 7 and 10, all tickets to Baltimore only cost $1. That's good news for anyone who's got a reason to head to Charm City.

So it looks like Bolt Bus is here to stay and is only getting better.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sorry Mike

Mayor Drops Off Time’s 100

Challenge for Bloomberg: Vacancies at the Top

The Mayor is running for a third term but the third time has rarely been the proverbial charm. Mayors LaGuardia, Wagner, and Koch all had troubled third terms and they were all succeeded by people who were their political opposites (O'Dwyer, Lindsay, and Dinkins) and who all had really rough Mayoralty's and the city suffered as a result.

Are you still sure you want this, Mike?

Jack Kemp, RIP

Mr NYC was sad to hear of the death of Jack Kemp, the former Congressman, HUD secretary, and 1996 Republican VP nominee. Unlike so many politicians today who are more interested in their careers or some ideology, Kemp was actually interested in public service above and beyond everything else.

Besides politics, Jack Kemp was a great NFL star and his football career is strongly identified with New York State. His glory years were with the Buffalo Bills and he also played briefly with the New York Giants. After football, he was elected to Congress from the Buffalo area.

I saw Jack Kemp speak at my college in 1996, just a few months before he was nominated for Vice President. You could tell he was a masterful politician - he roamed the stage, had a boyish enthusiasm, and told us what kind of country he thought America should be. I'm afraid to say that I didn't vote for the 1996 Dole/Kemp ticket but was glad that I saw him that time and got to hear what he had to say.

My best wishes to his friends and family.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Gotta Love New Yorkers ... but not the MTA

So I'm in the subway, rattling on up to 14th street, minding my own 'bidness, when the robot voice comes over the PA and says, quite voice-of-God-like: "Please be advised: a crowded subway car is no excuse for unwanted sexual contact."

And it gets better: not only were these lovely words blared throughout the train but they also flashed above the passengers on the same screen that announces the subway stops!

Like this wasn't an uncomfortable moment! All of the passengers got a "What the hell?" look.

My only thoughts when I heard this were, "What about wanted sexual contact?"

Then, naturally, I thought of the children. Imagine, some little girl might hear this and ask, "Mommy, what's sexual contact?"

How should mommy respond?

Probably her best response would be, "Don't worry honey, you'll find out in high school ..."