Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kudos, Props, and Requests

A lil' bit of blog bid'ness that I hope you, my sweet readers, will pay some sweet attention to.

First, if you check out my right-hand links, you'll see that I made some additions and subtractions. Added some new links, got rid of some dead ones, and re-arranged a few others. Browse and enjoy at your leisure.

Second, I'd like to request my great readers to send me any links to blogs or websites that are NYC-related so that I can add them to the link list too. If you have an NYC blog and would like it linked here, even better! Just click on the Comments and send me the link and, if it's cool, I'll include it here. Any other comments are welcome as well.

Third, I'd just like to thank the over 76 thousand people (and counting) who have stopped by this blog over the last four-plus years. The vast bulk of my readers are from the USA but there's also a strong number of visitors from the UK, Germany, Canada, Russia, the Netherlands, China, France, and the Ukraine. Considering that this blog is about NYC, a big international city, it's great to know that this blog has an international audience. 

Keep up the great work!

Happy Birthday George Washington Bridge!

The GWB turns a grand old eighty years old today. 

Looking pretty good for an octogenarian. 

Love everything about this structure except the traffic.

Here's to another eight years. 

New York Neuroses

Interesting article that looks very closely at the unique neurosis of NYC. What is it when we talk about "neurotic New Yorkers" exactly? This article attempts to explain why.

Full disclosure: I was actually interviewed for this article last week but my comments, sadly, were left on the cutting room floor. But it was an honored to be consulted and it's a good read nonetheless.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

New York Broads

"There ain't nothing like a dame!"

And there's nothing like New York dames -- or broads -- either.

Take these two very different but very interesting examples.

Liz Smith is probably the greatest gossip columnist in this town's history. She's been practicing her trade for decades (as I've written about here). Recently, Vanity Fair did a great short profile about her and how she's an only in New York kind of gal, how New York has made her what she is today. But she's not originally from here -- oh no, she's from Texas. But when she's a classic New York broad because she came here and conquered, she made this town her own and made her mark. This town may have made her but she also made part of it too. Tough as nails, smart as a whip, a living legend, Liz Smith is one great New York broad.

But New York produces his own great broads too. 
Ellen Barkin has a been a prominent actress for almost thirty years. She's made classic movies like Diner, The Big Easy, Sea of Love, and countless others. And this year she won a Tony for the play The Normal Heart. But for all her fame and fortune, Ellen Barkin is and wants the world to know that she's a New Yorker first and last. You must read her hilarious and wild Twitter feed, where this famous actress bills herself simply as "Bronx girl." And boy -- does her Twitter have a Bronx attitude! She's a real talent and a real New York broad. 

They don't make 'em like this anywhere else.

Haggerty Verdict

On the Streets Where They Lived Revisited

Add this to the culture file for NYC.

As much as we love the arts in NYC, we also love real estate. And hey, artists, they gotta live somewhere right?

Check out this website called Right Here NYC that lists that addresses and sometimes even has pictures of the various homes and apartments where some of the great writers, actors, musicians, and other artists who have lived in NYC over the years.

Where did you Jimmy Cagney grow up?

Where did Greta Garbo live during her reclusive years?

Where did Papa Hemingway live?

You can find out.

Old Friends

Eric Clapton once wrote a great song called "Old Friends" where you opined:

Hello old friend ... Really good to see you once again ... 

Speaking for myself, the greatest friendships are those based on nothing more, nothing less, than mutual affection. Not money, power, opportunism, or anything else -- just good old fashion trust. Those are the friendships that last the test of time, that weather every crises and the changes and vicissitudes of life. True, lasting friendships bow to nothing and no one and truly stands the many tests of time. 

That's why it brought a tear to my eye to read this column last week about two Bronx men in their late eighties who have been friends for ... eighty years! They were both born in Ireland and knew each other as children. Both men then migrated to America and had lives here -- but remained friends throughout. Neither man became wealthy or famous but they had good lives as a gravedigger and a transport worker, respectively. Both married, had families, and the two old Irish friends would sometimes vacation in that workers Riviera known as the Rockaways. 

It's a beautiful story. An eighty year friendship. And thought they've both lived in America for over 60 years, they still have their old country Irish brogues -- so whenever they speak to each other, they remember where they came from and how far they've come.

Sadly, one of them is dying of cancer and soon they will be parted. But there friendship will endure.

An old man passed me on the street today
I thought I knew him but I couldn't say 
I stopped to think if I could place his frame
When he tipped his hat I knew his name

Cultah', cultah', cultah'

The cultural life of NYC is so massive that there should be a TV show about it.

And now there is! 

PBS has a wonderful show called Sunday Arts that explores the various aspects of arts and culture in our fair city -- be it music, dance, opera, theater, art exhibitions, creative profiles, or information about various artistic and cultural institutions and support groups in town. If you, like me, consider yourself a culture junkie and an NYC junkie, then this is the perfect show for you.

Hey, it's PBS so you know it's gotta be classy. 

Also, if you love culture and NYC, you probably love ... wine! And PBS has a show about that too: Vine Talk, hosted by the great New York actor Stanley Tucci. Here you get to learn about new wines and see celebrities drink them. How classy is that?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Howard Stern as Clarence Thomas

Twenty years ago this month, this nation was roiled by the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings. The former law profession was accusing the Supreme Court nominee of sexual harassment and accusations and counter-accusations flew. Before Lewinsky, before the 2000 recount, before the Iraq War, this was one of those events that helped drive one more wedge into the political culture war that divides America to this day.

Back then, Howard Stern was a mostly local "shock jock" who also had a hilarious TV show on Channel 9 on Saturday nights. He did this incredibly funny, very politically incorrect send-up of Thomas in the summer of 1991 -- a few months before Anita Hill came forward with her allegations. This bit was inspired by the revelation that the very conservative Clarence Thomas has once smoked marijuana -- which Howard then turned into a comedy gold.

Watch this and laugh, and relive some history at the same time. It's Howard at his best.

Fightin' da' power, knockin' dem boots

Fighting for change is a wonderful, fulfilling thing to do. It gives meaning to your life and the lives of others.

It's also a really great way to score.

Ever since OWS began, it's not only helped shine a spotlight on the economic injustices of this country -- it's helped a lot of people get laid

Apparently people are hooking up at OWS like crazy. Bankers, those of the evil 1%, have even been propositioning the hot chicks of the other 99%. Even some rich broads want to bang some of the OWS guys because, I guess, they're "dangerous." Left and right, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, rich and poor -- hey, they all get horny.

And maybe that's the best way to unite these hopelessly divisive times : nookie.

It may be that, very soon, OWS will turned into a huge orgy. And, if it does, I'm sure that OWS will be more popular than ever.

Public Private NYC

You must listen to this fascinating clip from WNYC today about the public/private spaces in NYC. Did you know that there are over 500 privately owned public spaces in this town?


Oy vey. 

Most, not surprisingly, are located in Manhattan but there are a few in the other boroughs. This segment also includes a wonderful clickable map of all of the spaces so you can see exactly where they are. 

Thanks to OWS, the issue of privately owned public areas is coming to light.

It's just another one of those endlessly fascinating things about NYC that we should all know about.

Judgment Day!

No, I'm not talking about the supposed end of the world which, according to that crazy preacher guy, is supposed to happen this Friday (I think it was supposed to happen a few months ago but didn't. Considering this guy's track record, I'm not holding my breath).

No, I'm talking about judgment day for John Haggerty, the Republican Bloomberg aid who provided "ballot security" (otherwise known as voter suppression) in order to help Hizzoner secure his third term. While providing this valuable public service, Mr. Haggerty allegedly stole $1 million of Bloomy's filthy lucre for himself. This has led to a widely publicize trial of Mr. Haggerty as well as a trial by press coverage of the very unethical way that the 2009 election was won. Now the trial is over -- and Mr. Haggerty's judgement day awaits.

While this trial hasn't turned out to be a New York City Watergate -- a full blown scandal that brings down a powerful leader -- it has, like Watergate, exposed the sleazy way that Bloomberg -- that billionaire  "I'm not a politician" man of the people -- has gone about acquiring power.

Voter suppression. Money laundering. Legal loopholes. Free lunches to "supporters" to turn out at public hearings about extending term limits. Bribery.

No matter if this guy is convicted or not, it will be a judgment day for Bloomberg of sorts. How his money has corrupted the civic and political life of this town -- and if it will ever be the same again. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Idiot Rides Outside The Subway Car

Third Time is not a Charm

I've ranted many a time about how Mayor Bloomberg's third term has basically been a disaster. Now the media is catching up.

Read here

Happy Anniversary OWS

What a difference a month makes!

Occupy Wall Street has grown from a curiosity to a media event to a world-wide global phenomenon.

You know it's a real phenomenon when the abbreviation OWS is casually used, since the assumption is that now everyone knows what it is.

And OWS has changed the national debate. shining a huge spotlight on the issues of unemployment, corporate malfeasance, and the gap between rich and poor. OWS has stolen the Tea Party's thunder, with 54% of Americans approving it, and only 24% approving of the tea baggers.

Suck it Republicans!

The most amazing thing: this movement is only a month old. One little month. And considering how big it's become in such a short time, who knows where this could lead? 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

A few months ago, I blogged about the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens. Believe it or not, NYC has a national park that's even bigger than Central Park, located on a salt water marsh not far from JFK Airport. When I blogged about it, I said that I had never been there but hoped to go. Well, now I've been there and can report that it's really quite amazing. Let my photos speak for themselves:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

NYC Leads an American Spring

Like many great things in America, it began right here in NYC. 

A month ago, Wall Street was quiet. The streets of America were quiet. For the American power elite, everything was as it should be. Things were looking up! The political parties they had bought and the government they controlled were duly bending to their will. The hated President Obama's approval ratings were tanking and it seemed like only a matter of time before he would be replaced by their favorite whore, Mitt Romney. The richest 1% and their conservative Tea Party allies -- who only have contempt for the poor, the unemployed, the young, the dispossessed, the unlucky, basically anyone who isn't them -- were on the ascendant and these hated "others" seemed to be withering away. The country was going the power elite's way -- with them owning and controlling everything and the rest of us literally and metaphorically dying. Good times were here again! 

Then the streets of NYC came alive and America soon followed.

And the American power elite is freaking out!

It's impossible to guess what the Occupy Wall Street movement will lead to. The American left has a poor track record of grabbing and holding onto political power for very long and affecting huge change. The American right is better at it since they're better financed, better organized, and, in many ways, better motivated. It's easier to get motivated when your afraid of losing something concrete (namely, huge wealth and a privledged position in society) then it is to get motivated about gaining something abstractly better (namely, closing the gap between the rich and poor and a better job). Machiavelli wrote about how the enemies of reform will attack more fiercely than the advocates of reform will fight for their cause since the enemies have a clearer idea of what they'll lose than the advocates have of what they'll gain. This is largely what the power game throughout time has been all about.

But at the moment the other 99% are striking back. The advocates of reform are on the march! They're organizing, making noise, and drawing attention to the grotesque economic disparities in our country and how our government is owned by and operated by the rich few instead of by and for the regular many. The poor and the middle class have done something that they usually have a huge problem doing -- changing the national dialogue, forcing the media to take notice, and scaring the heck out of our bought and paid for government. Right now it's called Occupy Wall Street but it's turning into an American Spring.

Oh, and is the power elite scared! The right wing/Tea Party/Republican Party/Big Media are having a conniption. They're swinging wildly, saying stupid things, unable to comprehend the power of the sleeping giant that's been awoken. 

For example, the loathsome Republican Congressman Peter King recently said, "It's a ragtag mob." It even reminds him of protests in the 1960s which he didn't like since "it ended up shaping policy. We can't allow that to happen." I guess Peter King thinks civil rights and ending the Vietnam war were bad things! Such stupid, thoughtful statements are pure gold for Occupy Wall Street and makes Mr. King the epitome of a useful idiot. Keep up the good work Congressman!

The right wing counter attack has already began and hopefully Occupy Wall Street will ready the counter-counter attack -- and hang their opponents with their own words. Mr. King's words are a good start. So are those of pathetic presidential hopeful Herman Cain who said that if people are unemployed and not rich then it's "your fault." Yeah, try running for president saying that. See how many votes you get. Also wonderful is scumbag Congressman Eric Cantor who has called these protestors as "growing mobs" -- mobs that hopefully will turn into voters and will throw the likes of Eric Cantor out of office.

Mayor Bloomberg -- that billionaire-best-friend-of-the working stiff -- has called the protests "ridiculous." He thinks that people being upset about how their government and society is screwed up is just pure silliness. Yes, tell an unemployed person that he or she is silly -- and then count yourself lucky to walk away without a bloody nose.

Even worse is Bloomberg's girlfriend, the supremely arrogant Diana Taylor. Oh, this is one screwy broad. She recently said in an interview that President Obama has "a lot to learn," apparently because he doesn't completely (only mostly) sell his soul to business and has the temerity (again, only somewhat) to care about people who aren't multimillionaires like her. And Ms. Taylor says that she would have run against and beaten Senator Gillibrand last year but just didn't feel like it. See, she didn't just want to be one of 100 senators, that wouldn't be any fun. This kind of elititest, arrogant, "I'm rich so I know better," screw everyone else kind of stuff goes on and on in this interview. And in the end, Ms. Taylor thinks that what's wrong with America is that most Americans are morons. As the brilliant Alex Pareene of Salon writes: "Mayor Bloomberg, partner diagnose what's wrong with America: You." 

Yes, you, me, and those Americans outside of the rich elite, those of us without powerful connections, those of us who just want to work for a living and live a nice life without killing our souls, yes -- we're the problem! Someone all of us blew up the economy in 2008 -- not the bankers on Wall Street or their employees in the government who let it happen. And these people wonder why Americans are pissed and what Occupy Wall Street gets bigger and more powerful everyday. 

As I've said, I have no idea how Occupy Wall Street will play out politically or if it will change anything. Sadly, big money has a way of shutting down even the most forceful people powered organizations. But hope springs eternal. 

In June of this year, I wrote about how happy I was that gay marriage was legalized in New York and how unthinkable this was just a few short years ago. But I also wrote about how the next front in the war for social justice, now that the war on gay people in New York was won, was ending the war on the middle class and the poor. I held out hope then that something might happen on this front, I just didn't know what it might be. Sadly, I had no good ideas myself. 

But Occupy Wall Street was just the spark I was looking for, and hopefully it will only continue to get more powerful and, a year from now, affect the elections and government policy. Hopefully something good for the middle class and the poor is coming and enemies of reform will be crushed. The tide is turning on the power elite's war on the rest of us.

Here in the streets of NYC, the battle has been joined.

Blogging Again Soon

Sorry for the week long silence -- life has a way of happening to interrupt blogging. However, I'm planning a few new great posts that I hope to get up soon. 

Oh, and I plan to have LOTS to say about Occupy Wall Street and the unintentionally hilarious reaction to it. As it always has, history is happening on the streets of NYC -- and this blog plans to be a part of it.