I was leaving a mayoral event uptown -- announcing the reopening of the Harlem School of the Arts -- when I caught sight of this sign for an old gas station. The lettering was unremarkable, but I loved how the vines had embedded themselves, something you don't often see in the big city.
I'd just taken my first shot, poking my camera through the chain link fence, when a voice stopped me.
'What are you doing?' the man asked. He was black, probably in his 60s, and he didn't look happy. Turns out he owned the gas station.
I've been to the Intrepid, on the West Side. It's huge, as aircraft carriers tend to be, and when you're standing up on that sprawling deck, it feels pretty neat. Only thing is, I was there for work. Would I have gone there otherwise? I'm not sure. The Intrepid has never been one of the tourist destinations my wife and I visit with our out-of-town family and friends. We're much more likely to go to Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the Irish Hunger Memorial, the Empire State Building, or a Broadway show. If we're entertaining people who've been to New York a few times, we'll go to the High Line or the Cloisters.
How many Sikhs live in New York City, or for that matter, in the entire country? No one really knows, not even Sikh community activists.
'It's really hard to say,' says Jaspreet Singh, a local staff attorney with United Sikhs, a group that formed in New York in the late 90s but now has offices around the world. 'Nationwide people estimate there are between 400,000 and 900,000 Sikhs. We contacted the Pew Survey and asked them some questions. Their estimate, based on some of their telephone analysis, was about 700,000. Half a million is a very common estimate – but that may be 200,000 off.'
Its a cold day. You're underground, on the subway platform. The train pulls up. Your heart leaps at the sight of an empty seat. The doors open, and you step inside. But you immediately sense something's wrong. Where is everyone?
And then it hits you - engulfs you - a sour, uncomfortably powerful odor. The source: a homeless man at the end of the car, his sleeping face buried within the hood of his jacket.
As of Friday, when the city released its latest homeless count, that scenario has officially become more common. According to the Department of Homeless Services, there are now 3,111 homeless living on the streets and subways. That's a 34 percent spike from last year and the first time it's increased in five years.
But if you ride the subways, those figures may not be surprising -- something you've instinctively felt for a while. While the subway homeless represent only a fraction of the overall numbers, they are much harder to ignore, because commuters share closed spaces with them and often have to make choices about whether or not they'll sit next to someone who appears alcoholic or mentally ill or who simply hasn't bathed in many days.
So here's my question: How do you, as a commuter, deal with those situations?
I'm fine with ethnic humor. For instance, I find Apu on The Simpsons a true pleasure, silly accent notwithstanding.
But on the matter of this weekend's Saturday Night Live skit, "Talk Show with Ravish," I have to agree with my friend (and official Apuhater), Ultrabrown's Manish Vij. He calls it a "shoddy racial throwback":
It’s all here, from the fake Indian names to the craptastic bud-bud-ding-ding accents to the random turbaned guy with a head wrap like a collapsed soufflé faking a bharatnatyam move. How does a show filmed in New York City manage to execute so badly?
These last couple weeks, my home has been deluged with Jose Peralta campaign literature. We get at least one glossy, multicolor mailer a day, if not two, each of them bearing the big, grinning face of this-or-that politico: Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, Borough President Helen Marshall, Councilman Danny Dromm, you name it. They speak to Peralta's record, and urge voters to get to the polls Tuesday, March 16.
The trial of the officers who shot and killed Sean Bell ended nearly two years ago -- Not Guilty, in case your memory is hazy. But even for those of us who are expert forgetters, there are some details that remain vivid.
Like Fabio Coicou.
Here's news we can use more of: According to Mayor B, while people stopped buying as much stuff, attendance at cultural institutions actually rose five to eight percent last year. He cited a study by NYC Arts that I can't find anywhere, but is validated by this survey by The Art Newspaper. And at least with the Museum of Modern Art, the study rang true. Attendance for the fiscal year ending in June, 2009, was at a record high of 2.8 million.
It may seem a bit behind the times to say that independent bloggers are just as legit as their peers in the mainstream media, but in the real world of covering crime, or disasters, or the mayor of New York, that's not the case. Independent bloggers can't get press credentials, nor the special access those credentials bring, such as crossing police lines or a seat at certain mayoral events. That gives reporters with traditional media outlets a disproportionate amount of influence when it comes to covering local politics and city affairs. And it means that City Hall can manage a limited set of reporters as it tries to shape the news.
I swung by the auditions for the Brooklyn Ballet's first Summer Intensive, on Sunday. This is a program for young, hardcore ballet aspirants. BB's hope is that they can take its arabesques and changment de plieds to the farthest reaches of the borough, not just in traditional spaces but in storefronts, community centers, and parks -- i.e., not just where the gentry congregate. The best part was watching the kids in the picture above do their moves. Also, talking to the teenagers who sweat it out daily in hopes of getting to the American Ballet Theatre. You can listen to a few of them here. For a waffly guy like myself, it's hard to believe that youth and determination can be so clearly united. These kids know what they want.
Interesting little item on OpenSecrets.org today, noting that it's now legal to carry guns into national parks. Sidenote:
Gun control advocates, meanwhile, spent a relative pittance in 2009 on federal lobbying efforts -- $180,000. Most of that came from a single organization: Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The decline in gun control advocates' lobbying power is striking: In 2001, the special interest area spent more than $2.1 million on federal lobbying efforts.