martes, noviembre 22, 2005


I gather that, by now, you fine folks know exactly where I stand on red-staters and other tourists accosting my city. Friday is "Black Friday", named for the fact that many retail stores expect the day after Thanksgiving to put them in the black and whisk them away from red debt (Hmmmm...Red = debt. Iiiinteresting.). For me, it is the beginning of the acceleration of my New York nervous condition which was issued to me along with a mini box of Tide and 4 laundry quarters in the mail upon my arrival here. In the spirit of Bill Maher, my favorite Libertarian, here's a list of New Rules for the holiday tourists:

1) If you are looking up at a skyscraper, like the Chrysler Building, you can have 5 SECONDS to appreciate the beauty. After that, you must reacclimate yourselves to your surroundings, have some common courtesy and respect, and MOVE ON. Do not stare at the sky like morons! No, money and hot men/women will not fall from it and it will not suddenly make you cool.

2) For the love of Christ, stand TO THE RIGHT on the subway escalators. Keep in mind that you are invading someone else's city and mooching off of people who have to go to work to pay exorbitant taxes so Central Park stays nice for you lot. LET THEM THROUGH.

3) There is now a Bloomingdales in SoHo. Please use that one and leave the 59th Street one ALONE.

4) If you see fit to take pictures of elevator doors in a certain landmark that just happens to be WHERE PEOPLE WORK, be prepared for those people to pass right in front of your cameras on their way to their offices. Kindly keep in mind, you are disrupting THEIR day, not the other way around, so don't dare bitch at them or I'll send my Arab colleague down to the lobby to issue beheadings. Let me tell you, he has NO problem with violence.

5) A single-file line means just that. SINGLE-FILE. Do not pour out into the streets. Remember, they are not corn fields. People drive on those streets, plus, you are an eyesore to fashionable people.

6) Be decent enough to leave space on the sidewalk for people to walk by you. No, nobody thinks you're fabulous enough to stop and stare at.

7) Please be aware of the following parking rules: Absolutely no parking of people or cars ANYWHERE but Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, the Central Park ice skating rink, major museums in that area, SoHo and Canal Street. You may visit Ground Zero so long as you realize that it is not a tourist attraction and it is NOT YOURS. We know how you people get (please see my September 11th 2004 entry for info on what I mean here). Please understand that tourist zoning laws are necessary for the sanity of your hosts.

Happy turkey day, people!

I Don't Want to Stop Smoking, part deux

This morning as I went to get my coffee, I saw one of the Chrysler Building rent-a-cops holding a little piece of paper in front of him that looked like some sort of city ordinance or something. The people who usually congregate under the canopy in the front of the building are now, as of 8 am this morning, forced to come out from under their shelter and smoke in the rain, even though their spot was technically outside and not really subject to ordinances and the like. When I came out of the coffee shop, I saw about 5 or 6 people standing in a group right in front of the rent-a-cop staring him dead in the eye, each with a cigarette in their mouths. They looked to be staging some sort of protest, which I thought was funny and that's why I mention it. I know it wasn't the rent-a-cop's fault. It is a very unlucky job to have to be one of the people to enforce the stupid laws the mayor makes around here, as if he doesn't have bigger fish to fry, like maybe the growing rate of poverty in the city (by the way, NYC was the only city in America to have the rate INCREASE over the past year rather than decrease). Needless to say, you'll never catch me in that profession, whose reps, by the way, are known to recruit in subway stations. Really, they approached my out-of-shape self to be a cop while waiting for the N train. Can you imagine? Me, a cop? They're like those Marine recruiters in Flint, Michigan (see "Fahrenheit 9/11"). So pathetic it's funny.

And a special thanks to the delegation of the Russian Federation to the United Nations. It is because of them and the "secret meeting" they held with Mr. Annan that the conference room level of the UN building is the last place in the city where one can smoke without consequence. Now I really don't understand why the Cold War happened for so long. Russians are pretty damn cool people. They can look quite menacing, so I understand some of the confusion Old Man Reagan and his lot suffered in the eighties, but really they're very nice. Secretive and peculiarly non-chalant is all. My new boss is Russian, and he's very laid-back, as if he's doing bong-hits in his office or something, and he listens to great music. Hey, maybe we could get Bossman Kofi to establish some kitschy bar in the basement of the UN building. He'd have a hell of an opening night and would make great business. he could really leave a lasting impression on his way out if he did that.

I Don't Want to Stop Smoking

Not that I smoke like a chimney. But this judgemental, moral high horse that people get on nowadays has to stop. The following link is to an editorial by my favorite writer/cartoonist of the moment, Marjane Satrapi. She is an Iranian who now lives in Paris. Check it out. I paid to bring this link to you!

(the link doesn't work, so you can cut and paste into the address field in your browser. have a lovely day, folks!)

jueves, noviembre 10, 2005

The State of the City

The NYC mayoral election is over and done with. Given my previous advocacy of and encouragements to vote, you lot may find it surprising that I sat this one out. The preliminary polls showed that Ferrer was way too behind Bloomberg to win anyway, and there was no chance of some hidden faction coming out and voting to tip the scales (not in Queens anyway, quite possibly the most apathetic boro of the 5), so I didn't bother, and I don't regret this. Plus, I didn't want to be one of the people held responsible for letting Bloomberg back into City Hall. Best to leave the blame to the dollar chasers. However, to the credit of the rich, WASPy liberals of NYC, they went Ferrer, probably in retaliation for Bloomie bending over and taking it from the Republicans and letting a city openly hostile to Republicans host the RNC, for the love of Pete. Of course, Bloomie went on to deny New Yorkers their consitutional right to assemble peacefully in protest of this traumatic experience on their most beloved turf, Central Park. Hmmm, denying people constitutional rights....sound familiar? By the by, did anyone see Ferrer's campaign ad depicting Bloomie and Bush canoodling atop a horse, Georgy in his cowboy costume and Bloomie toting a wad of cash? A last ditch effort, but funny as hell.

According to someone on the DailyKos website, Ferrer went on the air and said something like "Manhattan is better than it was four years ago. What about the other Boros?" The KOSguy said that given that Washington Heights/Inwood and the Harlems were in Manhattan, this was a stupid question. I do not agree at all. Washington Heights/Inwood, my ex-hood (thank God) and the Harlems are undergoing gentrification the likes of which are not often seen. The rate of fancy, completely unaffordable restaurants sprouting up on Broadway between the GW Bridge and 181st Street, of all strips, is blinding, and of course in another 5-10, the barrio will be unrecognizable. The people there now will have been pushed out, which is of course tragic, but I'm not so sad for those people. Do you remember how I said some New Yorkers aren't worth my pinky? These are them. Let them go fuck up another neighborhood, I say. But I digress. Yeah, what ABOUT the other boros? Sorry to say, but we in Queens got bobkes for the past four years. I used to love Queens and looked forward to going back. Now that I am there, I have been pretty disappointed with its comparatively sorry state, save for the Thai restaurants in Woodside and Jackson Heights. Shouts to Queens' most ethnic of populations! Of course it could also be that when I first lived in Queens, it looked so good to me because I was still an idealist, fresh from Sarah Lawrence College with quite a rosy outlook. Now I'm just a jaded New Yorker nursing ever more fragile nerves and a shrinking supply of patience.

Brooklyn is doing quite well by comparison, in the sense that everyday it looks and is considered more like Manhattan. It is somewhere people go for culture, good food and shopping and homes in which to raise a family. Queens has the Sunnyside rail yards. It used to be that if you said you lived in Queens or Brooklyn, people looked at you funny, with a little pity. Now that just happens if you admit you live in Queens. But actually, let me be careful in asking that the mayor turn his beady eyes over to Queens. After all, I would like to be able to afford my apartment for the next couple of years and maybe the occasional scraps from the horrible supermarkets we have to contend with (while Brooklyn gets Farmer's Markets).

On another note which is only somewhat related, it has occurred to me that, until I save up more money, I'm really stuck here. If I have no money for the interstate move, for my new apartment (no, I am not living with daddy. Sorry, pop) and to haul the cats down there, I can't make any move. I don't earn enough money to really save anything. But more than that, my lifestyle is just not conducive to saving money, not that I'm proud of that. I spend money "like a house afire," as daddy says. I am probably the only person in the under$50K bracket that has set foot in Kittichai, an ultra-chic and ultra-expensive Thai fusion joint in SoHo, or who is a member of Equinox, a $130 a month gym. And if I am not home, you can probably find me at Bloomingdales or on the Lower East Side with Jessica trolling the boutiques. Oh well, at least all that is tempered by my penchant for White Castle and cheap ethnic food (Jefe, I miss you!!). At work, the powers that be are rumoured to be dangling money in our faces again. Well, they best dangle quickly then give it up. If I can manage to get more money out of these misers, I'm free to move about as I please. We'll see.

Bloomie notwithstanding, I still have confidence. This city will regenerate and reinvent somehow, and I expect that the essence of the City, which I can't quite articulate right now, will always exist in its original form somewhere, in some corner or alley. Conversely, there will always be something to piss me off and that reeks of times ahead: the Times online made it so now I have to pay $10 a month just so I can read my favorite columnists, Maureen Dowd and Thomas Friedman. As my old friend Tamara used to say, after a loud gasp: "Fuckers!"

lunes, noviembre 07, 2005

A Mea Culpa, issued in advance

This past March, I expressed the opinion that Europeans don't have such issues with race as the United States does. I can still express that opinion and it will have some truth to it. After all, and correct me if I'm wrong here, Europe didn't have laws in place barring black folks from education and voting that lasted well into the twentieth century. However, for a week now, there have been racially-charged protests in Paris. Apparently, two kids, one Tunisian and one from Mauritania, were accidentally electrocuted while hiding from police in a power station. The police of course denies having chased after them. This ignited night after night of violent protest at unemployment and perceived lack of opportunity for the community of color and the immigrant community, and one elderly white man, who was attacked by a hooded man last week and was in a coma, is the first confirmed dead as a result.

Anyway, I got a lot of crap from my parents for making the comment back in March, and it continued for months. You will remember of course my comment was in reaction to a racist, elitist article by a conservative asshole, and I couldn't help myself. However, let us keep in mind that I have not read any other article like that in any newspaper from any other country but the United States. Maybe I should just concede that Americans have more balls than most and are willing to admit they're full of shit in public.

My parents are in Argentina right now, and if they are watching the news about Paris, they will no doubt come at me and say "we told you so". So in anticipation of that moment which may or may not (if I'm lucky) come, I make the following statement:

"I apologize for having put forth an opinion that was proven wrong 7 months later. If I should ever again come up with an opinion that has even the tiniest chance of upsetting a conservative member of my family, I will keep it to myself. Now let it go."

What about George?

After reading a couple of articles from BBC Worldwide news on this past weekend's trade talks in Argentina and a rebellion by many states who are adopting their own versions/parts of the Kyoto protocol that Bush rejected, I'm convinced that George Bush must have some pheromone that disgusts people and makes them rebel against him. Either that or the polar opposite of the Midas touch. Everything he touches or even thinks about turns to the smelliest of shit.

One example of this is the plan for free trade in the Americas. According to the BBC, the FTAA was an idea coming from Latin American states. Back in good old (comparatively speaking)Clinton-era 1994, there was a similar summit in Miami, and it was the developing nations who were the most fervent lobbyers for trade reforms, with Brazil wanting to negotiate with Washington on equal terms. At that summit, a timeline was agreed upon that would have ended FTAA talks by 1 January of this year. But somewhere in the course of 11 years, the same people who supported trade reforms have all but buried whatever bastardization of them that Bush put forth at this past weekend's summit in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The trade reforms have degenerated into just another part of the US' imperialist agenda, as they are, apparently, no longer what developing nations had bargained for. The "anti-Yankee" protests that my mother insists have been going on for years in Argentina have actually happened this past weekend. I think the degeneration of the FTAA talks is due to a host of other things that Bush has been doing with his time that other leaders sort of let get in the way. Since one "initiative", like Iraq, can pepper everything else that comes from the same head, Bush will never be able to do right, even if he actually tries. But fair is fair, and some of the blame for the result of the most recent trade talks can be attributed to changes in leadership, meaning changes in just how far Latin America is ready to let the US go. In any event, the talks fell through for now, and Bush and his army are looking forward to the WTO talks to make up for this past weekend's lost opportunity. But the Caribbean states are pissed off at the WTO already for regulations on bananas and sugar, and are gearing up for a fight. I smell revolt.

As for Argentina, those people seem to be a little too hot-headed about Bush. They are ready to blame Bush for every single thing that has or will go wrong in their country. An example is the devaluation of the Peso. That's not Bush's fault. That's what happens when you borrow money you have no hope of ever repaying, a condition which is worsened if the lender happens to be the IMF. In a very uncharacterisitic defense of Bush, I must say, one man can't stomp all over a country alone. Argentina has been in trouble for many years, and while a large part of the blame does have to go North, a lot of blame should be shouldered by Argentina for its corrupt, theiving governments. This is where I agree with my mom: Some countries are like my father. Very quick to deflect blame to other parties. For example, if daddy made a wrong turn somewhere, he would say it was my fault because I was sitting in the passenger's seat of the car and did not correct him. But really, the fault was his for not knowing his directions and/or for being a typical male and not asking directions. Similarly, if a country takes a wrong turn, a lot of the blame has to go to the country's leader and how he or she is handling, or stealing, things. The country's leader has to think seriously about what all he has done before he considers blaming Bush for not correcting him. To be clear, I am not at all disputing that the US and their foreign policy has a lot to do with the stymieing of the development of many countries around the world. In Argentina, the US supported the military dictatorship of the '70's and '80's, and the subsequent massacres that occurred to thin out the Communist troops (mostly idealistic young people and students) who, according to the dictatorship, were ready to stage a coup at any moment. The answer was obviously (to the dictatorship) to try and kill all of them, and the same happened in Chile and Paraguay. All of it US-backed. Coincidentally, Argentina's problems started there. This is historical fact, and it is also fact, my friends, that karma is a bitch.

In other news, 9 north-eastern US states, including New York, thanks very much, are ready to sign an agreement setting legal limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power stations. In California, Arnie is working on legislation that will presumably cut emissions from cars by 30% within a decade. What's more, 187 mayors from cities and towns across the US have pledged to adopt Kyoto targets for reducing greenhouse gasses. So much for Bush and his "it'll cost Americans jobs" waa waa waa schpiel. Yeah, it may cost some jobs but I think it's better for all of us in the long run if we STAY ALIVE.

jueves, noviembre 03, 2005

Boys to Men?

Well, folks, the latest in my saga of the X: He is, uh, between housing, and has been staying at a friend's house (this friend is also his manager and once upon a time they were roommates, which is why his job situation sometimes sounds like a dream to me), and now he is staying with me. This is cool, because I have a live-in chef for the next week or two, someone to get up and get me soda or cheesy-poofs when I'm reclining on the couch, and someone to with whom to do dark deeds, although not the ones that immediately race to y'all's dirty-ass minds. Geez.

The fucking Star Wars stupid ass Episode Three Revenge of the Sith (what the fuck is a Sith any damn way and what significance would this have to my reality?) DVD came out this week, and every time the commercial comes on, which is twice every five seconds, old boy starts to panting, gasping, nudging me and pointing at the TV as if he DOESN't know I don't care. Not only this, but the man has a Playstation whichever-the-current-one-is-numbered and plays Grand Theft Auto as if it were going to self-destruct at any moment. Meanwhile, I have just bought a brand new Apple Powerbook G4 with printer and whatnot and am establishing my little home office thing, and I'm getting ready to sell my stupid Nintendo 64 with all its games on eBay because the time for that frivolity is gone. Yours truly is turning 30 in March, and I will need to act the part, seems to me, and get my assingear.

Which brings me to my theory. Boys may age as much as they have to, but they stay very boyish to a much larger extent than girls do. Girls invariably grow into women and start concerning themselves with women things (this goes for all of us except the butchest of lesbians - shouts to my senior year suitemate from college) almost immediately. In fact, a lot of us can't even wait until we're women to concern ourselves with women things. True, we do have the occasional giggle fest, but they become accompanied by martinis and shit instead of pillow-fights and hair-braiding. Although I will admit I have occasional yearnings to climb a tree and whatnot. But really, I think girls are FORCED to grow into women the minute we start to bleed every month, while boys are given the OPTION to do so, since the only notice they get is their willies getting bigger and hairier, which is a good thing of course. It almost seems like guys have a built-in ceiling to some parts of their internal development, and I'm waiting for the issue of Time magazine which will feature a story on the medical breakthrough that found some little extra flap or something in guys' brains that makes them part child for life.

I have to say it: sometimes I think men are adorable because of their occasional childlike behavior. I want to pat them on the head and smile and pinch their cheeks. But my X, sometimes I want to tie his hands together just to see him go through Playstation withdrawal. I want to know if he will foam at the mouth and start shaking and screaming and carrying on like recovering crack fiends do. Yes, I am sharing these ugly thoughts with you because, except for Sivilicious, y'all don't know me. So there!

martes, noviembre 01, 2005

Bloomberg vs. Ferrer

These are probably the toughest words I've ever had to write.

Last week, I picked up a new book called "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning", about New York City in the seventies. You know, the urban blight, the Blackout of '77, the riots and the Son of Sam killer who swore that the satanic dog made him do it. The quote is from Howard Cosell who said those words as he broadcasted game 6 (I believe) of the '77 World Series at Yankee Stadium. You could look over the tops of the Stadium and see apartment buildings burning in fires set by arsonists and slumlords trying to cut their losses and get insurance money, to the detriment of already destitute people with no place to go. There were all kinds of strikes, crime was out of hand, the subway was in horrible shape and people were advised to not use public transport or even walk the streets after a certain time of night. The City was a disaster and was threatening to get worse. Incidentally, the two mayors who presided over the City during that time were John Lindsay and Abe Beame, two Democrats, both disastrous. To be fair, both were traditional Democrats in that they championed social reforms as a way of tackling other areas, like the economy. Most everyone knows that to solve a problem, one must go to the root of it, and that's what these guys set out to do. But New York didn't work the way they thought it did, and critics, in retrospect, wonder whether Lindsay and Beame were TOO GOOD for the City. I don't disagree with that theory; quite honestly, a good lot of New Yorkers are not worth a shit. Then, like a wrinkly, balding, Jewish angel from the heavens came mayor Ed Koch in '79 to save the day, which he did, slowly but surely, and in the nineties, mayor Giuliani turned the City into a rich man's paradise and "Disney-fied" Times Square. But I digress, again. My point is that New York City LOVES Democratic presidential candidates, but they have trouble with a Democrat in City Hall. No one will ever know why that is. It will remain one of the City's many mysteries, and its the many mysteries that make this City so damn fascinating to me.

The elections are soon. Ferrer is far behind, Bloomberg is projected to win by a landslide. I hate to say it, but I think that between the two, Bloomberg will do better. Not that much better, though. Considering that Ferrer, of Puerto Rican descent, can't even rally his own people behind him even though Latinos rule the city in terms of population but are grossly underrepresented, I'm putting my money on Bloomie. Ferrer has lots of good ideas and I of course especially like the fact that he would speak for those people whose mouths have been taped shut over the past 12 years the Repubs have been in City Hall. But Ferrer has the Kerry syndrome. He is head and shoulders above Bloomberg in terms of experience and raw brainpower and a lot of people hate that, because knowledge and dignity offends those who don't have either. They resent it, and they can't look beyond that at the qualifications that Ferrer brings with him. He has tons more experience than Bloomie: he was Bronx borough president for a long time, for one thing, while Bloomberg is just a businessman with a cable channel who thinks that riding the subway will all of a sudden make him "one of us". True, with Bloomberg, I can expect more of Albany and Washington cheating the City while Bloomie acts like their lap dog, the subways will get invariably worse and worse while the fares go up and up, and everything will become more expensive while workers, like me, are denied basic cost of living increases in their pay and people are simply bought out of the City. I honestly can't think of one good thing Bloomberg can do for the City. But this I know, Bloomberg will not let the City go back to the '70's. I think I can be pretty confident that that won't happen again, and I'm going to have to vote for that (Ladies and gentlemen, there go my principles). Unfortunately, this City has been traditionally ruled by money and big business, and Bloomberg perpetuates that, which is why folks love him. When the going gets rough, Bloomie will throw his money at the problem, and around these parts, money makes problems all better. I think that Ferrer will just be a disastrous repeat of mayors Lindsay and Beame: too good for New Yorkers, but not quite good enough to fix their realities. The bottom line is that nowadays, people who are driven by a lust for cash look way down their noses at people who do not and call them head-in-the-clouds Commies or just very politely feel sorry for them. I've totally felt that myself, but as daddy says, money has way more potential to hurt than it does to help, and I'd rather be a well-adjusted person than a rich, snotty bitch.

The Search, part III

Searches of bags by New York City cops, which began on 21 July after the London Tube was bombed a second time, are being argued in a case brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union (link to NYT article posted below). The NYCLU argues that the searches are a violation of the 4th amendment, and should the NYCLU lose the case, it will be the first time (that I have heard of, at least) a judgement goes directly against the Constitution of the United States and favors, as I see it, the tactics of intimidation and fear that the federal and New York City governments are trying to pass off as necessary evils. I was willing to go along with this farce for a while, as nothing pleases me more than letting cops know they are full of it and that they are nothing but losers someone picked up off the street to become cops. This is true because only a handful of New York City cops know what the hell they are on the force to do, and this is proven time and time again, whenever we hear of some hapless cop just shooting someone and saying that he saw the suspect draw a gun that was never there to begin with.

It turns out that the subway searches, just over three months old, have not revealed anything, not a dime bag or even a pen knife. Meanwhile, kids are getting shot in Brooklyn over basketballs and such and the guns continue to flow right on up I-95, the main thoroughfare for weapons imported from the dirty South, and over the George Washington bridge, and as far a i know, nobody has been that concerned with those things. Another thing that makes the subway searches a complete waste of time is the fact that the local government and the cops have been extremely half-assed about them, as I have said before. Funny, if I gave a half-assed performance on the job, I'd get fired (that is, if I worked in a normal place, which I don't, for better or for worse). I did a half-assed job in school for a while there, and I got the shit kicked out of me by my parents and teachers. Why is a half-assed response to terrorism of all things in any way acceptable? If the fuckers in Government are going to make stupid rules and say they are for the common good, then the rules should apply to everyone, everywhere, all the time, and due action should be taken ALL the time. Not just when law enforcement feels like doing their job.

In my opinion, the City better get its shit together before they go argue against the Constitution. But what do you guys think? Will there be a judgement against the Constitutional right of every American to privacy? Or will suspicion rule the day?