Posts Tagged ‘New York’

What Is a Gift?

November 18, 2012

As the holiday season fast approaches, it has come to our attention that some of our city officials need some help understanding the concept of “gift.”

On Monday, NYCHA chairman John Rhea visited a public housing complex that had been without power, water, or heat since Hurricane Sandy. He told the residents they would be required to pay full rent despite having no services, but that they’d get a rent credit in January, calling it “a nice little Christmas present.”

It seems that Rhea needs a lesson in what constitutes a present and what doesn’t.

First, what a gift isn’t.

If you give someone something you stole from them, it’s not a gift. If you give someone money you owe them, it’s not a gift. If you wrongfully collect rent, knowing your tenants can legally refuse to pay because you’re not providing basic services, and then you give part of that rent back two months later — that’s certainly not a gift.

Got it? Good. Now, what a gift actually is.

If a city’s administration launches a coordinated attack on your movement, and then you come back to help save that city’s ass when its underfunded agencies find themselves helpless in the face of disaster — that’s a gift. If a city’s police force pepper-spray you, hit you with batons, and arrest you en masse for protesting Wall Street, and then, while that city (physically) bails out Wall Street, you pass out blankets to folks with no heat, develop a network of emergency shelters, and carry water up sixteen flights of stairs to public housing residents — that’s a gift. If a city violently evicts you from a park at which you provide free housing and medical care, and then you help provide it all over again when a storm renders thousands of new folks homeless — that’s a gift. A really, really nice one.

Last fall, the New York City mayor’s office and police department tried to shut down the Occupy Wall Street movement by every means at their disposal. This fall — working alongside many other grassroots groups, churches, and individuals to distribute donations and share resources with communities hit by the storm — Occupy has ended up doing the city’s job for them. While the city devoted huge efforts to making sure Wall Street could get back to work as quickly as possible, folks like these — who have never been given “presents” from the city — have stepped in to fill the void for everyone else.

For these people, such work is not a matter of gift-giving, but an act of common decency. They understand — unlike John Rhea — that food, medical attention, and livable housing are never “presents,” but basic human rights.

Visit to help New York residents still struggling after Hurricane Sandy. The Yes Men’s new movie and platform explore how to take our democracy back.

Published in the Huffington Post.

Mitt Romney saw it as a photo opportunity. Occupy New York, rolled up their sleeves, got their hands dirty, were out on the street helping victims of Hurricane Sandy.

We are seeing a cultural shift taking place. From one direction Occupy, from the other those without work.

Dancing in the street

July 10, 2012
dancing in the street

dancing in the street

When you’re waiting for the subway late at night, there’s not much to do but dance and celebrate life. — Caroline Stern

Dancing in the street, or in this case dancing on the subway leads to police brutality, cuffing and arrest.

Caroline Stern and George Hess were on their way home from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night’s Swing. A steel drummer was playing as they were waiting for their train, as they had the platform to themselves and were in the mood they decided to dance.

Two dumb cops, the NYPD finest, approached and asked what they were doing.

Dancing, they replied.

The cops demanded ID and told them to stop.

A credit card was produced.

When an attempt was tried to film the Keystone Cops they turned nasty.

Out of nowhere eight ninja cops materialised. George Hess, who had been filming, was tackled to the ground and both were handcuffed.

They were charged with disorderly conduct, impeding the flow of traffic and resisting arrest. They were detained for 23 hours.

The couple have filed suit for unspecified damages against the city.

Reflections on 9/11 ten years on

September 12, 2011

Our Grief is not a Cause for War — banner in New York ten years ago

9/11 was a terrible tragedy, nearly 3,000 killed as the Twin Towers were demolished in New York, a plane crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth plane crashed in a field.

Questions, questions, questions.

Why were fighters not scrambled to intercept the hijacked planes and shoot them down? For the fourth plane it was probably shot down as the crash site was that of a plane that had broken up in the air, the wreckage spread over a large area.

To bring the towers down as they came down would have required a highly skilled demolition crew, careful timing and placed charges.

The fires in the Twin Towers were fuel rich, oxygen poor. Most of the fuel burnt off in a fire ball on impact.

The towers were designed to withstand a plane crash. The steel cage structure would have conducted away the heat. Similar towers with top-to-bottom fires have not collapsed.

Why did WTC7 collapse?

Why was the crime scene not preserved?

At the Pentagon, why fly all the way around and come in on the one wing not occupied due to building work? Had they flown straight into the Pentagon they would have taken out the top brass. Why were people picking up the wreckage? The image on the building before the roof collapsed did not match the plane. Why did no missile defence system take out the plane?

I know where I was when the towers were hit. I was sat on the step of my French Windows. I thought World War III had broken out.

It was an affront. The attack was on US soil.

The attackers were Saudi, not Afghan. Why bomb Afghanistan back into the Stone Age?

The Taliban offered to hand over Osama bin Laden if the US provided eveidence of his involvement.

It was a crime, a heinous crime, but not a call to war.

Pakistan was given a choice: You are with us or against us. If against, we bomb you into the Stone Age.

The day before, a senior Afghan leader was killed. Was it the trigger?

US is in Afghanistan to control pipeline routes for US oil corporations.

Bill Clinton had reached agreement with the Taliban for pipeline routes, even down to the price for using the pipelines. This fell through due to pressure from human rights and women’s rights groups.

There were plans to attack Afghanistan before 9/11. 9/11 gave the pretext.

Iraq was nothing to do with 9/11. It was a distraction. But US wished to control Iraqi oil.

Christian fundamentalists rode into town on the coattails of the US military. Their meddling has led directly to the slaughter of Iraqi Christians.

US and British corporations rode in to share the spoils of war.

All three countries have been destroyed, the region destabilised by the US.

The dust from the collapse of the Twin Towers was toxic. New Yorkers were told it was safe. It is kept in secure containment.

An afternoon with the NYPD

April 17, 2011

Guy Arrested for Cracking Jokes Near Police

While it’s still, obviously, legal to watch cops ticket a cyclist for riding his bike on the sidewalk, we recommend not cracking any jokes—even at the cyclist’s expense—because then you might get arrested. As this gentleman learned.

The videographer writes on YouTube:

Here’s the scene:

We were enjoying the nice spring weather from our balcony. A friend was visiting on his bike, and he rode up on the sidewalk from the street to our front door. In NYC this is illegal. You are supposed to stop in the street, get off the bike and walk it on the sidewalk. Although he was merely coming from the street up to our front door, those few second were illegal. NYPD rolls up and tickets him for this ($150 fine or appear in court!).

Meanwhile our neighbor walks by while this scene is unfolding. They exchange some banter. We all laughed. He keeps walking.

From there everything escalates… Seems completely unnecessary to me…

At the end of the day, he was charged with harassment, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Welcome to an afternoon with the NYPD.

Ha! Fourth amendment? What Fourth Amendment?

Spread the word! Share on Facebook and Twitter with hashtag #NYPDvsJOKE

Walmart flash mob in Time Warner Center in New York

April 12, 2011

Walmart wishes to open a store in the Time Warner Center in New York. The Yes Men had other ideas.

Sheryl Crow – Run Baby Run

November 26, 2010

From Wildflower Tour, live in New York.

Sheryl Crow – The First Cut Is The Deepest

November 26, 2010

Brilliant perfomance by Sheryl Crow of the Rod Stewart classic The First Cut Is The Deepest.

From Wildflower Tour, live in New York.

Simon and Garfunkel – Central Park – The Sound of Silence

October 26, 2010

From a free live concert in New York 1981.

Simon and Garfunkel – Central Park – America

October 26, 2010

From a free live concert in New York 1981.

The Devil Wears Prada

October 19, 2009

A couple of years ago I read The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. For the first few pages it is witty and amusing, but after the first 50 or so pages so incredibly boring. How can anyone write such trash, even worse read it? Did I really want to know what everyone was wearing? Her second book, virtually a re-write of the first only now the PR industry not the fashion industry, is marginally better.

When I read the book, I thought maybe a short story, but not a novel. I also thought it would make a good film.

A few weeks back I picked up the DVD of The Devil Wears Prada and finally got around to watching it last night. I quite enjoyed it. A rare example of the film being better than the book.

The film is absolutely brilliant. Surprisingly it captures the essence of the book far better than does the book itself. Very clever is the opening sequence where you see the people heading to work but what you see is what is on their feet, their shoes, their boots. The performance by Meryl Streep is worthy of an Oscar. That by Anne Hathaway as the girl from the sticks is also good.

Far, far better than The Devil Wears Prada is the latest novel from Paulo Coelho, The Winner Stands Alone, published this spring. A damning indictment of the fashion and film industry and the cult of celebrity and how easily women are exploited in the name of fashion.

The Winner Stands Alone in a way compliments the film, you get more out of the film, the inner world of fashion after having read The Winner Stands Alone, and the film in turn compliments The Winner Stands Alone. One is set in New York, the other in Cannes at the International Film Festival.

In the syrupy saccharine mini-feature that accompanies the film, the producer praises the director, the director the producer, everyone heaps praise on the screenwriter and trashes the previous screenwriters. Curiously Lauren Weisberger, who did after all write the novel, gets not a mention! Although the novel is rubbish, ironically Lauren Weisberger can write. She does though get a mention in the opening credits.

From what I remember of the book, the ending of the film is different to the book. I only got about halfway through the book and gave it to a Polish friend. She wished to see if the book was as bad in the original English as it was in the Polish translation. What was unforgivable I went out and bought another copy as I wished to see was it really this bad, did it not improve. Sadly no, it didn’t. Now, having watched the film and enjoyed it, I want to read the book again. How sad can you get?

I had originally bought The Devil Wears Prada for a Czech friend. I tried to find her books that were well written, not too difficult and interesting. Not easy to satisfy all three. She has absolutely no interest in fashion. Has a knack though to pick clothes she looks good in. No way, I thought, she will not like this book, a big mistake. Surprisingly she did.

Maybe I am missing something, like why do my Bulgarian friends post pictures of the shoes they are wearing?

The Witch of Portobello, based upon the novel of the same name by Paulo Coelho, has its world premier at the Rome International Film Festival evening Tuesday 20 October 2009.

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