Big Smoke

’cause it’s hard to see from where I’m standin’

Slumlords and Bigots

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The Voice has been doing two articles on the city’s worst landlords (something it writes on fairly regularly, and for the most part the culprits tend to fall into one of three narratives:

  • Real estate sharks who over-leveraged during the housing boom.
  • Real estate sharks whose business model involves converting rent-stabilized apartments into market apartments.
  • Orthodox Jews who discriminate against non-Orthodox Jews.

Perhaps Lieberman is more right than he thinks: Perhaps East Jerusalem isn’t so much like Queens as Washington Heights (and Williamsburg) are like East Jerusalem. Two of the three listed are basically aggressive efforts at mass eviction*. All you need’s a bulletproof bulldozer and the similarities become apparent.

On a more positive news front, Obama and Pelosi** have won the first battle for health care in this country in over 50 years, despite the McCarthyite Red Scare and the John Birch Society-esque race baiting (and misogyny and gaybashing and…), making yet another historical step forward under Obama’s belt – making the grand total three now: Being elected and not shot, saving us from a second Great Depression, and now doing more for Health Care than Clinton and indeed anybody since LBJ.

I’m not so optimistic that this battle won will finally nail the coffin of the Republican Party, and I’d like very much to believe that their extremism and fear-mongering and incitement to violence (up to and including a call to arms against the government as illegitimate, itself a treasonous accusation) is mere desperation that they have finally lost touch with the people – and I yet do indeed believe that the Tea Party Movement, filled with bigots as it is, is mere Astroturf under the hands of moguls with power to lose – but what I see shocks me, and I just wish it over and done with.

*And the last – the over-leveraging – is proof positive that rich people have no concept over how much they’re truly and directly screwing the poor, because I’d much more easily accept that they’re ignorant rather than they don’t care. If it is indeed the latter, then I don’t need to advocate violence – violence will come anyway.

**And might I say how much it sickens and angers me how much casual vitriol and cavalier hatred has been directed towards Nancy Pelosi’s gender – as had been previously laid on Hillary Clinton – not unlike how Barack Obama, since entering office, has dealt with every single piece of cynical badgering that Clinton had to put up with, plus an unending torrent of race-baiting that has flowed down to just about every Black member of Congress, to say nothing of liberals in general. Are we really so backwards as a people?

What the Fuck?

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“They are demanding that Jews not be allowed to build in East Jerusalem,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Israel Radio. “We cannot bar only Jews from building in a certain section of the city. Can you imagine if they told Jews in New York they could not build or buy in Queens?”

Yeah, sure. If Queens were another country that Manhattan had occupied by force, and the ever-present NADF’s* tanks were rolling down Northern Boulevard to make sure Chinese immigrants – and only Chinese immigrants – could build in Bayside…

*New Amsterdam Defense Force

Da fuck outta heah

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I can’t believe shit like this today gets published in the Times. To paraphrase, “We yuppies, despite being responsible for the gentrification of the neighborhood, are complaining about how more yuppies are moving in and totally destroying its character. Also, our view.” Thankfully, some are pointing out said bullshit.

But then, it’s not exactly new. Any argument on Brownstoner or City Data tends to flow like that, with some especially ripe diatribes between hipsters and yuppies:

hipster: “So sick of these Park slope people . I would rather live in one of these Carroll gardens rentals much closer to manhattan and i feel like this is a tiny village in europe.”

yuppie: “Last time I was in Europe, there weren’t a bunch of goombah’s running around whistling at every chick walking by like they do in CG.”

hipster: “Yea but you keep forgeting about all the french and the other Europeans moving to Carroll Gardens.”

breeder: “Is Brownstoner in decline or something? Why on earth is there a feature about a rental property, for God’s sake? A *rental*! I thought this was a serious blog.”

I’m more authentic!” “No, I’m more authentic!” Fuck the both of you, whitebread yuppie scum! Nobody cares which overpriced realtor’s district has more boutique fusion/sushi bars when you’re paying twice Manhattan rates for the fucking F train.

Or an argument between white folks over which minority is the most dangerous:

whitey: “Project buildings all over the place, random acts of violence, crappy bodegas, thugs hanging out on the corner. Thats what comes to my mind when I think of Spanish Harlem.”

guido: “Not to be rascist [sic] or anything but I always thought the worst of Harlem was the black part…”

bystander: “why would the black sections of harlem be worse than spanish sections? because they’re black?”

guido: “Just my opinion growing up in the west Bronx which houses a large amount of hispanics, the area is poor but the areas with the higher crime are usually more towards the central and south…or predominantly black areas. [...] Washington Heights/Inwood which are Dominican neighborhoods have a lower crime rate than Spanish Harlem which is a Puerto Rican neighborhood (or used to be)

Anybody know why this is the case?”

West Bronx, you say? You don’t perchance mean Riverdale, do you? Honkey.

Or an argument between white folks over how Dominicans and their baby-making are ruining the area:

guido: These are poverty levels in the city… each zip has about a 75% Dominican population. These are the ghetto thats point blank. [...] I had to watch my back everywhere because there were like 1000 kids out.

honkey: Nothing against Dominicans. I have lived in Inwood for about 4 months now and [...] It is just very frustrating to live in America and feel like your being taken over.

Forgetting, of course, that they’ve been there fifty years and you’ve been there four months.

Or to put it another way, you’re all fucking idiots.

Fuckin’ Duh

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Christoper Beam of Slate muses, “Do newspapers ever correct a speaker’s broken English?

Short answer: Duh. So what?

The only time it matters that we know the exact manner in which something was said is either a) so that it be intelligible, given the context, or b) if the speaker is a public figure. We care about Bush mangling words because he’s a public figure. We don’t care that Juan the electrician from Flatbush mangles words because he is not a public figure, and the news is and should be more interested in the content of his words than in judging him for how he says them.

Trafficking

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A few NYC cabbies are found out to be double-charging for trips, and people go ballistic.* Don’t they know that the only people allowed to gouge the American public are bankers, government contractors and insurance providers? Meanwhile hamburgers still go for $25 in Times Square, so in reality it’s only a crime if they force locals to pay these ridiculous rates.

Consequently, imagine my surprise at just how far Bloomberg’s gotten to documenting everybody (and the NYPD have been doing so a bit more aggressively as well) when, in hailing a gypsy cab up in Washington Heights I found that, to a man, they now had little plastic cards with the NYC logo showing their licenses and a bill of rights for customers, including how very illegal it was to hail them. It didn’t stop ‘em from ferrying me around, but hey: We must keep appearances, no?

Speaking of appearances, a Mercedes ad has cropped up on the pages of Bike Snob and Streetsblog, where some guy in a Mercedes SUV enjoys a leisurely trip while losing time in a race with a frenetic bike messenger. The former scoffs at the ridiculous route the Mercedes driver took, the latter rails against how they make Manhattan bikers look like maniacs. Well, this ain’t Amsterdam, after all (though I do have special enmity against one-speeds). They both forgot the most important part of the whole exercise: Where the hell is that guy gonna park a goddamn SUV in Brooklyn Heights?

*Seriously, get over yourselves, people. An extra $4 a trip average ain’t gonna break the bank if you’re taking cabs in the first place, it’s a scam as easy to catch as watching the meter tick once, 3,000 cabbies outta an estimated 39,000 – what with the high turnover rate – is far from universal, and saying you’re “not going to tip out of spite” or how we should “revoke their green cards” is petty and racist.

Hypocrisy,

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thy name is Marc Thiessen.

The Daily Show aired interview basically went like this: Thiessen raved on a McCarthyite tirade for three quarters of the airtime, venting how legal defense of criminals in a court of law is treason so long as the Feds declare said criminals “enemy combatants” first, and wanted the names of such public defenders released publicly so that they could be hunted down in this all-encompassing witch hunt. John Adams? Fuck John Adams. Our terrorists were freedom fighters. Their freedom fighters are terrorists. Even when they’ve never actually done any fighting.

That was the substantive portion of the rant. The methodology was equally awe-inspiring: He spoke over Jon Stewart most of the time – just straight through him – in a rage that quickened his words, raised his voice and had him literally shaking by the end of the interview in sheer will that he be able to dominate the debate by sheer volume of words, and the brief moments he wasn’t talking he was berating Jon Stewart for not letting him talk. It was as if he had expected all viewers to have suddenly lost the capacity to tell time - where the laws of physics would bend to his worldview.

It’s at times like this, coupled with on-air chink in Glenn Beck’s conspiracy theories during his ill-researched interview with Eric Massa, that I wonder whether people are watching the same hypocritical bullshit I am – that the terms “conspiracy theorist,” “faux-populist,” “extremist nutjob” aren’t strong enough to describe the barefaced hypocrisy prominent in the kinds of people allowed to be on the air. Reporting isn’t dying. Reporting is dead, and The Daily Show has been a ten year eulogy on its corpse.

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