Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard

What follows is a quote from a New York Times story about today's utterly surreal and, in my opinion, near-blasphemous Glenn Beck rally on the National Mall, on the 47th anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. I don't think I could come up with a more off-base interpretation of what Jesus stood for if I tried:
Becky Benson, 56, traveled from Orlando, Fla., because, she said, “we believe in Jesus Christ, and he is our savior.” Jesus, she said, would not have agreed with what she called the redistribution of wealth in the form of the economic stimulus package, bank bailouts and welfare. “You cannot sit and expect someone to hand out to you,” she said.
Oh really? How's about this, from 1 John 3:17–18:
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
Or any of these Bible verses concerning how one should treat the needy.

These people are seriously out of whack.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Goodbye to All That (Blogger)

I'm going to be using a new blog service from here on out, so change your bookmarks (if you have me bookmarked) to either or Both will go there.

I hope you like the new site, Dear Reader. I have a new post up about the High Line and various light!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tell Amazon What's What

Recently, Amazon deleted some George Orwell books from users' Kindles. The reason the company did this was because the books "had been mistakenly published." I saw this in the news, and didn't think much of it until I read this piece by Farhad Manjoo, published today on

Manjoo writes:

The power to delete your books, movies, and music remotely is a power no one should have. Here's one way around this: Don't buy a Kindle until Amazon updates its terms of service to prohibit remote deletions. Even better, the company ought to remove the technical capability to do so, making such a mass evisceration impossible in the event that a government compels it.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, with his company's Kindle e-reader.

If this book-deletion episode bothers you, do this: Write Amazon a quick email, demanding what Manjoo recommends. Here is the link to write Amazon a note. (If you don't have an Amazon account, just click the "Skip sign in" button at the bottom of the form.)

And here is a basic draft of what you should send (feel free to use this verbatim):
To Whom It May Concern:

I was disturbed to hear about Amazon's recent remote deletion of George Orwell books from users' Kindle devices. I understand the reasons why you did so, but I do not believe that any company should have the power to remotely delete books from a computer or other similar devices.

As per Farhad Manjoo's article on, I am writing today to request that you update your terms of service to prohibit remote deletions or, better yet, remove the capability to do so. I will not purchase a Kindle until this is done, and I will encourage my friends and family to do the same.

Thank you for your time.


Power to the people right now.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We Thought You'd Left Us

It's been far too long since I've blogged.

This, too, will not be a full-meal blog, a gallon of water after days in the desert. No, rather it'll just be a quick collection of what's been occupying my headspace of late.

One, I have a new web address, It currently points to this blog, so it's not much of a change, but it's nice to have the domain name.

Two, after being inspired by my brother, I'm currently working on transitioning this blog to WordPress. It's still in progress, so it's yet rough, but go take a look and let me know what you think. It's a little buggy, and when I imported my old posts from this blog, many came through duplicated one, two, or even three times. Anyone else have that problem and know how to fix it?

Third, I made a hot summer jamz 2009 "mixed CD." The reason I call it a mixed CD is because once, an old girlfriend of my brother's gave him a mix CD and called it, on the disc, a "mixed CD"—I guess that was what she thought it was called, and it always cracked us up: a mixed CD. It's all mixed-up.

Anyway, if anybody out there in TV Land who reads this blog wants one (and hasn't already claimed one via Facebook or Twitter), hit me up in the comments (or via email) with your mailing address, and I'd be happy to send one out, in plenty of time for summer listening.

It is highly recommended for cookouts.

Here is the tracklist:

And finally, I got a bike. Haven't owned one for ten years, since Oxford. I bought it used, from B's Bikes on Driggs in Greenpoint. $250, and I talked them into throwing in a bike lock and helmet ($70 value) for $50. I'm loving it. Each of the past four weekends I've ridden down, for various reasons, to Prospect Park and, wow—It really just changes the way in which you interact with the city, expands your radius. And riding up Kent Avenue on a breezy schoolnight, with the Manhattan skyline bright off across the East River, and the wind whipping around you, is a glorious thing.

Here is my bike:

I love it. But now I want one built by these guys.

Monday, June 29, 2009


The end of the weekend ended
as most of my recent weekends
have been ending—with a sense
there was something I’d forgotten
or someone to see about something.

But after reading Sam’s poems,
which are similar to but better
than poems I’d formerly written,
the feeling went via confirmation
of the identical feeling in another:

That last winter was the best winter,
parties at an old house far superior
to the parties currently being thrown,
missing a girl on a goddamned mountain,
and all of one’s best friends leaving.

To which I say: All of one’s best friends
are always leaving, a sense of falling
suspended in mid-air, or the bottom
always dropping to pace the falling.
same as the way that I was feeling

at the wedding the day before:
I was arriving and had arrived,
dancing and having had danced,
the people across the wide lawn
receding as I paced toward them.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Liberty & Fountain

In honor of Summer Fridays (the first of which I might take today, if I can get my work done), here's a poem I wrote a few years back and which I've always been kind of proud of. Dig it. (And forgive the small type; I had to shrink the font size to make the line breaks appear correctly.)

Liberty & Fountain

Yes, we sat and stood at the curb and corner of
Liberty & Fountain, where we’d walked to and ridden buses to
from first Jamaica and earlier Astoria and before Roosevelt Island
It’s Dutch. It’s gotta be Dutch. Roosevelt / Gansevoort
Over the Queensboro Bridge from the city, whose definition grew bigger
as we moved to and from different boroughs.

Yeah, we’re at the corner of Fountain & Liberty we kept saying,
pleased with ourselves for having seen so much unseen
by our fellow hipsters, tourists all, I disdained them.
You were more forgiving.

From the sculpture park where we’d seen art and children saw toys
I studied the cartoon deer lawn statue and we discussed what
the pedestals meant, the junk embedded, the geologic strata –
then the Filipino girl ran up and climbed up and she
rode that cartoon deer with as much if not more intent
than what we’d just brought to bear on What does this piece mean?

I straightened up and thought, well
Of course that’s what it means. Deer are for riding,

So we took the Q something bus on out to where the 7 rushed and rucked
overhead, to where we stood under overpass and
stood forever waiting for the Q60. White faces dropped off
and the bus filled and we felt self-conscious
I don’t know why. I don’t know why that should be so.
But it was so even though I wished it wasn’t. Wish it weren’t.
A cop car slides suspiciously up: Y’all need to get outta here
in a gravel-rough granite-deep voice, or at least that’s how I kept saying it
to lighten the mood.

You and I both laughed but what is laughing but
making loud noises to scare off whatever’s bad out there.
The corner of Fountain & Liberty. Liberty between Fountain & Logan, really.
We kept on saying that. You kept on
laughing and I kept on making you laugh. I was trying.

I was trying to know who Rufus King was,
who had the house that was the reason for the park
where the wedding photos were being taken in Jamaica,
but I didn’t have that information in my mind. Of the information I did have
there was one item which told me I liked parks like Rufus King’s
whoever he was
parks with trees with big tall trunks and lots of rich green leaves
and benches like would not look out-of-place in Savannah.
Broad green lawns and black babies, barbecue
and a sort of blent mist, gauzy, that hung among the upper branches
and seemed a sort of benediction.

We couldn’t stay long, though. We had a plane to catch.
We had a train to catch. We caught the Q8 instead,

and headed back west toward Brooklyn, following our progress
on a bus that filled with only black faces on an MTA map
that didn’t much correlate to reality, but worked alright enough.
Growing up, the idea grows that not much correlates. Nothing’s to scale.

You said you missed John as it was getting late
at the corner of Liberty & Fountain, or more really
Liberty between Fountain & Logan. You laughed
and missed John. Or more really you missed John in between laughing.
Or you laughed in between missing John. Which is the way
I’m beginning to believe life & living just are.

When the Q12 did finally come you were cold, and you cursed air-conditioning.
I agreed. The bus filled up with black faces and you were cold
and hungry. I pressed up against you and once sat forward
You pulled me back and said stay there.
I stayed there.

That bus ride was by far the longest, and when we made Prospect Park
it was as if we’d been in the hinterlands, East New York &
Woodside & Ozone Park, Tibet to Kathmandu, &
that girl you worked with you told me about with the tattoo of an ampersand.

The park opened up like the mouth of a whale made of forest.
We passed its cold marble teeth gleaming dully in the half-moon
The moon in the arms of the sun
and were inside this gigantic green thing, breathing.
You and I were breathing and so was the park and
so was the lake with the lights that brought to my mind
Lake Hamilton in Arkansas, and college nights spent in the dark
on the lake with boats moored and cold beer,
the boats tied together and the lights across the lake
with the engines off and the sound of water, some slipping naked into the dark water,
and so was the bullfrog that was in the lake,
he was breathing too.

We walked along the paths of the park, lit by lovely lamplight
and talked and I told you to breathe in the riot of greenery.
You did so and I did so, us both breathing like a couple
of bullfrogs, struck stupid by art.
The rushes in the lake were six feet high if they were an inch.
And nothing got us.

When we left the park, the townhouses were lit by lamplight or candlelight.
Let’s say the latter.
They were three or four stories tall and for all
I knew this was Paris. Some magic come down from
the heavens to live on Earth. The air perfumed, permeated
with June, finally, in this year of too-long winter
and overmuch rain. But overmuch rain makes the greenery grow
thick & pungent, and that is heavy worth it.
The breathing-in bears out that this is heavy worth it,
regardless of the misting-up and the missing.

For there’s the laughing at Liberty & Fountain, near Logan,
and all of the cupcakes and all of the barbecue and the beer,
all of it, tired legs in the morning and maybe missing, too,
but deep sweet sleep before and summer hours again next Friday.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rain, Rain, Get Lost

Lately, it seems that just about everyone in New York City—myself included—has been complaining about the never-ending rainfall we’ve been having. But how bad is it, really? I decided to do some digging and find out. The following data comes from the National Weather Service Forecast Office, and covers from 1869 to present, with measurements taken in Central Park*. Here are the soggy facts:

The city has had 5.32 inches of rain thus far this month (we had 5.17 inches in all of May). Average June precipitation is 3.84 inches—so, with 12 more days to go this month, I’d say we’re going to beat that by a mile. (Average May precipitation is 4.69 inches, so we topped that, too.)

Q. What was the wettest May ever?
A. In 1989, 10.24 inches fell on the city during the month of May.

Q. What about the wettest June?
A. Our wettest June ever was actually quite recent, in 2003, when we received 10.27 inches. That was the wettest June in 100 years, in fact, since 1903.

Q. How about the wettest 24 hours ever in the city?
A. That would be over October 8 and 9 in, again, a well-soaked year—1903. A staggering 11.17 inches fell from the skies in that 24-hour period … that’s double what we’ve had throughout the past 17 days of June!

Q. So which way is this trending? Is the city getting wetter or drier?
A. Wetter, or at least it seems to be. Three of the top ten wettest years on record in New York City were in the last decade. Even more impressive, eight of the top ten wettest years were in the past four decades. (All ten have happened since 1903.) The most recent wettest year on record was 2007, at No. 4 on the list. That year the city got 61.70 inches of precipitation.

Q. Are we on track to beat 2007?
A. Not likely. By the end of May in 2007, we’d seen 25.91 inches of precipitation, including an epic 13.05-inch April (remember that storm?). By the end of May this year, the city had only received 15.52 inches of rain—respectable, and worth complaining about, but not looking like a record-breaker.

So that’s the verdict: Contrary to what you might believe, the rain has been much worse, and as recently as 2007. And yet....

(In the middle of writing this, I saw that the Times beat me to it. Oh well.)

* Final fun fact: From December 1868 to December 31, 1919, weather measurement for the city was conducted in Central Park, at the Arsenal Building on 5th Ave between 63rd and 64th streets. But on January 1, 1920, measurement moved to the Belvedere Castle Transverse Road, near 79th and 81st streets, where it remains today.