Long Island City Sunset 03.24.15

March 30, 2015 New York City Comments (0) 270

20150324_185434-PANOThese last few months have been rough, but sometimes this city isn’t so bad. I took this from the roof of our building the other night, while waiting for a GPS signal before a run.

It’s actually two (or maybe three) separate photos that Google helpfully, and without any prompting from me, made into a panorama. So thank you, benevolent electronic overlords. Continue Reading

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We Are All of Us Irrelevant

March 27, 2015 New York City Comments (1) 310

Kips Bay Towers March 2015Out for a walk one afternoon, and this building just grabbed me. The way it filled the entire frame with faceless identical units, the way it towers over the block despite being set back quite a bit, overwhelming you with its sheer scope. I guess that’s why they call this style brutalist*.

*Apparently it’s not–it has something to do with the French for concrete–but fuck it. This building is brutish.

Turns out this is an I. M. Pei building, Kips Bay Towers, which house more than 4,000 residents on three blocks of the East Side and which were part of the condo frenzy in the early 1980’s.

A friend remarked that, “behind each of those windows are people who will likely never meet each other.” That seems to me like a pretty good symbol of life in New York City, or any really big city.

It’s like a human honeycomb, and in each cell is a family or an individual with a whole universe that revolves around them, a complex web of relationships and goals, desires and failures that feel overwhelming even though they’re surrounded on all sides by people who couldn’t care less. Each cell bears the decor that is the physical accumulation of a lifetime lived, but when somebody dies that will all will be moved out, and the space cleared so the next person can fill that blank space with their life and their mementos.

The longer I look at this photo, the less important I feel. I begin to understand why this was the chosen architectural style of fascist governments.

“From the outside I am thinking / I’m a number, not a man
From the outside I am thinking / What were they thinking?”

– They Might Be Giants, “Albany (The Egg)

 

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Photo: A rather dramatic NYC sunset

March 26, 2015 In The News, New York City Comments (0) 208

SmokyNYCMarch262015A massive building fire destroyed three buildings in New York City’s East Village late this afternoon, including my favorite spot to get poutine–but that hardly seems important considering the number of people who were injured and put out of their homes. It took more than 200 firefighters to put out the blaze, and last I heard they were knocking all the buildings down rather than risk an uncontrolled collapse.

I happened to catch the sunset at just the right moment, as the rain clouds (which hung over us most of the day) cleared, leaving Manhattan awash in smoke from the fire and bathing the Empire State Building in visible sunbeams. I’ll refrain from waxing philosophical on this and just say it made for a nice photo. If you think there’s something more to it, feel free to say so in the comments.

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Winter has been hard on all of us.

March 26, 2015 New York City, Personal Comments (0) 163

LongIslandCityPothole

This is the second such hole to show up quite suddenly outside of my apartment building, and I’m wondering if I should be concerned about the building’s foundation. What does one even call this? Pothole? Sinkhole? Abyss?

I looked in, and might have seen tiny claymation demons running around.

It’s been a long, hard winter in the Northeastern United States. If you live somewhere else, I envy you. And your traffic control devices.

 

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Ted Cruz’s URL Fail

March 25, 2015 In The News, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 310

ReadyForCruz

Twitter account @ReadyForCruz

As Senator Ted Cruz took the podium on Monday morning to announce his candidacy for President, rivals and critics were buying up the URLs he and his team failed to acquire in advance–a pretty basic and rudimentary first step in announcing a 21st century candidacy.

TedCruz.com, the most famous instance, is a black box that says “Support President Obama. Immigration Reform Now!” ReadyForCruz.com forwards to a mocking petition from activist group Left Action, and CruzForAmerica.com is parked and points to a blank page. Cruz’s team owns TedCruz.org as well as TedCruz2016.com, but failing to register prominent variations will cost the candidate in both traffic and embarrassment. Continue Reading

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Ted Cruz, the Birther Movement, and Tea Party Hypocrisy

March 23, 2015 In The News, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 385

Today, if all the predictions are correct, Senator Ted Cruz will officially announce his candidacy for President of the United States. Here’s my favorite thing about Cruz for President: He wasn’t born in the United States, but in Canada.

Now, you might be wondering: Doesn’t that mean he’s ineligible to be President? While the answer isn’t entirely clear (meaning the Supreme Court has never ruled) the consensus is that Cruz is eligible. His mother was a U.S. citizen, which experts say makes him a “natural born citizen,” the requirement laid out in the Constitution.

But if you’ve been paying attention for the last eight years, you might be asking yourself another question: Isn’t this exactly what the birthers accused President Obama of? Wasn’t there a three-year, Trump-funded hunt to find “the real birth certificate” because the birthers believed Obama was born in Kenya to a mother who as a U.S. citizen? Continue Reading

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Compulsory or not, it’s time for Internet voting.

March 20, 2015 ACLU, In The News, Politics / Religion Comments (1) 278

It was just past 7 PM on Election Night, 2012. I was in front of my computer, a dozen browser windows open to various local news outlets and social networks, feverishly making memes for the ACLU. “Don’t Leave the Line,” they said in English and Spanish. “By law, if you’re in line when the polls close, you must be allowed to vote.”

479775_10150345243979953_388193148_nWith less than an hour until polls closed, and wind chills well below freezing, thousands of people across our state were still waiting in line to vote. We’d received word that some officials planned to lock their doors at the 8PM cutoff, so while some of our staff took calls to voting rights hotlines, our attorneys were on the phone with judges and election officials, and I worked the social networks, trying to spread the word so that no one gave up their rightful place in line.

This circumstance was not unique to Pennsylvania, or to the 2012 election, and while intentional attempts to suppress votes are at least in part to blame, the larger problem is a system and an infrastructure woefully inadequate to handle even the 60% of eligible Americans who choose to vote.

Our system of elections in the United States is a joke. Voters participating in the most vital core function of democracy must do so by visiting their municipal buildings, staffed by volunteers, often to fill out a piece of paper. In some states–including Pennsylvania–polling places might literally be inside private homes. This is not the system of elections one expects from a society where a person can order a yoga mat from their smartphone and have delivered to their hands 12 minutes later.* It’s past time for the United States to embrace electronic voting. Continue Reading

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