This is what it looks like in my apartment building when it rains.
It isn’t safe to use the stairs, you see, because the skylight above the stairwell is broken and massive quantities of rainwater make the stairs slippery. This has been the solution, mind you, for well over six months now. Once or twice when I have used the stairs in the rain, I’ve had to carry an umbrella. Continue Reading
On Friday Liz and I took a walk, winding our way from Bellevue Hospital to Williamsburg. We found a beautiful little secret garden behind the hospital with some amazing handmade treasures. It was particularly striking with the enormous car rack as a backdrop.
I snapped a lot of photos. Here are a few of my favorites. You can view the whole set in this Flickr album.
It’s been beautiful here in the Big Apple the past few days, which means I seize every chance to get outside and get some fresh air. Once in a while I even remember to take photos.
As a rule when I explore a city I try to get photos of elements people don’t see all the time, or (even better) elements locals tend to overlook. And, yes, occasionally I stop along Fifth Avenue and take a touristy photo of the Empire State Building. I can’t help it, it’s a damn impressive building.
Anyway, here are a few shots I got on a recent walk through Chelsea, including an anonymous industrial building near the Highline and a mural I’ve never seen before, even in photos.
After attending a particularly drunk and rowdy brunch at a bar in downtown Arlington, Virginia (nice town, by the way) Liz remarked how different it was from the more subdued brunch in New York City. I remarked, off-the-cuff, that “New Yorkers have a certain expectation of how New Yorkers are supposed to behave.”
This got me thinking about how people change to fit the city they live in–or the city they might be visiting. We all know humans unconsciously change their behavior according to the role they are assigned, but in many cities there’s also the question of self-selection. New York City is full of aspiring Carrie Bradshaws, Gordon Gekkos, and Patti Smyths. [pullquote position=”right”]People don’t just behave based on their city’s reputation; they move to the city they think suits their ambitions.[/pullquote]
We got talking about examples that came to mind: The way Philadelphia sports fans worked to maintain their reputation for anarchy, half a century after the infamous Santa incident; the young beautiful Angelinos who adopt every new diet fad and obsess over physical beauty; the bikini-clad beach bodies in Miami, back-country liberalism of Austin, and ardent anti-corporatism of Portland or Seattle. Yes, these are stereotypes, but that’s the whole idea: some stereotypes are reinforced because people unconsciously work to conform to them.
In late 2005 when I moved back to Pittsburgh after five years away, I discovered how much Queer as Folk had influenced the gay culture. QAF, actually filmed in Toronto’s thriving gay village, was set in a fictional Pittsburgh that greatly exaggerated the city’s gay presence. I met numerous young gay men who had moved to Pittsburgh because of the show, and bemoaned the gap between television and reality. I often wondered why they hadn’t bothered to visit first–Pittsburgh has no shortage of hotels. Notable, however, was how the gay landscape in Pittsburgh flourished, in part thanks to QAF, as the locals and newcomers created a world that resembled their fantasy.
Liz and I got talking, too, about cities that don’t necessarily have as strong a sense of identity. I didn’t find that there was much of a “stereotypical Philadelphian,” for example–at least outside the sports arena. I think I might prefer this kind of setting, because people feel less restricted to type and more free to be themselves.
I have heard murmurs recently about discontent among Portland residents who say fans of the show Portlandia arrive expecting a certain kind of experience, and that an influx of Portlandia fans has begun altering their community in a way they don’t necessarily like. Maybe in five to ten years, Portland will become more like the show. I wonder if South Philadelphia is being reshaped by fans of It’s Always Sunny, though I can’t say I’m familiar enough with either program to say what they represent. I did occasionally meet tourists, when I lived in South Philadelphia, helplessly searching for a bar called Paddy’s that didn’t actually exist.
I wonder about cities like Columbus, Denver, and San Diego, where I’m not aware of any stereotypes beyond broad generalizations about their respective regions. I’d guess there must be a shared sense of identity, but nothing as strong as the caricature of the frazzled sophisticate adhered to by so many New Yorkers. I wonder if these people feel more freedom to be themselves, rather than following a cultural archetype.
I’m posting this story here because I just love it so much.
So the Catholic League is an organization established to “defend the Catholic Church,” headed by a man named Bill Donohue. Like most Christian advocacy groups, the Catholic League interprets “defending their religion and civil rights” as imposing their beliefs on other people, and claiming they’re harmed any time a person or group of people choose not to be Catholic. Probably because there’s no need to defend something that isn’t being attacked, but I digress.
This year, a few beer companies pulled their sponsorships of the Saint Patrick’s Day parades in New York City and Boston because the parades don’t LGBT people to march. [Those beer companies, by the way, are Guinness, Sam Adams, and Heineken. Hooray for them! Buy more of their products. I would, but I don’t think my apartment can hold any more beer.] LGBT marchers have been banned by Saint Patrick’s Day parade organizers for decades, by the way.
In response to the boycott, the Catholic League sprung into action. Remember, not endorsing Christianity is attacking it. Bill Donohue had a brilliant idea to call attention to the hypocrisy of the LGBT community: He would attempt to register the Catholic League for New York City’s Pride Parade in June. Their float would be dedicated to “straight pride,” with signs like “STRAIGHT IS GREAT,” a huge wedding cake featuring a heterosexual couple [transgressive!] and assorted other pro-straight paraphernalia. Continue Reading
Today is the first annual “Repackathon,” in which hundreds of volunteers will spend 24 straight hours preparing donated food to go to area food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other emergency food distribution sites.
A shocking number of New Yorkers–roughly twenty percent of the population–live in poverty, and almost a third rely on emergency food programs at some point each year. This holiday season will be especially rough following cuts to the federal SNAP program (aka “Food Stamps) that took effect on November 1.
Night owl that I am, I’ll be working the 9 PM to midnight shift. I’ll try to post photos, but they probably won’t show up here because WordPress is tough to update on a cell phone. For that you’ll have to follow me on Twitter or Instagram.
Caught the show on Saturday night with my friend Alex Dingley. I’ve been seeing TMBG live for years, and it’s still a blast every time. TIME FOR SOME BULLET POINTS.
- They played the entire Pink Album, which turned 27 years old today (November 4). That’s right, TMBG have been recording original music onto vinyl, tape, answering machines, wax cylinders, and binary code since 1986. Crazy.
- It was 1991 and I was 12 years old when I learned you’re supposed to jump up and down through all of Birdhouse in Your Soul. This was at CTY nerd camp, where Birdhouse, Istanbul, and Particle Man were on the regular playlist at weekend dances. Twenty-four years (and eighty more pounds) later, my knees don’t want me doing that any more.
- The extended Toddler Highway (as performed by the Avatars of They, and described by Flans as their most “Take the Skinheads Bowling” song) was a highlight of the night, as was the pretty excellent live Thirty-Two Footsteps. Nothing, however, topped Flans doing his very best Johnny Cash impression for Boat of Car. I’ve been to dozens of TMBG shows, and this was the first time I’ve seen them do that song live.
- The older I get, the more I love Don’t Let’s Start.
- Ditto Puppet Head.
- I am mentally composing a cartoon about the kinds of fans one encounters at a TMBG show. It’s a different kind of crowd–if you’re a drinker, you’ll never have an easier time getting to the bar–and you’ll never see as orderly a queue at a rock show.
Shannon talks about her projects including stand-up comedy, her goal of becoming Senior Disabled Correspondant on The Daily Show, and her hit YouTube show STARE AT SHANNON.