Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Climate Activist Tim DeChristopher Has Been Placed In Isolated Confinement

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 2:25 PM

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Though the transfer occurred nearly three weeks ago, news broke Wednesday that renowned climate activist Tim DeChristopher has been removed from his minimum security prison lodgings and placed in isolated confinement. Peaceful Uprising, the environmental organization founded by DeChristopher, reports that he is currently sharing an eight-by-10 foot cell with another inmate and is only allowed 15 minutes of phone calls a month.

If you recognize Tim DeChristopher's name but can't quite place it, here's a brief bit of background: In 2008, DeChristopher, then a 27 year-old economics student at the University of Utah, entered an oil and gas lease auction for 22,250 acres of federal land. In an act of civil disobedience that has been lauded by many as a striking bit of bravery, DeChristopher posed as a buyer and put down a $1.8 million bid for the acreage. For interrupting the procedures, in 2011 DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Today, DeChristopher has become an international icon for creative climate criminality and peacefully sticking-it-to-the-man, yet his transfer to harsher prison conditions was at the request of an anonymous congressman, precipitated by one email DeChristopher had sent to a friend.

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BAMcinemaFest Announces First Round of Titles

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 1:40 PM

BAM's annual indie-cinema showcase, this year running June 20-July 1, has announced its first round of titles, featuring the New York premieres of a few choice selections from Sundance and elsewhere.

BAMcinemaFest is perhaps the major NYC launching pad for the independent American films that make their debuts west of the Mississippi at the outset of the year; what's notable this year as well is the strength of the films with NYC ties.

Twentysomething local filmmaker Ry Russo-Young and "voice of a generation" Lena Dunham (L Mag interviews with Russo-Young and Dunham) cowrote Nobody Walks, from Sundance, starring Brooklyn Magazine covergirl Olivia Thirlby. (Magnolia will release the film theatrically; they're also bringing Craig Zobel's very fine Compliance, a hit at Sundance and SXSW, to Brooklyn.) Local cinephile Dan Sallit's film Unspeakable Act (made in collaboration with a number of other rep-house rats and critics) will bow as well after its debut in Sarasota, and Prospect Heights's So Young Kim brings her For Ellen (Sundance), with Paul Dano. And from Sundance and SXSW, The Comedy, set in and around Williamsburg, and starring Tim Heidecker, in baby-blue Ray-Bans, as a self-loathing self-parody of trust-funded entitlement (his PBR-swilling enablers are played by Heidecker's Adult Swim partner Eric Wareheim, and rock and roll star James Murphy).

BAM will announce additional titles, including SXSW premieres, next month. Their descriptions, cut-and-pasted newswire-style from their press release, after the jump:

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Rapist Cop Actually Found Guilty, For Once

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 12:51 PM

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Michael Pena, a cop accused of drunkenly raping a woman at gunpoint while he was off-duty, was found guilty yesterday of three counts of predatory sexual attack.

The drunken, off-duty cop who pulled his service weapon on a school teacher in a horrific, random sex attack in upper Manhattan is facing life in prison after a jury found him guilty yesterday of three counts of predatory sexual assault.

Michael Pena also was convicted of sexually violating the young woman — a stranger who had been en route to her first day working as a second-grade teacher when the boozed-up cop pulled her into an Inwood back yard and told her he’d shoot her in the face if she screamed or opened her eyes.

The Post headline is "Cop Sex Fiend Found Guilty," which is weird because it misses a perfectly good opportunity to blame the victim for her sexual assault, like all of the other rape and sexual assault reporting they do. Maybe this is why:

Then there was the compelling testimony of the 25-year-old victim herself, who tearfully insisted to jurors that she was certain she’d been raped because, she said, “It hurt.”

So see, it's "real" rape. Everyone knows it's only really rape if you fight back, and if it hurts, and if you are sober and a nice girl and not on a date with the guy and not a maid. Not like her or her or her. Even the construction of that sentence makes my skin crawl, like it's not enough for her to say that a man had sex with her without her consent and that's rape, that she has to "tearfully insist" and list reasons. I can't imagine how much strength it takes to go through with prosecuting your rapist. I hope that she can find some peace with this conviction.

I guess we should just be happy that this creep even got convicted. It's nice to know that the NYPD can't do absolutely anything they want to anyone at any time with no repercussions whatsoever. Just most of the people, and most of the time.

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Fiona Apple's New York Shows on You Tube, Basically in Full

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 12:02 PM

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So, while we hate peering at the stage at shows through outstretched arms holding camera phones as much as the next guy, you have to be at least a little impressed by the fact that full concerts now appear online instantly from multiple angles, and...we totally take this for granted. We should remind ourselves every once and while that this is a very new development. So, those Fiona Apple shows from a few days ago that no one could get into, but were effusively praised on the Internet? You can piece them together yourselves via laptop, if you want to. Set lists are everywhere. I assume you are familiar with You Tube?

How long until instant pirate live streams of every sold out show in New York is the norm? Two years? A year? That's gotta be the next step, right?

And these videos are getting much better. A couple examples to examine...

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The Daily Show On Park Slope Co-op Controversy: 'Fuck It, I'm Going To Stop & Shop'

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 11:25 AM

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While career journalists citywide were plotting ways to make it inside the press-verboten Park Slope Co-op meeting over the store's potential ban of Israeli products (one clever writer temporarily joined the co-op for this very purpose), the Daily Show sent correspondent Samantha Bee to investigate the controversy ahead of time. There, Bee used her usual incisive and irreverent comedy to highlight some ridiculous aspects of the situation—entering the store, I.D. out and palms up, Bee announced, "I'm an American. I'm an American," and later, upon spotting a woman with a BabyBjorn, Bee fearfully asked "What's that strapped to her chest?" At the end of the segment, after interviewing pro-boycott and anti-boycott co-op members alike, Bee gives us a sober conclusion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the lens of this grocery store's contentious activism: "Fuck it, I'm going to Stop & Shop," she says. Watch the whole segment after the jump.

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Eat More Lawsuits, or Maim More Artists?

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 10:21 AM

Note the orthographic entirety of the words displayed.
  • Note the orthographic entirety of the words displayed.

It might seem an oversimplification of convenience, for instance, or perhaps an unjustifiable banalization of issues to conflate a few recent 'news' items related to copyright infringement (maybe) with a recent report of the violent repression of artists in Syria, but I hope not. Or at any rate, I should elect to prefer to side with hoping not, for neither do I hope to present a true argument. I'm not sure I have the right to do so.

Do I? Don't I? Might I?

It might not matter, really. I'm not quite sure there's need to.

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New Bill Would Force NYPD to Investigate All Serious Bike Accidents

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 8:59 AM

Mathieu Lefevres ghost bike
  • Mathieu Lefevre's "ghost bike"
The NYPD only investigates—and not always particularly well—collisions between cars and bicycles in which someone dies, or is expected to die. But new legislation, proposed by Councilmember Steve Levin, would require the police to investigate all accidents that result in serious physical injury, the Brooklyn Paper reports. This is already state law, but the NYPD patrolman's handbook is out of line with that requirement; Levin's law would force cops to follow state law and would add hundreds of Accident Investigation Squad officers to precincts throughout the city, so that at least one would be on call 24 hours a day.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mapping Publicly Owned Vacant Lots, Brooklyn-Based Project Could Revolutionize Community Gardening

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 4:21 PM

A birds-eye of Brooklyns vacant lots.
  • 596acres.org
  • A birds-eye of Brooklyn's vacant lots.
Small-scale urban farming in Brooklyn is old news, but we've never seen anything like this: 596 Acres, a Bed-Stuy based Brooklyn community project, has mapped out all of Brooklyn's publicly owned vacant lots. Where one community garden might pop up as the result of an entrepreneurial group of people stumbling upon an empty lot, 596 Acres organizes these spaces as part of a borough-wide master plan—or at least one comprehensive map that will allow a directed effort to open them all up for food production. So, how much potential space are we actually talking? That's where the project gets its name. There are 596 acres of publicly owned, vacant land in Brooklyn.

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Grand New Entrance Coming to Coney Boardwalk

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 3:33 PM

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The city plans to replace the old bridge that connects the Q and F trains to the Coney Island beach with an $11 million plaza, the Post reports. The decaying foot bridge, which takes pedestrians over Surf Avenue at W. 8th Street, near the Aquarium, will be demolished; a new entrance to the boardwalk will be build at W. 10th Street, between the Cyclone and Luna Park, on top of what the paper reports is a vacant lot. The 75-foot-wide entry will include planters, bike racks, and seating. "It will be covered in a smooth blue pavement comprised of a heat-resistant material made from recycled glass and cement," the Post reports. The bridge has long been considered a blight on the landscape, and officials say it would cost too much to repair and maintain. This new gateway would rival the one at Stillwell Avenue, near the termini of the N, Q, D and F trains.

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100 New Ways to Look at Your Insanely Boring Walk to the Subway

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 2:42 PM

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New Yorkers spend a hell of a lot of time blocking out our surroundings. As soon as we step out of the comfort of our tiny abodes, we plug in our earbuds, rush to the subway, where we pretend to sleep to avoid awkward eye contact with fellow passengers. One Williamsburg photographer is doing the exact opposite.

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Geraldo Rivera Apologizes For His "Very Practical and Potentially Life-Saving" Hoodie Comments, So, Not Really

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 1:55 PM

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It looks like Fox News' Geraldo Rivera has finally made an attempt to salvage his public image after his Trayvon Martin hoodie commentary set off a chain reaction of hooded protests in New York and across the country. Politico has posted excerpts of an e-mail they received from Rivera, which sort of resembles the apology it says it contains, if by "apology" Rivera meant "reaffirmation of that stupid shit I said earlier."

“I apologize to anyone offended by what one prominent black conservative called my ‘very practical and potentially life-saving campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies,’” Rivera said in an email to POLITICO Tuesday.

Rivera said that “by putting responsibility on what kids wear instead of how people react to them I have obscured the main point that someone shot and killed an unarmed teenager,” and that he was offering a “heartfelt apology” to anyone he may have offended in his “crusade to warn minority families of the danger to their young sons inherent in gangsta style clothing; like hoodies.” [Politico]

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Jeff Koons Could Run 'Train' On The High Line...If Someone Pays $25 Million For It

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 1:05 PM

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  • James Corner Field Operations/Diller Scofidio + Renfro/Jeff Koons
The completion of one of New York City's most romantic destinations could see an element of danger added to the experience—Friends of the High Line, the conservancy group responsible for the elevated park, is in talks with Jeff Koons over possibly suspending "Train," a replica of a 1943 steam locomotive by crane over the High Line.

The several-ton object, though stabilized by a gyroscope, wouldn't just hang there. "It would also occasionally spin its wheels, blow a horn and emit steam," reports the New York Times. One rendering shows the 70-foot long "Train" suspended at 10th Avenue and 30th Street.

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Talking to Greenpoint Author Kris D'Agostino About Westchester, Mortgage Trouble and the Problem with Writing About Music

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 12:01 PM

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The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac, the first novel by Greenpoint resident Kris D’Agostino, follows Calvin Moretti, a grad-school dropout living with his parents. As he strives to find his own space in the world, nearly every other character must also face some sort of shift in their place in the world: his teenage sister’s pregnancy and the end of his father’s career as a pilot serving as two examples. (Between this novel and Adam Wilson’s Flatscreen, it’s been a good year for smart character studies of young media-savvy men adrift in the world.) In advance of his launch reading at WORD tonight, I checked in with D’Agostino via email to discuss the Moretti family’s background, the overlap of his music with his writing, and the history of Sleepy Hollow itself.

Sleepy Hollow was, until a few years ago, known as North Tarrytown. Given the novel's themes of reinvention, was this something that you had in mind when choosing the setting?
I’m embarrassed to say I had no idea they had been calling it North Tarrytown. The real reason I set the novel in Sleepy Hollow was simply because it was a place I had always been envious while growing up in southeastern Westchester County. I’m from a town called Pelham and I always loved the Hudson River towns. Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, Irving, Ossining. All the old Victorian houses and the history of the whole area. All those towns in the valley along the water are very (for lack of a better word) “quaint.” And since I didn’t get to grow up there, I did the next best thing and set my novel there.

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City Council Members Will Wear Hoodies, Bring Iced Tea and Skittles To Session Wednesday

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 11:18 AM

New York State Senator Eric Adams and colleagues wearing hoodies in session.
  • New York State Senator Eric Adams and colleagues wearing hoodies in session.
Trayvon Martin's killing in a gated community in Florida has sparked intense reactions across the country, but on Wednesday, New York City Council members will bring the issues surrounding the case home. Participating Council members, clad in hoodies and carrying Skittles and iced tea, will gather at the steps of City Hall before a meeting to examine nationwide 'Stand Your Ground' laws and "their impact on increasing the flow of illegal guns to New York City." The press conference on the steps, organized by Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Letitia James, will precede Speaker Christine Quinn's introduction of a resolution to condemn Trayvon Martin's killing and his killer's lack of arrest.

Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito's website announced the initiative and released statements from participating lawmakers.

“Wearing a hoodie shouldn’t be a capital offense” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “Trayvon’s death struck a chord in New York City because we’ve seen far too many young Black and Latino men killed unjustly. Council Members James and Mark-Viverito have brought the Council together to stand up against this injustice, and I’ll be wearing a hoodie with them to show that Trayvon’s death will not be forgotten.”

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Why the Supreme Court's Vote This Week on Obamacare Matters

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Well, one of the many reasons, anyway. (We've "reclaimed" the name Obamacare, by the way, didja hear?) Kate Sheppard, over at Mother Jones, makes it pretty clear with their chart of the day:

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Women make less, pay more, and have to put with infinite bullshit to get access to basic healthcare.

So what are they going to do? Dahlia Lithwick at Slate has a much more politically intelligent read of things than I do.

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A Bay Ridge Local Reacts to Brooklyn 11223

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 9:48 AM

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Oxygen asked irate locals to wait until Brooklyn 11223 actually aired before accusing it of insulting southern Brooklyn, women and Italian-Americans. But I can't imagine what the cable channel hoped to gain from that strategy, because this show is everything its premature critics alleged it would be. It smudges the distinctions between communities—Coney Island, Bay Ridge, Gravesend, and others—turning the southwestern corner of the borough into one enormous "neighborhood"; it's a show full of women who almost never talk to each other about anything other than guys; and nearly every character is an Italian-American stereotype who, rather than get fleshed out, instead has their stereotypes reinforced: there's the debate about crab meat (is it better than lobster, or does it need some sauce?); or that time two brothers come near to blows because one said the other's bedroom was messy. One character actually says, "fuhget about it." "I am full Italian, and I'm from fucking Brooklyn, so I have absolutely no problem, no problem, fucking somebody up," another says. More than one seems to have a close family member in the mob.

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Video Released of Suspect in Fatal L Train Scuffle

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 8:59 AM

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Two men got off the L train at Bedford Avenue on Friday night around 10 p.m. They tussled in the subway station and fell onto the tracks; one man, described by the Post as "a 30-something with a thin build, light complexion, and dirty blond hair with pock marks on the right side of his face," climbed out; the other, a 28-year-old college student named Joshua Basin, couldn't get out in time. He was run over and killed by an oncoming L train; a passenger on that train described "two or three dull thuds that jostled the entire car when it ran him over." Police are searching for the man who got away, who was also described as intoxicated.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

The Upper East Side and North Brooklyn Are Waging Garbage Wars

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 4:18 PM

Site of the proposed 91st Street marine transfer station.
  • Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
  • Site of the proposed 91st Street marine transfer station.
For years, North Brooklyn has borne a considerable amount of the city's trash burden. Trucks clog up routes to and from the area's waste transfer stations, 19 of the city's 58 in total. But being the city's temporary dumping ground and handling 40 percent of its waste isn't just an unsightly problem—decreased air quality because of diesel combustion means that North Brooklyn also has a significant, asthma-related public health issue at hand.

OUTRAGE, or the Organization United for Trash and Garbage Equity, a coalition of North Brooklyn civic groups, has campaigned fiercely for a solid waste management plan that would split the garbage among the boroughs more equitably. Six years ago, a new solid waste management plan passed, and the city called for a marine transfer station to be built at 91st Street, on the East River. But Upper East Siders don't want a transfer station, air pollution and increased truck traffic on their turf either. A group called Residents for Sane Trash Solutions (RSTS), is raising money to oppose the station for these reasons, and now the two groups are locked in a Facebook popularity war, reports DNAinfo.

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14 Things I Learned about Brooklyn from Oxygen’s Reality Show, Brooklyn 11223

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 3:26 PM

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Tonight is the series premiere of Oxygen’s Brooklyn 11223, a show just as obnoxious as its “This Ain’t Jersey” tagline would have you believe. The series focuses on Christie, who believes that her former BFF, Joey Lynn, slept with her now ex-boyfriend, and follows the two women and their respective crews throughout Gravesend, Bay Ridge, and Coney Island. It’s well shot, and certainly more Brooklyn than 2 Broke Girls, but the premise rests entirely on whether you care about forced relationship drama and loud conversations paired with Coronas, which I don’t.

However, because it was shot in Brooklyn, I’m still fascinated by it, which is why I watched the first episode (available on Hulu) and noted 14 things that 11223 taught me.

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Behind the Scenes: 6 Sex-Related How It's Made Videos

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 2:34 PM

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Everybody always SAYS you don't want to know how the sausage is made, but if that's true, why has that How It's Made been on the science channel for like ten seasons? And what if the sausage is a sex sausage? And what if instead of a sex sausage, it is a tour of a condom factory, plus five other videos of how your sex stuff is made, ranging in professionalism from some guy making a fuck machine in his garage to a very overenthusiastic tour of the Fleshlight factory? Go ahead and assume these are all NSFW, by the way, if you W in a place that frowns on Fleshlight manufacture.

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