Archive for September, 2007

pee in Starbucks

This little town is exploding with chain stores and banks! What’s ma and pa to do? What’s an idealist to do? Cry?

No. Pee. That’s right, the next time you’re walking down your avenue/street of choice, and the need hits you, make a decision: will you pee in Molly’s House of Tea and Trinkets (not a real place) or at the Starbucks? Of course you’ll choose Starbucks because you don’t feel any human obligation to its owner or employee to buy anything first. Chains are great in that way – the way that they remove a lot of the human aspect of business and leave a hollow store with carbon copied recipes and logos.

Hey, I try to look on the brightside.

The Bond

Holly Brubach, had a nice piece in the Times about the bonds that hold the Steeler Nation together.

“Back in the ’70s, Bob Ryan, an editor for NFL Films, christened the Cowboys “America’s team,” because their following extended far beyond Dallas. Today, however, Steeler Nation seems to outnumber the fans of every other franchise, Dallas included, thanks in large part to the great Pittsburgh diaspora: with the economic devastation that followed the closing of the mills, the population dwindled to less than half what it was in 1950. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Web site lists Steeler bars in all 50 states, more than 20 foreign countries and, in recent seasons, at a research outpost on Antarctica. Steeler fans are literally everywhere.”

It seems to me that there are only three truly mythic fan bases is pro sports and all three have a deep link to memory and tragedy. There’s the Steeler Nation, The Brooklyn Dodger fans and The fan base of New York Yankees. To me rooting for the Yankees is tied to rooting for the Bronx.

Suburban Fruits

Can anyone who is more in tune with the current trends in interior design please explain to me the fascination with giant fruit? I’ve been working in Rhode Island for the past week loading in a show that I designed, which has meant that I’ve done a lot of shopping in the area for set dressing. One unexpected plus is that wrought iron seems to be in this year, which has been great since I’m using a lot of it in the show, but in my shopping I’ve come across tons of giant fruit. Giant pears in particular seem to be popular out here in the suburban world. I’ve seen them made from paper mache, glass, ceramic, wicker, and iron. Baskets woven in the shape of pears. Chairs with giant pear prints. And not just pears either. Pumpkins, apples, grapes… almost any globe shaped fruit can be located rendered in an oversized form. It’s not just in the stores either, I’ve actually seen these things in people’s homes. One of the sponsors of the theatre had the designers over for dinner and there by her dining room mantle was a giant pear made of twigs. Perhaps I don’t spend time in the right stores or homes in Manhattan, but this is not a phenomenon that I’ve seen at home. Am I missing something? What does a giant fruit even represent? Is it that much harder to decorate and fill the space in the enormous sprawling homes of the suburbs that giant fruit seems a logical answer?

A Cornstalk Grows in Queens


While I was walking around Astoria, Queens, I saw a cornstalk growing in a little plot with a tree, along the sidewalk. I’ve seen wild corn in this city before, but it’s always quite an amusing sight.

Recording in Washington Square Park

Walking around in Washington Square park is always a treat. But especially if you’re into recording podcasts.

There’s a plethora of great sound bites just waiting to be picked up. Luckily, I had brought along my new mic and got some amazing stuff.

What I did NOT record was the bicycle man, who came running over to the place I was seated and started screaming “the police stole my effing bike, they took it and then 3 police men gave me a blowjob, I got so hard, I’m so sorry that I’m hard,” he said as he grabbed his member.

He continued about blowjobs and bicycle theft for a while until everyone just ignored him enough that he left.

And after he did, right underneath the arch at Washington Square Park, I recorded a live acapella group singing “She’s only 16” and well, it was just amazing.

More Jane Jacobs Buzz

From what I could check out online, there’s a ton of written reviews and buzz about the Municipal Art Society’s Jane Jacobs exhibit and the Society has put up an interesting blog/forum website to talk about the future of the city.

I have’t come close to reading everything, but so far this Brooklyn Eagle story comes closest to my views on the subject.

“We are somewhere between Europe, where the aged cores of cities are to a considerable degree unalterable, and Asia, where cities like Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Bombay (now Mumbai) have kicked over most recognizable traces of their past.

In today’s world of exploding, skyward-reaching cities, strict Jane Jacobsism is hardly tenable. Which is not to say that all of her ideas are obsolete. Walkability, an active street life, a diversity of uses can be incorporated into large-scale projects so that they avoid the sterility of the “skyscraper in a park” model. This was clearly on Gehry’s mind when he invoked Jacobs.”

What seems to happening in New York, is just the kind of cataclysmic change that Jane feared. But what doesn’t seem to be recognized is that this reflects the pent up demands and cost pressures which built up over years of resisting gradual change. It’s pretty clear now, that the city pretty seriously misjudged what the real demand for urban life was and now that the dam has finally been broken, there are far to few viable mixed use neighborhoods with good access to mass transit.

One good thing that’s happening is that most of the large scale development now is based far more sound principles than the sanitized car oriented sprawl of the past and the city is finally investing into mass transit like it should have years ago.

Attention hippies – free hugs!

Dear Hippies of NYC,

I just wanted to let you know that this Sunday your fellow hippies will be in Union Square, where hippies like to hang out and pass out flyers and flail wildly as they ask you to support some cause that involves words like “freegan” or “hemp”, giving out something that you all love so much – free hugs.

A group called “Free Hugs NY City” is apparently meeting up on the last Sunday of every month in Union Square to cuddle with strangers. They invite everyone to, in their words, “join a few progressive souls offering free hugs and share the love with your fellow humans.” I suppose I can get behind that. (Which would be so much dirtier if you heard me say it out loud.)

Free huggers unite! Union Square South, this Sunday, 3:30 PM. Bring freehugs signs and non-scratchy clothing so you don’t hurt your fellow snugglers.

Enjoy this example of hugging strangers!

Some Thoughts About Immigration

Pittsburgh right now, is almost the mirror image of New York; it has a huge oversupply of cheap housing and no net immigration, that is to say it loses population every year. Even more bizarre is that few people here seem to realise that it’s inability to attract and retain immigrants is a major problem. One of the strangest things happening in America is that often the places that would benefit the most by encouraging immigration are implementing policies against it.

The Times had a nice Piece the other day about one small town, called Riverside in New Jersey that seems to be learning a hard lesson.

” A little more than a year ago, the Township Committee in this faded factory town became the first municipality in New Jersey to enact legislation penalizing anyone who employed or rented to an illegal immigrant.”

“With the departure of so many people, the local economy suffered. Hair salons, restaurants and corner shops that catered to the immigrants saw business plummet; several closed. Once-boarded-up storefronts downtown were boarded up again.

Meanwhile, the town was hit with two lawsuits challenging the law. Legal bills began to pile up, straining the town’s already tight budget. Suddenly, many people — including some who originally favored the law — started having second thoughts.

So last week, the town rescinded the ordinance, joining a small but growing list of municipalities nationwide that have begun rethinking such laws as their legal and economic consequences have become clearer.”

I am old enough to remember, NYC in the 1970’s and the blunt fact is that, to a very large extent the city was in the process of being abandoned by it’s long term residents. The strong so called Jersey and Long Island Accent is in fact a true New York accent. Immigrants, from both inside and outside the country were the one group who showed love for the city.

“Hey You Faggot”

Before you get all worked up about the title of this post, read ahead.

Last night on my way back from work, I was riding down West Side Highway here in NYC. The Christopher street light turned red and I had to stop. I was in the center lane and on my right a Ford 150 truck pulls up with a guy at the wheel.

Two pedestrians…guys cross in front of us. They are holding hands and are walking towards the waterfront.

One of them asks me “What year model is the bike”.

I say “1991″.

He replies “That’s old maan !”

And I am thinking….”Hmm well yes”

At that instant the light turns green and I put into gear and move on.

All of a sudden I hear the guy in the truck shout out “Hey You Faggot, get outa here”.

Believe me I was a bit taken aback. Not because the guy shouted out “faggot” but because this happened in NYC.

NYC is one of the most liberated cities in the world when it comes to homosexuality. And hence for this to happen in NYC was a shocker. If it was in Texas, Nebraska, Illinois, Oklahoma or any redneck middle of the country place, it wouldn’t be shocking.

I slow down and let the truck pass me. And bingo….it has Texas license plates.

My faith in fellow New Yorkers is back up.

Rock on NYC.

Are You One Of These People?

OK, so this is the obligatory Steeler post from the guy who lives in Pittsburgh. There are many false perceptions about the city as it is now, but one that is entirely true, is that the region is mildly interested in the game of football and the Steelers. Hate to break it to you but “Broadway Joe” didn’t learn his moves on Broadway.

So there’s some guys looking to do a coffee table book on the Steeler Nation.”Sean Barrett and Michael Casker are criss-crossing the country in search of Steeler fans and clubs to gather testimonials and photos about Steeler Nation to compile into a coffee table book. Barrett, 24, a writer and recent graduate of Arizona State University, is originally from Cranberry. Michael Casker, 27, a graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography who lives in New York City, is from Zelienople. Anyone interested in contributing to the project can e-mail Sean at or Michael at”

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