Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NYC Public Schools: Now, A Chimera at the Helm

Andrew Wolf on the Mayor's latest education maneuver:

"So (Deputy Chancellor for Instruction) Mr. Polokow-Suransky hasn’t been working with curriculum or instructional techniques and strategies, the jobs of the educational professional. He has been spinning the stats, which remain the biggest question confronting the mayor’s claims on education. And now Mr. Steiner has caved in to the mayor. The brief euphoria in serious education circles, when on Tuesday evening it looked like the state education commissioner would deny Ms. Black her waiver, was just a mirage.

"If Ms. Black’s mandated deputy, Mr. Polokow-Suransky, is supposed to be the chief educator, shouldn’t he be the chancellor, and shouldn’t the technocrat, Ms. Black, get a title like chief operating officer? Mr. Steiner’s plan has this reversed. Certainly one doesn’t want the educational policy emanating from the administrative office. Are we deciding the way we are teaching children to read or do math to conform to some management imperative?" The post of chancellor should go to a person with top education credentials, a distinguished figure up to whom everyone in New York — and the rest of the country — can look as having substance. Instead we have a chancellor with no education credentials who will have by her side a person who has been facilitating the cooking of the books using bogus test scores."

Full article by Andrew Wolf, contributing editor to the NY Sun (online) here

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Annual YWCA Christmas Day Event Seeks Angels

The annual YWCA Christmas Dinner Event, formerly at the YWCA on Atlantic and Third Avenues in Brooklyn, and now relocated to the Park Slope Armory on Eighth Avenue in Park Slope, has always been a memorable institution for those in need as well as for those in the community -- whether they celebrate Christmas or not -- who are more fortunate and who join together with their neighbors to volunteer to make this special day happen.

In past years, our entire family has spent the day volunteering as part of this unique and good-spirited event. Mr. Lee Perlman, Event Producer, and Ms. Amy Kaufman, Event Administrator, have been long-time coordinators of this YWCA event, report that plans are well underway for Christmas Day 2010. 

However, Mr. Perlman reports that "Because we have had to relocate the event to the Park Slope Armory and due to the limited financial resources of the YMCA of Brooklyn, the out-of-pocket expenses for this year's event are extraordinary, in excess of $25,000. We have to purchase to toys, rent equipment, publicize the event, and pay certain staffing costs."  In the past, Mr. Perlman and his wife, Linda, have subsidized all the out-of-pocket costs with many volunteers providing donations of clothes and toys. "While we certainly need volunteers to continue to donate these gift items, we are asking anyone who can help defray some of these costs to please chip in toward the expenses of running this dinner. Whether it is $10 or 1000 dollars, all help is appreciated. Again, we do not want finances to be an impediment to anyone volunteering, but we wanted the volunteer team to understand the financial constraints and to consider whether they can help us to make this happen."

Whether you are a volunteer or not, if you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to this important event for children, families and the elderly of our community who are in need, please make your check payable to the YWCA of Brooklyn. In the subject line on the check, please specify "Christmas Event." Please mail the check to:

Ms. Amy Kaufman
Event Administrator
555 West 57th Street, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10019

For further information on making contributions,  please email Ms. Kaufman at - KAUFMAN@GNYHA.ORG

Fred Tomaselli@ The Brooklyn Museum: From the inner mind to the outer limits..and back

Image: Fred Tomaselli, Super Plant, 1994. Psychoactive plant material, acrylic, and resin on wood panel, 74 x 54 inches. Hort family collection. Copyright the artist. Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York

Made it to the Brooklyn Museum over the holiday. Saw the vibrant Fred Tomaselli show, an extensive collection of the California-born, Brooklyn-based artist's work. Psychedelic, collagist, utopian, graphically stunning, sometimes inspiring, occasionally abstruse, highly recommended. Through January 2, 2011.

Brooklyn Museum website with details here

Art Daily on the net here

The NY Times review here

The artist, with Night Music for Raptors

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz: 30 Years Later

In the fall of 1980, Rainer Werner Fasbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz was first broadcast on West German television It was a 14-part television film adapted and directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder from the Alfred Döblin novel of the same name, and stars Günter LamprechtHanna Schygulla,Barbara SukowaElisabeth Trissenaar and Gottfried John. The complete film is 15½ hours long.

Episode Guide
No.TitleFirst airedRuntime (mins.)
1"The Punishment Begins"3 October 198082
2"How is One to Live if One Doesn’t Want to Die?"12 October 198059
3"A Hammer Blow to the Head Can Injure the Soul"20 October 198059
4"A Handful of People in the Depths of Silence"27 October 198059
5"A Reaper with the Power of Our Lord"3 November 198059
6"Love Has Its Price"10 November 198058
7"Remember — An Oath can be Amputated"17 November 198058
8"The Sun Warms the Skin, but Burns it Sometimes Too"24 November 198058
9"About the Eternities Between the Many and the Few"1 December 198059
10"Loneliness Tears Cracks of Madness Even in Walls"8 December 198059
11"Knowledge is Power and the Early Bird Catches the Worm"15 December 198059
12"The Serpent in the Soul of the Serpent"22 December 198059
13"The Outside and the Inside and the Secret of Fear of the Secret"29 December 198058
14"My Dream of the Dream of Franz Biberkopf by Alfred Döblin, An Epilogue"29 December 1980112

It was a co-production between the West German WDR, Bavaria Film Gmbh and the Italian network RAI. Production of the film at the Bavaria Film Studios took nearly a year. In 1983, it was released theatrically in the United States, where a theatre would show two or three parts per night. It garnered a cult following and subsequently, it was released on VHS and broadcast on PBS and then Bravo.
Director Fassbinder dreamed of making a 'parallel' film specifically for theatrical distribution after the completion of this series. The cast list he made for this fantasy included Gérard Depardieu as Franz Biberkopf and Isabelle Adjani as Mieze.
Fassbinder died on June 10, 1982.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Leave (Lots of) Room for Dessert: 11/28 Pie Social/Benefit at the Art Room in Bay Ridge

While, following the Thanksgiving Festivities, you may be totally stuffed and dreaming of nothing but fat-free yogurt and two hours of hard time on the treadmill, the Art Room on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge, which clearly believes that "nothing succeeds like excess" is ambitiously scheduling a Pie Social as a benefit for the Guild for Exceptional Children on Sunday, November 28.

The event, the brainchild of Justin Lee Brannan, Brooklyn native, social and creative entrepreneur, community activist, and musician, will be "an opportunity to bring people together to have fun and benefit a great cause,” said Brannan. The event is hosted by the Art Room, a neighborhood art space run by artist Leigh Jewell Holiday and Brannan.

For $20, you get samples of five different pies. In addition to the chance to socialize, and eat pie, the event also benefits the Guild for Exceptional Children, a non-profit in Bay Ridge that addresses the needs of children and adults with developmental disabilities. Says Brannan - "The Guild is a fanastic organization. As a relative of a family member with a developmental disability I care very much about the health, prosperity and progress of the Guild and the people in the community they serve.”

Everyone attending this Bay Ridge landmark event also gets a ribbon, marking their participation, their contribution to the Guild, and their stalwart fortitude in shoveling down five pieces of pie at the end of a long week of eating. "A few more post-Thanksgiving calories, yes," said Brannan, "but for a fantastic cause."

The Bay Ridge Pie Social at the Art Room, 8710 Third Ave. between 87th and 88th streets in Bay Ridge, (347) 560-6572, Sunday, November 28, at 1 pm. Admission: $20 for five tasting tickets.

There is a $5 entry fee for bakers, which includes five tickets. To sign up, e-mail bayridgepie@gmail.com

Ain't Talkin': Bob Dylan @ Terminal 5

Village Voice's Rob Harvilla on Bob Dylan and Band at Terminal 5 last night here

Set List:

Gonna Change My Way of Thinking
Shooting Star
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
Tangled Up in Blue
Beyond Here Lies Nothin'
Spirit on the Water
Cold Irons Bound
Desolation Row
Summer Days
Forgetful Heart
Highway 61 Revisited
Ain't Talkin'
Thunder on the Mountain
Ballad of a Thin Man

Like a Rolling Stone

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Native (Brooklyn) Sensibility: Pete Hamill on Writing and NYC

Ross Kenneth Urken in The Huffington Post offers a "Guest of a Guest" interview with journalist and author, editor of the NY Daily News and the NY Post, Pete Hamill.  (Decades apart, I was a fellow parishioner at Holy Name in Windsor Terrace, which we, the jugend of the late 60s and early70s, dubbed "The Mission.")  Mr. Hamill, 75, is in "post production" of a new novel entitled "Tabloid City" as well as working on his next book.

A quote from Mr. Urken's interview:

GofG: What is the ultimate goal of your literary career--entertainment, edification, immortality...?

PH: The personal goal is to live a fully conscious life. At 75, I've already had a long run, but there are books I still want to write, to say something about humans, one at a time. The great abstractions (or ambitions), including immortality, are beyond me. If a writer sits down to a blank screen or page, and says: onward to immortality, he or she will never write a sentence. Or if they do manage a few pages, they will be rubbish.

Also - "I don't spend much time looking at blogs (I've only read Moby Dick once) , but too many of those that I've seen are actually just a form of therapy. Most of the sites are, to me, too specialized: all politics or all sports, or all gossip. There is very little serendipity. But in general, I'm optimistic about the future."

Full item here

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Transmedia in Brooklyn: MakerBot Immanentizes the Future

Interesting article by Andrew Belonsky on "MakerBot Industries," a Brooklyn-based company that is a manufacturer of open-source 3-D printers. Three dimensional printers?  3-D printers are "machines that use hot plates and malleable materials, such as plastic, to manufacture three-dimensional representations of a design. This is done by layering materials atop one another, shaped by moving parts, such as robotic arms, to form a solid mold."

The Brooklyn-based first started as "a hobby for Bre Pettis and co-founders Adam Mayer and Zach Smith. The men wanted a 3-D printer of their own, and employed their respective engineering backgrounds — Pettis helped create the NYC-based hacker space NYC Resistor, Smith worked in robotics and Mayer in programming — to make their dream a reality. And with their machine’s completion, the men realized what they had to do: deliver MakerBot to the masses."

"MakerBot, a “rapid prototyping machine” whose “Cupcake” model starts at $750, remains one of the most affordable 3-D printers on the market. You simply need to buy the machine, upload your designs to their computer, and set it to print, a process MakerBot accomplishes by heating plasticine materials, like high-density polyethylene, and molding them into the desired shape."

Andrew Belonsky's full article on "Manufacturing the Future" from ScribeMedia here

MakerBot's website here . While, to DITHOB, MakerBot appears to be part of an emerging transmedia culture, a form of storytelling where content becomes invasive and fully permeates the audience's lifestyle, on any of a variety of media, and even emerging into the physical world, it also offers extremely functional, future-is-now manufacturing potential: One commenter noted that a visitor's car key was broken and the MakerBot was used to actually reproduce a replacement car key right on the spot.   A transmedia project develops storytelling across multiple forms of media in order to have different "entry points" in the story; entry-points with a unique and independent lifespan but with a definite role in the big narrative scheme (Bruno Giussani, TED), something that the 3-D printer can readily do by giving sculptural physicality to images, as opposed to our current digital society where much of a "new reality" exists as diaphonous electronic images on screens of various sizes .

To see a MakerBot 3-D printer in action; check out the video here

Jerry Brown: Zen Mind, Government Mind, and the Tao of Budget Deficits

From the Opinionator column in the N.Y. Times, Timothy Egan writes about Governor-elect Jerry Brown, who, after triumphing over a GOP candidate who spent a record amount of personal wealth only to lose, and the daunting challenge Brown faces to turnaround the huge budget deficits that threaten the Great State of California,  and how the "Zen Mind" and senior citizen status of this quintessential California politician may be just the ticket to accomplish that:

"During the greed-is-good era of the late 1980s, Brown found himself ministering to the sick and dying at Mother Teresa’s hospice in Calcutta."

"...Also, unlike Schwarzenegger, Brown is not dyeing what little hair he has left or pumping up his pecs to impress the babes. California needs someone to act his age, and Brown has settled into his senior years without illusions."

“We need someone with insider’s knowledge,” Brown said, with Zen clarity, “but an outsider’s mind.”

Full article by Timothy Egan here

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dreaming Large: Nostalgia for the Home Planet

Nostalgia for the Future: Tracy Caldwell Dyson peers down at her Home Planet from the International Space Station, about 217 miles below.

Full item from UK Daily Mail here

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Blues: Where Do We Go From Here?

NY TIMES: Is it time to awake from the American dream?

"Perhaps because they were making so much money out of it, Americans were slow to notice something peculiar about the American dream, and potentially divisive. The ideal of living “unhampered,” as Adams put it, by the barriers to social mobility erected in other countries is meaningful most of all to those familiar with other countries. The American dream is more evident to elites (including well-traveled historians like Adams) and to immigrants than it is to others. It is cosmopolitanism masquerading as American exceptionalism. When the billionaire Peter Peterson announced this year that he would join an initiative launched by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and use at least half his wealth for philanthropy, he referred to himself as “the son of poor Greek immigrants who has certainly lived the American dream.” Paradoxically, it is Peterson’s Greekness rather than his Americanness that gives him the bona fides to pronounce on the subject.

"Most of the time we do not realize that what we are dreaming is the American dream, any more than we realize that what we are speaking is prose. World travelers, politicians and self-made men are not wrong to see the promise of American life as a stirring and romantic tale. To the median, native-born American with no other frame of reference but his life’s span in this country, however, it is not a dream. It is simply the social contract. We are increasingly discovering that there are rational, nononeiric* ways to measure when that contract is being broken."

More here

NY POST: Why Middle Income Jobs Aren’t Coming Back (hint: the economy is working the way it is currently designed to work) here 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bay Ridge Dems: Opening New Doors in Southwest Brooklyn

Despite the recent loss of the Congressional seat held by incumbent Mike McMahon, Democrats in Brooklyn continue to be on the move.  Close to 40 people turned up to help a launch a new Democratic club, simply named Bay Ridge Democrats, formed by local activists who want to see the political process in Brooklyn become more democratic. The club is dedicated to making the Democratic party more open and inclusive. More about activism and working toward progress for all Bay Ridge residents and Brooklynites, based on democratic principles and inclusiveness and less about politics as  an “insiders-only” game.  

At a recent gathering at Longbow’s Pub and Pantry on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge, many former-members of the American Heritage Democratic Organization (AHDO), the United American Democratic Organization, and other newly involved activists, joined together to compare notes on the recent election and begin to discuss next steps and strategy for building a progressive, community-based political organization in Bay Ridge.

Attendees included former State Senator now City Councilman Vincent Gentile; Joanne Seminara, 60th Assembly District Democratic Committeewoman and Community Board 10 Chair;  Steve Harrison, former City Council candidate and two-time Congressional candidate against Vito Fossella; Scott Klein, Lambda Independent Democrats treasurer, past president of the AHDO, and now president of the new Bay Ridge Democrats group, Justin Brannan, community activist and organizer, as well as many interested community members seeking to revitalize the Bay Ridge Democratic scene.

"It’s a great turnout” said Ms. Seminara.  And, indeed, the assembled participants, from elected officials like Councilman Gentile, to veteran political activists and candidates like Ms. Seminara and Mr. Harrison, to eager community members interested in getting involved who munched on snacks as they chatted  and networked, clearly pointed toward a reinvigoration of Democratic progressive politics in southwest Brooklyn. Mr. Brannan noted "Bay Ridge Democrats will be an organization where people seeking to become more engaged in local politics can come and get their feet wet - really quick.”   He continued:  “Our endorsement is actually going to mean something - we are going to roll up our sleeves and work very hard for our candidates."  

Brannan said that the Bay Ridge Democrats will be involved in every aspect of the political process, from petitions to voter registration to poll watching, but also in political activism and “raising awareness about the critical issues to our community, our city, our state and our country.”

The next meeting of the Bay Ridge Democrats will be held on Thursday, December 9, 7 PM, at Good Shepherd Church, 7240 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. Interested residents are invited to attend and see what the excitement is all about.

One thing is clear: a progressive, vocal Democratic (Big “D”) party is alive and well in Bay Ridge.

--Anthony Napoli for Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Carolina Chocolate Drops

The official website here

The Limits of Online Expression: Company Accused of Firing Over Facebook Post

Got something to get off your chest about your boss? Recently, the Google CEO (sort of) joked about a future where young adults would have the option of obtaining a new identity/Social Security Number so that they can escape the online follies of their youth.  Although the common wisdom has it that a bit of circumspection is essential when expressing or emoting or kvetching on Facebook or your blog, clearly this is a lesson that many folks may learn too late if at all.  This can be especially perilous when it comes to bashing your employer.

Steven Greenhouse in the New York Times reports that "In what labor officials and lawyers view as a ground-breaking case involving workers and social media, the National Labor Relations Board has accused a company of illegally firing an employee after she criticized her supervisor on her Facebook page.  This is the first case in which the labor board has stepped in to argue that workers’ criticisms of their bosses or companies on a social networking site are generally a protected activity and that employers would be violating the law by punishing workers for such statements....The labor relations board announced last week that it had filed a complaint against an ambulance service, American Medical Response of Connecticut, that fired an emergency medical technician, accusing her, among other things, of violating a policy that bars employees from depicting the company “in any way” on Facebook or other social media sites in which they post pictures of themselves. "

"The case involves Dawnmarie Souza, who had to prepare a response to a customer’s complaint about her work. Ms. Souza, the board said, was unhappy that her supervisor would not let a representative of the Teamsters, the union representing the company’s workers, help prepare her response."

"Ms. Souza then mocked her supervisor on Facebook, using several vulgarities to ridicule him, according to Jonathan Kreisberg, director of the board’s Hartford office, which filed the complaint. He also said she had written, “love how the company allows a 17 to become a supervisor” — 17 is the company’s lingo for a psychiatric patient."

"The labor board said that her comments “drew supportive responses from her co-workers” and led to further negative comments about the supervisor. Mr. Kreisberg said: “You’re allowed to talk about your supervisor with your co-workers. You’re allowed to communicate the concerns and criticisms you have. The only difference in this case is she did it on Facebook and did it on her own time and her own computer.”

Full article here

Friday, November 5, 2010

NY TIMES: Changing Assessment of Treatment of Jews in Italy During 1930s, 40s

Paul Vitello reports in the New York Times on new scholarship and research which suggests deeper complexities, conflicts and truths in the experience of Italian Jews during the Fascist era:

"The new findings contradict the conventional belief that Italians began to enforce anti-Semitic laws only after German troops occupied the country in 1943, and then reluctantly. In a spate of studies, many of them based on a little-publicized Italian government report commissioned in 1999, researchers have uncovered a vast wartime record detailing a systematic disenfranchisement of Italy’s Jews, beginning in the summer of 1938, shortly before the Kristallnacht attacks in November. ...

After the war, encouraged in part by Italy’s American occupiers, Italians embraced a spirit of national reconciliation that “allowed the construction of a sanitized collective memory,” said Alessandro Cassin, the publishing director of the Centro Primo Levi, a research institute in Manhattan that promotes the study of Italian Jewish history, and that organized the panel discussion.

Michele Sarfatti, the author of several books on Italian Fascist anti-Semitism, said a higher portion of Italy’s Jews survived the war than their counterparts in most other European countries."

But Italian culpability for the persecution of Jews remains relatively unknown, and largely unacknowledged by Italians, Professor Pavan said. “People were made destitute, people were turned into ghostly nonentities in their own country,” she said. “This is also true.”

Full article here

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Comic Visions: King Con at the Brooklyn Lyceum

Brooklyn, with our engaging mish-mosh of old and new, greenery and urbanity, natives and newbies, corporate aspirations and bohemians, and wannnabes of all stripes, can seem surreal and post-modern enough in the 21st century. But now, the Borough of Bars and Churches is being scrutinized and explained by a new generation of artists and writers who expose Brooklyn -- and their own personal experiences in it-- to the Large Hadron Collider of their imaginations, and somehow it comes out through the other end of the black hole  of their artistic visions transmogrified as a cartoon universe, brilliant, hip, philosophical, and, sometimes, even funny.

The King Con festival at the Brooklyn Lyceum, with panels beginning this evening and continuing through Sunday, smacks right up against the NYC Marathon this weekend, but it promises to be an interesting and entertaining mix of Brooklyn-centered or Brooklyn-themed comic art, discussions and home grown creativity.

Scheduled panels begin tonight. Sessions throughout King Con include X-Men luminary Chris Claremont,  Jonathan Ames and Dean Haspiel (the cartoonist for Ames' HBO show Bored to Death, and a model for Ray played by Zach Galifianakis), R. Sikoryak, Collaboration Counseling (writers and artists/cartoonists sort it all out), Atlantic Yards, Cartoons, and the Changing Face of Brooklyn and much much more. Tickets: $10 for the weekend, $7 per day (some panels extra), a Brooklyn bargain for comic aficionados. Brooklyn Lyceum, 227 Fourth Avenue (Union & President Streets)... Details here

Among my personal faves - R. Sikoryak, who has created work for the New Yorker, Nickolodeon and Raw Visions, among many other venues, with his cool, smartass sensibility, impeccably illustrated, as with the examples below:

King Con main site here

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Where Do We Go From Here?

I remember in the aftermath of the Ronald Reagan victory in 1980, I think I slept for 24 hours. I had been working on the campaign of the Citizens Party, with biologist Barry Commoner as presidential candidate. As I recall someone saying, you couldn't go wrong with a party that has "zen" and "art" in it.  Well, go wrong we did, or so it seemed at the time. And, while it may not have been a "World Gone Wrong," things had clearly changed. Yesterday's election wasn't quite that, with 1.5 out of 3 branches of government still under the control of the Democrats, but it is a clear message that there is an uncertainty and a restlessness abroad in the land. And, while there are no quick fixes, it would appear that things are at least at the phase of a "moral equivalency" of war (or invasion by Martians), with severe economic dangers and terrorism, that would encourage leaders of both parties to try to work together to come up with solutions. Politics in a democracy, after all, being the art of compromise and horse trading.

One reporter suggests that, unlike House speaker Newt Gingrich, who sorely vexed Bill Clinton during his administration, but who came up with a solid set of ideas and proposals that the GOP published in the TV Guide, the current Speaker-in-Waiting, John Boehner, who replaces Nancy Pelosi, is cut from another cloth. He may be less of an idea guy, less of a player, and more content with being a back-bencher who lobs grenades at Quarterback Obama as the QB dodges 16 shells from a thirty-ought six.  Article here

And what about the Tea Partiers. Sure, things are bad, but they are bad for all of us as Americans (well, except for the FreedomWorks-connected billionaire conservatives like the Koch brothers who secretly fund the tea parties). Why do they attack Mr. Obama so viciously when he is basically a sincere, self-made guy from modest circumstances, who put himself through school with college loans?  Even after President Bush became president in 2000, many Democrats were willing to give him a chance, until it was proven that his bipartisan overtures were so much malarky. Here, it seems that, while his administration may be weak on communicating its progress, and has made missteps, from the outset there was little agreement that 44 is our president and we all should support him. He took shots from the GOP from the very beginning. What could be behind that?  Article here

Still, President Obama, has culpability in the Current Situation. For his second chapter, What Should Barack Do? article here

As Bob Marley wrote:

Oh, it's a disgrace

To see the human-race
In a rat race, rat race!
You got the horse race;
You got the dog race;
You got the human-race;
But this is a rat race, rat race

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

CODA: Tempest in a Gimlet Glass - Spike's Brooklyn Mixology Invites Flack

"And little John Barleycorn Carrie Nation/
proved the strongest one at last"
-English traditional song

Even after the thrashing that the Brooklyn Blogfest took last spring, in making what appeared to be a gentle, sponsorship deal with Absolut Vodka, featuring their new beveragatudinal collaboration with Spike Lee, Absolut Brooklyn, the distiller's foray into Brooklyn branding (or brandy) continues to generate controversy.

The NY Daily News, via the New York Observer, reports that:
Some Bed-Stuy residents are apparently not pleased about being inundated with ads for Spike Lee's Absolut Vodka collaboration, the Daily News reports. The New York-based Children's Aid Society counted 56 ads featuring the modified bottle in the neighborhood.

"You're not supposed to be promoting stuff like that in areas that can barely afford food," said one teen who participated in the counting.

"If you haven't seen it, the bottle is extremely Lee'd-out. It features a Brownstone stoop, and the little medallion near the top of the bottle has been modified to include glasses and a baseball cap. It is infused with apples and ginger, traditional neighborhood flavors, as every Brooklynite knows."

DITHOB Note: actually, the apple appears to be for "The Big Apple"; however, ginger ale is reportedly a flavo fave of the director. Of course, from a marketing perspective, ginger also offers nice, West Indian-Brooklyn grace notes and resonations.

"Mr. Lee had no comment for the paper. Last month, Page Six reported that his wife Tonya Lewis Lee joked that she was hesitant to be photographed near a bottle of Belvedere, given her husband's partnership with the competitor."

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo