Friday, February 26, 2010

Downstate and Downtime in the Empire State

Empire Fulton Ferry State Park. Photo by Brooklyn Beat.

Excerpt: "Move over, New Jersey, you're getting a run for your tax money as the nation's most dysfunctional state from the once great mecca of commerce and finance known as New York. Politics in the Empire State has become a carnival of spendthrifts, sexual miscreants and the all-purpose ethically challenged.

In the latest sign that the Apocalypse is upon Albany, New York Governor David Paterson announced yesterday that he won't seek election to a full term in November only two weeks after he had announced that he would. Mr. Paterson, a Democrat who became governor in March 2008 after Eliot Spitzer resigned in a prostitution scandal, has spent the past two years lurching from one fiasco to the next. Meanwhile, back in Manhattan and in the spirit of the current New York state of mindlessness, Mr. Spitzer is said to be plotting a comeback. As gossip columnist Cindy Adams of the New York Post likes to say, "Only in New York, kids, only in New York." Alas.

Twice as Farce: Second, Consecutive NYS Governor Forced Out

Like most New Yorkers, we greeted the rise of David Patterson, NY's Lt. Governor, as New York's first African American and disabled governor, with great joy, pride and hope, following the resignation of elected former Governor Eliot Spitzer.  Although his administration got off to a slow start, citizens were hopeful and willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. The recent swirl of rumors notwithstanding, one had to give him a great deal of respect for attempting to battle the odds and seek election to a full term. The recent crisis brought on by the alleged malfeasance of his trusted assistant, David Johnson, followed by indications that the NY State Troopers appear to have been involved in pressuring Johnson's fiance, as well as a call by the Governor to Ms. Booker, Mr. Johnson's fiance, followed by the the resignation of the administration's criminal justice coordinator over this apparent interference, have swept through Albany and thrown state politics into a maelstrom. The Governor will make a statement later today on his future plans.

AP-Sources: Paterson Won't Seek NewTerm

NY Daily News: Insider, Governor WIll Not Run

NY 1: Patterson Abandons Plan to Seek Full Term

Oh, It's a Mess Out There

Happily, our younger girls in high school and my Better Half, who has to drive to the school where she works on the Queens border,m are all home today, as are our college-age kids who are hoem and off for the day.

Hiking before 7 AM to East 17th Street, which was unplowed, I walked in the tracks of cars that had made it through. Some neighbors were trying to dig out their cars. The snow, thick, wet and heavy, was more burdensome than the more recent snow day a couple of weeks ago. The Q train moved slow as molasses, or, more accurately, glacially slow.  The train was emptier than usual at that hour; I sat at the end of the car, and instead of tuning out to my Ipod, I sat and witnesses the morning commute.  A gentle sort of crisis, snowstorms bring out all of those dedicated, or simply more habituated souls, who find adventure in the thick white piles, or else who simply feel the need to make it into work. The train crawled along quietly, some folks reading or watching the flakes fall. By the time the Q got to Church Avenue,  passengers began to get and receive calls -- "Where were they?" "Are they making it into work today?"  I continued my morning of texts with a colleague who was commuting in from Staten Island on an Express Bus as the Q chugged along.  On a snowy day on the subway, there is an unspoken acknowledgement that we are all part of that subset of New Yorkers: NYC working people.

I finally got down to Brooklyn Heights and treated myself to a good cup of coffee and an egg white and spinach sandwich from Court Order deli. I got up to the office and was the first one in.  Unlike yesterday, when Brooklyn had mostly rain, the snow was thick and even drifting in spots all across Court Street. The phones started ringing early, but it wasn't business, just folks checking in to say they were doing the sensible thing and staying home.

My colleague from Staten Island made it in, as did a few other folks.  It seems like it will be a relatively slow and quiet Friday

In the current economic downturn, I totally empathize with those people who need a job, want to work, but don't have one right now. On an ordinary day, especially when I haven't taken a day off in awhile, I will be tired, a bit resentful of the grind; imagining staying on my train after my stop to go to a film or a museum or just a leisurely breakfast somewhere, anything other than (ugggh) work.  So there is something strangely comforting, perhaps another one of those metaphors for living, about the effort to get into the workplace on a very snowy, inclement day, the value that we place on our working lives and our identities. Work is of course about money, "earning a living," but it is more than just that. 
On a snowy day, making that special effort to get into work is how we demark our lives from one of "homo ludens" -- people who play and consume, to "homo faber" -- humans who make, and work and do. 

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