Monday, April 30, 2012

Back to the Future: Church Avenue on Horseback

Photos by Tony Napoli

It was a blast from the past for these youngsters at the Church Avenue Street Fair yesterday, riding horses on City street.

Friday, April 27, 2012

R.I.P.: Pioneering Rock DJ Pete Fornatale

CBS News reported that Bronx native Pete Fornatale died Thursday at the age of 66 from complications following a stroke.

As a DJ on WNEW-FM, Fornatale’s format was to play and promote lesser known artists, along with album cuts beyond the hit singles.

Until his death, Fornatale still hosted the “Mixed Bag” show on Saturdays on WFUV-FM, public radio from Fordham University, his alma mater.

Full article here

DJ, author Pete Fornatale

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gary Sinise &Lt. Dan Band Concert to Benefit Wounded Warrior

Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band, along with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, are holding a special concert at Brooklyn College on Friday, April 27 to benefit U.S. Army Specialist Bryan Dilberian, who lost three of his limbs while fighting in Afghanistan in 2011. Actor Sinise, the band, and his foundation have been very active in supporting US troops overseas and disabled vets at home.

The benefit will support construction of a smart home for Mr. Dilberian, a Fort Hamilton High School graduate who has undergone a total of 21 surgeries since being injured, and who currently resides at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The Tunnel to Towers foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation are working to raise the money needed to build a home with “smart technology” while the wounded vet continues his recovery at Walter Reed.
These custom built homes, which can cost up to $250,000, are smart homes, with functions supported through an iPad, that permits the disabled resident to prepare meals from a wheelchair and are fully accessible and automated. The larrger bathroom, living space and elevator if needed will allow easy access to all areas and advanced features including motion sensitive lighting.

“I still don’t believe it,” Dilberian said of all the support he has received;  “I would like to thank the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation for all their work helping me start my life over again.”

Sinise's Lt. Dan Band (named after the character that he portrayed in Forrest Gump) is a big outfit that plays a wide range of tunes from Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix classics to contemporary songs by Kelly Clarkson, Evanescence, Beyonce, Lonestar, the Zac Brown Band guaranteed to rock the house. More here

The concert will take place on Friday, April 27 at 7 p.m. at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts located at Brooklyn College. To purchase tickets, call 718-951-4500, through Friday this week, between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. or visit

Urban Visions: Expanding Transit Infrastructure for an Ever Growing City

Last week, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer spoke at a forum and offered an interesting vision of an expanded, flexible transit system linking all five boroughs to effectively support future growth and development as New York in general and Brooklyn in particular continue to attract new residents.  And, of equal importance, he explored how to pay for it: through an infrastructure bank for mass transit that Stringer calls “New York City Transit Trust." Through a mix of directing mortgage recording tax funds for MTA capital products, and reinstitution of the commuter tax to support operational needs, Stringer projects that the "Transit Trust could provide capital for a range of projects, many of which can improve the lives of thousands of Brooklyn residents."

It's an interesting and ambitious concept that deserves further discussion. BP Stringer's full opinion piece on this matter appears below:

by Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President

The future looked rosy 100 years ago, when New York undertook a revolutionary plan to build a vast network of subways and elevated trains. But it looks considerably different today, as we struggle to meet urgent transit needs.

Transit deserts dot the Brooklyn landscape, from Mill Basin and Marine Park—where an “express” bus takes over an hour to reach Midtown—to East Flatbush and Greenpoint, a burgeoning neighborhood that relies on the G train as its sole subway link. While our 100 year old system is designed for connectivity between Brooklyn and the Manhattan core and back, it does little to connect Brooklynites to other Brookynites. Want to get from Williamsburg to Bay Ridge? Better head into Manhattan and back out again. We can and must do better. Our system must reflect where people live and work today, not 100 years ago.

One million more people will be living in our City by 2025 and to put it bluntly: We are not ready. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority -- the central nervous system of our regional transportation network -- is a fiscal house of cards.

This crucially important agency is being held together with a combination of unprecedented borrowing, and fare hikes as far as the eye can see. That’s no way to run a railroad, much less the nation’s largest transit system.

What’s needed is a new, more stable stream of revenue for the MTA, one that stabilizes its operating budget but also allows us to expand the system to reflect where people live and work today, not 100 years ago.

Here’s my plan: an infrastructure bank for mass transit that I call the “New York City Transit Trust.”

Mayors across the country are recognizing that cities cannot rely solely on state and federal funding for infrastructure. In Chicago, Rahm Emanuel has launched the Chicago Infrastructure Trust to leverage private capital for needed projects.

The New York City Transit Trust will also leverage private dollars by tying our infrastructure bank to a dedicated revenue stream – the Mortgage Recording Tax -- that currently helps fund the MTA’s operating costs.

The Transit Trust could provide capital for a range of projects, many of which can improve the lives of thousands of Brooklyn residents. BRT will finally come to Brooklyn next year on Nostrand Avenue, promising to improve service for 300,000 people who live within ¼ mile of the route. The Trust could enable further expansions of BRT to Flatbush and Utica Avenues, the rebirth of light rail in the burgeoning neighborhoods of Red Hook and Carroll Gardens, the continued extension of the G train to Church Avenue, and the full rollout of countdown clocks along the borough’s lettered lines. In addition, the “X” line—a subway that can be built along existing rights of way between Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx—could improve interborough connections that would help over 70,000 Brooklynites who commute to Queens on a daily basis. Lastly, the Trust could benefit riders all over the City by paying for new subway cars and buses and improving safety and reliability by replacing track and upgrading outdated signals.

Of course, if we are going to redirect the Mortgage Recording Tax to the MTA’s capital needs, we have to replace it on the operations side with a new, reliable funding stream. I believe we should start by getting back what we lost when the commuter tax was repealed in 1999.

The commuter tax, which affects people who work in NYC but live outside the five boroughs, produced billions of dollars in revenue for New York City between 1966 and 1999. If we reinstated it at the same rate as when it was killed 14 years ago, we would raise $725 million a year to support the region’s transportation network.

It’s the right thing to do. Every day, close to a million commuters pour into New York City, using our roads, bridges and rails to get here and relying on our police, fire and sanitation services when they arrive.

All we need is leadership – leadership that recognizes that real investment in transit projects always pays huge dividends down the road, and that there are new, more creative ways to fund those projects.

That’s how you create a true, five-borough transportation network and prepare New York for the next century of growth.

--Scott Stringer

Thursday, April 19, 2012

LEVON HELM of "The Band": Rest in Peace

From The  Last Waltz, Levon singing Up on Cripple Creek

Died of cancer, age 71 at 1:30 PM today. Surviving members of this legendary group are now Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson.

Full article here


Tupac, who died in 1996, was brought to life as a virtual hologram (actually a projected 2-D image) and joined Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg at Coachella Music Festival. Although the adapted technology is new, the concept harkens back to a theatrical trick called Pepper's Ghost that was in use in the 19th century. While the original illusions -- and its antecedent -- are largley based on projections that could be called smoke and mirrors, the new version utilizes more complex computer generated imagery:  WSJ reports: "Dr. Dre and his production team first approached Digital Domain a year ago to discuss the possibility of creating a virtual Tupac. They began work in earnest on the Coachella performance around four months ago. ...

"First, the image was created on a computer, using physical characteristics and movements captured from recorded performances...Advances in computer graphics and video projection allowed Sunday night's illusion to be far more lifelike than other recent efforts."

See the Tupac and Snoop Dogg video here

From the Wall Street Journal

Full article in the Wall Street Journal here

Monday, April 16, 2012

On the Road: "Successions" - Prints by African-American Artists @ The David C. Driskell Center , UMCP

The Last Bar-B-Que by Margo Humphrey

On the road in the Washington, DC area last week, visited the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, College Park,  where "Successions: Prints by African-American Artists from the Jean and Robert Steele Collection continues on display through June 22, 2012. Among other works by Romare Bearden, Faith Ringgold, Calvin Burnett, Allison Saar and Bettye Saar, the above work completely caught my eye. A bright and provocative exhibit to catch on the rolling University of Maryland - College Park campus if you are in the Washington, DC area.

From the Driskell Center website: "The Last Bar-B-Que is one of the most well-known lithographs of master printmaker Margo Humphrey. It required nearly three years of thought, during which Humphrey looked at other representations of the Last Supper by artists from Lorenzetti to Emil Nolde and considered what tone the potential work should possess. In the final version, The Last Bar-B-Que embraces many sources and traditions to create a scene that is meaningful, humorous, and visually beautiful. Like traditional representations of the Last Supper, Christ is shown seated at a table, surrounded by his disciples. Humor can be found in the title and in the watermelon and chicken that join the traditional bread and wine; however, the title also indicates a shift from a European American perspective to an African American one. The apostles and Christ are African American, while the presence of the pyramid and bright patterns of the clothing and the overall composition suggest African influences. Humphrey commented, "The Last Bar-B-Que is a serious piece: a rewriting of history through the eyes of my ancestry, a portrayal of a savior who looks like my people." J. S.

For more information on "Successions" and the Driskell Center visit here

Thursday, April 5, 2012

On the Limits of Transparency

In the age of social media and Wikileaks, former Governor David Patterson provides insight into the realities of governing versus campaigning and the limitations of transparency, showing, once again, that Life isn't all Black and White -- there are more than 50 shades of grey:

From City and State 's Heard Around Town --

*  On Fred Dicker's radio show yesterday former Gov. David Paterson defended Gov. Andrew Cuomo against charges his administration lacks transparency, saying that criticism of the all-night Albany session that led to the passage of the pension plan (among other things) was unstudied, and ignores the messy realities of policy-making. Paterson underscored the point with a sort-of brutal reference. "I was watching the Ken Burns World War II episode," Paterson said.  "It was clear that solders were left on the field to die. If the army had given up its position on parts of the field, other people may have gotten killed," he said, likening Cuomo's strategy this legislative session to that of a war commander, in this instance, General Dwight D. Eisenhower.  "Everything can't be squeaky clean, tied up in a bow and perfect. The good is not the enemy of the perfect. What Andrew Cuomo has been able to accomplish has been great, but it has not been perfect. Transparency can be as bad as good sometimes," Paterson said.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday Morning Telly: 'So Lonely' - The Police

So Lonely" is a song by The Police, appearing on the 1978 studio album Outlandos d'Amour and released as a single in November 1978 and again in February 1980 as a re-release. The single didn't chart on the first occasion but reached number 6 with its second release. The other singles from Outlandos D'Amour, "Roxanne" and "Can't Stand Losing You", followed a similar pattern of not charting very high in 1978, but doing very well on a re-release. The video for the song depicts the band walking around the streets of Hong Kong and on the subway trains of Tokyo in 1980. More here

Monday, April 2, 2012

CODA: Le cercle extérieur considère le cercle intérieur

As a follow up to DITHOB's Inner Circle reverie and bid for fleeting notoriety, I was fortunate to catch a glimpse of the actual 2012 Inner Circle Program and share the vicarious joy (that otherwise could be shared at $750 a pop, although for a many good causes):

Front Cover: Preoccupied. Art by Randy Jones 2012

Back cover: Preoccupied. Art by Randy Jones 2012


Wacky Weiner (Rockin Robin)

The Gothamists provided some excellent photos and video here

Other media reviewes and raves here

"Secret Asian Man"(Secret Agent Man)
--Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

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