Tuesday, October 30, 2012

CODA: Storm Fatalities in Ditmas Park

Emergency Service and Medical Examiners staff at site of fatalities of two local residents killed last night during Hurricane Sandy by a falling tree while walking their dog on Ditmas Avenue and East 18 - East 19th Streets. The dog was taken in by a neighbor.

Details on the young couple are now available-- Jessie Streich-Kest and Jacob Vogelman. Ms Steich Kest was a teacher at Bushwick HS for Social Justice and Mr Vogelman was a graduate student at Brooklyn College. Sincere condolences to their familes. Link here

Photos  by Tony Napoli Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Storm Coda: Trees Down Across Q/B Train Tracks at Avenue H

Huge tree fell across tracks in both directions near the Avenue H Stop

Photos by Tony Napoli

Local tragedy: www.ditmas park.patch.com reported about two local residents and their dog who were killed when they were struck by a falling tree at Ditmas Ave and E 18 th and E 19 th streets

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storm Surge NYC: 1960

West and Cortlandt Streets, near World Trade Center area during Hurricane Donna 1960. The current storm surge is projected to be higher.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New York City Waits for Sandy

New York slated for hard hit


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Wainy Wednesday in New Yawk: "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway"

It's Positively 'Brooklyn Bucolic' at Flatbush's Landmark Subway Station

Photo by Tony Napoli
The Landmarked Avenue H Subway Station Gets a Touch of the Down Home with Architect/ Designer/Artist Ed Kopel's "Brooklyn Bucolic" winner of the 2007 Arts in Transit Award from the NYC Transit Authority. Of course, since "postmodernism" has become the new reality, the chairs, "ironically" (ouch) are rendered in Bronze and don't actually rock. But they are a pleasure to the eye, adding a further touch of country-ish charm to the quaint Avenue H subway house.

Artisans at Work: Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry
that rendered designer Ed Kopel's vision

From the Foundry's website: "Brooklyn Bucolic, Kopel’s installation, is inspired by the unique element of the station house’s front fa├žade: it’s wraparound porch. Seven fixed and brightly patinated bronze Shaker style rocking chairs in varying sizes able to accommodate children and adults, scatter the north and east side of the house. Each original rocking chair, slightly different than the next, were hand carved in maple by JP Parnas Woodworking out of Massachusetts. Molds were made of every chairs’ element, followed by waxes, and eventually they were cast in bronze. The subtle bend of the chairs’ profiles up to the detail of the wood texture and lattice woven seats translated beautifully into metal."

Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn asked Mr. Kopel a question about this work and his thoughts on design:

Q: As an architect who is also an artist, is utility important in design?

Mr. Kopel responded: For me, there is no architecture without utility. But how does one define utility or, for that matter, function? Is something considered useful if it provokes a thought or a mood or is just pleasing to look at? I think so but I also think that good design is approachable, understandable, and directly applicable to our everyday lives. So called "paper architecture" may be useful in the academy and may be great design but is not, in my mind, architecture.

More on the foundry that rendered the work here and the designer, architect Ed Kopel here and the New York City Transit Authority's Arts for Transit and Urban Design website here

SIDEBAR: Additional Reading and Background on the Avenue H Station:

Avenue H is a local station on the BMT Brighton Line of the New York City Subway. Located at Avenue H between East 15th and East 16th Streets on the border of Midwood and Flatbush, Brooklyn, it is served by the Q train at all times. Among the many pleasures of our family's move from Fort Greene and Clinton Hill in the late 1990s to Fiske Terrace is the wonderfully pronto, el rapido, subway service that we enjoy, ensuring relatively quick access to the rest of Brooklyn and Manhattan via the Q or B.

The Avenue H station was opened around 1900 as Fiske Terrace, a two-track surface station serving the new planned community of Fiske Terrace in Midwood, Brooklyn. The station house, also known as the headhouse, through which the station is entered, is a landmarked wood frame structure built in 1905 as a real estate office of the T.B. Ackerson Company to sell homes in the new community. It was converted to railroad use in 1907, at the same time that the station was renamed "Avenue H." The campuses of Brooklyn College and Midwood High School are nearby.

In 2003, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced plans to demolish the structure, citing its wood construction as a fire hazard. The community intervened, emphasizing the building's historic importance, architectural significance, connecting to the adjacent community and the fact that several other wooden station houses on the subway system had been given landmark status earlier.

The Old, Pre-Renovation Avenue H Station

On June 29, 2004, the station house was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. This allows renovations inside, but preserves the major structure and exterior. The contract to "restore the landmark station control house" as well as rehabilitation of the platforms and other stations structures was advertised for bids by the MTA for January 2007.

In designating it for Landmark Status, the Commission indicated: "The Avenue H station on the BMT line [...] is the city’s only shingled wooden cottage turned transit station house. Often compared to a country train stop, it originally served as a real estate sales office for developer Thomas Benton Ackerson to sell property in the adjacent neighborhood of Fiske Terrace, an early twentieth century example of planned suburban development. The structure, with a hipped and flared roof and wraparound porch, evokes in miniature the area’s Colonial Revival and Queen Anne houses. After nearly a century of commuter traffic, the Avenue H station remains in service and retains much historic fabric, from a corbelled chimney to peeled log porch columns. It is one of a very small number of wood-frame station houses surviving in the modern subway system, the only station adapted from a structure built for another function, and the only surviving station from Brooklyn’s once-extensive network of surface train lines, which had originally attracted Ackerson and numerous other developers to the area.

--Tony Napoli for Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Future is Unwritten: City & State's 40 Under 40 Rising Stars

Photo by Tony Napoli

Political journal City & State hosted a reception for its list of 40 under 40 Rising Stars last night at Sprig, a restaurant in the Lipstick Building in midtown.   The event reflected the young and energetic group of winners which included a great  mix of up-and-coming players in NYC politics, government, media, and business.

As twilight falls on the Mike Bloomberg mayoralty, and with the continuing evolution of Andrew Cuomo's governance of the Empire State, and the complex political dynamic in the media and on the campaign trail as President Obama seeks to stretch "44" into "45" despite a stubbornly intransigent economic recovery and global upheaval and conflict, it is clear and reassuring that, in New York City at least, the Next generation of talented and dedicated movers and shakers are already taking the stage. 

(Coda/Cautionary Note: the Lipstick Building is the former home of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. Inhabiting the 17th -19th floors, the multi-billion dollar ponzi scheme was "financially engineered" from the 17th floor, which reportedly had no more than 24 employees.)

--Anthony Napoli

Monday, October 15, 2012

CODA: Paint It (in the) Black - Stones Choose Newark Over Barclay Center

The Rolling Stones will celebrate their 50th anniversary in the New York area but it will be at the Prudential Center in Newark not at the new Brooklyn Barclay's Center reports Gothamist .. while the bottom line is no doubt a factor in the decision, it will be interesting to hear the rationale since there was a flurry of hype and hooplah in anticipation of the decision ever since the tour was first announced late this summer. Whether there have been intensive, ongoing negotiations or whether this was in the bag all along remains to be seen.  For the record,  Prudential reports 17,500 capacity for end-field style concert seating; Barclay 19,000. So, somewhere in the numbers, Prudential appears to have come up with the better deal.

Looks like they'll be no Junior's cheesecake for you, Sir Mick.  Nevertheless, DITHOB is still merrily grooving on the Stone's new, terrific single, "Doom and Gloom"....

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Doom and Gloom": New Rolling Stones' Single

Lyric video above. Now available for download on iTunes. Despite early word in late August, and a renewed buzz over the last couple of days, still no news on the Barclay Center performance in Brooklyn, U.S.A., before the end of the year. Watch the skies!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Rolling Stones @ 50 -- and Brooklyn's new Barclay Center?

The Rolling Stones have announced they are touring for their 50th Anniversary as the Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World. And, is it possible, a show at Brooklyn's new Barclay Center is in the mix? Discussions continue. Details here but doesn't appear to be on the Barclay official roster of amazing events just yet here

Friday, October 5, 2012

"The Wheel of Fortune Keeps Turning Around": The Rolling Stones

The hand of fate is on me now

It pick me up and knock me down
I'm on the run, I'm prison bound

The hand of fate is heavy now
I killed a man, I'm highway bound
The wheel of fortune keeps turning round
Turning round, turning round
I should have known it was a one horse town

My sweet girl was once his wife
He had papers the judge had signed
The wind blew hard, it was stormy night
He shot me once, but I shot him twice

The hand of fate is on me now
It pick me up and it kicked me right down
Kicked me right down
Kicked me right down

I had to save her life
Yeah, I gunned him twice
Yeah, and I watched him die, watch out boy
Yeah, I watched him die

He was a barroom man, the violent kind
He had no love for that gal of mine
Then one day in a drinking bout
He swore he'd throw me right of town
The hand of fate is on me now
I shot that man I put him underground
I put him underground
Yes I did

I'm on the run, I hear the hounds
My luck is up, my chips are down
So goodbye baby, so long now
Wish me luck, I'm going to need it child
The hand of fate is on me now
Yeah it's too late
Too late baby, too late now
The hand of fate is on me now
The hand of fate is heavy now
It pick you up and knock you down
copyright M.Jagger/K.Richards

Note: Mick Taylor had left the band, and The Rolling Stones were auditioning lead guitarists while recording Black And Blue. American session man Wayne Perkins played on this and almost got the job, but Ron Wood beat him out.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Human Geography: The Late Dr. Neil Smith and The Politics of Place

Bill Roberts, a founding member of the ISO, and Hector Agredano, a doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate Center, remember the life of a determined activist:

October 2, 2012

NEIL SMITH, the renowned scholar, beloved teacher and devoted activist, died on September 29 at the age of 58.

Neil is best known for his academic work. He was a professor of anthropology and geography at City University of New York. In particular, his writings on the patterns of social development in cities--drawing on history, economics, political and social theory, and ecological studies--are among the most prominent left-wing views on the subject.

But Neil will also be remembered as a committed socialist and activist. He came to the U.S. from his native Scotland in early 1977 to complete his graduate studies with David Harvey at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He wasted no time becoming an activist on campus, helping to establish the Graduate Representative Organization.

In 1978, Neil joined the International Socialist Organization (ISO), then only newly formed, and helped to build a campus chapter at John Hopkins of a dozen committed socialists. Neil became a frequent contributor to Socialist Worker, then a monthly newspaper. One memorable article of his in 1981, titled "It's Right to Rebel," put the London urban riots of that summer in the context of the severe economic recession and the hopelessness it produced.

As Kathy Ogren, a fellow student at the time and now a recognized scholar in her own right, remembered, Neil was "a great popularizer of Marxist ideas...and a good listener to a person's evolving political consciousness. He could help one sort out the connections between personal and structural questions and conditions."

Though Neil left the ISO in 1984, his comrades and students remember the humor and fearlessness he brought to his political organizing. "Neil was one of the most creative thinkers I've ever met," Ogren said. "He saw connections, applied his prodigious energy to researching an answer, and then found innovative ways to write or speak about what he had learned."

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AS A scholar, Neil's intellect was evident from early in his academic career. In 1979, he wrote an influential article titled "Toward a Theory of Gentrification: A Back to the City Movement by Capital, not People." More than scholarly research, this was a political intervention in the field of urban geography at a time when questions on urban decay and ghettoization were riddled with inconsistent theories and contradictory research.

His most important theoretical contribution to the understanding of the geography of capitalism is outlined in Uneven Development: Nature, Capital, and the Production of Space. Here, Neil laid out a coherent explanation for the unevenness and distortion of economic development, specifically in urban areas, because of investment and disinvestment in the built environment by capital markets.

Inspired by insights from Lenin and Trotsky, Neil's thesis is based on the contradictions of capitalism outlined by Karl Marx in Capital. However, in applying these ideas, he helped to anchor disparate theories from disciplines that often remain separated in the academy.

Neil would expand on these theories to develop analyses on the commodification of nature under capitalism, politics in the study of geography, and U.S. imperialism. One of his most celebrated books, American Empire: Roosevelt's Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization--for which he received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography for 2002--traces American military interventionism through the age of globalization. The book would prove prophetic when, one year later, the U.S. launched its invasion of Iraq.

Upon his arrival at the City University of New York's Graduate Center, Smith's scholarship and sharp politics attracted a crowd of activists, intellectuals and radicals of all stripes to his courses. From seasoned anti-gentrification activists of Washington, D.C., to peasant organizers from Costa Rica, and the curious from everywhere in between, they all found a seat at the table. His classes were lively with dissension and debate, and it was alright to be political; in fact, it was encouraged.

During the last years of his life, one of Neil's main concerns was that radicals and revolutionaries were losing hope. He was frustrated that it was easier for radicals to imagine an environmental apocalypse than a triumphant revolutionary movement against capitalism. During class and in meetings, he would raise the concern that one of the victims of the ruling class offensive had been the utopian imagination of the left.

This was one of the most inspiring things about Neil--he never gave up hope. And when the Occupy movement burst on the scene last fall, he welcomed it with open arms. Class discussion would turn into strategy debates--he encouraged students to participate, and would hold class at the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park or cancel them to allow us to participate in major demonstrations.

Neil leaves a lasting legacy of scholarship and dedication to geography and to Marxism. As a socialist, he always placed himself in the revolutionary tradition--he spent his last years trying to raise revolution to the agenda in people's imagination and political frontiers. He left us too soon and will be sorely missed by friends, colleagues, students and loved ones.

Neil Smith, ¡presente!

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Published by the International Socialist Organization.

Material on this Web site is licensed by SocialistWorker.org, under a Creative Commons (by-nc-nd 3.0) [1] license, except for articles that are republished with permission. Readers are welcome to share and use material belonging to this site for non-commercial purposes, as long as they are attributed to the author and SocialistWorker.org. [1] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0

The late Dr. Smith's home page, including some of his papers, appear here

CUNY Graduate Center Anthrolopology  Department here

CUNY Graduate Center's Center for Place, Culture and Politics here

Monday, October 1, 2012

Radio Free New York: Bob Fass

Radio Unnameable, a documentary about broadcast visionary Bob Fass's half-century spanning tenure as host of the late night show of the same name, is winding up its run at Film Forum. How an artist, such an original talent, could be working as a volunteer at WBAI at 79 years of age, is a mystery. I mean, if Garrison Keillor could turn a radio show into a public event, why Mr. Fass couldn't be recruited, at the very least, for an adjunct position at a university, or general manager of a college radio station seems a mystery... C'mon, how has my beloved NYU (WSUC, 1976), somehow managed to drop the ball on this local NYC broadcast gem? The film combines wonderful documentary footage of NYC in the early 60s onward, combined with a social history of WBAI and the unique reach and impact of Fass's show as an altenratively poetic and interactive media venue for the American counterculture. It's an absorbing and occasionally moving film, a bit slow in dealing with the internecine warfare at the station, but remarkable in its coverage of how one man could bring this FM radio medium in a completely new direction in a relaitvely short amount of time. The NY Times article today offered some additional archival material from the show, which was archived and digitzed as part of the film here. At 79 years of age, Bob Fass is a significant figure of historical interest in the history of American media; he has devoted his life to radio. Bloomberg, Bill Gates, somebody give this man a Grant (or a pension)!

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