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Archive for the ‘New York’ Category

NYC Condoms v. 2.0

My very favorite public health initiative of 2007 is back with a vengeance this Valentines day – NYC condoms! Having given out 36 million free condoms last year, the NYC Department of Health is trying for even more in 2008. While the new condoms themselves are the same, the packaging and branding is all fresh and new. Because you know how the kids are! Horny and with deficient attention.

So New York, GET SOME!

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It’s time everyone learned the REAL story of Christmas. Here’s a documentary that explains the true meaning of the holiday season.

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It is dusk on a Sunday, and bearclaws is approaching a crosswalk, visions of sugarplums probably dancing in her head. Mechanically, she notes that the intersection’s resident electronic crossing guard is wearing his smart white pantsuit, NOT his fiery reddish-orange unitard. To bearclaws, this sign says, “C’mon! Cross over! We live in a civilized republic where it was decided that anarchy -while sexy when you are 15 and hate your parents- is ultimately impractical, so have faith that aforementioned white pantsuit means that you will be safe to get to the other side.” Fault her for not looking both ways – which she admittedly didn’t- but had bearclaws started to cross a moment earlier, she would have been ass over tea kettle, sideswiped by a biker going through a red light.*

Now before all the bikers get themselves into a kerfuffle about how riding a bike has more positive side effects than hanging out with baby kittens, save it. I get it, and I mostly agree with you. Biking is healthy, ecologically friendly, creates less traffic, etc. However, what is NOT healthy is colliding with pedestrians nor scaring the bejesus out of them. I am a proponent of increasing the volume and enforcement of bike lanes, until the next time I get knocked on my ass. Nothing is guaranteed to erode the goodwill of bike-supporters faster than six months of eating food through a straw. Think of it like this; running red lights just because you are on a bike is like having a friend with gills who always brags about being able to breathe underwater. At some point, I am going to try to drown you both in my toilet.

*No bearclaws were harmed during the inspiration for this PSA

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One of my favorite things that I did last year was this:

Participate in the Partnership for the Homeless‘ Voter Registration Campaign. After a quick training, I went out to a Homeless Shelter and led a little workshop for the residents on their right to vote (even when homeless) and a bit about the significance of them voting.

I registered people to vote! It was great.

And then at the end of the training, as I was leaving, all the ladies of the shelter were like, it’s time for ANTM!!! Oh my god!!! So I sat down and watched with them. And that was the Best Part of All.

Want to do it? The trainings are:

Monday, December 3rd 6-8:30 PM

Wednesday, December 5th 2:30-5 PM

Thursday, December 6th 2:30-5 PM

You only need to go to one training, and then they will work with you to find a night (or more) when your schedule allows you to go to a shelter and lead the workshop. They’ll pair you up with another trained volunteer and you guys can co-lead together.

If you have been sort of in the back of your mind thinking about volunteering for something worthwhile, I highly recommend this. You get training, get to meet people you never would before, have interesting conversations with people living in a shelter that it would be hard to have without a specific context/reason like this, and then it’s over! You’re not signing on for an indefinite amount of weekly or monthly volunteer nights, it’s just one 2.5 hour training and 1+ evenings out, scheduled at your convenience!

To find out more information or to sign up for one of the trainings, contact Elana Shneyer, Community Organizer, at (212) 645-3444 x 107 or eshneyer@pfth.org.

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Last night, upon plainclothesman’s recommendation, I trekked out to the Court Street movie theater to watch Jodie Foster’s new revenge murderfest, “The Brave One.” It’s not really that I didn’t like the movie. It’s more that it ruined New York for me, which is one of the few things that I love with the capacity of my soul. For a movie that attempts to grapple with serious questions about justice, trauma, death, morality and a spiritually wounded person’s ability to live, there is an awful lot of hyperbolized violence and an awful little of actual substance.

In the film, Jodie Foster plays Erica Bain, an Ira Glass-like NPR host, but instead of good-natured reverence of humanity, she employs a “lipless fury”* while she brutalizes both the image and inhabitants of our fair city. Following an obscenely violent mugging/beat-down in Central Park, Erica loses her shit (understandably) and develops a slight case of agoraphobia, which quickly morphs into a seething, pitiless blood lust, sated only by the execution of people who fuck with her (less understandable). Just like her idealized city of New York, throughout the movie, Erica sheds her innate humanity and becomes unfamiliarly savage. New York spits thug after thug at her, and she fights back with an unsure hand on an illegal 9mm.

Now, okay. There is crime and brutality in New York. Yes. There are victims of crimes who lose their ability to live in New York. Definitely. But really, this isn’t fucking Baghdad over here. The problem here is that the movie doesn’t balance its gross distortion of New York with anything that puts it into perspective. It is as though in the filmmakers’ minds, it was a genuine reflection of this city through the eyes of one fictionalized New Yorker. I’m just going to put this out there, but no UWS radio host – shit, no one at all – has ever been nearly beaten to death in Central Park, then witnessed a murder in a bodega, then mugged on the subway, then coerced into prostitution, and then gotten into a crowbar fight with a Roosevelt Island parking mogul. Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s so completely overblown, but with no wink-wink-nudge-nudge “I understand there is such a thing as human decency” foil for the audience. Even Terrence Howard, the magnetic north on the moral compass of this story, turns out to be a little off, depriving the ending of its grounding.

Stop ruining New York, Jodie. I have to live here.

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We got home safe last night.

* Courtesy of Kate, resident cultural analyst for Brooklyn Skeptic.

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logo.jpgBrooklyn and its fellow boroughs (Staten Island excepted, of course) not only feature incredibly expensive housing, but they also have quite a few young people who are positively dying to stuff themselves into tiny apartments. So it is not unheard of for three or four (or more) unrelated people to live together in one place. While this contributes to one’s sense of community and builds character through forced intimacy, it also leads to the occasional tiff.

“Who’s turn is it to pay ConEd for power that so often sputters out (hi Queens and Midtown!)?”

“Did you pay your sixth of the DVR bill?”

“I paid for toilet paper last time!”

Ah, these dulcet cries need not pour from your cramped home any longer, thanks to Billshare. It’s a free app that allows you and your roommates to track the household expenses and everyone’s shares of them. It sends out little email reminders and has statistics. It’s anal-retentive and confrontational so you don’t have to be!

Seriously. How can you not love the internet?

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No, not the semi-underground sport roommate hunting. I’m referring to the kind of roommate hunt that involves posting an open room in your apartment on Craigslist and seeing what kind of scaries come out to ingratiate themselves and borrow into your living quarters. Here are some thoughts should any of you decide to embark on a similar journey.

1. Craigslist trollers have their responses down to a science. Within 24 hours of posting my ad, I had over 100 well-crafted life stories packed into my inbox. Many of them extolled my ad-writing skills, saying that I had awakened them from the dreary haze of reading apartment listings. Let me assure you that my ad was neither amusing nor outstanding. It may differ only in the lack of spelling errors. Either way, nearly all of the responses were identical because apparently every young woman in New York is exactly the same. I suppose I knew that already.

2. Might I suggest inviting an extremely judgemental friend to supervise your interactions with potential roommates and then offer scathing criticism when they leave? Because it’s very helpful. Thanks, johnbaptisedme.

3. Young women apartment seachers in New York can tend towards the overzealous. Maybe don’t pick the one who called you five times within 12 hours of meeting her. Because she’s crazy.

4. No one will tell you to your face that they are not interested in the apartment. One girl (who showed up a half hour late for her appointment with nary a phone call or apology) walked through the apartment, asked one question and then said, “well, I’m going to head out.” I asked her if she was interested in the place at all – she most certainly wasn’t – and if I should call her when I’ve made a decision. She said I should. Um, why not just say you’re not interested, weird girl with a Blackberry in one hand and a Razr in the other? Your existence annoys me.

5. If at all possible, don’t wait until the end of the month to look for a roommate. Because everyone who is looking to move immediately is coming from a crisis situation. And anyone who finds themselves in a residence-related crisis is probably not going to be an ideal roommate.

6. Myspace and Facebook are your friends. Don’t feel bad about doing a little surreptitious background check on your candidates. They say a picture is worth a thousand words…especially if that picture is your potential roommate soul-kissing a bottle of Rolling Rock and grinding with her sorority sisters in a mid-western sports bar. And they’re all wearing WWJD bracelets and hotpants.

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