Saturday, September 24

Protecting the Health of CB2

"#OccupyCB2" signs on the chairs.
The Environment, Public Safety, and Public Health Committee of Community Board No. 2 held a meeting regarding the St. Vincent’s Campus Redevelopment Project on the night of September 21. Before the meeting commenced, a man walked around the auditorium and placed “#Occupy CB2” signs on the empty chairs. The chair, Jason Mansfield, led the board of five men and four women. “This is an unprecedented construction project in the middle of the Village, in the middle of a heavily residential area with two schools,” began one board member.

(Photo Courtesy of Community Board No. 2)
First on the agenda was a presentation by Ann Locke, who addressed questions raised by the board regarding the remedial action plan for the environmental impacts of the construction project. The board was also concerned that the demolition of the old hospital building would release asbestos and wanted to know the contractor’s plan of containment. Locke addressed how hazardous material was going to be disposed and explained that no carcinogens would be released into the environment. Citing that after 9/11 the health of children at Stuyvesant School were negatively impacted by delivery trucks not having diesel particular filters installed, the board requested that vehicles of the contractors and all parties working on site to be equipped with diesel particular filters. The board also made a request for the construction company to set up a website and post, in a timely manner, the air quality for playgrounds and public areas. “NYU does it” was their argument.
When chair then opened up questions to the floor, he began to lose control of the discussion. Some members of the community (specifically those who were holding up “#OccupyCB2” signs) had questions completely unrelated to the agenda. First up to the microphone was a man with an eye patch who had with him a small dog. He began by saying how he almost had a small stroke that day. “Why can’t they give us a hospital?” he asked, “They have the money!” to which some members of the community answered with a standing ovation. Next up was an older woman who said, “We were shot down at every turn, but we still want to save the hospital!” As soon as they got a hold of the microphone, they began to speak passionately and at length about saving St. Vincent’s.
A spokesman from North Shore LIJ responded by saying that “the existing hospital [St. Vincent’s] could not continue to exist as a competitive 21st century hospital because of physical constraints such as ceiling height” and cannot fit modern equipment. “In 2014, the community will receive a new park, new school, and new emergency department,” he added.
After Mansfield regained control of the room, Judy Wessler of the Commission on Public’s Health System gave a presentation on the “Qualitative Community Health Survey” conducted by the St. Vincetn’s Community Health Needs Assessment Task Force. Her presentation highlighted how people don’t know where to go after St. Vincent’s closed. “Information, transportation, and access to appointments were a serious problem,” said Wessler.
“I personally am very worried about a free standing emergency room,” said Wessler, “I think it works in rural areas, but we are in New York City.” Her statement was greeted by another standing ovation.

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Monday, September 19

Anna Sui Spring 2012 Show

Karen Elson walks the Anna Sui S/S 12 Runway

For Spring 2012, designer Anna Sui strived for her usual 70's inspired aesthetic, infused by the ultra-feminine and glamorous style of the 40's era. Despite the contrast in influence from different time periods, the runway soundtrack was all about the 70's songs from ZE Records, a New York based label which represents disco, no wave, and indie rock artists. Walking to the rock-infused tracks and donning Sui's head-to-toe eclectic looks were many of today's hottest models, headed by Sui's longtime friend, super-model turned singer Karen Elson.

In true Sui runway fashion, Elson, opened the show in a glitter crinkle turban, black & white ombre jacket, and electric purple chiffon. The former Mrs. Jack White, happened to fresh off the night before's performance at a Paper Magazine Party where she performed songs off her The Ghost Who Walked Album, as well as a stunning cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". Also present were fashion heavy-hitters such as Jessica Stam, Karlie Kloss, Arizona Muse, and Lindsey Wixson. 

Just as American fashion was back in the 40's, the collection was heavily influenced by the ladylike characteristics of Parisian deign. Sui told Rolling Stone Magazine " I was inspired this season by Antonio Lopez, an illustrator and photographer in the 70's. I'm channeling the moment he went to Paris with some of his American muses, and helped introduce vintage fashion to that scene; it was a whole different aesthetic than French fashion at the time." From the sheers, florals, lace, and sequined fabrics to the old-fashioned silhouettes, this was certainly evident. However, Sui was able to incorporate her signature wild prints, vibrant hues, and statement accessories which kept the collection fluent with those of the past. 

The show's soundtrack was curated by legendary sound stylist Frederic Sanchez, who has also worked for fashion houses such as Prada, Versace, and Louis Vuitton. For Sui this season, it was all about late 70's tracks, particularly the first track "Fire" by French artist and pioneer in the "No Wave" genre Lizzy Mercier- Descloux. The first of three tracks by Mercier - Descloux, her soft vocals along with upbeat instrumentals, served as a great complement to the show. The rest of the tracks, were all from French artists, kept the energy strong, particularly by Casino Music entitled " Do You Feel Blue?." All of the songs were under the ZE label. Sui's collection and showmanship all lies in her understanding of the relationship between fashion and music. The two feed off of each other and Spring 2012 collection, as well as all of her runway shows, are an illustration of that. 

New York City Sports Teams

New York is the only city in the United States to have at least two teams in each major sports league – for the sake of simplicity for interviewees, major being defined as Baseball, Basketball, Football and Hockey – and yet on a given day many residents have no idea a home game may be taking place mere miles away.

“I always like being in a bar and finding out the Yankees are playing because the drinks are way cheaper” says James Driscoll, a 23 year-old actor living in Manhattan. He claims to have never been “too sports focused”, even growing up in New England surrounded by Boston fans he still feels no real pull towards any team in particular. When asked to name two players from both the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox, he struggled. While he successfully remembered Pedroia and Ortiz from the Red Sox, the Patriots proved to be more difficult; he rapidly listed off Tom Brady but was disappointed to learn that Randy Moss was no longer on the roster.

However, James stands at one end of the spectrum. The majority of people interviewed felt some loyalty to hometown teams. Jason Burgouin, a 28 year-old chef from Miami says that while he supported them growing up, his interest in the Dolphins increased after moving to New York. “It’s like a connection to home,” Burgouin says, and while he’ll never move back to Florida, he enjoys keeping that connection open.

Out of twenty people questioned, Jason also was one of only four who could name all nine teams without further assistance. Additionally, two people were able to name the Islanders after learning the ninth unnamed team lay within the NHL – no great surprise seeing as the Islanders consistently average the lowest attendance rate in the National Hockey League. Nine people got the eight major teams, one knew 7 and the rest of the results were sprinkled between the 3 and 6 range.

However, New York teams (with the exception of the Islanders) don’t seem to suffer. According to ESPN, the 2010 season saw both the Giants and the Jets respectively averaging 3rd and 4th highest attendance rates. The New York Knicks’ average consistently lands them in the top-ten and the Yankees have been flip-flopping between the 1and 2 spot for the past ten years – the Mets’ position seems to be more performance-based. Hockey seems to be New York’s weakest sport; the Rangers have sat comfortably below the top ten for several years now while the Devils are a good deal below that. And then of course there are the unfortunate Islanders bringing up the rear.

In a city as wide and diverse as New York, interests are obviously going to be varied within a spectrum of entertainment options, and that seems to be the case specifically within athletics as well. Unless you’re near a bar or a stadium, you may not even know there is a home game. However, that ultimately doesn’t seem to take much of a toll on the teams themselves. Evidently enough New Yorkers do care about for them to continue garnering top support around the nation.

A Times Square Tech Project

Cannonball Projects is a two-man company that operates out of a single rented room on the twelfth floor of 1501 Broadway. It develops an IPhone and Android app called Cannonball that combines group chat, event planning, and the “check-in” concept of Foursquare.
In a room no bigger than an average New York City bedroom, Ryan Gyure, 21, and Chris Parcel, 22, work, sleep, and eat.
“The office is home. Sometimes we go somewhere to sleep. Sometimes we go somewhere to drink,” says Parcel, the Chief Product officer, and a UCLA graduate with a degree in Economics.
Their sole investor, Gordon Ebanks, is one of the most successful venture capitalists in New York City. In February, he was contracting Gyure for a small project for his own company when Gyure confessed he’d be late with his assignment because of an outside project. After hearing about the project, Ebanks suggested a partnership that would start off at an initial investment of $35,000 every three months for operational costs, legal fees, and a ticket out to New York in exchange for a promise that the product would come to life by mid-October.
“He was very intrigued and showed quite a bit of interest in the project,” says Ryan.
Taking a year off of college at the University of Arizona, Gyure moved to the city and immediately reached out to Chris through the McKelvey Scholars program. A couple Skype interviews later, Parcel agreed to leave the start up hotbed of the Silicon Valley and move to New York.
“New York is a high-risk location to be operating out of,” Gyure admits, “but the proximity of our investor, and the success of apps like Foursquare, which has the most activity in New York, lured us here.”
The only routine part of their day is a forty-five minute commute back and forth from their shared apartment in Harlem to Times Square, where the Cannonball Projects office is located. From then on, each day is as unpredictable as the last. With no set schedule and the temptations of being self-employed, Parcel and Gyure work to exercise discipline and diligence.
Late nights most often occur before launch dates when they are asked to submit updates to the app store, or prior to check-ins with Ebanks, with whom their relationship is much more intimate than that of most other start-ups. “He has so many contacts in the city, and he is constant reminder that our plans need to make business sense and not just technical and social sense,” says Gyure
But it is New York’s social media culture that has influenced the Gyure and Parcel the most in their design of the product.
“Just being around the city with eyes and ears open accounts for so much of our decisions. Less than five percent of what we learned in college we’ve come to use. The rest is curiosity, understanding people, and getting feedback. This is pretty big for us both, to be doing this sort of thing,” says Gyure.
“We were skeptical at first, but New York came through. People here are much more deliberate about making plans, and proactive in creating events ahead of time. We’re here to improve the most fundamental dialogue of planning, and if there’s work to be done in fostering better communication between groups, then we still have a job,” responds Parcel.
But the days can be grueling. The typical day ends around 1:00 AM as the two trudge home for a quick rest. During launch weeks, the day can end around 5:00 AM. On those days, Gyure and Parcel pull pillows from the closet and sleep on the carpet area under their respective desks. With their deadline for a finalized product the last week of October, neither can sign leases for apartments. Schedules are never dictated, only self-created, and the two must gauge how much work they plan on doing, and what days it might be wise to just go home. The two spend weekends coding, working with their Android developers in Russia, and conversing with their graphic designer in India.
“It’s obviously a lot of hours, but it’s fun. After a while, you get over the discipline aspect of it and just do what needs to be done. Some days we’ll treat ourselves and take a Thursday off. But we’ll agree to come in that Saturday and Sunday,” says Parcel.
But both acknowledge that despite the amount of work and dedication that goes into a project like this, it is inevitable that their idea will either be unsuccessful and unnecessary or successful and then copied.
“The Googles, Microsofts, and Facebooks will simply take our idea. We know that’s the end of it all, sadly. It’s not a matter of ‘if’, but really a matter of ‘when,’ and when the day comes, will we sell our hard work?” says Parcel.


Brooklyn Book Festival

The Brooklyn Book Festival, which took place September 15-18th, could easily be described as what poet Kenneth Goldsmith remarked in a panel conversation about inspiration: ‘less concerned about the information that is moving than the moving of information’. A festival of over 115 tents, 250 authors, and multiple locations can seem daunting at first. Yet, this overflow is the treasure of the festival, and ultimately what helped to make it one of the nations premiere literary celebrations, proving that literature still holds force.

The tents, many with tops that can best be described as ‘tarp blue’, were arranged haphazardly. There was the children's section, and then everything else. Unintended comic contrasts occur: The Pen American books tent invited visitors to fill out a literary survey that hosts questions like "Title of your autobiography that gets turned into a terrible movie: Holden Caulfield or Ferris Bueller?" or "Hashtag or Hash Brown". Visitors would gaze at the survey, nervously assessing it. Next to the Pen American tent was Melville books, a publication devoted to novellas and brevity, boasting book bags offering the perfect response for reluctant surveyors and ardent followers of Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener: I'd prefer not to.

Beyond the tents were the stages: Forums took place in courtrooms, classrooms, and walk-up outdoors stages. Perhaps one of the most fascinating conversations was the forum on 'Art in the Mix: Inspiration, Reception and How Art Makes Meaning' that took place on center stage. The forum hosted three men: Author Kurt Andersen, Poet Kenneth Goldsmith, and artist Simon Dinnerstein. The conversation was flat, friendly, and noncommittal until the moderator came to Goldsmith. Kenneth Goldsmith had recently performed, in May at the White House, a six-minute reading of a Walt Whitman poem, a Hart Crane poem, and, finally, a verbatim traffic report. He received a standing ovation. Goldsmith currently teaches 'Uncreative Writing' at UPenn, and he emphasized the prevalence (and importance) of information appropriation.

 "He should be teaching rhetoric or debate, not fine arts, not literature", Dinnerstein said; "The weather report is a classical narrative of the four seasons", Goldsmith added; "I think that art should do more than change the way you listen to the weather report (emphasis mine)", Dinnerstein said; "I'd say writing is 100 years behind painting", Goldsmith said; "I'm glad literature is not caught up to Duchamp", Dinnerstein said.

It would be difficult to find two more immediately contrastable figures than the ones of Kenneth Goldsmith and Simon Dinnerstein: Goldsmith dressed in a bright pink suit, complete with straw hat and two different colored socks (red, green); Dinnerstein in a dour all black uniform. Goldsmith reclined one leg over knee and joined hands at the knee; Dinnerstein set bent one leg back and the other leg thrusting forward. Goldsmith the assembler of the new; Dinnerstein the guard of the old (the tensions soon eased, but not before a woman became so interested by the discussion that she paused and went within inches of the stage before being whisked back into the crowd). Somehow these disparate figures managed to peacefully co-exist at the same festival, just like the endless rows of patrons and pitchers.

Daphne Guinness, Fearless Style Icon

The day after the closing of New York Fashion Week, Daphne Guinness premieres, and while New York City is still on a fashion high, the exhibition could not have come at a better time.

Currently on view at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Daphne Guinness focuses on the ratified personal style of the heiress, style icon, and patron to various designers. With approximately 100 garments and accessories from Guinness’ personal collection, the exhibition showcases her individual styles. From avant-garde, menswear, and even chic, Guinness is completely unafraid to own some of the most extreme clothes and shoes. But Guinness does not merely collect the clothes, she also wear them.

“People who collect clothes get a bad rep because they’re told it’s all vanity,” Guinness said. Often misunderstood, for the 43 year-old heiress, the art of fashion is what draws her.

"Everything in Guinness’ closet reflects her knowledge of and respect for the art of fashion," Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, said for The Financial Times .

Steele, also co-curator of Daphne Guinness, believes Guinness is the perfect person to demonstrate how fashion can shape real life and vice versa. "It’s impossible not to notice her or the role clothes play in her world," Steel said. "And though she is not the first woman of style to have been honored with an exhibition, she is a rare contemporary subject, relevant not as a piece of social history but as a current force."

The exhibition begins with an introductory gallery featuring some of Guinness’ shoes. Modified Nina Ricci platform boots by Hogan McLaughlin, floral ceramic high heel sandals by Alexander McQueen, and red bejeweled crystal studded heeless platform shoes by Noritaka Tatehana (also worn by Lady Gaga), are just a few shoes that exudes her eccentric style.

The main gallery, spanning from 1995 to 2011, showcases a wide range of designers, including Valentino, Balenciaga, Christian Lacroix, Karl Lagerfeld, and Alexander McQueen. But, Guinness does not forget to include younger designers like Jun Takahashi and Gareth Pugh. The main gallery, separated into six sections, are each devoted to an aspect of Guinness’ different styles, and each designer helps display them.

The gallery begins with ‘dandyism,’ which showcases Guinness’ admiration for menswear. 'Chic' exudes the simplicity and elegance of classic dress suits, while 'exoticim' showcases Guinness' love for drama. 'Sparkle' has to be the most breathtaking section of them all. With never before seen pieces by Alexander McQueen, like the bugled bead catsuit and the black feathered cape, the garments will leave any fashion enthusiast speechless. 'Evening chic' continues with the theme of elegance, featuring stunning gowns by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Valentino, and Azzedine Alaia. The last section, 'armor' focuses on Guinness' love for it. A jacket and pant ensemble covered in metal nails designed by Gareth Pugh is a must-see.

At the end of the exhibition, Daphne Guinness can be mistaken as an art gallery, but when observed closely, it is more than that. It is about Guinness' sense of individuality and encourages others to find their own.

The Dangers of Two Wheels

The first weeks of autumn have been grim for Brooklyn cyclists. In two tragically similar accidents, two young bikers were killed only days from each other in Williamsburg. On August 30th, Williamsburg resident Erica Abbott, 29, was riding down Bushwick Ave when she tried to pass a pile of construction debris and was fatally struck by a car. On September 2nd, fellow Brooklynite Nicolas Djandji, 24, reportedly ran a red light while cycling on Borinquen Place and was hit by an SUV. In both accidents, the drivers of the vehicles stayed at the scene and were not charged. These unfortunate accidents so close to one another inevitably raise the question of safety within the cycling community – are the city street too merciless for flimsy bikes?

According to cycling advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, the annual fatality rate for bikers has ranged from 12 to 26 within the past five years. Nicolas Djandji became the tenth victim of 2011, keeping this year’s number relatively low so far. Although the first bike lanes in Brooklyn were opened back in 1894, the amount of cyclists has skyrocketed within the past decade; the numbers of New Yorkers who commute by bike daily rose by 13 percent between 2009 and 2010 alone. Estimates on how many people overall use their bikes in the city every day vary, but it’s agreed to be somewhere between 200 000 and 300 000. With this many cyclists on the streets every day, city officials are under pressure to keep them safe. The Department of Transportation came up with an ambitious idea of completing 200 miles of bike lanes in three years, and they met their goal in 2009. While Transportation Alternative’s executive director Paul Steely White comments that the streets are “definitely getting safer”, some Brooklyn cyclists disagree. “Drivers have no respects for cyclists what so ever,” says local cyclist Neil Simone, who rides his bike between his home and work in Williamsburg daily. “I see near-accidents all the time.”

On September 16th, city officials announced plans to launch a bike share system in Manhattan and Brooklyn next year. With 10,000 bikes and 600 stations planned, the system is intended for short-time rides and commutes. If the project succeeds, it means a definite increase in the amount of bikers on the city streets. The Department of Transportation promotes cycling safety with events like Bike Month – which takes place in May – and by giving out 20,000 free helmets at DoT locations. While the amount of bikes in the city only seems to grow, the city seems to be taking the safety of the people riding them more and more seriously.

Cyclists on Havemeyer Street, Williamsburg

Sunday, September 18

Sex In the City

 “If I had a CD to record everything that goes on in the backseat I’d be a rich man, I’d sell to the porno industry,” my cabbie says. I’m not quite sure how we got to the topic of sex; perhaps it was my remark about the cold weather and not having enough clothes on to bare the wind? Caught of guard but thoroughly interested in the subject I take advantage of my driver’s openness. My driver tells me he’s been driving in New York for 16 years and is originally from Russia, he answers all my questions but tells me he’d like to remain anonymous...”I need to keep my job” he remarks justifying his request.

“You can tell what’s going on by looking in the mirror, the man is either car sick or getting a blow job. Sometimes people are quiet and other times they just don’t care. People never apologize.” My cabbie continues rather surprised when I ask if people apologize or acknowledge their acts.  “Why would they? Sometimes people drunk sometimes they not. It happens all the time. Friday and Saturdays especially.”

My driver tells me he’s had passengers try to make deals with him in exchange for a free ride. Admittedly he says he’ll accept if he has enough money to pay his rent and cover his expenses. “Women offer to flash me, give me blow jobs...I like legs, sometimes if women show me legs, I give them free ride.” My driver says he doesn’t mind the displays of sex, if it really bothered him he says he’d simply kick a passenger out.

Displaying any sexually offensive material, this includes the act of sex itself as well as masturbation, “pubic area or buttocks with less than a full opaque covering” and “exposed genitals” in the state of New York will cost you $250 and a maximum sentence of 15 days in jail if you’re caught  (New York Penal law Section 245.11 Public display of offensive sexual material).

On east 7th street between avenue A and 1st avenue my cabbie and I part ways, I thank him, pay my toll, and noticing my own bare legs hurriedly rush out of the car.
“The New York City Taxi & Limousine commission (TLC) is responsible for licensing and regulating New York City's medallion (yellow) taxicabs, for-hire vehicles (community-based liveries and black cars” ( website).  TLC serves really as the only form of regulation between driver and passenger, everything else is left up to individual act and decision.

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The Highline Park

The Highline Park – public, and elevated, and located on the west side of Manhattan – nearly doubled in length this past June, leaving homeowners and business owners unsure of what to expect.
The Highline Park is a vestige of the NY meatpacking industry; its function was to provide for the transportation of cattle between coastal ports and the slaughterhouses further downtown.  Today, however, it has a much different use.  It has become a very popular attraction for tourists and New Yorkers alike, who flock to the urban structure to experience its beauty and unlikely location. Its inconvenience forces many people to travel much further west than they otherwise would consider doing, thus increasing pedestrian traffic.
“We were expecting more people, of course, but we weren’t expecting this many tourists to come into the restaurant on a daily basis,” said Kendrick Greer, manager at The Half King Pub on 23rd Street.  “I can’t say the wait staff is too thrilled, but I know the owners are happy with the new revenue.”

Yet while local business is thriving, The Highline has also facilitated an increase in property value along the Meatpacking/Chelsea corridor.  This estimated 10%-14% increase in property value translated into higher tax revenue for the city of New York, but for some residences, the park comes as an annoyance.
“I’ve lived here for almost fifteen years and I pay enough for my home,” said Mike Hoffer, local resident. “I’m just waiting for someone to come knocking on my door to reassess its value!”
Well over a year into its opening, The Highline Park experiment has become precisely what its designers and the city intended it to be: a modern, urban, open space uniquely integrated into the industrial neighborhoods near the west coast of the island.  Objectively speaking, the city has successfully turned the abandoned and decrepit train tracks into a busting park for the thousands to enjoy.
Esu Manulah, 25, who lives directly above the park, said, “I miss waking up in the morning and not having anyone around.  Now I have to look at French and German families taking pictures all day, but I guess it was bound to happen….”

Airport Security Involvement in Smuggling Case

U.S. Connecticut attorney David B. Fein announces the 20 smuggling related arrests
image credit: Douglas Healey for the New York Times
“Do you desire to protect American interests and secure our Nation while building a meaningful and rewarding career?” After this opening appeal, the job summary for a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) goes on to state that working for the Transportation Security Administration is working “to safeguard the American way of life.”
After the 2001 September 11 attacks, Congress chose to create the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a new agency handling security for transportation, by allocating responsibility and funds from the Federal Aviation Administration. Airlines or private contractors previously handled this work.
This past Tuesday, September 13 three TSA officers, Christopher Allen of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; John Best of Port St. Lucie, Fla.; and Brigitte Jones of the Bronx, N.Y., were arrested for assisting in interstate drugs trafficking and the transport of cash proceeds resulting from the sales of these prescription pills. The narcotic oxycodone was transported from Florida to Connecticut by way of New York. The resulting cash profit was then transported back to Florida. Two police officers, Michael Brady of Westchester County, N.Y., and Justin Kolves of Florida state were also charged as well as fifteen other civilians involved.
As stated on the TSA website, the duties and responsibilities of a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) are to “implement security-screening procedures that are central to Transportation Security Administration objectives” and to “protect the traveling public by preventing any deadly or dangerous objects from being transported onto an aircraft.” For around $500 a trip, Allen, Best and Jones coordinated with drug couriers to allow them passage onto commercial flights with large amounts of oxycodone and cash. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) five-month investigation revealed that the civilians carrying the drugs to sell the pills for profit in New England would make several trips a week. It has not yet been released how long this drug ring has been in operation, but it is possible that it has been in action for at least a year amounting to more than 65 flights from Florida to New York. One man arrested in April that triggered the investigation said he paid Brady more than $20,000 for unhindered passage.
Brady, a police officer working for the Department of Public Safety in Westchester County, could have been earning an annual salary of around $53,000 to $62,000. A Transportation Security Officer like Allen, Best and Jones is in the Transportation Security Administration’s D or E pay band, which ranges from a minimum of $25,518 to a maximum of $44,007. In a written statement TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said, “TSA holds its security officers to the highest professional and ethical standards and has a zero tolerance policy for criminal activity in the workplace. The actions of a few individuals in no way reflect on the outstanding job our more than 50,000 security officers do every day to ensure the security of the traveling public.” The key requirements for a potential Transportation Security Officer is to pass a background investigation including a credit and criminal check, a drug screening and medical evaluation, and no defaults over $7,500, delinquent debts or taxes. And, of course, a Transportation Security Officer must “desire to protect American interests and secure our Nation.”

Saving Saint Mark's Bookshop

            EAST VILLAGE – Owners of Saint Mark’s Bookshop met with the landlords from Cooper Union on Wednesday to discuss a new lease with the struggling bookstore.
            Opening in 1977 Saint Mark’s Bookshop moved from its original location directly on Saint Mark’s Place to its current location on 3rd Ave in 1993.  When the book store first opened in 1977, the rent was $375 a month.  Although the location has changed a few times over the years, the current rent has dramatically increased to $20,000 a month.
            When the drowning bookstore requested a $5,000 rent reduction, however, Cooper Union denied them.  Even though Cooper Union does not own the building that the bookstore resides in, they lease the building from another company and sublet it to Saint Mark's Bookshop.  
            In an effort to save the bookstore, The Cooper Square Committee has issued a petition online to help save the bookstore for loosing their lease.  This is an organization designed to work with its residents to contribute to the preservation and development of affordable, environmentally friendly housing and community spaces in an effort to keep the Lower East Side diverse.
            In an interview on Friday, Bob Contant said he and co-owner Terry McCoy arranged a meeting with the Cooper Union Board on Wednesday and were asked to provide a budget proposal and present it to the school’s president and board.  Saves have dropped by 35% in the last three years and it doesn't look they they will be able to cover their overhead, Contant explained.
            “The meeting was very cordial, but not much was accomplished,” explained Contant.
            Even Borough President Scott Stringer joined the cause with a  letter to the Cooper Union President, asking President Jamshed directly to renegotiate the bookstore’s lease.
            “The East Village cannot afford to lose the St. Mark’s Bookstore,” Stringer wrote.  “Longtime neighborhood institutions such as this independent bookstore, as well as other cultural institutions and small businesses, are what make the East Village a dynamic, unique neighborhood that we so cherish.”
             A letter and 30,000 signatures later, Cooper Union finally decided to rethink their initial decision to deny the rent reduction.
            In an e-mail addressed to all petitions,  Joyce Ravitz, a Cooper Square Committee representative wrote, “To bring you up to date…many of our elected officials have forced Cooper Union to meet with the owners to negotiate a new lease.  Bravo!”
            Promising to keep petitioners updated, Ravitz continues to stress the importance of taking action and requests the neighborhood to take one more step: “Buy one book from the Saint Mark’s Bookshop.”   

The Impact of NYC's Rental Market on College Students

New York City is one of the most inflated and expensive real estate markets in America. That market is even more difficult to maneuver when you’re living on a college student’s budget.

Sam McFarland, 21, is a junior at the New School. And even though he started classes at the end of August, he still does not have an apartment. “I’ve gone to the bank multiple times to get money for a deposit, returned, and lost the apartment because somebody else put down more money,” McFarland said. “I have been staying at a friend's apartment, on his couch, and have been constantly scanning the Internet for open houses and deals on apartments. I’d guess I’ve made over two hundred phone calls for apartments.”

McFarland has been searching for a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, and with a limited budget, finding the right deal has been taxing. “I get really frustrated with the whole situation. I know that there are good deals out there, and I know my apartment is out there. But, the amount of work that I’ve had to put in, while going to school and work, has been crazy. I keep waiting for a lucky break.”

Certainly not alone, McFarland has the unfortunate task of dealing with the New York City real estate market. In most markets, real estate agents are paid by the homeowner or landlord trying to sell the property. But, because of the high demand, agents, often referred to in New York as brokers, charge the person trying to rent, instead, a fee that can range from one month’s rent all the way up to %15 of a yearly lease.

And this current market isn’t much help for those like McFarland, who can see a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan typically go for around $2,500 per month. The vacancy in New York City is less than %1, and the rent prices have never been more inflated than they are in this current back-to-school market. “I live at home on the Upper West Side in order to save money,” New School junior Eddie Rakowicz said, “It certainly isn’t that popular with the ladies, but it saves me a ton.”

Despite living in extremely confined quarters, some students are looking to the positives of their living situations. “My bedroom is big enough for a queen-sized bed and about one foot of walking space,” New School junior Luke Mulder said, then added, “But one of my current roommates is a German supermodel, so you won’t find me complaining.”

Under the George Washington Bridge

A bright red lighthouse reaching just 40 feet high sits in the shadow of the great gray bridge.
 Eleven years after the completion of the George Washington Bridge Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward wrote the story of "The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge." It tells the story from the perspective of the little red lighthouse while the bridge is being built above. 
Every September the little red lighthouse festival takes place. Different guest readers come and read the story of the little red lighthouse and the great gray bridge to children of all ages. The festival is attended by thousands of families. Music, lighthouse tours, and arts and crafts activities are done along the Hudson River Shores. 

However, the festival not only celebrates the lighthouse but the beginning of New York's Parks and Recreations. In 1951 the city of New York proposed the dismantling of the lighthouse, which resulted in a large public outcry. The outrage, which was largely attributed to the popularity of the book lead to the preservation of the lighthouse by the City of New York and it became a New York City Landmark. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The Idle and The Active Green Spaces in Northern Brooklyn and Queens

An island between Broadway and Lafayette Ave. 'Green Streets' sign.

Flushing Ave. at Morgan St.. There are many vacant lots throughout Brooklyn and Queens.  Many have been changed into community gardens.  Mary Arnold co-owner of Steward program, CURES, states that it's a "tough town" in terms of environmental change "people turn away from civic space." She added. 

Since 2009 CURES has been fighting against rail pollution by funding and executing community gardens.  Pictured here is a project executed in 2010 on Shaler Avenue in Glendale Queens.  "The problem" Local, John Urbanski said, "is that there are no fire water the plants." He is afraid he rarely sees people working on the garden.  CURES are planning on revitalizing a plot between 71st Pl. and 73 St., also in Glendale according to their project website.  According to Mary Arnold, views the project as a small step in a huge problem.  "There is very little you can do in New York City unless you did a Robert Moses type project.

 Cryril F. Joseph, 67, 10-year is the owner of the "Secret Garden" in Bushwick along Broadway at the Gates Ave. stop on the J train.  Mr. Cyril overlooks his plot marking the mid point of the garden.  He doubled the size of the garden when he took over the community garden he claimed: "I come here 7 days a week he says," and insists that this is the biggest community garden in Bushwick.
Collection of scallops, cabbage and onion at The Secret Garden in front of buckets of rainwater for watering the plants. Mr. Joseph is beginning to make a pen for chickens and guinea pigs "I want to get the kids interested," he said.

           Jefferson St. at Irving St., A rose blooms behind the fence in a community garden, closed for the evening, while a young child walks by.