At Last

June 25, 2011

It happened last night. I was attending a large event. The main speaker was at the front of the room, holding the attention of the rapt audience.

Suddenly, a woman stood and, without preamble, began reading aloud from the cell phone in her outstretched hand. “The State Senate has just passed legislation making same-sex marriage legal in the State of New York!”

The room erupted in cheers and applause and all in attendance began hugging friends and strangers alike. Last night a long, difficult struggle for equal rights finally came to an end.

The key votes in passing the new law came from two men, both of whom put their consciences above their party loyalty:

NY State Senator Stephen M. Saland, a Republican from Poughkeepsie, who said, “My intellectual and emotional journey has ended here today, and I have to find doing the right thing as treating all persons with equality, and that equality includes within the definition of marriage.”

NY State Senator Mark J. Grisanti, a Republican from Buffalo, who stated, “I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York — and those people who make this the great state that it is — the same rights that I have with my wife.”

I’ve never been prouder of my state. It’s been a long time coming, but in New York State, the rule of law is for equality — at last, at last, at last.

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This magnet, long stuck to my file cabinet, is now an historic relic.

NY Times: New York Allows Same-Sex Marriage
NY Times: The Road to Gay Marriage in New York


The Land Where St. Patrick Walked

March 17, 2011

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue is the world’s biggest, noisiest, happiest celebration of Ireland and its patron saint. Between the dancing, drinking and green hair, it is easy for an observer to think that those who hail from “the land with 40 shades of green” have always been welcome and accepted here.

But the story of the Irish in New York has many a tragic side. Most terrible is the reason that so many Irish citizens arrived on our shores 150 years ago; they were fleeing the disaster known as An Gorta Mór (the Great Hunger). The devestation began in the late 1840s, when a virus attacked the potatoes planted in the fields of the land where St. Patrick had walked.

Cheap, filling, and easy to grow, potatoes were an essential source of nutrition for poor, rural Irish families. When the virus caused the potato plants to wither and their crops to fail, it wasn’t long before starvation set in.

The Great Hunger, also known as the Great Potato Famine, lasted from 1845 to 1852. During that period approximately one million Irish people died and two million more emigrated, many of them landing in New York Harbor. Now, in a quiet corner of Battery Park, near the spot where those desperate survivors arrived, stands the Irish Hunger Memorial.

Created by New York artist Brian Tolle, the memorial opened in 2002 on a quarter-acre of land shaped to resemble a burial mound cut from an Irish hillside. The base of the memorial is made of slabs of concrete interlaced with bands of plexiglass-covered metal bearing excerpts from reports, poems, songs, sermons and letters describing the desperation and destitution of the victims of the famine. These are intermingled with information about world hunger today.

After walking around the base, visitors walk through a short, dark corridor where recorded voices recite facts about the Hunger and emerge into a small atrium lined with stone walls. A dirt path winds up the hill past thirty-two massive stones, each marked with the name the Irish county that donated it, a roofless stone cottage, wildflowers and grasses, all imported from Ireland.

Every aspect of this small patch of land is significant and symbolic; even the size of the space reflects the Irish Poor Law of 1847, which denied relief to those living on land larger than a quarter of acre. Small, subtle and enormously moving, the Irish Hunger Memorial helps illuminate the wonderful, terrible history of the Irish in New York City.

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Approaching the memorial from West Street

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Closer to the entrance

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Plantings overhanging the concrete

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Through the entry corridor

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Words on the walls

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More quotations on the walls

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The words stretch on

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Climbing the hill

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The view from the top of the hill

CRG Gallery: Brian Tolle
The New York Times: A Memorial Remembers The Hungry
New York Magazine: Irish Hunger Memorial
NYC: Battery Park
Battery Park Conservancy


Dyke March NYC

June 26, 2009

Now in its 17th year, the Dyke March NYC is a protest, not a parade. The people who participate in this annual event are motivated by a desire to increase their visibility and make their voices heard.

Thousands of dykes take over the streets every year in celebration of lesbians and to protest against ongoing discrimination, harassment, and anti-lesbian violence in schools, on the job, in our families, and on the streets.

The march goes down Fifth Avenue from Bryant Park to Washington Square. While the organizers never obtain permits for the march, the NYPD takes a rather benevolent view. All along the route, police officers block traffic, pose for photos, wave and generally enjoy Dyke March duty.

Even though it rained during most of the march, one police officer remarked, “Watching these women is the highlight of my week.” I hope you agree.

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Police cars lead the way

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Police and marshalls stop traffic

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Here come the marchers

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Drummers keep the beat

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The rain didn’t dampen spirits

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Finally, the storm tapered off

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Marchers were drenched but happy

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Very happy

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Some were silly, too

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Kids also participated

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NYPD posing and grinning

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Spectators’ signs were wet but legible

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Marchers carried signs, too

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You don’t need a sign to carry a message

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A marshall in her “uniform”

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Dancing in the street

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A couple with a message

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Walking in the sunshine

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Visibility was important

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So was togetherness

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Her shirt says “I love my two moms”

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The march ended at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village

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These marchers were inspired by the Village People

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The mood in the park was celebratory

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And triumphant

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Rainbows appeared everywhere

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Even on flags

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Veterans of past marches sat and sang together

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Even visitors to the city showed their pride

Dyke March


How About Little Intolerance With Your Breakfast?

May 1, 2009

If you want to survive in New York City, you need to know what’s going on around you. It isn’t easy to keep up with the constant changes that affect our lives, so many of us begin each day by catching up with local news reports on line, in newspapers, on the radio or on television.

To ensure that I hear about the latest street closings, subway delays and traffic jams, I usually turn to the TV morning news. In fact, I was one of the New Yorkers who wasn’t alarmed the other day, when several planes flew around the Statue of Liberty, because I’d heard the flyover announced in advance on the local news.

Today, however, I found the news stories less surprising than a commercial that ran towards the end of the local broadcast. It was 7:50 a.m. and I hadn’t yet swallowed a caffeinated drop, but the ad certainly jolted me awake. It was prompted, I assume, by the governor of New York’s recent introduction of a bill to make marriage legal for same-sex couples.

The commercial, from a group called the National Organization for Marriage, carries a clear message: if all New Yorkers are allowed to equal access to marriage, it will be the end to life as we know it. Heterosexual marriages, happy families and small businesses will be destroyed. Nothing like a little intolerance with breakfast to get the day off to a great start.

Yeah! Let’s make sure them gays don’t get equal rights! And the National Organization for Marriage earns extra points by linking the marriage issue to the current state of the economy!

I expect my local television stations to have some sort of standards, but it appears that Channel 2 (WCBS-TV) is willing to run anything for a buck these days. What’s next? Commercials for the KKK and the American Nazi Party?

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Gay Liberation by George Segal in Christopher Park

WCBS TV: Contact Us
Marriage Equality New York
Human Rights Campaign Exposes National Organization for Marriage’s Fake Ad for Fake Problems
End The Lies
NY Times: Paterson on ‘Guilt’ And Gay Marriage


Help keep the fares fair!

March 26, 2009

Yesterday, the board of directors of the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) voted to cut transit service and increase fares.

While the politicians and the heads of the agency make their way around in chauffeured limousines, the changes, which are scheduled to go into effect on May 31, will deal a crushing blow to already-struggling New Yorkers. The changes are more than substantial; they are painful.

  • The MTA will charge $6 more for a 7-day unlimited MetroCard, $12 more for a 14-day MetroCard, and a 30-day MetroCard will jump from $81 to $103.
  • The fare on Long Island Bus, which serves Nassau County, will go from $2 to $3.50.
  • Riders on commuter trains will find their fares up by as much as 30%.
  • Those who drive won’t be spared, either: tolls will cost $1.50 more each way at the Brooklyn-Battery tunnel, Queens-Midtown tunnel and the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough).
  • The service cuts are horrendous: five subway lines, including the entire W and Z trains, will be shortened or eliminated; 35 bus routes will be totally cut and dozens more will have less service. Bus and train waiting times and crowding will increase while hundreds of station attendants will vanish.

According to the New York Times, after the board voted, H. Dale Hemmerdinger, the chairman, said, “It’s now a fact, it’s done.”

The only remaining hope for those of us who use the system is that state legislators and the governor can be persuaded to agree on a new transit aid package in the next few weeks. Please call or e-mail elected officials and tell them that they need to come to the aid of riders while there is still time; you can find your representatives via the links below.

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Message posted inside the High Street Subway Station in Brooklyn

Find New York State Elected Officials
Contact the Governor of New York State
New York Times: M.T.A. Votes to Raise Fares and Cut Service
New York Post: The Great Train Robbery
Metropolitan Transportation Authority


Hope on the Corner

January 20, 2009

Even on a cold, barren street corner in Brooklyn, the optimistic mood of the inauguration is apparent. From the front window of this pet grooming shop on Hicks Street, the light of hope shines through the darkness.

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The light at the corner of Hicks and Pineapple Streets

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Hope shines from the window


Our Inauguration Day

January 20, 2009

An overwhelming majority of New Yorkers voted for Barack Obama last November, and many thought of today as “our” inauguration day.

Across the city, workers took the day off to celebrate with friends and family, students watched the inauguration ceremonies from their classrooms, and residents and tourists flocked to see the pomp and circumstance unfold on enormous screens that were erected in several locations.

Of course, the souvenir vendors were out in force, too, selling mementos of the day Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States.

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First Black President buttons for sale at Foley Square

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January 20, 2009 badges selling in Union Square

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Inauguration Barack Obama shirt for sale on Broadway

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My President Obama shirt for sale in Foley Square


Yes, We Did

November 4, 2008

Election day. A long day. I worked at the polls, rising at 4:00 am so that I’d be able to help get the machines set up, the signs hung and the documents and forms organized in time for voting to begin promptly at 6:00.

There was a record turnout, and voters stood patiently, sometimes for as long as two hours, in the tiny school gymnasium. While there was no doubt about the outcome in this overwhelmingly Democratic borough, we anxiously awaited word about how the rest of the country voted. Workers, supervisors, voters and police officers texted friends and googled news reports, eager to learn what non-Brooklynites were doing.

After 15 hours we closed the doors, shut down the machinery and hand-counted every vote. Then the crew shuffled out the door and headed home. I was too tired to stay up and wait for the official announcements, so I didn’t bother to look at reports. I thought I’d wait and find out in the morning.

We expected it to be a close race. It wasn’t. We thought we’d have to wait all night for the results. We didn’t. At exactly 11:00, a scream, then a shout, sounded in the street. Horns began honking, people yelling, and above the din arose a chant: O-Ba-Ma! O-B-Ma! O-Ba-Ma!

The race was over. America had voted for change and put the wheels in motion to set out on a new course. Amazing, said many of us. Never thought we live to see the day, we said. But the people had spoken and Barack Obama was chosen as our new President-Elect. The American people did it. Yes, we did.

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Barack Obama


The Recovery Project Rally

September 27, 2008

Inspired by the success of their critically acclaimed program Intervention, the A&E television network has launched an initiative to raise awareness about addiction and recovery. The effort known as the Recovery Project began with a rally at Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza, followed by a march across the Brooklyn Bridge.

In a press release, Bob DeBitetto, president and general manager of the A&E Network and Bio Channel said, “We believe that the considerable reach of A&E Network provides a powerful platform to address, head-on, this enormous public health issue and the urgent need for meaningful action. ‘Intervention’ served as a wake-up call to the fact that addiction is a disease pervading every aspect of our society. Nobody is immune, and everyone deserves a chance to fight for his or her recovery.”

Despite the morning’s drizzle and fog, thousands of recovering addicts came out today. Some were decades into their recovery, others had been clean only a few days, but all hoped that they could help others understand that addiction is a treatable disease and recovery is possible.

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Gathering in the park

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Worker distributing t-shirts

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In recovery for four months and nine months

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Daughter with mother 15 years in recovery

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In recovery since May 10th

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In recovery for 19 years

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In recovery for 10 years, new in recovery

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In recovery for 13 years

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In recovery for 28 months

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In recovery for 35 years

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In recovery for 60 days

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Family from Trenton, NJ

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In recovery for 8 1/2 months

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In recovery for 25 years

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Crossing the bridge with a cigarette and a lollipop

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In recovery for 12 years

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In recovery for 19 days

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In recovery for 23 years

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Crossing Brooklyn Bridge together

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In recovery for 13 years

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Walking across the bridge

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In recovery “and I vote”

A&E: The Recovery Project
A&E: Recovery Rally
A&E: Intervention


The 23rd Annual AIDS Walk New York

May 18, 2008

This morning, on the streets in and around Central Park, 45,000 people participated in 23rd Annual AIDS Walk New York. Despite the rain that drenched some of the walkers, today’s event was the largest and most successful ever, raising $7,058,497 in donations.

Due to the size of the crowd, this was also the busiest year ever for volunteers, who sometimes struggled to keep up with the size and passion of the crowd. This year I signed on to help set up a checkpoint at 83rd Street (marking the 3/4 point) and distribute snacks and drinks to the walkers.

An executive from one of the companies that donated food joined us, bringing along his son and some of his staff. Since some of the snack items they supplied have mascots, he also brought their costumes along. When the person who was supposed to portray one of the mascots didn’t show, the exec’s son cheerfully donned the much-too-big costume and became the Quaker Oats Man (never mind that all the walkers thought he was supposed to be “the Sam Adams beer dude”).

Before long, the walkers began to descend upon us and the volunteers’ activity kicked into high gear. Walkers were greeted and cheered on (you’re almost there!), truckloads of refreshments flew, lines outside the port-a-potties grew, and those assigned to the checkpoint didn’t cease working at top speed until the final bag of chips was gone and the last cup of water gulped.

Since its inception, AIDS Walk New York has raised a total of over $100 million for dozens of HIV/AIDS organizations. Despite all that money and all those footsteps, the epidemic continues to rage around the world. Every penny brings us a bit closer to finding a cure. Today was the 23rd annual walk; I hope this one will be the last.

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Setting up tables with cups of water

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Two mascots before the crowd arrives

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Walkers grabbing snacks

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Friends walking together

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A family walking

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From a team of walkers
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A group of walkers

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The last walkers. The woman in the gray hoodie is 9 months pregnant. She insisted on completing the walk.

AIDS Walk New York
AIDS Walk New York: Results
Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)


We protest!

January 11, 2008

The crowd gathered in front of the Federal Courthouse was loud and passionate. They carried signs, chanted and marched on Cadman Plaza in a small circle. Very small. In fact, the police and court officers on the scene almost outnumbered the protesters.

The demonstration took place at lunchtime. Organizers plugged in their sound system, cranked up the speakers and drew spectators from nearby homes and businesses. A group of students said that they’d come over to investigate because the noise had disrupted their classes (“Our school is a few blocks away but we heard it,” they said.).

The marchers seemed committed to their cause, but few of the observers understood what the group was protesting. The signs and speeches made it clear that the demonstration had something to do with Puerto Rico, but not the specific nature of the problem.

When asked what the protest was all about, the observers shrugged their shoulders and confessed that they didn’t have a clue, but they were enjoying the little show in the sunshine. I took a few photos, but didn’t learn the nature of their cause (they want Puerto Rico to be independent of the US) until I found a report online.

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Women making a speech

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The marchers

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Anti-FBI sign

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Protester with tape over his mouth

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Jury resistance campaign

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More marchers

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Protesting the FBI

Newday: Pro-independence Puerto Ricans subpoenaed by NYC grand jury


A plea to readers

August 1, 2007

PictureNY.org

I’ve never written a post like this before, but the issue is too important to ignore. If you are a New Yorker, ever plan to visit New York or just care about freedom of speech and expression, this is a plea for your help. 

A controversial new city proposal would require formal permits for a wide range of casual photography and would affect visitors and residents alike.

“Some tourists, amateur photographers, even would-be filmmakers hoping to make it big on YouTube could soon be forced to obtain a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance before taking pictures or filming on city property, including sidewalks.

New rules being considered by the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour to get a city permit and insurance.

“The same requirements would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment.”
– New York Times, June 29, 2007

It seems absurd, doesn’t it, that a city like this would crack down on people taking photos in public places, but the threat of that happening is very real — and implemention of the rules imminent — unless we make our voices heard.

Following a request from the NYCLU, New York City has agreed to reopen the period for members of the public to submit comments about this proposal. The City will accept comments until Friday August 3.

Comments should be sent as soon as possible to the following person:
    Julianne Cho
    Assistant Commissioner
    Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting
    1697 Broadway
    New York, N.Y. 10019
   
jcho@film.nyc.gov

An ad hoc coalition of working artists, filmmakers, and photographers have joined together to fight the proposed rules. Calling themselves Picture New York, they have launched a blog and an online petition which will be closed on Friday, August 3.

If you believe, as I do, that we should remain free to take photos and shoot videos on the streets of New York City, please let officials know before it is too late. They will stop accepting comments in only two days.

If you live outside the city, or even outside the U.S., you might hesitate to contact the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting.

You may think that it wouldn’t be appropriate for you to get involved in what seems like a local fight, but the city needs to hear from as many people as possible, no matter where they live. Please help us keep New York accessible and open to all photographers.

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Addendum:
Award-winning newscaster and commentator Keith Olbermann has named Julianne Cho Worst Person in the World for July 31, 2007.

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Addendum:
“Responding to an outcry that included a passionate Internet campaign and a satiric rap video, city officials yesterday backed off proposed new rules that could have forced tourists taking snapshots in Times Square and filmmakers capturing that only-in-New-York street scene to obtain permits and $1 million in liability insurance.

“In announcing the move, officials at the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting said they would redraft the rules, intended to apply to commercial film and photography productions, to address complaints that they could be too broadly applied. They will then release the revised rules for public comment.

“It appears that the mayor’s office on film has come to their senses,” said Eileen Clancy, a member of a group formed to protest the rules. “Clearly, they did not anticipate the way in which the rules were likely to affect so many different groups of people.””

For the rest of this New York Times article, click here.

PictureNY.org

Picture New York blog
Picture New York petition
New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)
Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting
Text of Proposed rule (Amendment to Title 43) [pdf]
NY Times: Artists Organize to Fight Camera Permit Proposal
NY Times: City May Seek Permit and Insurance for Many Kinds of Public Photography
Sewell Chan: A Shout Out to the M.O.F.T.B.
Olde English: Free NYC Rap video
Keith Olbermann
NY Times: After Protests, City Agrees to Rewrite Proposed Rules


Orange Fridays

July 27, 2007

The urgent color of orange — the color that has been assigned to those detained and tortured with no due process — must become the color of a gathering sentiment to end the Bush regime and reverse its program.

Flyer distributed at Orange Fridays rally

Union Square Park is the site of countless protests and demonstrations. This evening I stumbled across a particularly colorful one: a coalition of anti-war, anti-administration activists holding the first rally of their “Declare it Now: Wear Orange” campaign.

Supporters of the group called The World Can’t Wait/Drive Out the Bush Regime vowed to wear orange every Friday to show opposition to Bush’s policies. They are calling for “impeachment, resignation or indictment.” The protesters plan to meet every week in Union Square at 5:00 p.m. and hope to make Orange Fridays a nationwide movement.

Please note: this political movement should not be confused with the Orange Fridays promotion sponsored by the San Francisco Giants baseball team.

Distributing flyers
Distributing flyers

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Protesting with papa

Parading through the park
Parading through the park

Veteran protester
Veteran protester

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Drumming up attention

Adjusting the microphone
Adjusting the microphone

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Blindfolded singer

Torture + Silence = Complicity
Banner on the stage

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Buying badges

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Selling orange t-shirts and bandanas

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All oranged-up

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Buying an orange shirt

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“I’ve been doing this all my life,” she said.

The World Can’t Wait
San Francisco Giants: ‘Orange Fridays’


Happy Birthday!

July 4, 2007

On July 4, 1776, a band of rebellious British colonists adopted Thomas Jefferson’s masterpiece, the Declaration of Independence. It says:

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The Unanimous Declaration of the
Thirteen United States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Happy 4th of July, everybody! Happy birthday, America!

From Smith & 9th Street Station
The Statue of Liberty seen from Brooklyn (Smith & 9th Street Station)

US Archives: Declaration of Independence
US Archives: History of the Declaration of Independence
Thomas Jefferson


New York Dyke March

June 23, 2007

Chances are that you’ve never heard of it, but for a small, dedicated group, it has become an annual tradition. The occurrence? The New York Dyke March.

Although it has taken place in Manhattan every year since 1993, I never saw this highly-political event until today.

The organizers carefully stress that it is a protest march to promote lesbian rights and visibility, not a parade, and that — unlike tomorrow’s enormous Pride Parade — it takes place without city permits or corporate sponsorship.

Marchers gathered in midtown at Bryant Park, then headed down Fifth Avenue to Greenwich Village’s Washington Square, carrying banners, beating drums and gathering more women along the way.

While the Pride Parade attracts international news coverage, the New York Dyke March receives scant attention in the major media. Nevertheless, it always manages to draw thousands of participants and spectators in New York and similar marches are now held in major cities across the United States and around the world.  

The March begins at Bryant Park
The March begins at Bryant Park

4 Queer Womyn's Rights
4 Queer Womyn’s Rights

Queer Justice League
Queer Justice League

Spectators
A pair of spectators

Rainbow lei
Woman with rainbow lei

Temporary tattoo
Temporary tattoo

Couple in straw hats
Couple in straw hats

Unsponsored. Unpermitted.
Unsponsored. Unpermitted.

Woman from GO magazine
Woman from GO magazine

Orange shirt
Orange shirt

Pink lipstick and bandanna
Pink lipstick and bandanna

Woman with rainbows
Woman with rainbows

Let my mommies marry
Let my mommies marry

Three women
Three friends

Little feminist
Her shirt says “Little Feminist”

New Orleans needs stronger dikes
New Orleans needs stronger dikes

Sunglasses on her head
Sunglasses on her head

Red hoodie and bike
Red hoodie and bike

Pink hair & pink bike
Pink hair & pink bike

T-shirt with heart
T-shirt with heart

Happy Pride
Happy Pride

I love vegan dykes
I love vegan dykes

Not your grandmother's lesbian
Not your grandmother’s lesbian

NYC Dyke March
Lesbian Avengers
MySpace: Queer Justice League
Queer Justice League


Save Coney Island!

March 30, 2007

It isn’t often that members of the NYPD tell protesters, “I really hope you guys win.” But then, these weren’t ordinary protesters; this motley crew had trekked in from Brooklyn and assembled on the steps of City Hall to try and save Coney Island.

For decades, Coney Island has been a beach resort for New York’s working-class, a haven for artists and source of housing for the poor. Recently, a large section of the neighborhood was sold to a developer, Thor Equities, which wants to build luxury high rise condos in the heart of the Amusement District.

Thor is trying to convince the city to allow them to build towering multi-million dollar residences on the boardwalk. Their opponents warn them to expect “a vicious war.”

Today, Coney Island’s artists and residents gathered at New York’s City Hall to speak out against the developer’s plans. Their appearance was whimsical but their intentions were serious. Beneath the feathers, glitter and mermaid tails were concerned, thoughtful members of an endangered community.

Speaking to dozens of reporters, the protesters declared their love for Coney Island and their commitment to ensuring that it is not turned into yet another exclusive playground for the wealthy.

The burly cops, many of them remembering sunny childhood days spent on the rides at Astroland, nodded in sympathy and, speaking softly to the protesters, said, “I wish you luck, you guys. Good luck!” 


Miss Coney Island & Miss Cyclone lead the procession
Originally uploaded by annulla.


The Hungry Marching Band in the parade
Originally uploaded by annulla.


Protester in lobster hat
Originally uploaded by annulla.


Coney Island tribe
Originally uploaded by annulla.


Angie & Ekaterina on the steps
Originally uploaded by annulla.


Louis Scarcella, President of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club
Originally uploaded by annulla.


Coney Island pirate
Originally uploaded by annulla.


James Ferguson (aka Tigger) in mermaid tail
Originally uploaded by annulla.


Protester in a purple boa & pink gloves
Originally uploaded by annulla.


Two protesters
Originally uploaded by annulla.


Protester in a pink feathered mask
Originally uploaded by annulla.


Dianna Carlin (aka Lola Staar)
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Save Coney Island
Gowanus Lounge: New Coney Island Tactic
Gowanus Lounge: Demonstration Details
NPR: Developer Eyes Coney Island
NY Post: Coney Development
The World Famous Pontani Sisters
Coney Island Polar Bear Club
Lola Staar
Center for an Urban Future: Dianna Carlin
Thor Equities


Election Day

November 7, 2006

I’m fairly diligent about voting. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I missed a major election. Back in September, during New York’s primary, I asked one of the people working at the polls how she got her job. She told me that it was simple; she went to the Board of Elections Web site, downloaded an application and mailed it in.

It sounded easy enough and looked like an interesting way to spend the day, helping my fellow Brooklynites fulfill their civic duty, so I decided to apply. About a month and a half after submitting my application, I received a post card telling me to report for work at a polling place in South Brooklyn. The card told me the location, the time (5:30 a.m.) and instructed me to “wear my badge.”

Badge? What badge? I contacted the Board of Elections and was told not to worry, they’d give me a badge when I reported for work. I asked about training; I was sure that the Web site had said something about going to a class. Don’t worry, they said, someone will show you what to do when you get there.

With that shaky assurance, this morning I grabbed an umbrella, a nutrition bar (it was too early to make breakfast), the postcard and headed out the door just before 5:00. It was still dark. My first surprise occurred when I realized that although there are quite a few delis between home and the polling place, none of them were open at that hour. I’d have to report for duty without any caffeine in my system.

The polling place was located inside an elementary school. Workers (all of whom appeared to know what they were doing) scrambled to have everything in place so that voting could commence promptly at the stroke of six. About a dozen large gray mechanical voting machines, similar to old-fashioned telephone booths, were arranged the length of one wall. In front of each booth was a folding table and two folding chairs; another folding chair stood next to the booth.

Each table was covered in papers as workers arranged them into neat piles of affidavits, voters bills of rights, paper ballots and other important forms. Each booth and table was assigned a number. Large-type sample ballots translated into four languages were taped to the walls.

There weren’t enough pens to go around. There weren’t enough badges. Worst of all, there was no coffee. But promptly at 6:00 the doors swung open and the voters began to come in. Early morning was the busiest time of the day. The rush ended around 9:00, the time that most people were at work.

This was the procedure: Each voter stepped up to a table, told the worker his or her name and waited while it was found in the registry book. The worker assigned a three-digit number to each voter (001, 002, etc.) and wrote it and the number of the booth into the registry. The voter then signed the book and received a small white slip of paper, about the size of a credit card, upon which the worker had copied all the numbers. Holding the bit of paper, the voter took a few steps forward, handed the slip to another poll worker, and stepped into the booth.

The worker sitting next to the booth pulled a large lever. The booth’s long gray curtains closed and a white bulb atop the machine lit up. The voter inside the booth clicked the levers for the candidates of their choice, then moved a large red lever which recorded the vote, turned off the white light and opened the curtains. During the height of the morning rush one of the levers got stuck but the workers grunted and yanked, pushed and pulled. Eventually it came free and the democratic process continued.

Most of the workers were cordial and chatty. Some seemed to misunderstand the rules; one demanded identification from each voter, even though it was not required. Some disappeared for hours at a time, others spent a good portion of the day outside smoking, a few squabbled, one spent all day obsessing about his next feed (he fussed about breakfast, then lunch, then dinner) and several put their heads down on the tables and napped.

At one point during the day a news crew showed up and shot some footage that never made it onto the air. No one notable came in to cast their vote and, much to my surprise, even though there are many students living near the polling place, very, very few showed up.

At 9:00 p.m. the doors were finally locked. My table had served a little over 200 people. The votes were counted and recounted to ensure that they had been properly recorded without discrepancies. All the important papers and register books were signed by the workers, placed in large Manila envelopes that were signed and sealed, and turned over to the NYPD police officers who’d kept us company throughout the day.

By the time I got home the preliminary results were on the news. The system, awkward and cumbersome though it was, had worked. The voters had done their jobs and the poll workers had, too. Now it is up to the winners to do theirs.


Warning  Posted by Picasa


Count Every Vote Posted by Picasa

  • NY Board of Elections
  • Poll Worker Positions
  • The Propaganda Remix Project
  • Voting Machine Joke

  • Atlantic Yards Ruckus

    August 23, 2006

    In the decade or so since big developers “discovered” Brooklyn, sections of our community have changed radically. Right now, one company’s building plans are generating the biggest political ruckus seen here in decades.

    Forest City Ratner Companies wants to erect Atlantic Yards, a 22 acre complex including offices, apartments and a professional basketball arena. If constructed, the $4.2 billion Frank Gehry-designed project will add 16 highrises and 7,000 units of housing to what is now an area of lowrises and brownstones.

    It is a massive project mired in massive controversy. Tonight a public hearing on Altantic Yards was held at the New York City College of Technology in Downtown Brooklyn. Thousands of supporters and protesters arrived, trying to crowd into a room that held only 880 people. At one point, someone in the audience cried out that everyone was talking and no one was listening to each other. The speaker at the dais responded, “Welcome to New York City politics.”


    Member of the carpenter’s union waits outside Posted by Picasa


    The auditorium was packed Posted by Picasa


    Standing room only Posted by Picasa


    Document inspection Posted by Picasa

  • Forest City Ratner Companies
  • Atlantic Yards
  • Develop Don’t Destroy
  • Atlantic Yards Report
  • No Land Grab
  • Fans For Fair Play
  • New York Magazine: Mr. Ratner’s Neighborhood
  • New York Times: Blight, Like Beauty
  • New York Times: Raucous Meeting on Atlantic Yards

  • A nation of immigrants

    April 1, 2006

    Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
    - Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus,” 1883. Engraved on a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

    This morning a motley crowd carrying banners and waving flags gathered on Cadman Plaza. In a procession more than a mile long, they walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and into lower Manhattan to protest a bill currently before the U.S. Congress. The proposed legislation, known as H.R.4437, would radically change immigration policies.

    America has long been a nation of immigrants. The laws governing who can enter, who may live and work and go to school within our borders, and who is entitled to social services continually change as the political winds blow.

    H.R. 4437, also known as the Border Security Bill, would (among other provisions) require construction of a 700 mile long fence (1120 km) along the Mexican border and would oblige the federal government to imprison non-citizens who are in the U.S. without the proper immigration paperwork.

    Legalizacion Para Todos Los Inmigrantes
    Legalizacion Para Todos Los Inmigrantes


    Gathering on Cadman Plaza Posted by Picasa


    On the Bridge Posted by Picasa


    Crossing to Manhattan Posted by Picasa


    Supporters waiting in front of City Hall Posted by Picasa


    Rest in pieces HR 4437 Posted by Picasa


    Heading up Broadway Posted by Picasa


    Sisters from Honduras Posted by Picasa


    On daddy’s shoulders Posted by Picasa


    In Foley Square Posted by Picasa


    Protesting pooch Posted by Picasa

  • Library of Congress: H.R.4437
  • CBS News

  • The transit strike arrived at 4:00 a.m.

    December 20, 2005

    This morning New Yorkers woke up to the news that the city’s entire public transportation system has been shut down by an illegal strike. Millions of people scrambled to find ways to get to school, work, etc. Despite their best efforts, many were unsuccessful.

    Only a few days before Christmas and Hanukkah, chefs and waiters struggled to reach restaurants where they waited in vain for diners to arrive. Bartenders hiked to work only to spend the day time drumming their fingers and polishing glasses as one holiday party after another was cancelled.

    Doctors and nurses were unable to arrive in operating rooms. Defendants didn’t show up in court. Teachers were unable to get to their classrooms.

    Of course, those who suffered the most were the lowest-paid workers; those teetering on the edge of poverty, those who don’t receive any benefits or union protection, those who don’t have the options of working from home or simply taking the day off. For them, this was a day of frustration and lost wages.

    It took me nearly five hours to reach work this morning and nearly three hours – and $20 in cab fares – to get home. An exhausting day for many people, for many reasons. I hope, for all our sakes, that the strike is settled soon.


    The prevailing mood Posted by Picasa


    You can’t get there from here Posted by Picasa


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