Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New York Botanical Gardens Panoramic Movie

A panoramic movie taken at the New York Botanical Gardens

It's So Peaceful In The Country

Actually, it's the New York Botanical Gardens. Hard to believe that for a lifelong 60 year old New Yorker, my first trip there.
The Kenny Rankin lyrics:
In the morning fun when no one
Will be drinkin' any more wine
And I wake the sun up by givin' him
A fresh air full of the wind cup
And I won't be found in the shadows hidin' so low
I can wait for fate to bring to me
Any part of my tomorrow, tomorrow
Cause its oh, so peaceful here
No one bendin' over my shoulder
Nobody breathing in my ear
Oh, so peaceful here
In the evening shadows are callin'me
And the dew settles in my mind
And I think of friends in the yesterday
When my plans were giggled in rhyme
I had a son while on the run
His love put a tear to my eye
Maybe someday he might say
That I'm a pretty nice guy
Oh my, oh my
Cause its oh, so peaceful here
No one bendin' over my shoulder
Nobody breathing in my ear
Oh, It's oh so peaceful here
Oh, so peaceful
Oh, so peaceful here

Monday, April 21, 2008

May Is Labor History Month: We Do The Work

More images the laborarts collection. The music is from the Folkways' Collection of Classic Labor Songs. This one is entitled, "We Do The Work, " by Jon Fromer.
The textual explanation for many of the images
Read this doc on Scribd: labor text2

May Is Labor History Month: Bread And Roses

The images come from a great collection at laborarts:
LABOR ARTS is a virtual museum; we gather, identify and display images of the cultural artifacts of working people and their organizations. Our mission is to present powerful images that help us understand the past and present lives of working people. AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney has urged all international unions to cooperate in locating for display on Labor Arts "the treasure trove of cultural objects that have moved workers into action from the very inception of our movement."

Bread and Roses, version by Joe Glaser from the Folkways' Collection of Classic Labor Songs
As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing: "Bread and roses! Bread and roses!"
As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women's children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for -- but we fight for roses, too!
As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days.
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler -- ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!

below the text that accompanies the buttons, banners, etc in the slide show
Read this doc on Scribd: labor-text

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Saving Jamaica High School, Part 2

UFT Chapter leader, James Eterno, speaks out at the PEP meeting of 4/14/08

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Richard Price's Lush Life 2

I heard Richard Price at The Tenement Museum last night (4/15/08). Part of the audio I captured is below. Richard talks about his experiences in researching and writing the book. At 1:50 he mentions all the pulp fiction written in the 1950's by guys who experienced life on the lower east side first hand (shades of Jack Karney). At 10:13 he mentions an entry in a police log book (known as the rat book) from 1953 about the execution of the Rosenbergs. The interviewer is Steve Long, the vice president of collections and education at the museum. One disturbing aspect of the visit was the street side presence of workers at the museum protesting their frustrations in securing a union affiliation there. How ironic that a museum that portrays the struggles of immigrants to New York City could possibly be involved in denying workers' rights. I would hope this issue gets resolved.

Richard Price's Lush Life

A great book for anyone with a love of the Lower East Side. A great book period.
The first chapter from the nytimes

The amazon link

Academic Apartheid At Jamaica High School

From the 4/14/08 PEP meeting at Frank Sinatra High School in Long Island City. A contingent of almost 100 came to protest plans to put a new charter school into Jamaica High School. A science teacher tells it like it is:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

UFT Cojones

In a rare display of UFT Cojones, UFT Executive Secretary, Mike Mendel, followed Patrick Sullivan's challenge to "Value Added" BS, with a hard hitting response of his own. Mike, a friend of a Knickerbocker Village brother, gets my vote as Randi Weingarten's eventual successor

Monday, April 14, 2008

Value Added BS

Manhattan PEP representative Patrick Sullivan was on duty, as usual, last night challenging the latest DOE initiative called "Value Added." It's a complicated statistical formula (see thumbs below) which is supposed to measure the efficacy of NYC public school teachers. Chief "Farmer" Chris Cerf was in charge of spreading the news. I was there pinch-hitting for Norm Scott and captured some of the audio of Patrick's comments

Chelsea Morning: 1969

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Home Of Chelsea Morning: 41 West 16th Street

In a 1996 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Mitchell explained: "I wrote that in Philadelphia after some girls who worked in this club where I was playing found all this colored slag glass in an alley. We collected a lot of it and built these glass mobiles with copper wire and coat hangers. I took mine back to New York and put them in my window on West 16th Street in the Chelsea District. The sun would hit the mobile and send these moving colors all around the room. As a young girl, I found that to be a thing of beauty. There's even a reference to the mobile in the song. It was a very young and lovely time... before I had a record deal. I think it's a very sweet song, but I don't think of it as part of my best work. To me, most of those early songs seem like the work of an ingenue."

A Chelsea Morning

yesterday, 4/12/08, I was at Chelsea piers waiting for my daughter to finish a practice SAT test. I tried the best I could to capture the wonderful historical pictures that were there. Hopefully the great Joni Mitchell song has not become sullied by its association with the Clintons
Woke up, it was a chelsea morning, and the first thing that I heard
Was a song outside my window, and the traffic wrote the words
It came a-reeling up like christmas bells, and rapping up like pipes and drums
Oh, wont you stay
Well put on the day
And well wear it till the night comes
Woke up, it was a chelsea morning, and the first thing that I saw
Was the sun through yellow curtains, and a rainbow on the wall
Blue, red, green and gold to welcome you, crimson crystal beads to beckon
Oh, wont you stay
Well put on the day
Theres a sun show every second
Now the curtain opens on a portrait of today
And the streets are paved with passersby
And pigeons fly
And papers lie
Waiting to blow away
Woke up, it was a chelsea morning, and the first thing that I knew
There was milk and toast and honey and a bowl of oranges, too
And the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses
Oh, wont you stay
Well put on the day
And well talk in present tenses
When the curtain closes and the rainbow runs away
I will bring you incense owls by night
By candlelight
By jewel-light
If only you will stay
Pretty baby, wont you
Wake up, its a chelsea morning

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Cagney And Lacey

The last post wet my whistle for the full Cagney And Lacey theme. I noticed the one I posted in 2006 was no longer working, so here it is again

Mark Glass Is Found

My internet sleuthing determined that a Mark Glass lived here. When I returned later and rang the bell I found that it was indeed the Knickerbocker Village one and not fugitive from justice. Whew. Now out of the 20 members from the 1959 LMRC team, only two have not been located.

The Storefronts Of New York (Brooklyn)

from the nytimes city room blog, 4/8/08 an excerpt:
Brooklyn Storefronts as Metaphor for a Changing Borough, By Sewell Chan
Paul Lacy, 50, has lived in Brooklyn for all but two years since 1983. He has worked as a factory night watchman and an apprentice furniture maker. Now he does freelance page layout for publishers of science and technical books. But Mr. Lacy’s real passion — like that of so many New Yorkers who are defined as much by their hobbies as their day jobs — is street photography. He has just published his first book, “Brooklyn Storefronts,” a collection of 75 color photographs of small, independently owned stores throughout the borough.
City Room first noticed the book, which W. W. Norton published as a paperback last month, during a visit to the Whitney Biennial; it was on sale in the gift shop. More than merely documenting the great variety of small businesses in Brooklyn, it provides a glimpse of the often rapid social and economic change that many residents fear is transforming Brooklyn neighborhoods and threatening the unique enterprises that have long made them distinctive.
In a phone interview, Mr. Lacy said he began photographing the storefronts a few years ago, often encountering subjects while riding his bicycle, whether to get some exercise, take a break from work or check out new restaurants.
“I knew northern Brooklyn and coastal Brooklyn, but I didn’t know the central Brooklyn area where I was to move,” he said. “In a way, I was exploring all the places that I would then patronize. If I saw a place that repaired vacuum cleaners, I would think, ‘Hey, I should remember that.’ ”
The images, taken since 2001, certainly reflect the eclectic nature of Brooklyn commerce — and of Mr. Lacy’s tastes. The images invite all sorts of questions. Who would have guessed that there was a taxidermist shop at 964 Jamaica Avenue in Cypress Hills, on the Brooklyn-Queens border? What is shown or performed at the Impact Theater at 190 Underhill Avenue in Prospect Heights? What kinds of “statuettes” and “variety items” are sold at Féraille Botanica at 616 Flatbush Avenue, in Flatbush? Are there other sins besides alcohol at the Sin City Lounge, at 59 Montrose Street in Williamsburg? What does the Egyptian iconography signify outside the Smai Tawi Afrakan Kultural Wellness and Martial Art Center, at 106 Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights — and what explains the unusual spelling?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Señor Wences And Wences' Imposters

see the context of the señor wences imposter on the left
from wikipedia
Señor Wences (April 17, 1896 – April 20, 1999) was a prominent 20th century ventriloquist whose popularity grew with his frequent appearances on CBS's Ed Sullivan Show. He was born Wenceslao Moreno in Salamanca, Spain, He became famous as a ventriloquist in many countries.
Señor Wences was known for his speed, skill, and grace as a ventriloquist. His stable of characters included "Johnny," a childlike face drawn on Wences's hand, which he would place atop an otherwise headless doll, and with whom Wences conversed while switching his voices between Johnny's falsetto and his own voice at amazing speed. Wences would create Johnny's face on stage to open his act, placing his thumb next to, and in front of, his bent first finger; the first finger would be the upper lip, and the thumb the lower lip. He would use lipstick to draw the lips onto the respective fingers, and then draw eyes onto the upper part of the first finger, finishing the effect with a tiny long-haired wig on top of the entire hand. Flexing the thumb would move the "lips."
Another popular Wences character was the gruff-voiced "Pedro," a disembodied head in a box. Wences was forced to suddenly invent the character when his regular, full-sized dummy was destroyed during a train accident en route to a performance. Pedro would either 'speak' from within the closed box, or speak with moving lips--simply growling, "s'awright"--when Wences opened the box's front panel with his free hand. A large part of Wences' comedy lay in the well-timed, high-speed exchange of words between himself and his two creations, and in the difference in their voice pitches.
Wences usually built to a big finish that combined ventriloquism with graceful juggling and plate-spinning. As Wences performed his routines, Pedro and Johnny mercilessly heckled him with flawless comedic timing.
Wences was an international favorite for decades, appearing regularly on TV variety shows including a memorable half-hour turn on The Muppet Show. His last TV appearance was on The Very Best of the Ed Sullivan Show, #2, a CBS retrospective in which nonagenarian Wences talked about "Suliban" and performed a brief spot of ventriloquism.
Señor Wences died just three days after his 103rd birthday. He had been residing in New York city on 54th Street, just around the corner from the Ed Sullivan Theater. That section of 54th Street has been named "Señor Wences Way". His portrait can be seen at the Players Club in New York.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Mark Glass Affair, Part 3: Mostly Untrue

The Mark Glass Affair, Part 2: Mostly Untrue

The appearance of the mysterious stranger from the previous post resulted in a change of venue.

The Mark Glass Affair : Only Partly True

The 1959 LMRC team photo is a cornerstone of the Knickerbocker Village site. During the 2nd annual reunion the whereabouts of a teammate, Mark Glass (arrow), was discussed. It was mentioned that he has become an Orthodox Jew living in Brooklyn. My searching came up with this article about an orthodox Mark Glass who was a notorious slumlord. An excerpt
Landlord Is Charged With Waging Campaign of Terror, By JOHN SULLIVAN, October 3, 1997
A Manhattan landlord with a string of aliases, a store of weapons and a hefty real estate portfolio conducted a campaign of terror to drive tenants out of a Lower East Side building so that he could raise rents, according to prosecutors, who yesterday charged the man with arson and attempted murder.
Prosecutors said the man lived in a $2 million home in Brooklyn, but they were certain of little else about him, including his name. The defendant was identified in court papers as Mark Glass, although his lawyer said his name was Alvin Weiss, and prosecutors contended that he used at least eight different names, three drivers' licenses and three Social Security numbers.
Arguing against bail, a prosecutor, Francine James, described Mr. Glass as ''a very violent and uncontrollable man'' and said the charges of attempted murder and arson were only ''the tip of the iceberg.''
Ms. James said Mr. Glass had tried to drive tenants out of the run-down apartment building with rent controls at 42 Clinton Street so he could rent the units at a higher rate. She said two tenants who complained of ''deplorable conditions'' at the building became the targets of a murder plot, in which Mr. Glass hired someone to kill them with drug overdoses. ''Because of their complaints, their deaths were ordered,'' Ms. James said.
The defendant's lawyer scoffed at the prosecution account, saying his client was an upstanding citizen, not the violent mystery man portrayed in court.

After studying the details of this and other stories about this Mark Glass, it's inconceivable that this is the Mark Glass we know. However afterwards, a mysterious person appeared at Tanahey Park asking about someone who is often confused with me. It became evident that I had offended someone named Mark Glass.

Up On The Roof: Group Photo

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Highlights Of The 2nd Annual Knickerbocker Village Reunion: The Enforcer Arrives

Willing to battle all bullies all the time

Highlights Of The 2nd Annual Knickerbocker Village Reunion: Chet Kaplan's Autograph Book

Chester (Chet) Kaplan's PS 177 autograph book
How I'd like to look
Into that little book
The one that has the locking key
And know the boy that you care for
The boy who is in your diary
When it's late at night
What is the name you write
Oh what I'd give if I could see
Am I the boy that you care for?
The boy who is in your diary
Do you recall
And make note of all
The little things I say and do
The name you underline
I'm hopping that's mine
Darling I'm so in love with you
Please don't leave me blue
Make all my dreams come true
You know how much you mean to me
Say I'm the boy that you care for
The boy who is in your diary.

Highlights Of The 2nd Annual Knickerbocker Village Reunion: Up On The Roof

When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, it's peaceful as can be
And there the world below can't bother me
Let me tell you now
When I come home feelin' tired and beat
I go up where the air is fresh and sweet (up on the roof)
I get away from the hustling crowd
And all that rat-race noise down in the street (up on the roof)
On the roof, the only place I know
Where you just have to wish to make it so
Let's go up on the roof (up on the roof)
At night the stars put on a show for free
And, darling, you can share it all with me
I keep a-tellin' you
Right smack dab in the middle of town
I've found a paradise that's trouble proof (up on the roof)
And if this world starts getting you down
There's room enough for two
Up on the roof (up on the roof)
Up on the roo-oo-oof (up on the roof)
Oh, come on, baby (up on the roof)
Oh, come on, honey (up on the roof)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

A People's History Of The American Empire

from TomDispatch.com, Tuesday 01 April 2008
Where besides the information below and more (including a link to the youtube version of the video above, there are links to the sample pages that I made into a pdf version
In Iraq, in Afghanistan, and at home, the position of the globe's "sole superpower" is visibly fraying. The country that was once proclaimed an "empire lite" has proven increasingly light-headed. The country once hailed as a power greater than that of imperial Rome or imperial Britain, a dominating force beyond anything ever seen on the planet, now can't seem to make a move in its own interest that isn't a disaster. The Iraq government's recent offensive in Basra is but the latest example with - we can be sure - more to come.
In the meantime, the fate of that empire, lite or otherwise, is the subject of Howard Zinn today at Tomdispatch, and of a new addition to his famed People's History of the United States. The new book represents a surprise breakthrough into cartoon format. It's a rollicking graphic history, illustrated by cartoonist Mike Konopacki, that takes us from the Indian Wars to the Iraqi "frontier" (with some striking autobiographical asides from Zinn's own life). It's called A People's History of American Empire. It's a gem and it's being published today.

available at amazon
Read this doc on Scribd: zinn-sample2

Sean vs. Kahlenberg

On Thursday, April 2, 2008 Richard Kahlenberg spoke at the Tamiment Center at NYU.
The topic: His recent book, Albert Shanker, Tough Liberal
Much of Kahlenberg's praise of Shanker did not go unchallenged, especially Shanker's hawkish stance on the Vietnamese War. Below is some of the audio of that event followed by Norm Scott's analysis of the book within the context of the current political and economic climate

Kahlenberg's response

Randi and Al Updated: Education Notes has been exploring some of the roots of the alliance of the business community and the teacher unions.
It did not begin with mayoral control in Chicago or New York. It began in the early 1980's and the leading advocate of much of what we are seeing today was AFT/UFT president Albert Shanker. The monster has grown in a way that has undermined the very teacher union movement in which he played a major role.
It is no accident that Richard Kahlenberg's hagiography of Shanker, Tough Liberal, was released in this climate as a way to justify Shanker's leadership of the educational reform movement that has so devastated teacher unionism at the basic level and reversed so much of what was won. (See NYC Educator on the NY Times article on Weingarten for a superb summary of these losses.) This weekend we will begin publishing excerpts from the book as a way to examine some of the deeper connections between teacher unions and the "reform" movement and to demonstrate that the ball started rolling down the alley long before Weingarten came into power.
"What would Al do today?" This is a refrain we often hear, with the hint that we wouldn't be in this pickle if he were around. I don't buy it. I have been a critic of Weingarten, but was also a critic of Shanker for many of the same reasons. One difference between them is that Shanker dismissed critics like they were fleas, whereas Weingarten often takes things personally. After one particularly acid email exchange with her in which she practically accused me of abusing her, I responded with "It's politics, not personal. Al always understood that. You don't."
Weingarten's attitude towards criticism and her consequent attempts to make it appear she is appeasing everyone is one of her major flaws. "Like water rolling off the back" is not a phrase that is part of her vocabulary. Some say, "She just wants to be loved by everyone." Maybe. But it runs deeper than that. Shanker was not only a political animal, he was also a severe ideologue. Weingarten has a very broad, flexible ideology that always seems up for grabs. For instance, she has changed from support of the Iraq war to opposition. Shanker would still be out there. But then, the AFT/UFT is so tied to the Clintons, a relationship that was started by Shanker in the 80's when Clinton was governor, maybe Shanker would have modified his position in relation to Hillary's campaign. I somehow doubt it. (He believed the US should never have withdrawn from Vietnam.)
At the AFT, Weingarten will stay within the broad guidelines Shanker laid down and continue to cooperate with the very people looking to destroy teacher unionism at the ground level. By this, I mean in the schools. The institution of teacher unions controlled by massive bureaucracies is only being attacked by the right wing. The UFTs' partners are Democratic party people and they understand the need for the union structure to be there to help sell "the plan" and control the rank and file membership.
The AFT is in many ways is a lighter job than being president of the UFT. Doing both is a challenge. A major danger Weingarten faces is that water that just won't roll off her back.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Hidden Flip Video: Strolling Thayer Street

Hidden Flip Video: Big Dogs On Thayer Street

I discovered that if I prop the flip in a shirt pocket and start it, I can tape incognito