Amoeblog

New York State of Mind Amoeblog #70: High Cost Of Living, The Making of The Movie "Network," NYC Concerts & Music Events

Posted by Billyjam, March 5, 2014 01:13pm | Post a Comment

Here in New York City this week, besides the post Oscars chatter and talk amongst weather weary New Yorkers about that false mega-snowstorm warning (the 10 inches of snow forecast to hit this week never materialized past a light dusting), a lot of talk is on the new Forbes report. That new report by the magazine places New York City, in a tie with Honolulu, as the USA's "most-overpriced city" to live in because of both expensive housing and a high cost of living. Personally I expected NYC to be in a tie with the ridiculously expensive San Francisco market, which came in number 7 in a tie with Essex Co., MA while San Jose ranked higher at fifth place, but wasn't surprised with New York ranking highest expense. As Democratic Manhattan City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez noted in a public response to the new findings things are only going to get more expensive for the average (non-rich) New Yorker.

"From ever-soaring rent levels to higher priced foods and goods invading lower-middle income neighborhoods, many lifelong residents are being pushed out of their homes," said Rodriguez in whose district the average rent is currently at just under $4,000. Meanwhile most struggling working class and middle class New Yorkers are anxiously looking to new New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio who got elected on a platform that promised more equality on things like housing. And even though de Blasio this very week forced luxury condo developers at the former Domino Sugar site in Williamsburg to construct 700 new affordable apartments (double the amount initially supposed to be built) many feel that it is too little too late in terms of housing costs overall, plus the fact that the general cost of living in NYC outweighs everything else. EG: one recent comparison study found utilities to be 29.6% higher here than in other parts of the country.  Bottom line New York is a great city to be in but you do have to pay the price to live here. But on the bright side other new statistic released this week show that, while rents continue to rise, crime continues to drop across New York City's five boroughs - and this news comes following the NYPD substantially backing off on their controversial stop-and-frisk practices.  New statistics show an 18.5% drop in murders for the first two months of 2014 with other crimes also substantially lower than this period in 2013.

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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #69: Beneath The City That Never Sleeps

Posted by Billyjam, February 26, 2014 04:38am | Post a Comment

         

For this special installment in the weekly New York State of Mind Amoeblog series I am presenting an array of videos and film excerpts that take you underground into the tunnels of the New York City subways - something that I have always been fascinated by from hearing tales from old school graffiti writers to photographers who follow them, to watching documentaries like Dark Days (with soundtrack by DJ Shadow). The video clips I've chosen include the above wonderful 2011 piece Undercity (New York City urban exploration) with daring urban explorer Steve Duncan and filmmaker Andrew Wonder. For more on these two adventurers' escapades visit undercity.org

Below is a short excerpt from the aforementioned Dark Days as well as an excerpt from two other documentaries on the same subject of "mole people" - those who live underground in the train tunnels where they etch out little homes for themselves - Beneath by Katja Knoll and Subway Cops and The Mole Kings. The other video (immediately below) was done by the folks at WNYC radio during a legit (as distinguished from the unauthorized underground tour by Steve Duncan above) walking tour of an abandoned "lost subway tunnel" over in Brooklyn. For more info.

 

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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #68: Snow City, NYC Rat Map, JT @ MSG + Other Concerts/Events

Posted by Billyjam, February 19, 2014 12:40pm | Post a Comment

While Californians have been stressing over the drought and lack of water, back in New York City the opposite scenario has been playing out with people here praying for a reprieve from the seemingly never
ending barrage of extreme weather - with one snow storm after another hitting the area. In fact so extreme and severe has this weather been that for the first time in 36 years the normal  alternate-side parking street parking rules (very rigid in NYC whereby you have to move your car parked on street several times a week for street cleaning) have all been suspended for a total 19 day stretch (as of today), making it the longest New York City five borough wide snow and freezing temperature weather-related suspension of parking rules since 1978. The good news though is that the weather is about to get better (temperature wise) here in NYC with temps expected in the lower 50's by Friday - however rain is expected to hit NYC for the next few days.

Another thing that distinguishes New York from most other US cities is its large out of control rodent population with thet age old estimate being that there are four rats to every person in New York City - meaning approximately 32 million rats dwell throughout New York. Hence it is not surprising to see them scurrying anywhere in NYC - not just in subways and parks - but near (or inside) eateries too sometimes. Hence many here in the Big Apple were happy to learn about, via the Gothamist site this week, about the rat map of New York that was created by New Yorker Steven Melendez who, based on data from Health Dept. restaurant inspections, drew up his map of what places to avoid - provided you do not wish to visit restaurants that have received  fines/citations for "evidence of rats or live rats" or even mice. Based on citations from 2013 his map is broken in to zip codes for places with citations and gradings by the NYC Health Dept. Note that a restaurant that was cited for mice and/or rats in its most recent graded inspection will have a C grade. His unsettling but informative rat map shows that some areas, such as the NY 10128 zip code on the Upper East Side where huge construction is underway for the 2nd Avenue Subway, have a serious rodent restaurant problem. The Queens Village/Bellaire area of Queens also has a lot of rodents with a shocking 61% of its eateries having being cited for rat or mice infestation. Yikes! NYC Rat Map left with the darker shades indicating zip codes with higher density of eatery rodent citations.

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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #67: Changes to The State of The City, Valentine's Day In The Big Apple, Concerts + more

Posted by Billyjam, February 12, 2014 05:04pm | Post a Comment


Under a big banner emblazoned "One New York Rising Together" new New York City mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to provide New York City residents with a "fair shot at a better life" in his first "State of the City" address earlier this week, and by so doing offering hope to a good percentage of the population of this expensive city to live in. In Monday's 43 minute speech he spoke of “a budgetary challenge that is unprecedented” and called for expanding “living wage” laws - proposing that New York City set its own (higher than average) minimum wage.

De Blasio's distinctly progressive liberal leaning speech, which further separated him politically from his two mayoral predecessors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg and placed him more in line with the vision of the late NYC Mayor Fiorella La Guardia (Mayor of NYC for three terms from 1934 to 1945 - pictured right), also pushed his policies of raising taxes for the city's rich to pay for universal prekindergarten, amping up job training programs for the unskilled, and providing ID cards to those New Yorkers that are in the USA illegally. What actually unfolds and the impact of these radical changes proposed by this new mayor will have remains to be seen, but is sure to cause much local and national debate in the interim.

Ariel View Of NYC (2014)

The above video, which was uploaded to YouTube over the weekend, is a pretty impressive (albeit likely controversial) aerial view from high above the Big Apple with some unusual views looking straight down to the streets far below. Made by a camera attached to a drone that was, according to the YouTube account belonging to the camera gear company DSLR Pros, the "video was given to us from an anonymous source."  The description goes on to read that,  "As beautiful as it is we do not recommend flying in locations like NYC" and since it was posted on Saturday has disabled comments from being made which is what prompted me to imply it is likely controversial since the gut reaction from most, I imagine, would be memories of 9/11 and anything remotely related (regardless of how beautiful the footage above may be) is bound to trigger such mental connections - even 13 years later.

New York State of Mind Amoeblog #66: Bringing Human Rights Home, City As Canvas, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Fashion Week

Posted by Billyjam, February 5, 2014 07:30am | Post a Comment

Tonight (Wednesday Feb 5th) Amnesty International will host a star studded event at Brooklyn's Barclays Center that will include Madonna, Tegan and Sara, The Flaming Lips, Blondie, Yoko Ono, The Fray, Lauryn Hill, Imagine Dragons, the Cold War Kids, and Pussy Riot. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina of the Moscow based feminist punk band Pussy Riot, who made news headlines in 2012 when band members were sentenced to two years imprisonment following a performance protest in a major Moscow cathedral aimed at the Orthodox Church leader's support of the election campaign of Russian President Vladimir Putin, will not be performing music but speaking (via a translator) to the audience at the big event tonight where they will be introduced by Madonna who was among those championing their cause when they were imprisoned calling them "my fellow freedom fighters." The reason why the Pussy Riot members will be at the Amnesty event is, according to Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's Facebook wall because the organization did much to "Support us while we were in prison and their work is very important for activists and inmates all over the world."

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