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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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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #65: Super Bowl 48, NYC DMC Regionals, Chinese New Year, Black History Month + more

Posted by Billyjam, January 29, 2014 12:00pm | Post a Comment


Even though it is being billed as being held in NYC this weekend's much hyped NFL Super Bowl XLVIII is actually being held over in New Jersey at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ where, kicking off at 6:30pm EST, the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos will battle it out for the champion title.  Nonetheless New York is, as the Times Square billboard (picture right) implies, in a Super Bowl State of Mind
An estimated half a million visitors are expected to descend upon both New York and New Jersey for the Super Bowl and spinoff festivities on Sunday and the days leading up to the big game. Among the attractions will be the Super Bowl Boulevard set up in Times Square from today through Sunday that includes a 60 foot high toboggan run -  perfect for the snow that is forecast for Saturday night/ Sunday - although this could change.  Free to the public Super Bowl Boulevard, runs for 13 blocks of Broadway from 34th to 47th streets, and includes a concert stage, photo ops with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and an assortment of Super Bowl souvenir booths all catering to, as organizers bill it, "football-themed experiences."  And on 34th Street up atop the Empire State Building through this Sunday there is a light show that is being generated by football fans on Twitter showing support for either  the Seahawks or the Broncos. Meanwhile all round New York City bars and restaurants will be holding Super Bowl 48 viewing parties. Whether it snows or not plan on dressing warm for the inevitable cold weather this Sunday that will reach at highest he mid to upper 30's.

New York State of Mind Amoeblog #64: The Photo Issue

Posted by Billyjam, January 22, 2014 10:44am | Post a Comment


Above is a recent shot (one of many) that I shot of lower Manhattan from Jersey City. It is just one of a series of photos included in this week's New York State of Mind Amoeblog - call it the "photo issue" with one video. That music video, scroll down to very end to see/hear, is a brand new New York City hip-hop video for the artist Lucky Tatt’s song “Celebrate.” I include it because it is good and that it  that brings back some of that old school NYC flavor hip-hop and even features two NYC hip-hop legends: M.O.P. and DJ Premier appear in track produced by Fizzy Womack. On the topic of hip-hop in NYC two popular rap artists are in town this week: Nipsy Hustle plays the Highline Ballroom on Jan 24 (Friday), and Waka Flocka Flame plays BB King's on 42nd Street on Monday Jan 27th.

The photos below are a hodge podge of pics I snapped over past month or two downtown and uptown Manhattan, and some over in Queens - some during the snow (which is hitting NYC hard this week) and some before the snow arrived in this crazy weather we are experiencing across the US - that includes drought in California. For more details on the actual photos and their respective locations just scroll the mouse icon over them and some text will pop up.

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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #63: Beaux Arts, Subway Scratching, Slick Rick The Ruler, Homeboy Sandman, Paul Mooney + more

Posted by Billyjam, January 15, 2014 07:27am | Post a Comment

Above is what was once the beautiful piece of New York City architecture that was Pennsylvania Station (circa 1918) that was considered a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style. However this stunning building - once one of Manhattan's architectural along with Grand Central Terminal - was tragically demolished in the 1960s to make way for Madison Square Garden's current structure (the actual railway station is still underground). Tragic as this shortsighted move was, the silver lining to this dark cloud was that the absolutely ridiculous decision to destroy this magnificent building led to the landmarking and protecting of other buildings in New York City so that they would not suffer the same fate. Jackie Kennedy Onassis - a longtime advocate for historic preservation of buildings including a part of the White House - was among those outraged by such demolitions and she was instrumental, some years later, in making sure that the same fate did not happen to Grand Central Terminal - also a Beaux-Arts building - which could have been razed too in the 70's had she and others not stepped in to fight for its preservation.

Slick Rick, whose 1988 album The Great Adventures of Slick Rick was recently reissued on vinyl and is available at each Amoeba store, will be headlining at the Brooklyn Bowl on Friday, January 17th. The album whose fans include Nas (he called it the record, that featured tracks such as “'Children's Story," his favorite album of all time) is a true timeless hip-hop classic that, like Nas' Illmatic, earned the elusive five mics score from The Source magazine upon its release. What looked, at the time, like a very bright future for the artist turned out to be anything but.

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