Thursday, February 3, 2011

*Everyday Chatter

Incredibly sympathetic letter from the Park Slope Pavilion about the theater's neglected state. [FIPS]

A trademark battle over the Lower East Side--J. Crew gets sued. Now who's going to sue everybody for "The Bowery"? [BB]

Don't miss the 1980s East Village films of Nelson Sullivan. [EVG]

Meet Eddie the Hustler of 1972. [RS]


Lost Galaxy Diner, by SReed

City bans smoking in public parks: "We’re moving towards a totalitarian society," says one councilmember. [NYT]

"Bloomberg's New York is a high-performance town: fit, lean, open-minded, eco-aware, and fond of dawdling at café tables, attending free theater and music performances (paid for by friendly corporations) and eating fancy food at ballparks." Now Bloom York takes "a benevolent but strict approach" to public parks. [CNY]

From Coney Island to Times Square in seconds. [ATZ]

The Munson Diner, long of Hell's Kitchen and moved to the Catskills, is in danger once more. [NYT]

12 comments:

Daffy J said...

I'm definitely no Bloomie fan, but the outrage over the public smoking ban I just don't get. Though the city should have a small role in shaping decorum (for example, curtailing drinking in public), this is not a moral but a public health issue. The tobacco lobby has friends in high places and political/economic resources that even Bloomie must envy. They influence public behavior through an intentionally addictive product and insidious marketing aimed at children and minorities, and they deny their product's health risks despite overwhelming scientific evidence. Comparing tobacco bans to draconian prohibitions of marijuana is illogical; and to call anti-smoking campaigns totalitarianism is adolescent foot-stomping. Nobody's saying you can't do it at home.

MissDay said...

Hey Jeremiah,

I just want to add that I've attended the LES redevelopment community meetings. Several of the residents said they actually preferred big box stores such as Walmart to small, single owner shops. The sated reason: they were afraid they would become upscale boutiques and the residents would be priced out of shopping in their own neighborhood.

Just something to think about.

hoolsa said...

Daffy J, to quote the Capital's article mentioned in this post...

"It’s a fairly brave thing to tell people they will just have to get used to a new kind of park that they may not like. But then Bloomberg’s smoking ban, which was reviled at first, is several years later quite universally popular. That the administration sometimes seems to be two steps ahead of what the people want is remarkable, and provokes both resentment and admiration, or loyalty. When Bloomberg brazenly pushed a law through the City Council that gave him a third term, there wasn’t a lot of resistance."

I'm not saying your argument about smoking being a public health issue isn't valid. However, to deny the moral ambiguity of an administration that gradually forces its agenda on residents - again and again - doesn't really make sense. That is the fundamental reason why people are upset about it, not because they can't get a nicotine fix in Bryant Park. Then again, that may be my pro-"laissez-faire" bias talking.

Jeremiah Moss said...

MissDay, thank you for letting us know about that. i think it speaks to this false dichotomy threat going on, as when the Varvatos supporters kept saying that an upscale boutique was "better than a bank."

now we have the opposite of the Better Than a Bank (BTAB?) effect--it's Better Than a Boutique?

don't we have any other choices? i have to think that the power players use this false dichotomy as a strategy, to make people afraid of the imagined alternative. as for Walmart, studies show again and again that they decimate local businesses.

here's some of the BTAB stuff:

http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/2008/04/varvatos-reimagined_22.html

Daffy J said...

Hoolsa,

Bad leaders sometimes pass good laws. I think we can agree to that. My objection was to misdirected anger about the smoking ban when there are so many worthier gripes about Bloomberg.

A government must, to some extent, decide for the sake of decorum that certain behaviors are morally irresponsible. Nobody would object to the arrest of a subway flasher. How is a smoker who foists his anti-social choices on others any different than the perv who whips out his johnson on the C train?

Goggla said...

I'm sad to hear the Munson continues to suffer. It sounds like Liberty really is not the right place for it, but I wonder who is going to want it badly enough to move it again? I still have a fantasy about putting these old railcar diners on top of office buildings...

JakeGould said...

hoolsa is correct.

Daffy J, the health aspects of smoking are not important to me. When the smoking in bars ban happened, I was happy because I didn’t like being in a closed place and being forced to inhale someone else’s smoke or just even smell like smoke at the end of the night.

But get this: What the smoking ban did help create are more and more bars and restaurants with outdoor spaces where I honestly could care less if someone smoked right next to me. Smoking outdoors is no big deal; the air blows the smoke away and the health risks are less.

This park and beach ban is really insane to me in that context. Parks are not crowded to the brim in NYC and if someone is smoking near me and I don't like it, I walk away.

I grew up right near the beach in Coney Island. So now with this law, if someone goes to the beach and in many of the areas that are empty, they risk being ticketed??!?!?! Ridiculous.

Smoking in parks and beaches hurts nobody. This is a law designed to increase fines so the city can make more revenue. And it is also Bloomberg forcing his health choices on the rest of us.

Richard said...

We are some of the people in Williamsburg who -- like MissDay's LES residents -- actually prefer big box stores such as Walmart to small, single owner shops because the latter can "become upscale boutiques and the residents would be priced out of shopping in their own neighborhood."

That's why we want a Walmart in Williamsburg!

Besides, most of the hipsters in the neighborhood are nostalgic for the Walmarts back in their real homes.

Ennuipoet said...

Daffy J: Did you really just compare a person engaging in a legal if unhealthy habit to a sex offender? Not only does sort of narrow minded, prejudicial thinking insult people who choose to smoke in an open space but it belittles anyone who has ever been a victim of this kind of sexual attack. I'm fairly sure if made this kind of comment to a victim if a sex crime they would educate you on the difference fairly rapidly. This kind of social stigmatizing of smokers doesn't help anyone quit smoking, it is merely insulting and demonstrative of your own bigotry.

Daffy J said...

Ennuipoet:

I did indeed compare a smoker to a sex offender. Walk around your house naked--go ahead and slap your pecker around in your living room. But do it on the subway, and you're breaking the law. Nobody argues that fact. I wish tobacco smoking in public were as taboo as nudity.

If exposing your genitals is assault, then indeed I seem to be belittling sex assault victims by your logic. But I think you're undermining victims of physical abuse by equating their suffering to the mere indignity of being in a pervert's proximity. The flasher's victim can get up and leave. So can the person who hates cigarettes for that matter. But not the rapist's victim. I think my comparison works a little better than your sensationalistic logic.

JayGould, smoking is perfectly legal, and it should be. So is alcohol, yet it's illegal to drink in public. Though Americans have gone too far in moralizing against drugs, most cultures have similar laws for good reason. Society must protect the vulnerable and impressionable among us (especially children) from witnessing self-abuse and indulgence. Maybe it takes a village after all. If the streets are full of drunkards, then children (and adults who don't know better) will infer that such behavior is healthy. Every adult I knew as a child smoked cigarettes, so I naturally assumed that smoking would make me a grown-up. Tobacco companies had (until recently) marketed towards my insecurities (and yours, regardless of your race or gender) a smokable solution to teenage angst and self-doubt. All my heroes smoked. Some still do.

I thought I'd find more sympathy on this blog because Jeremiah excels at calling out the tasteless followers. The hipsters, the yunnies, the condo pod-people--they cannot think for themselves, so they flock to mass-marketed merch and chain stores instead of stopping in old neighborhood standards or buying their coffee from a pushcart. They pack the polished-up slaughterhouses-turned-nightclubs with their "look-at-me, ain't-I-cool" never-ending adolescence. Their role models are Carrie Bradshaw and The Situation. And they smoke. Like their Starbucks coffee and their $300 shoes, cigarettes are well-marketed pieces-of-flair for their coolness uniform.

The artists and freethinkers of NYC's better days weren't rebels because they smoked; everyone smoked when Dylan and Ginsberg roamed the Village. They were rebels because they thought for themselves. Smokers today can't make that claim--I argue that they picked up the pack because they saw somebody else doing it. Those of us who know better shouldn't suffer your insecurities. Smoke at home.

Goggla said...

@Daffy J - I'm with you when it comes to hating smoking. I don't smoke and I resent the fact that another person can inflict their smoke directly on me. This affects my health and I can not always escape it.

That said, I am conflicted on this smoking issue. Although I'm really happy to have smoking outlawed, I cannot support this ban in public places as it will likely lead to other restrictions on our personal freedoms. Someone pointed out to me this morning that there are food carts in public parks that emit exhaust, yet the Mayor is ok with these, which can inflict the same health damage on anyone who inhales the smoke. He's picking and choosing who to control. A food cart pays money to the city, a smoker does not (yes, there are the cigarette taxes, but an individual smoker does not pay a fee to smoke in a public park).

I don't think this ban has anything to do with Bloomberg's concern for our health, it's all to do with $$$ and, perhaps with the fact that he's an angry ex-smoker bent on revenge.

It's an argument that interests me because I tend to agree with both sides and I'd like to hear more about what other people think.

boxofrockstar said...

Re: WalMart, I hate to support them at all, but if they're going to invade NYC, East New York is probably the best place to do it. That area is a food desert, and a store that could bring affordable fresh produce and reasonably healthy foods to a low-income area might not be all bad, especially if they hired local residents. Plus, there are plenty of vacant spaces to build on without tearing down homes.

The problem is, they're an evil company and they treat their employees like crap. And you know if they get one store here and it performs well, it isn't going to stop at one.