Everything Is Always Over

Roberto A. Ferdman had an excellent post this morning on Wonkblog about a Williamsburg bagel company serving rainbow bagels, and becoming super popular by doing so. Putting aside that a rainbow bagel is an abomination and should not be permitted to call itself a bagel, the most interesting part of the post for me is the indignant reactions of Williamsburg residents lamenting the effect that the bagel store (called The Bagel Store) has had on the neighborhood. And no, as Ferdman points out, it is not long-time Hasidic Jewish residents complaining.

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Losing My Hometown and Myself

My parents no longer live in the house that I grew up in, having sold and moved into a smaller house several years ago. The Abraham Lincoln School, my school for K through 6, no longer exists although the building still stands next door to the first building I remember living in, where my parents rented an apartment. My junior high school (grades 7-9) and my high school (10-12) now house grades 3-8, and a new high school was built near the vocational/technical center, financed by a bond issue that was repeatedly voted down while I was in high school.

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What To Watch On TV 2016

There is too much good television these days and it’s almost impossible to keep up with what is on and when it starts and if you should watch it or not.

The idea here is a list of cable and streaming series to watch, ordered chronologically by premier date. For returning series it is easy to decide what makes the list. For new series, it’s always going to be hit or miss. Shows will be added and possibly subtracted throughout the year.

The letters after the channel show if earlier seasons are available for streaming onYkiZiACkmazon Prime,Huluulu Plus or 3ohmlq2rqnur0ajbydi8etflix. HBO series are only available for steaming on HBO Go and Showtime series are available on Showtimewtime Anytime.

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New Years Day 2016

So it’s the start of a new calendar year, my forty-seventh. I begin the year as I have the last few, hoping for the best. The year that just ended was one of my worst, and I won’t go into the reasons why because it sounds pathetic even to my own ears. But I am optimistic.

I don’t know how many days I will be able to go before I start to feel defeated by the year. I’m pleasantly surprised that I’ve made it to mid-afternoon of New Year’s Day and still feel good. One of my goals for this year is to recognize when I am starting to slide and figure out ways to reverse or at least halt the slide.

I have some modest goals for this blog this year. I intend to publish a lot more stuff. I find myself writing things and then not being satisfied with them and shelving them but I now realize that’s pointless. I also realize that I can publish something and then revise it when I have a new idea or more information and. I have limited myself here and it’s because of fear. I want to be less afraid this year.

I have some resolutions that I don’t want to share for now but I am optimistic that I will make progress on them. I very much hope that I feel better about things a year from now. I really can’t take another year like the one that just passed.

Happy New Year to you all and thanks for reading.

I Can’t Stand Here Feeling Bad That I Don’t Feel Worse

The headline to this piece was originally intended to be used on a piece about The New Republic last year. After Franklin Foer resigned (was forced out) and a number of senior editors also resigned in protest there were a number of sites which ran posts about the end of The New Republic. Of course it wasn’t the end. The New Republic is still going and the people there are churning out great stuff (as are the writers who left).

I thought of the headline (which comes from Broadcast News) because there seemed to be too much premature eulogizing. Publications and websites come and go, was what I thought, and the most talented people end up finding new places to work. It was easy for me to feel that way because I never worked at TNR, didn’t know anyone who worked at TNR, and rarely read TNR. I wasn’t losing anything.

Today ESPN announced that they are shutting down Grantland. Today I am losing something.

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New Year’s Resolution, 2015

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In general, I don’t make resolutions on New Year’s, mostly because I have lived long enough to know how fleeting those good intentions can be. I would like to finish 2015 as a better person than I began it, but that kind of change feels overwhelming and hard to quantify, and setting an unreasonable goal is the best way to make sure you don’t reach it.

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I Am Not Afraid

From November 25.

Last night I was following along with the news out of Ferguson and although none of it was really surprising, I felt deflated and helpless. Sometimes things just seem broken and it’s impossible to know how they can be fixed.

This morning I was going through my Twitter feed and I came across this tweet from Jazmine Hughes, editor at The Hairpin.

https://twitter.com/jazzedloon/status/537093616741916672

She was right, of course. I went through those emotions last night and at no point was I afraid. I will leave for work shortly and I will not be concerned about being shot by the police. I will not be afraid to jaywalk or to take a shortcut or to take my wallet out. I will not be afraid.

Last night while the news was coming out of Ferguson, there were two gunshots outside. This is not that rare in my Brooklyn neighborhood. I live a block away from public housing, from projects, and have been told by police at various times over the years about gang wars and drug violence in the projects. I never thought to question these explanations from the police.

Over the years it has been very common to see fire engines parked at the projects, less common although not uncommon to see police cars, relatively rare to see ambulances. Last night there was an ambulance and although I had a good view of the ambulance itself I could not see what it was there for. Since the ambulance arrived after the gunshots I assumed the two were connected, although the absence of police cars makes that unlikely.

My wife and I have lived in this apartment for eleven years and I have not thought very much about those projects, or at least about the people in those projects. After reading Ta-Nehisi Coates on reparations, specifically about red-lining, it made me think more about what I assume about the people who live there. How did those people end up there and how much of the reason is institutional racism? How much of the cycle of poverty is because of institutional racism.  While I am looking down at the ambulance, I thinking about the gun shots and the shooter, and why do I assume that the gun shots are connected to the ambulance?

None of these questions are likely to be answered today and most of them will never be answered. Part of that is because I’m not sure how I could go about finding answers, not without the undertaking feeling more like a way to make me feel better about my privilege. The other reason is that I don’t need the answers. I will go to work and I will celebrate Thanksgiving and I will enjoy the all the things I never earned and only received because I was lucky enough to be born in the US to middle class parents, to be white, to be tall, to be intelligent, to be educated, to be male, to be attractive. I am all those things and I get to benefit from all of them. And because I get to be all of those things I have one more luxury that I haven’t earned. I am not afraid.

Yolk in the Grace Building Plaza

Chances are that by the time you read this you will have already missed the performances of Yolk in the Grace Building Plaza on the southeast corner of 43rd Street and Sixth Avenue in New York City. But, if you are reading this today, April 8, then you have two more days to catch it.

Here’s a description of Yolk from the Arts Brookfield website:

Set against the bustle of midtown Manhattan, Yolk is part time capsule and part hidden treasure, offering meditative movement and saturated images of ready-made goddesses transforming within a fragile shell.

Yolk features two dancers, each inside an egg-shell. At the beginning of the performance, the dancers lay still inside the eggs and slowly start to move. I don’t want to spoil what happens –although it would be difficult to precisely describe anyway– but the show is mesmerizing and ethereal, and there are moments of tension and release that are surprising in a performance so restrained.

Note that today’s performances were in the lobby of the Grace Building instead of the plaza due to the rain, so I can’t say how things will be different on Wednesday or Thursday if the performances move to the plaza. While today’s performances included pedestrians on 42nd Street stopping to take pictures, I imagine that the outdoor shows will feature a lot more of the “bustle of midtown Manhattan”.

Notes

As I mentioned, the show will run for two more days, Wednesday and Thursday, with performances at approximately 12:30pm and 1:10pm.

An Abstract Concept

Earlier today, Susan Elizabeth Shepard and Anne Helen Peterson posted a conversation about the women on True Detective. As Shepard indicates, there have been a number of posts over the past week or so about the women on True Detective. Shepard and Peterson try to answer the question “What does it all mean?”

The part of their post (and please read the entire exchange) that stood out for me was the following quote from Shepard:

Or maybe only women think that, and men are able to see it as so much aesthetics and storytelling, which is a distinct and bleak possibility, and I suppose that’s the most depressing conclusion I could come to; that it’s maybe too close to a reality where a certain amount of suffering is a tangible reality for women and an abstract concept to occasion shows of bravado for men.

It was one of the those moments when you read something that is undeniably true and obvious and it had never occurred to you before. It made me feel small and a little ashamed, but also hopeful that maybe things could change.

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86th Academy Awards

The Academy Awards are terrible at their stated goal of rewarding “the previous year’s greatest cinema achievements as determined by some of the world’s most accomplished motion picture artists and professionals”. As Linda Holmes pointed out in her post yesterday, what the Academy Award nominees and winners really tell you is what the predominantly white, male voters decide the narrative of the annual exercise is. That’s fine. The Academy Awards exist only to generate a narrative which people will repeat and debate and will lead to (from the Academy’s most hopeful point of view) people spending money on movies.

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