Archive for October, 2010

A Ray of Hope for Struggling Seniors

October 17th, 2010 by Brooks Newkirk

by Brooks Newkirk

The resources for seniors in Gowanus, a community in Brooklyn, are dwindling. The number of places they can turn to for assistance with housing, healthcare and basic necessities such as food, are declining. Already this year, one senior center and two health clinics have closed. Seniors are slowly becoming yet another causality of the economic recession.

But for seniors in need living in Gowanus, there is a ray of hope⎯ Blanca Morocho-Ramirez, coordinator of the Raices Wyckoff Senior Center.

Morocho-Ramirez is operating the center, which feeds hundreds of seniors a week and provides them with recreational and educational activities, on a shoestring budget and a small staff. In a single day, she could serve as the counselor, secretary, bookkeeper, and activities coordinator. She does whatever is necessary to keep the center afloat.

For Morocho-Ramirez, being the head of the senior center is more than a job. It’s a way for her to help those who are most in need.
Part 1-Ms. Ramirez Interview by bnnewkirk

She sympathizes with the economic struggles that her seniors go through, and she lets them know on a consistent basis that she is there for them.
Part 2-Ms. Ramirez Interview by bnnewkirk

But, she says helping them is not a simple task. The City’s budget cuts have put tight restrains on the number of seniors the center can feed each day⎯ a maximum of 40 for breakfast and 65 for lunch. With so many seniors in need, she says it is tough and any help people could give would be greatly appreciated.
Part 3-Ms. Ramirez Interview by bnnewkirk

Confessions of an Alcoholic

October 17th, 2010 by Daniel Prendergast

Jason Mohr is a young man who has had his troubles with substance abuse. He has spent seven of the last twelve months behind bars and has lost a lot in the process. After learning some valuable lessons, Jason is attempting to put the pieces back together. But although he recognizes that alcohol is doing him no good, quitting drinking is out of the question. He claims he has cut back on how much he drinks, but for an alcoholic, any amount is too much. Now, as he attempts to stay out of trouble and avoid going back to jail a third time, Jason must weigh the risks against the consequences as he attempts to clean up his life while still enjoying a few drinks every now and then.

After receiving his second DUI in early 2009, Jason was sentenced to three months in prison. Here, we find out how one poor decision ended up leading to a chain of life changing events.

Part 1 by daniel.prendergast

After being sentenced to three months in prison, Jason talks about the shock of being sentenced and making the best of his time on the inside. In December 2009, Jason was released from prison but failed to learn anything from the experience. During the first four months of 2010 Jason immediately fell back into his old routine of drinking heavily and hanging out with the same people who enabled his drinking problem. While things were going relatively well for a while, Jason was caught drinking by his parole officer and sentenced to four more months in jail for violating parole. He lost everything he had gained after his first stint in jail. And although serving the second sentence was a little easier, Jason claims he’s learned his lesson and is trying to put the pieces back together a second time.

Part 2 by daniel.prendergast

Here, we find out what Jason is doing differently the second time around. He has stopped hanging out with the people who enable his extreme drinking and we find out about the difficulty he has had cutting certain people out of his life.

Part 3 by daniel.prendergast

Even though things are going well for Jason after being in jail two times, we learn that he has not been able to completely let go of the one thing that has caused most of his problems – alcohol. In this clip, I interview Jason at a bar he frequents and we find out that he has no plans to quit drinking despite the problems it has caused him. Alcohol provides him some form of social comfort that allows him to have fun with and enjoy the company of others.

Part 4 by daniel.prendergast

Cotton Motivation: These Cross Country T-Shirts Say It All

October 15th, 2010 by Geoffrey Decker

A quirky high school cross country tradition is the team t-shirt, which boasts a quote, virtue or slogan to serve as its unofficial motto. Much like the personalities of the athletes who wear them, these shirts run the gamut of uniqueness, ranging from inspiring to intimidating to silly to personal.

Dozens of these shirts were on display last weekend in the Bronx at Van Cortlandt Park. It was the 38th running of the Manhattan Invitational, the world’s largest single-day cross country meet, which featured 300 teams from more than a dozen states in 40 races.

Here’s just a sampling of the t-shirt mottos I saw, complete with an explanation from the coaches and runners who wore them: (more…)

The Pest in the Mirror

October 4th, 2010 by Stuart White

New York City is plagued by a litany of pests. Many have become cultural touchstones, common enemies whose persistence and prevalence have made them just as much a part of the Big Apple as the people who walk its streets. However, one New York pest stands head and shoulders above the rest, literally. I’m referring, of course, to New Yorkers themselves.

While many of New Yorkers’ foibles have been explained away by making an excuse of their always-on-the-move lifestyle and the attendant stresses of living in the city that never sleeps, let’s face it: sometimes New Yorkers can be downright intolerable.

Are you still unconvinced? Taken aback? Angrier than a Mets fan in October? If so, you’re a New Yorker, so take a moment to learn some of the reasons the rest of the world makes fun of you behind your back.

  • Enough about your pizza already.  Sure, New York is a great city for pizza, but let’s face it: for every stand-out pizza joint there are 10 dingy shanties selling rubbery slices that taste more than a little like cardboard.  And as for the New York vs. Chicago thing? Get over it.
  • Can someone do something about all these hipsters? I know, I know, New York didn’t invent the hipster, but ever since the days of Andy Warhol, it has acted as the de facto fatherland of legions of equally insufferable pseudo-intellectuals, all of whom seem to belong to terrible bands.
  • Something about New York breeds the worst kind of elitists. Yes, New York has great restaurants, enviable museums, and more nightlife than you can shake a glow-stick at. It also has about 8 million snobs who won’t shut up about it.
  • Speaking of New York elitism, being from New York doesn’t mean you can automatically do something better than the people who did it first. Leave bourbon to the pros, you yankee pests.

Please Don’t Be That Guy

October 4th, 2010 by Paul DeBenedetto

On Sunday, I spent my time at a local bar as the New York Jets handily beat the Buffalo Bills, 38-14. While I sipped my drink uninterestedly (I’m a Giants fan) and my friend Geoff fumed at the inept Buffalo offense (he’s a Bills fan) I took a look around the bar.

What did I see? The proverbial “that guy.” You’ve seen “that guy.” He’s the guy you see at the concert wearing the headlining band’s t-shirt, or the guy who says “I like all kinds of music except country,” or the guy who says “I’m a Libertarian.”

In the opinionated melting pot atmosphere of New York City, being “that guy” at a sports bar can be even more risky. So how can you avoid being “that guy” at the sports bar? Below the cut: five sports bar stereotypes to avoid.

Do you want to have a drink or a conversation?

October 4th, 2010 by Edouard de Mareschal

Friday night, the weekend is finally here, you are planning to have a good time with your friends. You meet somewhere in the town, open the door of a bar or a restaurant… And a noisy sound of music and crowd assails your ears. At this point, the only solutions to communicate with your friends are either to shout at their face, to make silly signs to mime what you cannot say, or to laugh loudly, pretending that you understood what was just said. The night is going to be long…

Here are three reasons why music should definitely not be loud in bars and restaurants of New York:

1-    Bars and restaurants are made to drink and speak (sometimes loudly, depending on the degree of alcoholization of the group), not to have to endure the same annoyances than during the week. According to the New York City Environmental Protection, “Noise complaints continue to be the number one quality of life issue for New York City residents”. To report any kind of noise annoyance in your neighborhood, the 311 can be useful, even for barking dogs.

2-    Sometime, music they play is really bad. Two minutes of Lady Gaga can turn out in torture if we HAVE to listen to it. Really.

3-    Asking the waiters to order become very challenging.

4-    Loud music cut conversation. After 30 minutes of communication attempts, people get fed up with speaking for them selves. So they shut up. And everybody look into their glass of bear, pretending to enjoy the music.

Raccoons? Bed Bugs? They’re Nothing Compared to These Pests

October 4th, 2010 by Jonathan Vit

The media is having a love affair with pests. In recent weeks, sightings of opossums, raccoons and stink bugs have all been big news as local media outlets scramble to turn over every rock imaginable in their quest for the next pest. With a new king crowned every week, it’s only a matter of time before the city’s lovable black squirrel becomes public enemy number one.

But in the end, New Yorkers have it easy. Raccoons in your garbage? Roaches in the kitchen? Opossums in your parks? All mere nuisances. People elsewhere live with pests so terrible that you’ll think twice before complaining about some razor-toothed tree rat hanging around Coney Island. Think bed bugs are the worst thing since Moses introduced the locust to Egypt? Just take a look at these appalling annoyances.

  1. Scorpions. Residents in Phoenix, Ariz. have to coexist with what might be the most terrifying insect to call the United States home, the scorpion. Arizona is home to between 40 and 60 species of scorpions, including the Arizona bark scorpion, the only species living in the U.S. with venom that’s dangerous to humans. Its sting is powerful enough to nearly kill a child and Arizona bark scorpions are so abundant they might as well be on the state flag. Experts say the area’s home foreclosures are to blame for an explosion in the urban scorpion population. As if the recession didn’t already hurt bad enough…
  2. Bot flies. Native to the equatorial regions of the Americas, the human bot fly reproduces in the worst possible way. A female bot fly grabs hold of flying mosquitoes and lays her eggs on the insect’s belly. When the mosquito lands on a human to feed, the larvae burrow into the skin. That’s right, this maggot actually lives in people. The maggot then feeds off the host for a period of eight weeks, causing the host to develop an open, boil-like sore. And if the thought of a maggot living under your skin wasn’t disgusting enough, this video of a bot fly larvae extraction will earn this pest a permanent spot in your nightmares.
  3. Japanese giant hornet. Found in the mountainous regions of Japan, the Japanese giant hornet is no laughing matter. At two inches long, the hornet as big as a humming bird and it packs a sting powerful enough to kill a human being if left untreated. These hornets feed on smaller bees and can decimate an entire hive in a few hours. Their sting has been described as a “red-hot spike piercing the flesh.” The venom can dissolve human flesh and is responsible for an average 40 deaths a year, making the Japanese giant hornet more deadly than many, more venomous, snakes.
  4. Candiru. A pencil-thin parasitic fish common to the waters of the Amazon River, the candiru lodges itself in the gills of larger fish, using spikes to stay in place, and feeds off the host’s blood. That doesn’t seem so bad, right? Well, the river can be a little murky at times, and sometimes the tiny fish mistakes a man’s urethra for the gills of a fish. It’s a story that’s so unbelievable that it’s easy to dismiss candiru attacks as the stuff of urban legends, but recent investigations have proven the myth true. As if we needed another reason to stay out of the water…

Airport Anxiety: One Nuisance, Six Solutions

October 4th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

Crying kids, lost luggage, delayed departures and cumbersome crowds. Even when things go according to plan, navigating New York airports can try even the tempers of seasoned sojourners. Throw in airport improvements and inclement weather and a jovial weekend jaunt can quickly turn into destination disaster.

But traveler tantrums are an international occurrence. In 2008, a woman flying from Hong Kong to San Francisco threw a fit – and herself apparently – at security when she wasn’t allowed to board her flight because she was late. Canadian politician Helena Guergis flipped out on flight attendants in 2010 when she showed up only 15 minutes before her scheduled departure. But passengers aren’t the only ones who experience travel trauma; some staff are saying “shove it” to unruly riders.

Just this year JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater became a runway renegade after letting a passenger have it and then having off with company bought beer through an emergency exit.

So what should one do to stay sane in harrowing airport situations? Consider one of these six solutions.

1. Have a Cosmo, Not a Cow

Some airports have no last call even though getting on the plane isn’t always a party.

But round-the-clock bars boost city budgets as well as the morale of weary road warriors. The city of Chicago recently approved a plan to serve alcohol at their airport 24 hours a day to help make up for a $655 million city budget deficit.

2. Don’t Yell, Do Yoga

Why is doing a downward-facing dog at an airport concourse any more strange than doing an extended triangle in Times Square? Hey, downward-facing dog could keep a passenger from having a downward-spiraling airport experience.

3. Get Your Shoes Shined

Getting your shoes shined is a way to kill time in airports that many – especially women – don’t consider. Try it. Getting your battered boots buffed may be so pleasant that you end staring at your reflection in your shoes, too preoccupied to complain about getting bumped from your flight. But beware, the thrifty indulgence can apparently become addicting and create more airport anxiety than it relieves.

4. Go to the Spa

There are few situations a good message can’t mitigate. Can’t afford an airport masseuse – try a massage chair. The massage chair may not be the stuff of five star hotels but it sure beats sitting in cramped seats near your gate, scowling at the useless flight staff.

5. Play the Slots

This is a nice option for people traveling out of McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Depending on how your weekend in Sin City went though, you may not want to take the additional gamble. But, apparently the odds of winning big on the slots at McCarran might be better than the odds of finding love there.

6. Don’t Shout About It, Shop About It

Sure, you’ve already spent a ton on your ticket but spending your energy on a situation you can’t change is just as wasteful. If you must wait, you may as well look fabulous doing it. But of course if you go shopping and the crew then loses the new purchases, an assault of Naomi Campbell proportions may be justifiable.

Rain Rain Go Away…

October 4th, 2010 by Ichi Vazquez

We’ve all been there before. You’re standing on the corner of a busy avenue, drenched from head to toe in that luke-warm, New York City rain, desperately waiving your hand around as though you were an eager student who knew the answer to the question a teacher asked. Except that you’re just trying to hail a cab instead. And while there are numerous, potential saviors – various highlight yellow cabs spread out all over the street, not a single ‘available’ light sign is on. All the cabs are full. And there you are, wondering if you will ever get home within the next half an hour, as you slowly catch a cold.

There are many things that are downright pesky on a rainy day in New York City. And while every New Yorker has been inevitably affected by the occasional downpour of rain, there are ways to avoid having bad rainy days, and start enjoying them instead. Here are a couple of ideas:

1. Issue: You are walking to work during a torrential downpour, trying to keep your things dry under your tiny, $5 umbrella, when a careless New Yorker walks passed you with an umbrella five times their size, hitting everything and everyone in its path.

Solution: Save yourself from any more pokes in the eye, and hit up a store nearby where you can get dry and entertain yourself for a little while, until the rain lets up.

2. Issue: You wore inappropriate shoes that day, thinking that the weather would continue to be dry and sunny. Instead, your feet are so soaked from the rain you make tiny squeaky noises every time you take a step, and you can’t really feel your toes anymore!

Solution: Take your shoes off and run through the streets barefoot. Or hit up a discount shoe store to invest in some warm, comfortable rain boots. That way, you can do some serious puddle sloshing for fun.

3. Issue: You are stuck at home with nothing to do, and you wish you were able to get out of the house and get active.

Solution: Then do just that, and hit up a few bookstores or museums to pass the time. Nothing makes a rainy go by faster than curling up with a book.

4. Issue: You have somehow ended up in Park Slope, and you are caught in a sudden, relentless storm.

Solution: Stop by Tarzian Hardware store and other merchants in the area to pick up a free umbrella, part of a community program for the neighborhood. You can stay dry throughout the day, and when you’re done, just return it from where you picked it up!

5. Issue: It’s been raining for days, and you are stuck in a rut, or perhaps the lack of sunshine has triggered a small case of seasonal affective disorder.

Solution: Realize that the variance in weather is just a natural part of life, and there is always a lighter way of looking at things that at first seem so dreary.

Rainy Day Fun

October 3rd, 2010 by An Phung

Just when New Yorkers were getting use to a summer accompanied by record-breaking high temperatures, steamy subway platforms and clear sunny skies, autumn arrives and it’s time to adjust to a whole new season again. It’s been an unusually warm and rainy fall season, leaving New Yorkers with no choice but to brave the moisture a little earlier than usual. They say you can’t predict the weather, but there are ways to ensure that you don’t let this pesky, volatile climate ruin your good time in New York City.

1. A Rainy Day Wardrobe – Some rain boots,  an umbrella and a raincoat are imperative in a city where walking is the main mode of transportation. The last thing you want are soggy pant hems when you get to the office. If you end up collecting a bevy of $5 street vendor umbrellas by the end of the rainy season, there is an eco-friendly way to dispose of the excess.

2. A Day At The Museum – Museums are kid-friendly and date-friendly places to spend a rainy day. No matter which exhibit in the fall line-up you visit, there will be an array of colors, sculptures and historical lessons to fill up time for restless kids and awkward first dates.

3. Roast Your Chestnuts –  As the outdoor bar season comes to an end, check out the list of indoor bars with fireplaces that will keep New Yorkers dry and warm. These watering holes will come in handy as the fall season turns into the blistering cold winter season.

4. Apply Your Apps – There are plenty of free weather apps for Blackberrys, Android phones and iPhones available to help New Yorkers stay one step ahead of the storm. Gizmodo has rated the best weather apps for your smartphones. Checking the weather before leaving home, work or school will ensure that you’re properly dressed and heading somewhere warm and dry.

5. Stay Home – A stormy season as dangerous and inconvenient as this one means that it might be safer to stay home and avoid the subways and falling trees all together. Dodging lethal tree branches is not a fun or safe addition to your daily commute.