Archive for the ‘Curation’ Category

And a new pest enters the fray…

September 13th, 2010 by Jonathan Vit

By Jonathan Vit

As if rats, roaches and bed bugs weren’t enough to deal with, New Yorkers have a new pest to obsess over, and this one’s the largest yet.

From the Bronx to Brooklyn, raccoons are becoming a particularly visible nuisance, with reports of the pesky procyons (look it up) crashing a block party in Ridgewood, Queens, breaking into a home in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and hanging out poolside in Glendale, Queens.

The New York Times reports on the growing problem, pointing out that raccoon-related 311 calls are up, from 2,155 to 2,410, in the past year. It’s enough to get some residents fired up, with Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, of Queens, warning that raccoons could become “bed bugs 2.”

Of course, New York isn’t the first city to deal with a raccoon infestation. The furry scavengers are grabbing headlines in Philadelphia too with local media reporting infestations in North Philly, West Kensington and West Philadelphia. Apparently, the four-legged bandits find the city’s trash-strewn alleyways and vacant lots particularly appealing and are eager to call Philadelphia’s more blighted neighborhoods home.

Philadelphia’s response? Tell the residents of West Kensington to buy their own traps and pay to have the animal removed. The Pennsylvania SPCA only traps rabid or injured raccoons free of charge. There’s simply no plan for dealing with healthy raccoons and the animals fall between the city’s bureaucratic gaps.

But without swift action, the increasingly brazen raccoons are in danger of becoming neighborhood institutions, just like the stray cats, wild dogs and feral chickens already calling the city’s streets home.

In New York City, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley thinks she has an answer to the city’s spreading raccoon infestation. The councilwoman’s proposed bill would place the responsibility of trapping — and humanely releasing — raccoons in the hands of the Health Department. Until then, New York, like Philadelphia, only traps sick or injured raccoons.

Need a solution now? Major Fife, of West Philadelphia, has the answer. Apparently, bobcat urine — that’s right, bobcat urine — works wonders. You can buy your own can of wild cat pee here. Or you could just learn to live with the little bandits. Hell, it may even lower your rent (it worked for bed bugs).

Please, Don’t Smell the Roses.

September 13th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

New Yorkers walk faster than cars move along the autobahn but a constant flow of rubbernecking, camera-clicking, foot-dragging tourists can make sidewalks in New York more congested than California’s I-5 at rush hour.

Earlier this year, a few New Yorkers, fed up with ambling-out-of-towners, designated separate sidewalk space for natives and visitors. The tourist lane was popular with some locals and even got a nod of approval from Mayor Bloomberg. The lanes were a hoax forged by a theater group but apparently the deep-seated loathing of slow walkers was no act. An August 15 New York Post article even cited slow walkers as a top annoyance among New Yorkers.

But slow walkers are not unique to New York. One blogger in London said meandering morons make his “piss boil.” And to be fair, tourists are not the only violators. Moms, en masse, with baby buggies; the grandma with the utility cart that is bigger than her; or the people who walk in pairs like they are entering the damn ark, stopping you from passing by – they are all guilty parties.

There are multiple Facebook groups dedicated to this gripe, with thousands of members, most wishing slow walkers a slow death – okay, not really. But, according to a French medical study, people over the age of 65, who walk slowly, are more likely to die from cardiovascular related diseases than people who walk faster. Granny had better pick up the pace or she might have to pick up a pacemaker.

Unfortunately, slow movers won’t all croak at once. Slow walkers, especially those planning to visit New York City in the near future, heed this advice. New Yorkers, if you are going to live here, you have to accept the city’s appealing – great food, fashion and Broadway – as well as its appalling – pooping pigeons, mice with moxie and slow traipsing travelers. So the next time a tour bus unloads directly in your path to Starbucks on your 10-minute break, don’t start the third world war, just keep calm and carry on.

Flying Rat or Friendly Dove?

September 13th, 2010 by Bianca Seidman

What would New York’s city life be without huge flocks of pigeons roaming parks and sidewalks and flying overhead? A lot of people would like to imagine it would be quieter, cleaner and free from built-up pigeon droppings and bird noises.  But some advocates say pigeons are actually rock doves;  intelligent wildlife that add to the city’s character and serve mankind.  The debate between pigeons as nuisance vs. pigeons as beneficial is almost a tradition in  New York City.

The biggest complaints about pigeons include excessive droppings, noise and nesting in annoying places.  Many residents, like Louise Dreier who wrote this essay for The New York Times, view the pigeon as essentially a flying rat whose invasive behavior and constant propagation has to be stopped. Some city officials have tried to take on the pigeon using legislation, citing property damage, as well as harm and nuisance to people from defecation and crash landings.  Even the New York Department of Mental Health and Hygiene mentions diseases that pigeons can transmit to people.  If all that isn’t enough to certify the pigeon as a pest, even the MTA, considered a New York nuisance of a different kind, has special pigeon alarms to keep the birds away.

Defenders of city pigeons say the flocks are romantic and iconic of New York City or that pigeons have a history of helping people.  There’s National Pigeon Day in June, with celebrations in Central Park.  Rheingold Beer, a brand long associated with the city, recently named the pigeon as its mascot because the bird is so New York.  The Village Voice’s Rosie Gray answered Louise Dreier’s complaints and added that pigeon-related diseases are pretty rare.  An old superstition says it’s actually good luck be “blessed” by pigeon stool (though Kings of Leon didn’t get that memo).  Pigeons have a long history as wartime messengers and homing birds, including being the Reuters New Service’s first team of reporters.

The debate about pigeons is so passionate that Andrew Blechman wrote a whole book about them, chronicling stories from pigeon fanciers and pigeon haters.

Maybe the question isn’t whether pigeons are good to have around, but, with some estimates showing 7 million pigeons in New York, whether the pigeon population needs to be managed–or not.

Will Someone Please Come to the Defense of the Poor Koch Brothers?

September 13th, 2010 by Paul DeBenedetto

by Paul Pedersen

At the end of August, Jane Meyer wrote this fascinating (albeit long) profile on David and Charles Koch for the New Yorker. The piece isn’t incredibly flattering, essentially painting the brothers as the Dick Dastardly and Muttley of modern politics. The gist: the billionaire brothers have conspired to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on right-wing causes, mostly of the environmental variety. The piece also accuses them of funding the Tea Party Movement, and using their organization Americans for Prosperity as a tool for indoctrinating Tea Party activists, which would mean the largest political grassroots movement of our time is essentially being controlled by two men. (It also means the brothers are accessories to these amazing signs and should be given a medal.)

As you might imagine, the brothers aren’t entirely happy with this characterization. In comments to Elaine Lafferty at the Daily Beast, David Koch calls the New Yorker piece “hateful,” and promises to write the magazine a strongly worded letter (though, as the Atlantic points out, the brothers Koch have already released an official statement.) Meanwhile, it looks like the Kochs’ reach might even stretch overseas. The Guardian reports that Americans for Prosperity and the Koch-backed Cato Institute recently co-sponsored an event for the UK’s Taxpayers’ Alliance. The Guardian reports that the Kochs “have spent tens of millions of dollars supporting the Cato Institute,” which the Institute flat-out denies. Still, as Dave Weigel points out at Slate, whether the Guardian is sensationalizing that specific aspect of the story or not is inconsequential; the lineup for the UK event is stacked with American Tea Party players, including Americans for Prosperity’s own Tim Phillips.

On the lighter side, I’ll tell you what the Koch brothers don’t need “tens of millions of dollars” to do: pay real people to pose for photos on their website.

Countdown to Primaries

September 13th, 2010 by Brooks Newkirk

by Brooks Newkirk

New York’s primary elections are only two days away. For New Yorkers, that means there’s only two days left of pesky ad campaigns that clog our mailboxes and takeover the airways. Sure, politicians have an agenda to push (i.e. lower taxes, education reform, etc.), but what about ads for the latest diet fad or anti-aging cream or male enhancement product? That’s serious stuff that we need to know about, but instead we’re getting this:

Republican Carl P. Paladino has come up with a smelly way to let New Yorkers know he’s the best candidate for governor. His new mailers show the faces of Democrats who have faced ethical or legal problems, including U.S. Rep. Charles B. Rangel and Gov. David Patterson, with the tag: “The Stink of Corruption in Albany is Overpowering”. He drills in his point by scenting the mailers with the odor of rotting vegetables.

Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice and State Senator Eric Schneiderman, opponents in the democratic attorney general race, both released new television ads bashing each other. Rice’s ads alluded to Schneiderman being a party-machine and Schneiderman snapped back with TV spots calling Rice a “Democrat only since 2005”.

Bob Friedrich, who’s running against incumbent Queens state Assemblyman David Weprin, is bashed his opponent with new mailer. In his mailer, Friedrich says he doesn’t believe the Park51 mosque belongs at Ground Zero, while Weprin “believes otherwise”.

There’s nothing wrong with ads that are used to inform, but when politicians use them solely to bash their opponents, they can become a pesky problem and the message is totally lost.

The Most Fashionable Flea

September 12th, 2010 by Chase Lindsay Rosen

By, Chase Lindsay Rosen

New York Fashion Week 2010 might be one of the only things in New York City that has the best and worst reputations, simultaneously for only a week. For those fashion and style aficionados it’s paradise on an island (well, actually a plaza). But, for others it is the ultimate nuisance: an overcrowded city filled with people who flew thousands of miles for a mere glimpse of a D-Lister celebrity or celebrities dying for 7-20 minutes in Jill Stuart, Marc Jacobs or Alexander Wang heaven.

Fashions Night Out was a particular instance of this weeklong obsession with what’s in and what’s out, which caused an exceptional amount of havoc in NYC. For those hailing from SoHo, imagine lines of hundreds of people curling around the narrow blocks and an overload of cell phone flashes and blacked out Suburban’s. Local downtowners were faced with mobs of people hoping to purchase a $25 nail polish from Chanel or snap a picture with the mah-jor stylist Rachel Zoe at the Piperlime Pop Up Store.

For those living in the Lincoln Center area, it’s a whole other story. With Fashion Week happening on the Upper West Side this year, road closures and exceptional traffic are rampant. With school starting, this high society event is a disturbance to not only public transportation and parking, but for those who live in, work around and go to school in the area. With over 70 shows scheduled for this season, make sure to dodge the limousines when crossing the street, leave an extra 20 minutes to grab a cab and try walking on the street to avoid the models walking at a glacial speed in their 8 inch stilettos.

So if you haven’t already, keep you calendars clear and cars parked from September 9th through September 16th. The Fashion Gods are (happily) moving in to Lincoln Center and so are it’s followers.  But for those New Yorkers who don’t care who is wearing what try look at this week as an invasive, concentrated and persistent economy boosting pest.

Notes from September 11

September 12th, 2010 by Tuan Thanh Nguyen

By Tuan Nguyen

The woman looked more and more distraught as the E train approached the World Trade Center station. She had left her seat a couple of stations back and stood forlornly against the door, her eyes hidden by the dark shades. She shook her head, an almost imperceptible sigh escaped her lips. She rushed for the exit when the train stopped.

Sorrows and remembrance  is not the only theme underlining this year’s 9/11 anniversary. The commemoration is overshadowed by fiery disputes over the Mosque near Ground Zero and the plan to burn Quran books by an unknown pastor from Florida – the pastor has actually been propelled to fame worldwide thanks to the media. The New York Times reports that Terry Jones, who has around 50 followers, has agreed to 150 interviews just in July and August. Chris Cuomo from ABC News criticized the media “reckless” on his Twitter for adding fuel to the fire.

Ellis Henican from the AM New York bashed the event “an insincere publicity circus” and questioned its necessity as Donald Trump jumped in with a half-hearted offer to buy the property. AP quotes Wolodymyr Starosolsky, the lawyer for the investor in the real estate partnership of the site, calling Trump’s offer “”a cheap attempt to get publicity and get in the limelight.”

On Op-Ed page of the New York Times Wednesay, Columnist Gail Collins wrote about the “5 percent doctrine.” Says Ms Collins, “there about 5 percent of our population is and always will be totally crazy.” Her advice is “There is nothing you can do about the crazy 5 percent except ask the police to keep an eye on them during large public events, where they sometimes appear carrying machine guns just to make a political point about the Second Amendment.”

Bedbugs Go Shopping

September 10th, 2010 by Geoffrey Decker

By Geoff Decker

Bedbugs infestations were a steady conversation topic for New Yorkers this summer but it’s not all paranoia, as NY Mag claimed last week. Two affirming surveys issued in August – one from the extermination company Terminix, the other from a Daily News-Marist Poll – reveal just how widespread the problem is.

But these bloodsuckers aren’t just confined to private residences. The bedbug resurgence has included infestations in several commercial establishments as well. Retail clothing stores, movie theaters, office buildings and even government buildings have fallen prey to these pervasive pests.

In the span of three weeks, three upscale retail stores were temporarily closed for bedbug infestation. First it was the SoHo-based giant Hollister Co.. A day later, Hollister’s parent company, Abercrombie & Fitch, closed a store in South Street Seaport for what it called a “similar problem” to their subsidiary. A couple weeks later, at Victoria’s Secret’s Midtown East store, managers discovered bedbugs and reopened the same day.

Lest you think you’re safe by avoiding retail clothing stores, bedbugs also turned up in Goldman Sachs, Time Warner Center and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office. They were even treated for at Time Square’s AMC Theaters.

Commercial buildings aren’t required by the city to report infestations, so its hard to know just how many business have been affected. Fortunately, help is on the way. City officials promised $500,000 for an “attack strategy” to raise awareness and hopefully eradicate the problem for good.