NYC Glory Days?

Regarding the link below:

The sad reality, the one the writer didn’t talk about, is that he most likely left, and all those he interviewed are thinking of leaving, primarily because of the bad NYC schools.

He makes it seem like it’s all about the lack of culture in NYC or lack of cheap restaurants, but he could have moved to Bushwick or Bed-Sty or Brownville. But there’s no way a middle aged man or woman with kids, or a couple with kids, who can’t afford private school, is going to move to a cheap, hip, culture-rich NYC neighborhood. These people whine about a lack of culture, then move to a white, homogeneous, non-diverse place to get their kids into good public schools.

They want culture, but not African or Hispanic or Asian culture. What the writer fails to get is as NYC was a home for his immigrant parents or grandparents NYC is still home to immigrants. They’re just not white anymore. NYC has always been a tale of two cities: rich and poor (poor immigrants). The only thing that’s changed is that now the immigrants aren’t Europeans. (Generally speaking of course.)

NYC still has tons of culture, it’s still one of the most diverse and culturally rich places on earth. You can only say that it has lost its culture if you strictly define culture as punk, disco, and rap.

The reality, the factual history rather than the nostalgia, is that New York City in the 1970s was a shit storm. NYC nearly went bankrupt, and almost all public institutions and services were failing. The power went out. Garbage piled up on the streets. (Fun fact: when David Johansen in New York Dolls sang “Trash! Pick it up!!” it was actually a call to action not urbane commentary on dating.) Gangs and the mob controlled entire neighborhoods. Crime and drugs were everywhere. Prostitution too. And half the prostitutes were between the ages of 15 and 21 (according to arrest records). The police force was mostly corrupt and City Hall was about half corrupt. You literally were not allowed into an NYC park unless you were a drug addict or homeless, preferably both, and even then you had enough brains to never bring your child into one. City College was free because of basic economics: no one really went or wanted to go there, high school dropout rates were sky-high then.

And there was hardly a cultural explosion. Pop or avante guard culture, ok sure, but the orchestras, operas, ballets, galleries, theaters and museums were hit hard by NYC’s near collapse. The restaurant scene was stellar only if you liked Italian food and burgers. The fashion industry was unoriginal and ran scores of illegal sweatshops. Bars and restaurants were filled with cigarette smoke!

Yes the middle class is having a hard time making ends meet in NYC these days. As if that’s any different anywhere else in America???

How can you talk about NYC in the 1980s and first half of the 1990s and not mention the crack and AIDS epidemics? I was there for part of that time and while I had a great time then and would do it all over again twice, watching young people die is not something you forget. It’s certainly not something you omit from a discussion of NYC during that time. Just as you don’t omit the middle class, white-flight that occurred in NYC in the 1970s when writing about the middle class, white-flight occurring there now.

How did the New York Daily News manage to overlook so much NYC history? The article is a white-wash (pun intended) and fails to note any NYC progress since 1970.


We’re constantly told a cop is at most danger when pulling over a car to make a traffic stop. But what we’re not told is that being a cop is not even one of the top-ten most dangerous jobs in America.  And it’s been getting safer and safer to be a cop over the past few years.

Yes, the job is still dangerous overall, but cops know that going in, and maybe they shouldn’t be so chicken-shit scared when pulling over a car?  Yes they should be vigilant and careful, but also more courageous so as to be less trigger-happy, no??

First Ebola Death in America

Eric Thomas Duncan died of Ebola in the hospital. Allegations are going around that he received less than adequate care, that the hospital erred in letting him go home after his first trip to the ER, that they waited too long to give him an experimental therapy, that race and nationality may have been issues in him getting proper care.

Sounds about normal for the American healthcare system.

Sorry Haters, U2 is Cool and Punk as Shit!

Sorry haters, U2 is cool and punk as shit!

I really don’t understand all the Bono bashing and U2 bashing.  (Okay, there’s not a shite-tonne of it, but there’s a-goddamn-‘nough of it that I think it all needs to be addressed.) Sure, U2 is not my favorite band in the world (but close), they’re like The Beatles, Sex Pistols, or Nirvana: if you have any kind of taste at all you really cannot dislike them.  And honestly, there was a time when the guys in U2 were actual punks, or mostly so anyways.  Yes Bono can come off as self-righteous, but he is mostly being that way in the service of others and his fans.  By others I mean the poor and starving and dying.  He and Bill Gates have become modern day Robin Hoods.  No they don’t steal from the rich, instead they politely ask the uber-rich for money and then give all that uber-cash to the uber-poor.  That’s punk!  They give their own money to the poor as well, which is a behavior that’s hard to label.  And not labeling things is EXTREMELY punk.

Bono has cited Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu as role models for inspiration and guidance.  Who do you look to?  Sid Vicious??  Sid killed his girlfriend and himself, both accidentally.  Bono’s philanthropic endeavors are cited as having directly saved the lives of millions of people.  How many lives have you directly saved from starvation and/or disease or from anything else?  One?  Two?  Nine?  Probably zero.  Or less than zero.

Yes, U2 have put out a few stinker albums, but most of their albums are world-class.  Including the first five ones and the seventh.  And the stinker or so-so albums would be awesome debut albums from any new band that had nothing to live up to.  Bono has the rare combo of having an excellent singing voice, amazing stage presence, AND the ability to write great, meaningful lyrics.  Yes, he gets political, but so did The Clash and The Dead Kennedys and nearly every seminal Hardcore band.

U2 often gets bashed for incorporating American musical genres like gospel, blues, and folk into their music.  Yet Mumford and Sons and The Black Keys get a pass for the same thing.  Why?  Neither of those acts has nor will ever make an album as good as The Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby.  Or even one as good as War.  And this bluegrass-is-the-new-punk-rock thing is going to pass real soon and may be in its denouement.

The critics of U2, once they finished sounding off at the self-righteousness and political nature of U2, then bashed them when they dropped that stuff and released a few absurd, Dada-esque mostly electronica albums.  Nuts huh?  At the time guys like me (yes I’m that old, thank you) where totally stoked that all those electronica sounds and noises, including the drums, actually came from real analogue instruments played by actual humans achieved by old-school studio magic and not by iPad apps or other software.  (Note: apparently iPad guitar processing apps and drum loop apps are the epitome of cool and hip these days, so my dig just now might fall on deaf ears.  But those with trained ears will giggle at my little joke.)

People have bashed The Edge as being a lousy guitar player.  Clearly none of those people play guitar.  Or else they play but think only guys like Yngwie Malmsteen or Trey Anastasio can be considered great guitar players.  Shredders and strict pentatonic scale (or pentatonic AND mixolydian, Trey) players are all well and good, but they are not the sole benchmarks of guitar excellence.  Actually, excellence isn’t really the yardstick to measure any guitarist by: style, sound/tone, and passion are.  Phrasing is often more important that note selection or speed when it comes to guitar.  As Flea put it, “music isn’t the Olympics”.  (Okay, yes, he’s a bass player, but the bass is a type of guitar and you get the point.)  And even Flea was once know for his speed and amount of notes played.  No one ever bashed Johnny Ramone for his shortcomings as a guitar player.  Instead they give him EXTREME credit for turning his shortcomings into a signature style.  Same can be said for The Edge, though he has far fewer shortcomings and is a world-class song writer.  But if you insist on solely judging guitar players by their technical virtuosity, then get out your guitar and effects pedals and play me “Where The Streets Have No Name” and have it sound EXACTLY as is does on the album.  It’s very hard to do and even The Edge sometimes struggles with it live.  Most players don’t even try, they just hear that song and go “nope”.

U2 has found that rare balance between serious and irreverent IMHO.  Sure they act like pompous rock stars.  But when they do it’s just that, an act.  All that “The Fly” and “Pop Mart” stuff is performance art railing against ego and abject consumerism.  Which is about as punk as it gets btw.

So if you think Bono and U2 are lame and suck, I beg you to rethink that thought.

Have a nice day!

Air Power

The air attacks on ISIS in Syria should accomplish at least a few things:

1. Start the process of degrading and destroying ISIS.
2. Shut up John McCain.
3. Shut up John Boehner in saying Obama is weak and leads from behind.
4. Shut up the journalists and pundits that think they know how the US conducts military operations; arguably the media was used by the Obama administration to enhance the advantage of surprise of the airstrikes.
5. Reinforce the concept that Israel has a right to defend itself. (Remember, two beheaded US journalists were the last straw which resulted in US military action; similar to the killed Israeli teens that precipitated the recent Palestinian-Israeli fighting.)
6. Maybe, just maybe, get the current Congress to start taking its role in leading and running America seriously.

This is what I’ve got so far, other consequences are sure to come to mind.

Oh yeah …

6. Get Putin to rethink his Ukraine strategy.