Category Archives: Words

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.

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.

Is Syria America’s Next Bay of Pigs?

When has arming and training a “moderate” group of proxy rebels ever worked to bring about the regime change America desired?  It didn’t work in Cuba, Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia, The Congo, Nicaragua, and Sudan.  It didn’t work in Vietnam and Iraq either and look what happened in both those countries.

I thought Obama was aware that this strategy is always a very long shot (especially in the Middle East) and it’s why he didn’t want to arm moderates in Syria before?  I guess the “success” of Libya has made him forget most of America’s history with regime change?  He certainly knows ISIS is driving around in US tanks that we provided to the Iraqi Army assumed to share our strategic interests.

If we want to get rid of ISIS and Bashar al-Assad, it will take US boots on the ground, air, and sea.  And even then, if we do topple those regimes, we don’t know how to do nation-building at all as proven by our efforts at just that in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We can’t afford nor do we have the desire to occupy Syria & Iraq at the commitment levels it will take to bring the kind of change that we desire to those countries.

I don’t know the answer myself, but I’m pretty a sure that using a proxy army to further US interests doesn’t work.

The Day The Music Died (was somewhere in the mid 1990’s)

People don’t want good music, they want free music. Good is optional, in both the composition, performance, and the final recoding that’s listened to. Actually, good isn’t even desired at all, there has always been good music, great music too, and it has never sold well.

It’s people and listening habits that have fundamentally changed — not the artists or music distributors — that have eroded the ability to be a professional musician.

These days people invest in good headphones, not good stereo systems. Most listening occurs alone, and when groups of people listen to music it’s usually background to another activity. When was the last time you or anyone you know listened to recorded music together in your house where the sole intent was to listen to the music, and not do anything else simultaneously like converse, eat, or drink? My theory is that headphones have become so popular since they make low bitrate audio files sound better. Yes, you’ll also hear the digital artifacts (if you have a trained ear) but a $79 set of headphones brings more audio fidelity to the listener than a $79 stereo system. I mean there are not enough bus and train riders out there to explain the explosion in popularity in headphone use!

And even when people use headphones and listen to music alone, the music is usually background noise to other activities like working out, studying, housework, and web surfing.

Given that people don’t really treat listening to music as something they do exclusively with no distractions, and that music can be had for free, I don’t see that people will ever buy music again in any great numbers. I think people have to treasure listening to music more as a primary activity before ANY business model can be developed to support music recording sales at past levels.

Also, let’s face it, music can be rather boring when you hold it up against other forms of entertainment like TV and movies. Back in the fat and profitable years for the music industry — about the last half of the 1960’s, the entire 70’s & 80’s and the first half of the 90’s — TV and movies, especially TV, sucked ass. But now TV shows are amazing and they command your attention. Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black etc. viewing parties have replaced album listening parties. We’re not going to pay $10 for an album when the same $10 gets us Netflix. Hell, we don’t even really pay $10 for Pandora.

Of course all of the above is a generalization and a lot of people still engage in music as something other than background noise. But I don’t think they’re enough of them left to support the music industry like in decades past.

With only a few exceptions (40 or 200?) being a musician is a now a low-wage job in an archaic industry. I think we have to acknowledge that the music industry was a bubble that burst and it will never be re-inflated. And like with all bubbles, all of us are partly to blame.

So don’t think that all it will take is some new “good” musicians or some new amazing music genre or scene to breath new life into the music industry. Music industry profits are now slim margins because music as a form of entertainment has been marginalized.

teenage (can’t) dream

Ima gonna channel my teenage self here and write something on the inside flap of my high school library’s copy of The Catcher in the Rye: If love makes the world go ’round, then unrequited love keeps it tilted on its axis.


Is there a rehab for acting immature and melodramatic on social media and for posting far more than any grown-ass man should even when bored and unable to fall asleep? I have good health insurance. Lmk, thx, ttyl!