Thursday, August 25, 2011

LIC Development: No Love

Long Island City has seen much development since the 2000s.
The westernmost Queens neighborhood went from bring an industrial blight only recognizable by the Pepsi Coke sign to "Manhattan East" in a nanosecond.
Most of the gray areas gave way to high rises, the Citibank skyscraper and Court Square.
With yuppies from all over making LIC their home, the few places that corporate shills have yet to touch are dying out.
5 Pointz: The Institute For Higher Burnin' stands along with P.S.1 and the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum as a bastion of organic life across the East River. With worldwide popularity, it baffles the mind why the city hasn't taken extra measures to protect this landmark.
Or why owner Jerry Wolkoff is letting the gentrification monster eat his warehouses as the dessert after making its surroundings the main course.
In March, Wolkoff angered many Queens residents, hip-hoppers and bombers when he announced plans to destroy the graffiti mecca and replace it with more high rises. While the warehouses still stand, so do Wolkoff's plans to get rid of them. His comments in the April edition of the Village Voice blog prove how out of touch he really is with what the people want.
When asked how LIC has responded to the news, Wolkoff claimed that "the people in the neighborhood love that they're taking it down. Not everybody loves that type of art." Try telling that to the thousands who created an online petition called "Show Your Love To 5 Pointz" to voice their discontent, along with the "Save 5 Pointz" Facebook page.
Matter of fact, say that directly to Meres 1, the guy who decides which artists can tag on the 200,000 sq ft wonder. Unlike Wolkoff, who stays in Deep Long Island, Meres is actually at the site every day. Its been that way practically since 2002, when he first came on as the site's manager.
Wolkoff says that only 15-20 people come to 5 Pointz on a daily basis.
Meres 1 sees it a little bit differently.
"I would say a couple hundred people a day," he remarked while sitting in his green van behind the warehouses.
The most idiotic retort Wolkoff gave to those who want 5 Pointz to stay open is that it has no redeeming value whatsoever. An outdoor public graffiti museum, the only one of its kind in New York City, is worthless?
Once again, the incomparable Meres sets the real story.
"5 Pointz brings a lot of tourists. It opens a lot of people's eyes to the art form who may not, you know, be aware of the art itself, the way it's done and even what it says or means," the curator said. "It allows people to kinda enter our world and firsthand see it and understand it better."
Reflecting its universal appeal, people of every ethnicity and origin can be seen tagging their signs along the yellow and red infrastructure.
It's pretty normal to hear dialects like Bengali and Swahili mingling among themselves with no conflict.
Sometimes, English won't be found unless you search for it.
Poland native and B-Boy Zajcew may not know much about the King's language, but he knew enough to tell Wolkoff what he needs to hear.
"For me, it's like, big shit. You know, cause this place is like a huge gallery for all the people from all over the world. That was my first place in New York," the newcomer shared.
"When I come (came) to New York two weeks ago, my friends took me here and told me (the) whole story about this place. So I think, fuck this guy who wants to close this place. "
Zajcew says he's already signed the petition to save 5 Pointz and plans on telling his friends about it when he returns to Poland, proving word about the development is stretching far beyond New York boundaries.
When you get down to it, Wolkoff is just another Bloomberg in disguise. He'll tell you he knows what's going on with his properties, yet he's there as often as a deadbeat dad who comes around here and there to pretend he actually cares about his sperms. Nobody truly knows how much longer 5 Pointz has until the bulldozers make it into another long gone NYC memory. Meres 1 just wants to make it as enjoyable as he can in the meantime.
"For now, what we're concentrating on is this year and hopefully next year. It's undetermined if we'll be here longer than that. So the time we definitely have, we wanna concentrate on making the best time, and just pretty much go day-to-day. Not so much get overwhelmed with what might be."
Note to City: If this place closes down, expect the second subway graffiti era. We'll bring our cameras.

Sign the Petition at : http://whatyouwrite.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/5-pointz-petition/

The World's Oldest Profession: College Edition?

Times nowadays are rough, especially if you're a college student here in New York. CUNY just approved a 2% tuition increase for the Fall 2011 semester, tacking on to the 5% increase added last semester.
Sister institution SUNY is closely following suit, with a $300 raise in tuition for in-state students through the 2015-2016 years. Out of state students will have to cough up an additional $640 to room and board in the Empire State.
Of course, where there's struggling students, there's people willing to lend them a financial hand.
The gamut runs from credit card issuers hunting for fresh prey on campus to commission jobs such as Vector promising $17/hour workrates and $1,000 paychecks.
One website, however, is cashing in on these downtrodden pupils in unique fashion, offering them bundles of that green stuff by way of a sugar daddy or mama.
Launched in 2005, SeekingArrangement.com seeks to hook up students-or sugar babies, as they're called-with wealthy benefactors in "mutually-beneficial" romantic relationships.
The NYC Metro newspaper profiled the site in their August 3rd edition, bringing it back into the spotlight.
At CCNY, one of CUNY's 23 senior colleges, opinions were split on whether the site can truly help students or if it's a form of modern-day prostitution, as detractors have alleged.
Felix Alglo, 21, believes that Seeking Arrangement romanticizes the world's oldest profession.
"It's just a different way of talking about prostitution," the Kew Gardens native and CCNY junior argued.
"You're doing something to get, you know, sexual intercourse in exchange? Instead of paying money, you're just, you're giving something up?"
Visiting SUNY Delhi sophmore Marcus Tyler, 18, split his views down the middle 50/50, arguing for and against deeming it the harlot's trade.
"Would you call this modern-prostitution? I'm coming up blank, to be honest," the Bronx native said. "I mean, if it helps them with their college and to better their life for the future, no. But if the sugar daddy or sugar mommy wants to have sexual relations with them because they're supplying the student with loans and whatever, then yeah."
While site owner Brandon Wade did not return The Hannington Works's e-mails, the website's blog features plenty of users praising the benefits of dating fellow "sugars."
One commentator, named Realdeal8888, wrote, "The most fantastic thing about a sugar 'relationship' is the freedom! And by that I mean freedom from the games of normal relationships, the freedom to just be yourself."
No June Cleaver SB notes, "There will always be bad stories to share and horrid penis pics to deal with, but with patience and learning/applying some tried and true methods, sugar dating can be the most beautiful thing and enhance lives in such a way that is truly incomprehensible to those in the traditional dating world."
For those who argue that people in sugar relationships are degrading themselves, it should be noted that the site also promotes values found in regular ones.
One of Brandon Wade's Top 5 Rules For Sugar Babies includes being honest with your sugar, since "the best sugar daddy and sugar baby relationships form out of brutal honesty."
Wade even advises that sugar babies refrain from emotional attachment to their sugar moms and dads if the sugar parents aren't willing to put in the same effort.
There's also the underlying issue of non-acceptance by those who know little about sugars and their bonds.
If two consenting adults (you have to be at least 18 to register) agree to come together in a relationship, with one party showering the younger one with gifts and the older one getting a short or long-term partner, who are we to say what they're doing is wrong?
The arguments are compelling on both sides. You can say that this is sexual degradation, attuned for the 21st Century.
In the same vein, these relationships can include actual romantic and emotional connections. Maybe the students who use this as a final resort could work harder for loans or scholarships, but maybe the students who actually want to do this could do so without judgement.
But with coverage from Playboy to The New York Times, one thing is clear. Seeking Arrangement isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gaming Kills

Warcraft enthusiasts, be warned.

A young man from the UK died this past May shortly after putting in a 12-hour Halo session.
Christopher Staniforth was known for playing video games well into the night and beyond. Upon completing what was to be his last time mashing an X-Box comptroller, Stainforth complained of chest pains.
The next morning, he collapsed on the spot and never recovered.
Stainforth suffered a fatal blood clot that rose from a leg vein into his lungs. This is referred to as a pulmonary embolism, when a main artery in the lungs gets blocked. The usual culprit behind this condition is DVT, or "Deep Vein Thrombosis."
DVT is more likely in people who sit for extended periods of time without moving around, sustain trauma to their blood vessels through leg damage and have pre-existing medical conditions such as pregnancy.
Staniforth remained seated every time he played video games, with no breaks in between.
Well, what can we take away from this? Other than you might need another hobby if your half-day gaming sessions are taking up half your life?
Get some exercise here and there. You don't have to rent a Billy Blanks Taebo video, but at least take a 30-minute walk a few days per week. Or buy those Shakeweight dildos that are so popular with desperate women nowadays.
And by the way, Staniforth's dad has started a website aimed at teaching young people the dangers of not taking breaks while plugged in. You can also find out more about DVT there. Just go to http://www.take-time-out.info/

They Don't Get No Respect

According to MTA.Info, 5,156,913 New Yorkers used the New York City Subway during every average weekday in 2010. Considering that The Big Apple has a population totaling 8,175,133, this means our subway system serves over half the city's population on any given Monday.

Taking the train to work, school or to meet with friends is arguably the best way to get around.
It saves money, cuts traffic on our clogged transportation arteries and reduces our carbon footprints, helping the environment.
Most New Yorkers will cite subways as their main public transport medium. Which makes the most sense when you think about it.
The majestic silver snakes that rumble beneath our feet can transport higher capacities of people at faster rates.
And those cool mosaics and repetitive, synchronized dancers with red pants make the trip even more worthwhile.
Stuck in the loop of 24/7 subways, inter-state rails and planes, however, are what I like to call "The Unsung Road Warriors." What are these asphalt-tearing, street sign-quaking behemoths I speak of?
Buses.
We can go on and on about how useless they are in comparison to our speeding locomotives, but truth be told, we need buses more than we realize.
Consider the size of a NYC Boro. Since I'm a biased jerk, I'm gonna choose Queens. Now for those who routinely skipped NYC History 101, Queens is geographically the largest boro in the city. Stretching 178.28 square miles, Queens County handily beats out Kings County-the most populated boro-in sheer girth. Brooklyn comes in at 96.90 square miles.
Shortly after the 1940s the subway system stopped expanding before it could reach all of Queens. This would place farther neighborhoods such as Bayside, Hollis, Whitestone and Cambria Heights at a great disadvantage.
To compensate for forgetting how big Queens really is (and the city cutting their budget), the MTA has placed numerous bus routes at station terminals in the boro's eastern section.
The 179th Street Station on the IND Queens Boulevard Line has 16 bus lines outside, ready to take passengers to 200th Street and beyond. Herein exposes one of the greatest weaknesses in any subway or rail system.
Simple logic will dictate that there are more roads in the world than train tracks. As a result, buses can go to places trains simply can't.
Imagine how much harder those 179ers who live next to the Nassau County border would have it if there were no buses waiting once the F train went out of service.
While these areas do have the Long Island Railroad at their disposal, the LIRR is already more expensive than the subway, especially during peak hours. Since the trains are more spaced out, that also means longer waiting times on average. Not much help there.
Moving on, anyone remember that awesomely cool blackout? The one that happened eight years ago this month? It knocked out power across the Eastern Board and gave cabbies their biggest payday in years.
Ironically I was on a bus at the exact moment the blackout happened. Traffic lights were ko'ed and you could forget about the trains. Unlike a vehicle's battery, those pesky third rails need the city's juice to keep the underground running.
My bus never lost power during that shutdown. Neither did the other buses I saw, crammed with people who probably took them for granted before, but were crawling to them like newborn sea turtles trying to reach the water.
Even though the subway was useless during the blackout, the buses were there to pick up the slack and take people home. Yet once the power came back on, those people pushed them aside and rode the 1 to work, forgetting about the wheeled monsters that saved them hours before.
How about when construction necessitates that certain subway line sections be shut down for a weekend? The M train's trackwork schedules have shuttered service between Myrtle Ave-Broadway and Middle Village-Metropolitan Avenue a few times this year.
Who you gonna call? The shuttle buses that ensured regular M riders still made it home to Central Queens.
Buses do so much for us and expect nothing in return. They complement subway terminals and operate in situations where trains don't. You can count on them during blackouts and subway disruptions.
They're like the designated driver in your group of buddies on a Saturday night bar binge. While everyone else is egging you to chug another whiskey shot, he's sitting in the corner, minding his business. But when it's time to go and you're confident you can still drive in a straight line, that's when he takes the keys, puts you in the back seat and drops you off at home.
They don't have the computerized voices of an R-160 or the speed of a Boeing 747, but buses are dang sure reliable when nothing else is.
Remember that the next time you feel like hating on em.