Saturday, December 30, 2006

From 4 to 300 Million

Happy almost new years. As part of my year-end wrap-up, here's third in a series from Time mag looking at the state of the nation. Today: population growth. We've grown from 4 to 300 million in a little over 200 years, and are projected to hit 400 million by the year 2050. India and China still have more people than us, though.

Friday, December 29, 2006

America by the Numbers: Religion

As part of my year end wrap-up, I'm uploading graphics from a Time magazine article called America at 300 million.

Today: religion. Over three-quarters of all Americans are either Roman Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, or Mainline Protestant. Below - where each group lives.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Where We All Live

As part of my year end wrap-up, over the next few days I'm going to be uploading an interesting recent cover story by Time Magazine on America at 300 million. It does an elegant job graphically describing who we are.

Today: where we all live. The top five most densely populated areas are New York, LA, Chicago, Philly, and Dallas-Fort Worth. Go New York! New Jersey is the most densely populated state. You might ask why. I have no answers. On the other side of the spectrum, Alaska has only one person per square mile, and Loving County, Texas is the most sparsely populated state in the contiguous US.

Click to see the map larger.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Santacon - Bringing Santas Together Since 1996

From Missed Connections, the aftermath of many many Santas drunkenly lusting after each other. Do you think any of them will ever find each other?

"I met you at the bar when we lost our respective santas. We watched the bad strippers; you commented on the downside of drinking white russians. You took off with your friend who'd lost her purse. I wish I'd asked you for your number; I'd love to hang out again." santacon at splash - m4w - 35

"I was so drunk and I never bothered to remember your name. Sorry, I'm a prick. I was the guy in the santa outfit." m4w - 26

And from the SF site: "I still have my Santa suit from last weekend's Santacon. Wondering if there's a little girl out there who wants to "persuade" Santa that she deserves everything on her Christmas list. Have you been naughty or nice?" Santa's horny - m4w - 29 (SOMA / south beach)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Santacon; Or, How I Learned to Stop Kvetching and Love Christmas

In fifteen years there's going to be an influx of kids from the midwest coming to New York for college, hoping to recreate that magical Christmas when Santas swarmed the streets. They probably think we do this every day.

Curious neighborhood girls on Delancey Street watch the Santas gear up.

Emerging from the subway at Bryant Park, one Santa shows his punk rock roots.

An ... um ... elf humping raindeer dance. Yep.

Anti-colonial protesters take a break. Sign reads "USA out of North Pole."

Santas on the bar at the Irish Rogue in Times Square.

Hannukah Harry takes a hit.

Taking a spin on the Central Park carousel.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Shots from 11 Spring

An amazing, overwhelming show. Props to the new owners for doing this. More photos here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cool Shit This Weekend

SantaCon Saturday, originally uploaded by Shield.

You must dress like Santa, you should ho-ho-ho like Santa, you ought to give out gifts like Santa, and (of course) ya gotta drink like Santa. Get creative: be a Secret Santa, a Santasaurus, Candy-cane, a Reindeer, a Chanukah Chicken, a goddamn latke. Just don't wear your fucking jeans.
It's a long day, so be prepared. Bring a Metrocard. Stay with the group. Try not to drunkenly wander off, though. How hard is it to lose 500 Santas? Pay your own damn bar tab.
Check website for meet-up location in Manhattan, 10:10am Saturday

Wooster Collective at 11 Spring
It's time to say farewell to 11 Spring Street, which has been a gathering point for graffiti by New York, national and international graffiti artists over the past twenty years. Now, 11 Spring has been sold and will be turned into condos. The new buyers are cognizant of the important part this building has played in New York graffiti life, and want to honor it through a final hurrah.
Over the past two months, graffiti artists have covered the entire inside of the building, five stories in all, with their work. The building will be open to the public Friday through Sunday, 11 to 5. Monday morning, they'll start sealing the art up behind drywall as they transform the building into condos: a full-building time capsule.
Artists include Shepard Fairey, WK, Jace, Swoon, David Ellis, FAILE, Cycle, Lady Pink, London Police, Prune, JR, Speto, D*Face, JMR, Blek Le Rat, John Fekner, Bo and Microbo, Above, BAST, Momo, Howard Goldkrand, Borf, Gaetane Michaux, Skewville, Michael DeFeo, Will Barras, Kelly Burns, Abe Lincoln, Jr, Thubdercut, Judith Supine, Rekal, Maya Hayuk, Anthony Lister, Stikman, You Are Beautiful, Gore-B, Elboe-Toe, MCA, Jasmine Zimmerman, Plasma Slugs, Diego, RIPO, The Graffiti Research Lab, Txtual Healing, Mark Jenkins, Dan Witz, Iminendisaster, Rene Gagnon, and others.
11 Spring, 11am-5pm, Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Erotic Arts Show at Williamsburg White Room
Open bar from 7- 8 pm, with complimentary snacks to enjoy while you view the many beautiful, affordable works for sale ( last minute present idea anyone??). DJ Fatsakz will be spinning funk, soul, and R-N-B from 7 – 10 pm, and then they’ll have several musical performances including a Janis Joplin cover set, some load raucous rock-n-roll from local NY band Wrong, and DJ Lucas spinning a variety of hits to take us into the late night.
208 S. 3rd St, Williamsburg, Saturday 7 pm to late

Billionaires for Bush present The Billionaire Follies in Dick Cheney's Holiday Spectacular
It's Christmas Eve. A beleaguered last-minute shopper is desperate to find the hottest toy of the season at All-Mart when a holiday shopping brawl knocks her unconscious and catapults her into Dick Cheney's Holiday Spectacular 2006. It a macabre, hilarious world of bling, billionaires, and season's greed-ings featuring all of Dick's favorite carols. Highlights include: We Three Kings of Petroleum Are, Toys for the World (Are Made by Kids), and The Halliburton Chorus. This twisted holiday revue also features the 24-Carat Rockettes, a special girls night with Laura Bush and Lynne Cheney, and a reenactment of Dick's favorite film, It's a Wonderful Presidency.
Ace of Clubs, 9 Great Jones, 8pm Sunday; $15

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

RIP 11 Spring

It's time to say farewell to 11 Spring Street, which has been a gathering point for graffiti by New York, national and international graffiti artists over the past twenty years. Now, 11 Spring has been sold and will be turned into condos. The new buyers are cognizant of the important part this building has played in New York graffiti life, and want to honor it through a final hurrah.

Over the past two months, graffiti artists have covered the entire inside of the building, five stories in all, with their work. The building will be open to the public Friday through Sunday, 11 to 5. Monday morning, they'll start sealing the art up behind drywall as they transform the building into condos: a full-building time capsule.

Full story [NY Times]

Most Americans Think They're Not As Racist As Others Are: Social Psychologists Explain

A new CNN poll found that most Americans think that racism is still a problem, but that other people are racist, not them.

Social psychology may provide an explanation. There's a body of research that explores why people tend to hold overly optimistic views about themselves. Among other things, people tend to selectively recall their past behavior, remembering the good and forgetting the bad; and they evaluate themselves in an overly positive manner - the "above-average effect."

In one fascinating article, Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own. Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments, Justin Kruger and David Dunning tried to figure out how this could be. In four tests, they evaluated participants' humor, logical reasoning, and grammar, and also asked participants for a self-evaluation in these areas. They found that those who got the lowest scores in the objective evaluations scored among the highest in the self-evaluation.

Kruger and Dunning concluded that those with limited knowledge ("unconscious incompetents," in management-speak) not only don't know, they don't know that they don't know. David Rakoff of the NY Times cautions us not to intepret this to mean simply that "it's the idiots who are always most certain they're right." Rather, he suggests, "what's most telling is the very ease with which the study lends itself to carping zingers about everyone else's stupidity. It speaks directly to our anxious desire to distance ourselves, as loudly as possible, from incompetent people -- as if incompetence were subject to that same you-are-or-you-aren't dichotomy as pregnancy."

But, he concludes "of course, you can be a little bit incompetent. All of us are." Just like we're all a little bit racist. We just don't want to admit it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Nietzsche Family Circus

The Nietzsche Family Circus pairs a randomized Family Circus cartoon with a randomized Friedrich Nietzsche quote. Eternal truths, those.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How to Be a New Yorker: 1964 Edition

how to be a new yorker, originally uploaded by Shield.

File under: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I found How to Be a New Yorker at the Strand. This book by Joan & Leslie Rich is from 1964, but a lot of the markers of New York City life appear to be immutable. Among them: don't bother moving for the door until the subway stops; jay-walk; grunt when you're buying things.

An modern list of how to be a New Yorker, from an Australian expat:

Dress in black, despise most men (if you're female), cancel lunches, have a therapist and if you are single, have a listing on one of the many personals columns. As far as the lingo's concerned, you can get by even with an accent, if you sprinkle your conversation with a few "Puhleeze"s and "Fuhgedaboudit"s. If you want to be a really polished New Yorker, you could add in the dog or cat and make sure you have a socially cool New York type job - Wall street, freelancing something or other in the arts or acting.

The same. But different.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Classic Restaurant Rivalries (or: Food Feuds)

Italian Heros
Manganaro's Hero Boy versus Manganaro's Food & Restaurant
The New York Times calls it "one of the city's longest and messiest food fights." Salvatore Manganaro, 74, and his youngest brother, James, 66, own Italian sandwich stores next to each other on Hell's Kitchen's Ninth Avenue. The family has been running these businesses for 100 years, and the two brothers have been giving each other the silent treatment for the past 25 years over who has the right to use their family's name and who can claim to have invented the 6-foot hero sandwich. As one young reviewer said, "this feud has been going on for far longer than I’ve been alive, and I’d bet for long after I’m dead."

Lombardi’s vs. Totonno’s vs. John’s vs. Patsy’s vs. Grimaldi’s
If you were to draw a family tree of New York pizza, Lombardi's, started in 1905, would be the grandpapi of the clan. Pizzamakers trained at Lombardi's went on to open Totonno's in Coney Island (Anthony Totonno Pero in 1917), John's Pizza in the Village (John Sasso in 1929), and Patsy's in East Harlem (Patsy Lancieri in 1933). In the third generation of pizzarias spawned from Lombardi's, Patsy Lancieri's nephew Patsy Grimaldi, who had worked at Patsy's since he was 10 years old, opened Grimaldi's in Brooklyn Heights in 1990.

Minangasli versus Padang Raya (RIP)
First, Rahman Imansjah was a customer at Nani Tanzil's warung run out of her kitchen. In June 2004, he bought a restaurant, Padang Raya, and they became business partners. They made it to February of 2005. He fired Tanzil, and six months later she opened Minangasli four doors away on Whitney Avenue. The New York Times explains that "the name of her restaurant, which means 'authentically Minang' and is a reference to a Padang ethnic group, is a not-so-subtle dig at her former partner," who is from Kalimantan Island, a culinarily different area of Indonesia. In April of 2006, Padang Raya became Jakarta Mie, a Javanese noodle warung.

Magnolia versus Buttercup et cetera.
Magnolia has spawned a cupcake family line of Old Testament proportions, complete with rivalries, hatred, and a creation myth. Jennifer Appel of Magnolia acknowledges she didn't invent cupcakes (see, she's humble!), but lays claim to the specific type of cupcake cafe which she sees replicated around the city, most bitterly at Buttercup, which she started with was started by her former business partner Allysa Torey. Appel's franchising director says “She’s like the cupcake godmother. If you did a family tree of cupcakes in New York, she spawned out the seven families. She’s the Don Corleone of cupcakes.”

Philly Cheesesteak
Pat's versus Geno's (Philadelphia)
Pat Olivieri, who opened Pat's King of Steaks as a hot dog stand near South Philadelphia's Italian Market back in 1930, claims to have invented the Philly Cheesesteak. Geno's opened in 1967, and they've stared each other down across a barren patch of South Philly pavement like Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa ever since. Geno's owner Joe Vento claims that they made the cheesesteak what it is today by being the first to add cheese, although they concede that Pat's is responsible for the later introduction of Cheese Whiz (thus adding the phrase 'whiz wit' to American English). And, of course, they hate each other. Vento explains that the reason people eat at Pat's is that "you can acquire a taste for bad food."

Where are they?
Manganaro's Hero Boy, 492 Ninth Ave., between 37th and 38th Sts; 212 947-7325
Manganaro's Food & Restaurant, 488 Ninth Ave., between 37th and 38th Sts; 212-563-5331
Lombardi’s, 32 Spring Street, New York; 212 941-7994
John’s Pizzeria, 278 Bleecker Street, New York; 212 243-1680
Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitano, 1524 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn; 718 372-8606
Grimaldi's, 19 Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn, 718 858-4300
Minangasli, 86-10 Whitney Avenue at Macnish Street, Elmhurst, Queens; 718 429-8207.
Magnolia Bakery, 401 Bleecker St. @ 11th St.; 212 462-2572
Buttercup Bake Shop, 973 2nd Ave between 51st & 52nd St; 212 350-4144
Pat's King of Steaks, 1237 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia; 215 468-1546
Geno's Steaks, 1219 S 9th St, Philadelphia, 215 389-0659

Got a rivalry to suggest? Write me.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Racial Dividing Lines in Brooklyn

In an article looking at Ratner's Atlantic Yards project through the prism of race, the New York Times produced the above map of racial distributions in central Brooklyn.

Flatbush Ave cleaves black and white Brooklyn, with much of the area to the northeast of Flatbush more than 50% or 75% black, and much of the area to the southwest of Flatbush more than 50% or 75% white. Areas of downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, and Gowanus are "diverse," meaning neither blacks nor whites make up more than 50% of the population.

I would love to see data comparing changes in neighborhood racial demographics to changes in what neighborhood an area is called. The area considered Park Slope several years ago pushed below 5th Avenue, and is now creeping below 4th Avenue, if not further. The map shows that this corresponds to a diverse area that is becoming more white. Similarly, will the dividing line between Crown Heights and Prospect Heights continue to move west, paralleling the movement by whites into a neighborhood that had been almost exclusively black?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Maps of Imaginary Worlds: My Father's Dragon

Map from My Father's Dragon, originally uploaded by Shield.

My Father's Dragon was written in 1944 by Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett. Fifty years later, the story was made into an anime movie in Japan.

The book is about the main character, Elmer Elevator, running away to Wild Island to rescue a baby dragon. Here's the map of his world.