Tag Archives: current-events

Going On The Account: Blogtober – What Are We Thankful For?

This is the twenty second day of Blogtober, which this year coincides with Thanksgiving Day in the US.

It’s a  time for family to get together, air their grievances, eat and drink too much, and pretend not to care about who the Lions and Cowboys are playing.

It’s a time we go on about the traditions the Pilgrims brought about, even though our Thanksgiving owes more to Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt than it does Miles Standish.

It’s a time that came about in remembrance of Union victories in the American Civil War, which makes me wonder how many self-conscious folks in the Deep South might be having problems eating a deep fried turkey today.

It’s a time when people who complain about their traditions and customs being impinged upon have nothing to say about a New York tradition being rebranded as the “Macy’s Day Parade,” because apparently a company wanting your money taking over your holiday is somehow better than others trying not to be exclusive.

It’s a time when some families will have members having to leave early to report for their retail jobs tonight for employers who forget what “holiday” means.

It’s a time when some families are so messed up that a few members wish they had jobs they had to show up at 5 PM for that night.

It’s a time some folks wish they had jobs, period.

It’s a time when some households will be thankful for how things are, while some insist everyone at the table signs their secession petition.

It’s a time we complain about the pain of going through this day, the travel, the cooking, the relatives we have to sit with, and yet we do it every year.

It’s a time when no matter how much we bitch about it, when we are at the table and can say a few words, we find that yes, we have at least something to be thankful for.

And if you find yourself at this time without anything to be thankful for, you’re in my thoughts and have my wishes for better times to come your way soon.

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Going On The Account: Blogtober – Look, Up In The Sky- Aw F#$&!

This is the ninth day of Blogtober, where I pay the price with my sanity for having  Speaker7 and Sips of Jen and Tonic con me into putting out content every day this month.

Geeze, I mean, Paul Krugman gets a few days off between pieces, you know…

Speaking of things to complain about, I’m going to warn everyone here that going forward there may be a few things in this piece that will be upsetting.  Most of it is conceptual discomfort, but there’s a little a bit of bad language as well…

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There’s this thought that’s troubled me for a few days:  Could Superman be an asshole?

“Why in God’s name are you wondering?” you ask.

The last few weeks here in the greater New York area have been an adventure, to put it mildly.  And part of the tapestry of disaster has been the continuing presence of Governor  Chris Christie, chief executive of New Jersey, who in addition to making the news for some of his political maneuverings (speaking of knowing how to tell which way the wind blows…) has been a force to be reckoned with in terms of handling the crisis.  Which coming a year after his famous plea in the face of Hurricane Irene has given him a reputation for being the right man in the right place at the right time.

I’m no big fan of the man, especially his anti-union position and his short sighted cancellation of a necessary rail tunnel project.  And even without these very good reasons not to like him, more often than not his demeanor is off-putting and discourages any potential empathy one could have.  And as we’re sitting on opposite sides of the table to begin with, it makes it that much harder to find common ground; about the only thing we share is an appreciation of the Springsteen song “She’s the One”

But you watch him in the middle of a crisis like this, and the first thing going through your mind is, “Thank God he’s here.”  Come the 11th hour, and the ten before that don’t count anymore.

And I find myself surrounded by lots of people who also can’t put up with the man, but can’t see anyone else they’d rather see at the tiller when the storms pick up.  And all of us who are feeling that, when we admit to those feelings, come to the same conclusion…

…namely, how much this reminds us of Rudy Giuliani.

Everyone remembers Mayor Giuliani’s handling of 9/11.  Most of the folk who call him “America’s Mayor” don’t recall Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, or any of the other ham-fisted “my-only-tool-is-a-big-hammer” policies he used for the other seven years and eight months of his term.  Heck, he and I share no Springsteen songs in common, especially since Giuliani threw out all of the Boss’ records he owned when “American Skin” came out…

But when you look back on those bad days in 2001 and ask, “Who would have been better?” and can’t answer that, it keeps you awake at night the more you consider the questions it raises.  Questions about what it takes to be the right person for a crisis when the shit gets real, what happens to the hero while waiting for the moment for that person to come forward, wondering if whether you could do as well or better were it you, why the good people you know never seem to be the ones tested should it all get royally screwed (while secretly hoping that moment never comes).
And that questions ultimately lead to the query, could Superman be an asshole?  Does the guy in blue and red with the big “S” on his chest become unbearable when he’s not putting Luthor in his place, keeping us from kneeling before Zod, changing the course of might rivers flooding over their banks, and whatever else needs be done on behalf of truth, justice and the American way?  If he didn’t have a Fortress of Solitude to get the hell away from us and stay there, would he be insufferable to be around?  Would he even know who Bruce Springsteen is…?

Given half a chance, would Superman be like we see him in SUPERMAN III?  All the fucking time, without needing synthetic kryptonite as an excuse to be a complete dick?  Would we find that all those covers and panels at Superdickery.com were not taken out of context?

Is there really anything in the real world to make me fear finding my superheroes are not all that super? Hey, the way Frank Miller took it out on Occupy Wall Street last year, it’s not exactly a baseless worry…

It’s enough to make you swear by Captain Marvel, had National Comics not sued his ass away for a while, the bastards…

At least until Brainiac shows up; and then, well…

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Going On The Account: Blogtober – Exclusive Listing: Sword, Well Balanced…

It’s Day Four of Blogtober.  I know that Speaker7Sips of Jen and Tonic, and I are phoning it in on our sites rather than going through the NaNoWriMo exercises that others may be trying, but is anyone else out there looking to do this as well?  We can’t be the only three people in North America crazy enough to do this.  And how hard is it really?  It’s not like you’re being asked to pay $300 to avoid going to Gettysburg, you know…

Speaking of payouts and money (and who doesn’t from time to time), there was one indelible image out of Sandy’s rampage that caught my eye early and stayed with me for much of the week:  There was a construction crane that was loosened hundreds of feet  above 57th Street, dangling over the streets, right near Carnegie Hall:

Location of crane accident

(Image compiled with assist from Google)

To give you some sense of how perilous this crane was, I took a few shots over the last few days down in the neighborhood:

This was the first indelible image that came out of the disaster, occurring hours before the flooding started and the lights went out.  It’s a raw visceral image that just makes your heart stop, watching the crane hang over the street, threatening to take out Carnegie Hall if the winds got under it just right.

Not to mention the impact (no pun intended, really) if that sucker just went into the street; close to a ton of steel from that great a height slicing into the middle of a major cross-island street, taking out a main way across town, and all of the support systems cities need to thrive, like gas and electric.  A block or two over and subway service might also have been stabbed in the heart.

The only good to come out of the crane incident is a chance to update an old joke:

Guy on street: “Excuse me, how do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

Cop: “Hey, not until we give an all clear; stay behind the line, buddy!”

(Though truth be told, the female officer assigned to crowd control from a downtown precinct I spoke to during one of these shoots would probably have been a lot nicer had that subject come up…)

What struck me as I watched this were not so much the immediate threats to the neighborhood, but how this came to be, for the project in question made the news much earlier for being a very high priced real estate transaction.

The new building, One57, is an exclusive luxury development that promises its occupants exquisite services in addition to convenience to midtown and, of course, great views.  The fact that the penthouse went to a buyer for $90 million shows what kind of upmarket buyers they were going for; the fact that over 50% of its units were sold by May indicates that there’s a lot more of them than we ever imagined.

Some of whom are claiming the economy is in bad shape in ads tied to the election; not so bad that they can’t afford a place at One57, it looks like, but…

The obvious simile one turns to is the tale of the Sword of Damocles.  People sort of remember the story, about a guy who was surrounded by riches on the couch but sat under a sword held up by a thin hair, ready to stab him at any instant, much like the residents of West 57th Street would have been threatened had they been allowed to stay in their apartments this week and not forced to evac.

But the thing of it is, Damocles was a hanger-on of Dionysius II of Syracuse (no not that one) who got to the couch by invitation of his host, who tried to make a point about how being rich ain’t all fun and games.  Dionysius certainly had a much better sense of obligation to his position than most of the tenants of One57.  One could argue that they ended up placing a sword over everyone that none of them feel the need to think about because their set up is less what one sees among Greek rulers of the 5thCentury BC and more like the French aristocracy of the 1740s.

One forgets that Carnegie Hall came into existence because steel magnate Andrew Carnegie wanted to give something back after earning so much.  Somehow, I don’t see any of the folks calling One57 their home going out and doing the same thing at any point in their lives…

Maybe I’m wrong; hell, I’d love to be proven wrong.  I’d love to hear that the owners of the 50% presold, including the proud owner of the $90 million penthouse, were getting together and contributing two months’ maintenance worth to disaster relief.  Rough back of the envelope estimate, that amount could probably rebuild Breezy Point, which desperately needs it, or fix damage on two houses in the Hamptons, which sure as hell don’t.

In the meantime, residents of the blocks evacuated are now allowed to come home, and the crane is being secured for removal as soon as they build a new crane to get rid of the old one.  With any luck, there will be no more swords placed above anyone’s head by these folks.

Just the usual that flies out the window on to the heads beneath them, instead…

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Going On The Account: Things Are Tough All Over

Apparently, piracy is not a recession-proof industry.

You have seven seconds to give your own version of the universal response to such a statement, a “Doy-hey!” for stating what on its face should be obvious…

 

But, you see, nothing actually happens in an economic setting unless an observer files an article or paper about it.  And between Business Insider and the Christian Science Monitor declaring the last month to be dismal, we can now state with confidence that piracy off Somalia is not as lucrative as it has been.  Between this and the US Attorney General getting a court to agree that an unwanted boarding can be ruled an act of piracy in the USS Ashland case, these are definitely lean times for pirates there.

 

Which, like all business cycles, is an inevitability.  Yes, there is a down side to all motions, a bust for a boom.  All we can do is try and stay on the ride long enough for the good part, then bail before it gets bad.  Pirates have lean and fat times, home owners see devaluations along with increases, stocks take hits with their rises, such is the cycle.  Hell, fourteen years ago, gold was going for $288 an ounce, and despite what some baboons have stated despite the foolishness they engendered, gold will well go down again barring an economy that shifts from following the Libor rate to one that determines wealth on how many shots you need to kill a rioter…

 

Do we want to see more pirates on the sea?  Frankly, this is a business I would not mind seeing go into transition.  If instead of pirates the men and women of Somalia could make a living by other, safer, legal means, that would be preferable.  Not that they should lose the lessons gained from such experiences, the subject of a post slated for September 19th, but to be honest, there are better ways to earn a living than getting shot at by a joint naval task force…

 

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PS:  Speaking of lean times, mention must be made of Byron Wilkins’ 1977 being a victim of the cycles mentioned above.  He’s stated that if he can, he’d like to continue, though that as of this moment is up in the air.  Which means that if you want to see his strip about a band of up-and-coming rockers from the 1970s have a chance to continue, now would be a good time to purchase some product from him; just sayin’ here…

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