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November 30th, 2008


by John Coakley

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated a 40% increase of new HIV infections in 2006, with 53% of new cases among men who have sex with men and 45% among African Americans. To make matters worse, New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released a report which suggested the rates of HIV infections among New Yorkers are three times higher than national rates.

What does this mean? It means that no matter your sexual preference or racial identity, you had better know your status. The good folks at Gay Men’s Health Crisis are offering free testing in Manhattan and Brooklyn on Monday, which happens to be World AIDS Day. There are a number of other events on the day itself and the days following, so click here to see what else is going on. And click here if you want to consider volunteering in a variety of capacities. We’re in this together, folks. AIDS is still a huge problem in New York, and knowing if you’re HIV positive or negative (and acting accordingly) is a big first step in becoming part of the solution.

Free HIV testing
Monday, 12/1/8
Brooklyn: Brooklyn Public Library, Cadman Plaza & Eastern Parkway. 10am—4pm
Manhattan: Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers Street. 11am—3pm

Filed Under: Community | Events | New York | Politics | Take Action

November 27th, 2008


by John Coakley

Enjoy your jellybeans, popcorn, and toast.

Filed Under: Community | Events | New York | Take Action

November 24th, 2008


by Ed Gold

I was sitting across the dinner table from him.

Newt Gingrich was pontificating about ancient history. He was the teacher and we were all students, although the table was occupied by a mix of famous people and top editors of Time Magazine, the writer excepted.

We were at a Time Magazine anniversary celebration. People who had made the Time cover had been invited. That included the writer and feminist, Susan Brownmiller, someone I had known for 40 years, who asked me along.

It was 2002, and I asked Gingrich if he was interested in being president. He said probably not in 2004, but who could tell about the future.

It seems now as if he has his eyes on 2012, and recent evidence indicates he’s trying to capture the right-wing base of the party. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | New York | News | Politics

November 23rd, 2008


by John Coakley

When people started noticing that their friends and family members who smoked dropped dead a lot earlier than those who didn’t smoke, the tobacco companies met up with the good folk on Madison Avenue to create some of the most audacious advertisements this country has ever seen. And we’ve seen a lot here. This exhibit is a good reminder that no matter how reassuring their ads may be, you should never, ever trust a purveyor of addictive goods—or a drug dealer, as the kids say these days. Most definitely worth a look.

“Not a Cough in a Carload: Images Used by Tobacco Companies to Hide the Hazards of Smoking”
Through Dec. 26th
New York Public Library, Library of Science, Industry and Business
188 Madison Ave, at 34th St
Mondays 11am-6pm, Tuesdays through Thursdays 10am-8pm, Fridays-Saturdays 11am-6pm

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | Events | New York

November 22nd, 2008


by John Coakley

Apollo Heights plays White Music for Black People. No, that isn’t a callous summation of their status as black musicians making indie rock, that’s the name of their much-lauded debut album: White Music for Black People. It’s a sarcastically reductionist title for an album that sounds like nothing you’ve heard before. It’s a heady brew of Cocteau Twins style shoegazer and trippy psychedelica, with more energy than you’d expect from either genre. Their new EP, Everlasting Gobstopper, takes things even further. Get there early to catch Your 33 Black Angels, who also bring the serious rock power. Please note: the times listed below are approximate—you can pretty safely add half an hour to the times Mercury Lounge lists online and still see your band. You should go.

Mercury Lounge
217 E. Houston St. (corner Ave A & Houston)
Apollo Heights 10:30
Hollands (EP Release) 9:30
Your 33 Black Angels 8:30
The Electric Mess 7:30
Thomas Bryan Eaton 6:30

Filed Under: Articles | Events | New York

November 20th, 2008


by John Coakley

After much struggle, scores of deaths and billions in damage, the radioactively mutated Dora the Explorer was finally contained. Photo by ishot71
Thanks to Mommy Poppins for the heads up.

You can still call yourself a New Yorker if you’ve never been to the Statue of Liberty or to the top of the Empire State Building, but every true citizen of our fair city has to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons inflated at least once before the title New Yorker is truly earned. The wondrous and surreal feat is accomplished outside of the American Museum of Natural History on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. It usually begins at 2pm or 3pm and work continues until 10pm. You should enter at 77th St. and Columbus to get a good view. Be there around 6 if you want to get in front of the cameras and jump around like an idiot.

And if you want to actually see the parade on Thanksgiving Day, staking out a spot on Central Park West in the 60s is the recommended way to go if you want to avoid the serious crowd-crush.

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | Events | New York

November 17th, 2008


by Joelle Panisch

Fortress Global Investigations, a nationally distinguished private investigation firm, announced on October 27th the launch of the Fortress Innocence Group (FIG), an initiative to investigate and gather evidence for cases of wrongful conviction in collaboration with aiding law firms. Fortress Global Investigations President and CEO and former Manhattan persecutor, Robert Seiden, made the announcement standing side by side with his new partners— Martin Tankleff who was recently exonerated after 17 years in prison, and Jay Salpeter, the private investigator vital in securing his freedom.

The Group plans to conduct a strict appraisal of potential cases before accepting new cases, including one or multiple polygraphs, in depth questionnaires, and the evaluation of evidence and procedures. The Fortress Innocence Group hopes to be funded by private donations and public grants, and will work with experts within Fortress Global Investigations as well as private investigators across the United States, forensic experts, and former prosecutors and law enforcement.

“This is an unprecedented event in the history of the American criminal justice system,” said Seiden. “[It] will undoubtedly have an impact on the lives of innocent people wrongly convicted and may well shed much needed light on some of the inherent flaws [in the system].”

Perhaps the most compelling words were Mr. Tankliff ‘s, who celebrated a joyous anniversary of exactly 10 months since he was released from prison. “In many ways it’s just an epiphany,” said Tankliff. “Today is a day when I can make a difference for innocent men in the future.”

Also supporting FIG was New York State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, Senator Eric Schneiderman, and ‘exonerees’ Alan Newton, Dave Sheppard and Dr. Ruben “Hurricane” Carter.

For more information on the Fortress Innocence Group call (516) 466-0176 or toll free at (866) 791-206 or go to

Filed Under: Articles | New York | News | Politics | Take Action

November 17th, 2008


by Ed Gold

No autographs, please: Palin at the Republican Governor’s Conference in Miami.

The Republican governors gathered in Miami recently, still suffering from the concussion their party received on Nov. 4, recognizing the seriousness of the injury but showing very little understanding of how they might recover.

A collection of 2012 wanna-bes was on hand, conspicuously headed by the gunslinger from Alaska, and including at least three other ambitious governors—Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

Leaving aside the Barracuda, the other three have all succeeded politically, thanks to tight economies, good personalities, and sadly, loyalty to the cultural base of the party. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | New York | News | Politics

November 16th, 2008


by John Coakley

Bush: will not be missed.

Unsurprisingly, the Bush administration is doing what it can to make our society as regressive as possible before we kick its collective ass to the curb. Case in point: new regulations that severely weaken the Family and Medical Leave Act. Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, says it better than I could so let’s give the floor to her:

“It’s disappointing that the Bush Administration in its waning days would undermine a policy that’s so vital to working families. Among other things, these new regulations will make it harder for employees to take FMLA leave and easier for employers to deny it. The United States lags far behind most countries in protecting the jobs of workers who have caregiving responsibilities or who happen to fall seriously ill. There could not be a worse time than during a serious economic downturn to ask workers to choose between their job and a family member or their own health. Rather than watering down these important family supports, we should be working to expand them. Congress and President-elect Obama will have to add these regulations to the ever-growing list of compassionless Bush Administration policies that must be reversed.”

Quite so. Rep. Maloney will be joined by NYC Councilmember Jessica Lappin, NOW-NYC Chair Noreen Connell, Francine Moccio of the Institute for Families and Work, and other women’s leaders tomorrow at a news conference to protest this shining example of why Bush won’t be missed. Join them, won’t you?

Monday, 11/17/8 @ 10:30 AM
City Hall Steps
Centre St. between Worth and Pearl

Filed Under: Commentary | Community | Events | New York | News | Politics | Take Action

November 14th, 2008


by Joelle Panisch

Marcello Lucero.

Thanks to Michael O’Neill for the heads up.

The November 8th murder and alleged hate crime of 37 year-old Ecuadorian Marcello Lucero in Patchogue, LI, has garnered local and national review of Suffolk County policies and practices, especially regarding immigration. Allegations of the intentional denial of hate crimes and of legislation that some believe is knowingly designed with loopholes to allow for immigrant harassment and to veil racially motivated crimes has stemmed suppositions of impropriety among Suffolk County legislature and County Executive, Steve Levy.

Overt blame is hard to prove but Levy, in his second term, has long been scrutinized for stewing a climate of hate and potential attacks. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Community | Events | News | Politics | Take Action | the Hamptons

November 13th, 2008


by John Coakley

Trump SoHo: do you want this kind of thing going up on the Bowery?

Thanks to Rob Hollander for the heads up.

The Bowery, as we all know, has a rich history of inhabitants that ranges from turn of the century immigrants to skid row transients to punk rockers. Like so many other parts of Manhattan, the Bowery has been infested of late with tall residential towers that seem to be aimed squarely at the young, urban professionals who can afford them, thus making the character of the neighborhood less distinctive by the day. Fortunately, the west side of the Bowery has been protected via the rezoning of the Little Italy Special District and the NoHo Historic District. Unfortunately, the east side receives no such protection; the recent East Village/ Lower East Side Rezoning protects the area just east of the Bowery but not the street itself. The City Council will vote on whether or not to extend these boundaries to include the whole of the Bowery on Monday, which gives all of you until tomorrow morning to send them a quick email telling them that you’d like to see this historic street saved from the yuppification that continues to influence the look and feel of our city. The email addresses and a sample letter are included below: Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Community | New York | News | Politics | Take Action

November 11th, 2008

MY HAPPY GUN @ FONTANA’S: 11/13/8 @ 10PM.

by John Coakley

Highly unprofessional though it may be, I am going to promote My Happy Gun, my own band. There are three big reasons for doing this:

1. We rock.

2. The show is not in Brooklyn or Queens or Midtown but in the LES, on Eldridge Street—mere minutes from SoHo.

3. This will be my last show playing with them. They will no doubt find someone who can play rings around me and reach untold levels of fame and notoriety, so see us now while you can in Fontana’s before that happens.

Openers Obi Best and Juliette Commagere are worthy of your attention as well. Plus we’ll have a full moon that night, which means you’ll have an acceptable excuse for that extra drink or three. You should go.

105 Eldridge St.
Show @ 8pm, My Happy Gun @10pm

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Events | New York

November 7th, 2008


by John Coakley

Billy Pumpkin, as they call him across the pond.

When I first saw the Smashing Pumpkins at the Roseland in the fall of 1991, they were second on the bill—before the Red Hot Chili Peppers but after this obscure Northwestern band called Pearl Jam. They were doing their version of the loud/quiet rock thing—as powerful as Nirvana but with a more sinuous, feline grace. Billy goaded the largely frat-boy audience by telling them that the crowd in Philly rocked way harder than they did. He was a petulant, ego-maniacal jerk but his band rocked so well that it didn’t matter. What was odd was seeing a band that was underground a year before play to an audience that resembled the people who kicked the band’s ass when they were in high school. It was a little disheartening. But then I saw one beefy dude in a ‘CUSE! baseball hat stop knocking skinny alterna-boys to the floor when Siva slowed down. As if floating on the gossamer chord’s of Billy’s guitar, the pride of Syracuse University closed his eyes and sang along:

Sprinkle all my kisses on your head
Stars full of wishes fill our beds

Then the song roared back into overdrive and I got out of his way.

Last night I saw the Pumpkins play a show at Washington Heights’ United Palace, a 3,800 seat church that also hosts concerts. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | Commentary | New York

November 6th, 2008


by Joelle Panisch

Mermaid, 2008

Eli Klein has scored one of the most propitious artistic talents emerging from China’s growing scene. Zhang Peng is still in his 20’s yet has received global acclaim for his photographs and paintings. A passing viewer best summed up his works as “hello kitty girls meet the devil.” It is that severe but definitely not that simple. Peng’s harsh images of young girls in suggestive settings is not unique because it avoids trends but rather because it utilizes many of them, employing a precise recipe. Shock art isn’t new, nor is the exploration of innocence and exploitation. Neither is art that depicts China’s national obsession with all things Western. But in his combination Peng does something right. It’s violent, fascinating, and appealing. It is art that will make you ponder.

To learn more about Zhang Peng and to read his Artist’s Statement click here.

Zhang Peng: Fascinating Beauty
November 8th though January 5th
Opening Reception Saturday, November 8th 6-9pm.
Eli Klein Fine Art
462 West Broadway

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | Events | New York

November 5th, 2008


by Joelle Panisch

The historic nature of this election has echoes reaching every facet of our society, probably in more ways than we can understand in the present. Art has always been a reflection of society, and the spur of inspiration has rendered beautiful results.

Eliabeth Peyton, born in 1965, is an American contemporary artist who rose to fame in the 90’s for her idealized paintings of subjects that range from pop celebrities to European monarch. At the time she was even credited for reviving the tradition of the portrait, which had been declared “dead” by some art critics. Her reflective pieces couldn’t be more pertinent during this groundbreaking epoch.

Adding to her exhibition, “Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton”, is a soft and powerful portrait of ‘First Lady Elect’ Michelle Obama and her daughter Sasha sharing a moment of humility and glory. Michelle and Sasha Obama Listening to Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention August 2008 astutely explores the big and the small of the 2008 election by contrasting the Obamas as a symbol for breaking race barriers with them as individuals. It radiates humanity, captures the tone of the election precisely, and is a brilliant addition to her collection.

Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton
New Museum
235 Bowery
Weds., Sat., & Sun., 12-6pm, Thurs. & Fri., 12-10pm
General Admission: $12

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | New York

November 5th, 2008


by John Coakley

An indisputable majority in the popular vote.

An even bigger majority in the electoral college.

Control of the House and Senate.

A classy, quick concession speech from McCain.

No month-long investigation into Republican voting shenanigans keeping us all in a heightened state of anxiety.

Sarah Palin on the next moose back to Alaska.

That’s what I call a good election day.

Filed Under: Articles | Community | New York | News | Politics

November 2nd, 2008


by John Coakley

Sure, Halloween is over, but that’s no reason to skip the best vampire film to come by in years. Let the Right One In tells the story of Oskar, a 12 year-old boy growing up in the Stockholm suburb of Blackeburg in 1982. Oskar is bullied at school and has no friends; his divorced mom has a hard time getting through to him and his father lives far off in the country. Fortunately, a new girl has moved in right next door. She’s Oskar’s age and carries herself with the confidence that he lacks. They’d be the perfect puppy love couple, except for the fact that the girl, named Eli, lives off of other people’s blood. That is why she doesn’t go to school, why she and Oskar always meet up in the empty, snow-covered courtyard of their apartment building at night, and why she never wears a coat when she comes out. When Oskar eventually learns Eli’s secret, he is forced to decide whether to stand by his girl or shun her.

This is a film that could have gone wrong in so many ways, but consistently stays on course. It’s hard to capture the nuances of childhood on film, especially the awkward age of 12. Throw first romance, first experiments with sex, and serious moral dilemmas into the mix, and you have a film that Hollywood would not have touched with a 10 foot stake. Their loss, our gain. This is a beautiful film that balances revulsion and scares with characters that are too complicated to be mere villains or heroes; even the bullies have sympathetic moments. Let the Right One In is well worth enduring the Angelika’s subway noises for. Indeed, the sound of rumbling trains only added to the eerie desolation of a Swedish winter. You should go.

Let the Right One In
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Sweden, 2008
Rated R
114 minutes

Now playing at the Angelika
18 W. Houston Street
12:15 PM, 2:45 PM, 5:15 PM, 7:45 PM, 10:15 PM

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | Events | New York

November 1st, 2008


by John Coakley

Governor Paterson recently told the Daily News that charities “are going to become the replacement for what government is supposed to do.” At the same time, Paterson is ruling out an increase in taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers to help close the budget gap.

Oh really? Mary Brosnahan, Executive Director of the Coalition for the Homeless, put it best: “Apparently Governor Paterson’s version of shared sacrifice is similar to that of George Bush: demand sacrifice from the poor and nothing from the most affluent.” In other words, if you’re rich, maybe you should sacrifice a bit by paying more taxes since you aren’t in a position to need services like Medicaid, though apparently lots of other people do—applications increased by 30% between December of last year and April of this year. And that was before the economic crisis. In other words, this is not the best time to cut services across the board, especially if you aren’t going to raise taxes for those who can afford it.

90 non-profit agencies got together and sent Paterson this letter in response to his plans: Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | Letters | New York | News | Politics | the Hamptons