Wednesday, June 18, 2008

L Train cool, and Mickey Spillane's Gilligan

Dance Review - Black Humor, Pageantry and Absurdity For Lunch - The Doorknob Company performs "The Miracle Show and the Death of OPTIMISM", which offers chant and dance in Bowling Green. The Times gives it a rave. As Good As News offers no review. Minor obstacles, like not having actually seen the performance, would not deter us, but our dance editor is in Saratoga Springs. Review or not, we point out highlights for some of our favorite readers - you know who you are. Note the:
- orange traffic cones marked "FUNERAL";
- smiley face dunce caps;
-all caps "OPTIMISM"; and best of all
- use of the mantra "Just because you take the L train does not make you cool."

Judge Sharply Dismisses Former Gossip Writer's Suit - Jared Paul Stern, a former gossip writer, sued the Daily News, Bill and Hillary Clinton, a secret service agent, a public relations consultant (sorry, As Good As News regulars, it was not the fabled Norah Lawlor), a reporter and a grocery store magnate (this gang should not go on a three hour cruise together - sounds like someone is planning a Gilligan remake), claiming they had conspired to damage Stern's reputation, defamed him and inflicted emotional distress upon him. Yesterday the complaint was dismissed. Judge Sharply noted that the complaint, although it read like a Mickey Spillane novel, failed to allege specific facts. Normally plaintiff would get a chance to amend the complaint and continue the suit. In this case Judge Sharply dismissed with extreme prejudice, stating that Stern, a Page Six freelancer once accused of extorting funds from the grocery store magnate, had no reputation to lose (well, no good reputation) and thus could not have been damaged, regardless of any new facts Stern might allege. Stern spoke to a group of reporters after learning of the decision:

Judge Sharply just ran over me like I was standing in front of the fire exit when the alarm sounded. Who named this guy judge, jury and executioner? Who named this guy Sharply, the sign on his desk said Justice Tolub.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New (York) Classic

Things you might not have done yet if you visit NY only once in a while -

Now, Tenement Museum Reflects Irish Immigration - "The museum was established in 1988 in 97 Orchard, an 1864 brick building, and attracts 130,000 visitors a year. The building is a time capsule of primitive bathrooms and windowless passageways. In 1935, the building’s owners sealed off most of the 20 units rather than make changes to meet new housing codes."

The Tenement Museum furnishes individual apartments using the carefully researched history, and in many cases artifacts, of a real family that once lived in the building. Each apartment, each family, is from a different ethnic background and time period. The addition of the Moores, Irish immigrants, and their apartment, circa 1869, brings the total to six furnished apartments. Although not heavily publicized, the Tenement Museum is an As Good As News favorite.

Tony Awards Do No Favors for CBS - Out-of-towners - Just in case you are one of the billions who did not watch the Tony Award show, just in case you have realized there are so few new shows each year that any turkey can win a Tony, just in case you didn't want to bet your life savings and a once a year (or a decade) visit to NY on a miserable Broadway experience - take heart. You don't have to wait for the next revival of Oklahoma. This years big winners are winners.

In The Heights is an evening of fun and emotional connection - a new entrant in a long Broadway tradition. Think Fiddler On The Roof with rap and salsa, set in a neighborhood where assimilation and gentrification threaten to erode a culture. August: Osage Comedy is a moving drama with comedy so black it's scary. Seen em already? Rock n Roll is the ever-entertainingly intellectual Tom Stoppard with graphics and rock amping up those feelings he might have missed. If you are willing to put with a slight headache as the price of a forced march into the world of women's choices, then give Top Girls and Elizabeth Marvel a chance, even though the Tony's did not.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Taste of Roosevelt Island Life Without a Tram? The Taste Was Doughnuts

Roosevelt Island Journal - What Is Life Without a Tram? Residents Are Getting a Taste - Tram service is suspended for ten days beginning this Monday for cable maintenance, a prelude to a six-month suspension next Spring for a major overhaul. No tram means extra crowding at the Island's subway station (pictured). "I don't see how we're going to function next year, " said one Island resident, "It's already a nightmare."

In 1980 a crowded subway would have been a dream, not a nightmare. These were pioneer days, when residents of Roosevelt Island foraged every morning for roots and berries (well that's what we told our friends - there was a Shopwell even then). There was no subway, just the tram and a small bridge to Long Island City, Queens. See "Survivor Prequel - Life On An Island'.

The tram was scheduled for a week of maintenance downtime in 1980, 0r perhaps early 1981. Buses would meet us at the Island tram station, drive North on Roosevelt Island, East across the little bridge into Queens, South through Long Island City, West across the Queensborough Bridge, then deposit us at the other tram station on 59th and Second Ave. in Manhattan - a five minute view filled tram ride turned into a forty minute traffic filled grind.

Management saw opportunity in the maintenance break and seized it. Nighthawks, in which Sly Stallone saved NY from terrorists holding the tram and its passengers hostage, would shoot during the maintenance break. For the first several days of the break in tram service, we were treated to free coffee and doughnuts, courtesy of the movie production company, and the exciting possibility that we would see Sly, Billy Dee Williams, Rutger Hauer or Lindsay Wagner (aka the Bionic Woman).

Sadly, the movie shoot wrapped, at least at our location, the coffee and doughnuts ended and the "maintenance" break continued. We continued to wait, and jounce on that bus through Queens, for a part that never came. After a few weeks management gave up, large trams were not mass produced -apparently the inventory of key parts was, well. non-existent. Tram service was restored and the maintenance was postponed until the part (apparently not a critical safety component) could be fabricated.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

And the Winner Is...Mugabwe er Montclair Myopia err Travelling?

American Aid Is Seized In Zimbabwe - Government officials in Zimbabwe confiscated American food aid, then distributed the food to supporters of President Mugabwe at a political rally. Mugabwe, who lost the election held months ago, announced, against all evidence to the contrary, that his challenger had not received the requisite 50%, thus triggering a second, run-off election. Now, in an aggressive move that puts Zimbabwe in the forefront of a tough race, Mugabwe is hijacking international relief to help his own reelection campaign. The race that matters here is not Zimbabwe's Presidency. Mugabwe will simply announce his victory when the time is ripe, the balloting is irrelevant. The UN General Assembly and African leaders (perpetually reluctant to criticize any tactic, no matter how inhumane, that keeps an incumbent in office - because they never know what they are going to need in their next election) will accept his Presidency as legitimate. No, the race that matters is the exciting contest to grab the number one spot in Foreign Policy Magazine's Index of Failed States. Despite tough competition from perennials Sudan and Iraq and a surprising upset bid from Kenya, Mugabwe now has Zimbabwe well positioned to grab the top slot.

In a Place of Racial Tolerance, Reflecting on the Long Road Traveled - Today's "Our Towns" covers the recent debut reading of Foot Soldier: The Don Miller Story - which triggered memories of 1960's racial integration in ----As Good As News is, once again, shocked, Montclair, New Jersey. There is nothing seriously wrong with this particular story, but the Times Montclair Myopia is incurable. Consider the Times coverage of efforts to save the Scotch Hills Country Club clubhouse in Scotch Plains, NJ from destruction. The club, pictured above, was once the Shady Rest Golf and Country Club, the first African-American country club, home course to John Shippen, the first native born American and first African American to play in the US Open. Shady Rest was also an African-American cultural mecca, hosting such luminaries as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Joe Louis, Althea Gibson, and Newark’s own Sarah Vaughn. Scotch Plains has announced plans to raze the building in order to construct a senior center. Preservation New Jersey has designated the site one of its ten most endangered. If you missed the extensive coverage of this story in the Times, don't worry, so did everyone else.

Donaghy's Charges Weigh On a League - Tim Donaghy, the gambling ref, is not happy about his sentencing and he'd like to take some of the NBA brass down with him, accusing the league of telling officials to favor one team over another in a 2002 playoff game between LA and Sacramento to keep the series alive and the big market Lakers in the TV picture. NBA Commissioner David Stern is dismissing Donaghy as a self-promoting sour grapist, but hold the phone Mr. Stern. The play in the NBA is so fast that on most nights every call seems like a judgment call and the judgments often look bad on replay. Commentators unhesitatingly point to an imbalance in foul shots as evidence of a home court advantage or a bad night on the part of the refs, no one seems to accept the possibility that the refs were great and one team just fouled a lot more than the other. The NBA seems to have only two simple, inviolable rules that are always called consistently - a player who makes three or more all star teams earns a perpetual exemption from travelling and charging calls. Even if Mr. Donaghy is blowing smoke, it wouldn't hurt the NBA to work harder at consistent, uniform enforcement, maybe even simplify some of the rules that lead to repeated and difficult judgment calls. See William Rhoden's column for a similar, but more detailed, reaction.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Will The Real J. Geils Please Show Up

Can Rice Lead to Gold? Marathon Will Offer Test - The world is bashing the US for contributing to high grain prices by using corn to produce ethanol fuel, but this trend is not going away. Running shoe guru Hitoshi Mimura has designed a new shoe for ASICS, blending ground rice husks into the sole. The husks absorb water, increasing traction by 10%. A rice umbrella that will absorb water and double as an upper body strength training device is already on the drawing board and ASP (Association of Sake Producers) warns that these innovations can only trigger staggering price increases in an already tight market. In a related story the Rumpelstiltskin Society has claimed that ASICS "Rice to Gold" ad campaign infringes on the "Straw to Gold" motto the Society has used since its founding in 1837.

Austen's Inspiration - A portrait of Thomas Lefroy, the inspiration for Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy, goes on sale at a London antiques fair. The real Lefroy dumped Austen after a flirtation to marry an heiress. Meanwhile Christie's auctions a selection of artifacts from the James Brown Collection, including a "Sex Machine" belt buckle. The NY Times receives full credit for combining Mr. Darcy with the sex machine belt buckle. Three related stories ran separately on the same page. R. Kelly will take the fifth in his trial on statutory rape charges. A NY court bars 50 Cent from selling the lot he owns on Long Island, the lot where the home of his son and former girlfriend was recently destroyed by arson as Mr. Kelly was striving to evict them. The J. Geils Band announces a reunion concert on July 3 in Boston Common featuring greatest hits like "Love Stinks".

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tase Before You Shoot, Some Real Flower Power, Scandalous Video, Sophia Loren and More

Report on City Police Shootings Urges More Use of Tasers Before Guns - Commissioner Kelly explains that the new tase before you shoot approach will payoff with immediate benefits for the NYPD, because it is just so much easier to hit a target that's already been stunned. This will avoid embarrassing media circuses, like the flap that followed the fifty shots fired in the Sean Bell killing, not to mention the savings on ammunition. From now on its one slug per suspect, err perp. Even the perp who's lucky enough to survive and get off on some ridiculous technicality ("I was unconscious when they read my Miranda rights", typical lawyer bs) will think hard before doing anything to trigger another meeting with the NYPD.

Net Providers to Block Sites with Child Sex - NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is one busy beaver, lining up a settlement with three Internet providers to block access to kiddie porn on Usenet. Besides reminding New Yorkers of the burning Cuomo question -what will Andrew run for next if Hillary retains her Senate seat - the story depicts Usenet as the back alley of the Internet, once new and shiny, now little used and seedy. Sounds like a renewal project that calls out for Disney. Today's Times Square may be antiseptic, but it's not seedy.

Loyal to Its Roots - Professors Susan Dudley and Amanda File discover the sea rocket's ability to recognize related plants. When surrounded by non-relatives the sea rocket aggressively sends out nutrient grabbing roots, when among family the sea rocket restrains itself. Picture a plant army marching across the plains, sparing friend and starving foe. Scary. All further research in this area has been classified, but leaked satellite photos show religious fundamentalist from several sects reading sacred texts to camps of young sea rockets - sunlight, food and water follow readings from the holy book -darkness and near-fatal doses of weed killer follow readings from the texts of other faiths. Darwin's Origin of Species serves as a stand-in text for the godless.

Another Scandalous Video, Another Apology - No wonder Amy Winehouse uses drugs. Her husband, the inaptly named Blake Fielder-Civil repeatedly tells her he's not recording as she croons a racist lullaby and a few hours later the video's gone viral. Get a new husband before you try rehab again Ms Winehouse. In the meantime As Good As News will continue to chase every headline using the magical words "Scandalous Video", no matter how thin the resulting post.

New DVDs - Deneuve and Loren Still Haunt the Screen - As Good As News has absolutely nothing to add to the linked story - an observant review of two less than exciting boxed DVD sets. As with "Scandalous Video", As Good As News will chase Times photos of Sophia Loren, even when the resulting post is nonexistent.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Red Wine Slows Aging - A Controlled Experiment

New Hints That Red Wine May Slow Aging - OK, I know this is from yesterday's paper, but did you really expect me to post without experimental verification? I established the parameters of a simple experiment - daily doses of red wine, each followed by a short waiting period and a daily photo to record aging or lack thereof. I set the initial dose at one-half bottle of Chianti. Unfortunately I consumed the entire dose before realizing that the most promising results had been obtained using French wine. After repeating the initial dose with an inexpensive Burgundy, I decided to fill the waiting period before photo 1 productively, with a short nap.

I awakened, or at least felt awake, right on schedule, only to encounter a news story about a Frenchman scaling the tall, erect NY Times building with his bare hands. Although it seemed starkly real, I knew this story could only be a Burgundy and Time's blogging induced dream. Reluctantly, I took another short nap before proceeding with photo 1.

Seemingly waking again, the first sounds to reach me carried the news that a second man had scaled the Times while Hillary Rodham Clinton ended her campaign. Even in my dream I knew I must be dreaming, but the juxtaposed images were frightening, the reality of the newscast extraordinary. Skipping photo 1 altogether, I proceeded directly to the second dose, then turned to further library research, reviewing the work of Dr. Lenny Guarente at MIT. It seems that I can simulate the sirtuin genes into anti-aging activity with resveratrol, which I can extract at home to ensure appropriate quality control and avoid the dreamlike side effects. Will now proceed using revised experimental parameters.