Friday, December 01, 2006

Pope Benedict in hand motion sensation

Hey, look, it's my hand.
Yeah, it's my hand again. You like it?
Hey everyone! Look at my hand!
And here's the other one! Cool, huh?

Bing-bong! Subway stories

Last night I went to visit a friend in Chelsea and eventually, very late (4:30 am), decided to take the train back to Harlem, with him going deciding to go visit a friend and accompanying me half of the journey up the Upper West Side.

There was a smiley old homeless man near us in the carriage, who shortly after we boarded, dropped his crack pipe and made a mad dash to grab it before collapsing into fits of giggles when he saw me grinning at his embarrassment.

That was all the introduction he needed, so he leaned over and said to me: "Son, would you like a Spiritual Reading?" I declined, but off he went.

"Let's see... you're an Aries."


"What part of the year were you born?"


"I knew it! Before the 15th... right?"

"No, January 29th!"

"Ok, Ok, so let me see... the illness you have, the one you saw a doctor about... He told you there might not be a cure, isn't that right?"

"I'm not even sick!"

Chez Moy

"For some reason, Northern Ireland produces poets the way the Dominican Republic does baseball players."

Apparently, even Cookstown.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ireland is world's number one country

Ireland is the best country in the world in which to live (didn't they say this last year?), according to the Economist. The news has been greeted with customary restraint in Dublin, see image above.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Affects everything

I am increasingly fascinated by money, the getting of it and what it means to Americans and this society. That may sound like a very strange sentence, but there are times when I read about money in the Times or more especially, in the Authorized Version, the Wall Street Journal, that I feel like an alien reading about what another life form believes to be their salvation. For many Americans, there has never been a better time to get rich really fast than now. If I lean out my window, across this small patch of Harlem I can hear construction sites in every direction. People are fixing, building. Something's up. It's a good thing, don't get me wrong. But somehow it stinks too.

Wealth was often a topic when I was a little kid growing up in Ireland, not of the cold, hard cash variety, but another kind of wealth nearly as important to many Americans:

To lose one's wealth is much,
To lose one's health is more --
But to lose one's soul is such a loss
That no man can restore.

Times of great prosperity and intense religiosity seem to me to be kind of special moments in human history, not least because one would expect one to cancel out the other. If you are spiritually rich, what's the need for stacking up cash? If you're loaded, wouldn't you be too busy with material enjoyment to ponder the afterlife. I know I am somewhat being simplistic here, but generally, missionaries go from developed countries to poor parts of the world where people in poverty are at very least glad of some attention. (Anyone from Ireland will be all too familiar with what might lie behind a seemingly innocent question like: "I say, would you like some soup?")

I'm not sure where I am going with this, but anyway... I'll continue carping away about this as time goes by.

Curious George

From comes this:

'American involvement in World War II lasted exactly three years, eight months and one week. As of today, the American war in Iraq has lasted exactly three years, eight months and one week. There is of course no other equivalence.'

I thought that George W. Bush was monstrous from the moment he said he would run for President, and in 2000, on election night, in Tap-a-Keg on Broadway, I predicted that the bastard would enter the White House with only one real aim: 'How do I get to invade Iraq?' I don't know why I saw this. I just somehow smelt or sensed that he was a fraud. Everything this man touches, he ruins. Everything he says, is lies. All that is solid, melts. Living under the rule of another monster hundreds of years ago, Andrew Marvell wrote:

But Thou, the War's and Fortune's son,
March indefatigably on;
And for the last effect
Still keep thy sword erect:

Besides the force it has to fright
The spirits of the shady night,
The same arts that did gain
A power, must it maintain.

And there's more: I came across this image of a Fox News moment which dates from last March. Apparently someone at Fox, presumably someone high up, decided that the supposed civil war in Iraq had been invented by the 'left-wing media' as usual.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Scenes from an aftermath

Saturday's shooting in Queens dominates local news here in New York City... Comparisons are immediately drawn with the 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo in the Bronx by cops who fired 41 shots at the unarmed African immigrant. But many things have changed since then, not least, the mayor, who is no longer prize asshole Rudy Giuliani, but the rather more skillful and perhaps even humane, politician, Michael Bloomberg. Here are some scenes from the aftermath.

The club (above) where an undercover cop, believing a group of guys were going to nearby Liverpool Street get guns from their cars to do some damage, fatefully radios for back-up, saying: "It's getting hot on Liverpool for real." I have to confess that though I tried to have a drink in every licensed establishment in the five boroughs, Club Kalua is one I missed.
For anyone who has been to New York via JFK in the last five years, you would have unknowingly passed very close to the scene of the shooting on the AirTrain. The AirTrain's Jamaica Station (above) was hit by one of the 50 shots fired.
Sean Bell and fiancee Nicole Paultre, not married after all.
Reverend Al Sharpton (above) has taken charge of the on-going but relatively muted protests. The Guardian newspaper reports that "New York is on edge" after the shooting, which is a massive exaggeration. It might be more accurate to say "Some New Yorkers have heard about the shooting." Somehow the potential for race riots after an incident like this seems very, very remote nowadays, unlike ten or fifteen years ago.
Above: Nicole Paultre, fiancee of Sean Bell.

Even the ethnic backgrounds of the five cops who fired, coincidentally gives pause when compared with other torrid incidents in NYC's past. Amadou Diallo was an unarmed black man shot by four trigger-happy/nervous white cops. In this incident, two cops are black, two are white, and the fifth cop, who some sources say fired the first shot, is Latino.

Yes, race still matters enormously in New York and Everywhere, U.S.A., but something has changed for the better, which I think is that there has been a big increase in the professionalism and service rendered by (some) city goverments. There was a time when New York City had a police commissioner who told a woman who was scared about a series of rapes that she looked like the type of woman a rapist would go after.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

"Yo, get my gun"

Not just another night out in New York City: Saturday morning, about 4am, undercover cops fire 50 shots in a matter of seconds at about-to-be-married Sean Bell and his friends as the left Bell's stag party in Jamaica, Queens, after another undercover officer suspected that the groom-to-be and friends might be about to 'heat things up' themselves. The incident is confusing to say the least, and makes for gripping reading, via the New York Times.

"Again and again, the focus of the day returned to the number of bullets that went flying down the predawn streets of Jamaica. One of the officers fired more than half the rounds, pausing to reload, and then emptying it again, 31 shots in all, according to the police."

Though the only constant is change, it is comforting to know that the incident will allow Reverend Al Sharpton to grandstand endlessly and drone on and on about the importance of the Reverend Al Sharpton.

Of course, Queens, NY, is no stranger to bizarre deaths...