Friday, December 29, 2006

Those James Brown viewing pics in full

I have to start this post with the groan-inspiring words: James Brown's body lies a-moldering in the Apollo, but his soul goes marching on! Here, via Gothamist, are the Great Man's remains, and also a truly magnificent shot of the Reverend Al Sharpton — no further comment necessary!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

James Brown lies in state at the Apollo Theater

The green marker shows where I am; the red marker indicates the location of the Apollo Theater. So James Brown's funeral procession just passed by, and they have now taken his gold coffin out of the horse-drawn caisson and people who have been lined up since midnight are now starting to file past inside the Apollo.

The hearse is ahead,
But after there follows
A troop of streetwalkers
In wide flowered hats,
Leg-of-mutton sleeves,
And ankle-length dresses.

There is an air of great friendliness,
As if they were honouring
One they were fond of;
Some caper a few steps,
Skirts held skilfully
(Someone claps time),

And of great sadness also.
As they wend away
A voice is heard singing...

— Philip Larkin

Update: as I walked back afterwards on West 127th Street, I passed an old man at the 'bad' house on the block, who was hunkered down on the sidewalk taking a dump. I didn't really look too closely, but as I walked by, he said, "this shit is fucking killing me.”

A dramatic number of dead

How far would anyone go to escape poverty?

From the BBC:

About 6,000 African migrants have died or gone missing on the sea journey to the Canary Islands in 2006, Spanish immigration officials say.
They say more than 31,000 migrants reached the islands in the Atlantic - more than six times as many as in 2005.
The Canaries is one of the most popular destinations for Africans trying to reach Europe to escape poverty.
"We're talking about a dramatic number of dead," Froilan Rodriguez, the Canary Islands' deputy director of immigration, told Spain's Cadena Ser radio station.
Mr Rodriguez said that about 600 bodies had been picked up on the shores of the Canaries and the African mainland in the past 12 months, but the total of migrants killed had been about 10 times higher.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

She keeps it in her checking account?

As Londoners may talk about the weather, New Yorkers talk about real estate. With real estate goes the name Barbara Corcoran, founder of the real estate brokerage, the Corcoran Group. She sold it for $66 million. What did it feel like to be suddenly $66 million wealthier?

"The best thing that happened was when I went to my Citibank cash machine on Madison Avenue and 90th Street in my neighborhood two days after the sale. I went to get my $200 out that I get out every two weeks for my $200 pocket cash, and I always push the button, 'do you want a receipt?' 'Yes.' And when the receipt came out, my account balance was over $50 million and that was thrilling.

I showed it to everybody else in the cash line. I couldn't contain myself. I said, 'Look at this, look at this.' I mean, I was looking around, it was such a weird feeling, who do you show it to? Nobody was with me that I knew so I showed it to everybody there. I think they thought I was a nut job, a New York nut.

I immediately went next door and bought myself a big breakfast -- eggs Benedict, fresh squeezed orange juice and a side order of toast and coffee. I went whole hog for breakfast with that little receipt in my hand. And I gave the waitress a $20 tip.

I kept that receipt, needless to say. I have it at home in a little picture frame in my clothes closet in my bedroom. I smile at it every morning as I reach for my shoes."

[As told to Lauren Elkies]

Jesus turned water into grape juice

Prohibition, the era from 1919 to 1935 when the manufacture, possession, transportation and sale of alcohol was hilariously banned in the United States, represented the greatest triumph of the Prohibition Party, the "oldest third party" in the country after the Republicans and Democrats.

Of course, Prohibition failed the U.S: there resulted a massive wave of organized crime, enormous wealth for the bootlegging Kennedys, and many of the social problems associated with drinking actually increased because drinking went underground. It was 1935 before Prohibition was repealed — 16 years of social engineering by the federal government on behalf of people whose politics probably included a commitment to small government.

All so long ago. So it has come as a surprise to find that the Prohibition Party is alive and well in a dry township in eastern Pennsylvania, and that the party (all seven and a half members, it seems) "has nominated a candidate for president in every election since 1872..." Above is a snapshot of some of their recent campaign badges — everyone will remember how White House hopefuls Dodge and Kelly (don't they sound like an interesting dive bar?) nearly beat incumbent President Bill Clinton...

Prohibition is long gone. And Christmas is gone as well for another year — good riddance. See you on New Year's Eve at Dodge and Kelly's...

The Prohibition Party remains a moralistic and puritanical organization, even to the extent that some members have sought to prove that when the word 'wine' is used in the Bible, it really means 'grape juice.' Thus is the dilemma of the biblical literalists, who claim to read only the words of the good book and their straight-forward meaning: but when a word like 'wine' gets in the way of the point they want to shove down everyone's throat, they start to dig for a way to show that Jesus turned water into grape juice. Everyone knows it was cranberry juice.

Let's go down to Dodge and Kelly's for a vodka and cranberry or six...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Fully lit!

"From inside a Long Island train at night, each passing light show looks like a blow against cynicism, an act of pure generosity."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Accepting the Statelet, part II

The Irish Independent reports:

"Another group of senior IRA figures, including one who controls one of its most lucrative rackets, have left the organisation in the North over recognition of the PSNI.

The Tyrone-based senior IRA man runs a tax-exemption certificate racket responsible for raising huge amounts of money for the IRA going back to the Eighties. His is the second departure from the IRA's Army Council this year.

The other is a west Belfast man. Both are former prisoners. Both were appointed to the Army Council last year after Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Martin Ferris had stepped down to facilitate talks on entering government with the DUP."

I wonder why it took so long for (major) splits to show in the republican facade. Also, if people are starting to wear away at the edges, what exactly might they now hope to achieve? It seemed patently and blatently obvious from, I suppose, the signing of the Good Friday Agreement that though they somehow presented it as a famous victory on the road to a united Ireland, the peace process is a defeat for the IRA and for Sinn Fein, and not just any old defeat worthy of a scowl and a pint and a muttered "Our Day Will Come," but a defeat that puts the 'RA out of business for good.

I cannot imagine that even an attempt to revive the armed struggle ('Destroying the Statelet') would mean anything other than the Brits wiping them out in a matter of weeks — Tony Blair today has anti-terrorist powers that Thatcher might only have dreamed of. And few nationalists and republicans in Ireland would even accept a return to armed struggle. Think of how bomb scares would feck up the traffic on the way to the shopping malls!

I really do hope that one day in my lifetime there is a united Ireland, as partition sucks and is a reminder of our stupid historical inability to stop fighting over whatever-it-was-we-were-fighting-about. But sometimes no matter how you look at things, you still catch a glimpse of dreary steeples.

Man in Santa outfit is beaten up

Where else are the crudest and most mean-spirited impulses of humanity impervious even to the season of good cheer? — Northern Ireland, of course.

From the BBC:

A man dressed as Santa Claus has been treated in hospital after he was beaten up in Londonderry.

The attack happened on the Lone Moor Road in the city on Thursday.

Thomas McGilloway, who is 42, was kicked and punched by a gang of youths and had to be treated in hospital for an eye injury.

Mr McGilloway was on his way to deliver presents when the attack happened. His mother said she thought he was attacked because of the Santa outfit.

She said he was walking to his brother's shop when the attack happened.

"A crowd came over to him and started on him, just out of the blue," Mrs McGilloway said.

"They said 'get you out of that, you're no Santa Claus, there's no Santa Claus in this world'.

"They kicked him and he came home all battered up."