Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I will be in New Hampshire this weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, but I would like to take a moment to wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday. Let's all take a moment to reflect upon the things for which we can be thankful this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Homophobia in New York

The experience of the majority of gay and lesbian New Yorkers in the bubble that is the Big Apple is comparatively easy compared to their brothers and sisters in other parts of the United States and the world, but a piece of homophobic graffiti upon which I stumbled on an iPod advertisement on the side of a phone booth on East 16th Street near the Coffee Shop yesterday afternoon once again shattered that ideal.

As a journalist, I am routinely reminded of the homophobia and other forms of discrimination gays and lesbians continue to face. I would like to think New York is a city in which homophobia does not exist. I would also like to assume the young people I suspect scrawled the graffiti are aware of the diverse city in which they live. Their actions are a stark reminder that homophobia remains alive and well... even in New York.

Monday, November 24, 2008

New England Blade's Swan Song

As speculation over the future of the New York Blade continues to grow among more than one gay media circles in Gotham, my EDGE colleague Joe Siegel posted a story on Friday that confirmed what almost everyone had concluded months ago: the former InNewsweekly has officially folded.

Former InNewsweekly editor Fred Kuhr hired me as the once venerable newspaper's New Hampshire correspondent more than five years ago. I had just completed my junior year at the University of New Hampshire and this hir launched my career in journalism. I owe much to the former InNewsweekly, and its demise at the hands of a greedy, incompetent and arguably corrupt publisher who bought the paper in late 2006 and drove it into the ground is a sad day for both its readers and LGBT media as a whole.

There is certainly no joy associated with what happened in the Hub. And the New York Blade's speculated demise would be an equally unfortunate calamity for almost everyone involved. The stark lesson remains, however, is karma brings its just desserts to those who arguably deserve it the most.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Marriage on the Horizon for LGBT New Yorkers

With the issue of marriage for same-sex couples in the forefront, JoAnn Shain of Marriage Equality New York expresses hope these unions will soon be possible in the Empire State in an op-ed posted today on EDGE New York.

Our nation made history on Nov. 4 when it elected its first African American president. Hope looms large that a visionary thinker with a progressive mandate will soon be the leader of the free world.

The reality of significant setbacks in our civil rights around the country tempered the elation so many in the LGBT community felt from Obama’s win. Most notable is the passage of Proposition 8 in California. Anti-gay marriage groups introduced this ballot measure in response to the California Supreme Court’s historic ruling in May that legalized same-sex marriage. Spurred by an 11th hour surge of money and support from the Mormon Church, Prop 8 effectively throws into limbo the newly minted marriages of nearly 18 thousand gay and lesbian couples in California.

Bigotry’s sting was felt in other states as well, namely Florida and Arizona, which approved their own anti-gay ballot measures. There are now 30 states with Constitutional bans on same-sex unions. Not to be outdone, Arkansas voters approved a measure designed to bar gay men and lesbians from adopting children.

The good news is that the East Coast is fast becoming ground zero for marriage equality. New York is virtually surrounded by neighboring jurisdictions that offer some form of legal recognition of gay relationships. Connecticut is now the second state after Massachusetts to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. New Jersey, Vermont and New Hampshire offer civil unions, a well-meaning but ambiguous legal construct which falls far short of marriage. Collectively, these states can be said to comprise a "gay freedom trail" of sorts. So where is New York in this mix?

Undeniably, our state has a long and proud tradition of bold leadership in many areas of civil rights. The village of Seneca Falls, for example, was the site of the nation’s first women’s rights convention in 1848, and became the birthplace of the women’s suffrage movement. Hundreds of New Yorkers traveled down South to help register black voters during the Freedom Summer in 1964. Two of them were murdered for their efforts. New York passed the most progressive abortion law in the country in 1970 that made the state a bastion of safe and legal abortions some four years before the Supreme Court enacted Roe vs. Wade. New York has been in the forefront of allowing non-biological parents to adopt the children they help raise with their same-sex partners through second parent adoption.

By contrast, New York’s leadership in equal marriage rights has been inconsistent, marked by both inspiring highs and disappointing lows.

Following Massachusetts’ lead, Lambda Legal brought a groundbreaking lawsuit against New York City Clerk Victor Robles in 2004 that sought the right to obtain marriage licenses for same-sex couples. State Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan ruled in favor of the case, Hernandez vs. Robles, in Feb. 2005. The jubilation felt by New York’s gay and lesbian couples in the aftermath of this stunning victory, however, was short lived because the decision was immediately stayed and quickly appealed by the city’s attorneys. The Hernandez case eventually reached New York’s high court.

The state Court of Appeals ruled against Hernandez, along with similar lawsuits from around New York, in a four to two vote in July 2006. With this decision, the court put the issue of marriage equality squarely in the hands of the state legislature.

Since then, steady progress toward full marriage equality for same-sex couples has been made in Albany. The Democratic-controlled state Assembly voted on and passed a marriage equality bill last year. Governor David Paterson ordered all state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the state in May. His directive gave New York the odd distinction of recognizing same-sex marriage without actually providing it for its citizens.

On Election Day, New York voters ushered in a Democratic majority in the state Senate. In doing so, years of Republican control of the Senate came to an end. This change has inspired renewed hope that the marriage equality bill, passed by the Assembly and supported by the governor, will come to the senate floor for a vote in the not too distant future. However, trouble is brewing in the ranks of the fledgling Democratic leadership. A small group of senators who oppose marriage equality are trying to block the rise of Malcolm Smith to the post of Senate Majority Leader. Smith is a staunch supporter of gay marriage who has vowed to bring the marriage bill up for a vote in the senate. Time will tell how this political maneuvering will play out.

If there is anything positive about the passage of Prop 8, it is the inspiring groundswell of support for same-sex marriage it has generated here in New York and across the country. In the past few days, thousands of people have turned out in cities nationwide to lend their voices to the ongoing struggle for full equality for gay men and lesbians. If this trend continues, LGBT New Yorkers have real reason to believe that The Empire State will once again be in the forefront of providing full civil rights to all its citizens.

JoAnn Shain is secretary of the board for Marriage Equality New York. She and her partner, Mary Jo Kennedy, were co-plaintiffs in the Hernandez vs. Robles case.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Queen Sofia Laments Gays

As I come to terms with my own mini-financial crisis, journalist and blogger Chris Crain notes on his blog Spanish Queen Sofia used less than flattering words to describe gay men in passages contained within Pilar Urbano's book "The Queen Up Close."

The Greek-born monarch said she failed to understand why gay men should feel proud to be gay. She also questioned why her fellow Spaniards choose to partake in pride celebrations around the country each year. The palace was quick to point out it feels Urbano took the queen's comments out of context, but I can only imagine the initial response of all those chicos con pluma in Chueca and Eixample towards their monarch. It would almost certainly be cause for another sangria and tapa at one of the innumerable Granadino bars at which I spent a great deal of time during the months I lived in AndalucĂ­a. Priceless!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pines Gay Power Couple Marries in California

I'm fighting a bit of a cold this morning, but attached is an article posted to the Fire Island News' Web site about porn impresario Michael Lucas' marriage to long-time partner Richard Winger on Oct. 30 in West Hollywood. Their wedding took place less than a week before California voters passed Prop 8. Lucas and Winger used their marriage to raise funds for Equality California and their campaign to block the amendment. The ever-press savvy couple plans to continue their fight against Prop 8.

Fire Island Pines residents Michael Lucas and Richard Winger certainly know how to make a statement. And this fall it included a very political love story… their wedding.

West Hollywood (Calif.) Councilmember John Duran married Lucas, president of Lucas Entertainment, and Winger, president emeritus of the [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] Community Center in lower Manhattan, in a ceremony in Los Angeles on Oct. 30.

The couple said they decided to tie the knot in California because New York does not recognize marriages for same-sex couples performed in the Empire State. Lucas and Winger added another reason for their decision is to draw attention to Proposition 8, an amendment to the state Constitution that sought to ban nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Voters approved Prop 8 by a 52 to 48 percent margin. Marriages for same-sex couples had been legal in California since June, and Prop 8 put a stop to them in the Golden State.

Lucas and Winger’s wedding doubled as a fundraiser for Equality California, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization, and it’s “No On Prop 8” campaign in the days leading up to the election.

"Of course our decision to get married is politically motivated," Lucas told the News in an e-mail. "We could have gotten married at any time in the past eight years…, but I think it's particularly important to do it now because of Proposition 8."

Lucas and Winger are the latest in a series of high profile gay and lesbian couples to marry in California ahead of Election Day. Ellen DeGeneres married Portia de Rossi at their Beverly Hills home in August, while “Star Trek” star George Takei married his long-time partner Brad Altman in Los Angeles in September.

Lucas was quick to condemn the vote—and especially those who supported Prop 8.
“California is full of rednecks and gay people should have fought more fiercely,” he said. “Unfortunately, the Christian right got more money for their ugly ads and conservatives got their way.”

The couple plans to celebrate their marriage at a gathering in New York later this month. Lucas added he feels Prop 8’s passage may provide a silver lining for activists in New York.

“On the brighter side, Democrats in New York won the state Senate,” he said. “What we lost on the West Coast may be a gain for the East.”

Friday, November 14, 2008

Activists and pundits discuss possible marriage timeline in New York

As the fallout over the passage of Prop 8 continues to unfold across the country, the movement for LGBT rights has turned to New York as the next state to potentially extend marriage for same-sex couples. The question as to when lawmakers in Albany will take up the potentially divisive issue remains somewhat uncertain with the economic crisis and the multi-billion dollar budget deficit, but activists and pundits with whom I spoke this week for my EDGE New York on the marriage timeline indicate legislators will most likely debate same-sex nuptials sometime in the spring.

As activists continue to lick their wounds from the passage of Proposition 8 and other anti-gay ballot initiatives, the movement for LGBT rights has begun to shift its focus to New York as the next state to possibly extend marriage to same-sex couples. Some observers caution, however, Albany lawmakers may not make gay and lesbian nuptials an immediate legislative priority.

Marriage Equality New York executive director Cathy Marino-Thomas said she expects legislators will debate the issue once they address the burgeoning economic crisis and pass a budget in the spring. She added she feels marriage will become a legislative priority if Democrats elect state Sen. Malcolm Smith [D-St. Albans] as the next Senate Majority Leader. Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., [D-Bronx] and a handful of other dissident Democrats known as the "Gang of Four" have raised objections to Smith’s possible election based, in part, because he supports marriage for same-sex couples.

"It’s really up in the air with this issue with Ruben Diaz," Marino-Thomas said.

WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer agreed. He added the economy will almost certainly remain the dominant issue in Albany in the coming months.

"People in the new Democratic majority won’t want to be seen as pushing through a social issues agenda that they may have to get out in front of their constituents on right away," he told EDGE in a recent interview. "Everybody is going to need to look like they’re dealing with an emergency that’s an emergency. When they get some big things done on [the economy,] they can then figure out where they can spend political capital on other things."

With a majority in the state Senate, Democrats control both legislative houses and the governor’s office for the first time since the Great Depression. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer introduced a marriage bill in April 2007. The Assembly later passed it by an 85 to 61 margin.

Governor David Paterson supports marriage for same-sex couples. And he issued an executive order in May that mandated state agencies recognize gay and lesbian nuptials legally performed in other jurisdictions, but Lehrer speculated some lawmakers who have publicly supported marriage for same-sex couples could have second thoughts as a result of Prop 8’s passage.

"I wonder if all the Democrats-or enough Democrats-would line up to pass it anyway only because as we saw in California, there’s still opposition out there in pretty liberal states," he said as he further questioned whether some New York politicians may take into account whether their constituents would support a vote in favor of legislation to extend marriage to gays and lesbians. "Even if there hasn’t been polling done in every district, they are maybe going to look at what happened in California and say hmm, am I going to put myself at risk at this time."

A Quinnipiac University poll conducted in June found 42 percent of New York voters said they support marriage for same-sex couples. Twenty-one of those surveyed said they feel the state should not legally recognize same-sex relationships.

Former ACT UP member Jay Blotcher expects Albany lawmakers will make marriage a priority next year. He co-organized an anti-Prop 8 protest against the Mormon Church on the Upper West Side that drew up to 10,000 people on Nov. 12. Blotcher added he feels activists will continue to pressure legislators to take action on this issue.

"There is a real groundswell of energy to bring to bear on Albany to move ahead on marriage equality," he said. "All the elements are there for marriage equality in New York State. I know at least 10,000 people who want to make it happen."

Marino-Thomas added she feels fallout over Prop 8 may actually benefit her organization and other New York activists.

"All of the attention being paid to the blatant discrimination... will ultimately help people better understand the issue and see it as the civil rights issue it is," Marino-Thomas said. "This can only help the movement in its entirety."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Prop 8 protest pictures and video

Channel 7 here in New York reported thousands of people took to the streets of the Upper West Side last night to protest Prop 8 and the role the Mormon Church played in its passage. The Associated Press was among the other news outlets to report on the march, but one curious observation is 1010 WINS covered it as part of its regular traffic report. The announcer kept telling listeners to avoid the area around Columbus Circle because of a protest. Strange indeed!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thousands Protest Prop 8 in Manhattan

Thousands of people took to the streets of Manhattan's Upper West Side tonight to protest Proposition 8 and the role they feel the Mormon Church played in its passage. Organizers estimated more than 10,000 people marched down Broadway and on surrounding streets shortly after 7 p.m., but some observers said more than 16,000 turned out. Attached are pictures and a video taken during the peaceful march.

My friend Andres Duque has also posted an account of tonight's protest on his blog Blabbeando.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Long Island Murder Highlights Impact of Hate Speech

As LGBT activists and their supporters continue to protest against the passage of Proposition 8 in California last week, a particularly gruesome murder of an Ecuadorian man on Long Island over the weekend serves as a particularly heinous reminder of the impact hate speech can have.

Suffolk County police say seven teenagers allegedly beat and stabbed Marcello Lucero, 37, to death near the Long Island Railroad station in Patchogue late on Saturday night. Officials indicate the teens came into the village from out of town to beat-up Mexicans" and other Latinos.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy was quick to condemn the killing, but an editorial in today's New York Times editorial page correctly points out his long-standing opposition to undocumented immigrants in the county. His anti-immigration rhetoric has strained the county's relationship with its growing Latino population, but Levy is far from alone in his arguably misguided attempt to scapegoat others from their own bureaucratic and municipal failings.

Lucero's murder is an all too obvious tragedy that highlights the much broader societal problems that still exist in this country around race, class, immigration status and other identities. Barack Obama's election last week has given many hope the steady stream of rhetoric against those on the margins of this country will abate, but Lucero's death is a stark reminder there is much work left to be done--and this task includes those in California who continue to use the N word and other racially inflammatory language and rhetoric to scapegoat black voters for Prop 8's passage.

Monday, November 10, 2008

LGBT Community Must Blame Itself, Not Blacks, for Prop. 8

There has been much discussion from within the progressive movement and especially the movement for LGBT rights about the role people of color played in Proposition 8's passage in California last Tuesday. And activist Jasmyne Cannick ignited a firestorm of controversy with a scathing op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 8.

Below is a commentary written by long-time source and activist Herndon Davis that examines some of the issues Cannick and others have raised in recent days with regards to whether the campaign to block Prop 8 did enough to influence black Californians . The debate will obviously continue to rage as those within the campaign examine why it failed and LGBT activists and others across the country continue to take stock of what happened, what else could have been done and even demand arguable accountability.

LGBT Community Must Blame Itself, Not Blacks, for Prop. 8
By Herndon Davis

As a black and openly gay advocate/activist and resident of Los Angeles, I watched as Prop. 8 in California, which now allows for a legal ban against same-sex marriage within the state, was voted into reality. I also watched how within 24 hours many LGBT activists squarely placed the blame on black residents who voted 70 percent in favor of the measure.

I further watched and read how black gay protesters who were against the same-sex ban and in favor of same-sex marriage were called the “N” word during a demonstration march in Westwood.

And finally, I've read how blogger Jasmyne Cannick was assailed by everyone from City Councilman Duran of West Hollywood to fellow LGBT bloggers for her recent Los Angeles Times commentary concerning race relations within the LGBT community and its effect upon Prop 8.

My advice to the LGBT community, the organizers of “No on Prop 8,” the many different LGBT funders, and the remaining members of the “Gay Mafia” is that they should take seriously the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic factors of black and people of color communities as it endeavors further in its marriage equality quest.

As a advocate, activist and now a consultant within the LGBT arena, I can tell you from personal experience, there is a deep arrogance and belief among many within the LGBT community that black communities should instantly whip onto the civil rights bus for the LGBT community just because we too are a minority.

In some corners of our diverse LGBT community there is a blatant disregard for culture, religion, and the oppression of other racial and ethnic groups. Many working class black and Latinos are struggling to pay rent, put food on the table and dodging bullets to lift their eyes up from their burdens to see a reason and a connection to the white faced and seemingly privileged LGBT to support marriage equality.

These are points, issues and big chunks of truth that the LGBT community seems ill-prepared to tackle. In this new age of Obama, there still lies ahead a much deeper conversation concerning race relations that LGBT communities seem to quickly shy away from. So instead of focusing anger towards black communities, the LGBT community must seriously take a long, hard look at itself. Here a few things for starters:

1. For Prop 8, why couldn’t the LGBT community get the queen of all American cities, San Francisco, to vote in higher numbers on such a crucial vote?

Also please remember that blacks consist of a tiny six percent of California's total population. So this means that far, far more millions of non-black people voted YES to ban same-sex marriage than black folks. So why all the rage against black people?? Why not rage instead against the Castro district or the Bay Area that did NOT vote at all!

2. Why in Los Angeles were there seemingly six radio advertisements an hour to vote 'No on Prop 8' during the morning run on the Latino 96 FM station but absolutely none on the black 102.3 FM KJLH station or the black and notoriously homophobic, 106 FM radio?

Where were the funds for the media outreach there? Again, not fully funded or fully staffed by the LGBT powers-that be.

3. Why was there only [one] town hall that I know of that was held targeting African Americans in Los Angeles? And why was there less than five black people across the entire state of California trying to coordinate a 'No on 8' campaign targeted towards the black community?

Again black and people of color community outreach has been historically and consistently under-funded and understaffed by the LGBT establishment.

By the way the town hall conducted in Los Angeles was held just two weeks before the election at the mostly white and wealthy campus of USC in the middle of rush hour at 6:30 p.m. and required $8 to park then walk to the building where it was being held.

So why not hold it at a community center in Compton with free parking at 7:30pm maybe six weeks before election with follow up town halls in Lemiert Park , West Adams, Watts, Gardena , and in other areas South Los Angeles? I guess that was too much work to do for the LGBT community to earn the black vote on such an important measure.

4. And where was the door-to-door neighborhood canvassing and phone banking directly targeting black communities?

I know of only one organization in the entire state of California that initiated a phone banking activity a few days before the election directly targeted towards Black communities. I am not aware of any door-to-door canvassing specifically targeting black neighborhoods for 'No on 8.'

Again, under-funded and understaffed, but still the LGBT community expected the black vote on Nov. 4. A bit naive don't you think?

5. Also where was the outreach to black affirming clergy to assist with black churches in California ?

Yes I am fully aware that there was some work done in this area just two weeks before the election, but again it was not fully funded or fully staffed enough to make a significant impact.

6. And why on earth did the LGBT community expect to run a few advertisements in historically black newspapers in California just two months before election to sway voters? Think about it.

After all these years in existence then suddenly the LGBT community places public educational advertisements hoping black folks would help and support on Nov. 4. I don’t think so. It takes much more of an effort than that to earn the black vote.

7. And finally, where was the all important “ask” and with it the justifications of “why?” Again there is this blanket assumption that all black folks will do black flips onto the civil rights bus for gays and lesbians. Think again.

To reach black and people of color communities it will take a well thought out and fully FUNDED and fully STAFFED strategic plan, time, and patience.

Remember blacks went from slavery to 'separate but equal' to desegregation to tolerance to gain. Blacks for instance still lag behind in many areas of social justice although we have all of our rights.

From under-employment, under-education, income inequities to literally driving-while-black, African-Americans still face steep odds despite a black man heading to the White House.

So if the LGBT community would like to continue to compare itself to the Black civil rights struggle, it may want to readjust its timeline a bit. It has taken several hundred years for Blacks in this country to go from slavery to President.

Could it be that the LGBT community may have to just wait its time as well? Maybe not hundreds of years but perhaps a whole lot longer than previously expected?

These are just a few things for all of us to think about going forward as we have marriage pending in New Jersey, New York, Iowa, and possibly D.C. and of course California.

Herndon Davis is media consultant, author, TV/Radio Host. He can be reached directly at and

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Reflection on a Historical Week

What a week it has been!

The image of Barack Obama, his wife Michelle and their daughters on stage at Grant Park in Chicago on Tuesday night is one that will remain with me for the rest of my life. I, like undoubtedly millions upon millions of people in this country and around the world, simply stood with tears in our eyes to watch the new president-elect. Times Square took on a carnival-like atmosphere with thousands of people celebrating Obama's election. Hope had once again returned to a country whose people had arguably languished through one of the most inept and incompetent administrations the United States has ever seen. Those gathered in Times Square were waving American flags, singing the national anthem and other patriotic songs. Hope had once again returned to a largely cynical and weary people.

It must be noted, however, millions of Americans actually lost rights on election night with the passage of Proposition 8 in California, Amendment 2 in Florida and others in Arizona and Arkansas that banned marriage for same-sex couples and un-married couples from adopting children. Prop 8's passage was a particularly bitter defeat for the movement for LGBT rights. Activists will arguably have to do some soul-searching in the coming weeks in their post-election analysis. A handful of the questions those within the movement and the broader LGBT community will arguably ask themselves include whether Prop 8 opponents implemented an effective campaign, whether they did enough to engage people of color and other key constituencies and even whether the overall strategy around marriage for same-sex couples remains viable.

The passage of these amendments on Tuesday is an extremely unfortunate blemish on what was otherwise a historic day for this country. Obama's election brings hope and promise to millions upon millions of people who had previously felt shut out of the arguable ideals upon which this country was built. And let's hope this promise and hope will include all Americans in the coming administration.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New York rejoices Obama's historic victory

It's nearly 5:20 a.m. and I just filed my election story for EDGE about local reaction to Barack Obama's historic election as the country's next president. It frankly all seems so surreal. I spent the night at the LGBT Community Center in Greenwich Village, Room Service in Gramercy and finally in Times Square with thousands of eccstatic New Yorkers and others from around the world.

Fellow reporter Michael Luongo and I knew the cheers and honking horns we began to hear as we walked up Sixth Avenue in Chelsea meant Obama had secured enough electoral votes to win the White House--and my friend Paul in Boston confirmed it with a phone call a couple of minutes later. Reporters are trained in journalism school to remain objective in their coverage and to provide fair and balanced coverage of all sides of a story. Tonight was different.

I became emotional as I watched Obama make his speech in Chicago. I joined others inside Room Service who began to clap for a man who is now the first man of color elected to the White House. And at one point all I could do was put my arm around my Fire Island News columnist Bruce-Michael Gelbert and soak in the moment with tears in my eyes.

The election not only represents an arguable bold exclamation point to end Bush Republicanism, but it amounts to what many hope is a monumental change in American politics and the United States. Those changes will make themselves known in the coming weeks, months and years, but the majority of Americans will arguably wake-up proud of the monumental step forward their fellow citizens took by electing Obama as their next president.

Tisha Riley of Crown Heights, right, watches the results trickle in at the LGBT Community Center in Greenwich Village with friend Mo George

New York Times captures the mood of many in Times Square

Boy in Bushwick captures scene in Times Square around 1 a.m. today

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

America Votes

With my sausage McMuffin and coffee in hand, I made my early morning trudge to the my local polling place and cast my final vote in the longest and arguably most important presidential election in which I have participated. It is an unseasonably mild early November morning here in New York, but the thing that stands out is the unprecedented turnout.

WNYC reported long lines at polling places in the East Village, Inwood and other neighborhoods across the five boroughs before I left my apartment around 7:30. The British Broadcasting Corporation just reported an estimated 135 million people will vote today and I read an e-mail from someone on a list serve of which I am a member that he expected to wait more than two hours to vote in Alexandria, Virginia. I didn't expect a long line in Bushwick, but a bustling but largely efficient scene greeted me at my polling place. I waited a couple of minutes before I entered the booth to vote. I finished and nearly a dozen people (mostly white 20-somethings who had probably just moved to Bushwick) were waiting on line. This queue is the first I have seen in my neighborhood. It moved rather quickly, but this scene is almost certainly indicative of a myriad of others across the country.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bushwick Gentrification and the Election

Perhaps it was only a matter of time, but I was curiously stunned at the sight of a sign outside the former Scatturo supermarket on Knickerbocker Avenue yesterday that announced new condominiums and retail space would open on the once violence and drug-riddled street by March 2010. Gentrification has arguably arrived in full force within my immediate 10-block radius. The steady influx of former Williamsburg hipsters on 10-speeds, musicians trudging from the Jefferson Street L train stop with their instruments on their backs and even a handful of Vespas on my block were the early signs of this trend that continues to transform once undesirable parts of Brooklyn and large swaths of the five boroughs. But I guess this new project in the heart of what was once known as "the Well" because of the seemingly endless supply of drugs makes it all the more official...

On a more partisan note, voters will officially end the longest presidential campaign in American history tomorrow. The long and arduous election cycle has been for us journalists, bloggers and partisan junkies (Isn't sarcasm great?!?!?). The broader public, however, will arguably breathe a much awaited sigh of relief. Things will return to some resemblance of normalcy in a country frightened by the economic crisis. And Americans will arguably look forward to Thanksgiving, the holidays and other non-partisan endeavours.

Finally, those of you who may want to reach out to me can e-mail me at