Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The view from Jefferson Street

It's a balmy, but beautiful Wednesday morning here in Bushwick. The fog bank that enveloped the neighborhood on Monday afternoon is a distant memory.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Has the Donald Trumped Palin?

Whatever happened to Sarah Palin?

Levi Johnson’s new memoir will certainly ensure the former Alaska governor and her family—think Willow and the homophobic-laden messages she posted to her Facebook page last fall—will garner even more headlines. Will anyone actually notice? And more importantly, will anyone even care?

Palin’s assertion she was the victim of “blood libel” following the Tucson massacre certainly didn’t help her possible 2012 presidential campaign. The hype surrounding Donald Trump’s potential White House bid, however, has accomplished what Palin’s critics could not—her spits and spats and tweets and Facebook posts no longer dominate the hyper-saturated news cycle.

A Trump spokesperson said earlier this month that the Donald plans to announce whether he will run for president during the season finale of “Celebrity Apprentice” on May 22. Anyone who suggests that Trump is a serious presidential candidate is at least somewhat naïve—he has a reality show to promote after all! This ego-fueled side show, however, ensures that a former Alaska governor with a knack for social media is no longer the only media-savvy kid on the block vying for attention.

Stay tuned…

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fog bank envelops Bushwick

A fog bank suddenly enveloped Bushwick and other coastal areas of Brooklyn, Queens and the South Shore of Long Island around 5 p.m.

The Manhattan skyline is normally visible from the roof of my building here on Jefferson Street. It was nowhere to be found, however, when I shot this clip about 20 minutes ago. The fog bank also caused the temperature to plummet nearly 20 degrees in roughly an hour.

The Manhattan skyline as it normally appears.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday in Bushwick

It was a beautiful day to plant a vegetable garden and stroll through the park. The cooling sea breeze arrived around 3:30 p.m., but it was still a gorgeous Easter Sunday here in Bushwick.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A bully wants to become friends on Facebook

Since when does a bully actually want to become friends on Facebook?

One of the people who tormented me as a teenager in Manchester, N.H., actually sent me a friend request yesterday afternoon. I laughed out loud and rolled my eyes when I read the message in my inbox. The larger implications, however, remain all too real.

This person made their request a few hours after a New Jersey grand jury indicted former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi with bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and more than a dozen other charges after he allegedly videotaped his roommate having sex with another man in their dorm room. Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge last September.

I honestly don’t know how this person reacted to Clementi's death and the rash of other LGBT teen suicides last fall that tragically underscored the problem of bullying. I honestly don’t know whether this person understands the impact their words had. I honestly don’t know whether this person even realizes that I could have easily become one of those statistics.

I don’t need this person’s apology because I have moved on with my life in New York City and elsewhere. I obviously did not accept his friend request, but I cannot help but wonder whether this person has children of their own. If so, I wish they never have to experience the same bullying to which their parent subjected me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Has anything changed since the Gulf oil spill?

What, if anything, has actually changed since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and caused the country’s largest oil spill?

Watching the burning oil rig on television from Bushwick was surreal. The images of oil-coated wildlife, contaminated marshes and barrier islands and tar balls on beaches from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle were horrifying. The partisan back-and-forth over the response to the disaster was infuriating.

There was some concern that oil from the Deepwater Horizon could potentially reach Fire Island if it were to enter oceanic currents. Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy stressed to the Fire Island News last June that his administration was preparing for the “worst-case scenario.” This “worst-case scenario” thankfully did not come to pass on the beach. The Gulf Coast was obviously not so lucky.

One can certainly make the case that the disaster proved the need for this country to further invest in renewable energy sources—although the Japanese earthquake and tsunami clearly demonstrate the calamitous potential of nuclear power. It is crucially important to acknowledge, however, that the Deepwater Horizon explosion killed 11 people. The subsequent oil spill also dramatically disrupted a way of life along the Gulf Coast. This legacy could last far longer than a country’s collective memory.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Postcards from the Pearl of the Danube, part three

Our time in Budapest was preciously short, but here are five additional snapshots from the beautiful Hungarian capital.

I posted a story to the EDGE Media Network late last night about the Hungarian Parliament's approval of a new constitution that includes a ban on marriage for same-sex couples. I plan to write additional stories about LGBT activism in Hungary, Budapest's gay scene and the Széchenyi Baths for EDGE and other publications in the coming days and weeks. Stay tuned...

A sausage stall in Budapest's Central Market on Friday, April 15.

The view from Rókusfalvy Fogadó's terrace in Etyek on Sunday, April 17.

An Etyek vineyard on Sunday, April 17.

Menza in Budapest.

Kávé (coffee) at Menza in Budapest.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bushwick in the Hungarian countryside?

One can find reminders of home in the most unlikely places--including Hungary!

The producers of "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" constructed a New York streetscape from the 1990s at Korda Studios outside Budapest. The loading docks are reminiscent of the Meatpacking District before models, celebutantes and those who either love or hate them made the neighborhood so damn trendy. The run down factories with dated advertisements on their brick facades; the apartment buildings adorned with cast iron fire escapes and a local bodega, however, are genuine slices of Bushwick in the Hungarian countryside. The only thing missing from this set are the increasing number of hipsters who continue to penetrate deeper into the neighborhood, but one can certainly argue their absence is not necessarily a bad thing.

Postcards from the Pearl of the Danube, part two

The Hungarian Parliament building from Buda Castle on Saturday, April 16.

The Hungarian Parliament building from Buda Castle on Saturday, April 16.

Buda Castle on Saturday, April 16.

Inside Matthias Church at Buda Castle.

Inside the Buda Castle's labyrinth.

Slicing bread at Essencia's cooking class on Saturday, April 16.

The Széchenyi Baths on Saturday, April 16.

A circus of sorts across the street from the Széchenyi Baths.

Buda from the Palace of Arts' roof on Saturday, April 16.

Ötkert’s bathroom’s doors.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kávé and Dobos in the Guilded Age

The only journalists who were at the aptly named New York Café on Friday, April 15, were six writers from the five boroughs and their Hungarian guide. It was easy, however, to imagine journalists, artists, intellectuals and other Budapest literati sipping kávé (coffee) while enjoying dobos and reading Le Monde or La Repubblica in another era.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Postcards from the Pearl of the Danube

Even though today's weather in Budapest was far from ideal for sightseeing, the Hungarian capital certainly proved itself as the Pearl of the Danube.

Today's itinerary included a welcome reception at the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus, lunch at Onyx Restaurant and a tour of the Hungarian Parliament building. A special thanks to American Airlines for a comfortable, non-stop flight from New York to Budapest.

The Danube River in Budapest from American Airlines 158.

Buda Castle from the Pest side of the Danube.

Peppers anyone?

Onyx Restaurant's parsley cream soup with roasted potato, sour cream and trout caviar.

A memorial outside the Hungarian Parliament building pays tribute to those whom Soviet troops killed as they crushed the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

Inside the Hungarian Parliament building.

A Herendi porcelain vase inside the Hungarian Parliament building.

The Hungarian Parliament's meeting hall.

Looking from the Hungarian Parliament Building towards Lajos Kossuth Square.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The view from Jefferson Street

Taken around 9:30 a.m.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fire Island 2011, part 1

Started writing at 5:09 p.m. on Sunday, April 10, while on the dock in Cherry Grove.

The first time back on Fire Island after a long, cold and snowy winter is always a homecoming of sorts. April weather on the beach can be downright bone-chilling, but Fire Island slowly comes back to life as the month progresses. Residents prepare their homes for the season. Restaurants, markets and other local businesses begin to open on the weekends--and eventually on weekdays. And the ferry companies gradually add more boats to their schedules. Hope certainly springs eternal before the hordes of renters, shareholders and eventually daytrippers arrive.

Becoming an uncle on March 26, the increasing amount of time I spend in Washington, D.C. with my boyfriend and our trip to Chile in January are three of the many reasons why this off-season was particularly eventful. Fire Island, however, is one of the handful of places where I truly feel at home. And it is truly wonderful to return to the beach for another season.

Happy New Year!

A sign of things to come in Cherry Grove.

The ferry docked in Cherry Grove.

Forsythia bushes in bloom on Bayview Walk in Cherry Grove.

Looking through the reeds in Cherry Grove.

Looking towards the Pines from the end of Bayview Walk in Cherry Grove.

A bulkhead replacement project is well underway in front of Hotel Ciel and the Blue Whale in the Pines.

Overlooking the Pines harbor from Hotel Ciel.

Snow fencing around the Ocean Walk beach access in Cherry Grove.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The view from Jefferson Street

When will spring finally arrive in Bushwick once and for all?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Does Cathie Black tarnish Bloomberg’s education agenda?

Today is obviously not one of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s best days, but this flyer that just arrived in the mail here in Bushwick provides a rather ironic reminder that education reform will remain an essential part of his honor’s agenda.

Whether teachers, administrators and politicians will take his honor seriously in the wake of Cathie Black's brief; but tumultuous tenure, however, is another question.