Slowly, the small group of demonstrators approached
the soldiers...

Who Pays for the MTA? — The Brooklyn Rail

May 7, 2009   -     -  

Like the man says, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Unless the State Legislature intervenes, on May 31, facing a more than $1.8 billion budget gap for 2009, the MTA will hike the base fare for NYC’s subways and buses to $2.50. That one-day Metrocard will now cost you $9.50; a month will run $103. And there will still be brutal service cuts: among other changes, the W and Z trains will vanish from the rails, and late-night trains will run even scarcer. Even with these draconian changes in place… the MTA was still anticipating coming up short by $600 million in 2009. Read more…

Tales From the Other Side: Berger’s From A to X — The Brooklyn Rail

March 6, 2009   -     -  

The setup is simple. One prison closes, another opens. The prisoners are transferred. A packet of letters is found. Well, three packets. You’re sure the rules of the game are simple but they remain perpetually obscure. The letters aren’t in chronological order. Some were sent to Xavier, the prisoner; some were never mailed. “A’ida obviously chose not to refer in her letters to her ongoing life as an activist,” John Berger tells us in his introduction. “Occasionally, however, she couldn’t resist what I suspect to be a reference. This is how I interpret her remarks about playing canasta. I doubt whether she played canasta.” Read more…

Community Planning in NYC — City Limits

January 5, 2009   -     -  

“Community planning” is the sort of innocuous, agreeable phrase that rarely evokes more than a yawn, the province of over-credentialed technocrats. To Tom Angotti, it’s a rallying cry for those left dispossessed and disenfranchised by what passes for New York City’s municipal land use planning process – most residents, by his lights. Read more…

Making Our Votes Really Count — The Brooklyn Rail

October 10, 2008   -     -  

As term limits and elections loom—with much of the current City Council scheduled for eviction in 2009—Mayor Bloomberg (along with more than a few members of the council) has indulged in an achingly long flirtation with the idea of repealing the limits that stand between him and a third term. But New York’s democracy also faces important long-term structural challenges. Read more…

Maybe Beloved Shops Don’t Have to Disappear — City Limits

July 21, 2008   -     -  

At the liquor store, on the shelf behind the register next to the Johnnie Walker Red is a photo of a rally held on the sidewalk out front in early May. In the photo, people display handmade signs reading “Save Our Shops.” In addition to trying to hold on to community mainstays, however, some of these agitators are looking more broadly at what can be done to retain the familiar… Read more…

Paying Today’s Rent Leaves Little to Spare — City Limits

June 23, 2008   -     -  

Springtime was full of grim news for New York City renters. In April, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner released an analysis showing that more than 500,000 New Yorkers are spending half or more of their income on housing. In May, the Community Service Society expanded on that observation with a report showing the trend that a growing number of lower-income residents are dedicating an ever-greater fraction of their income to rent. And last week—as if to prove the point—the Rent Guidelines Board approved the highest rent increase for rent-stabilized apartments in years… Read more…

Why ‘The Other Half’ Lived — And Lives On — City Limits

May 19, 2008   -     -  

In his autobiography, Jacob Riis tells of being so inspired by a sermon from a local preacher that he considered abandoning journalism and becoming a minister himself. “We have preachers enough,” was the advice he received. “What the world needs is consecrated pens.” He took this to heart. “Then and there, I consecrated mine,” he wrote. Year later, Riis would refer to his slideshow lecture on the ills of urban life as a “lay sermon” — one that always ended with an image of Jesus Christ. Read more…

Subprime Crimes — The Brooklyn Rail

March 7, 2008   -     -  

It starts with someone like Milagros Munoz. She has lived in East New York for nearly all of her 46 years. When her mortgage broker first showed Munoz, a dental assistant, the brick duplex a short walk away from the clinic where she works, she thought she’d finally found a home for her family. “When I did the closing,” she says, “instead of being happy… like some people, they’re ecstatic, they wanna pop the champagne and say ‘Look, I got a house!’…all I did was cry, I said, ‘Mom, I don’t feel right…something’s wrong.’” Read more…

Memories of SDS — The Brooklyn Rail

February 6, 2008   -     -  

“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!” Wordsworth was high off the fumes of the French Revolution when he wrote these lines. In the long twilight of the U.S. of A., nobody has been younger or closer to heaven than the Students for a Democratic Society. Read more…

Chaos is Good Business — The Brooklyn Rail

October 3, 2007   -     -  

Like many people—at least, that’s what I tell myself these days—I wrote Naomi Klein off when she first appeared on the scene in the late 90s. There were too many earnest activists toting around No Logo, her surprise million-plus bestseller on the buzzword of that bygone day: “globalization.” Who could trust any book the New York Times called “a movement bible”? And that subtitle—Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies. This hardly sounded like a staggering work of heart-racing analysis. Read more…

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