Friday, March 30, 2007

Bollywood Song For Friday

Kitne Ajeeb from the movie Page 3, which I really liked but was a dark, cynical look at Bollywood:
Madhur Bhandarkar’s movie ‘Page 3’ takes a candid look into the lives of celebrities and stars that adorn the third page of newspaper. The film penetrates through the fa├žade of their ‘hunky-dory’ lives and reveals the hypocrisy, superficiality and shallowness that lie underneath.

What I liked best about it was the relationship between the three girls sharing an apartment and just starting out in seemed very 'real' that time in your early 20s you are thrown in with some different people on different paths, you clash a little, laugh a lot.... and you all know you're 'just passing through'....and then comes that odd feeling of knowing you have to and want to move on but will miss it all the same... "parting is such sweet sorrow" as W.S. said.

* how strange r relations here ? !!
Ppl meet , for 2 moments , goes with each othr !
if thr is twist ... they get out , safly ( without caring u )

yaha sabhi apni hi dhun main deewane hai
kare wahi jo apna dil ki hi mane hai
kaun kisko pooche kaun kisko bole
sabke labon par apne tarane hai
le jaye nasib kisiko kahape
kitne ajeeb rishtey hai yaha pe

*** every1 us busy in his/her song or tune
every1 do what ever its heart says
who is concerned about oth person ?
every1 has its song to sing on its lips
no one knows , where fortune will take him/her.
relations r really strenj here.

khwaabon ki yeh duniya hai khwaaboh main hi rehna hai
raahen le jaye jaha sangh sangh chalna hai
waqt ne hamesha yaha naye khel khele
kutch bhi ho jaye yaha bas khush rehna hai
manzil lage kareeb sabko yahape

*** this world/life is a dream , in which we have to live,
we must go together the way which raods takes us
no matter what .. we have to b happpy.
every1 thinks that his place or desire is near him.
the relations r strenj here !

kitne ajeeb rishtey hai yaha pe
do pal milte hai saath saath chalte hai
jab mod aaye toh bach ke nikalte hai
kitne ajeeb rishtey hai yaha pe

What more can be said?

I am amazed by the lack of interest by most of the mainstream press about the latest Atlantic Yards revelation - the state and city is prepared to hand over billions of dollars in subsidies and loans without even seeing a business plan (hey where do i sign up!) .

The Brooklyn Papers report:
Ratner’s failure to provide a comprehensive plan appears to violate the 2005 MOU, which was signed by the developer, Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Pataki. That document mandated a public review of a “financing and operating plan” in exchange for political support and $200 million from the city and the state (since raised to $305 million).

Apparently this is not 'news' to the New York Times (Ratner's partner)? I wonder if Spitzer's prepared to withdraw support of the project in light of this? Recall, New York has one of the lowest bond rating's in the country...I can't imagine this will help it and that alone costs New Yorker's money because it means our debt is more expensive. If he's serious about reform and getting New York off the fast track to financial disaster, then I would think he would.

The Bloomberg administration has a reputation for being relatively clean thus far - after all, its pretty hard to line a billionaire's pockets - but in light of all this, the New York Time's and other mainstream media's indifference borders on criminal. It's rather like a bubble stock market -people are afraid to say boo because it might mean the bubble bursts. But if this current 'boom' in real estate has basically come about because Bloomberg is letting developers get away with criminal behavior (arson for example) or because of a falsely propped up market driven by goverment subsidies, then eventually the bubble has to burst or our quality of life will seriously suffer:

Bloomberg said:
"This city cannot build the schools, expand the libraries, fix the potholes and build big sports facilities at this time...Shea and Yankee Stadiums don't make any money for the city...If you counted the infrastructure for Shea and Yankee Stadiums, they are disasters for the city...We are only going to build stadiums if there's private money."
Yet he IS giving money to Ratner, which means he is LYING to the public, and he is doing little or nothing about the infrastructure - in fact he's largely ignoring it AND adding more housing. Short term: Bloomberg looks good. Long term: quality of life suffers.

A Romantic in Spain

A Romantic in Spain (Paperback)
by Theophile Gautier
Just finishing this up. A great combination of acidic wit, spot on observation and contemplation. Much of it could be written about Spain today: Gautier complains about not being able to find the 'authentic' Spain because it's been ruined by Englishmen - Tailors only make Spanish costumes for English Tourists, the Spanish are tired of travelers seeking cliches of Fandangos, bullfights and Flamenco...and that was in 1847!

Gautier was also studied painting - its nice to hear someone who can actually paint talk about paintings, and his descriptions of scenery, landscape, architecture and people reveal an artist's eye rather than just a mere travel writer.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Purab Se

I can't find the full version of this song, but its Shreya Ghosal singing "Purab Se"
on Ragga click here for full version.
Hindi Lyrics:

purab se jab suraj nikle sindoori ghan chhaye
pavan ke pag mein nupur baaje mayur mann mera gaaye
purab se jab suraj nikle sindoori ghan chhaye
pavan ke pag mein nupur baaje mayur mann mera gaaye
mann mera gaaye
om namas shivaay...

Morning sun turns the sky saffron,
Wind shakes the trees like anklets
My heart wants to cry out like a peacock
I bow to you Lord Shiva

Its the closest Shreya has come to singing 'spirtual' music, I don't think its her forte but its brilliant here -

Pyaar Ki Baatein

Pyaar Ki Baatein (click on the song and it will play) my favorite Shreya Goshal song. I wish I knew the lyrics, can't find a translation, but like the repetition:

Milte Milte Kabhi Na Socha
Kabhi Juda Bhi Honge Hum
Milte Milte
Chalte Chalte Kabhi Na Socha
Kabhi Khafa Bhi Honge Hum
Chalte Chalte

Hindi Lyrics:
( Pyaar Ki Baate ooo

Pyar Ki Baate
Pyaar Ki Baate ooo
Pyar Ki Baate

Dil Ko Hasake Dil Ko Rula De
Aaso Se Bhare Aakhen oooo ) x2

Pyaar Ki Baate ooo
Pyar Ki Baate
Pyaar Ki Baate ooo
Pyar Ki Baate

Milte Milte Kabhi Na Socha
Kabhi Juda Bhi Honge Hum
Milte Milte
Chalte Chalte Kabhi Na Socha
Kabhi Khafa Bhi Honge Hum
Chalte Chalte
Raahon Me Mushkil Jo Aagei
Raahon Me Mushkil Jo Aagei
Dil Ko Kaun Baatein
Ab Tak Dil Mein Gunj Rahi Hai Woh Pyar Ki Yaadein

Pyaar Ki Baate ooo
Pyar Ki Baate
Pyaar Ki Baate ooo
Pyar Ki Baate

Haste Haste Kabhi Na Socha Kabhi Ye Aakhein Roengi
Haste Haste
Rukte Rukte Kabhi Na Socha Kabhi Ye Sasen Roengi
Rukte Rukte
Toote Ye Sason Ki Duriya
Toote Ye Sason Ki Duriya
Ab Tak Koi Chupaye
Ab Tak Hum Ko Loot Rahi Hai Wohi Pyaar Ki Raatein

Pyaar Ki Baate ooo
Pyar Ki Baate
Pyaar Ki Baate ooo
Pyar Ki Baate

Dil Ko Hasake Dil Ko Rula De
Aaso Se Bhare Aakhen oooo

Pyaar Ki Baate ooo
Pyar Ki Baate
Pyaar Ki Baate ooo
Pyar Ki Baate

There is something so sweet about her- she looks so fragile - like her voice- a sweet sorrow in it.

"Arab" Eyes

In preparation for a possible trip to Spain, I have been reading A Romantic in Spain: Books by Theophile Gautier. I stumbled on this book when I first went (i am one of those people that reads a one foot high pile of books about a country before I go, immerse myself in its music, food and so forth- sort of like an armchair Sir Richard Francis Burton.

Although I have found this book tedious in places his acidic humor makes it worth it as does his spot on observations about Spain, art and sometimes nuances of human nature. His description of the eyes of Andalusian women which he calls 'arab' made my mouth drop while reading it on the subway.

"When a women or a girl passes you by, she deliberately lowers her eyelids, then suddenly raises them and darts at you a glance of irresistible brilliance, then rolls her eyes once more and lowers her lashes.. nobody.....can give any idea of the inflammatory glances which Spain has inherited from the Orient; we have no terms to express this play of the ey-; ojear is a word lacking in our vocabulary. Yet the sudden, vivid flash of these glances, which almost embarrasses foreigners has nothing particularly significant about it, and is directed impartiallly at whatever happens to pass by. A young woman of Andalusia will cast the same passionate glance at a passing cart, a dog running after its tail or some children playing at bullfights. They eyes of the norther races are lifeless and empty compared to these, in them the sun has never left its reflection."

The passage is an almost perfect description of the physical movements of their eyes - and the remarkable and seemingly unconscious ability to project emotion, sensuality and vitality in casual glances. It has always intrigued me.

He also makes the humorous observation that they look at a cow or a horse cart the same way they might look at a man who might mistake the look for something more.

No not every Andalusian, Middle Eastern or Southern European woman has eyes like that. Far from it, in fact it's rather rare.....Of all the actresses I know two epitomized this ability one is Madhuri Dixit:

Who even, as she glides into middle age has still 'got it'.

The other is Vidya Balan:

With the slightest change in her facial expression she can go from tempest to still water. Is it the eyes? The mouth in relation? the larger proportion features? is it the Kohl? Don't know.

I saw someone reading Brave New World on the subway

this morning and recall Niel Postman's quote from "amusing ourselves to death" - people are always alluding to 1984, but....What if Big Brother turns out to be Howdy Doody?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pal Pal Har Pal

Great song ....horrible video (even though I think Vidya Balan's a great actress). Shreya Ghosal and Sonu Nigam

pal pal pal pal har pal har pal
every moment...
kaise katega pal har pal har pal
how will moments [between us] pass
pal pal pal pal har pal har pal
kaise katega pal har pal har pal
dil dil dil dil mein machi hain machi
in our hearts, there is...
machi hain hulchul hulchul hulchul
some turbulance, some uncertainity
kaise katega pal har pal har pal - 2
pal pal pal pal har pal har pal
kaise katega pal har pal har pal
ha ha ha ha haha haha..
la la la la lala lala..
o humsafar lagta hai darr
o my cotraveller (partner) I am afraid
raat kate na kabhi ho sehar
[I wish that] this night doesn't pass and morning never come
iss pal mein simte umar
that our whole lives shrink to this moment
raat kate na kabhi ho sehar

tu jo hai saath mere toh dagar
if you are with me then the journey...
lage ke jaise khubsurat ghar
feels like destination (lit: beautiful home)
tu jo hai saath mere toh dagar
lage ke jaise khubsurat ghar
tu jo hai saath toh yeh ambar
if you are with me then this sky...
lage ke jaise saaya ho sar par
feels like protective shadow
tere kaandhe par rakhkar sar
with my head on your shoulder
yun hi katt jaaye saari umar
let our lives be spent
pal pal pal pal har pal har pal
kaise katega pal har pal har pal
la la la hm..
kal kya ho kisko khabar lagta hai darr lagta hai darr
what will happen tomorrow who knows, I feel afraid
iss pal mein simte umar raat kate na kabhi ho sehar

achha bataaon dil ki itni saari baaten kaise likhoge iss chhote khat par - 2
okay tell me, how are you going write all your feelings on this small letter
dil par toota hai yeh kaisa kehar tumko paakar khone ka hai darr
what tragedy has struck my heart, what fear of losing you engulfs me
pyar ka yeh dhaaiya akhar kaise likhoge iss chhote khat par
how are you going to write two-and-half letters* of love on this small letter
pal pal pal pal har pal har pal
kaise katega pal har pal har pal
pal pal pal pal har pal har pal
kaise katega pal har pal har pal
dil dil dil dil mein machi hain machi
machi hain hulchul hulchul hulchul
kaise katega pal har pal har pal - 2
la la la la la ...


Are there any banks anywhere that grant a four billion dollar loan, let alone a low interest loan, without seeing a business plan?

are we surprised then to learn:

Bond rating: New York has the second-lowest bond rating in the nation, according to Moody’s.

Well jeepers I wonder why! Ratner has us in a double bind - if his ill conceived project fails the state absorbs this cost,- thus motivating the state to prop it up...and if it 'succeeds' it destroys the neighborhood and permanently, negatively alter Brooklyn.

Four Billion in Low Interest Loans- No Business Plan Required!

Sounds like a bad ad from a swindler? No, just business as usual for the State Of New York:
No Land Grab reports on NY Sun's Breaking Story

In examining the $4 billion mixed-use Atlantic Yards project for approval, New York State's leading development agency never saw a business plan from developer Forest City Ratner, documents and officials now say. The project, which plans more than 6,000 units of housing and a home for the Nets basketball team, was approved by the state just before Governor Pataki left office.

Critics contend that state officials should have reviewed a full financial model before promising hundreds of millions of dollars in public incentives and subsidies. Forest City's full financial plan has long been sought by critics of the project and legislators, including Assemblyman James Brennan of Brooklyn, who sued the Empire State Development Corporation to obtain it last month, presuming that it was in their possession. The Empire State Development Corporation has denied Mr. Brennan's repeated records requests for the comprehensive model.

A spokesman for the Empire State Development Corporation, Errol Cockfield, now says the state has never seen or possessed any comprehensive business plan from the developer.

So apparently the ESDC is willing to give Ratner four billion in low interest loans, steal people's homes and Bloomberg is willing to shell out 200 million of our tax dollars on a project with no real business plan.

So now we know that Gargano lied. Will he be investigated? will Bruce?

So I Saw William Dalrymple Monday Night

for the launch of the The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857. I decided against buying the book after hearing his response to the question "how do you explain the support the Sikhs and Afgans (i assume the questioner meant Ghurkas) for the British.

Dalrymple's lame response: the Brits offered better pay and they wanted revenge on the Sepoys for defeating them in the Sikh war.

Gawd, he nearly broke the dial on my bs meter. Lucky for WD, the question session ended before I could ask "how could reply with so stupid and inane an answer"?

A. it was primarily British forces that defeated the Sikhs in the Sikh wars. The Sikhs gained respect for the British as a fellow 'martial' people.

B. the tradition of not cutting the hair or beard comes from a pledge not to do so until the last drop of Muslim blood was expelled from the Punjab - apparently this isn't a compelling enough reason to oppose the restoration of Muslim ruler to India. the Ghurkas likewise remained loyal for similar reasons -their 'blood and soil' religion was fused in opposition to the Muslim invasion much like Spanish Catholicism circa 1492.

C. At Cawnpore the Sikhs demanded the right to 'go through the breech' - an 'honor' that carries with it and 80% chance of not coming out alive. Odd choice for people who just care about a few extra rupees isn't it? (The scots who had discovered the bodies of British women and children hacked to death with butcher knives after they were promised safe passage gained the honor. They attacked the mutineers with such ferocity that the mutineers were convinced they were jinns and threw down their arms and surrendered - the Scots, however would not accept their surrender).

Yet we're supposed to believe that hatred of Muslim rule had nothing to do with it?

He also referred to the mutineers as the "indian side' being told through newly discovered documents in persian. ...odd, I thought that people who spoke Persian were Persian, not Indian.

I can go on. He said the only reason the british won was better supplies (wrong, wrong and wrong they were surrounded at lucknow for 4 months - 3000 vs. 30,000 mutineers and the mutineers couldn't beat them) ....But sad to say Dalrymple's a PC cow-towing guilt tripping groveling Brit -( a type i became so nauseated with in India that avoided anyone with a British accent). Which is probably why he was allowed to speak at the Asia society.

Maybe I will drop him a letter and see what he has to say.

Riot in Paris rail station

BBC reports:

Dozens riot in Paris rail station
Nine people have been arrested and two hurt after an argument over a ticket in a Paris metro station sparked riots.

Police used tear gas to disperse up to 100 youths at the Gare du Nord, one of paris' busiest stations.

Rioters smashed windows and attacked vending machines and shops, after objecting to the treatment of a man arrested for jumping a ticket barrier.

Interior Minister Francois Baroin labelled the events "unacceptable, intolerable violence".

"Nothing justifies what happened last night," he said.

Chanting sloguns

France saw its most severe riots for decades in autumn 2005 amid simmering tensions in suburbs with large immigrant populations. Presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, who was interior minister at the time, caused controversy when he labelled the 2005 rioters "scum".

The youths who gathered in the Gare du Nord on Tuesday shouted insults about Mr Sarkozy.

They also chanted slogans of "police are everywhere, justice is nowhere" and "down with the state, police and bosses".

The violence was sparked when a 33-year-old man without a ticket jumped over a barrier.

Transport officials said the man punched two ticket inspectors who asked for his ticket as part of a routine inspection. He was eventually arrested by police.

But a growing crowd felt that the police had used excessive force to arrest the man, and their protest turned violent.

The riots spilled out into nearby streets, where rubbish bins and street signs were set on fire.

Anyone who visited France and Gare Du Nord in the early 90s would be shocked by the conditions in France and the idea a riot could erupt in one of Paris's most elegant rail stations. The bbc euphemistically reports it is 'youths' rioting...avoiding the hard reality that anyone living in or even briefly visiting France knows: the "youths' are almost all Algerian, North African, and overwhelmingly, if not all Muslim. In other words: The people chanting "down with the state" are not pimple faced college students who will eventually go on to brokerage houses on Wall Street (like many of the 'radicals' of the 1960s) but a completely different people who see the "state" of France as something alien and foreign to them: France is now in a permanent state of riots and chaos all dividing along ethnic lines.

Frankly put, violent crime, including rape specifically targeting of French women, is skyrocketing in once peaceful France. The solution of the EU elite is more of the same: Oh, ethinic groups are rioting, that means we need more diversity! Lower levels of immigration, with a heavy assimilation ethic and heavy screening for criminal elements, can be a stimulus for a country...but mass immigration, enough to create ethnic blocks can only lead conflicts of interest and struggles for economic resources and power.

Whether or not you agree about ideas of multiculturalism or not, it is clear they are not working and that brining masses of people into Western countries of vastly different socio-economic backgrounds isn't doing anyone any good. And if our countries destabilize, how are we going to be of any use to anyone? Of course destabilizing the national governments of Europe could be an overt goal of the EU, since it could justify more centralized power.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New York's Tax Gap Widens Under Bloomberg

Steven Malanga
The Priciest City
Under Mayor Bloomberg, New York’s tax gap widens.
27 March 2007

While New York City has long had a reputation as a taxing place to live and work, a study earlier this year by the city’s Independent Budget Office quantified government’s deep bite into Gotham businesses and residents, provoking headlines in the press and justifiable shock among some public figures. One angle that the press missed, however, is that the city’s tax burden has grown under the Bloomberg administration, reversing the gains produced by tax cuts during the 1990s.

The IBO study prompted some local politicians and policymakers to call for trimming the city’s taxes. But Mayor Bloomberg defended the high levies by arguing that they’re necessary to provide “premium” services that New Yorkers demand. [services? the mayor is ignoring infrastructure]

Among Bloomberg’s tax and fee increases was a record property-tax hike in 2004. [Of course Bruce Ratner gets a 30 year property tax break.]

Higher taxes for us tax breaks for billionaires like Bruce Ratner. Then Bloomberg, someone who allegedly made his money reporting on financial markets, scratches his head and wonders why businesses are leaving (except for the ones who get tax breaks) .

Monday, March 26, 2007

Vas Music

I was listening to Niyaz and determined that I really liked the vocals most of all and discovered Azam Ali also has a albums out with VasMusic - a partnership of her and Gary Ellis. There is much less electronica and more vocals and traditional instruments, but it doesn't sound like slavish imitations of traditional music.You can hear samples of the tracks Garden of Souls on Amazon's site. I more inclined to order CDs than download Mp3s because the liner notes really enhance listening.... Lots of money spent on music this month :)

Demoliton on Ward's Bakery Begins.

As if to send out a message to the community 'Yes I really am just as crass, selfish and greedy as you imagined' Bruce Ratner begins demolition of Ward's Bakery today. And for what? to build a parking lot. Is there any better illustration that this developer completely lacks imagination and cares about nothing but money?

It is literally a crime (as appears to be the case in Yonkers) that this greedy, dishonest, crass incompetent developer has been 'enabled' by politicians like Bloomberg who prop up his failed projects by filling them with city agencies. It doesn't 'create jobs' or 'help the economy' on the contrary, it diverts billions of dollars away from education, infrastructure and real improvement and muscles out competent developers who might actually improve the community.

I honestly believe that with a more diligent press (whom Ratner has cleverly partnered with) we wouldn't be discussing the demolition of Wards Bakery, but rather an investigation of Bruce Ratner and Forest City, the prospect of which I still hold hope for.

Walk around Wards

From Lost City
"(By the way, does anyone remember that character from the movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" called Mark "The Rat" Ratner? He was the dweeby guy who ends up with Jennifer Jason Leigh. I always wondered why no one has recycled this nickname and applied it to Bruce. Bruce "The Rat" Ratner. It seems obvious to me. He's pretty much a rat, isn't he? Looks a little rodentlke too.)"

Hmm don't remember that character.... but the names I have for Ratner have gone way beyond relatively pleasant ribbings like 'the rat'. Regarding Ratner's looks, being a hetrosexual male I don't often offer comment on other men, but damn he is one ugly, creepy looking bastard, as I have said before its' almost like a reverse Dorian Gray.

A strange thing happened while I was checking out Ward's. The block was bereft of all life save for one ramshackle, little, red four-door with the motor running. On the driver's side sat a stout, bearded Hasidic gentleman in a full gray beard and shirtsleeves. One the passenger said was another fat fella, bald as a cueball and what you'd call a tough character. (I kept thinking of the B-movie baddie Lawrence Tierney). They spoke for about 15 minutes, then baldie got out and walked back to a blue car parked behind the red one. They both then drove away.

Lots of shady stuff surrounds Atlantic Yards, however this little incident might shed some light on the curious support from Hasidim at the ESDC 'hearings' (as Atlantic Yards Report pointed out they had the gall to call us "NIMBY's" - I have no problem with their insularity, but their hypocrisy is infuriating). Its' well known they trade support for favors - recall three crooked Hasidim being pardoned by Clinton (Bill) and Hillary receiving something like 99% of the vote in the upstate town they were from. So can we speculate that the Hasidim are somehow involved and it's, well, not Kosher?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

How To Drive Anglo Saxons Mad.

I attended this concert last night...
Alwan For The Arts
Invites you
Saturday, March 24, 2007, 9:00 PM
$15 ($10 for students with valid ID)
The art of The Arab Violin
Straight From Cairo
Dr. Alfred Gamil

and ended up leaving at intermission. I found the first half of the music disappointing, perhaps agitated by the fact that it started a half hour late for no particular reason. The last time I attended an event there...the same thing happened - but it was nearly 45 minutes...and that was for a film, which required no set up.

I am convinced that the Iraqis need not violently resist the Americans, but simply go about living their lives as usual, in complete disregard for Anglo-Saxon superstitions about schedules, timetables and deadlines, driving US planners and logistics coordinators to insanity, forcing a US retreat.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


I stumbled on this group sometime ago -Niyaz - an interesting fusion of Arabic, Ghazals, and Iranian music. You can here some clips on their site the song 'Dilruba' (link to download)is my favorite -its rhythms are in toxicating. I don't know what language it is in, it seems to use both Urdu and Farsi. ...oh heck just let me quote the wiki article on them::

Niyaz—Persian for yearning—is the musical brainchild of three musicians: top deejay, programmer/producer and remixer Carmen Rizzo, vocalist and hammered dulcimer player Azam Ali, formerly of the group Vas, and Loga Ramin Torkian of the popular Iranian crossover group Axiom Of Choice.

Azam was born in Iran but raised in India, where she started singing at an early age, absorbing the rich cultures of both countries. Her early music influences include the English soprano Emily Van Evera and singing-medieval- mystic-visionary-composer and abbess, Hildegard Von Bingen. Loga Ramin Torkian plays guitar, the saz, and rabab, while Carmen Rizzo does all the programming; keyboards, synthesizers and drums, as well as performing live with the group. On their new album for Six Degrees Records, Tony Levin of King Crimson plays bass along with other Indian and Armenian musical guests.

Niyaz is a mixture of old and new music styles. Their lyrics are drawn from Sufi mystics, such as the Persian poet Rumi, and other classic poetry sung in Urdu. Niyaz claims it for our times and gives it a modern expression.

The Next Pandora's Box for Developers?

In Two separate incidents, owners are taking advantage of clause that allows owners to evict rent stabilized and rent controlled tenants - if the owners are using it for their personal space. In one case it means converting a tenement into a mansion:
Both Alistair and Catherine Economakis are full time operatives for their family’s real estate company; their family owns or co-owns pan style="font-style: italic;">“This is a misuse of the law.” U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler says of the mass eviction. “The owner-occupancy provision was never intended to enable landlords to pursue such ruthless mass evictions. I commend and support the tireless efforts of the residents of 47 East 3rd Street to save their homes. This is not just their fight: a victory for them will be victory for thousands of other rent regulated residents throughout the City who are also at risk of losing their homes through this loophole in the law.”

In another, in Brooklyn:
Prospect Heights families facing eviction
By Lilo H. Stainton
The Brooklyn Paper
fter more than a quarter-century in Prospect Heights, Evelyn Suarez may soon have to
find another place to call home.Suarez is among a handful of tenants fighting to keep their rent-controlled apartments in a building on Bergen Street, near Carlton Avenue, that the new owners hope to use for their own growing family.But with two teenagers and a grandson to raise, longstanding rent-control protection and a new diagnosis of colon cancer, Suarez doesn't feel she should be forced out of her $400-a-month rental, where she's lived for 28 years."Right now, I don't know what to do," the 50-year-old said last week, before the legal challenge she filed had been heard in court. "Where am I going to go, for that much?"
Their lawyer :
"Do they wish there was some other way? Yes, but in today's market,

it's just not possible," explained Jeffrey Goldman, the lawyer for the four owners.

It's just not possible? I love the way the lawyer abdicates any responsibility on part of the owners 'It's just not possible' as if there is some magic market demon forcing them to kick old ladies out on the street.' It echo's the Mayor and others 'oh gee we don't want to force people out of their homes via eminent domain, but gosh, we just have to'. These owners might be simply excessively greedy (and stupid) but one can easily see how this little loophole might turn into the next developer extravaganza: If Ratner lost the tenant lawsuit, he could, for example decide he needs a private villa and kick out the tenants, live there for awhile (or just have his mail sent there) and then reconvert them back into luxury condos (in fact it could built so it could easily be converted back.

Personally I think that our rent stabilization laws should be eased out, but on the other hand, I think all of the greedy excesses of developers will have a back lash - and all of this can be blamed on one person - the mayor - whether its ignoring arson, allowing the EDSC to run rampant, cutting back on building inspectors, ignoring the law, the Mayor has done everything possible to give the developers a green light to do as they please, and only pay lip service to communities. Developers are acting like this because they know they can get away with it.

The law doesn't have to be changed to protect people - the sense of community does -if owners above were ostracized by society, by the mainstream press they would feel enough social pressure to behave better- but in globalist culture there is no community so they feel no pressure to conform - they are probably praised by their friends for their craftiness in evading/getting around the law.

Friday, March 23, 2007

And Speaking of Arab Stuff.

This guy is giving a concert Saturday. There are some demos on his site...pretty good stuff. Problem with Arab violin is the problem with Flamenco and the blues (which I have never liked) there are so many cliche's associated with it, OLE! that you really have to clear you mind of the cartoon depictions of it.

How do you spell Insanity?

Brooklyn to get first Arabic PS
By Dana Rubinstein
Muslim community leaders are hailing the city’s decision to open an Arabic language and culture school in Brooklyn this fall.

“I think it’s very important that people be exposed to the language,” said Abdur-Rahman Farrakhan, the imam at Masjid Al-Jamaiyah in Brownsville. “Not just Muslims, but non-Muslims too.”

The Khalil Gibran International Academy — named for the Lebanese-American poet, philosopher and artist — will educate a diverse student body, and half the classes will be taught in Arabic.

The stupidity of our elite is an eternal well. With the exception of the declining, decaying West is there any other place in the world where people can come and demand that government finance and support their anti assimilation?

I remember the dopey prince Charles expressing his delight at the thought of a Mosque going up in Oxford, one of the holiest cities of the Anglican faith, and thinking future historians will scratch their heads at our willingness to accelerate our own demise. Bad ideas have consequences and multiculturalism was about the stupidest and looniest idea to emerge from the post 1960s Marxist domination of higher education.

Islam is a fine and noble faith...for Arabs, in Arabia. However, the Christian west and Muslim east have never been, and never will be, good neighbors (and faith has very little to do with it) , and it is better to maintain good fences. No it doesn't sound as nice and sweet as some slogan about a new agey brotherhood of mankind ...but the simply reality its better for all parties involved.

What is interesting, is that world wide, while the idiotic American and European elite embrace the idea of diversity - and the more of it the better, the rest of the world is polarizing: India and Pakisthan have along ethno-religious lines, and the once 'diverse' holy land - between Muslim and Jew , (the Christian population of Jerusalem was nearly 50% now it is down do 3% - Ramaalah at one time was 99% palestinian Christian, now it is down to 4%) ...and thanks to the 'genius' of Neocons, the Jewish and Christian populations of Iraq will probably flee en masse. Some 180,000 Iraqi Chrisitians are already seeking asylum.

Abstract unproven theories and empty slogans "diversity is our strength' 'diversity enriches us' are not only patently false, but are the ingredients of Empires, not democracies. There are some places that are 'naturally' diverse -like port cities and universities but just because Raj and Abdol are lab partners, doesn't mean there's going to be a resolution to the Indo-Pakisthan conflict. People who are different generally speaking don't get along and it takes a strong central authority to hold them together (as in Iraq). It is no accident that the rise in restrictions on association and individual liberty have coincided with the increase in 'diversity'. Why, other than sheer momentum, why this idea, so clearly detrimental to the West, continues is baffling until you realize that's the point.

And speaking of polarization, discussing this topic is much like discussing immigration. Anyone not in favor of virtual open borders is labeled a restrictionist nativist. The idea that there might be more sensible levels of immigration isn't even a topic for discussion.

People who hear my political views first, then my personal tastes...or visa versa are often can I have this one view and like Bollywood films, or Flamenco? How can Spain be my favorite country to visit yet I object to voting registration forms in Spanish here?

I would answer that true diversity means countries and people are different - Ireland is Irish, Spain is Spanish (and even the regions are remarkably different) and that's makes the world an interesting place. Trying to make everywhere like Disney's "its a small world' ride - a hodgepodge of different peoples and cultures is simply homogenizing the world. That benefits big corporations who want to sell the same pair of jeans to Indians, Chinese and Americans, but it makes the world a boring place.

Yeah, But Who's Monitoring the Monitor?

From Atlantic Yards Report:

Interim Atlantic Yards Environmental Monitor in place (and guess who?)

Residents around the Atlantic Yards footprint have noticed an engineer walking around and an air monitoring station set up. It turns out that, while the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) has yet to hire an Environmental Monitor, as per a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued last month, an interim monitor is in place.

The monitor? AKRF, the consulting company known for producing lengthy environmental impact reports that justify development projects while resisting legal attack. AKRF produced the Atlantic Yards environmental impact statement, which remains subject to an expected legal challenge.

Bruce Ratner has made a mockery of the of the law, following it on the surface while ignoring its spirit. His PR people have presumably carefully calculated how to create a veneer of 'community benefits' 'building green' and compliance while actually doing little or nothing in reality. What's really interesting is that he probably puts more time money and effort into hiding the truth (otherwise known as lying) than it would actually take to really do them. Why? Is it that he lacks imagination ? He certainly has no talent as builder or developer. Or is he just power-hungry and greedy? I think the latter. There is no other way, without getting Freudian, to explain his behavior.

Living Masters

An earlier post referred to modern artists as having "novelty without skill' .That is certainly true for the 'artists' embraced by the 'taste makers' at the New York Times and elsewhere....but there are some living artists who, well, actually know their way around a brush. The Art Renewal Website lists some of them here.

What is amusing...or that young people often spend - or their parents spend - excesses of $50,000 attending four year schools and learning absolutely nothing about craft and simply waste time with 1960s relics rehashing 'ideas' while they could spend less than $100.00 a month at the Art Students League and actually learn something from a living master.

Wards Bakery

yeah bruce, you're right tear it down, I mean, what's an historic building do for the bottom line? what brooklyn needs is more metrotechs and Atlantic malls. Then we'll catch up with the rest of America and get that cozy strip mall feel.
Please remember to sign the online petition.
Photo from britinbrooklyn.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Frank Gehry: Novelty Without Skill

NoLandGrab posted some exerpts from the New York Times review of Gehry's first Manhattan building:

Well, both. Mr. Gehry is adding a much-needed touch of lightness to the Manhattan skyline just as the city finally emerges from a period of mourning. The IAC building, serving as world headquarters for Barry Diller’s media and Internet empire, joins a growing list of new projects that reflect how mainstream developers in the city are significantly raising the creative stakes after decades of settling for bland, soul-sapping office buildings.

We already have plenty of 'souless' architecture here in Brooklyn, courtesy of Bruce Ratner, who now propooses to replace it with 'senseless' architecture designed by Frank Gehry. But Ouroussoff isn't concerned about buildings that work:

Yet the building, which is not quite complete, also feels oddly tame. For those who have followed Mr. Gehry’s creative career, these easy, fluid forms are a marked departure from the complex, fragmented structures of his youth. Rather than mining rich new creative territory, Mr. Gehry, now 78, seems to be holding back.

As a 'novelty seeking' critic Oursoussoff looks for 'shock' and 'experimentation' those of us who have to live with the results look for something else -like something that will be practical and appealing once the novelty wears off. Given Gehry's track record we're not likely to get that. Architects now embody how Tom Stoppard described modern (abstract) artists: 'novelty without skill'. I can skip the Whitney and go to the Frick if I want, but Gehry's obnoxious, garish funhouse architecture can't be avoided, nor disposed of as easily as a painting. But this just reveals what some of us have known all along, the tastemakers have no taste.....or common sense.

The YouTube Effect

I have little interest in the current Hillary-Obama feud but the dueling videos led the BBCto report this:

"The internet is going to be the main event ... anything that gets the attention of millions of eyeballs - and particularly millions of eyeballs of people who at this early stage are watching - matters," she said.

The stir caused by the ad is evidence of the rapidly expanding political influence of sites like YouTube.

You Tube, it seems, has become something more than a stage for teenagers to show their joy over discovering flatulence is flammable. That may not be enough to break the power of the king makers and lobby groups that really run the show....and lobby groups and king makers are the only way to explain the senate's amnesty bill -which is opposed by 85% of Americans, fake wall street polls notwithstanding - but it could be enough to shed a little sunlight, which is a remarkably good disinfectant.

The Last Mughal

The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857 (Hardcover) From Publishers Weekly
In time for the 150th anniversary of the Great Mutiny, the uprising that came close to toppling British rule in India, Dalrymple presents a brilliant, evocative exploration of a doomed world and its final emperor, Bahadur Shah II,..... known as Zafar, was a reluctant revolutionary: the mutinous sepoys who had murdered every Christian in Delhi proclaimed him their commander, an honor he hadn't sought. British besiegers took the capital in September 1857,....... Zafar died five years later in penury and exile. Dalrymple (White Mughals), however, is primarily concerned with compiling "a portrait of the Delhi he [Zafar] personified, a narrative of the last days of the Mughal capital and its final destruction." ..... Dalrymple vividly recreates, virtually at street level, the life and death of one of the most glorious and progressive empires ever seen. That the rebels fatefully raised the flag of jihad and dubbed themselves "mujahedin" only adds to the mutiny's contemporary relevance.

Tidbit: I forget if it's in Lucknow or Delhi but there are a series of portraits of the last of the nabobs, and they progressively go from lean, mean looking, square jawed and sunburnt to the last one to capitulate: effeminate, pudgy and pale....isn't that what's happening to American males, en masse?

As for the mutiny - Readers of this Blog should know which side I was rooting for....anyway, I have read part of his book "Age of Kali" I think he' was a bit too dark about India in general but from what I understand the essay about the south are a bit more optimistic. (I only read the northern ones in preparation to visiting there. Anyway, while not partial to the British he's refreshingly un-pc.

Forest City Enron?

With every bubble, comes a burst. And with every burst, a symbol of the excesses is 'executed' in public court. In the 80s, after the collapses of Drexel Burham, it was Michael Miliken** . More recently, Enron and Martha Stewart. The Real Estate market is a long way from bursting, and its assets are a little more solid than empty promises of future earnings, but all the excesses that come with a 'hot' market are certainly here - the desire for money is so insatiable that laws are overlooked or sometimes, broken.

As NoLandGrab reports, there's what's now being called a 'Federal Conspiracy Probe' up in Yonkers, and Forest City Ratner still piously claiming, amid a hailstorm of subpoenas to various council members that they're as honest as a Quaker. It seems odd doesn't it, that all of these politicians are being subpoenaed, the sole beneficiary is Forest City, yet Forest City coos 'Gosh, who, us?!, impropriety?!'.

The odd thing about these big, out of scale, voraciously greedy projects that Forest City has advocated is that they violate the most basic common sense urban planning principles, zoning laws that we made in reaction to such schemes and their effect - both physical and psychological - on the community, and Forest City seemingly glides through the law and processes meant to check bad development with ease. Yet the thought that 'some thing's a little funny here' hasn't occurred to anyone in the mainstream press . Why? I can speculate; Ratner's an insider of the New York establishment, and while they're happy to string up some hicks from Texas, they have a different standard for their own.

Gargano's being investigated, Forest City's very bad project is being investigated, yet Mike Bloomberg, perhaps unaware of the dirty subways, over crowded schools, increasing pollution, crumbling infrastructure, is tossing 200 million to a billionaire developer so that he can buy land that he's already getting at 100 million below it's value. Elliot Ness, where are you?

(**I remember, when I worked in an investment house shortly after graduation - -post Miliken, post boom, a sales assistant reminding me that Miliken's sales assitant spent more time in jail than Miliken. Similarly, during the John Gottfriend bond scandal at Solomon Brothers, the clerk who executed the orders was unceremoniously fired on the spot, while Gottfriend walked away with 100 million for his trouble. So are the ways of Wall Street.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Textbook Ratner

Sometimes Ratner can be quite poetic. Think of all the symbolism behind this: Ratner - the "mastermind" behind the ugliest building in Brooklyn :is set to demolish one of the nicest buildings in the Footprint, Ward's Bakery:

There is no better illustration of this developer's crassness, incompetence and indifference to aesthetics and the community. Well, don't just bitch: you can do something about it, sign the online petition and pass it along.

Funny, the National Trust considered it worthy of preservation and Ratner calls it blighted . I suppose his definition of blighted is anything that gets in the way of his stubby little fingers on more greenbacks. Were it politically expedient, I am sure he would pull down the Church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity. He hasn't gotten that arrogant...yet.

Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke is something of a political 'north star' for me. I don't agree to the letter with everything he said, and frankly much of it is open to interpretation - even the crazy neocons tried to hijack the author of Reflections of the Revolution In France to justify their Iraq scheme, implausible as it sounds.

But I do agree with his distilled political essence: As a member of parliament he stood up for the American revolutionaries - saying they were only Englishmen defending their ancient, God-given liberties. When the French revolution came along, he shocked Whigs and Jacobites by opposing it - saying, in essence, once you throw out the law and try to create a society from scratch you've opened society to a cycle of violence. He correctly predicted, while Napoleon was an unknown field officer, that good King Louis would be replaced by a far worse tyrant.

The American Revolution was not really a revolution, but assertion of ancient English liberties, one for which perhaps England is overdue.

Some famous quotes:

  • "Manners are of more importance than laws... Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation like that of the air we breathe in."[2]
  • "There is a sort of enthusiasm in all projectors, absolutely necessary for their affairs, which makes them proof against the most fatiguing delays, the most mortifying disapointments, the most shocking insults; and, what is severer than all, the presumptuous judgement of the ignorant upon their designs."[3]
  • The quote "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" is often attributed to Burke, but does not appear in his works or recorded speeches.[4]
  • "But the age of chivalry is gone. - That of sophisters, economists, and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever.
  • Particularly Relevant to Iraq: "I cannot [...] give praise or blame to anything which relates to human actions, and human concerns, on a simple view of the object, as it stands stripped of every relation, in all the nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction. Circumstances [...] are what render every civil and political scheme beneficial or noxious to mankind. Abstractedly speaking, government, as well as liberty, is good; yet could I, in common sense, ten years ago, have felicitated France on her enjoyment of a government (for she then had a government) without inquiring what the nature of that government was? [...] Can I now congratulate the same nation upon its freedom? Is it because liberty in the abstract may be classed amongst the blessings of mankind, that I am seriously to felicitate a madman, who has escaped from the protecting restraint and wholesome darkness of his cell, on his restoration to the enjoyment of light and liberty? [...] I should, therefore, suspend my congratulations on the new liberty of France until I was informed how it had been combined with government, with public force, with the discipline and obedience of armies, with the collection of an effective and well-distributed revenue, with morality and religion, with the solidity of property, with peace and order, with civil and social manners. All these (in their way) are good things, too, and without them liberty is not a benefit whilst it lasts, and is not likely to continue long.

My NYT Conspiracy Theory.

I was thinking of the reasons that the Times new office building filled up so fast.
As a refresher: the New York Times was involved in an eminent domain abusing ESDC backed scheme that gave the Times private property (against the landowner's will) below market along with some cushy tax breaks (this from the champion of raising taxes for others).

For years, the Times would not mention its involvement with Forest City when reporting (usually favorably) about Atlantic Yards. The editorial board is in favor of eminent domain abuse - the kind which gives private property to private developers - like the New York Times obvious that its bias is a reflection of its self interest.

Even before Jayson Blair and Judith Miller, The New York Times has a long history of being bias - most notoriously it white washed the crimes of the Bolsheviks and actually reported on them favorably. More recently, shoddy journalism aside, its become more overtly agenda driven, especially post 1967 or so when the old Herald Tribune finally went under (how this effected social columns is subject of David Brook's Bobos In Paradise -subject of another post) . Concerning the Time's bias:

In summer 2004, the newspaper's then public editor (ombudsman), Daniel Okrent, wrote a piece on the Times' alleged liberal bias.[30] He concluded that the Times did have a liberal bias in coverage of certain social issues, gay marriage being the example he used. He claimed that this bias reflected the paper's cosmopolitanism, which arose naturally from its roots as a hometown paper of New York City.

So if bias arises naturally from its surroundings, can't all those firms sharing the same building (and paying rent to) the New York Times expect the same favoritism. In some ways buying a lease must be like buying a full page ad....or a few column inches of op-ed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Why is it, that film depicting one of the most pivotal events in Western Civilization has to based on a comic book? Oh, sorry, "Graphic Novel". I remember, when younger, reading the description of Thermopylae in Edith Hamilton's book "the Greek Way"( a book one reviewer correctly described as a "Loving Ode to the Greek Spirit" ) and getting chills down my spine: Xerxes walking among the dead, baffled that the Spartans would not accept tribute and turning to a Greek tratior "how do I defeat such men, come, tell me?" ...but no one could. If you start with "lite" material how do ever expect to end up with more than a comic book? It's rather like 'starting off' with a low resolution photograph and expecting to make an elaborate print....

Side note, I was glancing over the Amazon Reviews and found the musings of one Kevin S who found the book "headache inducing":

I just read this book for my history class.......And some chapters could've been summarized in a page or two, without much loss in information.

Well Kevin that's why the chapters are longer than a 'page or two'. If they could be summarized there would be no reason to pad them. Sorry sometimes book and other stuff require an attention span of over two minutes.

The Green Apple?

Bloomberg’s Vision for the ‘Green’ Apple

During NYLCV’s annual spring gala event on May 18, guest speaker Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed his gratitude for the League’s support and his goal of transforming New York into an environmentally friendly city.
Bloomberg asked New Yorkers to build on their legacy of innovation to combine environmental, economic, cultural, and social progress. Focusing on the importance and potential of sustainability, the Mayor noted: “Sustainability is a philosophy of realistic optimism. It demands that we make sound investments today to meet the challenges of tomorrow, and find innovative long-term solutions to our most intractable problems. o

Bloomberg is all about smoke and mirrors, what sounds good but not what actually is good. How else can we explain his support of Atlantic Yards- one of the most environmentally taxing projects in New York history, designed by one of the most impractical, shallow architects in history (and there have been plenty) and pushed through by a greedy, incompetent developer with a track record of failure.

Gee Mike, let's put a few natural gas buses on Flatbush that will make up for overloaded power grids, sewers, Calcutta-like population density and LA smog & traffic

Architect of the Idiocracy

More Proof That Ratner is a dinosaur, and that Atlantic Yards embodies outdated thinking and runs counter to nearly every established urban planning principle today. We knowRatner has a penchant for choosing bad designs, and in an added twist, he's chosen fashionable-but-impractical Frank Gehry - one of the most environmentally unsound architects practicing today. From the inestimable DDDB:

Gehry Not Green
We were doing some Googling™ on Gehry and discovered how anti-green his buildings really are according to revered environmentalist Bill McKibben. Is this what we really need?: Lecture Notes: Bill McKibben on "Building Communities That Actually Work" at The Architectural League
Emily Gertz. April 24, 2006. World

It was a perfect, mild spring day in New York City on Monday, April 17 -- the kind of day, said Bill McKibben from a podium at the New School's Tishman Auditorium, that "fools you into thinking that New York is the greatest place in the world." Despite the appreciative smatter of laughter, chances are most of those listening really did think of New York as at least one of the world's great built environments, as McKibben was there for the first of two architecture and environment lectures sponsored by The Architectural League New York: "Deep Sustainability: Building Communities that Actually Work."

Notions about what comprise systems that work is about to change, said McKibben. Peak oil is one reason: the end of cheap and easily obtained supplies of the fossil fuels that have powered industrial civilization for the past 200 years. McKibben predicted that one day, Frank Gehry "will be seen a world champion for how much energy can be concentrated into producing one building."...
We know that Gehry's buildings are impractical, often create environmental hazards, are not pedestrian friendly, (the area around his buildings becomes dead urban space), and now we can feel extra special, knowing that Gehry's designs will not only wreck our neighborhood, but contribute to wrecking the planet as well. Frank Gehry, Architect of the Idiocracy.

Lest We Forget....

There have been plenty of articles in the blogsphere and press about the jump in lobbying dollars spent in Albany with Ratty the # 3 spender.....
Loyal No Land Grab readers will recall that in a double 'screw you' to taxpayers -the NY Yankee's organization was able to get their lobbyists paid for by the state. We can probably expect Ratner to do the same, and then some. Is this a system out of control? You bet.

My question: what exactly do legislators get from lobbyists? Bribes? or are just take a few dinners and tickets to the Knicks (having worked briefly in an investment house, I discovered, first hand how much that influence someone) ; or are they simply the source of information on subjects on which legislators are otherwise uninformed (the Middle East is a striking example) or does the intensity of the lobbyists and their omnipresence just spook legislators into thinking 'if i don't vote for this the public will be against me"....

Well, we know what Ratner gets:

Report: Ratner among state lobby leaders

By Amy Zimmer

Forest City Ratner spent roughly $2.11 million on lobbying efforts last year for its $4 billion Atlantic Yards development plan, making it the state’s third highest spender, trailing a health care lobbyist group and Verizon. The state’s recently released figures prompted outcry yesterday from project foe Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.

The group criticized Forest City Ratner for its spending on lobbyists in light of recent news that rather than having the developer dip into its own pockets to pay the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the rights to build over the rail yards, the city may cough up an additional $100 million in taxpayer money for the 8.5-acre parcel of the 22-acre site.

The largest single lobbying contract in 2006 was the $656,520 Forest City Ratner paid the Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson firm. The report also shows that Forest City Ratner employed eight different lobby firms last year.

100 million (and them some) for a paltry 2.2 million dollars? Not a bad ROA.

Salaam E Ishq Out on DVD

If the film were half as good as the Promo piece on the website (click on promos and then 'salaam e ishq and watch) I'd give it 5 stars. The promo led me to believe there would be some intelligent, subtle plots, but it turned out to be over the top meladramtics or just not interesting.

In the promo the relations between Priyanka Chopra and poacher Salman Khan, Aeyshia and Khanna and most of all John Abraham (a good actor) and Vidya Balan (a great one) looked very promising - as did veteran Anil Kapoor and Juhhi Chawla(If anything its an indicator of the comment many film critics make: the best filmmakers are the trailer editors) but alas the only good acting and interesting character was Govinda's. Just one, one decent plot among these six couples and it would have been my favorite film of the year...but alas it was a let down...some good music. But the cast, pre-released music and promo shots like this:

Let me to expect so much more. The musical numbers are worth Netflix rental (mercifully bollywood DVDs usually have a 'play songs only' menu option.

The AIPAC Girl

And Speaking Of Lobbies:
If George W. Bush launches a pre-emptive war on Iran, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will bear full moral responsibility for that war.

For it was Pelosi who quietly agreed to strip out of the $100 billion funding bill for Iraq a provision that would have required President Bush to seek congressional approval before launching any new war on Iran.

According to John Nichols of The Nation, Pelosi's decision to strip the provision barring Bush from attacking Iran without Congress' approval "sends the worst possible signal to the White House."

"The speaker has erred dangerously and dramatically," writes Nichols. Her "disastrous misstep could haunt her and the Congress for years to come."

"Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi received a smattering of boos when she bad-mouthed the war effort during a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and the Democratic leadership, responding to concerns from pro-Israel lawmakers, was forced to strip from a military appropriations measure a provision meant to weaken President Bush's ability to respond to threats from Iran."

This episode, wherein liberal Democrats scuttled a bipartisan effort to require Bush to abide by the Constitution before taking us into a third war in the Middle East, speaks volumes about who has the whip hand on Capitol Hill when it comes to the Middle East.

Pelosi gets booed by the Israeli lobby, then runs back to the Hill and gives Bush a blank check for war on Iran, because that is what the lobby demands. A real candidate for Profiles in Courage.

I used to think Pat Buchanan was 'nutty' until I realized it was nutty neoconservatives denouncing him because he saw the insanity of their nutty agenda. The fact that the Nation and The American Conservative are seeing eye to eye on foreign policy, and both are on the fringes of the establishment means that we have an elite that is not only out of touch with America, but so powerful that democrats are willing to reject the mandate that gave them back control of Congress. Interestingly both the Nation and American Conservative make their money solely from subscription. In other words they are only beholden to their subscribers ,not advertisers.

And they are strikingly similar on some issues (abortion is definitely not one of them :) ) For example here is an article from the American Conservative which easily could be in the nation, but you'd never find in US News or Time:

What Would Jack Bauer Do?
By Michael Brendan Dougherty
Fox’s hit drama normalizes torture, magnifies terror, and leaves conservatives asking why George W. Bush can’t be more like 24’s hero.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Banana Republic, It Ain't Just A Clothing Label

From No Land Grab: 2006 lobbying breaks record, tripled since '96
Gannet News Service
, via Ithaca Journal
By YANCEY ROY Bruce Ratner was the third biggest spender in lobbying officials in Albany last year, doling out $2.11 million to convince politicians that Atlantic Yards and his other projects are good for NY.

Ratner was only outspent by the Healthcare Association of New York State and Verizon.

Special-interest groups spent a record $151 million trying to influence politics at the State Capitol in 2006, fueled by fights over health care, telecommunications and sports stadiums.

The amount spent on lobbying in New York has tripled in just 10 years, according to a report issued Monday.

The money represents spending on advertising, salaries of lobbyists, meals bought for legislators and similar costs. It does not include campaign contributions.
Bruce Ratner, who wants to build a basketball arena in Brooklyn to house the now-New Jersey Nets NBA team, ranked No. 3 at $2.11 million.

I am sure glad Bruce Ratner assured us that he doesn't contribute to politicians to avoid the appearance of impropriety, otherwise we might think something was amiss.

How We Subsidize Greedy Developers

Below are some pictures of a building going up in Fort Greene:

is there anything remotely attractive about this building? No. Does it fit into the neighborhood? no. It's out of scale, blandly designed, casts shadows, and taxes infrastructure....Besides the 'amentities' how does the developer sell it? By pointing out that its' in a charming neighborhood of brownstones, historic buildings, and parks:

Of course this big, ugly, out of scale building detracts from all of those things, the same way it would detract from the charm of a say, a Cotswold village. If the developer chose to build a smaller building with better aesthetics, one could say it added something to the neighborhood - but that would get in the way of profit. Thus the developer is able to profit off of the charm of the neighborhood while at the same time, contributes to its long term detriment. Do they care? Of course not, because they can make their money and not have to live with the consequences. And the Mayor and current elite specifically award such behavior and thinking.

Does anyone, anywhere, think the rows and rows of faceless steel and glass boxes on, say the Upper east side are in the least bit attractive. If more of the city becomes like that, does it become a better place?

No. But ideas like that are 'long term thinking' that don't' immediately contribute to increased tax revenue and developer profit, so why give a damn?

Who's Watching the Watchers?

We've already seen the results of the ESDC and Forest City hiring 'experts' to analyze environmental impact or assess historical significance of buildings. In what can only be described as a remarkable coincidence, they have a near 100% track record of coming to conclusions favorable for the Developer. Now the ESDC and Forest City are hiring monitors to oversee compliance of the project: From Atlantic Yards Report:

"In-house discretion
Unmentioned in the press release is that FCR would fund the ICM, according to the CBA, with "an annual payment of up to $100,000 to be paid by the Project Developer"

So the sham continues. Forest City has a track record of tying their 'contributions' to charities into specific actions by those charities (which means they aren't contributions at all but bribes). If Forest City & Ratner corrupt the virtue of charity, can we seriously imagine that someone collecting a check from Forest City for actual work to objectively oversee this project? Or will it become a physical manifestation of the FEIS - within the letter of the law(barely), but mocking and insulting the spirit of the law.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Cheeni Kum

I have been disappointed with Bollywood's output this year. Guru, Eklavya, and Salaam E Isque were all letdowns -not bombs, but let downs. The most promising thing on the horizon is this 'intelligent' comedy "Cheeni Kum" - about a 64 year old chef who marries a 35 year old woman.
Trailer and official site Here
The little clip of music at the end sounds promising....
Ambit Bachanon and Tabu star. AB's enough of a veteran and has enough on screen charisma to make just about any film watchable, but if this trailer is any indicator, we can expect a lot more from this film than AB. I have never seen Tabu in a film before (at least that I can recall) until the Namesake, but if her performance here is half as good as there, then it'll be worth watching.

Friendly note: If searching google images for a production photograph of tabu in cheeni kum....well... definitely turn on illicit filtering.

Tower of Babble.

I used to have a collection of 'Multiculturalism is a bad idea" type books ...until I realized it was like having a collection of "the earth is round"books taking up space on my bookshelf. Anyway, one of them, i can't recall which one - remarked of the absurd lengths we go to here, including teaching Creole as a second language...the book remarked that creole isn't even taught in schools in Hati. And low and behold I stumbled on a rather extensive collection of Creole web pages at How many different people are in this city of Babel now? Do we have to provide languge services for everyone? If we're providing it because otherwise it would be discriminating against minorities, do we provide it for all minorities, do we provide Scottish gaelic translations for the two or three people here that speak it? What about Breton? Or Basque? who and what qualifies for PC treatment?

Amanda Burden Trips Over Herself

One of the more amusing aspects of Atlantic Yards supporters are the mental gymnastics they have to do to keep from contradicting themselves or 'slipping up' and revealing the truth behind 'the big lie' from a crain's article:
Q: Were you surprised by the extent and vociferous nature of the opposition to the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn?

A: As I recall, the Atlantic Yards had deep and wide support throughout the community. [you recall wrong - or is that just a way of lying. There is no support in the community except for 'democracy for hire. A bold faced lie right out of the Forest City either shows that Burden is remarkably uniformed about Atlantic Yards or she's employing the old maxim if you're going to lie, lie big.] There was vociferous opposition, as there always is with big projects. But we're a big city, and we need big projects.[is there any logic to this statement? - Not really -it's one of those things that sound's sensible, but really isn't. Why does a big city 'need' big projects? And why does the city have to pay for them? What 'big cities' really need is substantial investment in infrastructure which the mayor refuses to do...what he city really needs is more public park and greenspace, which the mayor refuses to do. ] Atlantic Yards was a gaping hole in the heart of Brooklyn. Now it will provide a fantastic venue for a sports facility, retail and entertainment, and it is on top of a transit hub, which fits our strategy of sustainable growth.[it will also fit al-queda's strategy for the world's biggest hand grenade. - oh and Mrs Burden, Its Vanderbilt Yards, and its not gaping hole but a working rail yard. You forgot to add it will decrease diversity of property ownership - forcibly take people's homes and make this part of brooklyn the densest population tract in the country. That's 'sustainable' growth? I shutter to imagine what you think unsustainable growth constitutes.. ]

Q: Four years ago, the city announced plans to revitalize Coney Island, but little has happened since. What is the status of the plan to rezone the area, and do you favor including residential use in the entertainment zone, as the landlord who owns most the property wants?

A: Our rezoning plans for Coney Island will provide substantial opportunities for residential development, let me reassure you of that.

I don't know if you know that Coney Island used to be the No. 1 tourist destination in the entire world — and the amusements are part of its iconic character, its magic, its worldwide renown and its brand name. Amusements are incompatible with immediately adjacent residential use, so we do not think residential use immediately adjacent to the amusements is appropriate.

But a sports arena is? Oh let me answer that for you it isn't, according to the city's own zoning laws (which say that arenas cannot be within 200 feet of residential areas) - wait - I thought Atlantic Yards was great, how could something so great be inappropriate?

From the DDDB link above:
But its not just DDDB and the community that feels this way.The New York City Department of City Planning (NYCDCP) agrees and created a zoning law that...

"prohibits arenas within 200 feet of residential districts as some of the opperations could be incopmpatible with districts limited primarily to residential use.""

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bollywood Break: Parineeta.

From my favorite film of the 21st, Parineeta. Angelic Shreya Ghoshal in a duet with Sonu Nigam.

The lyrics are quite melancholy. I love the simple poetry of the chorus:

phuul phuul bha.nwara dole
The flowers and bees dance together
man me.n guu.njii terii yaad
and memories of you echo in my heart
baag me.n papiiha bole
The cuckoo cries out in the garden,
piihu piihu piiyu kahaan
"Pihu, pihu, where is my beloved?"
Not only is it one of my favorite songs but this shot of Vidya Balan

Just makes my heart melt every time. The only other shot that has done that is this one of Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face: