“What do we need for cars here in Manhattan anyway?”

My buddy Sal came to me in a huff the other day…

“I don’t know what we need for cars here in Manhattan anyway. Do you?”

Well I thought I did, but I didn’t respond right away, because it was clear that he was agitated…

“I mean a real New Yorker doesn’t drive. Yeah I know we have driver’s licenses, but we only use them on vacation in like July and August when we get the heck out of town and bother people in calmer places like Cape May, or Spring Lake, or someplace ya know?”

Not really, but I let him go on.

“Seriously. A car in the City is an affront to, what do you call it, urban life, yea, thats it. When I was a kid, my uncle lived in Woodside, as all good Irish did in them days, and he had a station wagon to haul my Aunt and my four cousins around in it. All Irish families were big back then too, you know. He also needed the wagon to take care of the newsstand he was given by the city on account of he was disabled in the War, the big one. But when he came in to see us it was like a grand act of heroism to find a parking spot and then move the car every few hours. He would get outa here as soon as he could. You know what I mean?”

I nodded yes, because I didn’t want to get him more upset.

“But he lived in Queens. Cars out there? OK. But in Manhattan? Thats just wrong. Why are we giving up our what do they call it, street scape so people from the outer boroughs, and from f*ck’n New Jersey can park on the side of the street, kill our trees with their exhaust and make the west side unbelievably impassible as they all try to get out a here on Friday?”

Somehow I had never seen Sal as either en environmentalist or urban designer. He must have been reading the Villager again.

“Listen. Here’s the solution:” he said

I cringed in preparation

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So why not dougist.com T-shirts?

I’ve been spending a remarkable amount of time messing with css code, div statements, and template design, just so you all can have a pleasant graphical experience when you read my stuff.

Luckily my love who is wicked smart in everything she does, picked up HTML a few years ago like a duck sliding into the boat pond on a rainy afternoon in Central Park. (What a woman).

So while she fixes everything on the site I break (“Sweetie? Why is all the text purple and the link list rendering in Hebrew characters? Did I do that somehow?”) I’m out trying to get someone to read all this stuff. I’ve spent almost as much time on social networking sites as I have trashing well thought out code strings, all in the name of trying to drum up readership. Digg this, blogshere that, techoratimoutahere.

It makes me long for the old days of marketing where you ran a promotion in the real world, not in a cyber room. For a product launch you had an event and threw a party and the Ad agency got a big check for the market segment you just conquered. I keep threatening to get shirts with dougist.com on them. Maybe orange ones. Each time I bring it up sweetie looks up from the sudoku puzzle of code I asked her to fix, and she just looks at me sadly as If I were John McCain trying to explain why its a good thing that he doesn’t plan on Googling “Russian Strategy in Georgia” before Putkin comes to visit him in the White House.

She smiles and says “You just focus on the writing art stuff honey. I’ll fix the Apache bug”. To whit I start looking over my shoulder for braves on the warpath, but she means something deep in the bowels of our ftp’ed php files up in the web hosting cloud, not the warriors circling above us on the rim of the box canyon.

Hey, I wonder if they’d link to my site? Sup guys….

Posted in Writing | Tagged , | 1 Response

2008 drummers beating in unison

The scenes from today’s Olympic cycling road race in Beijing were stunning. NBC shot beautiful high definition video of the ancient city with its Asian filigree, curved cornices and dragon motifs. Then as the race progressed they moved on to arial swoops of the modern city with its muscular, physics defying architecture, finally out to the countryside, to the great wall of China. 

This bird eye tour ride followed a night of unrivaled artistry as the Olympic opening ceremonies with its permutations of 2,008 drummers, Confucian scholars, and harmonious martial artists, showed what you can do with an unlimited budget, an unlimited population, and unlimited control of both. 

Watching the precision and the power of the infrastructure surrounding these games, how could anyone in the rest of the word not feel awed and threatened by the resurgent and emergent China? Last night Mandarins sat behind traditional (and beautiful) hand carved dark wooden dais as Messrs. Putkin, Bush, and Sarkozi, to name just a few, squirmed and sweated in the cheap seats. The symbolism was shocking. First, they had to come; second, it was as if they weren’t there at all (Putkin is actually running a war in Georgia right now, generally a time when leaders stay home)

Until 2008, winning an Olympic bid was a invitation to municipal humiliation. Hosts consistently failed to complete train lines, airports, stadiums, or even the streets in time for the world to arrive. Greece confirmed the world’s opinion of Mediterranean (in)efficiency by delivering a host city more in ruins when the games began then the one they had at the start. And while the Americans in LA began the trend toward the games as modern spectacular, it was Atlanta that just skidded through to functionality by under designing vast swaths of infrastructure (a disposable version of the games). I was at Atlanta. Most of the construction was done with cardboard posters and banners. You felt that if someone fell the wrong way the ripping sound alone would bring the whole thing to a halt. There certainly was no new airport two miles long, or a TV broadcasting center that disregards gravity. Read More »

Posted in Best Of, The Annals of Protest | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Responses

Tourist’s guide to Manhattan Fuana

I like Michael Bloomberg. I think he has been a good mayor for New York. I like the fact that he rides the Subway. I like how he rearranged his office in City Hall into a trading floor. I like the idea that he disappears for weekends flaunting his notoriety in an age of incessant paparazzi. 

I even like the fact that he is remarkably rich. I think that in general the rich make the best leaders in government (think Washington, both Roosevelts, Rockfeller), especially the self made rich, who cary with their success the memory of a youth when all was not quite so easy, like Mike. And while some guys on the make (Lincoln, Kotch) have done well, the risks of a Boss Tweed, Nixon or Clinton are inherent in their lot. Great wealth makes one less externally corruptible because the pressure of accumulation is minimized to a trifle. However, wealth, like its brother power, does create an internal corruption of one’s soul, but thats for another post.

But I think mayor Mike is absolutely wrong about promoting tourism in New York City, one of the direct outcomes of which has been the infestation of red double-decker tourist busses on all the streets of our city.

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No more buildings! Not even for them!

Youthful anarchy is all the rage these days what with the white faced Heath Ledger mystifying millions in movie houses with his posthumous incarnation of amorality, and the Times writing about Malwebolence and such. So much so that it is crowding out good old fashioned tie-died protesting. You know, the kind made famous in the late 60’s and which looks like it may become the next shuffleboard now that its original practitioners are beginning to age into assisted living communities. 

So what’s an aging protester to do to stay relevant when the kids are acting more amoral in their white faced Joker makeup then you did in your anti-draft (oops, I mean anti-war) bare feet?

You have to go after whoever you can, and I’m sure Jane Jacobs would agree that even though it’s the New School that needs the space, no one, I mean no one should be allowed to build a new building in New York, nope, not ever again.

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Creative destruction, I hope…

There is good news in the bad news of Wall Street’s layoffs, or so Schumpeter would say. Read More »

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