Je Suis Charlie

I’ve been glued to my tv watching coverage of the terrorist attack in Paris. Jesus fucking Christ. Also, yesterday there was a bombing next door to the Colorado Springs chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. Live and freaking let live people. But obviously these people are so severely damaged they are beyond reason and compassion. Our hearts are with you, people of France!

A very ephemeral sign on 11th Street. It clearly wasn’t meant to last very long. In case you can’t read it, underneath “I can’t breathe,” it says, “he could not do anything! But WE can!”

I Can't Breathe

Records from The Municipal Archives

The Municipal Archives, one of my favorite places in the world to explore, holds historical records of New York City going all the way back to the 17th century. I’ve been digging around in there for decades and I thought from time to time I might post snippets of items I found that are particularly compelling. Like this evidence of a 1863 murder, proving—in case there’s anyone who wasn’t already aware—that lynching was not confined to the southern states (although in this case the man might have died before he was strung up). This took place a couple of blocks from where Macy’s now stands.

“I yesterday saw the body of the above described col’ed [colored] man hanging to a tree in 32 St. bet. 6 & 7 Ave. I think he was dead when I first saw him. I understood a fireman who had him shot … this man who made this statement is a [illegible] with 3 Hose Co and a tall man, and I also understood that he had him shot by a negro, and then, this negro was attack, killed, & hung as stated.” Taken July 16, 1863, Mickail Mitch.

—From the records of the Coroner and Office of Chief Medical Examiner, 1823-1946, NYC County Coroner Inquests, Roll 90.

Students of history will realize that this man was murdered during the terrible draft riots that erupted in New York City after congress passed laws to draft men into the Civil War.

The Municipal Archives also maintains an ever-growing online gallery of images. The one below is from the NYPD & Criminal Prosecution collection, which contains some pretty horrific images. This one is relatively tame. The caption reads: “Homicide 92? Nov. 23, 1915 JMR “Isabella Bradford (Black)” kitchen interior.” A quick Google search turns up the fact that an Allen Bradford was charged (I’m guessing he was her husband). I’ll see if I can find out if he was convicted, I can’t access the inmate records on at the moment.

New York City Municipal Archives Online Gallery

People who understand financial things: Did Sorkin get this right?

This is from one of the last episodes of Newsroom. Don told Sloan that she never explained the subprime mortgage scandal in a way that most people could understand. Here is her attempt. Did Sorkin get it right? PS: Someone give Olivia Munn her own series.

Sloan: Markets rely on Standard & Poor’s to objectively rate debt. But the companies that want a favorable debt rating are the same companies that pay Standard & Poor’s. You follow so far?

Don: Yeah.

Sloan: Banks wrote a ton of bad mortgages to people they knew were going to default. It’s called predatory lending. Then hid those bad mortgages inside good mortgages to shine up the books for S&P, which gave them triple-A ratings. Then they’d bundle the whole thing and sell the debt to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which is owned by–

Don: You and me.

Sloan: Yes. And then the banks bet on those loans defaulting. Not that much different from fixing a college basketball game except a ton of people wind up broke and homeless. Those people can’t buy things anymore, so businesses start going out of business and more people are broke. When you start eliminating consumers, you start eliminating jobs, which eliminates consumers, which eliminates jobs, which eliminates consumers, and you see where this is going?

A Christmas tree behind the Jefferson Market Library (aka where Miranda and Steve got married in Sex and the City).


The Best Short Story of 2014

It’s one of the best things I’ve read in years: The Halfway Café. It’s a quick read so there’s no excuse not to give it a try. You must read it! I was very moved by it. I was actually moved to forgive someone who did terrible things to me, someone I’ve been trying to forgive for years. I was about to write him but then I realized he’s still a terrible person and I should forgive him in my heart but not re-establish contact.

Why I took a picture of a pay phone. Because 1, it just appeared out of the blue. I didn’t even know new pay phones were being installed anymore. And 2, it’s not new. Someone installed an old, unclean, used pay phone. It’s just odd.


Rest in Peace Mario Cuomo

I adored Mario Cuomo. I saw him speak at the 92nd Street Y in January, 2010. It feels so recent to me. He was still so strong and vigorous and SMART. I was looking for a copy of his speech, but I couldn’t find it. What I did find was his answer to an audience question about advice for President Obama.

1. Mr. President, you shouldn’t have started with healthcare. With everything else falling down around us, there were other issues that needed tending first. However, now that we have gone down this road, we must finish what we started. We must get some kind of heathcare bill passed. And yes, Mrs. Pelosi, you have to go get those Senate votes by any means necessary. The bill won’t be perfect. We aren’t going to get a complete fix to healthcare, but we have to at least have a bill that is a start down the road to improvement.

2. You, Mr. President, are the most burdened President in modern history. Not even FDR had the troubles you have in this current state of the nation: healthcare, education, the energy crisis, Afghanistan, and this dreadful economy. You won’t get it all done in 4 years. Think of it as work to complete in 8 years. This will help us take 1 issue at a time.

3. Please, Mr. President, don’t lose heart. In this next year you will have to fight and fight hard. While you are the most burdened President in modern history, you are also the most brilliant and the most eloquent. What you lacked was experience, and in your first year in office, you got plenty of experience.

Heavy sigh. How I wish you could have lived, and governed, forever. You would have made such a great Supreme Court Justice, but apparently you really and truly didn’t want that job.

My friend Howard reading to the granddaughter of a friend of ours. I’m so mad her face is blocked! I didn’t notice at the time, I took the shot so quickly (Howard does not like having his picture taken).