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September 27th, 2010

Greetings from Scott Turner

Remember Scott Turner? Since he moved away from Brooklyn he doesn’t write much, he never calls. But he is coming back to the old neighborhood for a visit and a show. “I’m gonna be in Brooklyn for a few days early in October.  The timing’s good for a show and the release of the new RebelMart album. I’m playing two sets at Rocky Sullivan’s in Red Hook on Friday, October 8th.  Show starts at 9pm.  Lots of new songs, lots of old songs, and the always popular what-was-I-thinking? cover.  Could be Tom Waits, could be Perry Como, could be the Spunk Lads.”

Click on Read more to hear more from Scott:

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April 28th, 2010

Greetings from Scott Turner: Let’s Start Not Forgetting

Scott Turner is flying in from Seattle (where he recently moved) for Friday night’s closing party for Freddy’s Bar and Backroom. It’s like seeing someone at a funeral: great to see you, sorry it had to be for this. It is surely the end of an era for Freddy’s at its location on Dean Street in the Atlantic Yards footprint. The legendary bar will be moving to Fourth Avenue in Park Slope this summer.

Hi, all…

I’m a long way away — in a land where the daytime high in the mid-50s was swell in February and a drag in mid April.  A land where bike riders think they’re Lance Armstrong, where it doesn’t rain as much as New York.  A land where I can see and hear freight trains, cargo ships and landing planes out my front window.  A land where here, too, a dumb-ass government has spent years shoving a rich-person’s development project down everyone’s throats.

…a land not too far to grieve over the passing of Freddy’s Bar & Backroom.

That would be this Friday, April 30, at the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue — the future site of not a school, not a health clinic, not an AIDS or cancer research center, not a job-training facility, not an emerging small business, not an artists’ colony, not a community center, not one stitch of affordable housing, not open space or green space or free space or peoples’ space.  The future site of some ancillary structure connected to a Russian oligarch’s basketball team’s arena.

Friday is the last hurrah for everyone who’s ever loved Freddy’s — the bands, the quizzes, the karaoke, the knit nights, the opera nights, the cringe-nights, the bartenders and staff , the Rev 99 video mixes on the corner t.v. set, the refusal to let people watch Nets games these last seven years, the characters who lived (and a few who stopped living) in the sturdy, eccentric latticework of raw emotions and creative fireworks exploding in Freddy’s every night.

Even when Freddy’s was dead, it was alive.  And when it was alive, you could sometimes feel the dead brush up against you.  Not to haunt or frighten.  Just to join in the fray.  The dead know something about fray-joining.

Because the Atlantic Yards project continues to be mired in controversy, failed promises, suspect financing and the utter lack of democracy and decency, these last nights at Freddy’s will feel, weirdly, like a victory.  We know the battle was worth fighting.  We know that fighting City Hall is A) the right thing, B) the fun thing and C) the necessary thing.   Miscreants like Bruce Ratner and Michael Bloomberg, and their sycophantic successors, will never try this again.  In spite of New York City’s notoriously short memories (“who’s this Robert Moses, again?”) and post-Bush-era self-absorbancies, folks will remember this battle.

Why?  Because for generations, Atlantic Yards will be remembered as the Great White Elephant That Forgot — forgot to stop killing everything in its path.

Let’s start not-forgetting by meeting up at Freddy’s this Friday, for Goodbye. All the Freddy’s musicians will perform.  RebelMart will be flying in from Seattle for a few songs.  It’ll be something to see, all those singers just nights before moving day.

We’ll be cradling these moments, ready to fashion new ones, and terrifying governments who always ignore the dangerous weapons that memories can be.  In the words of Captain Malcolm Reynolds, “no, they won’t see this coming.”

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February 3rd, 2010

Greetings from Scott Turner: I’ll Never Love A Place As Much As Brooklyn

Scott Turner is set to move to Seattle. This is his last Greetings for a while. He can write whatever he wants.

Greetings Pub Quiz Friends…

Sure, it’s a mawkish way to begin this last Quizmail of the Scott M.X. Turner era.

It’s my last one.  I can write whatever I want.

Well, that’s misleading.  I always write whatever I want.

Sitting here now, on a scrappy and, by noon tomorrow, already-forgotten snowy night, I stare at the keyboard.  Then the screen.  Then my blackboard here at Pub Quiz Actual a half-block from Green-Wood Cemetery.  See, Homeland Security, you don’t need to triangulate nuthin’.  Just keep reading.

Here’s the first thing I can report: The E, A, S, K, O, L, C, N and M keys are really wearing down — N, especially.  Without the touch-typing Mrs. Nichols taught in my junior year at W.H. Page Senior High in Greensboro, NC, the ruler-whack-across-the-knuckles-every-time-I-looked-down-at-the-keys school of touchtyping instruction — I wouldn’t know what any of these keys are.

Thank you, Ms. Nichols, you brutal mean-spirited toad.

Here’s what else I can report.

I love Brooklyn.

I hate Brooklyn.

Is it any wonder these battling eternities go hand in hand?

I love Brooklyn for the following reasons: Freddy’s Bar, Rocky Sullivan’s, MissWit T-Shirts, the dead-and-gone Gage & Tollner, Ebbets Field, The Usual on Vanderbilt Avenue, Tom’s Restaurant on Washington Avenue, Coney Island without Thor or Bloomberg and definitely including Ruby’s, the craggy streets, the countless mom’n’pop stores, Neergaard’s on 5th Avenue, Has Beans on 5th, Red Hook, Floyd Bennett Field, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, FUREE, The Spunk Lads, John Pinamonti, Plastic Beef, Seanchai & the Unity Squad, Michael Patrick MacDonald, The Larch, Robin Aigner, the John Sharples Band, Wombat Studios, The Magpies, Alex Battles, Karen Sorenson’s LOVE Project, the Ditty Committee, artists Conor McGrady and Kevin Noble, Paul Lukas’ Uni Watch website, Green-Wood Cemetery and, most favorite of all, Henry Chadwick’s grave and helping Minerva wave at her French sister in the harbor, Sunset Park, the parts of Park Slope that — well, you know which parts those are, Only The Blog Knows Brooklyn, Manson Family Picnic, Norman Oder’s Atlantic Yards Report, No Land Grab, Puzzling New York, Diane and Sirius and Tikkanen and Connolly, Men & Cats, the Knit-A-Jig crowd, Melody Lanes, Tony Avella — yes, he’s from Queens, but over the last five years he’s come to Brooklyn’s defense more often than most Brooklyn pols, the Atlantic Yards Photo Pool photogs (Tracy Collins, Adrian Kinloch, Jonathan Barkey), the Brooklyn Paper before it its editorial independence got swallowed whole by new owner Rupert Murdoch, Chrysalis Archaeology, Michael Hill’s Blues Mob, The Kennel Studio in East Williamsburg, Michael O’Keeffe and the Daily News’ sports I-Team, The Battle of Brooklyn, Joe at John Hlad Plumbing, Chris Owens, Josh Skaller, Bill Batson, the neighborhood interface areas where Orthodox Jews meet Asians meet Caribbeans meet Africans meet Irish meet Latinos/as meet Italians meet WASPs meet African-Americans meet Laplanders meet Orthodox Jews meet…, amazing artist Alyson Shotz, amazing videographer and producer George Lerner, John Costelloe, Roger Paz even though he’s out in Detroit, BCAT, Teddy’s in Williamsburg and the Charleston’s pizza/beer combo, the Fifth Avenue Committee, Park Slope Neighbors, the Brooklyn Greens, John Turturro, Steve Buscemi, the Navy Yard, the Brooklyn parrots, the Red Hook vendors, the B77 bus, everyone who’s fought Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards, the F train’s view of the harbor on summer afternoons, Tuniserve Deli — my morning newspaper joint, Critical Mass, Brooklyn Vs. Bush, Mazzotti Music — the kindest and best musical instruments store and now the kindest and best out-of-business music store, Prospect Park and its timelessness any time of day time of year, my dear friends on the DDDB staff — Dan, Candace, Eric, Gloria and loud’n’proud Lucy, and most germane to this dispatch, the crowd for two-and-a-half years that has been coming to the Rocky Sullivan’s Pub Quiz.

My grandfather once warned me that hatred is a dangerous tool.  But, unlike most Lutheran men born in 1899 who worked their whole lives at the YMCA, he didn’t say “don’t hate.”  He said “don’t hate if you don’t know what you’re talking about.”  Thanks, Poppo.  Here’s that list: Bruce Ratner, Marty Markowitz, Roger Green, BUILD, the local chapter of ACORN, the Atlantic Yards monstrosity, the local construction unions whose myopic embrace of Ratner has condemned countless working-class people — many in sister unions throughout the city — to a worse and not better life, Joe Sitt, Coney Island as envisioned by Michael Bloomberg, the 4th Avenue rezoning plan, Joe DePlasco, Bruce Bender, Barclays Bank, Mikhail Prokhorov, the hypocritical Brooklyn Brewery, Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick hipsters — yes, an easy target but you don’t get to be an easy target unless you are, simply, a target, the Atlantic Terminal Mall, the Atlantic Center mall, MetroTech, the endangered species that is small-business in this borough, Greenpoint/Williamsburg rezoning, Marty Golden, Carl Krueger, Joe Chan, and most germane to every dispatch I’ve written since I’ve lived here, Brooklynites who’d rather sip expensive coffee and resort to today’s stick-their-heads-in-the-sand —  their laptops and iPhones while every class and community is run roughshod over by the worst mayor this city has ever seen, Michael Bloomberg.

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January 27th, 2010

Greetings From Scott Turner: Simplicities

Last week I reported that Scott Turner, pub quizzer at Rocky Sullivan’s in Red Hook, is moving to Seattle. But he hasn’t left yet. And hopefully he’ll keep sending his “greetings” from the great city of Seattle.

Greetings Pub Quiz Minutiaetistas…

We’re all motivated by simplicities.  Straight-forward declarations of love, joy, excitement, and plans that say, simply, “you’ll dig this.”

“We’re going to Paris!”
“Free pizza for everyone!”
“Bruce Ratner’s giving up!”
“C’mere, big boy…”

…that sort of thing.

Which is why the Obama presidency, thus far, has been a failure.

Everything that seemed clear and obvious when he was stressing HOPE and YES WE CAN.


Agendas sure are tricky, in no way easy, and most certainly, not simple.  However, communicating them should be simple. Obama’s inability to pick a message and stick to it is really making a mess of things.

Teddy Roosevelt spoke softly and carried a big stick in the service of imperialism.  FDR formed agencies to provide jobs and build things the country needed, not small tax credits for families that can evaporate a hundred different ways by April 15th.  The recent junk — Reagan’s kill-commies and W’s kill-terrorists initiatives — was clearly laid out, and the giant gears of bureaucracy were retrofitted to grind those plans into reality.

Some will say it’s immature to expect clear, simple directives — that real life is complex and fixing problems doesn’t happen in the snap of a finger.  That’s true.  But just knowing there’s a point to it makes a big difference.


You know what?  This is a all Sherlock comma shit comma no stuff.


Here’re some other completely obvious things, presented in an orderly bulleted list.

* Bruce Ratner is a turd
* Michael Bloomberg is a wealthier turd than Bruce Ratner
* The Mets haven’t a clue
* Atlantic Yards will disappoint the people who believe in it
* Harold Ford’s kinda hard to pin down
* J-E-T-S
* Coffee is a delicious beverage
* My first ever toy was a Winnie the Pooh bear based on the old A.A. Milne books, not the Disney bear
* I play a Fender guitar with DAYS OF HEAVEN stickered on the back below the year 1916
* Everyone should read The Autobiography of Malcolm X
* Terrence Malick’s new film, Tree of Life, if gonna be spectacular
* Lady Gaga is fun but in possession of a real long shelf life
* The Cincinnati Reds were nicknamed The Big Red Machine because they were the Reds
* Pillow talk can be muffled
* Walnuts are called walnuts because they grow on walls spelled with just one “L”
* I like The Clash
* The Scholastic Book of Lists lists Simple Machines as “incline plane, screw, lever, wheel and axle, pulley and wedge” and Complex Machines as “airplanes, automobiles, cameras, computers, telephones and televisions.”
* Some of the Grateful Dead are
* The U.S. Postal Service’s code for American Samoa is AS
* It’s often fun to say “Jalalabad”
* Brooklyn Brewery still stinks for supporting the Atlantic Yards project
* Many people have seen the film Avatar
* The U.S. Department of Transportation’s new law prohibiting truckers and bus drivers from texting on the road is a very useful
* Apple has a new gadget, a tablet of some sort
* Teenagers seem to like Twilight.  Good for them!
* Port-au-Prince is a frakkin’ mess
* One of the two Mars rovers, Spirit, may never roll again and has shut down to hibernate for the Martian winter.
* Firefly is the greatest television show ever
* For the next two weeks we will hear more sappy crap about what the Saints mean to a still-recovering New Orleans than we can possibly stomach
* The Tickemaster-Live Nation merger will mean concerts will cost more than the car you drive to them
* Randy Newman is the greatest American songwriter of our generation, even if a critic once said he sounds like a frightened water buffalo when he sings
* If you’re rich, you have it made in Michael Bloomberg’s New York — excepting Bernie Madoff, of course

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January 13th, 2010

Greetings from Scott Turner: Fires Scorch the Skies Above Port-au-Prince

Here is this week’s missive from writer, designer and social activist Scott Turner, who runs the Thursday night Pub Quiz at Rocky Sullivan’s in Red Hook.

…tonight, fires scorch the skies above Port-au-Prince.

It’s  2:30 a.m. New York time.  In Haiti tonight, devastation in the capital city.  While we have every reason to recoil from American media’s overwrought hype, there’s no way the crisply-coiffed newsreaders are exaggerating: Port-au-Price is a city in ruins.  It was before Tuesday’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake.  Now, with a push from the occasionally cruel Mother Earth, Port-au-Prince is a place too cruel for even Dante’s circles.

What does a city do when the ground roars beneath it, the mountains shudder above it, and there’s no one to put out the fires?

We’ll find out.  But it won’t be good.

There are some moments that test our belief that life can be good.  Haiti, the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere, wracked with civil and political conflict, lacking infrastructure most of us in Brooklyn take for granted — hit with its most powerful earthquake ever.

It’s not fair.  Life hasn’t been fair in Haiti in anyone’s memory.  Miracles don’t really happen, but if they did, they’s fly right over Haiti, their golden contrails barely visible in the sad blue skies over Cite Soleil.

This will be the only news for the next few days.

Check in with Brooklyn’s Radio Soleil Haiti for the latest.  Global antennas are putting out the word tonight: “there is little left of Port-au-Prince…fires are out of control…tremor after tremor…people are in the streets…help us, please, help us.”

If you can’t stand big relief efforts — requests for donations, canned goods, blankets; benefit concerts an news reports with mawkish piano music — this might be the time to turn away from the screen.

But of course, we can’t turn away.  For reasons right and wrong, we respond.  This is one of those times.  Wednesday’s first light will bring pictures of cataclysm and numbers beyond belief.  Some of us won’t turn away because a good wreck is always worth scoping.  The rest of us will wonder “what can I do?”  To comprehend, to help, to get our balance back.  When a poor city’s people are buried ‘neath the poor city’s shanties, the earthquake shakes us all.

Brooklyn will respond.  Not for anything in our past.  Not because politicians and clergy and verbose quizmasters ask us to.  Simply, we’ll ask how we can help.  Our hearts are metaphysical receptacles where we decide whose hand to take and which horror to look in the eye.  In times like this, they tell us to ignore all the voices except our soul’s.

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January 6th, 2010

Greetings From Scott Turner: Ignoring What Hurts People

Here’s the first missive of the New Year from writer/designer Scott Turner, who, among other things, runs the Thursday pub quiz at Rocky Sullivan’s in Red Hook. This post is, as always, brought to you by Miss Wit, the t-shirt queen of Red Hook.

Greetings Pub Quiz Bundle-Uppers…

Is it cold?  Or is it just Winter?

The Daily News had a scintillating story this morning…page 2, where stories of great import appear.

“N.Y. cold snap to rival horror winters of ’70s” was the real eye catcher.  Forget for a second that it reads like a 1950s B-movie sci-fi headline (“Martians to destroy humanity”).  The News must have sensed that underwear-bombers just weren’t scary enough.

It’s bad enough to add every Yemeni to the No Like List.  Another entirely to add the weather.

The article delves into the meteorological community’s (meaning two guys from Accu-Weather quoted in the News‘ piece) belief that this will be a Day After Tomorrow winter.
The Daily News and Accu-Weather’s prediction for the next two months — and New Yorkers’ reactions

Big storms heading from the Plains states (those frakkin’ Nebraskans!), Arctic air swooping down from the North Pole, and reminders of the winter of ’77’s two consecutive storms that dumped 31″ on the city.

I expected a third Accu-Weather expert to say “and don’t forget, New York dug out from that last ice age 11,000 years ago!”

All of this would have exactly the kind of stultifying woe-is-us effect that stupid baseless reporting usually aims for — except for that graphic that accompanied the story.  The three-day forecast’s horror temperatures are 33, 36 and 34 degrees.

Really?  Above-freezing temperatures to prove the point that we’re all about to freeze to death?

The Daily News really does think we’re idiots.  All the papers do.  But really…a story about the winter conditions not seen in a generation accompanied by a graphic that completely contradicts their point?

Well, this is a paper that’s lobbied hard against bodegas selling alcohol-punch drinks called “nutcrackers” but has kept silent about Bruce Ratner getting $750 million in public money for his Atlantic Yards basketball arena for a team owned by a Russia‘s wealthiest man.

Rev. Al Sharpton and Gov. Paterson say they will launch a crackdown on bodegas that sell 'nutcracker' punch, a sugary juice drink spiked with alcohol.
which of these will hurt New York more?  Wait!  Let, the Daily News make the call!

Still, it’s good to start the morning with a laugh.  That’s why everyone should at least glimpse Mortimer “Yes, Mortimer” Zuckerman‘s Newspaper of Lost Opportunities.  In a town with a paper whose biggest concerns are the GNPs of Central Asian nations and another whose reactionary politics make Sarah Palin look smart, eloquent and kind, the Daily News could actually do what journalism is supposed to — report the facts, give its readership a voice, and offer a platform for truth.  Instead, it takes the easy way — weeks of Tiger Woods covers and coddling of rich real-estate FoMs — Friends of Mortimer.

While there are good reasons to read the NewsMike Lupica, the I-Team sports investigators, David Hinckley and the city’s best daily comic section — it’s good to remember what the worst transgression of the news media is.  It’s not lying.  It’s ignoring the things that hurt people the most.  Second most important?  Being beholden to the people, not your advertisers and friends.

It helps nobody in this town to spend energy and ink on bodega drinks, Tiger’s paramours and breaking-news that winter is, it can now be reported, cold.

The Daily News sporadically wages up-with-good/down-with-bad campaigns against MTA fare hikes, dopey legislators up in Albany, and city children’s agencies failures.  Big deal.  My dogs know those things are wrong.  When it comes to doing the hard work — reporting on the many frakk’d-up elements of Michael Bloomberg‘s New York that, if the mayor were shoved against a wall by an angry citizenry, could change — the Daily News is a cowardly lion, without even the desire to go get some courage.
Mayor Bloomberg and Mortimer Zuckerman (r.): peas in a rather stanky pod

There are good reporters and workers at the News.  But their hands are tied by Mortimer, his minions and the various ranks of editors, lawyers and advertising-account hacks.

It’s not an awful thing to read The Daily News.  I do, daily.  It still aims to care more about this city than the Times or the Post.

That’s a way-low hurdle, though.  This much is clear: the Daily News is the poster child for everything wrong with newspaper journalism today.  A newspaper that refuses to dig under the rocks that conceal Bloomberg, Ratner and others’ malfeasant acts can call itself a lot of things.

“Newspaper” isn’t one of them.

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December 31st, 2009

Greetings from Scott Turner: A Little Summation and New Year’s Eve at Rocky’s

Greetings, Pub Quiz Year Enders…

Overwhelmed by Year In ReviewsBest OfWorst Of
Even worse, the prognostications for the coming year?  And worst of
all, the coming year's predicted Year In Review for stuff that hasn't
happened yet — more Shecky Green than Nostradamus.

Even worse, we get a double-dose: Year in Review and Decade in Review.

This ain't no disco, and it ain't my call to make.  The best of the year, best of the decade, is whatever you say it is.

This little summation is just stuff that makes me smile or sticks in my craw — sometimes at the same time.

And what, exactly, is a craw?  It's the crop of a bird or an
animal, or an animal's stomach.  And, idiomatically, the place where
really annoying stuff goes and sticks.  And doesn't come out — not
with the wash, not with scholastic remediation, and not with the
healing qualities Time is supposed to be so good at.

2009…the last year of this terrible decade.  We should've known
it would be bad — any decade that lends itself to the spectacle known
as New Year's Eve Spectacles was bound to go off the rails. image by Thousandbars
yes, yes…it's a new year AND you can see us!

And it did.  Spectacularly at the outset and grindingly for the rest of the way.  The '00s were mostly the dark days of the Bush era.  Really, really dark.  At the end, the disappointment (thus far) of the Obama administration's
hold-hands-circle.  Dude, you were elected with a huge mandate — end
wars and give everyone health coverage and encourage queer rights and
all the other stuff we talked about!

Also, people now say "dude" more than ever.

Hard to believe this is the same decade as 9/11 and the big tsunami and the end of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Since he's still in office, it's sadly not hard at all to believe Michael Bloomberg
is mayor.  It's cruel to wake from the nightmare of W and still be in
Bloomy's New York — like a sci-fi plot where the character opens her
eyes only to discover by the next ad break that she's still in a
terrifying dream.

Assuming he doesn't buy his way into a fourth term, we'll
discover that we can't even afford to leave the Bloomberg's frightful
nightmare — sky-high rents, box-stores, wrecked subway and school
systems, deference to the wealthy, trite initiatives that ignore the
city's real problems.

If Bloomberg's such a "good businessman," how come the city's in
such bad shape financially?  And no, you can't give his alleged
business acumen credit when times were good but, now that times are
bad, blame events somehow beyond the mayor's control.

There were bright spots — political movements and new politicians
that could bend the steel bar enough to make a difference, bands and
movies and t.v. shows we loved, medical advances (though, good luck
paying for them), and technology that has us at the crossroads — this
way, radical new possibilities to improve our quality of life; that
way, a planet so self-absorbedly addicted to Twitter and celebritydom that when we finally look up and see the giant asteroid about to destroy Earth, we won't have time to use all 140 characters to scream.

Of course, humans being humans, it'll be somewhere in the middle. 
It always is.  We somehow always recover from doing terrible things to
one-another.  The worst things possible — genocide, torture, t.v. shows about the Kardashian sibblings — and still we continue.

What we do to each other is one thing.  What we're doing to the
planet…that's another story.  There's a desperate push to name the
'00s.  Could be hard, because we can't even agree on the prosaic
numerical nickname — Zeroes? Aughts? Pre-Teens?.  Still, I nominate
this clunker: The We've Known We're Killing Our Planet And
Destroying Humanity One Hummer Meat-Cattle-Raising Acre Rampant Western
Consumer Thirst Slaked But Not Enough By Emerging Factory States At A
Time And We Can't Get Our Shit Together To Save The Only Home We've Got
.  It's not as catchy as the Me Decade, but at least it's too long for a tweet — and that's a start.

Upon further review, how about the Toxic Decade.  "A lie
told often enough becomes the truth," so the insidious insist.  These
last ten years, lies didn't even have to be said that often before we
caved in and took them at face value.
Michael Bloomberg, China's quest to satisfy Western urges, the Kardashians, Bruce Ratner and Jay-Z, W & His Number 1, Enron — the forefront of the Toxic Decade.  An incomplete list.

We've fought our way through the Toxic Decade.  That says a lot.  We allowed it to become this toxic.  That says a lot more.

The obvious retort here is "Dude, every
decade's been toxic."  True — nuclear proliferation, world wars,
depressions greater than this one, bubonic plagues (that's a lot of
decades ago, but still…).  What makes this last one so toxic is that
by now, we should know better.  Know better than to wage stupid wars,
pollute the planet, build superblock projects and give wealthy
developers public money to destroy neighborhoods, allow fiscal
corruption to run rampant, piss off the world with hubris and
arrogance, and pull cover after cover over our head instead of letting
the warm sunshine of resistance heat us up.

Fact — fighting the power is more fun than DVDing another season of America's Next Top Model.

So onward to 2010.  My one moment of Nostradamual prognostication:

Things are gonna change…

* * * * * * * *

…starting with the best way to celebrate New Year's Eve this Thursday evening:

The Rocky Sullivan's Pub Quiz Quizzin' New Year's Eve Extravaganza!

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December 23rd, 2009

Greetings from Scott Turner: Barely Identified Flying Object

Greetings, Pub Quiz Way More Than Two Turtle Doves…

No Rocky Sullivan's Pub Quiz this week.  It's Christmas Eve, and, well, it's Christmas Eve.  NORAD will once again be issuing updates on a strange airborne vehicle under the power of — yes, yes, reindeer.

Were NORAD really monitoring a BIFO – Barely Identified Flying Object – they'd shoot it down just after it had crossed the U.S.-Canada border between Saskatchewan and Plentywood, Montana.  St. Nick's sleigh has a lot going for it — tireless reindeer, one with a glowing beacon for a nose, a storage capacity that defies physics, and Santa's unmappable ability to bend the laws of time and space — but he doesn't have a transponder or a ship-to-ship radio system.
Sarah Palin's not the only one who can see Russia from their front porch

That, or he'd wave and the Strategic Air Command pilots, reacting the way the New York cops did when Amadou Diallo went for his wallet, would open fire by the time Santa got halfway through "ho ho ho!" number two.

I might be divulging my ominous sense that the country, the world, our city, Brooklyn, are all careening toward a bad, bad end.  Or, the U.S. military shooting down Santa's sleigh might just be funny.

Although I've linked to NORAD, bear in mind that the U.S. military charming the yule-season pants off us is, in reality, a left-over relic from the golden age of the Cold War.

For a half-century, the U.S and Canada's air-defense mandate us undertaken this seasonal task.  According to the Norad Santa Tracker website,

The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline."


The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.

In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.

NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa – radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets

Fighter jets?  Fighter jets?!

Why, yes.  Fighter jets.

Canadian NORAD fighter pilots flying the CF-18 intercept and welcome Santa to North America. In the United States, American NORAD fighter pilots in either the F-15 or the F-16 get the thrill of flying alongside Santa and his famous reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and, of course, Rudolph.

Of course, Rudolph. 
Welcome to North America, Santa!  Canadian CF-18American F-16 herald the birth of the baby Jesus

So be sure to log off whatever true meaning Christmas has for you, and log on to NORAD's Santa Tracker.  Because, really, if the U.S. military can't bring you Christmas, who can?

Merry Christmas, all, and in the wider realm, Happy Holidays.

Scott M.X.,
Rocky's Quizmaster

* * * * * * * *

Here's something NORAD won't be tracking…

The Rocky Sullivan's Pub Quiz Quizzin' New Year's Eve Extravaganza!

Thursday December 31, 2009

That's right – New Year's Eve falls on a Thursday.  And we're ready.  Free champagne, pointy hats, a post-midnight DJ to make your feet happy, and an evening of questions, photo- and music rounds about the year Two Oh-Oh Nine!  The last one of the decade.

It's the perfect New Year's Eve event for folks who wanna go out but don't wanna deal with all the New Year's Eve nonsense — expensive clubs, packed dance floors and the frightening tag-team of Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest.

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December 10th, 2009

Greetings from Scott Turner: Curmudgeonly Perspectives

Greetings Pub Quiz Altar of Curmudgeonly Perspectives Acolytes…

Happy Holidays!

Good.  Now that that's out of the way, let's get to business.

It's Weasel Time.  Sorta like Giuliani Time, except less — oh, never mind, it's just like Giuliani Time.

Droves and droves of weasels.  Don't worry…there's plenty of time
this December to hang those stockings with care, light those menorah
candles with verve, celebrate The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa with joy and mark Al-Hijra with clean-slate determination.

Weasel Time, it is, then…

Kiki Weaselweghe
The new coach of Bruce Ratner's 2-19 New Jersey Nets took over for his hapless predecessor, Lawrence Frank,
when the team was 0-16 — one game shy of tying the NBA record for
most-consecutive losses to start a season.  A really dubious record
that melds perfectly in Ratner's malfeasant professional acumen.

Except Weaselweghe didn't take over immediately.  Claiming he wasn't ready — and that his Cyrano assistant coach Del Harris (who, unlike Weaselweghe, has NBA head-coaching experience) wasn't either — Weaselweghe let sad-sack assistant Tom Barrise
coach the Nets to their record-tying 17th loss and record-breaking 18th
loss.  It's Barrise's name, not Weaselweghe's, on the record now. 
Weaselweghe and Harris took over the following game. ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 29: Tom Barrise assist...
Kiki Weaselweghe and Tom Barrise

Tiger Weasel
it's now up to eight women in Tiger's litter box of joy. "Tiger lilies"
is how the media is grouping them.  The final tipping point for Woods
— his endorsements — has tipped.  Pepsi-owned Gatorade is dropping its Tiger Focus energy drink, saying the move was pre-planned and has nothing to do with Tiger's marital problems.
Elin Nordegren discovers golf-clubs work better than foreheads

…for claiming the move to drop Tiger Focus was pre-planned and has nothing to do with Tiger's marital problems.
…talk about the need for an energy drink!

Weasel Dobbs
The former CNN host who made immigrants his personal punching-bag — scapegoating primarily Latinos for
most of the nation's ills — is trying to ingratiate himself to the
Latino community now that he's, perhaps, running for office.

In an interview with Telemundo, Dobbs flip-flopped on years of immigrant bashing, claiming he now supports a
plan to give status to millions of undocumented residents.  "Whatever you have thought of me in the past, I can tell you
right now that I am one of your greatest friends and I mean for us to
work together."

…just like Bruce Ratner really cares about low-income tenants and Mike Bloomberg cares about the city's working class communities.

Basta Dobbs, the organization that has fought Weasel Dobbs over his anti-immigrant hysteria, isn't buying it.
One of many Next Great White Hopes

The 37 Weasels in the New York State Senate
state senators in Albany voted against same-sex marriage last week. 
Thirty-seven of them uttered but a pithy, embarrassed "no" as they cast
their vote.  The 38th no-vote was vociferously announced by Ruben Diaz, Sr. 
A vitriolically homophobic minister, Diaz used the Bible as a
flak-jacket.  For the others, if you're gonna deny civil rights, at
least tell us why.  Does it ultimately matter?  No…but it does
demonstrate that buried in these 37 psyches is a sense that they know
they're wrong.
Diaz Sr.: Yes, the Bible says love they neighbor.  Thank God I don't want any homosexuals living next door to me…

Weasel Blatter
head of international soccer's governing body, Blatter not only gamed
the qualifying system to get undeserving big-shot teams like France and Portugal into next summer's World Cup.  He not only ignored blatant cheating by the French team in spite of FIFA's never-ending promotion of Fair Play
values.  He not only stayed silent as the French soccer federation
pithily dismissed international calls to replay the controversial
France-Ireland match.  Blatter, in remarks to journalists in the
days before last week's World Cup draw, made fun of the Irish for
suggesting remedies for the stain left by the infamous Thierry Henry handball.

Making Blatter look even more weaselly were the actions of Italy's Ascoli soccer team this past weekend.  Ascoli's opponent, Reggina,
tried to kick the ball out of bounds so that an injured player could
receive treatment.  Ascoli mistakenly intercepted the goal and scored a
goal.  Reggina players and fans were livid.  Ascoli, realizing their
mistake, stood aside and let Reggina score a goal to catch up.  Ascoli
lost the game 3-1, costing the club important points in the standings.
Blatter announces FIFA's new Fair Play Is For Simps campaign

Even though court cases remain, even though Bruce Ratner doesn't have the funding or the properties, even though the Atlantic Yards' flimsiness makes a house of cards look like Fort Knox,
even though there are no plans for affordable housing or real numbers
of jobs except for "hey, we'll get around to it, back off!," the
WeaselESDC is forging ahead with evictions of residents and property
owners in the Atlantic Yards footprint.  Indications are that eviction
letters will be posted on Christmas Eve.

Time is an endless parade of proclivical miscreants.  While bottomless
cups of coffee and all-you-can-eat deals are generally grand, this is a
cornucopia we can do without.  If you have nominations for Weasel Time
candidates, send 'em in.

In the meantime, there's a Season of Joy to be had…

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December 2nd, 2009

Greetings from Scott Turner: Doorbusters

Here's today's screed from Scott Turner, the quizmaster at Rocky Sullivan's in Red Hook brought to you by Miss Wit, the t-shirt queen of Red Hook. Greetings Pub Quiz Holiday Bargain Hunters…









It's the worst concept, construct, idiom, catchphrase, buzzword and social ideology ever.

Well, not worse than genocide.

But close.

That's the descriptive being deployed for all the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales, deals and enticements this holiday shopping season.

Now, I like the season's trappings.  The trees, lights, excitement.  Until they start admitting that Jesus was,
at heart, a socialist, I won't spend much time on the guy's birthday. 
That, and his actual birthing being sometime in the spring.  That's the
shepherds watching over their flocks is really part of the story. 
(That's when the lambies are born.)  December 25th didn't even come
into play until 325 CE, in Rome — and that was only because the Romans needed a holiday to counter the winter solstice soirees all over the empire.

Digression concluded.  The joviality this time of year is fun.  But
goodness, is it concurrently depressing.  The amount of money spent on
gifts, for starters.  What's the absolutely unmeasurable percentage of
gifts bought because someone has to, not wants to?  The frenzy to shop,
score big deals, line up in the early morning gloom to be first inside
a big box store before the Thanksgiving meal is even digested.

Last year it was so bad Jdimytai Damour, a security guard at WalMart's Valley Stream, Long Island
location, was killed in the stampede for savings. Shoppers pushed their
way past the dying Damour, and store officials let them.  Sadly, Damour
was a footnote the moment he died — the bigger story being the
hand-wringing over sales figures in the debris of last year's fiscal
Jdimytai Damour, and doorbusting for real

And now we have "doorbusters."

Whatever one's view of the holiday season, this can't be the right call.

conjurs chaos, fury, consumer madness and physical violence.  How
comforting the phrase must be for Jdimytai Damour's family and
friends.  I get corporations, box stores and the media embracing such a
counter-holidays formulation.  That's the nature of the myriad beasts.

But us?  It'd be nice to slow down and breathe.  There should be a sign: No Running On The Edge Of The Shopping Pool.

With doorbusting taking root this holiday season,  I feel like this this guy:

Bob Marley once sang "If you are the big, big tree/We are the small axe/Ready to cut you down." Real good David and Goliath stuff. 
I like being a small axe, but for the holidays, I like cozying up with
my sad little tree, calling some friends over, and giving it a boost.

Giving us all a boost.

…without a single door busted.

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November 18th, 2009

Greetings From Scott Turner: Particulate Matters

Here he is: Scott Turner, Thursday night quizmeister at Rocky Sullivan's in Red Hook, bringing you his latest and greatest thoughts and observations. This feature is brought to you by Miss Wit, Red Hook's t-shirt entrepreneur extraordinaire.

Greetings Pub Quiz Gaze Averters…

Did you see the Leonids meteor shower this morning?  Neither did I!

I have in the past, and it's beyond cool.  This year's was supposed to
be particularly fabulous.  But I forgot.  Plus, hard to see a meteor
shower here in New York City.  Then again, for most cramped New Yorkers, getting to the regular shower is a task.

Light pollution, astronomers call it.  I'm more likely to call it "not running into things at night."  Gothamites have to plan out a Leonid experience.  Can't just step outside the bar, look up and say "that sky's crazy!  Or maybe it's that 9%-alcohol beer from Quebec…"  Actually, that you can say.  And many of us do.

Regardless, it's a wacky thing, these Leonids.  The earth passes through particles left from a passing comet, Temple-Tuttle.  (Tuttle discovered the comet a few weeks after Temple, but the International Comet Monikerization Agency awarded joint custody.  Also, Tuttle-Temple is just on the other side of the Silly Line for scientists who, it is well known, hate joy and mirth.)

So, it's not so much that meteors fall on our heads.  Rather, we
put our heads down and charge, like a fullback, straight into the
meteors.  Every year.  Center-of-the-universe way that we think, it
seems like the meteors are showering down from the constellation Leo
Hence, Leonids.  By the way, I think instead of calling human progeny
"children," "kids," "offspring" or "insufferable life-altering
parent-culture-inculcating whiners," we should just call the little
ones "nids."

Here are two views of this week's Leonid shower:
what did people do before digital technology?!

Here's another view from Niagara Falls.  Apparently, the Leonids were joined last night by the Spermonids, a lesser known meteor shower from the passing Jolie-Suleman Comet.

The meteors that form terrifying End Of Days
fire in the skies are actually particulate matter — dust, really. 
Sometimes I get bummed about stuff, and I think about very cool things
to snap me out of it.  One of those things is that meteor showers look
like the Earth is under attack from flaming-rock-throwing outer-space aliens, but it's just dust on fire!

Other cool things that pull me out of deep-blue funks are: Esa Tikkanen, the t.v. show Firefly, Petula Clark, the great Curt Flood
and that black guitar of mine that's never out-of-reach.  You should
know this, in case you stumble across me in one of those moods. 
Consider this my Quizmaster's Medic-Alert e-male bracelet.
the black guitar?  It's identity is a closely guarded secret — unless you make it to the next RebelMart show.

another statistic so mind blowing it can't help but cheer us all up:
the average person's DNA strand, if stretched out, is long enough to
reach across the diameter of our solar system.


There you have it.  Dust particles from
space and DNA strands brightening our world tonight.  All without the
help of Esa Tikkanen, Firefly, Petula Clark and the great Curt Flood.

Or the black guitar.

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November 10th, 2009

Greetings From Scott Turner: Rearranging Your Emotional Living Room

Here is this week's Greetings from Scott Turner, our friend the pub quizzer Thursday nights at Rocky Sullivan's.This post is, as always, brought to you by Miss Wit of the t-shirt maven of Red Hook.

Greetings Pub Quiz Grab-baggers…

Which is a good deal
different than tea-bagging.  In fact, depending on which tea-bagging
you prefer, that in itself is a good deal different than the other
kinds of tea-bagging.

Back to grab-bagging.  That's what I'm doing here tonight. 
Listening to an on-line reggae station and thinking that this week
feels like everyone's rearranging their emotional living rooms.

First, this announcement.  I'll be leaving my quizmaster duties because Aerosmith is auditioning new lead singers.  Steven Tyler has left the band (apparently).  I believe I'm the front runner to replace Tyler as Aerosmith's new lead singer.

Steven Tyler
Steven– er, Brand Tyler.  Really — the good looks of a rock god.

Do not wish me luck.  I won't need it.

Mia Tyler, Steve's daughter, gossiped on Twitter that, well…""They are in their 60s now," she wrote. "Let them do what they wanna
do! & can someone please tell (Joe Perry) that gossiping on Twitter
is uncalled (for)!"  They never do teach Irony in Rock Star Children's Finishing Home.

The Sammy Sosa What The Hell? controversy.


and his people claim it's a skin-rejuvenation thing.  He does look
happy.  Perhaps even rejuvenated.  But Sosa always looks happy.  Except
that time testifying in front of Congress.  No one ever looks happy doing that.  Even if rejuvenating their skin.

Here in Brooklyn, Bruce Ratner decided to succumb to
both honesty and an unhealthy bout of arrogance.  Bristling under
otherwise friendly-fire questioning from Crain's New York Business, Ratner deflected a query about what the rest of the Atlantic Yards project, after the arena, might look like.  From Crain's:

Mr. Ratner refuses to discuss what the project will look like,
whether or not it will include an office building and even who will
design the first residential tower, which he's slated to break ground
on early next year.

Initially, the project called for four office
towers, but by early this year, only one was on the drawing boards.
Asked when it will go up, Mr. Ratner responds with a question: “Can you
tell me when we are going to need a new office tower?”

He has no
intention of sharing the designs for the complex. “Why should people
get to see plans?” he demands. “This isn't a public project. We will
follow the guidelines.”

What, me worry?

Billions in potential public subsidies,
eminent domain condemnations and political goodwill from electeds who'd
never back this thing if it hadn't been sold as a "public benefit" for
six years  Ratner comes clean…by admitting how dirty it all is.  The
ultimate "sit down, shut up and trust me" operator.

On happier notes, Susan Boyle is singing on this week's So You Think You Can Dance With The Stars Who Aren't Idols Or Top Chef Models.

Hurricane Ida is barely a tropical storm as it hits the Gulf Coast.  But it was enough for oil companies to shutter their off-shore rigs and raise gas prices.
Workers survey the Hurricane Ida-swelled waves on a beach in Cancun, Mexico, Sunday.
there are storms and then there are storms.

The House passed
a health reform bill.  Aside from not allowing insurance companies to
deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, not sure who, what or how it

The new video game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, lets you role-play as armed insurgents, a.k.a. terrorists, and attack civilians.

Tough choices: Players can decide whether to attack civilians in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
Modern Warfare 2 — it sure does look modern and filled with 2-ness

Finally — and what self-respecting Quizmaster wouldn't save this for the end? — this item from the BBC.

Penis tissue replaced in the lab


Tissue created in a laboratory has been used to completely replace the erectile tissue of the penis in animals.

The advance raises hopes of being able to restore full function to human penises that have been damaged by injury or disease.

The work was carried out on rabbits.

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October 22nd, 2009

Greetings From Scott Turner: Balloon Boy Hoaxters

Greetings Pub Quiz Balloon Boy Hoaxters…

Holy crow!

It's not that the Heene family failed so miserably in the parents' shot at fame.  Truth be told, they won that battle.  Maybe it's Andy Warhol's
consummate "fifteen minutes of fame."  Or maybe it's just that our
little club called "society" can never, ever get enough of this stuff.

Look at me!  I'm writing about it.

Look at you!  You're reading my writing about it.

Face it — seeing this thing flying through the northern Colorado sky last week was just plain weird.  And kinda awesome, to boot.
Bruce Ratner solves everything — an arena designed by the firm of Gehry, Ellerbe Beckett & SHoP floating over Brooklyn, making eminent domain unneces– what?  This isn't the new arena?  Durn it!

I saw it on live t.v. and thought "good grief, the aliens have arrived, and they're driving an intergalactic Pinto."  Then, the breathless newspeople said there was a young boy aboard this thing, and it got ookie and creepy.

Finally, after two hours of helicopter coverage and interviews with
the Heenes' neighbor, the balloon landed, and wasn't that a sight — a
uniformed officer (whose uniform, sadly, was a polo shirt — I'll be
sure to respect that when the grid goes down) lunging for the
guide wires we were told had given way and put the poor boy in danger. 
The ground beneath them looked like the American farmland melded with a Japanese garden.
a new Olympic demonstration sport, slated for the London Games of 2012

Then, the huh?-ness of rescuers not feverishly ripping the hatch off the balloon to save the boy.  Just standing around and by-golly not doing much of anything.

BOY'S NOT ON BOARD!"  As though a contraption like this could have a
board to be on.  Because newscasters will tell you — probably at the
next panel discussion at the Museum of Television and Radio — that they just had to bring it up ("it was germane," Anderson Cooper will probably say).  Bring what up?

COLORADO?!!"  This followed theories that the balloon COULD COLLIDE

Except for the part where it wasn't.  "THERE ARE BUILDINGS IN

You mean, this aircraft?!image/1262756395.jpg_gen/derivatives/display_600/1262756395.jpg
and to think, the feds forgot to raise the Alert Level to…uh, what, silver?!

I dunno…it'd probably make us all forget 9/11 ever happened.

rest of the story you know.  Boy not aboard.  Boy not fallen to his
death.  Boy "hiding in the attic."  Boy claiming to be scared of
letting daddy's balloon get away.  Boy spilling beans to Wolf Blitzer
that it was "for the show."  Father acting indignant at suggestions
that this could be a hoax.  Mother alternating 'tween teary and wacky. 
Media irretrievably stuck to the story like an accident at the Elmer's Glue factory.

Now, it's Hoaxville for sure, and boy, are do the authorities have the Heenes in their sights.

don't much care that it was a hoax.  Sure, the parents, and the father
in particular, are strung-out hi-test Grade A fame junkies.  They also
have the disturbing habit of plopping their kids in the backseat when
they go driving straight at tornadoes.  If I were Falcon Heene,
the boy with the perfect-for-television name, I'd be counting the days
'til I was old enough to kick Dad square in the weather balloons.
Falcon Heene: "Boy, do I know something you wanna know…"

Hoax or not, American t.v. media sure does love jumping up and
down, clapping its hands in over-excited glee, and unleashing an oddly
blended concoction of well-worn and heavily rehearsed clichés,
stuttering lack of comprehension, and queries for people in the field
who haven't any clue what's transpiring than the well-coiffed behind
the studio desks.

One network brought on an "expert" — someone who pilots hot-air balloons.  Since the Balloon Boy balloon was a pilotless contraption filled with helium, the expert was reduced to answering most questions with well, I fly hot-air balloons, and this isn't one of those, so I can't say.  But if I had to guess…

After a while, there was no story left in the story. That didn't
stop the news networks from bleeding what they could out of Balloon Boy.

There have been other hoaxes.  Clifford Irving's Howard Hughes autobiography.  The Piltdown Man.  Affordable housing and jobs at the Atlantic Yards project.  But not the Loch Ness Monster.  Nessie is real, man!
Which of these things is real?  Hint — it's not the one in the color picture.

As a rule, we like hoaxes.  The best part is that they often make us believe harder.  We're all Fox Mulder
— we all want to believe.  Because we're ready to believe a hoax, even
root for it, it means we're more than ready for when it's the real

There's no surprise in any of this.  There's certainly no surprise
in me getting all huffy about it, either.  It'd just be nice, just
once, for the sky to really, truly be falling when folks on live
breaking-news t.v. tell us it is.

Next thing you know, they'll be going on and on that some basketball arena is getting built in the middle of Brooklyn.

Yeah, right…

* * * * * * * *

Thanks to everyone who turned out for the big Spunk Lads gig at Freddy's this past Friday.  It was, as per usual and par excellence, a real 'loo wrecker.  Bigger thanks to everyone who supported Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's annual Walkathon this past Saturday.  Your donations and emotional support are appreciated beyond words.

Thank you.

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October 13th, 2009

Greetings From Scott Turner: See Times, Desperate and Measures, Desperate.

Here's this weeks greetings from Scott, the pub quizzer at Rocky Sullivan's in Red Hook. He also performs as RebelMart at places like Freddy's Backroom. This post is brought to you by Miss Wit, the t-shirt lady.

Greetings Pub Quiz Robocall Recipients…

Unless, of course, it's a real live person.  Which sometimes, you hope it is.

The National Rifle Association has been calling our house.  Thanks to Caller ID, I've seen their number come up time and again.  Probably seven or eight times.  It's a northern Virginia area code.

They're calling because they hate Mayor Bloomberg for his anti-gun stance.  Don't know if they realize they're asking voters to side with Bill Thompson or the Rev. Billy Talen.   Don't know if they care.  The NRA's pretty myopic.  Must come from generations of squinting through rifle sights.
the NRA has many allies…

But they did perform the insanely impossible — made me side with Michael Bloomberg for once.

of telling them "I despise Michael Bloomberg.  I want you to understand
my full meaning when I tell you I'd going with him over you," this is
what the woman from the NRA was told: "I want you to know that my
father committed suicide with a handgun, and I don't appreciate you
calling here."

Desperate times require desperate measures.  Nothing of the sort ever happened to my father.  See Times, Desperate and Measures, Desperate.

Flustered but sticking to script, the NRA caller said "oh, well, we're very sorry, and, uh, we'll update our records."


Honestly, I'd have respected the NRA caller if she'd really
stuck to script and said "guns didn't kill your father — your father
killed your father."  As I've learned, respect and utter contempt
aren't mutually exclusive.  In fact, they can be touchy-feely

But no — the NRA caller just punked out and disrespected the memory of Charlton Heston,
whose hands couldn't be colder and deader at the present juncture but
who would be aghast at the scripted niceties being doled about by
today's NRA.  Heston wouldn't take this attack on the NRA lying down.

…well, actually now he would.
frustrated bitter gun owner realizing he'd have to vote for a black
liberal or an environmental anti-consumerist faux preacher with a big
church and a bigger hairdo.  Well, if that grip weren't so darned

And now, here in New York, we have the election-season
oddity of a wealthy immoral lobbying group trying to buy the election
from a wealthy immoral mayor who's trying to buy the election.

If I were feeling benevolent to the rest of the world, I'd chortle "only in America!"  But I'm not, and it's not.

* * * * * * * *

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October 8th, 2009

Greetings from Scott Turner: Walk the Walk

This greeting is late because I screwed up and didn't put it up yesterday. But hope you'll still stop in at Rocky Sullivan's in Red Hook for the pub quiz tonight. As always Miss Wit, t-shirt queen is sponsoring this post. Greetings, Pub Quiz Walk Five Hundred Milers…

Okay, any mention of a walkathon is gonna elicit a Proclaimers reference.  Or Nancy Sinatra.  Some things are automatic, like crying at the end of Old Yeller or that gag reflex whenever another Mike for Mayor ad comes on the t.v.

It won't be 500 miles, but two-and-a-quarter miles.  It's the fifth annual Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Walkathon, colloquially named Walk Don't Destroy 5.

I'm walking in it this year.  You know the drill — Ratner, lousy development project, sixteen skyscrapers, a basketball arena, a Russian oligarch
team owner, billions of taxpayer dollars wasted, no appreciable numbers
of affordable housing or newly-created jobs, overwhelming traffic,
exploitation of Brooklyn Dodger mythology, environmental and
health concerns, blighted wasteland created by Ratner and not time,
lack of democratic process, eminent domain abuse.

Wow..that's the shortest I've ever summed it up.

Ratner's boondoggle and replacing it with a project that makes sense
for the surrounding communities.  This is a crucial time — the project
will either proceed after New Year's 2010 or it'll be a goner.

Whether you've followed this from afar or heard me talk about it up close, you know what's at stake.  DDDB's legal bill are hefty.  Along with dozens of other community groups, DDDB has been fighting the Atlantic Yards for six years.  Six years

The Walkathon is what DDDB does to keep going.  Walkathons…bake
sales…benefit concerts…the passing of many hats…small checks from
concerned citizens.  DDDB has never had the hundreds of millions of
private and government money available to Forest City Ratner for their endless p.r. assault.   The money raised at this year's Walkathon goes to DDDB's legal fight.

These are tough times.  Too many people and groups have their hands
out.  This is mine, on behalf of DDDB.  If you can help out, either by
sponsoring my walk or heading to DDDB's website and signing up to walk yourself, that would be grand.  You can get more info on the issues there as well.

That's the spiel.  I don't make it lightly.

Also, there's this:  a week from Friday, on October 16th, the legendary 1970s London punk rockers
The Spunk Lads will be playing Freddy's Bar & Backroom.  They're
all living in Brooklyn now, and support DDDB's fight against the
Atlantic Yards.  According to the Lads' lead singer Nick Knickers, "wot if they'd
tried this in Camden?  I'd bloody well fall over effin' basketball fans
and condo buggers and end up with me 'ead in bandages.  Bloody
'orrible, that!"

Sez it all.

The Spunk Lads will be headlining DDDB's Pre-Walkathon Party.  Also on the
bill are the John Sharples Band, comedian Pat O'Shea, Judy Gorman,
Steve Espinola and Neil deMause.  Starts at 8 in the evening.

You never know when it'll be the last chance to see the world's most
exciting band, still at it over thirty years after they single-handedly
— well, eight hands between them — birthed the London punk scene. 
Little is remembered of their early days, but much is enjoyed when they
play shows today — rare as that is.  'Loos are wrecked as well.  Call in the American Standard people…it'll be a busy night in Brooklyn.

Don't miss it.  You've been warned.

Back to our regularly-scheduled Quizmail screed next week.

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September 30th, 2009

Greetings From Scott Turner: Macho Aggressiveness Rarely Serves a Good Purpose

The Quizman Cometh and this week's greeting is all about football. This Thursday he does the pub quz at at Rocky Sullivan's. And don't miss Scott Turner's solo show at Freddy's on Friday at 9 p.m. Miss Wit, as always, is the sponsor of this post.

Greetings Pub Quiz Tough GalGuys…

Macho aggressiveness rarely
serves a good purpose.  Bad enough when it's on the playground, in a
barroom or the bedroom.  When it's culturally endemic, it's even worse.

But when it's the height of hypocrisy, that's really ludicrous.  As in, what's the point.

this country of ours, there's no more pointlessly macho realm than
sports.  Across the sports landscape, there's no more pointlessly macho
realm than American football.  And apparently, across the manifest
destiny of the nation's collective gridiron, there's no more
pointlessly macho realm than the first couple of weeks of the NFL season?

¿Por que?

It seems that the behemoths of the NFL —
men who often tip the scales at 325, 350, 375 pounds, giant specimens
of testosterone intentionally jiggered to run wild, the
standard-bearers of all that is ferocious, mighty, colossal and
God-bestowed in the mightiest nation on the planet — have a weakness
that makes Achilles' heel seem a tiny scratch by comparison.

Yes, these men who growl, scream, punch teammates' shoulders and
decimate opponents' various bones, muscles and sinewy parts, who taunt
and trash-talk and spit on sportsmanship lest the slightest fissure of
humanity costs them the game, and who insultingly misappropriate war
imagery for their weekly athletic endeavors…

…cannot stand sunlight.

More to the point, many NFL home
teams have started the season wearing white uniforms.  Traditionally,
the home team wears a dark color at home — the Giants, royal blue
jerseys; the Jets, dark green.  And so on.

But apparently all the conditioning, all the weekend-warrior chants, all the macho hegemony of the NFL isn't enough.

Tough Texas's Texans?  White as the driven snow.

The man-eating Bengals, including macho trash-talker supreme Chad Ochocinco? White like Liberace.  Apparently, the extra couple of sunlight degrees is frightening, but not Great-White-in-Rhode-Island open flames.

Panthers so black they can sneak up on you with all of nature's stealth and end your life in a heartbeat?  Pale shades in Florida.

The Ravens?  The Ravens, of Poe's dark mysticism and linebacker Ray Lewis' murder charges?  Even the Ravens
wore white tops.  Apparently, though, black isn't the death-knell it's
made out to be — the Ravens wore black helmets, pants, socks,  shoes
and gloves.  Macho sure is selective when it wants to be.

And in week two, seven days further from summer's sunny death rays, even the New York Jets wore white because the life-giving ball of gas out beyond Mercury was just too scary.

With domed stadiums, Field Turf and
state-of-the-art drainage systems, NFL players rarely end up with dirty
uniforms these days.  The NFL won't even play its championship game,
the Super Bowl, in a cold-weather city.  The league used to bill key games as the Irresistible Force Versus The Immovable Object.  Now it's The Irresista– wait, Coach, it's too hot, can we wear white?

Cleveland Browns (L-R) Jim Houston, Paul Wiggin, Dick Modzelweski & Walter Johnson awaiting play during game against Green Bay Packers at Municipal Stadium.;1965.

Hey, look.  I don't really care.  If NFL players wanna pound their
chests and scream every time the receiver they're guarding drops the
ball, be my guest.  If they wanna equate running a football with being
stationed for a year in mountains of Afghanistan, go crazy.

But I don't wanna hear they're members of some über-ferocious fraternity, the toughest of the tough, John Wayne cut with Sun Tzu.  Not if they insist on wearing white jerseys on a sunny September afternoon.

Some have argued "what's wrong with gaining an advantage."  Nothing. 
But most of football's advantage-gaining techniques — good scouting,
conditioning regimens, play calling, fast-thinking — aren't based on
tough-guy falsities. 

In other words, if football players weren't so obsessed with macho posturing, this little advantage wouldn't matter a whit

I'm not advocating for some pure versions of machismo.  For starters,
we know what happens when "pure" and "human development" meld.  All I'm
saying is that it's another indicator that men playing sports —
because of their own vanity and  fans' demands that they act a certain
way for our entertainment — are fatuous, flatulent and somewhat full
of it.

Not just football, of course.  Hockey fights…that's another
measure of wild-eyed male fury coddled by unwritten rules preventing
anything that might actually expose the participants to things
wild-eyed or furious.

You'd think that if these angry men on silver blades were that pissed-off
at their co-combatants, they'd kick each other in the nether regions,
shove heads through rink glass, use those blades in ghastly ways.

But they don't…there are parameters, something along the lines of
Gentleman's Rules, that limit the violence of a hockey fight.
"hey, don't go too rough, okay?"  "yeah, sure…"

men" who call themselves "real men" never are.  The insecurities that
urge them to define themselves as "real" sink them from the get go.

American sports, particularly football, are filled to the brim with
"real men" — on the field, in the stands, parked on sofas across this
great land of ours. 

Here's the skinny:  the Real Man can be found somewhere out there in the mysterious ether of the Legendary UnknownsBigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and a contrite, compassionate Michael Bloomberg.

Posted in Scott Turner of Rocky Sullivan's | Comments Off on Greetings From Scott Turner: Macho Aggressiveness Rarely Serves a Good Purpose

September 23rd, 2009

Greetings from Scott Turner: The Weirdness Comes Out To Play

Yes, he's here. Scott Turner with his unique and interesting take on the world. Brought to you by Miss Wit, the t-shirt queen of Red Hook.

Greetings Pub Quiz Foreign Investors…

Wow — the weather turns cooler and the weirdness comes out to
play.  It's like the full moon's bought a condo in the skies above our
fair city.
Sources say that by the time you've read this, the announcement will come down: Bruce Ratner is selling the New Jersey Nets to Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian oligarch and that country's richest man.
Please welcome Brooklyn's latest savior, at 6'9", worth $9.5 billion, ladies and gentlemen, Mikhail Prokhorov!
The deal could — could –  go like this: Prokhorov buys the team for a ceremonial price, likely $1.  He'd then loan Ratner $700 million to build the Atlantic Yards basketball arena.  That would help Ratner beat the IRS's December 31st tax-free-bonds deadline, saving him hundreds of millions of dollars on the taxpayers' dime.
Brooklyn would then have a basketball team owned by a
mercurial playboy Russian oligarch who was arrested in the French alps
and charged with prostitution and pals with Vladimir Putin.
It continues Bruce Ratner's running theme: BROOKLYN CAN'T GET IT DONE
The sad fact is, Bruce Ratner is skint.  He doesn't have the dough for
Atlantic Yards, can't get more public funding, the banks aren't lending
to him, and his only choice is a Russian oligarch — a class of
business practitioners with reputations in the company of robber barons
and Sham-wow pitch men.
Himself from Cleveland and the Upper East Side…architects from Los Angeles and Indiana…landscape designers from Philly…construction
management firms also from Philly…corporate sponsors from all over
the country…and now a majority owner of the Nets from Russia.
Ready to roll down Flatbush Avenue, MP's street.  Well, no, but he can pave them with gold.
It'll be interesting to see what the BUILD AMERICAN unions
in this town have to say about this.  If this boondoggle comes to pass,
they'll still be working for Ratner, but they'll be building a shrine
for Make Better of Russian Hoops Boys.

Prokhorov posted a blog today confirming the move.  His reason for the transaction?  To use the NBA to
further Russian basketball interests.  Affordable housing, jobs, the
rebirth of Brooklyn?  Mmm…not so much on Prokhorov's mind.  He ends
the blog by saying "I think that there will be many skeptics (among
them false patriots), but that will just make it more interesting as we
move forward."  (Full text here.)

Russian oligarchs don't get steamy and hot?  Balderdash — feast your eyes on  Big Mikey P.
Wow…maybe he does know what he's getting into here in Brooklyn.
This comes on the heels of the ACORN controversy, the one
where they were caught on video giving faux hookers and pimps business
advice.  ACORN is one of Bruce Ratner's I've Got Cred hirlings for the Atlantic Yards project.
When news of the latest ACORN controversy broke, Ratner kept
quiet, letting his friends stay thrown under a traffic jam of buses for
nearly a week.  Not until Michael O'Keeffe's I-Team blog at the New York Daily News did Ratner, via a cantankerous spokesperson, come to his allies' defense.
Make no mistake…the attacks on ACORN are the rusty tool of
today's reactionary stenchmachines.  Any
working-class/poor-persons/people-of-color/immigrant/grass roots group
is in the rifle crosshairs of politicians looking to score red-meat
points with their constituencies.  All this ACORN stuff is way overstimulating for Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and their ilk.  If they wore dark blue dresses, by now they're probably ruined from all the over-excitable couldn't-help-it Lewinskian stains.
Still, ACORN's machinations are another unseemly mark in Ratner's minus column.
Only in our present-day Bloombergian metropolis could a guy like Ratner stay shiny for this long.
Finally, there was an alien visitation this past weekend — in the
form of a mysterious conical light in the night sky over the East
Coast.  Authorities say it was a "weather rocket."  A weather rocket?!  That's what they said about Roswell in '47.  Weather balloon, actually.  You know how the U.S. government likes to roll — oldies but goodies. 

East Coast, 2009; Roswell, 1947.  Weather rockets, weather balloons.  That one never gets old…
Hang on — it's gonna be a very bumpy ride this autumn here in Brooklyn.
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September 15th, 2009

Greetings From Scott Turner: Get Thee to a Polling Place, Dems Among You!

Here he is again, Scott Turner, graphic designer and pub quizman at Rocky Sullivan's. with his opinion about just about a lot of things, the death of Jim Carroll, today's election and what he thinks about SHoP's design for Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. Scott's weekly post is brought to you by Miss Wit, the t-shirt queen of Red Hook

Greetings Pub Quiz All Rebels Rockers…

A lot to plow through here.  We'll do it with a laser-like surgical precision.

Okay…we won't.  That's never gonna happen here.

Let's start with an end — Jim Carroll, RIP.  The author of the seminal junkie LES tome The Basketball Diaries
was where it was at in the late '70s/early '80s.  Dopey bloggers and
obit desk scribes will try to contort a lead paragraph out of Carroll's
punk-rock hit "People Who Died."  Good luck with that.  Carroll
avoided twisty contortions during a life full of them.  He was
straight-forward, straight-ahead, and crafted a harrowing tale that
sounded like it was your best friend from long ago calling and saying
"hey, I've gotta tell you about all this stuff I've been through." 
Like Michael Patrick MacDonald's All Souls and Easter Rising, The Basketball Diaries
cut through the romantic crap of young lives running off the rails and
told the truth.  Truth being a currency always in short supply…then,
now, always.
Jim Carroll — one of the few poet/punkrawkers that didn't blow

* * * * * * * *

Today, Tuesday the 15th, is Primary Day.  If you're a Dem in NYC, here're our suggestions:
Mayor: Tony Avella
Public Advocate: Norman Siegel
Comptroller: nobody
33rd District City Council, Brooklyn: Ken Diamondstone or Ken Baer
35th District City Council, Brooklyn: Letitia James
36th District City Council, Brooklyn: Mark Winston Griffith
39th District City Council, Brooklyn: Josh Skaller

races all over the city.  These are the ones I know.  Get thee to a
polling place, Dems among you!  And remember, New York City has voting
machines that tabulated the Most Valuable Warrior race in the early days of Valhalla — the Norse afterworld, not the Westchester bedroom
community.  You know what?  They're clunky, metallic and really, really
yesteryear — but they mostly work fine, and they're not made by
These machines remember those halcyon days when "chad" meant an African country.

I was a kid, it was fun going in with my mom, pulling the huge lever
once to close the curtain, and again to register the vote.  The big
stop/go lights atop the booth letting everyone know if the booth was
occupied or empty — though the open or closed curtain did the same
trick.  The little tabs that register votes and the enamel-painted Xs
that appear make each vote feel weighty, substantive and, goldurnit,
righteous.  And this coming from a fella who, now a grumpy ol'
curmudgeon, sees but limited possibilities in the current electoral
system in this city (Mayor Richie Rich buying the election) and the country (a two-party is closer to a one-party state than it is to true democracy).

Still, these big ol' clunkers scratching the gym floors in schools
across the city are cool.  If you're a Dem, take one for a test-drive

* * * * * * * *

When you're back home, feeling
fine about participating in our city's democratic process, acquire by
your normal modern-day music-acquisition procedures the new Michael Franti & Spearhead album All Rebel Rockers.

Holy crow, is this thing good.  Franti joins Green Day's Billy Joe Armstrong
in getting a very simple fact — new president, okay, but all the old
battles still need to be waged.  In fact, the battles are getting
tougher with ginned-up tea-bag Becktallions chafing under the loss of
the entitlements they've enjoyed — or been told they were enjoying by
the people who really were — these last three centuries.

All that's fine, but discussing it on a record album is wearying if
you can't dance to it one minute, make-out to it the next.  Franti and
Spearhead have that all covered.  Yes, the hit single "Say Hey, I Love
You" is either (check one) joyous or annoying, depending on your frame
of mind.  But the best, catchiest, infectious hit singles all are.  So
there's that.  Too bad this hot sunshine summer hit was released in
time to gain steam in the autumn leaves.  That's why record companies
are going the way of the dinosaur.

Anyway, treat yourself to a post-election treat — All Rebel Rockers.  It'll be playing in the background at the Rocky Sullivan's Pub Quiz this Thursday evening.
Pump ya fist say yeah get down I love you roots rock all purpose all slogan all soul all day and all night…

* * * * * * * *


If someone kept hitting you in the face, you wouldn't just stand there and take it. Right?


Okay. Then why is Brooklyn taking it on the chin time and again from Bruce Ratner?

latest palooka jabs come via the Atlantic Yards arena's new designs.
Ratner's newest "make me look credible" dupes are the boutique
architecture firm (translation: designing for buildings you and I will
never see the inside of) SHoP. The spelling alone tells you they're way
more edgy and smart than you, dude.

Here's what they came up with:

with the annoying, self-absorbed architectspeak that spilled out
alongside the drawings. We'll spare you the myriad pretentiousness. A
little dab'll do you with this stuff:

building consists of three separate but woven bands. The first engages
the ground where the weathered steel exterior rises and lowers to
create a sense of visual transparency, transitioning into a grand civic
gesture the cantilevers out into a spectacular canopy at the corner of
Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.

What, nothing about SHoP's designs curing AIDS and getting pigs'a'flyin'? How genuine and low-key.

It gets worse. SHoP's Gregg Pasquarelli talks about his tasteless partnership with Bruce Ratner in a Q&A with the New York Observer.
folded arms intersect with the surrounding community in a laticework of
form, function and grand civic integrationary protoformism

"I like Bruce. He’s very intense. He’s very smart, and he’s dealing
with a lot of things at one time, but I know his heart is really in
making a fabulous design."

His heart is in beating back
community opposition, steamrolling residents, gag orders on people he
does business with, filching $726 million in public money for the
Atlantic Yards project, abusing eminent domain, exploiting peoples'
fears about affordable housing and jobs, and distorting Brooklyn's past
and future as a way to do business.

Fabulous designs? Only as a
residual effect…the moldy, collapsed cherry sliding off the top of a
melted sundae no one wants anymore.  Simply fabulous.

on the basic task given SHoP by Ratner: "So where the steel was set—we
didn’t want to start redesigning all the steel, so take the steel where
it is, and just make some really precise small changes and see what you
can do to push the building into the next realm of architecture."

other words, this is the same building as the universally-panned
"airplane hangar" offered by Ellerbe Becket a few months ago. Some in
the media ( are taking this as a breathtakingly wonderful new design. It's not. It is, as DDDB's Daniel Goldstein put it, "lipstick on a corrupt pig, window-dressing on a boondoggle.”

Pasquarelli, on signing on to a controversial project: "We gave serious consideration as to whether we wanted to do it."

not so much. If you had, you would've said "no." SHoP is a hot firm in
architectural circles. Whatever the cost of the chaos and hits to
SHoP's reputation (see Gehry,
Frank, Atlantic Yards, face, egg-on), Ratner was able to pay it. Which,
by the way, proves again that Ratner can throw money around when he
wants, then claim poverty when he needs.

SHoP has become part of the problem, checking their community ethics at the bank-vault door.

continuing his rationale for taking the job: "And I think the thing
that convinced us was, after speaking with Bruce, we were convinced he
really wanted to make a great building."

Gawd, you guys
are simps. Or do you just like that cozy feeling of stumbling through
life with blinders on. Ratner is using SHoP the same way he used Frank
Gehry — to gain some credible traction for the Atlantic Yards project.
Ratner's track record is clear and predictable — horrible, crass junk
architecture when there's no opposition, and promises of great civic
landmarkable beauty when hackles are raised. Ratner's been building
big edifices for decades, devoid of humanity and beauty. Only when the
wagons need circling, and mallchitecture won't do, does he pluck a
Gehry, SHoP or Renzo Piano off the shelf, the latter for Ratner's weak collaboration with The New York TImes
that's more notable for the number of people who've climbed the outside
of it than it's contributions to the New York City skyline.

For all of SHoP's tender
musings on community, form and the integration of the two, they've
hitched their trendy little wagon to a corporation, Forest City Ratner,
that if you believe SHoP's p.r., is the polar opposite of everything
they stand for. Publicly, at least.

They say
lawyers make the best liars because it's part of the job. In New York,
the same can be said for architects. At least those working for Bruce

reimagines Brooklyn — no traffic, street-side parking on Flatbush, an
apparently thirty-foot tall arena, and in the words of Field of Scheme's Neil deMause, the new miracle of "vaportecture" in the background

completing his self-conscious justification for taking the job: "And
even knowing that the project was going to have its critics no matter
what we designed, we felt like it’s our role as New Yorkers to try to
make it as good as we could."

No, Gregg, your role as New Yorkers is to think of New York, not yourselves, your employer and his shareholders.
New York is hurting right now. The economy blows. Bloomberg, the master
capitalist, has failed at maneuvering the city through the Free Market
Rapids — instead, plowing his energy and the city's finances into
stadiums for the Mets, Yankees and Nets instead of the schools,
low-income housing and infrastructure.  Never mind failed undertakings like the city's Olympic bid and the Jets' West Side Stadium.

You're aiding and
abetting a project that will harm, not hurt, New York City. You like to
use the word "protoform," the architect's edgy way of saying "the
original design." Ratner's Atlantic Yards is a 21st-century protoform
for abusing the people of this city.

You should think about revisiting what your "role as New Yorkers" is.

on the superblock nature of the Atlantic Yards project: "Over a site
that has that much transportation infrastructure, I think it’s the only
ethical, rational, sustainable thing to do to put density, and
sometimes density requires some superblocks."

The only
"ethical" thing to do is build an urban model that has been dismissed
as an outmoded 1960s model of warehousing people in often dehumanizing
conditions? I bet ol' Gregg and his SHoP cohorts dont' live in
particularly "dense" housing tracts.

"That much transportation
infrastructure" shows how little time SHoP's spent in that part of
Brooklyn. The Atlantic/Pacific station is already at peak
capacity, long past a massive rehab project without any plans to accommodate Ratner's sixteen-skyscraper superblock.

And those are the lowlights of the New York Observer interview.
Pasquarelli also went on to criticize "zoning spread" for limiting his
creativity. For a guy this modern, young and edgy, he sure sounds like
Ratner — old, cantankerous, selfish — a steamroller who won't listen
to anyone not squarely in his corner.

Come to think of it, with a world view like that, SHoP and Ratner are made for each other.

* * * * * * * *

Many have made "separated at birth" comparisons to SHoP's new Atlantic Yards arena designs.

Us too:
the George Foreman Grill Mask

a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica

hip-hop baseball cap style

bike helmet architecture
a Cylon raider from the original Battlestar Galactica show
a baleen whale

…and finally, a correction to SHoPs idealistic, mindless traffic'll-just-zoom-on-by" rendering by Michael D.D. White:


Posted in Scott Turner of Rocky Sullivan's | Comments Off on Greetings From Scott Turner: Get Thee to a Polling Place, Dems Among You!

September 8th, 2009

Greetings from Scott Turner: ST’s Personal Guide for Voters

Here are Scott Turner's endorsements for Mayor, City Council and Public Advocate. These are strictly Scott Turner's  views and not the views of OTBKB. Keep that in mind, folks. I haven't decided whether I am endorsing. though I probably will. Good to hear Turner's thoughts, of course.

Greetings, Pub Quiz Voter's Guide Perusers…

Because New York is so unlike anywhere else — doing all it can to ignore the vast majority of New York that's exactly like everywhere else.  The big election day is a week from today, September 15th.  The Primaries.  With republicans numbering in the very tiny numbers, it's the Dems' primaries that are often the final say.

With that in mind, we present the Rocky Sullivan's Pub Quiz 2009 Voter's Guide.

It's different from most Voter's Guides:

  1. It's the opposite of "comprehensive."
  2. There's little spelling out of our reasons for endorsing a certain candidate — though, our myopic one-track-mind view of Brooklyn (rhymes with Fat Tantric Bards) would have something very large to do with it.
  3. Sometimes more than one candidate get the nod, as in "one of these would rock."
  4. Only races we have the vaguest idea about are included — i.e., it's a short list
  5. This is only about the Dems.  There are fabulous Green Party
    candidates gearing up for the general election in the fall.  Keep an
    eye on them, since, really, a two-party-only system isn't that much
    more democratic than a one-party system.

Brooklyn's 33rd City Council District: Ken Diamondstone, Ken Baer, or anyone else named Ken.  Diamondstone and Baer are straightshooters, excellent AY stance, and environmentally sound
Ken Diamondstone, Ken Baer

Brooklyn's 35th City Council District: Letitia James
The bravest politician in NYC these past five years, speaking the truth
to power.  Her chief opponent is bankrolled by Forest City Ratner.
Letitia James

Brooklyn's 39th City Council District: Josh Skaller.  Hands down.  When you say "why can't we ever get somebody good
into office?", it's Josh that you're wishing for.  Smart, brash,
compassionate and uncompromisingly principled, Josh is it.  Also, an
elected official whose name sounds like a scrubbing pad is nothing to
sneeze at.
Josh Skaller

Public Advocate: Norman Siegel.  Also hands down. 
Siegel is a fighter, and won't let the office atrophy like Betsy
Gotbaum, the current PA.  Bill de Blasio is a leaning tower of
Bloombergian accommodation and Mark Green bundles the worst aspects of
"liberalism." Eric Gioia ripped Con Ed a new one for the Queens
blackout a few years ago.
Norman Siegel

Comptroller: who knows?  Here's the one not to
vote for: David Yassky.  Brooklyn has gotten soaked from Yassky's
Schumeresque fence-sitting.  All of the candidates in this race are
part and parcel careerists, blandishments, exaggerators,
moustache-wearers, maybe-child-sweatshop workers and
money-from-real-estate-developers takers.

MayorTony AvellaTony AvellaTony AvellaTony AvellaTony Avella
How many times can we say it?  Avella's the one.  You hear all the
candidates say "I'll stand up to special interests."  Avella has, with
no regard for his political career.  Avella surfs on The Right Thing To
Do wave, constantly coming to Brooklyn from Queens to support Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's
fight against the Atlantic Yards projects.  There a politicians blocks
away who won't do that.  Forget about "electability."  Choose the one
you believe in.  If you love New York City and wanna stop it's
out-of-control careen down the Bloomberg Road to Ruin, vote Avella.
Tony Avella

Of course, in the general election, a
three-way tilt between Avella, the Rev. Billy Talen and Bloomberg would
be a death-cage match for the ages.  In that race, we'll go with the
Two out of Three Ain't Bad option, with the Moneyed Mayor no longer

Posted in Civics and Urban Life | Comments Off on Greetings from Scott Turner: ST’s Personal Guide for Voters

August 24th, 2009

Greetings from Scott Turner: Quivery Convergence of Weirdness

Here's this week's greetings from pub quizmeister at Rocky Sullivans. He is also a graphic designer with a company called Superba Graphics.  He never told me that I just figured it out. So we might as well give credit where credit is due. This missive is brought to you, as always, by Miss Wit, the t-shirt queen of Red Hook. Check out her designs they're really FUN.

Greetings Pub Quiz Head Shakers…

Whoa!  If we'd had a devastatingly hot summer here in Brooklyn,
this past week's quivery convergence of weirdness would make sense.  I
guess it does, since none of this stuff happened in Brooklyn.

  • A reality t.v. show dude, one Ryan Jenkins, murders his ex-wife, one Jasmine Fiore
    Cuts off her fingers and pulls out Fiore's teeth to make i.d.'ing her
    harder.  Authorities i.d. her anyway…by her breast-implant serial
    numbers.  Jenkins bolts to Canada, is checked into the Thunderbird Motel (you can picture the flickering neon sign) by a mystery woman, and hangs himself with his belt in a closet — very David Carradine.

  • The British government, via the Scottish sort-of government, releases the Lockerbie bombing
    mastermind.  Intensifying storm-clouds of controversy say that it was a
    hostage exchange for oil.  Gosh.  What government would do something
    that insane for oil?

Libya's Moammar Khadafy, at July's G8 Summit in Italy, stands with Britain Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is reeling from reports that Britain released Libyan bomber for an oil deal.Convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is free.

  • The Nymets baseball squadron continues to find new,
    astonishing ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  Yesterday,
    they lose on an unassisted triple-play that ends the game — on the
    second time in major-league history that's happened.

  • Two companies — one British, the other U.S. of A.-ish — are in a jurisprudential battle to the death over who has the exclusive rights to manufacture and sell Michael Jackson hairpieces.  The British company got its start with those white wigs so popular in the UK court system and in movies about the Declaration of Independence.
  • Mayor for Life Bloomberg, on his weekly radio show,
    pshaws criticism of the pharmaceutical industry by saying "Last time I
    checked, pharmaceutical companies don't make a lot of
    money. Their executives don't make
    a lot of money."  Bloomberg backpedals almost immediately, saying, in
    effect well, I dagnabbit, I guess they do!  Bloomie's disconnect from everyone less wealthy than he jumps to the fore once again.

  • India’s
    rupee hits a one-week
    high as a worldwide rally in stocks and commodities adds to
    optimism a global economic recovery is gathering pace, according to
    this morning's media reports.  There's nothing undulatingly odd about
    this — I just know none of us have paid close enough attention to the
    rupee lately.

  • Mikka Shardai Cline, 23, of Waco, TX, and her sister try to take a soccer
    ball from a 13-year-old boy in a wheelchair outside of a Dallas hospital.
    In the
    struggle to get the ball, she punches the boy in the head.  No — it
    gets worse.  the boy has a medical halo screwed into his skull. 
    According to police, that's exactly where Cline's punch lands on the
    boy, causing searing pain. Cline has been charged with child abuse.


  • The best selling football jersey at is…of course…Michael Vick's new Philadelphia Eagles jersey.

  • And finally, from the AFP news service: "A Saudi businessman has purchased what is being described by the
    Canadian seller as the world's most expensive adult novelty item — a
    solid 18-carat gold penis enlarger worth nearly 50,000 dollars. X4
    , a Canadian manufacturer of medical devices, received the
    unorthodox request and recruited a Montreal custom
    jeweler to help with
    its design and construction. "This male health accessory is the
    most expensive traction device ever produced and will likely become a
    historical benchmark for the adult novelty industry," the company said
    in a statement.   His glitzy new penis enlarger, however, is being
    encrusted at his request with 40 diamonds and several rubies and is to
    be delivered by armored car in October, said Rick Oh,
    X4 Labs co-owner.  Saudi law bans the import of adult sex toys, but the
    company insists its product is a US government-certified medical device.
[not an accurate depiction — ed.]

So there — nothing gripping, nothing mind-blowing…just the rich
pageant of eccentricity and the little bonmots it's dropped in our lap
over the last week.  Quiz-fodder?  Sure!  The fuel the March of Time runs on?  Absolutely.

Posted in Scott Turner of Rocky Sullivan's | Comments Off on Greetings from Scott Turner: Quivery Convergence of Weirdness

August 19th, 2009

Greetings from Scott Turner: A Soul-Twisting Heart-Rending Thing

Once again Scott Turner brings us his weekly missive brought to you by Miss Wit, the t-shirt queen of Red Hook. This one has some contains some very disturbing photos of dogs brutalized during dog fights. Scott runs the pub quiz at Rocky Sullivan's every Thursday night.

Greetings Pub Quiz Hans Christian Ørsted fans…

There's a lot going on this week.

  • The
    White House is completely punking out — and I mean wussy to the Nth
    degree — on this health care reform thing.  Message sent — if you
    lie, cheat, disrupt, squelch discourse, exaggerate, exploit fears and
    those most at risk, you can stop the Obama administration dead in its
    tracks.  What is it about reforming this country's torn-and-tattered
    health-care system that turns Democrats to jelly?  I mean, even more so
    than their normal gelatinous state?
  • This was Google's doodle last week.  It honors Hans Christian
    , a scientist whose experiments with wires, nails, clocks and
    conductors proved…um…something about electrified, uh, thingies
    doing…er… something scientific.  Was I the only one that took a
    look at this, gulped, and thought Hans Christian Ørsted was the Father
    of the Improvised Explosive Device

Hans Christian Ørsted's Birthday
Yikes.  That's all, just…yikes.

  • In a stunning
    development, hot weather has finally arrived in time for the end of
    summer.  It's a stretch of 90-degree days, the fans are on,
    air-conditioners are dripping on pedestrians, and the local newscasts
    have a lead story.  We took our goddaughter, Nina Rose, to Coney Island on Sunday, where she tilt-a-whirled and spinning-dragoned in Deno's
    Wonder Wheel Park
    and won a little yellow dog at the
    shoot-water-in-a-clown's-mouth-and-pop-the-balloon game.
  • Best Coney moment for me that didn't have to do with Nina Rose
    having a blast at Coney Island?  At the balloon-popper game, Nina's mom
    Fran puts down two-bucks twice, taking the barker's "only need two
    players to win!" at face value.  I'm thinking this guy's not doing much
    business, I'll play too
    .  I pull out my wallet, the barker looks at me
    and says "no, man, save your money.  Your girl's gonna get her
    doggie."  Other best moment: From atop the Wonder Wheel, the beach was pretty full —
    endless colors of beach umbrellas.  It wasn't the classic crowds of
    yesteryear, but pretty close.

And now let us move on to this one other thing, this one head-spinner soul-twisting heart-rending thing…

Michael Vick getting to play football again.

Now, I have my ideas, as do all of you.  But who better to talk to you about this desperate issue than…a dog?

Two dogs, actually.  The dogs I live with, Sirius Madra Dubh and Daisy Tikkanen
They've asked if you could pen this week's Quizmail.  Not from inside a
pen.  They just wanna pen it, as peoples say.  So sure, S&T, go for
it.  Don't forget to use the spell check, and don't give me the "ohhhh,
where'd our opposable thumbs go?!" I'm not falling for that any more.

Sirius and Tikkanen, your Canine Opiniers

Hi.  We're Sirius and Tikkanen, and we're dogs.

This Michael Vick thing blows.

No one asked the Dog Community what we think about Vick getting to play football again.  They should've.  It's kinda personal for us.

deal is that we look for the best in people.  By people, we mean
"human" people.  Often, we find those best things we're looking for. 
Sometimes, not so much.

Vick is one of those sad cases where the worst we fear in humans actually comes true.

be some obvious stuff here.  A) You've already heard a lot about
Michael Vick, and B) we're dogs — obvious is our forte.  But hearing a
lot of peoples' opinions since the news broke about Vick signing with
the Philadelphia Eagles, it's kinda shocking how little of the points against Vick are obvious.

And what kind of name is that?  Eagles?!  it should be the Philadelphia Beagles, right?  Right.

The Eagles, the NFL, the Humane Society, Reebok, ESPN
and God (represented by Vick's "mentor" Tony Dungy) all got together
and decided to endorse brutality, torture and murder of dogs.

We didn't know any of these dogs — like most of you don't actually know anyone who died on 9/11.  But it affected you big time, right?  Some of NYC's older dogs still remember how upset their peoples were that day.

How do you think we feel every time we hear about a dog-fighting
ring.  Vick's was big news, 'cause usually, dog-fighting isn't news at
all.  Or at least never makes the news.

important to remember — Vick's shocking treatment of dogs wasn't a
sudden crime of passion, a
quick-acting moment of insanity that changed lives forever.  Like
drinking out of a toilet or eating a nice pair of shoes.  This went
on for years.  Vick and others started the operation in 2001 — before
either of us were even puppies — and the
infamous Bad Newz Kennels opened a year later.  Vick had been
brutalizing dogs for five years — five years — before he was caught.
We can't understand why Michael Vick thought this was fun…

When he got caught, Vick did what bullies who're used to getting
away with murder do.  He lied.  To authorities, the media, the NFL, and
the Falcons, who'd signed him to a $130 million deal.  Rather than
accept responsibility, he blamed family members for the horror facility
on his Surrey County, Virginia property.

Lying — something else we dogs don't understand.

Vick was a very good player, we're told.  It got him all the things
he could have ever dreamed about.  Y'know, dreams are funny —
sometimes we're asleep and our legs just start moving, 'cause in a
dream we're chasing a rabbit but the rabbit's purple and riding a
bicycle and singing Patti Page and there's a biscuit — there's always a biscuit, and — wait, never mind, you didn't hear that from us, okay?

Why do people have to be so tough and bullying?  That stuff doesn't
impress us, except when it scares us.  Just spend time with us, feed
us, give us fresh water, play with us, and let us share in a pack

To this day, Vick still
maintains he doesn't know why he did it.  Which means one of three
things — Vick's kinda stupid, dishonest or well-coached.  Dogs can't fathom any of this.  Honestly and love…that, we get.

On 60 Minutes last week, Vick said he cried when he went to
prison.  What about, he was asked.   "What I did, you know, being away
from my family, letting so many
people down. I let myself down, not being out on the football field,
being in a prison bed, in a prison bunk, writing letters home, you
Leslie Stahl, Morley Safer, Bob Simon?  Naw, let's go off-campus and get a Fox Sports guy to interview Vick

Not so much crying over the dogs, then.  That's really sad.

press conference was like a silent dog whistle — pitch perfect for all
the people Vick needs on his side.  The football establishment.  The
vast majority of Americans who
like us dogs well enough but don't value our lives as much as
they value humans'.  A media unwilling to challenge Vick since he was
reading from the
right script and acting all contrite.  Pitch-perfect contrition, as our
Scott M.X. said yesterday.  Even
the Humane Society, who somehow thinks their new spokesperson Vick is
on their side for any reason other than his football career.
like a deer caught in the headlights.  At least the headlights are quicker…

Wayne Pacelle says "If we just punish Mike indefinitely and don't pivot
to this problem in the communities, where kids are victimizing these
dogs…we will not be doing our job."

We dogs get confused a lot.  Sometimes people sound like they're
saying "blah blah blah Tikkanen blah blah blah blah blah Sirius blah
Tikkanen."  But we're good at context.  That helps us figure stuff
out.  There's some very bad context here, and what we've figured out
about Wayne Pacelle is that he's, what's the really bad word for that
awful way peoples sometimes think about other peoples?  Right, racist
Otherwise, what does Pacelle mean when he says "communities"?  Which
"communities" are we talking about,
Wayne?  Black communities?  Poor communities?  All communities?  Dog
communities?  Is this somehow our fault?  Is this one of those "code"
words humans use when they're too embarrassed to say what they really
mean?  Second, it's not just kids — the awful thing is that adults run
dog-fighting rings.  It's not some youthful indiscretion where taking
away allowances can set things straight.  (Of course, the NFL is giving
Vick back his allowance, so maybe Purcelle and the NFL are working off
the same playbook.)
what if it were this cheery, happy pooch, Wayne?

And third, how, exactly, does having Michael Vick on Team Humane
"pivot this back" to where the problem exists?  Are hardened, callous
dog-fighting operators gonna listen to Michael Vick and give up the
terrible, mean things they're doing?  There's so much you humans do and
think about that contributes to animal cruelty.  It seems like Vick
doesn't have much to say that humans who make us fight will listen to.

Ruh-roh…even Vick won't chase that ball.  Even Vick says it's not okay to blame it on "community."

No, the sad thing here is that Michael Vick needs the Humane
Society far more than the Humane Society needs Michael Vick.

Oh, and Wayne?  Thanks, but we're gonna find another group to fight for us. PETA, maybe, or the SPCA or hundreds of others.  They're not as confused as you.

By the way, the NFL
prevented animal rights organizations and individuals from attending
Vick's press conference at the Eagles practice facility.  So much for
reaching out. 

Helen Kennedy, in yesterday's Daily News, describes
back-to-football strategy as "treading the well-worn path to career
revival."  She's right!.  As long as there's an NFL paycheck waiting
only for Vick to act nice, Vick will go where his handlers tell him. 
He'll gently pretend to whip himself and keep repeating children, I did a terrible thing, a terrible thing
Vick forced dogs to fight each other — and made the calls over who
lived and who died — it for too long.  Five years of electrocuting,
drowning, hanging, shooting dogs at the end of short, sad, painful
being forced to fight, starved, put into breeding machines called rape
racks, and chained outside weather good and bad.

dogfighting1.jpg image by dearaewi

a veteran of the dog-fighting arena

Vick found God.  Not Dog…but
God.  It's not quite a pawlindromes and– what?  It's "palindrome," not
"pawlindrome?"  Wow, learn something new every day.  Like yesterday. 
We learned that grapefruit taste terrible.  Who knew?

Going all God is the biggest biscuit of the well-worn path to career
revival.  But would that be the All Things Great And Small/All
Things Bright and Beautiful God, or the "lemme throw Pol Pot and Hurricane Katrina at humanity to see how they handle it" God?  Or some other God
custom molded for Michael Vick's Days of Resurgence?

This week, Vick's supporters have been saying "he's done
his time, paid his debt to society, has the right to earn a living, and
deserves a second chance."

sounds like people who keep saying "bad dog, bad dog, bad dog" over and
over 'til it loses all meaning and we just ignore it.  'Cause, if you
don't give us a good reason to stop eating yummy stuff off the
sidewalk, we will.  You guys keep smoking and driving drunk.  For
humans and dogs, its hard to stop the dopey stuff.

Let's paw away at these one by one…

He's Done His Time: 
Well, yeah, because Vick was allowed to cop a newspaper-on-the-nose
for the so-many terrible things he did.   I know you call it The Big
House, not The Dog House.  But just  eighteen months?  What kind of
message is that, for peoples or dogs?  The sanctity of life we all
claim to
hold so dear only matters if it's humans.   Society is always
reflected by the penalties we inflict on wrong-doers.  When people used
to wantonly torture and execute, it proved what terrible creatures
you could be.  Now that money means more than protecting animals, that
proves how peoples still have a lot to learn.  And a long way to go. 
Hey…we'll walk with you, if that'll help.  We will.

There's no such thing as a bad dog.  Not sure the same rule applies to peoples, as much as we love you.

He's Paid His Debt To Society.  Again, not too terribly a
big debt.   "But
he lost all that money."  Well, truth be told, he should have.  Money
means nothing to us, but since peoples love it so much, maybe this'll
teach Vick a lesson.  You know, none of those hundreds of millions of
dollars are part of the "debt being paid to society."  It's simply
money the Atlanta
Falcons' owners doesn't have to shell out to Michael Vick.  There will
be ghosts haunting Michael Vick.  We'll see if its the ghosts of the
dogs he hurt or the very big moneybags he's lost.

a secret.  Dogs all have ghosts.  We're too kind to haunt Michael
Vick.  Haunting — not our thing, even for Vick.  We just hang around,
usually to make sure the people we lived with and who treated us nicely
are okay.

He Has The Right To Earn A Living.  No, he doesn't, actually.  He
has the right to try.  In fact, there are millions of convicted,
released, and rehabilitated felons in this country who don't have the
right to certain jobs, and those they do, have a hard time getting
hired for.  Probably not to many peoples would care about this particular felon if he weren't Michael Vick.
A right the Founding Fathers forgot to include…

Everyone Deserves A Second Chance:  This is the worst.  Not
because we disagree.  It's nice when peoples give dogs a second chance,
especially with adoptions from shelters.  The difference, of course, is
that dogs didn't do anything except be born.  There's nothing bad about
putting paw after paw on this earth.  Now, Michael Vick…he did some
very bad things.

This is the worst because it's such an easy, un-thinking, callous
and lazy thing that  Vick supporters have been tossing around, like
scraps off the table that even we won't scarf up off the floor.  Here
are four reasons why this is bad, this "second-chance" stuff…

Some peoples do such bad things, they just don't deserve a second
chance.  At the very least, they don't deserve to be an sports
superstar again.  If by second chance, you mean Vick
should try and earn an honest living in a box factory or as a hospital
orderly, sure.  Maybe spend the rest of his life working in an animal
rescue shelter.  That'd be okay.

2) The countless dogs who died in the Bad Newz Kennels didn't get a
second chance.  In fact, never mind Vick's dog-fighting operation —
look at all the pooches and kitties and the other creatures that go
into shelters and never come out alive, just because no humans stepped
up and said "here, share our home with us, will you?"  (Of course we will!!)  It'd be nice if all living things got the same number of second chances, right?

Vick's "second chance" defense has been given a decidedly Christian
religious tone by Vick's born-again rhetoric, his mentor Tony Dungy's
heavy Christianity, and football's serious depencency on pre-, mid- and post-game prayer.

4) Those peoples against Vick getting second chances in football or riches are being painted as
horrible peoples who don't endorse the charity of second chances.  Supporting a dog killer, you're being kind.  Speaking about
against him?  You're being cruel and inhumane.  Wow, guess Vick's supporters should know.  Grrrrrrrrr.

The NFL has had a run of athletes killing,
maiming, shooting and destroying lives.  Ultimately, they always get a
second chance.  Some say it proves the NFL's
compassion.  What it does is protect the NFL.  Ultimately, that's what
matters here.  Michael Vick's dog-fighting reflected badly on the NFL. 
If the appearance of a Vick rehabilitation can stick, it makes the NFL look good.  They could
care less about the victims of all of those NFL players' who've hurt people off the field —
a woman killed by a drunk NFLer, a club employee paralyzed by a macho
NFLer, club patrons nearly shot by a gun-toting NFLer.

Whatever NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says, by welcoming Vick
back, the league has made it easier, not harder, for dog-fighting rings
to continue in this country.  It wasn't such a bad thing, Goodell has declared about Vick's treatment of dogs.  We're okay with a guy like that playing in our league.
"Hey, all you dog-lovers…CAN IT!"  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

money machine that is the NFL, ESPN, the media and the football jersey
companies has been too powerful for dogs and peoples who have our backs to go up against.

It's bad seeing all the comments from "dog owners" and "dog lovers" who
think Vick's return to the gridiron is okay.  It makes our bellies hurt.  Would
they feel that way if Vick had done it to their dog?  Dog-fighting rings often do it to somebody's dog, stolen from yards or houses.

It'd be a lot healthier and honest if all parties concerned said,
simply, "we can make a lot of money if Michael Vick comes back to the
NFL.  Shut up and take it.  It's America, and we rehabilitate
scoundrels not because it's good for people but because it's good for

unsettling when humans get mad at each other and talk that way.  It's
scarier even than thunder.  But at least everyone would be clear.

Reebok Philadelphia Eagles Michael Vick Premier Team Color Jersey -

The NFL, showing its concern for animals


But hey, a script's a script, and they're using an old one for Michael
Vick.  Scripts are never real.  They exist only to serve a purpose.

That purpose?  The telling of a story that benefits whoever paid for the script.

How do you think the script would read if Michael Vick wrote it himself.

How would it read if dogs could write?

Wait…we can!  Give us some time — we'll come up with a script that helps everybody.

'Cause that's what dogs do — help everybody.  Cats think we're simps for still loving humans.  Maybe.  But we do.

love and paws in our time,

Sirius & Tikkanen

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August 7th, 2009

Greetings From Scott Turner: Bitter Ligonberries

Scott Turner's greeting arrived late this week. But don't be late for his pub quiz tonight at Rocky Sullivan's. Late or not, we are always happy to hear the news from Red Hook's quiz master. This missive is brought to you by the Red Hook tee shirt woman, Miss Wit.

Greetings, Pub Quiz Riegelmann Walkers…

It's summertime.  Not that you needed the notification.  The Summer of '09
continues to be weird.  June, a washout.  July, wanting to be summery
but not able to commit — like your paramour not being able to say
those three magic words.  And now, August — hot, sticky, hazy…but
not quite getting there.  Not quite the summer of legends, of Do The Right Thing's
hottest day of the year's descent into madness
with a cause, of pavement-melting, tempers-flaring,
humidity-complaining everpresent sweating lore.

By the way — in fact, two By The Ways:

1) Spike Lee's Mookie wears a Jackie Robinson jersey in Do The Right Thing
Cool.  Except it's really a modern day Los Angeles Dodgers jersey with
Robinson's name and number.  Robinson wore flannel, not doubleknit, and
he never played in a jersey with his name on the back.  Spike Lee knows
that.  Point made, if excessively and lacking nuance.

2) In searching for Do The Right Thing images, one of the
searches was "Do The Right Thing riot."  On page 4, about that point
when Google searches start to seriously break down, I got this image
for "Do The Right Thing riot":
The brutal images of Brooklyn's racial, class and national tensions — aw, he's adorable!

Still, I did catch one whiff of summer today.  No, not garbage piling up
near Green-Wood Cemetery or any of the city's other summersmeller
bummers.  No, this was a good'un.


It's the best
summer smell ever.  Better than sea salt, Coppertone, cotton candy,
spilled beer at the ballpark, strawberries and charcoal briquettes.

Okay, another By The Way: briquettes are commonly thought to be a
tag-team invention of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, and they ended up
with a patent.  Seems the real inventor was Reading, PA's very own
Ellsworth B.A. Zwoyer.  But Ford and Edison get the credit.  It's
always like that.  For example, I invented the word "yo."  But do I get
credit for it.  Nope.

Creosote.  It's the black paste used to treat and waterproof
railroad ties and, more germane to the issue at hand, boardwalks.  A seashore amusement park with a the
triple-threat of boardwalks, kiddie train rides and old wooden roller
coast — that's Creosote Heaven.
Finding pix of creosote being applied to, well, anything…harder than you'd think.  Provided you would ever have thought about it.

It used to be everywhere.  As the temperatures skyrocketed each
year, it seemed that new coats of creosote were slathered on everything
from Your House to The Beach.  Not just boardwalks, roller coasters and
railroad ties, but telephone poles, highway barriers, bridge
stanchions, signposts.  A sunny day with a slight breeze meant creosote

Creosote everywhere.  By the way…I'm not as old as these photos.

no longer a harbinger or comforting reminder of summer.  One reason is
that, with the march of Time and it's sometime's misguided partner,
Progress, coating wood products in a coal-tar gook is a bit looked down

Oh, and creosote might also be a carcinogenic.  Bummer, that.

And Monty Python didn't do creosote any favors by naming their grossest character ever after our fragrant-yet-carcinogenic pal.  The Meaning of Life's
Mr. Creosote was something that John Cleese once said "crossed the
line," and that he wished Python had stopped short of.  That's extraordinary, given Monty Python's willingness to cross
lines, borders, walls, trenches, mountains, galaxies and anything
between them and The Laughing Truth — or is it The Truthful Laugh.
Mr. Creosote…giving cancer-causing agents a bad rep since 1983.

There's really not much more to say about creosote.  Well, one
thing.  Many years ago, I wrote record reviews and opinion pieces (i.e.
"rants," just like this one) for a local fanzine.  I did it under the
name Creosote Connolly.  The editor, a young skatepunk, had no idea what creosote was.  Rather he made the determination that I'd mistyped my own nomme-de-
colère.  The issue arrives, smelling of the print shop it'd just come from, with my pieces credited to…wait for it…Cresoto Connolly.

How he'd figured I'd meant to have a first name "Cresoto" is beyond me.  Big Bend National Park in Texas has a small area called Cresoto Flat.  That, and a mischristened fanzine writer named Cresoto Connolly, are the only traces of cresotosity on Planet Earth.

Unless there are others.

But I don't think so.

Oh, and By the Way, one more thing:

You can no longer take the IKEA ferry to Pub Quiz — or to Rocky's, or to Red Hook
— for free.  One of IKEA's many promises — exchanged like chits for
Red Hook's blessing for IKEA's rather large blue-and-yellow retail
operation with its Red Rockers' "China" video flags flying out front — was free transportation.

More specifically, let us build, and you can ride our busses and
ferry for free, as much as you want, whenver you want.  It's a courtesy.

from big businesses have a decidedly evaporative effect.  IKEA is now
charging $5 each way if you're not a shopper.  "“We cannot continue [as
a] commuter service for those who are not Ikea customers,” said manager
Mike Baker in The Brooklyn Paper.

Except for the part where you promised Red Hook you would.
No matter how far you get from the shore, broken promises can still be seen

It's not New York Water Taxi's fault.  They're just doing what IKEA's paying them to do.

This also isn't about Quizzers losing
the free ride.  It's about a promise IKEA made to every resident of Red
Hook, one with a simple premise.  You let us in, we'll repay your

Payment of kindness hereby withdrawn.

Times are tough.  No lie.  But it's precisely now, when times are
tough, that you stick with a promise.  Especially one built on trust. 
Hopefully, IKEA will reconsider.  The Red Hook location is rumored to
be one of IKEA's top-performing stores in North America.  Forgetting ethics, you'd think the cash registers' constant clanging would be enough to keep a promise.

Put it this way.  The ligonberries are tasting a kinda bitter these days.

And no amount of creosote can cover IKEA's odiferous change of heart.

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July 28th, 2009

Greetings From Scott Turner: Apex of Weirdness

Even when I'm on Block Island, Scott Turner, the Pub Quiz man of Rocky Sullivan's I've never met comes through with his weekly missive. This one travels far and wide and promises to be quite zany. Brought to you as always by Miss Wit, the great t-shirt designer of Red Hook. CHeck out her site why doncha. The tees are wonderful. 

Greetings Pub Quiz Dog Days Anticipationists…

Maybe it's the middle of summer.  Maybe it's the odd weather – May's chilly winds, June's washouts, July's nearly-every-day thunder rumbling over us.  Maybe it's the economy, which continues to slip-slide away despite forecasters offering tiny tidbits of hope, the way kids tug at their parents sleeves on rainy days and say "isn't there some way we can still have the picnic?  Please?!!"

Or maybe, just maybe, it's Ugly Bat Boy, a cat so unremittingly weird looking, so disconcerting, that all things bizarre seem destined to be his doing.
When good cats go Joan Rivers

Ugly Bat Boy, lives in a New Hampshire veterinary clinic.  He was brought to my attention by Rocky Sullivan's Pub Quiz attendee James Bowers.   He's the animal world's version of portraits in thunder-and-lighting mansions, the ones whose eyes follow soon-to-be-victims.

According to the piece James forwarded, Ugly Bat Boy "has a nice disposition and real inner beauty."  Which is what separates Ugly Bat Boy from, say, Mayor Bloomberg.
Channeling the mayor: "If I spend enough money running for mayor, people will forget how rich I am."

I'm not saying Ugly Bat Boy is the reason for the Apex of Weirdness currently coursing through everyone's consciousness.  But after this bulleted list, we might have to revisit the perfidious effect of those barely moving eyes on the very core of human existence.

As Ugly Bat Boy has emerged onto the national stage, so too have these oddities erupted:

  • The battle between Cambridge PD's Crowley the Arrester and Harvard's Gates the Alleged has smooved into a beery love-in between the clueless cop, the angry professor and the overwhelmed president. It'd be great if Crowley, Gates and Obama met in an undisclosed dive bar, got hammered — really liver-endangering sloshed — and hashed it all out in an maelstrom of alcohol-induced emotional chaos.  No t.v. cameras, no carefully-scripted CYA remarks.  Just pure, raw face-to-face-to-face rip-snortin' hashing it out.
Last week's Ugly Bat Boy weirdness on Dr. Gates' front porch wasn't the actual incident.  It was Sgt. Crowley's initial response that he couldn't be racist because sixteen years ago, he attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on dying Celtics star Reggie Lewis.  You know, the classic some-of-my-best-friends-are-cardiac-arrested-black-NBA-stars line.

“I am not a racist,’’ said police Sergeant James Crowley .
if only Reggie White could be here to see this.

  • The Mets, who can't do anything right, today fired Tony Bernazard, their VP for Player Development.  Bernazard has something of a temper.  What kind of temper?  The kind where someone chews out a minor-league team in Binghamton, NY by screaming at them, ripping his shirt off, offering to fight anyone, and calling one player a "pussy" — the man with the temper's word, not mine.
You'd think the cutting ties with this guy would qualify as "doing something right."  The Mets, so good at rescuing defeat from the jaws of victory.  No, in fact, the Mets' general manager, Omar Minaya – himself under fire for the team's performance — blamed Daily News reporter Adam Rubin for the whole thing, inferring that Rubin broke the Binghamton story because the reporter was angling for Bernazard's job.  The bad juju at Tarp Field permeates everything, even with the team on a three-game winning streak, at long last scoring runs galore.  Meet the Mess, Meet the Mess…
Minaya, Rubin.  The scapegoater,. and goat being scaped

  • U.S. Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) has announced his retirement.  Bunning says he won't run for another term because he can't afford it.  Now, I'm no fan of Jim Bunning's — he's as regressive as they come.  He once said his opponent was "limp-wristed" and "looks like one of Saddam Hussein's sons."  Nuttier still, Bunning famously said "Let me explain something: I don't watch the national news, and I don't read the paper. I haven't done that for the last six weeks. I watch Fox News to get my information."
It's no loss to see one of Time magazine's Five Worst Senators leave office.  Rather, It's the reason he's leaving.  He can't afford to run.  A public servant, even one as bad as Bunning, shouldn't be leaving public life simply because it's too expensive to run for re-election.  And the zillions of political hopefuls who never even enter this expensive realm?  Each of them a potentially huge loss.  Or maybe not — maybe they would've made Bunning look like Lincoln.  But we'll never know, and that hurts everyone in a democracy — or what passes for a democracy these days.
(left) Jim Bunning, the only man to toss a perfect game at Shea Stadium
(right) Jim Bunning, demonstrating how much a wrist needs to move to not be "limp"

  • This isn't weird, and certainly isn't the doing of Ugly Bat Boy.  It's just a very, very, very cool photo of Jane Goodall and her dog.
Licking Friend
  • Still don't know where Michael Jackson's body is.  There are now a good many websites dedicated to the idea that MJ is still alive.  Well, what rock star isn't, right?
Is this what's inside Jacko's casket?  Moyt be, rrrrabbbit, moyt be…
  • Bruce Ratner's point person on the Atlantic Yards travesty, MaryAnne Gilmartin (shouldn't Bruce Ratner be Bruce Ratner's point person on Atlantic Yards, travesty or not?) gave a patently weird, evasive, smug, panicked, confident, in tatters, scripted, flummoxed performance at last week's Community Board hearing in Brooklyn.  This was the latest public forum where the government forces local officials to hold a meeting so Atlantic Yards can get some good press.  When will they learn that "good press" doesn't find Ratner these days — either because his project is in ruins or because Ratner's minions have nothing truthful or even useful to say.  There are other factors, like all the people have been fed up with Atlantic Yards for so long and Ratner's supporters — the ones who actually like the project — being the most-disruptive in the room.
Actually, Gilmartin's lying and obfuscating was pretty entertaining .  She was really out of her league, and again, this is the point-person on Atlantic Yards.  Gilmartin had dozens of cheat-sheets on the dais in front of her.  Sometimes she answered by reading straight off the sheets.  Sometimes she made stuff up.  Sometimes she heard something good in the audience and repeated it into the mike.  Often, Gilmartin just sat there, like the proverbial deer in the headlights, wondering why it was taking so long for that car to get there and wipe her out.

Atlantic Yards' MaryAnne Gilmartin, left, figuring out just why so many people have quit the Atlantic Yards project. (photo by Adrian Kinoch)

This Wednesday — tomorrow — is much bigger, more important community hearing.  You're all invited.  It's during the afternoon and also in the evening.  If ever there was a meeting folks should turn out for — to make your views known, to protest, to really have at Forest City Ratner, government officials or, if you like the project, opponents — this is the one.  It's a crucial time — over the next few months, any number of things can permanently sink Atlantic Yards.

Atlantic Yards needs to be sunk.  Because it would provide few, if any, affordable apartments, newly-created jobs and union jobs, because it would cost taxpayers (i.e. you and me) billions of dollars, because it's been such a scam and corrupt process it makes Boss Tweed look like Walter Cronkite, and because it's the Ugly Bat Boy of real-estate developments.  That's why Atlantic Yards has to be stopped, now, and replaced with a plan that makes good on the promises Ratner can't and obviously won't.

If you head to Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's website, you'll get all the info you need for Wednesday's big meeting, as well as incredible clips from last week's community board meeting.  Want more info?  Head to No Land Grab and Atlantic Yards Report.
which side are you on, folks, which side are you on?  Brooklyn's, you say?

  • Here's a photo I'm laying squarely at Ugly Bat Boy's paws — it's baseball, it's Japan, and it's Ugly Bat Boy's doing.  That's all you need to know:
really, there're pinstripes under the pitcher's uniform…

So there you have it.  Ugly Bat Boy's Pageant of the Weird.  As at any juncture in the march of humanity, this has been a tip-of-the-iceberg exercise.

Thanks to James Bowers and Ugly Bat Boy aiding and abetting Weirdsville U.S.A.'s journey from the ether to your e-mail box.

Even money odds that it's even toastier next week.

Posted in Civics and Urban Life | Comments Off on Greetings From Scott Turner: Apex of Weirdness

July 15th, 2009

Greetings from Scott Turner: What Does Baseball Do?

Once again we have the pleasure of one of Scott Turner's missives.
Ostensibly an opportunity to promote his Thursday night pub quiz at Rocky Sullivan's in Red Hook, Turner always manages to communicate so much more. As always, Greetings from Scott Turner is brought to you by Miss Wit, Red Hook's t-shirt queen.

It's very early Wednesday morning, and once again the American League has defeated the National League in baseball's All-Star Game.  Its alternate moniker, charmingly filched from Shakespeare, used to be The Midsummer Night's Classic — back when it actually was.

Since the '70s, though, baseball's mismanagement of most things
baseball has reduced the game to a desperate, shrill, uninspired mess
of mismatched uniforms (cool) and misconstrued priorities (exceedingly

The All-Star Game was born in Chicago, in 1933. When
baseball had two truly separate leagues, the All-Star Game was a fierce
affair — league pride actually a) existed and b) fueled the energy of
the yearly contest.  Players played to win.  But under current
commissioner and former Milwaukee used-car salesman Bud Selig,
the All-Star Game has lost its way.  So bad had it become that Selig
was forced to halt the game with the score tied a few years ago. 

Selig's solution for the recent All-Star morass was to award
home-field advantage to the league whose team won the game.  The
American League's no-longer-just-recent dominance means that AL teams
always have an edge in the World Series.  The last time they lost the
All-Star Game was in 1996, halfway through the Clinton administration. 
In a recent poll, fans let Selig know it's a dopey idea.  Bud Selig has
never met a contrivance he's confused for innovation, fans' powerless
tolerance for genuine excitement.

Last night's game, though, went much further into the frenetic
pursuit of relevancy..  Baseball's in a tough spot — steroid scandals,
new stadiums with empty expensive seats beamed everywhere on
television, and continued competition from thousands of other pastimes
besides the National one.

What does baseball do?  They hype a campaign linking baseball with community service called "This Is Beyond Baseball." 
By urging fans to go "beyond baseball" and do good deeds, they're
insisting that baseball is the pass-Go/Collect $200 starting point of
all good deeds.

According to, "it began with the thunderous hooves of the famous Budweiser Clydesdales
roaring around the full perimeter warning track starting at the
right-field foul pole. Then came the introduction of the All-Stars
Among Us
, the individuals who drew more than 750,000 votes by fans as
those most deserving of representing their local MLB clubs due to a
singular act of public service and generosity."

The Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales parade on the field at the start of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis.
Robert Cohen *
Drink to the Heroes!

In other words, a blatant Budweiser plug in a stadium named for the Anheiser-Busch
company featuring people representing not themselves, their campaigns
or communities, but the baseball teams they live closest too.  Driving
home the point, they took the field not in their own clothing or shirts
and jackets of the organizations their hard work has created — but
officially-licensed team jerseys.

A video showing the five living U.S. presidents and a few plucky Americans doing things like driving cancer kids to far away chemo sessions said it loud and clear: charity, kindness and community are uniquely American

"As a sport," President Obama opines in the pre-game video, "baseball has always embodied
the values that make America great. … Together, let's strive to make
America a model for other nations. And in the meantime, enjoy the game."

President Barack Obama throws the ceremonial first pitch at the start of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis.
Robert Cohen *
Model American tosses one in the dirt…

has a new face — we no longer police the world.  Now, we moralize it. 
Well, we did that before, in grand geopolitical broadsides.  Now,
though, even random acts of kindness have been franchised by the

What did baseball itself think of its hugfest?  "Over the top. Unbelievable," said Tim Brosnan, Major League Baseball's
executive vice president of business. "It was overwhelming. You saw

"No major sport has ever taken its biggest marketing platform and
dedicated it to the 30 people in local communities. This is the first
major sport to do it, and we did it with the cooperation of the
president of the United States."

If a little humility goes a long way, we probably pull up short of the goal on an absolutely zero dollop.

During last night's interminable pre-game ceremonies, baseball might as well have channelled Sally Field and screamed "you like me, you really like me!!"

Tuesday July 14, 2009--Heros mix with All-Star players on the field before Major League Baseball's All-Star game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Laurie Skrivan
are community heroes, and which are simply baseball heroes.  If the
lines are blurred, baseball has you right where it wants you.

great that there are so many people in this country putting others
before themselves.  They knit caps for cancer patients…raise money
for cerebral palsy research…customize care packages for soldiers far
away.  That's great, wonderful.

What's not so wonderful is Major League Baseball exploiting
these good people to sell its product.  It's not enough to simply honor
them.  They have to constantly, insistently, crassly tie them to
synergistic orgies of beer sponsors, weekly magazines, military
flyovers, and the money-printing merchandise of each and every MLB team.

fact, how much easier would these 30 peoples lives be if their cities
hadn't collectively squandered tens of billions of dollars on the
teams' stadiums over the years.  Or if people had money to donate
instead of spending hundreds of dollars each time their family makes it
to a major-league game?

Baseball teams — and certainly other sports' clubs (see Ratner, Nets, p.r. expenditures, Brooklyn)
have learned to spend a little to rip-off a lot.  In this case, an
on-line contest, thirty baseball jerseys, some local donations and
contributions — that's all it takes to open the public coffers
whenever Bud Selig's people need a helping hand.

It's The New Midsummer Night's Classic, custom-designed and logo-adorned for the age we live in.

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July 7th, 2009

Greetings from Scott Turner: Junior High Yearbook

Here's this week's missive from Scott Turner, who runs the Thursday night Pub Quiz at Rocky Sullivan's. Sorry he wasn't on the blog last week. For some reason, Yahoo wouldn't let his email through. We're glad he's back And thanks to our sponsor, Miss Wit,  the Red Hook t-shirt queen.

Greetings Pub Quiz Dance Floor Denizens…

Before getting into the week's business, here's this, from the Rocky Sullivan's staff:

We will be holding a benefit this Friday July 10th  at 7pm at Rocky's. 
Heather and Ariel our neighbors across the street tragically lost their
first born son Gabriel Neshamah last week after being delivered on his
due date but sadly not taking a breath.  We are holding a benefit to
raise money for baby Gabriel's burial.  We will be asking a suggested
$25 donation.  People who cannot make Friday can always leave a
donation in an envelope with the bar staff marked Gabriel.

Thanks in advance for your support.

neighbors and patrons are the reason we're still there.  If you can
bring something extra this Thursday for Gabriel's journey, that'd be

* * * * * * * *

A few weeks ago I reconnected with my best friend from 1972.  Most people have best friends that last lifetimes.  I have Whit and Diane and the Skyline Five.  I'm lucky, and no, you can't force me to choose a single Best Friend.

In 1972, entering 7th Grade at Eastview Junior High in White Plains, I quickly made friends with Ray Schieber.  He'd moved to White Plains from Chicago
We found each other through obsessive sports fandom and, well, little
else.  We made up games throughout the school year, created new
baseball teams and leagues for them to play in, took each other on in
various baseball board games, plotted all sorts of shortcuts home from
school either to his folks' or my mom's apartment.

Ray's mom was wonderfully welcoming, his dad taciturn and
methodical in his reading of the Saturday night early edition of Sunday
Daily News, and his older sister put up with us, rarely successfully in hers or our minds.

Once we discovered ancient animal bones on the grassy slope leading
from the football field to the back of the bowling alley — ancient
until the science teacher we brought them to, Mr. Cutler, let
us down easy by saying "well, they might be dinosaurs, but more likely
it's one of the neighborhood cats."  On further review, maybe they
weren't the biggest oldest or oddest bones every unearthed.

There was a third friend, Scott Robeson.  Our triumvirate coursed through films, photography, sports, current events, Hi-C, bologna sandwiches, slices at the Italian Pavilion on Mamaroneck Avenue.  We made it through the school year with little to no sense that life was anything but friendship and collecting NFL Player Stamps at the local Sunoco.

There's a lot I'll leave out just now — from the endless eccentric
but harmless adventures Ray, Scott and I went on through to the smart,
covert and brilliant way Ray tracked me down.  He and his mom are
upstate, he's a brilliant and so-far unrecognized artist.  And Scott is
a super in a building in Manhattan who several years ago made the papers when he foiled a mugging attempt.

Why the one-year friendship?  At the end of the school year, my mom
and her new husband dropped the bomb — we'd be moving to North
Carolina at summer's end.  That kinda sucked.  I missed Ray and Scott
and for years we stayed in touch, until we didn't.  We took separate
paths, but they were always joined way back there in 1972.

Ray loaned me the Eastview yearbook from our one year together,
'72-73.  Here's our class photo.  Since homeroom was with a shop
teacher, there are only boys in this photo:

Scott Robeson (top row, far right); Scott M.X. Turner, Ray Schieber (bottom row, last two right)

One more thing.  Do you recognize the kid sitting, far left?  It's David Sanger, the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize winning Washington correspondent.  Back in seventh grade, David was that worst blending of personality disorders — a Mets fan with the arrogance of a Yankees fan.  That's messed up.  Because I was a catcher in little league, I'd taken a shine to Johnny Bench, my generation's greatest catcher.  (That's still true, by the way.)

David razzed me every chance he could.  He was churlish and
annoying and the kill-switch that even kids know to throw when they've
gone to far, David either chose not to throw it or never had one
installed.  I remember on several occasions really wanting to clock
him, but I never did.

That's right.  At least a good half dozen times, I nearly punched out a future Pulitzer Prize winner.

A future Pulitzer Prize winner who deserved it.
Sure, he's won a couple of Pulitzers.  Bet he has fancy seats at Tarp Field, too.

I'm glad Ray found me.  I'll pull out the old Sports Illustrated Baseball game (1972 edition) and we'll see who's still got it.

Posted in Scott Turner of Rocky Sullivan's | Comments Off on Greetings from Scott Turner: Junior High Yearbook

June 24th, 2009

Greetings from Scott Turner: The Lessness of Senses

Here's the latest from our man in Red Hook, Scott Turner. Did I forget about you last week? Huge apologies to the quizmaster over at Rocky Sullivans. And did I mention, Scott Turner's column is sponsored by Miss Wit, maker of groovy t-shirts.

Greetings Pub Quiz Straphanger Renegotiation Combine…

On the first day of summer, which was also Father's Day this year, Google ran this cruel, taunting, graphic above their search-box:

Happy Father's Day!

No matter your start-date for summer — the societal Memorial Day Weekend or the scientific June 21st — this was supposed to be an oft-repeated tableau by now.

Instead, we've gotten a steady diet of this:

It's been so bad that they were squeegeeing putting greens at the U.S. Open out on Long Island.

109th US Open on the Bethpage Black Course

I know the faithful at Bethpage Black were stressing something fierce.  Golf with squeegees.  What is  the world coming to?

Well, in Brooklyn it's coming to this: Bruce Ratner is really broke.  Or really arrogant.  I'm going with both.  Normally, you'd beat up a big shot with those two things. 

The MTA?  It's using 'em to beat itself senseless.

The lessness of senses covers the unbelievable sweetheart deal Ratner has conned the MTA's Finance Committee into giving him. For the rail yards Ratner desperately needs to build the Atlantic Yards
project, the MTA now says he can pay taxpayers less, build less, and
take forever on both counts.  This comes at the same time Ratner's
lobbying for more tax breaks, tax-free bonds and direct subsidies.

…for a project that won't provide appreciable, if any, affordable apartments or newly-created jobs.

"Listen, I'm really attracted to your daughter, Brooklyn.  Yes, I have
beaten her, cheated on her, cleaned out her bank account, demolished
her self-image, driven away suitors who truly love and respect her, and
over the past five years lied, cajoled, exaggerated, broken promises,
taunted and abused her."

MTA: "Well, yes son.  You're a fine young man.  Listen, we'll cover
the cost of the wedding.  Run along, now, that pretty little thing's
making a fierce racket."
MTA Chair Dale Hermmerdinger (r.), who busied himself with his Blackberry during DDDB's Dan Goldstein's presentation before the MTA board this week.  A real people's man, that Dale…

I'm amused these days thinking about a remark someone made at Rocky's
a couple of months ago.  Things weren't going well for Bruce Ratner. 
Community opposition, the crashing economy and Ratner's own
incompetence had brought the Atlantic Yards project to a halt.  Hadn't
killed it, mind you, but halted it was.

Noticing my Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn badge, a gentleman said "C'mon, man, whattya want?  The project's dead. You want his head on a pike, too?"

if it would end the madness that is the Atlantic Yards project.  Once
and for all.  But Bruce Ratner, the zombie who doesn't know he's dead,
just keeps coming and keeps coming, so selfish and self-absorbed is
he.  And that's why the project's not packing the moving van for

Bruce Ratner
Mr. Beg Borrow and Steal himself — life's easier without a sense of shame.

it stands, the MTA — the same one always threatening to cut subway and
bus routes, services, repairs and new capital projects — is feeling so
flush and happy that it's letting Bruce Ratner pay $20 million for a
property the MTA had originally valued at $214 million.

For a property that another developer offered $150 million for when Ratner was offering only $50.

For a property that currently has ten tracks and Ratner's design will leave a growing system with only seven.

For a property that Ratner will be allowed to pay off during the next twenty-two years as fare hikes jump and services get cut, so warns the same MTA honchos bending over backwards to accommodate Bruce.

Why do we stand for this?  Why do you?  Why do I?

Seriously.  It's never been legit to say "hey, I don't live
anywhere near where this is being built.  It won't affect me."  An
estimated $2 billion in taxpayer money being handed to Ratner says
otherwise.  So does the MTA's budget gap — or as the MTA's point
person on this mess, Gary Dellaverson calls it, "a mismatch of receipts."
Gary Dellaverson — smashing unions or smashing Brooklyn, it's all the same to him.

Other people in the world get super-duper loud when things go badly (see Iran,
elections, ruh-roh!!).  There's no comparing the fight against Atlantic
Yards to the fight for democracy in Iran, so relax, I'm not.

It'd be awfully swell, though, if straphangers just jumped the turnstiles en-masse
and said "you know, MTA, your service hasn't been so good, lately.  I'm
just re-negotiating my subway fare.  Just like Bruce Ratner did with
you.  You understand, right?"

The tireless, smart folks at both NoLandGrab and AtlanticYardsReport
make a good point: Ratner really frakkin' needs that rail yard.  The
MTA doesn't need jack from Ratner.  So how come it's Ratner whose
calling all the shots?

To quote Firefly's disturbed but prescient bounty hunter Jubal Early, "does that seem right to you?"

No…I didn't think so.  Me neither.
Jubal Early — fictional, but still asking the right questions

It gets better.  According to today's Reuters:

New York's Metropolitan
Transportation Authority proposed selling $600 million of
notes, its first short-term borrowing since the 1990s,
according to agency officials at a Monday finance committee

The sale, if approved by the full board, would be
underwritten by Barclays.

The debt would be repaid by some of the state tax revenue
that the mass transit agency, the nation's biggest, shares in.
That money mainly is paid to the MTA in December. The notes
also would be backed by new taxes the state approved for the
MTA, including a tax on the payrolls of local employers.

review — the MTA, while letting Ratner screw them, is employing
cash-raising desperation measures not seen in twenty years. These
fast-and-sloppy measures are being funded by Barclays, the same former slave-trade and apartheid enablers who are paying Ratner $400 million to put their name on now-Gehryless Nets arena.  And the MTA would pay off their debt to Barclays by dipping into state tax revenue meant to help the MTA operate.

Barclays helps out an MTA destitute in part because Ratner is
stiffing it though he has plenty of money on the table from…wait for

Who's outraged by this?  A lot of New Yorkers, actually.  One of 'em is Queens Council member Tony Avella, the guy the Democrats should be uniting behind to run against Mayor Bloomberg this fall.  Avella's campaign released this late today:


The MTA today announced that Bruce Ratner, the developer of
the controversial Atlantic Yards project, will be allowed to defer $80
million of the $100 million total he has agreed to pay for the site.
The final installments will not be paid until 2031. The MTA board
members who will meet tomorrow to vote on the revised agreement were
given only 48 hours to review the complex documents.

photo by Tracy Collins

only points out how this project should never have been approved in the
first place,” said Council Member and Mayoral candidate Tony Avella.
“It's time to kill this monster once and for all.”

“This project would tear the fabric of Brooklyn for many generations to come,” Avella said. “It must be stopped.”

Time to start talking re-negotiation, fellow straphangers.  Time to start talkin…

Posted in Scott Turner of Rocky Sullivan's | 3 Comments »

June 9th, 2009

Greetings From Scott Turner: Brain Dump

The latest from Scott Turner, Rocky Sullivan's quiz man and weekly OTBKB contributor.

Greetings, Pub Quiz Puzzlistas…

There's a lot going on, globally and locally.  David Carradine continues to be the tawdriest celebrity death since Bob Crane…the Brazilian navy is finding, then isn't finding, then is finding debris and people from the Air France crash…the Mets continue to suffer the ill-effects of wearing the color black and playing in a stadium that is everything but a baseball stadium…the final three episodes of Pushing Daisies are finally being aired — wonderful for new adventures of the Pie Maker and Dead Girl, sad that the show continues to be cancelled…and the great new Green Day album, 21st Century Breakdown.
this little corner of News of the Day…

Oh, and the Atlantic Yards project just keeps on sinking to new depths none of us could have imagined.  It's not finished — as one wag described it, Bruce Ratner is a zombie who doesn't know he's dead.  If you want more info, see below.

This week, feast your eyes and shortly thereafter your minds on these five items:

1) The Most Unsettling Cassette Tape Ever Released:

I have this cassette in my possession, and will be making the Grand Prize of a special flash-answer Quiz Mail contest in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, mull over the cascade of bewilderments:

  • that's Lou Reed?!
  • why does an Italian record label have a nondescript shamrock for its logo?
  • is Tutto Tutto Tutto ("All All All") the best translation of "greatest hits"?
  • Who is the mysterious "David" who seems to have owned this stunning edition?
  • no…really…that's frakkin' Lou Reed?!!!

2) One of the best new blogsites in the Internet tubes is Puzzling New York.  The brainchild of Morgan Doninger, PNY is a Gotham-centric blast of quizzes, puzzles, riddles and brain-twisters geared toward Sporclists who want to dive deeper than listing the titles of every Julia Roberts movie.

Morgan's PNY picks up on an obvious construct — New York City
is so interesting, historical, nomenclatural and multi-layered that
it's the perfect endless font of fun facts and challenging
confoundments.  There are already five puzzles up, and more to come.

To this end, Rocky Sullivan's Pub Quiz is honored to have Morgan as this Thursday's Extra Special Guest Quizmaster
In this order, visit Puzzling New York and, on Thursday, come to
Rocky's to see the man, the puzzlarian, the legend in person — Morgan

3) Paul Lukas' and Kirsten Hively's wonderful research-project-cum-mystery-story-cum-museum-installation on the evasive, ghostly Candela Structures, the 1964 World's Fair's oddest remnants, is a must-see at The City Reliquary in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.


one of those moments where the journey became the story.  In this case,
Paul and Kirsten's tireless pursuit of a simple quest — who designed
these little structures at the edge of the Flushing Marina.  The quest turned quixotic before finally striking paydirt at the elevenest of all hours.

The Candela Structures exhibit runs through June 28th.  Catch it while you can.

4) It's not every day that Rocky Sullivan's has a retired U.S. Army general come to speak about the Bush Administration's policies on torture — never mind comparing those abhorrent practices to the British government's disgraceful tactics against Irish republicans during the 30 years of war in the north of Ireland.

It's not every day, but it's one day — this Wednesday, June 10th.  The O'Donovan Rossa Society, which meets every second Wednesday of the month, presents Brigadier General (Ret.) James Cullen, speaking on State Terrorism, From Torture to Murder from Abu Ghraib to Castlereagh.   The talk begins at 7:30, free admission, and all are welcome and encouraged to attend.  Here's the press-release:

Brigadier General Ret. Cullen will discuss
lessons learned from the
interrogation methods used in Iraq
and Guantánamo under the Bush Administration. He will draw parallels with the
experience of Iraqi detainees under Cheney/Rumsfeld policies and interrogation
methods used during the height of the recent conflict in Northern Ireland,
drawing out the lessons learned from the murder of Irish Human Rights Lawyer’s
Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, both of whom died at the hands of state
sponsored death squads.


James Cullen was part of a group of retired Generals
and Admirals who lobbied all of the candidates during the 2008 Presidential
elections to put a halt to the use of torture in
and at Guantánamo. He was an invited guest in the Oval Office of the White
House when President Obama signed the executive orders to stop the use of
torture in January 2009. James P Cullen is a retired Brigadier General in the
United States Army Judge Advocate General's Corp, and last served as the Chief Judge
of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals. He has also served as
Secretary/Treasurer of the New York Construction Industry Disaster Relief Fund.
In 1980, Mr. Cullen became the founding president of the Brehon Law Society,
working closely with the late Paul O'Dwyer and other civil rights attorneys on
cases related to the conflict in
Northern Ireland. He currently
heads the real estate and construction department of Anderson Kill and Olick,
and was the subject of a recent
New York Times feature by Jim Dwyer on
January 29, 2009, entitled,
“An Honor Guard Comes Out for Obama’s Ban on

5) Last, but certainly not least, a  message from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn:

Atlantic Yards is not dead, which is why we are holding Tuesday's meeting.

Crunch Time: The coming months of 2009 will be the most critical time
in the nearly 6-year old fight against Atlantic Yards. The approval
process will be re-opened, the political environment will change, and
the clock will continue ticking on the developer's plans.

time for all hands on deck so we can all succeed in defeating Atlantic
Yards and moving forward with responsible, community-based development
over the Vanderbilt Rail Yards.

DDDB Community Meeting with Updates on the Fight and Planning for Action:
Status Report, Planning, Q&A and Discussion

June 9. 7pm.
Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church
85 South Oxford Street
Fort Greene

Councilmember Letitia James
DDDB Board Member and Pratt Professor Ron Shiffman
DDDB Co-founder Daniel Goldstein
and invited guests

We look forward to seeing you there.

Posted in Scott Turner of Rocky Sullivan's | 3 Comments »

May 26th, 2009

Greetings from Scott Turner: Blunt Observation

Once again, we present Scott Turner, Rocky Sullivan's quizmeister, and a Brooklyn writer/designer. As usual this post is brought to you by MissWit
, a Brooklyn t-shirt company.

Greetings Pub Quiz Three Day Weekenders…

A simple, precise, blunt observation this week:

Michael Bloomberg is short.

money-vomiting re-election campaign — already on pace to spend more
than the obscene $84 million Bloomberg spent  last election run dumped
— is doing everything it can to create the fallacy that Bloomberg is
taller than everyone else in New York City.

Oh, yeah, and this:  When Bloomberg took office, he was worth
something in the neighborhood of $4 billion.  Now, with the economy,
all the money he's given to charities, and the $160 he's lavished on
his first two campaigns, today the the poor fella's only worth…$12


Bloomberg's incessant and insufferably false t.v. ads are photographed to make our Napoleon
Mayor look taller than everyone else in frame.  Occasionally an actor
whose construction helmet slightly eclipses the mayor slips into the

"Who put a taller man next to me?!  Security to the Bullpen, Security to the Bullpen…"

It's a classic page from the Benign Dictator Image Control playbook.

Bloomberg once claimed to be 5' 10" tall.  Proportionately, that would make Wilt Chamberlain,
let's see, multiply by 12, carry the one and…right — seventy-five
feet tall.  In the other direction, reports peg the Mayor at 5-1,
,maybe 5-2.  Let's say it's 5' 6".

That means that every single actor in his ads are either shorter than 5' 6" or the angles are framed that way.

Or, in the Bloombergian Image Making Machine, there's not a single New Yorker taller than the mayor.

Go ahead.  Force yourself to watch the mayor's t.v. tripefests.  You'll see.

no one's expecting Bloomberg to tell the truth in his campaigning. 
Campaigns don't, and besides, the mayor certainly plays fast and loose
with truthiness when he governs for real.  It's just so stark to see
him revealing — and revelling — in his Napoleon Complex alternate

Is this a petty bone to pick?  Next to the city's affordability,
schools that only teach-to-test, infrastructure collapsing, big
developer coddling, my-way-or-the-highway arrogance, slow action on the
H1N1, jettisoning of basic democratic principles, favors for
political allies, institutional marginalization of political enemies,
and Bloomberg's utter disconnect with anyone less rich than him, yes, of course it's petty.

But it's also a clear indicator of who this man is, how he thinks, what's important to him, and what he allows on his watch.
the real world…

What are we supposed to make of a guy
who claims supreme-leader confidence to run New York City, but in fact
is so vain and insecure that everyone appearing in his ads must be made
to look the lesser next to him.

The emperor truly has no clothes.  If he did, his tailor would be constantly letting out the seams.

Posted in Scott Turner of Rocky Sullivan's | 2 Comments »

May 18th, 2009

Greetings from Scott Turner: The Rabid Obstructionists

Here he is, Scott Turner, writer/designer and Rocky Sullivan's pub quizman with more analysis and agita about issues of interest to readers of OTBKB.

Greetings Pub Quiz Rabid Obstructionistas…

Wow.  This morning, the New York Daily News has really laid its Atlantic Yards cards on the table.  As usual, they're covering their crap hand with over-the-top bluffing.

In an editorial, the Daily News' board slammed "rabid obstructionists" for fighting Bruce Ratner's superblock project.  Apparently the News doesn't want you going to court if they don't like why you're
going to court.  Constitutional rights really get in the way when
they're someone else's bag, baby.  Those same rights could still delay
the Atlantic Yards project anywhere from months to years.  In the Daily News' worldview, the Voice of the People they like the best is no voice at all.

Anyway, who are these insidious obstructionist nogoodniks whose
foaming at the mouth is enough to coat a runway for an emergency

Why, people who've figured out that Ratner's innocuous Jobs Hoops & Housing is really Pink Slips, Blight and Lies.

People who, facing the backs government officials have
turned on them, did what the nation's stated ideals urges all of us to
do — protest, write, organize, fight, litigate, reach out, implore,
investigate, report, analyze.  The thing that was so popular in the
1770s, lobbing cannonballs at tyranny.  Of course, if democracy comes
too close to upsetting Michael Bloomberg's gilded applecarts,
standing up to tyranny is no longer a celebrated thing.  Citizenry
Speaking Out become Rabid Obstructionists.

Great ideas, folks — just keep 'em back in your times.  Thomas Paine, Malcolm X, Mother Jones

People who've done the simple math the News refuses
to do, shining light into restricted backrooms to see all of Ratner's
plans, not just the stage sets he wants us to see.  In the current
economic crisis, Atlantic Yards is hanging on by the skin of its teeth
to a fraying thread of nearly broke financial backers that's
papercliped to the world economy's teetering house of cards.

People who, regardless of their initial impressions, dug
beneath Ratner's glossy veneer and glimpsed something far uglier than
the emperor being naked: a bunch of little men with Napoleon complexes wearing Brooklyn Nets jerseys.
We're ALL Number One!  December 10, 2003

This is the kind of stuff one expects from civic cheerleaders like Marty Markowitz, Bertha Lewis, the ESDC and Mayor Bloomberg — "brutal weirdness," as Norman Oder
calls it..  Their job descriptions include the mandate stating "you
will be forced to pompously gesticulate in support of initiatives
favored by powerful interests, i.e. 'friends in high places.'  Do not
let ragged, outmoded constructs such as democracy, community or equality distract from this mandate."

Weirdly, of gravest concern to the Daily News' editorial board isn't the Atlantic Yards plan's:

  • lack of affordable housing (there's no schedule or financing for it);
  • lack
    of newly created jobs (Ratner's 2003 promise of 10,000 is now down to a
    several hundred and a job-creation cost 2 to 4 times above the city's
  • lack of union construction jobs (one-tenth the original promise);
  • lack
    of predicted cash benefits to the city (devoured by everything from the
    bad economy to shady PILOT financing that has repeatedly soaked
    taxpayers nationwide);
  • the South-Bronx-in-the-70s conditions in the project's footprint (created only over the last five years by Ratner's scorched earth policies).

No…the News civic-minded editors are pissed that LeBron James won't be signing with the Nets.  It's good to see they've got their priorities straight.  Next week we can expect a News editorial critical of anti-war demonstrators because new Bob Hope-style reviews can't play in Basra.

Again, it's the Daily News' editorial board at issue here. 
They have, simply, given up on journalism's most basic tenets — to dig
out the facts, report them, and where opinion is voiced, base it on the
facts they've uncovered.  There is simply nothing factual to
substantiate the News' half-decade's worth of pie-in-the-sky boosterisms of the Atlantic Yards project.

Amazingly, some of the News' beat reporters and columnists have managed to do their job and look underneath Ratner's and Bloomberg's p.r. boulders.  The O'Keeffes, Gonzalezes, Lupicas, Sederstroms are just the current staffers who've stayed the journalist's course.

Of course, opinion is opinion, its beauty and conceit being its
inability to be pinned down.  That always gives the Opiner the upper

It'd be one thing if the Daily News wrote "gosh,
we'd sure feel groovy about the Nets coming to Brooklyn."  But they
don't leave it at that, instead conflating prognostications and fact in
a lazy, unethical and a slippery slope operation.  It traps everyone
who comes across it — the editors, the paper's readers, and most of
all the city the newspaper claims it's The Hometown Paper of.

"But Turner, what about Atlantic Yard opponents?  Don't they
do the same thing?"  On occasion, sure.  But the vast majority of
reporting, analysis, press releases, reports, blogs, and even opinion
pieces have been based on the Ratner's own numbers, the city's own
history of dealing with these projects,  and quotes from all the
parties involved.  What do opponents base their opposition on?  These
are numbers that again and again don't compute.  It just takes putting
them under the microscope.

That would be the microscope still gathering dust in the editorial rooms at the News, Post and New York Times — the last an actual business partner with Bruce Ratner.

The Atlantic Yards project has become Brooklyn's own Terry Schiavo
case.  The Atlantic Yards project is dead.  Of course, Ratner will
still try to build something, but those seductive, vast numbers of
newly-created jobs, affordable housing, union construction jobs,  and
the gleaming new city-within-a-city that would make Brooklyn into a
world-class destination — none of that was ever going to happen, and
now it never will.  The economy, community opposition, and Ratner's own
incompetence have seen to that.
Bruce Ratner..the making of a Destination.

the one Atlantic Yards component that Ratner is throwing all of his
dwindling fiscal and political capital into is the most frivolous of
all — the basketball arena.  It would create few jobs beyond part-time
low-paying slots, and provides no housing at all, never mind affordable
housing.  Remember, those are the things — jobs and housing — that
neatly bookended "hoops" in Ratner's
said-often-enough-it'll-become-fact mantra.

The jobs and housing are what attracted support from politicians,
the media, and a few lonely community groups (a couple of whom actually
existed before the project was uncorked).  Now those jobs and
apartments have mostly vanished, replaced with a basketball palace and
decades of economic studies showing that sports stadiums and arenas
don't benefit cities that pay for them.  Why on God's green
earth — such that it still is — are local politicians refusing to
pull the plug and start over with something that will work.

"Oh, c'mon, that'll take another decade."  It doesn't have to.  For
one, the genie's out of the bottle developing this area.  And two,
there are plans ready to go for the Atlantic Yards footprint.  City and
state government officials whose chief goal should be improving
Brooklynites' lives rather than greasing Bruce Ratner's skids should
refocus on why they were elected and paid by taxpayers.

Leaving Bloomberg's and former Governnor Pataki's hubris
behind, the process could be streamlined.  Despite these lean economic
times– and in some ways because of them — innovative planning and
building can still happen.  Many pieces are in place, but until Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg shift gears away from the Atlantic Yards project,  those pieces could start to rot like FEMA's infamous unused trailers down by Gulf Coast.
The UNITY Plan — one of the pieces in the post-Ratner era.  Got it if you want it.

Ratner is not the only option.  It's insulting for Bloomberg and
others to insist he is.  Where's that civic pride, the fawning over all
talent here in New York?  That's the question to ask when Atlantic
Yards' developer is from Cleveland, the chief architect is from Los Angeles, the landscape architectis from Philadelphia, the chief construction management firm is also from Phily and the arena's naming-rights sugardaddy is from London.  Civic pride — merely a convenience filed away  in the stack of Bloomberg's skyscraper of fallacies and contrivances.

Of course, gosh, never mind all of that.  LeBron…we lost LeBron! 
Brooklyn looks headed for another dark age.  Housing, schools, jobs,
transit, health care, infrastructure…all of those pitfalls, we'll
survive.  We're Brooklynites.

But losing LeBron?  I dunno, man…that's tough.  At least that's what New York's Hometown Newspaper tells me.

One of my coping mechanisms?  My next band will be called The Rabid Obstructionists.

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May 13th, 2009

Greetings From Scott Turner: Meet the New Mets Stadium

Whoa. Our cup runneth over with coverage of the new Mets stadium from our friend Scott Turner, writer, designer and Rocky Sullivan's Pub Quiz planner. As usual this post is sponsored by MissWit
, a Brooklyn tee-shirt company.

Greetings, Pub Quiz Carrie Prejean Society Members…

Meet the Mets, meet the Mets/Step right up and greet the Mets…

The opening lyrics to the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club's fight song, older than the club itself.

"You know" said Diane George, my wife, as the old tune reverberated through Citi Field, the Mets ridiculously overhyped and underwhelming mallpark, "you can't really step right up and meet the Mets anymore."

That, friends, is the last time you'll see that corporate stadium name used in this space.

In the Mets' two previous homes — the Polo Grounds and Shea Stadium
— anyone could meet the Mets.  Any ticket holder sitting anywhere
could journey down to the field level seats and watch batting practice,
try for autographs, crowd close to the dugouts, smell the freshly
watered turf, chase an errant batting practice ball fouled into the
stands, exchange a greeting with players from both teams, and in
general see what Major League Baseball is like up close.  When
batting practice was over, the batting cages were rolled away and the
announcement wafted through the stadium: "Batting practice is over. 
Please return to your seats."  Which everyone did.

In the Mets' new stadium, only the rich get to experience this
pre-game ritual.  Everyone else is invited "to watch batting practice
from your ticketed seat."

And that is pretty much all you need
to know about who the Mets covet and who they could care less about in
the new post-Shea Stadium era.

But this being the Rocky Sullivan's Pub Quiz Quizmail, and me being me, there's a lot more to prattle on about.  So strap yourself in…it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

I'm already on record as being really sore at the Mets about:

  • the death of Shea;
  • the hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars that paid for the new stadium;
  • the endless contrivances that make the new stadium feel more like a baseball theme-park mall than a place to watch baseball;
  • the ugly alliance with Citi Corp;
  • the clear embrace of rich fans at the expense of working-class fans;
  • the vilification of business owners across the street in the Iron Triangle; and
  • the obscenely expensive tickets;

In other words, the manyfold aspects of the Mets' nasty and soulless policy making lo these last several years.

The ballpark itself?  I didn't wanna be one of those foamy-mouthed protesters outside The Last Temptation of Christ.

Interviewer: "How do you know?  Have you seen it?"
Protester: "NO!!! AND I'M NOT GONNA!!!
Inverviewer: "Then how do you know it's sacrilegious?"
Protester: "BECAUSE IT IS!!!"

to this point, it's been fair play to critique the Mets' malfeasant
policies.  They've done so many bad things — culturally, politically,
fiscally.  But the ballpark itself had to wait until I saw it in person.

That happened this Sunday past.

Diane's from Pittsburgh, a diehard Buccos fan.  We took the opportunity to purchase a single pair of tickets to witness the Mets-Pirates clash.    $45 for two ducats on a Sunday afternoon in May somewhat well after the turn of the century.

It was a gorgeous day: sunny, crisp, maybe a little chilly when the
breeze turned to wind.  That's always been an issue out at Willets
Point.  Still, a really beautiful day.

…and the place was
several thousand seats short of full-to-the-brim.  It's a troubling
trend for the Mets — a sparkling brand-new "world class home of the
New York Mets" (their oft-repeated phrase), a beautiful mid-May weekend
afternoon, a team on a six-game winning streak, a metropolitan area of
18 million people and all the world's tourists coming to the Big Apple,
and the Mets couldn't fill a 45,000 seat venue.

It's gotta be more than simply "the economy."  But that's a good
place to start.  How many people are simply reticent to buy into what
is now a luxury item — a baseball game.

The Mets have diluted
the actual game, possibly past the final retrieval point.  A half-dozen
restaurant clubs patterned after business-class lounges at
airports..multiple food courts with endless varieties of trendy
cuisine…mall stores galore…kids games sequestered away from the
actual field…a never-ending procession of corporate promotional
tie-ins involving text-messaging, cell-phone-photo uploading, Pepsi Party Patrols and video-game contests.

So perhaps there were more fans in the house than it appeared. 
These days at major league stadiums, "in the house" doesn't guarantee
"in the seats."

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner,
at the height of his insufferable bully-boy arc, waxed malpoetically
about "putting fannies in the seats."  Nowadays, MLB owners don't care
about yours or my fanny, unless they're right next to the wallets in
our rear pockets.

The new Mets stadium was weirdly quiet on Sunday.   And this was on
a day when the home team created some excitement with an 8-4 win. 
Shea's ballpark buzz has gone missing.  Theories have been advanced:
fewer people total (57,000 capacity reduced to 45,000), fewer raucous
fans due to the paucity of affordable seats, fewer kids (see
affordable seats, paucity), the empty seats in the money-bags sections,
and the huge number of in-stadium opportunities to not watch the game
at all.  When there was cheering, it sounded more like an encore at the opera than the roar Shea used to generate.

It is believed that they're having the same problems at that new joint atop Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx.

this gets to far on, there are some positives.   The new stadium is
obviously designed for baseball, not the multipurposes of so many
stadiums in the '60s (all gone now).   The Mets have made some efforts
at the whole thing being more "fan-friendly."  (Though replacing ushers
with polo-shirted "SECURITY" bruisers works surprisingly poorly as a
"fan-friendly" touch.)  And early in its first season, fans are excited
to see the new place.

But the new stadium is run through with misfires, miscalculations
and poorly executed strategies.  There's no way this place is a
"world-class home of the New York Mets."

For starters, what's
that mean, "world class"?  Can this new place host bullfights, sumo
tournaments and UN General Assembly meetings?  Is there an
international body that gives out "world class" accreditation?

If there's one new-stadium descriptive the Mets throw around like beads from a Mardi Gras
float, it's "intimacy."  The problem is that the Mets, their
announcers, the media and a lot of fans confuse "intimacy" with
"smaller," or "proximity."  Just because a venue isn't as big as its
predecessor or has fewer seats, doesn't make it more intimate.

Say you're having a drink at at bar.  A hottie the very next stool
over is also having a drink.  Just because you're inches apart doesn't
mean the two of you are intimate.  A lot more needs to happen before
"intimate" comes into play.  In fact, a lot of classic stadiums weren't
intimate at all — fans were a long ways from the action, or the joints
were simply functional and pedestrian, and nothing more.

In fact, the new edifice's biggest intimacy destroyer the Saturn-V
screeching of the new stadium's loudspeakers.  Good frakkin' grief! 
The Mets in 2009 are loathe to let fans simply take in the game. 
Advert after advert, before and during the games, fill every moment of
downtime.  Fans aren't trusted to absorb the game on our own. 
Baseball's a sport that lives and breaths nuance and subtlety.  That
makes for a lot of downtime.  At the post-Shea palace, that means
relentless ear-splitting at-bat music, Just For Men commercials, text-messaging contests and theme-songs for every conceivable situation.  An afternoon at the new Shea — or TARP Field, as my friend and fellow Spunk Lad John "Reggie Mental" Sharples calls it — is like watching a game in a subway station as the express train passes by.

Except louder.

By the way, if you don't like the new stadium's insidious corpo name, you can wear your displeasure by visiting No Mas — a Brooklyn tee-shirt company that follows our beloved MissWit
in the run for the sassy roses.  A percentage of the sales on this item
goes to local food banks.  I've been told that 700 of these babies have
flown off the shelves.  Good for the food banks, bad for Citi.

has been made about all the food options at the new stadium.  I can't
report on it.  I'm a diabetic vegetarian with no interest in trendy
Manhattan restaurants like Shake Shack, and a recession-era  lack of
money to spend on them at a baseball game.  If a day at the ballpark
includes waiting in line for this, you'll love the Mets new home:

As for the shopping opportunities…well, that darned baseball game got in the way, and I never did make it to haute couture locations like,well, let's have the Mets website describe the Touch by Alyssa Milano Shop:

Ladies looking for a dash of fashion with their sports will find
themselves at the Touch by Alyssa Milano Shop. With everything from
tank tops and hoodies to jewelry and purses, Touch brings a feminine,
stylish approach to sports apparel inspired by actress and lifelong
baseball fan Alyssa Milano. Every item in the store sparkles, shines
and is sure to impress!
"whoever wants to know the hearts and minds of America had better learn Alyssa Milano" — Jacques Barzun

The Mets and the MTA have
come together to make every straphanger's arrival at the new stadium an
awe-inspiring epic vista.  The old approach from the subway to Shea:

…and the new, improved stadiumscape:

Goodness…Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon and the MTA have really outdone themselves with this collaboration.

Once inside the new stadium's Jackie Robinson Rotunda
— named in honor of a desperate bid to deflect criticism over
corporate naming rights.  This sign is the last time anyone who can't
afford $400 tickets will be led to believe they have access to all
levels of the new stadium

Looking more like the Lincoln Memorial
than a baseball stadium, the Mets spoon feed fans with Robinson's
message.  The "Arbeit Macht Frei" placement of Robinson's
message…yeah, a little hamfisted.

At each and every game, fans are crazy to have their photo taken with a gargantuan plastic "42."

You can pose with baseball greats Roberto Clemente In Pittsburgh, Ernie Banks in Chicago, Stan Musial in St. Louis

and in the Mets' Epcotian Jackie Robinson Rotunda…you get plastic numbers. If the Wilpons know anything, it's how to pay tribute to a great American.
lookin' good, Jackie Robinson's numbers, lookin' good!

Want to see Jackie Robinson himself?  The Mets have afforded him pride of place over there, um, somewhere…

The Mets are very excited about the new stadium's airy, open concourses…

As first reported in Paul Lukas's brilliant Uni Watch, the new stadium's Bottled Beer stands sell — wait for it…wait for it — canned beer.  YES!

As we head up to our upper-deck– er, "Promenade" seats, another set of gates to another exclusive ticketed-entry-only club fades into the distance…

After searching desperately for food I could afford, I finally found a stand offering something in my price range!

Coming dangerously close to an actual beautiful view of Flushing Bay, the Marina and it's odd Candela Structures,
and the charismatic whimsy of planes taking off and landing, the
Wilpons erected a massive advert board with scores and information that
only sporadically detract from the Budweiserian granduer.

Hey, how'd this bird get better seats than we had?

On the plus side…Pittsburgh Pirate LF Nyjer Morgan's excellent stirrup socks.

This was the seating situation during the first inning.  That's a lotta green seats costing the Wilpons a lotta green

kinda view do $20 tickets get you?  Well, sons and daughters, if you're
very lucky, you too can watch the Mets through a metal'n'glass balcony
thingy between you and home plate…and first base…and if you stop
leaning forward, the pitcher's mound.

while it was awfully nice for the Mets to place storm windows between
the action and the fans, it was harder to see through the constant
parade of fans…


Annie Reiser, Rocky Sullivan's Pub Quiz's Hollywood Guest Round
expert, has also taken in a game at the new stadium.  What'd you think,
Annie?  "Nice bathrooms," she replied.  And they are.  Of course, these
flushless Olympic torch-shaped commodes were really special.  Fans are
expected to only pee on the wall below the orange line.

…and here I am, happy to have spent the day in the Mets' new digs.

There you have it.  Enjoy the new stadium, Met fans.

After all…you paid for it.

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