Monday, February 28, 2011

Mike Grimm attacks Planned Parenthood

Congressman Mike Grimm joined the GOP's crusade to help balance the federal budget by bulldozing social programs for poverty-stricken Americans (and other random people who just happen to not vote for them).

After an extension of the Bush Tax Cuts by the Obama Administration last year, Republicans have been trying to trim federal spending in conveniently Democratic and liberal sanctuaries.

This time, Grimm teamed up with pro-lifer Mike Pence to vote on an amendment to cut off every single federal dollar to Planned Parenthood and deny much-needed health care and family planning to thousands of women all across the country.

The Pence amendment, which has little chance of actually passing, would deny a myriad of services such as HIV and cancer screenings to women, specifically in poor communities. Manhattan Congressman Jerry Nadler has even deemed the legislation unconstitutional, telling Politico that it targets and punishes a specific group.

"If Planned Parenthood or anyone else is doing terrible things and ought to be punished, that’s up to the courts,” Nadler said.

But, unfortunately for Andrew Breitbart, Planned Parenthood doesn't do anything illegal. The organization promotes health and sexual wellness to women through counseling and treatment - "90 percent" of which is preventive and primary care, not abortion.

Still, Grimm is taking a cavalier stance on this controversial issue.

"I understand the argument," Grimm told NY1. "However, I think that the people of the United States feel very, very strongly that none of their money, no federal funding, should go for abortions or for counseling for abortions. And that's really the heart of the issue."

First off, that's probably not true. Secondly, the only American people you represent live out on Staten Island. You've been in office for two months and you're making decisions on behalf of the entire country for an issue like abortion. Slow your roll, Mr. Grimm.

In addition, Staten Island is not rabidly conservative on social issues. Abortion barely came up in the campaign, if at all. And it's not clear if Grimm is taking this stance on moral or fiscal grounds. So it's likely there will be some backlash against the congressman for his Pyrrhic, symbolic gesture. (A similar move to defund NPR failed last year.)

Even if the doomed legislation was enacted, the rescued federal funds would be paltry in comparison. Planned Parenthood estimated that it received about $79 million last year in the legislative funding (called Title X) which goes to groups that provide abortion.

The war in Iraq cost $3 trillion; tax cuts for rich people $81.5 billion over two years; 13.9 million people are unemployed and Congress devoted a three-hour debate to defunding a successful program and imposing their moral certitude on poor people.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Method Man talks 'Where I'm From'

Hey, check out this French(?) video of Clifford Smith, also known as Wu-Tang's Method Man, talking about growing up on Benzinger off Jersey Street on Staten Island. Among other things, Meth talks about meeting members of the legendary Wu crew in the 8th grade after moving here from Long Island.

Good video. Great subtitles. Makes us wish we paid more attention in high school French class: "Je me rappelle que RZA etait la..."

Worst parents ever talk to Joy Behar

What happens when you pretend to abandon your 6-year-old daughter at the 120 Precinct in St. George? You go on the 'Joy Behar Show.'

Below is the mind-boggling video of Annette Gerhardt and Gerardo Santiago, the dipshit parents who had the brilliant idea of using the busiest police station on Staten Island as a method acting studio. The subplot was to terrify their child Enayla until she learned to behave in school.

The West Brighton couple claims they were just pretending to ditch their kid, and were hoping the cops would have nothing better to do and join their dysfunctional family improv sketch. Apparently the police were a little busy. They called The Administration for Children's Service instead.

Oh, and by the way, the Advance points out that the duo was arrested in 2010 when police found a half-pound of marijuana in their Sunnyside apartment. The charges were expected to be dismissed in June, provided the two "stay out of trouble." Good luck.

Notice in the interview with Behar that the mother claims she got this ingenious plan from a friend who did the same thing to her 4-year-old at the 123 Precinct on the South Shore - and it worked. Lady, have you ever been to Tottenville? People would do improv with farm animals.

Santiago also tells Behar that a number of talent agents are interested in working with their child as an actor. So maybe there's a screenplay at the end of all this: 'Honey, I Dumped the Kid (at the 120).'

Friday, February 25, 2011

OMG: Albany's Brangelina

You guys hear about the latest pseudo-celebrity romance news from Albany? It's the most exciting Staten Island political gossip since Vito Fossella left his family to spend more time with his other family.

It turns out that State Senator Diane Savino is totally hooking up with State Senator Jeff Klein. The story was so juicy that the New York Post called the pair 'Albany's Brangelina.' Get it, because... actually no it doesn't make any sense at all. (In the same piece the Post also called them Klavino, which is even worse because it sounds like a venereal disease.)

Anyway, once the beans were spilled all over the Page 6 gossip column Savino finally fessed up to the Advance.

"He's a nice, white, Jewish lawyer senator. It's hard to beat that combination."

OOOOH! You go girlfriend!

In legislative news, after being crowned 'Albany's Brangelina' New York State lawmakers quickly passed a resolution allowing the lovebirds to adopt 15 orphaned children from Utica and Buffalo.

Budos Band MF Doom mash-up

Look what we found on the internets! Have you ever heard the Wale song that samples "Chicago Falcon" from the Budos? Well, if not, you should be ashamed of yourself. But even better, maybe, is a similar loop set to the lyrics of the infamous rhyme-slinger and metal mask wearer, MF Doom. It doesn't quite have the same break beat of Wale's track - and is pretty bare bones mash-up - but it syncs up pretty well and it's effin' DOOM, man. It's worth a listen. In fact, we fully endorse this. Enjoy:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Raekwon performs at Stretch & Bobbito reunion

So Raewon has a new album coming out with, like, a shitload of guests. Ghostface is on four tracks, so it's worth the money. But recently, Rae and Masta Killa showed up at a reunion for the '90s underground radio pioneers Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleeker Street.

Here's a quick video of Rae performing the first few verses from 'Protect Ya Neck.' Stunning. Is there a better cultural artifact to come out of this borough, ever? I don't know - we'll leave that query to the detectives over at Secret Staten Island. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Boro Pres Plays the Victim

Borough President James Molinaro got all huffy when reporters asked him about a lucrative government position he had probably helped secure for his girlfriend recently because she needed a job:

"No one would be making anything of this if she was dating Joe Blow from Tottenville," Molinaro told the Advance about his girlfriend's fictitious relationship with Joe Blow.

The woman - who has the unfortunate task of making love to a weeble-wobble - will now be raking in $110,000 a year from your tax dollars.

However, a very telling quote came down at the bottom of the Advance piece:

"They are picking on her because she is my girl friend. My grandson would not be spending five years in a maximum security prison if he wasn't my grandson."

His grandson, a thug who couldn't obey a restraining order, is currently serving time in jail. During the ordeal, Molinaro even scolded District Attorney Dan Donovan for handing the case over to a special prosecutor instead of doing the "Staten Island thing" and simply letting his grandson loose.

But, according to Molinaro, this is completely the fault of whoever "they" are - the people who seek to damage his reputation.

Way to play the victim card, Molinaro. Now go back to whatever it is that borough presidents do - oh yeah, nothing.

Local Artist Doesn't Know Shit About Art

So this artist Scott LoBaido, who paints American flags all over the Island, has a new exhibit or something. Whatever, good luck.

He seems to make a big spectacle of himself and his art work but the underlying substance is pretty much non-existent. He's kinda like the painter of light for Fox News viewers.

It was surprisingly predictable when a local newspaper asked him if his manic fixation with the American flag had anything to do with Jasper Johns' iconic American flag pieces.

"People think because you’re an artist, you know everything about art. Some people can’t understand that a contemporary artist is unfamiliar with others in his field."

OK? Well, you don't need to know "everything about art" but maybe you should know something about an artist who is famous and pretty well-known for doing something extremely similar to what you are currently producing. Ya think?

Anyways, moving on, the artist addresses his "controversial" nature on Staten Island:

"I have my haters because of my expressed opinions. I’m cool with that. Don’t want everyone to like my work or my persona."

Speaking for ourselves here - and that's all we can really do - we don't hate you because of your opinions, as shallow and simple-minded as they may be. If your juvenile political beliefs make some half-decent artwork well, good for you then.

We hate your art because it is tacky and pandering and doesn't deserve anything more than a kiosk at the Staten Island Mall. If you don't understand this then fine - but don't operate under the mistaken belief that we are against your politics because no one really gives a shit what you think about the "ground zero mosque."

Monday, February 14, 2011

White Guns on the South Shore

A recent report from the Advance shows that Staten Island has the highest gun ownership per capita compared to the rest of the city.

Not surprisingly, these gun owners live predominantly on the Island's suburban South Shore neighborhoods, where deer are prevalent and crime is low.

Some see a correlation:
"Gun advocates are aware of the irony at work here. They point to the perennial pattern in the borough's crime rate, where statistics show the South Shore's 123rd Precinct is one of the city's quietest. It accounts for only 3 of the borough's 43 shooting murders over the past five years. In contrast, the North Shore's 120th Precinct handily leads the borough in gun violence."
But does gun ownership alone account for low crime rates on the borough's Southern shore?

These overwhelmingly white neighborhoods are safer because they are free of conflict, high on home ownership, and consist mostly of one and two-family dwellings.

According to Census results from 2000, the South Shore is monolithically white - 89.1% white/non-Hispanic. Add in Hispanic and Asian and you have about another 9%. That leaves the figures for black non-Hispanics on the South Shore at 0.9% - that's about 1,300 out of the total 152,000.

Compare these demographics to the North Shore neighborhoods which in contrast stand at only 50% white non-Hispanic and 21% black. In addition, owner-occupied homes stand at only 52% compared with 48% rented.

Income-wise the percentage of families living under the poverty level stands at only 2.5% on the South Shore. The North Shore is at 13% - with some Census tracts earning a medium income as low as $17,019.

There is no magic bullet theory to explain low crime rates on the South Shore. But taking in to account the various statistics relating to demographics and income goes a lot further than simply saying that gun ownership alone alleviates the problem of crime.

Relying on guns to explain the discrepancy in crime rates is dangerously simplistic and myopic. This view leads to the mistaken belief that both ownership and carry permits should be allowed anywhere including bars, churches, and political rallies. It's doesn't work - just ask Arizona.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Anatomy of a Backlash

When the Black Eyed Peas performed during Sunday's Super Bowl halftime show one detail was obviously askew: it was terrible. The over-amplified montage of Peas songs interspersed with special guests and robot dancers was just bad - and everyone agreed, at first.

But a funny thing happens on the way to general consensus, a new phenomenon called backlash/anti-backlash. The initial judgement of spectators and critics feed off each other and form a gigantic wave of disapproval that seems almost unwarranted and misguided. An then, seeking a fresh outlook on the situation, writers reconsider and the reverse happens.

First, capturing the blind outrage of the moment, The Village Voice's Rob Harvilla posted his take just hours after the game, in the midst of the zeitgeist of halftime pop star backlash:
So the Peas wore porno-Tron outfits, don't so much sing as just yell at you semi-rhythmically, have no good songs other than "I Gotta Feeling," and had to literally airlift Usher in just so they had one guy available who could do the splits.
Yup. That pretty much about does it. But this is the Internet, where less than 24 hours later another music writer had - surprise - a different take on the half time extravaganza.

This second writer (at a newly-minted pop music apologist retreat) was posed with a consistent, nagging challenge: how to say something new, interesting, and controversial about a universally accepted truth.

"If You Hate The Black Eyed Peas, You Hate America" sounds like a satire piece, one that intentionally pokes fun by ridiculing music snobs and riding the the anti-backlash wave at the same time. But with stats, figures, and derisive asides the piece plays as a sugar coated pop music apology rather than an insightful analysis.

From the piece:
Crackers don’t like the Black Eyed Peas.
Dumb. And also, not very funny. Reading on...
Much of the vitriol against the Peas returns to the idea that they are not “real musicians and real artists,” in contrast to the Who and Paul McCartney, two previous halftime performers.
Really? Most vitriol I hear comes from well-versed electronic music fans who think the group are just vapid hook-and-meme generators. Sounds more like a wild reach at a counter attack.

There is, of course, some value in re-assessing the other side of an opinion in an attempt to discover any overlooked granule of worthiness in something as clearly simplistic as the Black Eyes Peas. But using multiculturalism and rockist arguments as a crutch without addressing the actual merits is perpetuating this phantom notion that everything has two sides, all pop culture has intrinsic value.

The now-common practice of re-evaluating and second guessing everything breeds an environment where the new Kayne album is not actually good, the president might be a Muslim, and Ronald Reagan is a great American hero.

In the 21st century there are no truths we hold self-evident.