Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11 Years Later

I was fine until I walked to work today.

Now that I live in Manhattan and my office is once again in Soho, my view on the way in is the same as it was that morning 11 years ago, when I was walking down Broadway from the Prince Street subway station and looked up to see sparkles of glass in the air.  (Here's the link to my full 9/11 story.)

So when I turned south from my street and looked up on this identically clear day to see the Freedom Tower rising above the downtown buildings, I lost it in the middle of Sullivan Street.  Luckily, my dad was up early on the West Coast and he talked me through it enough to get a few blocks further, until a moment of silence came on the radio (yes I even walk-commute with WNYC, I'm an addict) once on West Broadway and I lost it again.  I can't quite place it; I suppose it's the same remembrance that anyone has when they suddenly miss someone they lost, triggered by some small thing like an object or a holiday or a smell or a song.

Being from the West Coast, I'm so grateful that I was here in New York on that day.  It was my first year here, and I think it somehow cemented me as a New Yorker early on.  I love this city despite how crazy it makes us; I love this country despite all the problems we face and how different we all are.  Here's to us.

The Marketing of the President

Last night I went to a panel hosted by ProPublica on "The Marketing of the President" - of particular interest to me of course, as a marketer and a political junkie.  The other draw was that it was hosted by Farai Chideya, of whom I'm a big fan. 

The discussion was less about marketing in general, and centered around how campaigns are using online data - information we voluntarily (though often accidentally) share via free sites like Facebook and Pandora.  Lois Beckett, Kate Kaye, and Joseph Turow brought lots of interesting points that I wasn't even aware of as a marketer re privacy (or lack thereof), digital footprints, data storage, and the algorithms advertisers build around our actions and potential actions.

My favorite point was made by Turow - something I believe in and have been sensing for awhile now - that eventually there will be so much information online about all of us that it will become moot. 

At least, I'm hoping this is the case, otherwise The Mayoress will never become an actual mayoress (this blog, case in point).

Monday, September 10, 2012

NYC: Vote on Thursday, September 15

As you know, one of my top causes is getting New Yorkers to vote in the district where they live.

Local elected officials are the ones that affect your day to day life, and the ones who will actually listen when you call, write, or email.  None of this "I'm still registered in my home state" even though you live and pay taxes in New York.  It's just foolish.  This is not the '08 presidential election and you can still influence your friends and family in your home state while being a participating member of your actual current community.

The primaries are MORE important than the November elections for locals because in NYC, the Democrat almost always wins.

SO, the important thing is getting the RIGHT Democrat on the ballot. The only time to do this is in the primary election, and you must be registered with the Democratic party to cast this vote. While I respect the philosophy of registering Independent, guess what?  It's a waste of your vote in New York. So make your vote count and register and vote as a Democrat, and if you don't like the system, do something to change it.  Opting out is irresponsible.

This year the primary elections are on Thursday rather than the usual Tuesday, probably because of 9/11.  So plan to vote this Thursday, September 13.  Here is a link to everything you need to vote in New York State.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Get Vito Lopez Out

Good riddance.  Sexual harrassment and backroom dealing aside, the last thing Brooklyn needs is someone whose political priority is behaving like a cast member of The Wire or Goodfellas.

I am loving the article in the Times today outlining just how ridiculous Lopez behaved as a "public servant."

I personally came up against Lopez's power monopoly in '08 when I tried to relaunch the Brooklyn Young Democrats.  Everything was a pretty simple and direct process - I had everything ready to go for the charter - but nothing could happen without Lopez's direct approval, which was going to be a series of jumping through hoops and pledging allegiance.  No thanks.

Way to make New York a better city, Lopez.  Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Enough With the Selective Boycotting.

Ever since the Chris Brown-Rihanna incident, I've made a personal decision to never buy his music or in any other (conscious) way support his business financially.  Because of her response to the incident, especially as a role model for young women and in particular young black women, I also don't buy anything by Rihanna and change the station when her music comes on.  I can't listen to her without thinking about men beating up women and how terrible that is.

I'm inspired that so many people are boycotting and calling out Chick Fil-A for its CEO's hatemongering toward the LGBT community.  (I want to vomit that Bloomberg actually said it's not government's job to get in the way of beliefs of a corporation.  Um, yes it is.  If a restaurant were blocking women, or patrons of a given race, or those with disabilities, it would be a major problem and the government would most certainly be involved.)

But Chris Brown and Rihanna are also businesses.  So is Charlie Sheen (spousal abuse), Sean Penn (spousal abuse), Roman Polanski (sexual abuse), Woody Allen (child abuse, I'd say), etc etc.  If you are against it in life, don't fiscally support the perpetrator of it in leisure.

I'm not going to overlook horrific behavior, especially when people are unrepentant, just because I might enjoy something that an artist produces.  Once I find out about someone of influence doing something really damaging, I just can't enjoy their work anymore anyway.

In the U.S., we vote with our wallets.  So let's all be aware of what we're paying for.  It may not be easy - I love Target but had to push myself to switch stores as much as possible when it came out (ha!) that it was funding an anti-gay organization.  Honestly, I'd rather just shop at Target and tell myself my little purchase doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.  But integrity is just more important.

I could be better at this.  I read the expose on workers' conditions in Apple factories in China on my iPhone with only a twinge of guilt.  But this isn't a pick-your-cause thing.  Even if you're not part of the group that's being hated on - I've never been abused, I'm not gay, I'm not a factory worker, etc - it's truly all connected.  If we allow one company to discriminate based on X, what's to stop another company from discriminating based on Y?  We need to have each other's backs as a society.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Black Power Mixtape

I'm finally watching the documentary The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975.  It's blowing my mind on so many levels, mostly because (I'm ashamed to admit) I know very little about the full scope of the black movement in the 60s-70s.  Definitely recommend.

I especially love this quote from Courtney Callender, who was also New York City's first African American Deputy Commissioner of Cultural Affairs.

“This whole kind of, uh, falling in love with black things for a short period of time is essentially racist. It still is hypothesized on a great sense of separateness and a sense of treating black activities as kind of a curiosity either benign or threatening one or the other. When it’s threatening, you know, they’re gonna riot or something; and when it’s benign, let them paint or draw or sing or dance or whatever they want to do until we the white community get tired of it. And that whole structure is essentially racist.”

Sigh.  The more things change, the more they stay the same?  We've come so far as a country, and still have so very far to go.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

I went to see The Dark Knight Rises yesterday.  It was tougher than I expected.

We saw it at Battery Park, which is alongside the financial district, where most of the action in the movie takes place, which makes things jump off the screen a bit more.  It's also right next door to ground zero, which makes seeing films with killing or large-scale destruction harder to swallow.

But of course, in light of the Colorado shooting, it was impossible not to picture how everything happened that night.  I was also ultra-alert every time someone got up during the movie or came into the theater after the lights went down.

And while I'm trying to process the movie, I'm also trying to process how something like that happens.  What makes someone descend down that dark road?  Was it nature or nurture?  How could anyone ever stop something so unexpected?  How did people in the theater feel in that moment?  How do they move on with their lives?

I got really emotional toward the end of the movie.  There's a theme of the characters choosing to do the right thing versus choosing to be selfish or evil, and of certain characters moving on with their lives.  And then I also thought of the plane that landed in the Hudson River - on the other side of the Battery Park theater - and how all those people survived a plane crash, something people don't usually walk away from.  While all these people last weekend went to a movie, the last place you'd expect to not walk away from, and yet.  All of this was too much, I had to cry it out for a few minutes as the credits rolled. 

I have a terrible habit of making terrible jokes, usually in the form of eye-rolling puns, right after a tragedy - it's a sideways way of dealing with it, of avoiding looking something horrific straight in the face.  So I'm glad when I'm overwhelmed by an event, when I cry for people I've never met.  It reminds me that we're all human, all connected, and that life is ever so fragile, and a gift to be intensely grateful for every single moment.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Newsflash: My Demographic Doesn't Favor Romney

Shocking, I know.

This post by my favorite Jezebel is hilarious.

"Even though single people's strong preference for President Obama could tip the election away from the GOP, Romney campaign needn't fret. The election's still four months away, and there's still plenty of time to nominate a running mate that will appeal to single women — Channing Tatum wearing glasses, perhaps, or the song "Call Me Maybe" (what do you mean the constitution doesn't allow politicians to nominate musical compositions for office? Stupid activist court system)."

Well, I suppose if the GOP can make a VP out of Christian Bale making me dinner while reading me O Magazine and queuing up the latest ep of True Blood, I could sway right.  

Then again, probably not.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why I Don't Donate to Crowdfunded Projects.

These days, it's nearly impossible to be on social media - nay, to have friends - without being asked for money.

And because I work in the arts, and have many professional and personal contacts who are creators of art - film, theatre, music, and beyond - I get donation requests an average of once a week, sometimes more.

This, of course, has been intensely accelerated by the phemonenon of crowdsourced fundraising.  Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and similar platforms virtually encourage people to request money from their entire extended network.

I have made it my policy not to fund any of these requests, and here's why:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sometimes the Best Explanation is None At All.

"People are still expected to provide reasons not to have children, but no reasons are required to have them. It’s assumed that if individuals do not have children it is because they are infertile, too selfish or have just not yet gotten around to it. In any case, they owe their interlocutor an explanation. On the other hand, no one says to the proud parents of a newborn, Why did you choose to have that child? What are your reasons? The choice to procreate is not regarded as needing any thought or justification."

Thank god for this article by Person I Most Want To Hug, Christine Overall. I am so tired of trying to figure out the perfect explanation for not wanting kids, and I feel like I've just been given permission to not have to have one.

And my favorite part, a well-articulated defense (not that we should need to defend, as she explains) against the strange but pervasive "selfishness" of not having/wanting offspring:

"The genuinely unselfish life plan may at least sometimes be the choice not to have children, especially in the case of individuals who would otherwise procreate merely to adhere to tradition, to please others, to conform to gender conventions, or to benefit themselves out of the inappropriate expectation that children will fix their problems. Children are neither human pets nor little therapists."

...Though they do ask a lot of questions and sometimes defecate inconveniently.

Full Article.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Farewell, Brooklyn

The Mayoress in 2004
After living in Brooklyn for over 11 years, my entire time in New York City, I'm moving to Manhattan today.  And being the sentimentalist I am, I thought it important to write an ode in closure.

I'm beyond excited to move to the city, for reasons both practical and superficial.  I'll be able to walk to work, get everywhere I go in far less time, be near my friends again.  But I'll be the first to admit, I'm a little tickled by the, well, status of a 100-- zip code.  But that's just buying into cultural keeping-up-with-the-Combses. Who you are doesn't depend on where you live.

What I will not become is a Manhattan snob, in the way of self-imposing a quarantine to the island unless I'm on my way to JFK.  There's too much that's too great about Brooklyn.  Instead of the ignorant quizzical face when someone references a neighborhood in our biggest borough, I'll nod and add something to the conversation.  And I make these promises:

I will come see my friends in Brooklyn and not demand that we meet in the city.
I will go to bars and restaurants in Brooklyn, because there are tons of excellent places of all kinds that simply are not anywhere else.  Well, except Portland.
I will go to a game the second they actually finish the Nets arena.
I will run the Brooklyn half-marathon if the NYRR every year I can.
I will go to cultural events in Brooklyn, because there are plenty and they are great.
I will stick up for my first borough when haters try to hate.

Because Brooklyn is its own borough.  A completely unique, wonderful, sometimes magical place.  It is not in competition with Manhattan, it is amazing in its own right, a stand-alone destination, whether to live or to visit.

My favorite part about Brooklyn is that it's undiscovered.  Every block of Manhattan is known, but I still stumble on amazing, historical, architectural, artistic marvels in Brooklyn that most people I know don't even know about.  That's an amazing thing in New York.

And in what other borough - what other city - can you take the subway to the beach; go to Coney Island and watch a baseball game, ride a roller coaster, and see a burlesque show all in one night; drink on the cheap; get lost in Prospect Park; be in a gallery all by yourself in the huge Brooklyn Museum; see the most splendid blossoming of spring at the Botanic Gardens; see the best views of the city and harbor from Red Hook (seriously, watch the sunset from Ikea); meet the most amazing characters from every walk of life - one of the best being our boisterous borough president Marty Markowitz; and most importantly, not stumble over tourists.

So, I love you Brooklyn.  Like Jay-Z, it's time for me to relocate - but after a mind-blowing 11 years, I got your back forever.