Tag Archives: New York

Review: Changó’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, By William Kennedy

NAVA BRAHE: I haven’t read that much about Cuba in my life, fiction or otherwise, and my knowledge of the country’s history is poor. But, after reading William Kennedy’s novel, Changó’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, I now know a Cuba that fascinates me on an entirely different level – one that entangles a fictional Ernest Hemingway, homegrown revolutionaries and a sprinkling of organized crime worthy of Hyman Roth, Johnny Ola and the rest of the cast of The Godfather Part II.

HOWARD MEGDAL: I come to Chango as nothing less than a devotee of William Kennedy’s Albany novels. I devoured Roscoe when it published, nearly a decade ago, and I have hungered for another visit with the 20th Century’s most interesting city (Kennedy’s Albany, if not Albany itself) ever since. This newest edition did not disappoint. Continue reading

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Curb Your Enthusiasm: Week 10 in Review

SONIA BRAND-FISHER The season finale of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”‘s Season 8 was very funny for an individual episode, but seemed to fall short as an end to what was supposed to be a transformative season. The battle between Larry David and Michael J. Fox was comical and irreverent in the way that we love to see Larry interact with people. The (fabulous) gay son of Anna Gasteyer and his fascination with swastikas was hilarious and strange in the ways that we have come to expect from “Curb.” But Michael Bloomberg making his decree to banish Larry from New York City seemed a little anti-climactic to me, especially when perpetuated by Larry’s sudden relocation to Paris.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Oh, I think this ending is utterly perfect. Try as he might, Larry David faces the same pressures and irritations anywhere in the world- Los Angeles, New York, Paris. And for me, anyway, they don’t get old. Continue reading

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Curb Your Enthusiasm: Week 8 in Review

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: Not gonna lie here, I would totally love a car periscope. However, I would only want to make use of such an absurd invention in the absurdist world of Season 8′s episode 8 of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” In…

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Curb Your Enthusiasm: Week 7 in Review

SONIA BRAND-FISHER Maybe Larry David should have stayed in LA. Week 7 of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”‘s Season 8 fell dangerously short in comparison to previous episodes of the season. Between the hackneyed plot of Rosie O’Donnell and Larry trying to win the heart of a bi-sexual woman, Jane, and the thoroughly L.A.-looking people and interior shots trying to pass as authentically New York, I found myself wanting more. The return of Leon certainly warranted a groan from the living room I was watching this episode in, and I get the feeling that it echoed across living rooms everywhere. Stories stopped and started all over this episode, and none of them seemed up to par with the typical Larry David antics that we have come to enjoy and cringe at.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Ultimately, I came down on the complete opposite side from Sonia on this one. As I expressed to her via email, she’s probably right. But I absolutely loved this episode. Continue reading

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Gas Taxes and Transportation Culture

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: I bought my first car at the age of 27. Prior to that year, I had always lived in cities that had decent public transportation—New York, Boston, Honolulu – and during the brief times that I lived in more rural areas, I borrowed someone else’s car or hitched the occasional ride with a friend who drove. Walking was my favorite way to commute, though, especially in Boston, where the public transit system was not always that much more convenient. I thought nothing of walking for 40 minutes to reach a destination, because I didn’t feel like waiting for the bus. When I worked in downtown Boston I would occasionally pack running clothes and run home from work at the end of the day. It took about an hour, and sometimes I had to dodge other pedestrians, especially when navigating through crowded Harvard Square, but it was fun.

CHRIS PUMMER: Change isn’t always comfortable, and moving away from fossil fuels could be especially uncomfortable. It’s still something that needs to happen for a myriad of reasons. It just shouldn’t happen on the backs of the most economically vulnerable. Continue reading

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Christmas Spectacular Nostalgia

NAVA BRAHE: When you’re a Jewish kid living in New York City, you can’t avoid Christmas. It’s as in-your-face as another person’s halitosis on a jam-packed rush hour subway train. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is as iconic to a New York Christmas as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Black Friday. I’m not saying the Jewish population just melts into the woodwork until after New Years Day; our enjoyment of the season remains clandestine, but make no mistake – we do have fun with it.

JESSICA BADER: Coming from a family of secular New York City Jews, my relationship with Christmas has always been a bit complicated. From an early age, I was acutely aware of the fact that most of the people around me held different beliefs and celebrated different holidays than I did. My parents (especially my mother), while not really religious, took holidays quite seriously as a time for family togetherness and celebration and lots and lots of food. Christmas wasn’t our holiday, but it was one of the few days a year that brought our nonstop city to something resembling a halt, so we had no choice but to accommodate it. Continue reading

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Food Stamp Soda Ban

DANI ALEXIS RYSKAMP: My problems with an FDA ban on purchasing soda with food stamps are these: (a) it’s classist and (b) it’s no way to approach a sound, comprehensive public health policy.

ALLISON REILLY: If we want to dissuade people from purchasing unhealthy foods, then we need to make the healthy option the default option. Right now, unhealthy foods are our default, with fast food chains and vending machine options and street vending choices. All of that these places serve are unhealthy, yet cheap, food choices. The ban does punish the poor, but the poor are also disproportionately suffering in the obesity crisis, a big part because unhealthy foods are much more affordable. The documentary Food Inc. illustrates that the poor do not choose the unhealthy options because they don’t know any better or because they don’t want healthy food. It’s strictly, and simply, budget constraints.

HOWARD MEGDAL: While my colleagues each make good points above, I respectfully disagree. Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the purchase of soda with food stamps in New York City makes sense on both a health and public policy level. Continue reading

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Comeback Candidate: Sanford or Spitzer?

AKIE BERMISS: Last week Molly posed the question: Spitzer or Sanford. Which of the two will be able to turn around and comeback to politics first? I’m no campaign strategist, but I think it comes down to simple question of efficacy, marketability, and boundaries. To me, those are two different kinds of disgrace. One takes you out of the game for a couple of seasons. The other takes you off the team for good.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Intuitively, I’d think Akie is correct. However… this poll, which has Mark Sanford’s approval rating at 55 percent in South Carolina, and Sanford’s refusal to rule out a return to politics, provides the latest example of social conservatives accepting “Do as I say, not as I do” from their leaders. Continue reading

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Primary Night Extravaganza

HOWARD MEGDAL: With Christine O’Donnell’s victory in Delaware, the prospects for a Republican Senate takeover became bleaker. But the real story is that it provides yet another example of just how dangerous this path is long-term for the Republican Party in the years that follow 2010.

JESSICA BADER: The stunning outcome of the Republican gubernatorial primary in New York appears similar on the surface to what happened in Delaware, but the likely effects are very different. This was not a case where one candidate was a prohibitive favorite to win the general election and the other stood little chance to do so – Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo was almost certain to win in November no matter which Republican candidate prevailed tonight. However, the victory of Carl Paladino, a Buffalo-area businessman best known for forwarding offensive e-mails and proposing that prisons be converted into dormitories for welfare recipients, by a nearly two-to-one margin over former Representative Rick Lazio could cause problems for the GOP further down the ticket – something of a problem when the party is targeting multiple House seats held by Democrats and trying to win back the state senate. Continue reading

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Christie and Schundler

HOWARD MEGDAL: What a pleasure it was to be reminded of Bret Schundler by this recent scandal. Schundler, of course, was Chris Christie before Christie was- a conservative Republican who found brief success in New Jersey, land of Democrats, after those Democrats proved to be temporarily unpalatable due to a combination of corruption and political malpractice.

JESSICA BADER: The fallout from New Jersey’s failure to win $400 million in federal funding from the Race To The Top initiative has mostly served to hurt Chris Christie in an area where he was already vulnerable. The education cuts he pushed during budget negotiations earlier in the year led to protests by teachers and students, and his reaction to the state not getting much-needed money has been rather immature. Continue reading

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