August 13, 2011

Heather Williams, Historian, Aunt

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This is my aunt, Heather Williams, she's an Associate Professor in History at UNC Chapel Hill. The week before I took off for my big trip to South America, I took a shorter trip to meet her in Philadelphia for a day of photographing her and her cover art for her upcoming book.

Her book, about the black family and separation due to slavery has recently become even more relevant than it ought to be. She's worse at self-promotion than I am, so you won't hear her talking about it much outside of a classroom or a conference, but keep your eye out for it next year.

In the meantime, you can find her first book, Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom on Amazon.

December 30, 2010

Vietnam: The Cu Chi Tunnels


As an American traveling to Vietnam, the elephant in the room is clear. We sort of had a war here. And we sort of lost. And we've sort of been arguing about it ever since.

When Tammi told my father in law about out trip, he was baffled. "You're going to 'Nam?" he asked. He's just young enough to have missed the draft, so the idea of spending a couple days visiting scenic Saigon probably didn't make any damn sense to him. I expect that my little godson, only a few months old will go somewhere like Afghanistan or Iraq in decades to come and that I'll be equally perplexed.

To see more about the local perspective of the war, we went to the Cu chi tunnels. A network of what amount to crawl spaces spread miles around the town of cu chi and as far as Saigon. Built to fend off the French, the US went and built a base right on top of it, having no idea that the enemy was literally under their noses.

Continue reading "Vietnam: The Cu Chi Tunnels" »

December 17, 2010

Airport Security: Toner Cartridges


It's easy to criticize, I know it is. Easier than securing a nation, certainly. That said, it seems ridiculous the piecemeal rules that get put into effect indefinitely after a threat is discovered. I just feel like there should be a smarter way.

August 18, 2010

Freedom, First and Foremost


When I started this blog, I made a conscious effort to avoid spending too much time on politics. Anyone who's heard me rant about the state of the world, the country or the city knows that I have ... strong opinions

More than 3 years later, I'm surprised at how much restraint I've managed. Don't worry, I don't plan to start including my partisan invective in my food, photos and travel posts.

That said, my friend Yelena has no such compunctions against loudly proclaiming her opinions on all sorts of topics and I often (if not always) agree with her. Today in particular, which is the point of this post.

This morning she revealed the one value that she holds fundamentally above all else: The First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Read the post for her particularly awesome take on the subject of our most innate of freedoms. For my part, I'll let the words stand on their own.

February 23, 2010

Vancouver: Homelessness


One of the striking things about Vancouver to me was how much homelessness there is. Like my first visit to San Francisco, it was a stark reminder of how much less drug abuse and poverty we see in New York these days. Even now, recession and all, the presence of homelessness is nothing like it was when I was growing up.

So, seeing so many panhandlers out and about, not to mention the sketchy scene in Chinatown was jarring.

I hear that many groups are up in arms about the money going to Winter Olympics. It's said that that money could be used to ensure that no one would have to sleep on the streets again.

I have no idea. As a U.S. citizen, I'm certainly in no position to call out Canada on its funding of social programs.

Further, I think that the argument judges that sports aren't important. I'm not much of a fan myself, but I'd be deluded to say that sport doesn't pull people together in a way few other things can. And I'd be arrogant to decide that my disinterest trumps the overwhelming support sports have worldwide.

As far as homelessness goes, I don't have a solution, but I don't know that throwing money at it necessarily resolves it either.

December 30, 2009

Hawai'i: Military School


One morning on The Big Island, we walked out of our hotel to find an honor guard from a local Military School welcoming guests. We were told that they were 'VIPs' but when we saw them, neither of us recognized them.

When I think of military schools, I think of the kids who get sent away after getting into trouble. The last option for parents looking to teach their kids some discipline. But in Hawai'i, I saw a different context.

The big story in the news while we were there was the severe budget cuts that led to closing down all public schools on Fridays. Throughout the state, Furlough Fridays left kids with an extra day off every week. Considering that, I suppose uniforms and flag carrying becomes a more attractive option.

May 29, 2009

Taking Back The Streets of Midtown


Starting Monday, May 25th, the Department of Traffic blocked off traffic on two stretches of Broadway in Midtown. It's part of a pilot program that creates a pedestrian mall for five blocks in Times Square and two blocks at Herald Square.

As someone who worked in Times Square for four years, I can't begin to tell you how much that extra room is needed. Just being able to bypass the tourists will be a vast quality of life improvement. Beyond that, having more outdoor space to sit in the sun and eat lunch in is greatly appreciated.

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On Sunday I was in the area and got to see the DOT workers repainting the road. It's exciting to see where the city is going with these pedestrian and bike-friendly programs. It started with more bike lanes popping up all over town, which has been very helpful to me as a nascent bike-rider. Then last year, the Summer Streets programs opened up miles of
road to bicyclists and runners and strolling pedestrians every Saturday in August.

Apparently, this is all the work of Janette Sadik-Khan, the Transportation Commissioner. I won't bother to paraphrase the more extensive New York Magazine article, which goes more in-depth into the commissioners plans as well as her opponents around the city.

I, for one, support the idea that since pedestrians vastly outnumber drivers, we should probably get more space. But that probably makes me as much a 'radical' as she is.

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Depending on how the pilot program fares, the spaces will be made permanent and the areas will be redesigned to cater to the new use. For now, orange barriers like these will keep the streets safe for pedestrians.

The unfortunate part of the entire arrangement is that most New Yorkers, myself included will still rush through these areas due to the complete saturation of tourists. But at least we'll be able to get by faster.

May 26, 2009

Bad News from Cali

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Though it was predictable, it was still disappointing to hear that the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8. It's a sad day when Iowa has a more progressive policy than New York and California, but I guess we take our good news where can these days...

April 27, 2009

DC: Coal is Dirty


Here's some more political graffiti I found off 18th Street in Adams Morgan. Maybe I'm seeing a trend where one doesn't exist, but I found it interesting how directly political some of the graffiti in DC was.

This collage of paste-ups pieced together slogans and imagery in protest against the coal industry, including fliers for a rally last month. There's a fair amount of graffiti that references politics in New York, but in my experience they tend to be broader anti-establishment messages rather than specifically regarding policy.

April 24, 2009

DC: The White House Garden Tour


Entirely by luck, Tammi and I ended up in DC the weekend of the Spring Garden Tour. Turns out that the White House opens up the gardens for self-guided tours along the path in front of the south facade. They only offer it twice a year, with nothing more needed than a free ticket picked up an hour or two in advance.

Tammi and I got up bright and early to get our tickets as soon as we found out. Outside of this, our only option would have been requesting tickets from our congressman for a party of 10 or more people, which is pretty unlikely.

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Being in the middle of all of that is fascinating because it brings to life this hugely famous place that I read and see and hear about nearly every day of my life.

Walking by trees and gardens planted by people I've read about in history books was jarring, but comforting at the same time. I do hope to eventually make it to the tour of the building one day, but until that's available, I'm really excited to have been that close to The White House.

And really, how can you not be excited about being so close to a place protected by this guy:


April 23, 2009

DC: Post-Election Clearance Sale

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Found at the gift shop at DCA.

April 22, 2009

DC: Thanks Mayor Fenty


I found this in an empty lot off U Street. It's always interesting to catch a glimpse of the local politics when traveling.

In the case, The Franklin School, which has served as an emergency shelter since 2002, was shut down by DC Mayor Adrian Fenty. This stencil appears to be a part of the Reopen Franklin Shelter Now campaign.

March 12, 2009

The MTA's March Madness


I don't think I'm going to lose any friends by calling the MTA a bunch of bastards. I'm not the first and I won't be the last to speak ill of the folks running Transit, so I'll minimize my invective.

For the entire month of March, the A Train is being replaced by shuttle service for over 3 miles of its route in Brooklyn. From Jay Street to Utica Avenue. Practically, this means that trying to get anywhere downtown or into Manhattan is going to be a clusterfuck for another 4 weekends. They've done this before and it has been profoundly unpleasant.

The upshot of this for me is that these are 'Williamsburg' weekends, as heading in that direction by bus or bike is a far better experience than even attempting to navigate the foolishness on Fulton Street.

January 26, 2009

Paris: Strike


It wouldn't be a trip to Paris without a protest. Tammi and I saw this one near the Bastille as we were going to the market to buy the Poulet du Bresse. I never figured out what it was about, but I was happy that it didn't involve tear gas or transit shutdowns.

January 21, 2009

Toasting President Obama


Last night I celebrated the inauguration quietly with this small bottle of Champagne I had at The Wine Spot, a slightly out of the way little hotel bar that I visited last year. More on that to come. For now, cheers!

January 20, 2009

Photo of the Day: History


Today's the big day.

December 29, 2008

Paris: Sarko Paste-Ups

IMG_8232, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The French may love Obama hands down, but Sarkozy doesn't have quite the popularity. One morning these paste-ups were all all over central Paris. I still only have vague notions of what the messages say, but could tell they weren't particularly flattering. I eventually figured out that one translates to "Yes We Can outsource thousands of jobs from France."

By the evening, they were shredded. I don't know if those were fans of Sarkozy or Obama acolytes offended by the comparison

Paris Observations: Obama Love


Everywhere we went in Paris, we saw our new president looking back at us. There were signs and life-size cutouts and T-shirts all over.

Tammi bought a bobblehead there that says "Yes! We! Can!" when bobbled or otherwise nudged or jostled, which now greets us when we walk in the house.

September 10, 2008

New York Primary Day 08

IMG00010.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Yesterday New York held local primary elections that was largely below everyone's radar given all the national politics in the news lately.

The most notable aspect in this election was that a number of entrenched incumbents were challenged, some for the first time in over 20 years.

The results are in and though some newcomers succeeded, much of the local political landscape is just about the same. At least part of the reason has got to be the rather low turnout, which seems ridiculous in such a politically charged year. But then no one cares about local politics until some obscure pol who has been in office for decades starts flexing his power to shoot down sensible projects.

In any case, tirade aside, I also wanted to note that the voting machine for my district, an ancient behemoth, was broken and I had to fill out a paper ballot.

July 10, 2008

France: Paris Train Show

IMG_5247, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Champs-Elysee, Paris. June 2003.

There was a Train Show on the Champs-Elysee when I visited Paris during the summer of 2003. The obvious cultural difference here is that the French were having a public show boasting the technology of rail transportation while the US, even now sees 'starve the beast' as the best way to deal with such alternate transportation. You'll rarely see anything like this in the States as it is.I've gone on my tirades before while discussing the shinkansen in Japan, so I'll leave that alone.

More jarring that that was this train car, above. It's a cattle car, which was used during The War to deport Jews, among many others, to concentration camps. This was amazing to me. I can't imagine anything like this taking place here in the US.

One of the most fascinating parts of visiting Europe to me is the remarkable perspective they have on history. Europeans live surrounded by institutions and structures older than the United States. Something that happend 60 years ago is considered a recent event and something worthy of continued remorse. Here we consider 30 years of Affirmative Action sufficient to counter 400 years of oppression. Perspective is not something we do so well in the land of "You're either with us or against us."

Much can be said about whether the French are really admitting any culpability here. There are a million perspectives on history. Regardless, the mere acknowledgment strikes me as more mature than anything I've seen here at home.

July 8, 2008

Bed-Stuy: The Petition


Last weekend, I sacrificed one political belief for another. Out of the blue one Saturday morning, the door rang. It was a petitioner collecting signatures to get some democratic candidates on the ballot. I was tempted to just tell him to buzz off. Door to door anything tends to get on my nerves. Worse, the petition was for a couple politicians I'm not so fond of.

Ed Towns and Velmanette Montgomery have been 'representing' me for the entirety of my 22 years in Brooklyn. They have managed to stay in office, as far as I can tell without ever sticking their necks out or taking a stand on anything. It's been a point of annoyance of mine for a long time. People have fought for ages to get Black folks into positions of influence. Yet these people have broken no ground. They've done nothing but continue the long tradition of ethnic patronage politics. Those politicians of the 'movement' generation took positions in groundswells of support and have done nothing appreciable but grown roots. Worse, those like Major Owens and Una Clarke have tried to pass their positions down to their children like a family heirloom. And we've continued to put them in office, in part because we've got no better options, but also in part because we can't be bothered to demand better.

I could have gone on and on about why these two candidates do not have my support. But the petitioner caught my attention. He was in his teens or early, early twenties, dressed 'as the kids do these days' with a T-shirt that went down to his knees and a baseball cap turned just so over his Do-rag.

I couldn't reject someone like that who was actually playing some appreciable part in the process. Hell, he's playing more of a part than I am. I've never volunteered. Not once have I gone out and done anything besides vote for my candidate of choice. So, given the fact that this kid was here at my door on a Saturday morning, I couldn't bring myself to turn him away. I signed it.

June 17, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Demoncracy

IMG_4061, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Clarion Alley, The Mission. 2008.

June 16, 2008

SF: Artist General Update

IMG00942.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

A Flickr Contact, We Meant Democracy posted a link to an SF Weekly post with more information on the 'self-appointed' Artist General. The thrash in the commentary thread reminds me why I tend to avoid such forums.

June 13, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Prezedunt Ahnuld

IMG00950.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Clarion Alley, The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.

I finally tore myself away from the geekfest bubble for a couple of hours last night and encountered some great graffiti. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me, so I had to shoot these with my phone. In a couple hours the conference will be all done and I can go shooting. I can't wait to get at this stuff with some decent light and a real camera. I just hope my wide angle can capture it all.

June 12, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Artist General Warning

IMG00934.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Market Street, San Francisco. 2008.

These 'warnings' are posted all around the convention center downtown. On them theArtist General warns about the hazards of conformity and the need for dissent.

June 7, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Unlikley

IMG_0843, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

It's been an interesting week in the Presidential campaign, which is not something I've been able to say for some time. Most interesting have been the conventions of concession, which we only begin to recognize when someone fails to follow them.

I'm doing my best to avoid television for as much of tomorrow as I can, but I'm sure I'll hear what Hillary has to say before the day is done. Hopefully, we can keep it together and start the campaign off right.

June 4, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Historic

IMG_6524, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2008.

May 26, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Give Me Your Tired...

Give Me Your Tired..., originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

SoMa, San Francisco. 2007.

May 16, 2008

Puerto Rico: Shuttered

IMG_8030, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I found more than a few additions to my Recession series down in Puerto Rico. Even in Old San Juan, the tourist and shopping center of the city, there were around a dozen closed down storefronts that we came across.

May 14, 2008

Puerto Rico: Generalissima Clinton

IMG_7386, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

These posters were plastered all over the windows in an office across the street from our hotel, along with the giant words "HILLARY 2008." What struck me about it is the pose. When I pointed it out to Tammi, she said it reminded her of the work of Shepard Fairey in his Obey Giant campaign. It's true, the profile and the flowing flag in the background are very reminiscent of the authoritarian posters that Fairey references.

Honestly, I haven't seen that many Hillary posters in Brooklyn, so maybe these things are all over the place on the mainland, but it seemed unusual to me.

If it is targeted to PR, is the design a cultural thing? God knows the Caribbean and South America have a penchant for authoritarian regimes, but Puerto Rico hasn't ever had one as far as I know.

April 28, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Frida

IMG_9840, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

"We didn't cross the border, the border crossed us." -Frida Kahlo

I'm not sure who the artist is, please let me know if you do.
Chelsea, NYC. 2008

February 11, 2008

The Recession Special

IMG_5975, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

In case you hadn't heard (over and over again) the economy isn't doing so hot these days. One of these days the folks who declare such things will have to admit that there's a recession going on. In the meantime, I've taken to shooting the going out of business signs and vacant storefronts that I come across. They're collected on Flickr.

This afternoon, I came across about a dozen vacant spaces on the 3 block strip on 8th Street, right around the corner from Gray's Papaya, the home of the original Recession Special.

February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday

IMG_5183, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The big day is here. In just a few hours, nearly half the country will begin voting in the biggest primary in history.

We'll see how decisive the results are.

I, for one, will have to haul ass back to Brooklyn from up here in CT. I'm definitely going to do it though. I mean, who knows when I'll have the opportunity to participate in an election like this again?


December 16, 2007

The Winter Market

IMG_1568.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

At more or less the last moment this afternoon, I came across a blog post about the WinterMarket put on today at the old Fulton Fish Market by New Amsterdam Public.

I'm not so familiar with the group, but I believe their goal is set up a standing sustainable food market in that building. It sounds like a great idea to me. Why should we forsake the Seaport to the tourists, when we can actually use it for something worth visiting?

Despite the crappy weather, I had to leave the house anyway to work tonight, so I figured I'd head out a little early and catch the tail end of the event.

I got there about an hour before it ended. Half the booths were either gone or wrapping up, but I managed to pick up some cool stuff:

1 Jar of Rick's Picks Pickled Beets. I've been curious about them before but never wanted to commit to a whole jar until I had tasted them. The sweetness of the beets are balanced out by the tang of the vinegar and kick of spice that I can't quite place. These will clearly be passed around the next time I have people over.

1 Bottle of Sparkling Cider from the Sly Boro CiderHouse upstate.

And, 1 Pint Honey Nougat Ice Cream that was recommended to me by Robert, Mary and Blake, who I ran into on the way. I was suspicious of the thought of eating ice cream on such an awful day, but one sample spoon was all the convincing I needed.

The shot above is from the Wild Edibles table. They were selling scallops in the shell and Sweet Maine Shrimp. I would have bought some, but I figured my co-workers wouldn't appreciate the smell of raw shrimp permeating the office fridge.

This is said to be the first of many such events, so I look forward getting a better haul next time.

November 2, 2007

Art Over Hate

IMG00178.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

While commuting a month or two ago I saw this scrawl for the National Alliance, a hate group I mentioned a while back. The other day, I found this painted over it.

Very much an improvement.

October 30, 2007

Hello Kirchner

Hello Kirchner, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Christina Fernandez de Kirchner was just elected President of Argentina. This was a topic of discussion on this afternoon's Leonard Lopate Show on wnyc.

Obviously the idea of a First Lady being elected to take her husband's office is topical here in the US. But really, I just wanted an excuse to post this bit of graffiti I found last year in Buenos Aires.

For a little more graffiti fun with the Kirchners, see Terminestor, a GOTD back in march.


October 24, 2007

Photo of the Day: Repent

IMG_8006.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The Gate, Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn. 2004.

October 23, 2007

Photo of the Day: God-Fearing

Out West Trip 021, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Bob Jones University, Greenville, SC. 2004.

September 23, 2007

The World's Gone Mad


I woke up this morning to find the talking heads on TV discussing Rudy Giuliani's speech to the NRA.

I just don't understand.

I mean, seriously. Strip down all the things that make him one of the most terrible people in the world and it still doesn't make sense. Ignore the fact that he was arguably the most divisive mayor in the city's history. Ignore the fact that before being elected, he led the police union in a riot on the steps of city hall, then made a point of barring any and all protests on the same steps when he was elected.

Ignore the fact that he married his cousin.

Ignore his callous disregard of abuses on the part of the NYPD toward the black community. Ignore that this 'hero' released the irrelevant juvie record of a man murdered by police officers. Ignore that much of the carnage happened on September 11th 2001 because he outfitted his Fire Department with shoddy equipment and because he chose to create an emergency operations base in the only building in the entire city to ever be the target of terrorism.

Ignore every terrible thing that he has done and said in and out of office. Forget all of it.

If I had never stepped foot in New York and all I knew about the man was that he was mayor the day that the towers were attacked and that he carried a bullhorn and soothed many in the city and the country, I would think that he deserves a medal. Maybe even a statue.

I can't fathom thinking that these actions on one day would merit the leadership of the United States of America. Those actions on one day did not make him competent or qualified to lead the free world. It does not mean that suddenly he has an understanding of international politics, domestic issues or the federal tax laws.

It doesn't make any sense to me that this man is really, genuinely considered by anyone to be someone that might deserve a single vote for the presidency.

My faith in American common sense diminishes every day that Giuliani is considered a 'frontrunner,' even this ridiculously early in the primary race.

August 30, 2007

The Larry Craig Scandal

IMG_4771, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Now, I'm not typically one to protest when a scandal takes down a Republican candidate. But I just want it to be clear that Senator Larry Craig from Idaho is being asked to resign because he's gay.

You can't actually say, "You should resign because you're gay" anymore, so everyone talks about 'lewd' and illegal behavior, but that's all code for the things those people do, isn't it?

What's tragic about all of this is that, like Foley, Craig has spent a fair amount of his career supporting anti-gay legislation just to prove he's got no sympathy for the "homosexual agenda."

June 12, 2007

Transport Rant

Forgive the upcoming soapbox tirade. I'm sitting on the bullet train to Kyoto from Tokyo and thinking about some of the inadequacies of home.

While I watch the Japanese countryside zoom by at hundreds of miles per hour, the first thing that comes to mind is 'why can't we do this at home?' I've been avoiding ranting on this subject for a little while now, but those who have known me for a little while have heard me sound off about the concerted effort of various lobbying groups to keep our rail system antiquated. Amtrak should be so much better than it is. When politicians go on about the agency needing to be self-sufficient, I always wonder what they would say about ending subsidies to the interstate system.

Economies run better when people can get around. It's just a fact. That's why we have public transportation. Mayor Bloomberg has said that he wishes the subways could be free because it's such a necessity to us all. The national rail system could be like that, if anyone wanted to do it.

May 28, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Give More Buy Less

Give More Buy Less, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

A good idea...
Greenwich Village, NYC

May 27, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Let's Play...

Armageddon, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

New York, 2004

May 19, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Misleader

Misleader, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Aspen, 2007.

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May 18, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Remember the Fallen

Remember the Fallen, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Washington DC, 2005.

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May 17, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: This is what we're fighting for?

This is what we're fighting for?, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Crosby Street, SoHo, NYC.

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May 1, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Capitalismo

Capitalismo, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Buenos Aires, Argentina. 2006.

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Photo of the Day: May Day Rally

Rallying the Troops, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

A Year ago there were rallies across the country to bring attention to the immigrant's side of the immigration issue. This was one of my favorite images. Check out some more after the jump.

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Continue reading "Photo of the Day: May Day Rally" »

April 26, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Subversion

IMG_0035, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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April 8, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Where's Osama?

IMG_1521, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Hey, remember this guy? Once upon a time he was "Wanted: Dead or Alive." That was before we got tangled up in a toppling uninvolved governments and refereeing civil wars. Over 6 years later and all we've done is up their recruiting. Mission Accomplished.

Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn, NY.

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March 25, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Terminestor

IMG_0033, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Terminestor, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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March 18, 2007

St. Patrick's Day

IMG_3842, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I just happened to be in midtown yesterday morning, just in time for some of the festivities on 5th Avenue for the St. Patrick's Day Parade. It reminded me of the little rant i wrote in the Photo of the Day post the night before about immigration.

It was an interesting experience: soldiers, cops, firemen, state troopers and law enforcement officials from all over the country were waving another nations flag and wearing another culture's traditional garb. Their kids stood out in the cold, bare-legged, wearing kilts and playing bagpipes to demonstrate their allegiance to their ancestral home.

And they've been doing it for 251 years. So much for assimilation.

More photos after the jump.

Continue reading "St. Patrick's Day" »

March 13, 2007

Photo of the Day: Banderas! Banderas!

Banderas! Banderas!, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Continue reading "Photo of the Day: Banderas! Banderas!" »

March 5, 2007

National Alliance in Brooklyn

IMG_1542, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Found on the upper back corner of the (immigrant-run) newsstand at Jay Street-Borough Hall.

I read about these people in college. Scary stuff. More info here

Macharia 2007

At the Polls

This weekend I got an email from Edwin Macharia, a friend from college. He was writing everyone to announce his candidacy for Parliament in Kenya. I was shocked and very proud. Edwin's motivation has always been to serve his people as best he could. I'm glad to know that hasn't changed.

Follow the jump for his message to friends and supporters.

Continue reading "Macharia 2007" »

February 9, 2007

The Pottery Barn rule

London, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I'm going to take the opportunity of an unread blog to vent an unpopular opinion:
Bush is right, we can't leave Iraq.

There, I said it.

I'm not a fan of this administration, I'm one of those still arguing the 2000 election. I'm a dyed in the wool liberal from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party.

Here's the thing, we broke that country. Iraq was a terrible, repressive regime, but it worked. It doesn't work anymore. And we're responsible. I know many people who will jump up and down yelling, "Not My President" but the fact is that we live in a democracy and we are all responsible for the actions of this government. Even if we didn't vote for it. Even if we're in a blue state.

We, as a nation, broke Iraq and it's actually our responsibility to fix it.

The current discourse on Iraq bases everything on the revisionist claim that we went to war in Iraq to free the Iraqis. We know that's not true.

Ted Koppel commented on this on NPR the other day:

We've been given so many bad reasons for why we went to war in Iraq — those weapons of mass destruction, Hussein and his neighbors, Hussein and al-Qaida, establishing democracy — that we've actually convinced ourselves that we did it for them… for the Iraqis; not because it served the U.S. national interest.

That makes it easy to depict the Iraqis as a bunch of underperforming, ungrateful wretches; and if they don't start shaping up, we're pulling out.

That's bullshit. And we know it on the left. The oppressed Iraqis became the justification for the war after all the others turned out to be lies. And considering how poorly things are going for them, it's not a very good justification.

We know this is hypocrisy. We're blaming the victim. But we're so focused on getting the hell out of there that we haven't spent any time thinking about our responsibility to fix what we broke. There's this idea that we're incapable of doing anything right here, so we should just bail.

Colin Powell's Pottery Barn rule says, "You break it, you own it." We 'own' this mess regardless of our individual political affiliations. If we have to send in more troops to clean it up, then that's what we have to do.

Leaving Iraq to burn after we lit the match and poured the gasoline is wrong. I don't know how to fix it, but I know it would be irresponsible for us to just walk away.

Continue reading "The Pottery Barn rule" »

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