September 30, 2007

2007 Mets: Chokers Complete Monthlong Collapse

Face it. The better team won. The Phillies never quit, while the Mets couldn't motivate Jose Reyes to run to first base.

Shame on the 2007 Mets. They had the division pennant won, but they couldn't be bothered to play hard in September. The less said about this team, the better.

The 1969 Mets, above, were a team that played hard all the time. They have a lot in common with the 2007 Phillies. While there are good competitors on the 2007 Mets, the team in the aggregate are a bunch of dogs. Shame on them. They didn't even try hard. The 2007 Phillies couldn't try hard enough.

Lets go Phillies.

Sunday Music: Ode to Billie Joe, by Bobbie Gentry

This song crept into America's consciousness in 1967, was maybe the year's biggest hit, and forty years later, still sounds as haunting as ever.

This was Bobby Gentry's only major hit. Where have you gone Bobbie Gentry? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Want more? How about her joining Donovan for a duet on "Mountain"?

First there is a mountain, then there ain't no mountain, then there is!

Lets Go Mets

Let's go for the jugular today boys. We need the Mets to pound the bejasus out of the Florida Marlins again today, and hopefully those wicked Phillies will lose to the Nationals.

Lets Go Mets!!

September 25, 2007

"Brooklyn Rules" Review

L to R: Scott Caan as Carmine, Freddie Prinze Jr. as Mike,
and Jerry Ferrara as Bobby in BROOKLYN RULES

The Bay Ridge of the mid 1980s is the backdrop for Brooklyn Rules, and it's a violent place, where the Mafia has a firm grip on things. One of the first scenes depicts low level mobster Caesar Manganaro ( Alec Baldwin ) kicking someone down the steps of the 95th Street subway station. The young Carmine ( Scott Caan ) watches the assault with awe, and becomes a mafia wannabee on the spot. Mike ( Freddie Prinze ) has a bit of the smart aleck in him but is smart and ambitious enough to get himself into Columbia University. Bobby, he just wants a job at the Post Office.

As you'll expect from a mafia movie, there are the requisite truck hijackings, and your fair share of violent incidents. You'll never look at a meat slicer the same way, let's just say.

This movie brought echoes of any number of Mafia movies, but it also will make any Bay Ridge or Brooklyn person think of Saturday Night Fever. Goofing around the neighborhood with the guys, the attraction of Manhattan, inferiority feelings brought on by it. Mike brings the guys to a fancy Manhattan joint, where the bouncer won't let them in-- they're in sneakers. Brings you right to SNF AND John Trovolta shuffling his feet after moving Karen Lynn Gorney to the fancy Manhattan townhouse.

Much of the movie was shot on location in Brooklyn, so you see shots of the Verrazano Bridge, St. Patrick's Church, the 95th St. subway station, and the Cyclone. Key parts are shown in what are meant to be the long gone Pastels dance club and the Hamilton House.

Alec Baldwin is a terrific Caesar. You'll believe him as the lawgiver among thieves, the neighborhood head-buster, the cigarette-smoking wiseguy in Pastel's VIP section.

The other characters for some reason seemed flat to me, and I don't know why. I can't criticize any performance, and the dialogue was, at times excellent.

This movie absolutely bombed at the box office in May, but it has just come out on DVD. While not great, it's worth renting.

September 16, 2007

Sunday Music: "New York, New York" by Liza and Pavarotti

Liza and Pavorotti sing "New York, New York" " at the 1006 "Pavarotti & Friends" concert in Modena, Italy

This song became associated with Sinatra, but Liza sang it first, and if you ask me, best.

Its her song. And what can you say about the great Pavorotti? How cool was he?

Spiderman Movie - Original (World Trade Center) Trailer

Oh, do I wish that they hadn't reedited this movie in 2001. Though I can understand why they did.

Perhaps sometime in the future they will release the original version, the one that includes the World Trade Center.

September 11, 2007

Downtown Manhattan, September 11, 2007

9/11/07, originally uploaded by lzplksk.

Today was a day that alternated between rain and the threat of rain, so different from the clear and perfect Tuesday of six years ago. Most appropriate.

I once worked in Two World Trade Center, 103 stories above the Manhattan streets. For five years, my company relocated near Grand Central Terminal. Not too long ago, we moved back downtown, over by the South Street Seaport. So this was my first 9/11 anniversary back in lower Manhattan.

I went to work today, and walked over to the World Trade Center sight twice, once at lunchtime, the second time on the way home.

As I approached Church Street around 11:30, I could hear them, still, reading out the names of victims from the "family area" at Liberty Plaza. I saw a woman walk quickly from that area, pain on her face, followed by others, presumably family or friends.

By the PATH train station, a small army of "Truthers", those who think that the US Government had intentionally arranged for the attacks had gathered. They were all dressed in black t shirts. Most of them were arranged in a cluster facing the stairs of the PATH Station. Passengers exiting the station, some no doubt to pay homage to their loved ones, were faced by an unsmiling army of Truthers staring them down.

I went back there at around 7:30pm The Truthers were still there, including a guy in a George Bush facemask handing out brochures. I took one. I used to be so angry seeing these people. Now I'm more sorry for them than anything. They couldn't be more wrong or more disrespectful, but they know not what they do.

I looked in vain for the Towers of Light. Looking just north of the WTC area, where they had shone the past four years, they were not there. Then, as I looked left, southward, on Church Street, I saw them in all their glory, reaching to and through some low clouds. Words do not describe, but lzplksk's excellent photo does do them justice.

A lone piper played "Amazing Grace". I could not see him, but I heard him, as the blue Towers of Light reached for the sky.

We remember.

September 10, 2007

September 11, 2007

Were You Impacted by the Bay Ridge/Sunset Park Tornado?

A reporter for the NY Press newspaper wants to get in touch with Brooklyn residents who were hit hardest by last month's tornado. If you have been so impacted, or if you can put me in touch with someone who has been badly hit, please send me an e-mail soonest at, so that I can make introductions.

Open Letter from the Committee to Save the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church to Congressman Fossella

September 8, 2007

In June of 2005, on the steps of the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church, Congressman Vito Fossella held a press conference announcing the formation of an “Overdevelopment Task Force” to study soft-sites in this district.

He was quoted in his own press release as saying “this task force will develop a comprehensive game plan for our community before a piece of institutionally-owned property is even on the market.” He even created a sub-committee to specifically study the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church.

According to local press reports, the property is already in contract to be sold to a developer. We all know that once the deal is closed, all the buildings on the lot will be leveled and new ‘luxury condos” will be built in its place. Not only will a much-beloved building be lost but the resulting massive development will strain our already overloaded infrastructure.

The Committee to Save the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church ( was formed in March of this year after an unsuccessful attempt by Council Member Vincent Gentile to explore alternatives which would have resulted in the preservation of this historic church building. The committee has been working tirelessly since March to find a solution that will keep this building from being torn down.

Congressman Fossella’s subcommittee has had over 2 years to formulate recommendations for this site should it be placed on the market. There has not been one word from this task force or its subcommittee reported in the press. Our community desperately needs help in protecting this valuable landmark and other properties in the neighborhood which are also at risk.

The reality is that once this building is razed there will likely be a domino effect resulting in the destruction of many other soft sites which Congressman Fossella’s task force was charged with identifying. We already know of at least one other nearby soft site which has been openly reported to be at risk of demolition.

There has never been a more urgent time than now for Congressman Fossella’s task force, and especially its subcommittee for the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church, to publish its report and recommendations for saving this and other ‘soft sites’ in our neighborhood before its too late.


Committee to Save the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church

Kathleen Walker, Co-Chair

September 09, 2007

Sunday Music: Songs of 9/11

If you want to know how irrelevant rock music has become, think of the fact that nearly no rock music of note came out of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Many good rock songs were written about the Vietnam war, but quick, what songs came out of September 11?

Bruce Springsteen: The Rising
Cant see nothin in front of me
Cant see nothin coming up behind
I make my way through this darkness
I cant feel nothing but this chain that binds me
Lost track of how far Ive gone
How far Ive gone, how high Ive climbed
On my backs a sixty pound stone
On my shoulder a half mile of line

A lot of people think that this is a good song about 9/11, but I do not. There's no direct or indirect mention of what caused the fireman to be in that position. There's no anger, no sorrow, no emotion other than a bouncy "la la la la la la la la la" chorus.

Sorry, this is not a meaningful song. Its typical up-tempo Springsteen stadium rock, of the same emotion as if he was singing about "Glory Days" , about bullshitting about the past in some Jersey bar. OK if you're into that sort of thing, but sorry, 9/11 was not a "la la la " day and this is not any great song.

Neil Young: Lets Roll

The one 9/11 rock song that had meaning for me was Neil Young's "Let's Roll" . I can't imbed it, but you can see the video here

Young grabs the issue of United 93 and the passenger uprising by the throat:

No one has the answer,
But one thing is true,
You've got to turn on evil,
When it's coming after you,
You've gota face it down,
And when it tries to hide,
You've gotta go in after it,
And never be denied,
Time is runnin' out,
Let's roll.

Let's roll for freedom,
Let's roll for love,
We're going after Satan,
On the wings of a dove,
Let's roll for justice,
Let's roll for truth,
Let's not let our children,
Grow up fearful in their youth.

I got chills after hearing these lines the first time.

Lets move to where the real emotional reaction came from. Lets go to the world of country music.

Toby Keith: Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue

Toby Keith's response to the 9/11 attacks: righteous anger

Now this nation that I love
Has fallen under attack
A mighty sucker punch came flyin in
From somewhere in the back
Soon as we could see clearly
Through our big black eye
Man, we lit up your world
Like the 4th of july

Hey Uncle Sam
Put your name at the top of his list
And the Statue of Liberty
Started shakin her fist
And the eagle will fly
Man, its gonna be hell
When you hear mother freedom
Start ringin her bell
And it feels like the whole wide world is raining down on you
Brought to you courtesy of the red white and blue

Justice will be served
And the battle will rage
This big dog will fight
When you rattle his cage
And you'll be sorry that you messed with
The U.S. of A.
cause well put a boot in your ass
Its the Aamerican way!

A few too many flags for my liking here, but this is a righteous and proper response. None of Bruce's la la la's here. Toby Keith is pissed. And why shouldn't he be? Bruce got all filled with artistic rage when he sang 41 Shots, about a botched police action in New York City, about a terrible incident when an innocent man got shot 41 times. Why couldn't he summon the same level of anger when 3000 of his fellow citizens were murdered? La la la.

Darryl Worley: Have You Forgotten?

This song hit me in the solar plexus when it came out in 2003. Yes, many people even then had forgotten, and more have forgotten now. I remember seeing this video for the first time: the image of the World Trade Center near the end is just devastating. This is a great song.

Have you forgotten how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside going thru a living hell
And you say we shouldn't worry 'bout bin Laden
Have you forgotten?

They took all the footage off my T.V.
Said it's too disturbing for you and me
It'll just breed anger that's what the experts say
If it was up to me I'd show it everyday
Some say this country's just out looking for a fight
Well, after 9/11 man I'd have to say that's right

Have you forgotten how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside going thru a living hell
And we vowed to get the one’s behind bin Laden
Have you forgotten?

Alan Jackson: Where Were You? (When the World Stopped Turning)

I think that Alan Jackson's "Where Were You"? is the best song about the events of September 11. It sounds as fresh today as it was the first time I heard it. It's neither pro-war nor is it anti-war. And no Christian is going to have a problem with these simple, true, lyrics.

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Out in the yard with your wife and children
Working on some stage in LA
Did you stand there in shock at the site of
That black smoke rising against that blue sky
Did you shout out in anger
In fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry

Did you weep for the children
Who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don't know
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below

Did you burst out in pride
For the red white and blue
The heroes who died just doing what they do
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself to what really matters

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Teaching a class full of innocent children
Driving down some cold interstate
Did you feel guilty cause you're a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone
Did you call up your mother and tell her you love her
Did you dust off that bible at home
Did you open your eyes and hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Speak with some stranger on the street
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Go out and buy you a gun
Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watching
And turn on "I Love Lucy" reruns
Did you go to a church and hold hands with some stranger
Stand in line and give your own blood
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

The greatest is love
The greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day

September 08, 2007

Tommy Makem, RIP

Tommy Makem died on August 1, and I heard about it only when I was on vacation in China. He was born and raised in Keady, County Armagh, only a few minutes drive from my family in Monaghan. When I was a child, the music of Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers would often be heard in my home. He was a fine artist, and a respected peer of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and the other folk stars of the 1960s. I hope you like the above song, which does not appear to be that old, but which features a Tommy Makem who is still fairly strong.

(from Wikipedia)
Makem was born and raised in Keady, County Armagh (the "Hub of the Universe" as Makem always said), in Northern Ireland. His mother, Sarah Makem, was also a successful folk singer, as well as an important source of traditional Irish music, who was visited and recorded by, among others, Diane Guggenheim Hamilton, Jean Ritchie, Peter Kennedy and Sean O'Boyle.

He emigrated to the United States in 1955, carrying his few possessions and a set of bagpipes (from his time in a pipe band). He went to work in a mill in Dover, New Hampshire; but in 1956, a mill accident crushed his hand. With his arm in a sling, he sought out the Clancy Brothers in New York to make music.

The Clancys were signed to Columbia Records in 1961. The same year, at the Newport Folk Festival, Makem and Joan Baez were named the most promising newcomers on the American folk scene. During the 1960s, The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem[1] performed sellout concerts at such venues as Carnegie Hall, and made television appearances on shows like The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show. The group performed at The White House for President Kennedy. They also played in smaller venues such as Gate of Horn in Chicago.

Makem left the group in 1969 to pursue a solo career. In 1975, he and Liam Clancy were both booked to play a folk festival in Cleveland, Ohio, and were persuaded to do a set together. Thereafter they often performed as Makem and Clancy, recording several albums together. He once again went solo in 1988.

In the 1980-90s, Makem was a principal in a well-known New York Irish music venue, "Tommy Makem's Irish Pavilion." This E. 57th Street club was a prominent and well-loved performance spot for a wide range of musicians. A random list of performers and visitors includes Paddy Reilly, Joe Burke, and Ronnie Gilbert. Makem was a regular performer, often solo and often as part of Makem & Clancy, particularly in the late fall and holiday season. The club was also used for warm-up performances in the weeks before the 1984 reunion concert of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem at Lincoln Center.

In 1997 he wrote a book, Tommy Makem's Secret Ireland, and in 1999 premiered his own one man theatre show, Invasions and Legacies, in New York. He also established the Tommy Makem International Festival of Song in South Armagh in 2000.[2]

Makem died following a lengthy battle with lung cancer in Dover, New Hampshire. He continued to record and perform until very close to the end. Paying tribute to him after his death, Liam Clancy said, "He was my brother in every way"[3]

His sons Shane, Conor, and Rory ("The Makem Brothers") and nephew Tom Sweeney continue the family folk music tradition. He also had one daughter Katie Makem-Boucher and two grandchildren Molly Dickerman and Robert Boucher. His wife, Mary predeceased him in 2001.

September 07, 2007

Brooklyn Tornado - Brooklyn Residents Eligible for Federal Aid

Holy Cow! Look how the security gate got pushed in by the winds!

Some belated good news for Bay Ridge and Sunset Park. Today, it was announced that those who suffered property damage will be eligible for FEMA Assistance.

According to Rep. Vito Fossella, R-NY 13, residents who suffered damage due to the storm must register with FEMA for assistance and establish eligibility. FEMA will verify eligibility and need before assistance is offered. Residents can file an application with FEMA by calling 1-­800-­621-FEMA (or TTY 1-­800-­462-­7585 for the hearing or speech impaired) daily between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and by logging onto
(From Brooklyn Daily Eagle )

Fossella said "“We have been speaking with federal officials on a near daily basis to demonstrate that our borough needed federal help to recover [and] this designation will allow Brooklynites … to apply for financial assistance from the federal government.“The damage throughout our community was widespread and significant,” he continued. “I want to thank FEMA for responding to our request and for providing a helping hand to affected Brooklynites.” (from The Brooklyn Paper )

Queens, which suffered more widespread damage, had been made eligible for FEMA relief last week. But individuals in Bay Ridge and Sunset Park were probably hurt more than individuals in Queens--some of them have suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to their homes, will be living out of hotels for six months, due to something completely and totally unexpected, almost unknowable.

Good job, President Bush, and good job, Rep. Fossella. You won't get any props from most NYC blogs, but credit will be given here where it has been earned.

September 04, 2007

World Trade Center: Depeche Mode Video

I found this haunting video for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Depeche Mode recorded "Enjoy the Silence" atop Two World Trade Center, where I worked for years. I may have been in the office when this was filmed.

I'd like to know when it was filmed.