Thursday, May 29, 2008

Boycotting Dunkin Donuts is so Trendy

If you haven't been following this whole thing about Rachael Ray and Dunkin Donuts, here's a quick recap:

Rachael Ray is in an online ad for Dunkin Donuts in which she appears, to some folks, to be wearing a keffiyeh. The right wing blogosphere goes after DD's and Ray for supporting terrorism (clearly!), blah blah blah, and announces a boycott.

Today DD's caved and removed the ad. They said that in fact Ray was wearing a "black-and-white silk scarf with a paisley design" and that "Absolutely no symbolism was intended. However, given the possibility of misperception, we will no longer use the commercial."

Hmm. So they are implying that if it had been a keffiyeh, it wouldn't have been okay.

A few hours ago the folks at ANSWER announced they are calling for a boycott of DD's because of that.

I'm in for the boycott. I sort of doubt they'll get very far (what is DD's going to do -- reinstate the ad?), but it's worth a try.


It's that time of year.. Time for Ben's rundown of concerts and movies and festivals and other fun things to do in New York this summer. I apologize in advance for my heavy bias toward music and food; I mean it as no insult to dance, theatre, or anything else. In no particular order, here goes:

River to River Festival
These folks start early and go through the summer with a huge number of events around lower Manhattan (good luck navigating their website). Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet featuring Bela Fleck (May 29) will probably be a mellow treat. There are two salsa shows: Domingo QuiƱones (June 4) and La Excelencia (Aug 20). Sonic Youth is July 4, St. Vincent is July 10 and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists is July 17. There are also indoor classical concerts: clarinetist Jose Franch-Ballester (July 7) and pianist Jose Feghali (July 14).

Bryant Park Movies
The rope at Bryant Park drops at 5pm on Monday nights and the crowds rush in. Don't get there too much later or you won't get any seat, or at least not one close enough to hear. You have to be up for the intense-crowded-picnic culture of these nights and frankly it's not for everyone. This year starts on June 16 with Dr. No and end with Superman on August 18. Arsenic and Old Lace is July 21 ("Charge!!!").

Brooklyn Bridge Park Movies
Update: the schedule is posted now. These movies, on Thursday nights, are so much more low key than the Bryant Park situation. No racing for a spot on the grass or climbing over people is necessary. Plus, it's more scenic. The season starts on July 10 with Stand By Me. July 24 is Wallace and Gromit: Curse Of The Were Rabbit.

NY Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks
Every summer they bop through the boroughs (and LI and NJ) for concerts. It's really a delightful evening. The Central Park concerts are June 24 and July 15 (I hear they're a bit crowded); the Prospect Park one is July 14 (don't forget to boo Marty Markowitz).

Met Summer Concert: Live in Prospect Park
This year there be one outdoor show by the Metropolitan Opera, in Prospect Park, on June 20. "There's no show in Central Park this year??!" you say? Fear not: they're giving out 25,000 free metrocards to get the Manhattanites to come all the way to Brooklyn.

Big Apple BBQ
This weekend event (June 7-8, noon-6) at Madison Square Park features a lot of barbecue and alot of people; be prepared for crazy lines. The foodmakers are from all over the country. There's music too; wait, the guy from the Hootenany is playing? Really?

Madison Square Park concerts
The thing about Madison Square Park concerts is that they are always good. I first bumped into them one day back in 2003 and I have been going ever since. They have a mix from jazz to folk to country to anything. Shows are 7pm on Wednesdays; generally you can sit relatively close to the stage without having to show up too too early. I like to pick up a slice on the way at the place at Broadway and 28th. Oh and did I mention that there are often adorable little kids running around the grass at these shows? The first show is The Kennedys (June 18).

In addition to the Wednesday eve shows, the Madison Square Park Concservancy also has five folk and blues shows on Saturday afternoons (3pm). Update: hmm, actually, this is last year's schedule for the Saturday concerts.

Celebrate Brooklyn
The gin and tonic of NYC summer events -- almost everyone does it, and it's pretty good. The season opens on June 12 with Isaac Hayes (be there or be square) and Miriam Makeba is June 14 (76 years young, I'll have you know. And while it's true her "Farewell Tour" has been going on for some years now, this is probably your last chance). Shows are $3 suggested, for a good cause. This year's benefit concerts are Feist (July 9) and Spoon (July 15).

Central Park SummerStage
The season starts with Mavis Staples and Stephanie McKay on June 13 and I bet it will be good. Victor Manuelle (June 15) is pretty darn big in the salsa world. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (Aug 17) are the final show and I wouldn't miss it. The benefit concerts are many and include the Thievery Corporation (June 26), Crosby, Stills & Nash (July 29), The National (August 4) and Sonny Rollins (Aug 6).

Lincoln Center Out of Doors
Lincoln Center has a lot going on but much of it is not cheap. This is their outdoor series in August (7-24), which is free. The Roots of American Music Festival (August 23-24) features, among many others, Patti Smith and Charlie Haden.

Midsummer Night Swing
This is the other event to hit at Lincoln Center; it runs July 8-26. The music ranges from big band to son and is all, well, danceable. It's $15 to be on the dance floor; you can also certainly hear the music from outside of the paid area, but it can feel somewhat distant.

Shakespeare in the Park
The early part of the summer is Hamlet. The later part of the summer is some kind of rendition of Hair. If you have the dedication to wait in line, I salute you.

Hudson River Park
For everyone that goes to Celebrate Brooklyn and SummerStage, I implore you to go check out everything that's going on over on the Hudson too. Tuesday nights ("Stars of Tomorrow") and Friday nights ("Sunset on The Hudson") are low key jazz and other shows on the Christopher Street pier. The bigger shows ("River Rocks") are three Thursday night affairs on the pier near 14th street; I'd particuarly note Yerba Buena (July 10) and Flogging Molly (July 31). The amazing thing about their outdoor movies is that they have free popcorn! The 'kids' movies are Friday evenings (the original Willie Wonka is Aug 15; Shrek is Aug 22) and the 'grown-ups' movies are Wednesdays (Saturday Night Fever is Aug 6; the series ends on Aug 20 with, yes, The Blues Brothers).

The Blues and Barbecue Festival
The festival is part of the Hudson River Park events, but needs its own listing. It's on Sunday, Aug 24. You sit out in the sun all day, listening to blues, eating barbecue, drinking beer and getting completely sunburned. Sweet. The BBQ is mostly local. Update: the acts have been listed. Juke Joint Duo: Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm, Larry Garner, Sugar Blue, Alexis P. Suter Band and Eugene Hideaway Bridges.

Rooftop Films Summer Series
Some of this stuff is free; some is not. The locations are all over.

Siren Music Festival
I won't mince words: the Siren festival (Saturday, July 19) is a cultural phenomenon. All of Williamsburg gets on the train one day each year and heads to Coney Island for an afternoon of indie-rock music. There are two stages; there's also everything else that makes Coney so special. Dress code alert: if you want to fit in, you have to wear pants, no matter how hot it is.

Good Morning America Concert Series @ Bryant Park
If you can get up early enough for these, I salute you. You have to be there before 7am. Cyndi Lauper is coming soon (June 13) and that's got to get you going for the work day (I'm serious). There's also Boyz II Men, Maroon 5, Miley Cyrus, Feist, the cast of Rent, and The Jonas Brothers. The Today Show also has their own concert series over at Rockefeller Center.

Washington Square Music Festival
They're not the flashiest -- the website still says '2007' -- but fear not, they're here for the 50th season. The opening is June 21, a 'hootenany' with three groups. The rest of the shows are Tuesday evenings in July -- chamber music on the 8th, 15th and 22nd, and the Charles Mingus Orchestra on the 29th.

Naumberg Orchestral Concerts
Four classical concerts in Central Park. The Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players are July 8.

Late Addition:McCarren Park Pool
This is their last season, a coworker tells me. Some of the shows and movies are free; others are expensive. MGMT is July 27.

Out of town music festivals you can reach by train:
Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival. Red Bank, NJ. May 30-June 1.
Clearwater Festival. This was once Pete Seeger's event. Croton, NY. June 21-22.
Pleasantville Music Festival. Pleasantville, NY. July 12.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How long should you leave a car running?

A: Take the train! But really, if you are stopped for one minute, is that long enough that it's better to turn the car off?

Apparently it's been a really long time since engines were made in such a way that starting them took a lot of fuel. Now they don't. The dividing line is at about 10 seconds. That's what they say in Slate.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Obama and Latin America

Al Giordano has a long analysis of Obama's speech last week in Miami on Latin America policy.

In some places, he says, Obama is repeating long-standing US falsehoods on Latin America, be it on Colombia, Venezuela or elsewhere. But in other ways there's hope that he gets it, at least somewhat.

On Chavez, Giordano says, Obama said things that are completely untrue, but at least in his defense you might realize that he needs to criticize Chavez -- or else Chavez might say positive things about him, which would be not good for Obama's chances (see what happened recently with those comments by that Hamas guy).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Bad Idea

Today American Airlines announced that it will soon be charging $15 to passengers who check a bag. Earlier this year, most of the big airlines in the U.S. announced that they'd be charging a fee for checking two bags, but this is the first major carrier to do it for just one. It remains to be seen if the other airlines will follow the move; they haven't yet (but if they are going to join, the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend would sure be the time to do it, news-burying-wise).

It's a stupid idea, and they ought to know it. More people will carry more stuff on. It will make boarding take longer. American is saying that if your bag fits the carry-on requirements but that there's not space on the plane, that you won't be charged. But it's unclear to me how that works -- might they tell people they have to fit their large-ish bag under their feet, and that if they aren't willing to do that, then they have to pay the $15 to stick it under the plane, because it was their choice, and not a space issue? It's all going to put staff into yet another bad position.

And certainly it will create more overall passenger time needs at security, with more and bigger carry-on bags. The result will either be the need to hire more security staff (unlikely) or longer lines.

There is one good development in all the airline news of late: as airlines cut back on flights, a lot of the cuts will be of flights flown by smaller planes (i.e. regional jets). Fewer flights could lessen delays at some airports, and by cutting the smaller planes it means that a larger proportion of the remaining flights will be by regular sized planes (737s, A320s, etc), which are more fuel efficient per passenger mile -- better for the airlines/passengers and less horrific environmentally.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tasers saving lives, again.

"Police: Boulder man arrested, Tasered after throwing noodles"

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Re: Cannibalism

I saw this odd sign at the 5th ave street fair today:

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Is Clinton Really Hurting Obama?

The CW, if you will, is that as Clinton has continued to bludgeon Obama in the past month she is significantly hurting his chances in the general election.

Sure, there is the counter-argument that whatever Obama is facing now is just something he'd have to deal with in the general election, and he might as well face it now. But that misses the point that Clinton's attacks now will be quoted in the fall, to show that these 'concerns' about Obama are a legitimate kind of thing. As Josh Marshall wrote in March:
It is insufficient to say that Republicans will do this in the fall so there's nothing to be lost in hearing it now from Democrats. Because by doing this now, as a Democratic campaign, they are mainstreaming the message. If Obama is the nominee, when this emerges again, no doubt in a harsher, more rancid incarnation, it will come pre-approved by dint of a Democratic campaign's imprimatur.

I think he's right.

But what about the polls? Sure, general election polls don't have too much meaning at this point, but still, have the Dems, and specifically Obama, been hurt in these polls for the general election by the politics of the last month or two?

Polling Report has a page with these head-to-head general election polls. The Gallup daily tracking poll has showed it all fairly steady, with Obama and Clinton both about even with McCain. But the CBS/NYT polls show Obama (and Clinton, for that matter) holding up as well or slightly better than they were a few months ago against McCain.

And now on Saturday the LAT has a poll showing Obama 6 points up on McCain, and Clinton 9 points up on McCain. In both cases, that is much better than how the Dems were doing against McCain in the polling from February and January.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ready for food in Red Hook

But it's not ready for me.

When are they ever going to open? There was just a threat on Chowhound about this, and someone got an answer from Cesar Fuentes, executive director of the Food Vendors Committee of Red Hook Park:

Esperamos comenzar al final de este mes -Mayo, Labor Day Weekend- o en las primeras semanas de Junio.

Let the countdown begin.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Why Business Cards Are Crucial

Those "drop your business card in the bowl and you could be selected to win a prize!" things never got my attention that much. Are they really even going to pick one?

So when I was stuck at this conference the other week and someone walked by announcing "drop your business card! you could win a gift certificate!" I didn't think much.

Last week, I got an envelope in the mail.