Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, February 27, 2021

Back in September, I pointed out what I thought was the overlooked subtext behind Brooklynite Kimber VanRy’s brush with the law over his beer-drinking on his apartment building’s stoop:

RIGHT WAY - Be a white professional-class male, flashing a Blackberry and drinking a pricey import or craft brewski (like that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale VanRy was tippling when he received his summons).

WRONG WAY - Be a black or Hispanic working-class male, with or without cellphone, and hosting a bodega-bought tallboy of cheap beer or malt liquor.

With the right way, you’re just casually hanging out. With the wrong way, you’re loitering and attracting trouble. It’s plain to see.

That’s pretty much the gentrification code of conduct. I’m surprised the local cops didn’t get the memo.

But now, after the case’s dismissal and pending another public-tippling challenge by VanRy, I see that the New York Times gets the context:

Much is left to the judgment of individual police officers, and that can put us squarely in the realm of the arbitrary. Neighbors drinking beer on their front steps get these “quality of life” summonses, but not people sipping wine at New York Philharmonic concerts in Central Park or knocking back frozen daiquiris at summer movie screenings in Bryant Park.

Again, it’s all in the color and quality of the hooch and hoochers…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/27/2009 01:54pm
Category: New Yorkin', Society, True Crime
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Maybe celebrity felons like Martha Stewart and Leona Helmsley can afford thousand-dollar sessions on the do’s and don’ts of an impending stretch in the slammer. For the rest of us (well, you — not me), there’s Dr. Prison and American Prison Consultants, both lower-cost quasi-legal counseling services founded by enterprising white-collar ex-cons:

Lesson No. 1: Stay with your own race. Don’t use the phone of a person of another race. Don’t play cards with people of another race.

Other lessons: Don’t join a gang. Don’t divulge too much information about yourself and don’t lie — it’s a sign of disrespect. Don’t snitch. Don’t become overly chummy with anyone because no one is your friend. Learn how to anticipate riots and avoid being raped; owing anyone money or a favor makes one vulnerable.

“We deal with anybody who has fears,” [Dr. Prison counselor Tom] Miller says. “We also try to prepare people for the family situations they’ll encounter. You want to be mindful of your finances. Most spouses won’t be there when you get out. People always say, ‘Oh no, she’s going to stick with me.’ We tell them, ‘No, she won’t. So you want to protect your money now.’”

All sound advice, although probably nothing that you couldn’t glean from watching a few hours’ worth of “Oz” episodes.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/27/2009 12:04pm
Category: Creative, True Crime
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It seems counterintuitive to combat traffic congestion by closing off a major thoroughfare to all car traffic. But that’s what Mayor Bloomberg has in mind for Broadway, part of an ambitious plan to make the street a pedestrian free-range zone:

The massive makeover calls for shutting seven blocks of Broadway between 47th and 42nd Sts. in Times Square and 33rd to 35th Sts. in Herald Square.

“Our goal is simply to give midtown faster streets that are also, very importantly, safer,” said Bloomberg at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square…

Bloomberg estimates the street closing will make Sixth Ave. traffic flow 37% faster and Seventh Ave. traffic move 17% quicker by ending the bottlenecks where they meet Broadway.

This is all based on the Great White Way’s odd placement in Manhattan’s street grid, and how that affects traffic flow. Broadway juts diagonally from downtown up through Midtown and the Upper West Side, before finally straightening out to a north-south direction at 79th Street. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it definitely is a disruption on an otherwise fairly checkerboard-like road network. Personally, as a walk-everywhere pedestrian, even I tend to get screwed up by Broadway’s angular positioning — am I now between Madison and 5th, or 6th and 7th? (Yeah, I suppose I could memorize that, but who’s got the spare brainpower?).

The City’s already taken babysteps in this direction: The lounge-about esplanades carved out of Broadway last year. The Mayor obviously saw enough positive things from that to take the concept to the next level.

We’ll see if this actually comes off. It wouldn’t be the worst thing to surrender a few square miles to footprints instead of skidmarks.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/27/2009 11:07am
Category: New Yorkin'
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