HEARTBREAK IN EL BARRIO

“Something just blew up outside.” Those were the words I heard from my sister during a frantic phone call on Wednesday morning. In a post-911 world, a sentence like that can make horrible thoughts do Olympic Style sprints through your mind. My sister lives just around the corner from the two East Harlem buildings that were leveled by a massive gas explosion and I’m extremely grateful that she is okay. Just the day before, many of us enjoyed a brief sneak preview of spring as warm temperatures sent New Yorkers out on extended lunch breaks and long walks to soak up the sun-activities that we have been mostly deprived of during this brutal polar vortex powered winter. The contrast between that beautiful day and the next day’s smoke filled sky and debris filled streets are striking. Now we’re learning the names of those who perished as the search continues for more through a pile of destruction. Spanish Harlem is an unique place- it contains an energy and spirit that still makes it one of this city’s special neighborhoods despite the parade of gentrification marching through it, and that energy and spirit will help with the healing from death and heartbreak.

FAST, FURIOUS, AND WTF

The city’s local media outlets are in a tizzy( what exactly is a tizzy anyway?) over a scandal that rivals the dark days of Richard Nixon in the White House or Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall’s hold of corruption over this town. Days after announcing plans for a major initiative to prevent pedestrian deaths, the Mayor’s caravan was caught speeding and violating other traffic laws. Now de Blasio, only weeks into his mayoralty, finds himself on the brink of ruin because of “Speedgate”…okay stop reading because I can’t continue. I don’t know why the Mayor’s driver was speeding, maybe it’s defensive driving security protocol while chauffeuring someone with the title of mayor, or maybe the driver really had to pee and was heading to a bathroom. However, the transgression and the media reaction to it are disproportionate.

BRAIN FREEZE OVER SNOW

Less than two months into his first term, Mayor de Blasio finds himself under fire once again due to snow, First it was complaints  that the de Blasio administration took vengeance on the Real Husbands and Housewives of the Upper East Side of Manhattan who didn’t vote for him,and had snow not removed from their neighborhood streets. Now de Blasio finds himself sort of  in a war of words with weather personality Al Roker, who took time from his Today show duties at the Winter Olympics in balmy Sochi,Russia to criticize the mayor for not closing schools. Many city parents were outraged that schools remained opened today and the new chancellor saying that “it’s a beautiful day…” probably didn’t help.

The Mayor’s counterpoint is that public transportation was running and that many working parents rely on the school system to provide shelter and meals during the day for their children. The Mayor’s stance while valid doesn’t seem to take in consideration school teachers who have to travel during these tough conditions (the teacher’s union wasn’t too happy with this decision) and brings up a larger question about classroom educators being treated as just babysitters. I think the lesson we can all learn from this hoopla is that Al Roker probably won’t be garnering any invitations to Gracie Mansion (which means he won’t get the chance to poop on himself like he did at the White House in 2002),and that common sense from all sides seems to be stuck in a slush puddle. The Mayor and his school chief need to act a little more practical and parents have to realize that they ultimately have the power and discretion to make decisions about the safety of their kids.

SNOW DAYS GONE BYE

Its been a long time since my last post and a lot has happened. Bill de Blasio was sworn in as Mayor, the city has been under siege by the nefarious polar vortex, the Super Bowl happened (it was actually in New Jersey but who cares because the game sucked) and we’re only days away from pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training (the Yankees are still old and the Mets are still broke). Now getting back to all this freaking damn snow we’ve received in this winter of our slush and sludge discontent. This city, despite its rough edges can be a beautiful place at times, but it becomes groundhog butt ugly when the dirt and grime mixes with snow and makes some streets in this town look like that garbage compactor from Star Wars that Han Solo and company were trapped in. However, even with the difficult weather conditions we have experienced, I got a little annoyed when I saw media reports about complaints that NYC Public Schools were not closed during one snowstorm last week. When I was kid, schools were never closed for bad weather. In fact during the 80s, the Soviet Union could have dropped a nuke on the Big Apple and kids still would have been expected to show up for class. So quit the bellyaching and be mindful that winter will eventually end…hopefully.

THE IMMORTAL CHARLIE RANGEL

According the New York Post, Charles Rangel is expected to run for a 23rd term for his Harlem Congressional seat. Despite an ethics scandal in 2010, Rangel has twice been re-elected since. At 83 years old one might be expected to be bidding adieu to the Congressman, but he seems to have more determination and resiliency than a hockey masked serial killer chasing co-eds through the woods

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It was over 40 years ago that Rangel disposed of the legendary Adam Clayton Powell Jr.  So in 2014 who will step up to be the Rangel to Rangel’s Powell or is Rangel not even Powell?  Perhaps Rangel is our first immortal member of Congress-holding on to his office until the sun burns out and the Earth is a cold barren wasteland or cool ski destination for vacationing space aliens.

BERMUDA TO NYC BLOOMBERG EXPRESS DELAYED

Mayor Bloomberg was reportedly playing golf in Bermuda after learning that a Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx-killing four people and injuring dozens of more. Now no one expected the diminutive sized billionaire to personally carry the hurt to the hospital, but come on Mikey-you still have a freaking job to do. Perhaps you’re just bored biding your time during this transition period until Bill de Blasio takes over, but being a lame duck is not an excuse for giving the appearance of indifference to the concerns of citizens. You are more than entitled to your vacation time, but if this was the private sector-say like your media company, and an executive decided that their recreational activity took priority over responding to an emergency, they would be kicked to the curb faster than a broken umbrella during a rainstorm. At least pretend to care until January gets here.

WHEN MIKEY MET BILLY

Mayor Bloomberg met with Mayor-elect Bill de blasio at City Hall in a symbolic beginning of the transition process, and there did not appear to be an exciting reaction from either party. Bloomberg looked a little displeased ( we won’t have what he’s having) because let’s face it-in his eyes de blasio is that person who comes into the kitchen to make a sandwich after you’ve washed the dishes and wiped down the counter. Bloomberg is worried that de blasio is going to dirty up all he’s accomplished during his very very…very long tenure as New York City’s chief executive. The challenge for de Blasio is to deliver on his campaign promises while preserving the gains the city has made-this means try not to make a mess.