Kamoinge, a group of mostly New York photographers who strive to capture the black experience, are creating an archive of their work. The group first assembled in 1963 and now has 24 members, with some focusing on documentary work, others on fine art. They are all driven by a similar passion: honest portrayal. “What we’re documenting isn’t just black history,” said Russell Frederick, one of Kamoinge’s newer members. “It’s American history; it’s global history. It’s something that everybody needs to see.” Read and see more on the Lens blog.
There was a rally on May 12, when seasoned protesters convened by the thousands near City Hall to stake their claim against Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s budget. There were gatherings at subway stations organized by the city’s public advocate, Bill de Blasio, at which hundreds of parents recorded messages against cuts at their children’s schools.
Then there were these lower-profile efforts to join in the debate over whether laying off 4,100 teachers was really the best way to balance the city’s books: handwritten messages to the mayor taped to a big dollar sign outside a school in the Mount Eden section of the Bronx; postcards to City Council members signed at a foldout table in a school in Hell’s Kitchen, parents clustered on a sidewalk in Park Slope, Brooklyn, chanting, “Save our teachers,” even though no one was around to hear it but parents themselves.
“It was either come out and do something about it or sit down and take it,” said Ed Jen, 40, who squeezed in the Park Slope protest on Thursday morning between dropping off his daughter at Public School 107 and catching the subway to his job as a marketing executive at a software company.
Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal evoked predictable reactions from familiar corners, like the barrage of angry statements unleashed by the teachers’ union president, Michael Mulgrew, and certain politicians prone to criticize most of what the mayor says. But alongside that institutionalized opposition have come complaints from unusual corners.
The mobilization has unfolded slowly and steadily, and it has gone largely unnoticed outside individual schools and neighborhoods, though Jamie McShane, a spokesman for City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, said her office had received thousands of letters and e-mail messages opposing the mayor’s proposed cuts, many of them specific to the teacher layoffs — decidedly more than last year.
For Lenora Lapidus, 48, it began with a call for action uttered by a fellow mother at a P.S. 107 PTA meeting last month. For Magdalena Gutierrez, 32, it was an invitation from her daughter’s teacher at P.S. 24 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to join a picket line on a drizzly afternoon. For Stephanie Barile, 28, who teaches math at Facing History School on West 50th Street, it evolved from her frustration at her union’s tactics.
“It’s not that I disagree with the union’s stance,” Ms. Barile said. “It’s that I feel that it hasn’t done enough to tap into all our capacities at the grassroots level — you know, the people out there, in the schools; the people these cuts are really going to hurt. ”
Some actions are organized around schools’ drop-off and pickup schedules; others might not require much beyond a computer or smartphone. (Mr. Bloomberg’s Twitter handle has been widely shared.) Plans and tasks are decided and divided by e-mail or when people bump into each other on the streets or in school hallways. Sarah Porter and Janine Sopp, whose children attend P.S. 132 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, came up with the idea to organize a letter-writing campaign during a play date.
A year ago, Sam Coleman, a third-grade teacher at P.S. 24 in Sunset Park, created “Fight Back Fridays” to oppose Mr. Bloomberg’s layoff threats at the time. He got about 10 schools to participate, coaxing teachers to wear black on an appointed Friday each month as a sign of protest.
Since the mayor’s latest layoff proposal early in May, the movement “took a life of its own,” Mr. Coleman, 36, said. Some 40 schools participated in the most recent Fight Back Friday, May 20, and in many cases the teachers in dark clothing were joined by parents holding signs, chanting and signing postcards addressed to Speaker Quinn, asking her not to let the Council approve a budget that includes teacher layoffs.
“It’s the first time that teachers and parents are doing something together that is not within their normal role, and it makes the whole thing more meaningful,” Mr. Coleman said.
At his school on May 20, after parents picked up their children, many of them picked up the signs they had made in recent weeks, with messages like “Pink Slips for Bloomberg” and “No Teacher Left Behind.” For an hour, they marched up and down Fourth Avenue, between 36th and 37th Streets, in a light rain.
“We want people to see that we support our teachers,” said one of the protesters, Felipe Flores, 32, who has three children at P.S. 24.
Like professional politicians and lobbyists before them, the makeshift protest groups have also circulated talking points by e-mail, encouraging people to call their City Council members. “As a parent invested in the city’s public schools, I’m calling to protest the mayor’s proposed education cuts,” begins one script that has gone from parent to parent and school to school. “If this budget is approved, class sizes throughout the city will increase.”
Josh Heisler, 37, a social studies teacher at the James Baldwin School, a high school in Chelsea, started asking teachers he knows to make appointments to meet council members and bring parents along.
At P.S. 64 in Mount Eden, parents dropped off the dollar sign covered by handwritten messages to Councilwoman Helen D. Foster’s office. Jamie Fidler, 35, a first-grade teacher at P.S. 261 in Downtown Brooklyn, accompanied three parents and a fellow teacher to a meeting with Councilman Stephen Levin on Wednesday.
“We have to use all avenues to put pressure on the mayor, and to put pressure on the Council, everything in our power,” said Mr. Heisler, who arranged a meeting this month with a senior policy analyst for Ms. Quinn. “It takes more time and work, but I believe you can impact public opinion by talking to as many people as you possibly can.”
Every Tuesday, education beat reporters for The New York Times take you inside the New York City schools, public and private. Have a tip? Send it to IntheSchools@nytimes.com.
This article originally ran in the Wall Street Journal on May 24th and is reproduced here with permission. Pete duPont was Governor of Delaware from 1977 until 1985
The U.S. Treasury reports that the federal government ran up $870 billion in red ink in the first seven months of this fiscal year. That is $70 billion, or 9%, higher than at the same point in fiscal 2010, which ended up with a record $1.3 trillion deficit.
America’s energy policy is as bad as our fiscal policy. The federal government is focused on producing not more energy but less of it, on making costs higher rather than lower, and on expanding regulation.
Start with nuclear power. It’s pollution-free and an excellent source of energy. We have 104 nuclear plants in America today, but only one more is expected to become operative in the next few years, the first in two decades. As for oil production, our government is limiting it, and over the years domestic drilling has been declining. In 1970 the U.S. produced 3.5 billion barrels; by 2010 that figure was down to two billion. The federal government has prohibited oil and natural gas drilling on 83% of federally owned land and increased the importation of foreign oil. In 1970 only 500 million barrels were imported; last year it was 3.3 billion barrels. That means that in 1970 U.S. oil production was 88% of consumption, and today it is only 37%.
Drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico has been restricted, especially since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig last year. The Obama administration first put in place a drilling ban, then a virtual moratorium on issuing new Gulf permits. Then with the uproar over high gas prices, President Obama announced last week a desire to open up the process to more exploration and drilling. But the basic belief of our current administration and the environmental left has been to restrict our exploration and extraction of the 163 billion barrels of crude oil that the Congressional Research Service says are off our coasts and on our land.
Take the case of the oil in Alaska: the amount of oil we produce there now has decreased from 2.0 billion barrels a day in the mid-1980s to about 600 million today. There is more oil off the coast of Alaska, but for the last five years the federal government has not given approval for drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. What Mr. Obama said last week may now permit such
drilling—a bright spot if so. Meanwhile, House Republicans have proposed a bill hopefully called the Reverse President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act.
As for other energy technology, the National Center for Policy Analysis’s Sterling Burnett this month published an excellent analysis of America’s energy needs and costs (available here). Today solar power is close to our fastest-growing renewable energy source. Its production grew 15.5% in 2009, but it still accounts for less then 0.5% of global electric power output. And it isn’t cheap: subsidized solar energy costs between $220 and $300 a megawatt hour, compared with $110 for electricity nationwide.
That breaks down to $63.10 a megawatt hour for natural gas, $113.90 for nuclear power, $136.20 for modern coal-fired plants, and $210.70 for solar photovoltaic power. According to the Heritage Foundation the subsidies we pay are $23 per megawatt hour for solar and wind, compared with $1.59 for nuclear power, 44 cents for conventional coal, and 25 cents for natural gas. We must start becoming competitive, without large subsidies, to reduce the current distortion in our energy markets.
The good news is that it is estimated that there are 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas recoverable from fracking just in the Marcellus shale region of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. There are concerns about the impact on the environment and drinking water, and they need to be addressed, but the natural gas access is important to our energy needs.
We should also end the 45-cent-a-gallon subsidy of ethanol, which yields one-third less energy per gallon than gasoline. The cost of ethanol subsidies total about $6 billion per year. Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Dianne Feinstein of California have introduced a recent bill to do away with the subsidies, along with a 2.5% tariff and 54-cent duty on imported ethanol.
To put it all in the perspective of the environmentalists and the current administration, consider the statement of Energy Secretary Steven Chu in The Wall Street Journal: “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the prices of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” The current gasoline price is about $8.50 a gallon in England and $8.80 in France and Germany.
Sound and significant energy resources are vitally important to our economy and our people. Energy should be reasonably priced, plentiful and be managed by its producing industries. Market prices are better than government subsidies and regulation. The government (and the green lobby) should get out of the way so that we can develop the new technologies we will need over the long term.
Part yearbook, part historic record, United States Navy cruise books have long been created to commemorate a vessel’s deployment. The books are not official Navy publications, but rather are keepsakes created by Navy volunteers. Printed in limited numbers, they can be hard to find, but the books are rich in history and offer inside glimpses of military life.
The Navy has provided a vast trove of these, about 3,500, to ancestry.com, the last of which have arrived on the site just in time for the Memorial Day holiday. Vessels deployed from 1918 through 2009 are represented by a staggering 4,857,924 searchable records now available in the collection. These include more than half a million images (511,640, to be exact).
While you need to be a paying member to see them, some of the images have been granted shore leave to appear on City Room.
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Press piece of writing submission can be designed when or twice a month. If it is not newsworthy enough to be printed, as soon as a month will do nicely. If you are creating a press release on a product or support that is of use to the standard public, editors and journalists, it is really newsworthy without a doubt. So there should always be a strong offer of value in your report.Newspaper Classifieds Are Outdated News
Got a Gripe?
Get a grip. Send your rant — no more than 500 words, please — to: firstname.lastname@example.org, with a subject line of your last name, followed by “Complaint Box” and the topic. Detailed instructions are below.
Every day, it seems, I am preapproved, prequalified or precertified for yet another credit card or home equity loan that I don’t want. I already have enough credit cards, thank you, so that I can prepay my daughter’s college tuition, allowing her to preregister for courses (pre-med? pre-law?). I can use those cards to pile up air miles so that I can preboard a plane at the airport (after pre-check-in, of course). I can even preorder items during the annual presale event at a major department store.
I’m not sure when this prefix started appending itself to almost every verb. Perhaps the generation that went to preschool and pre-K were naturally predisposed to its possibilities.
Having gone to regular old kindergarten, I find myself nostalgically thinking back to a time when I simply registered for courses, boarded planes and was approved for loans. I never took pre-algebra or pre-calculus courses in school, as is customary now; beginning algebra and beginning calculus seemed to do the trick rather nicely. (Does anyone take post-algebra or post-calculus?) Nor do I remember doing pre-writing in English class; we simply wrote. There was a time, not so long ago, when signing a prenuptial agreement was not a precondition for marriage. But that was before Baby Boomers were all attending their preretirement seminars, and our country was launching pre-emptive strikes on foreign nations.
I recall buying my first used car a few decades ago. There are no used cars anymore, only pre-owned cars. I suppose we’re to believe that the previous owner never really used the car, only kept it for show in pristine condition. And we don’t always put our faith in used car salesmen, but pre-owned car sales associates (there are no more salesmen) are, presumably, utterly trustworthy.
Really, now, is there a more overused, silly and pretentious syllable in the English language than pre? Sure, it has its legitimate uses, but 95 percent of the time we can simply drop it. So let’s do that — before we all come down with a severe case of post-grammatic stress syndrome.
Michael Golden, a freelance writer, lives in Great Neck, on Long Island, where he recently retired from teaching middle school.
If you wish to submit a Complaint Box essay, please send it as an attachment and in the body of the e-mail to email@example.com, along with your name, address, phone number and e-mail. In the subject line of the e-mail, type your last name, followed by “Complaint Box” and the subject of your complaint. Essays can be anywhere between 100 and 500 words. Because we receive so many submissions, we can only get back to those whose complaints are being considered for publication. If you do not hear from us, thank you anyway, and feel free to submit it elsewhere.
Dressed in an orange Tony-the-Tiger vest, clashing red-on-black striped pants and proudly sporting a mullet hairdo, Joe Mucha grasped ball after ball, achieving a score that reflected his years of training in the art of Skee-Ball.
He made it look easy. Or as he would say, perhaps to the chagrin of others, “skee-asy.”
“That’s why I’ve been training for two years,” said Mr. Mucha, 24, a web marketer from San Francisco who goes by the nickname “Joey the Cat.”
Mr. Mucha was one of more than 60 Skee-Ball players from around the country who descended on the Full Circle bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, over the Memorial Day weekend to compete for a $1,500 cash prize in the Brewskee-Ball National Championship, a Skee-Ball tournament. Around 200 fans hollered from small bleachers in the bar’s back room, dubbed the “Brewskee-Bowl,” and also cheered the competition via closed-circuit television that broadcasted the event on flat-screen televisions throughout the bar.
“I was a cheerleader in high school, so it’s all coming back to me,” said Suzanne Karotkin, 33 who works in the fashion industry in Paris, and said the event sounded “so outrageous” that she flew to New York to watch an old friend from Austin, Tex., compete.
Skee-Ball, which is played by rolling a ball up a four-foot ramp into holes that allot anywhere from zero to 100 points, was once considered a game for children at shorefront arcades, amusement parks and county fairs. Like kickball and dodgeball before it, Skee-Ball has made a resurgence as a game enjoyed with an ironic sensibility, and completely un-ironic joy, by urban 20-somethings.
At Full Circle, they celebrated their sport by guzzling beer, dressing in costumes and cheering each other on with nicknames chosen by each player to create a competitive persona, similar to Roller Derby. Skee-Ball nicknames like “The Skee-tuation,” “Skee-bron,” “Jackie Skee-horn,” and “Skee-na Fey” prove that incorporating the word “skee” is half the —dare we say, pun —of this game.
This was the second annual tournament, which was held after three 10-week Skee-Ball seasons, said Evan Tobias, 32, who along with friends owns the bar and started the Brewskee-Ball National Championship two years ago.
“We wanted to take a childhood game and make it competitive for adults,” said Mr. Tobias who calls himself and his partners, including Eric Pavony, 32, the C.E.O.s, or “Skee-EOs” of the tournament.
The partners refurbished four old Skee-Ball machines from Coney Island for Full Circle and then, two years ago, began leasing other skee-ball machines to bars in Austin, San Francisco and Wilmington, N.C. Then they started a tournament to boost business and grow the game’s popularity. They called it “Brewskee-Ball” in a nod to the beverage that most competitors say is as crucial to their performance as Gatorade is to professional athletes.
“When should I start drinking?” asked last season’s champion, Ray “Skee-Diddy” Carannante. “Because if you’re too far gone you lose concentration, but if you’re not drunk enough, you get nervous.”
Mr. Carannante, 38, a social worker from New York, played Skee-Ball on the Jersey Shore as a child and was reintroduced to the game by his girlfriend Leslie “Dreamsickel” Sickels. Ms. Sickels, 25, said that after having last played Skee-Ball while growing up in Ohio, she moved to New York in 2008 and found an East Village apartment on Craigslist advertised by two men who said that if she wanted to rent their spare room, she would have to join their Skee-Ball team.
“What other sport is like this?” she said.
In the Brewskee-Bowl, competitors crouched like speed skaters, their throwing hands swinging like pendulums, their eyes fixed straight ahead. A referee name John Fisk, who wore a plastic, yellow trucker’s cap shouted like a police sergeant before each match.
To win at Brewskee-Ball, most players strive to hit the 40-point hole consistently. Each game consists of 10 frames of 9 rolls per frame. A score of 360 in a frame, the equivalent of hitting the 40-hole nine times, is known in Skee-Ball as a “full circle” and is considered an excellent score.
Nicholas “Northpaw” Seymour, 25, a law student from San Francisco lists delivering pizzas and mining copper in his hometown of Butte, Mont., as skills that prepared him for competitive Skee-Ball.
“There are two basic techniques and beyond that it’s just muscle memory,” Mr. Seymour said. “Hold the ball with your fingertips, not your palm, and get low, you want to roll the ball, not drop it.”
Like Mr. Seymour, many players told stories of having recently moved from a small town to a big city and having met friends through Skee-Ball. Amy “Doozles” Spencer, 24, said that after she moved in 2009 to Austin, Tex., from Denville, N.J., Skee-Ball became her social life.
“Now all my closest friends are Skee-Ball rollers,” she said. “It’s a community.”
Ms. Spencer’s mother, Carol Spencer, 58, ironed her daughter’s picture on a t-shirt and came to Full Circle to cheer her.
“I think this is great, there’s camaraderie, there’s competitiveness,” Ms. Spencer said. “It reminds me of my bowling league.”
Gaines “A-La-Mode” Kilpatrick, 33, a web designer from Austin, said that he discovered that his secret to competitive Skee-Ball is that having fun translates to rolling 40s. Dressed in a bandanna emblazoned with Skee-Ball pins; hefty gold chains that may have been swiped from Mr. T; and aviator sunglasses, Mr. Kilpatrick was in his element at Full Circle.
“I try to act as ridiculous as I can at all times to remind myself that I’m having a really good time,” he said. “The best part is, the more fun I’m having, the better I roll.”
A car that was believed to have been used in a hit-and-run accident that left a traffic officer injured earlier this month was tracked down on Friday through the use of the Police Department’s growing web of license-plate-reading cameras, the authorities said.
The hit-and-run occurred on May 17 near the Manhattan Bridge, when the driver of a gray BMW hit a traffic enforcement agent who was directing traffic on Canal Street and then sped away. The officer, who survived, suffered a separated shoulder and scraped knees, while the BMW got away and had not been seen since, said Paul J. Browne, the chief police spokesman.
Detectives later discovered that a camera had captured the BMW as it was moving on the Manhattan Bridge, headed toward Manhattan just before the incident. Then, at 10:15 p.m. on Friday, one of the city’s roughly 240 license plate readers spotted the BMW from inside a police car on East 79th Street between First and Second Avenues, Mr. Browne said. An alarm went off, and officers pulled over the car. Mr. Browne said that the owner and driver of the BMW, Ibrahim Yazici, refused to cooperate with investigators, retained a lawyer, and was released pending an investigation.
The car was taken to the Police Department’s Fifth Precinct in downtown Manhattan, Mr. Browne said, where detectives found damage that was consistent with the details of the hit and run.