Flames, hyena, etc. (#14 in a series)

July 11th, 2014

George Mirabal, former city council member in the notoriously corrupt city of Bell, has been sentenced to one year in prison and five years of probation. He has also been ordered to pay the city $242,000 in restitution.

Mirabal is the first of the five former Bell council members to be sentenced. The others will be sentenced over the next three weeks and could receive different sentences.

(Previously.)

Aaron Burr! Aaron Burr!

July 11th, 2014

This would have totally gotten past me if not for a retweet from the Popehat, but: today is the 210th anniversary of the Burr-Hamilton duel.

Mike the Musicologist and I talked about this briefly over the holiday weekend: if I ever make it back to NYC, one of the things I plan to do is to see the pistols.

Obligatory:

…down, down, down, as the flames went higher…

July 9th, 2014

Ten years in federal prison for former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin.

The judge has recommended a minimum security federal detention center in Oakdale, a city in central Louisiana.

This one’s for Andrew.

July 4th, 2014

This year is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge.

Earlier this week, the NYT ran a retrospective piece about the young reporter who covered the construction of the bridge; a man named Gay Talese, who later went on to bigger and better things.

The Times piece includes links to some of Talese’s original articles, if you want to feel nostalgic for the old NYT, or the Robert Moses era, or…

(Obligatory.)

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

July 4th, 2014

History has shown, Scruff observed, that you can never have too many fireworks.

Indeed. We spent a fair amount of money on fireworks for tonight, but the people of Dyckman Street make us look like pikers.

Scruff, whose real name is Ralphy Sanchez, 27, heads a group known as Down Post, representing a block on Post Avenue between Academy and Dyckman Streets. He is confident his group will put on the best show; he estimated that he had about $1,500 of fireworks at the ready, much of it, he said, bought with the proceeds from sales of marijuana.

Of course, this is illegal in New York City. But the people of Dyckman Street don’t give a rat’s ass.

Each block has a 10- or 20-person explosives team, but anyone is free to join. First, the firecracker chains go down — two long ones can stretch the length of a block and light the pavement in a polychromatic blaze for 15 minutes or more. Soon, they pull out the smaller rockets, handing the Roman candles to the children.

Do you smell that, former Mayor Bloomberg? It smells like…freedom.

Best news I’ve had all week.

July 3rd, 2014

Somehow I missed this until today, but: Buddy Cianci is running for Mayor of Providence. Again.

Yet you can’t blame voters who look at Providence circa 2014 – highly taxed and highly indebted, not far past a flirtation with bankruptcy, its tallest building empty, its streets a moonscape of potholes – and think, well, the Cianci days sure were a lot better than this. And they’re all the more likely to feel that way as memories of City Hall corruption dim, while the rivers and the mall remain as monuments to his reign.

Art, damn it, art! watch. (#45 in a series)

July 2nd, 2014

Box Sized DIE is a public installation in a London banking district by Portuguese artist João Onofre. It’s a soundproofed, airtight black box. Inside, UK band Unfathomable Ruination will be playing death metal until they run out of oxygen, every day for most of July, starting on Sunday. The installation is part of the Sculpture In The City public art program by City of London.

My first thought: what do they mean by “run out of oxygen”? Does the band play until they pass out? If so, how will anyone know, given that the box is soundproofed and opaque? Do they just play until a certain CO2 level is reached? Do they have sensors and an alarm in the box?

My second thought: how long will the band actually play? Or, to phrase the question in another way, how long does it take to use up all the oxygen in the box? Apparently, this isn’t the first time a death metal band has played in the box (though it is the first time this has been done in London). Surely there must be some stats on this, like average length of time spent in the box.

My third thought:

My fourth thought:

Art F City argues that this is one of London’s “worst public art projects,” because “Passersby can’t hear them play, so what’s the point of choosing death metal over anyone else?” But there are many things we can’t see or hear directly from a sculpture. Onofre is charging the invisible core of the object with the specific force and drive of death metal. It’s black. It’s claustrophobic. It’s all angst. Of course it had to be black metal! Unlike most conceptual public sculptures, we know exactly what’s “inside.” Maybe it’s not the most subtle form of compacting tension and placing it into a public space, but I’m biased, so… \m/

Sounds like pretentious bullshit to me.

Flames! Flames!

July 1st, 2014

Six current and former members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were found guilty Tuesday of obstruction of justice and other charges for their part in an alleged scheme to stymie a federal grand jury investigation into civil rights abuses and corruption in the county’s jails.

The convicted:

  • Lt. Gregory Thompson
  • Gerard Smith
  • Mickey Manzo
  • Lt. Stephen Leavins
  • Sgt. Maricela Long
  • Sgt. Scott Craig

Long and Craig are particularly interesting: you may remember them as the dynamic duo who went to an FBI agent’s house and threatened her with arrest.

Also:

The second trial involved deputies with more experience in addition to two sergeants and two lieutenants. But at trial they insisted they were only complying with orders from their superiors.

Ah, yes. The good old “Nuremberg Defense“.

Once again, I say: Ha! Ha! And, Ha! yet again!

June 30th, 2014

From the NYPost:

Why waiters should be replaced with iPads

(Previously. Please note that my linking this is more for my own amusement, and should not be taken as an endorsement of the article; while I think it makes a good point or two, I also think it comes close to suffocating itself in the usual entitled whining that seems to characterize far too many (but not all) New Yorkers.)

Obit watch: June 30, 2014.

June 30th, 2014

There’s an interesting obit in today’s NYT for Michael Brown, who passed away on June 11th at 93.

Brown (no relation, AFAIK) was one of the major figures in the “industrial musical”, which I have touched on previously.

Mr. Brown, whose clients included the J. C. Penney Company, Singer sewing machines and DuPont, was among the genre’s most sought-after creators. His shows — he supplied music, lyrics and direction and often took part as a singer — were known, Mr. Young said, for “their high quality and general buoyancy and fun.”

More:

His most widely seen show was without doubt “Wonderful World of Chemistry.” Presented in the DuPont pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, it was a rare example of an industrial musical open to the public. The show, written, produced and directed by Mr. Brown, was performed at least 40 times a day, by at least eight companies, for months on end.

If that was all Brown had done, this would still be a pretty interesting obit. But there’s another story: Brown and his wife had a good pot of money, and knew an aspiring writer who was living in New York and having trouble balancing her writing and her job.

So for Christmas of 1956, they gave their friend a present:

…an envelope with her name on it in the branches of their tree.
“I opened it and read: ‘You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.’”

That writer was Harper Lee. And now you know…the rest of the story.

Today’s update from the Department of You’re Not Helping, Idiots!

June 30th, 2014

Geoffrey Hawk, 44, the owner of a gun business called “In Case of Emergency,” was showing a semiautomatic .380 handgun and accessories to Krysta Gearhart, local TV station WNEP reported.
But there was a round left in the weapon and during the demonstration the would-be customer took a slug in the thigh, raising the question, are gun shows safe?

Another article quotes the vendor as suggesting that someone chambered a live round while his back was turned, running background checks. Which raises some questions:

  • As the linked article points out, why not use a blue gun instead of a real one?
  • If you have to turn your back, why not slip the real gun into your waistband? Or under the table? Or someplace where you have control of it?

But it gets better.

Cedar Park police believe there was no criminal intent involved in the shooting death of a 59-year-old Jarrell man outside of the Austin Gun Show on Saturday.

[Redacted]‘s son-in-law [Redacted], a Euless resident, was handling a firearm that he had just reloaded when the gun fired, police said.

This took place in the parking lot, not inside the show itself, and took place late in the day. My guess is that Redacted #2 unloaded his gun before going into the show, and was reloading it as they were leaving. Count the Four Rules violations here.

Happy Gavrilo Princip Day!

June 28th, 2014

(And a tip of the Hatlo hat to Guffaw.)

Some advice for those of you who choose to celebrate today:

  • Archdukes are somewhat of an endangered species these days. Make sure you have the proper permits and observe the bag limit of one.
  • Princip probably didn’t eat a sandwich (as we’ve discussed before) so if you want to maintain authenticity, find a place that serves Bosnian food. That might be hard if you’re not in a large metropolitan area; in Houston, there’s Cafe Pita. In Austin…well, if you’re going to deviate from authenticity, the Noble Pig is open until 5 PM.
  • Make sure your cyanide hasn’t expired.
  • Also, know the depth of your river before you attempt suicide by throwing yourself into it.
  • Consider how long or short your grenade fuse should be. I’m really not in a position to make specific recommendations, but a ten second fuse seems a bit long.
  • If you happen to be driving any archdukes on this day, make sure you know the route. (If Franz Ferdinand’s chauffeur had a GPS, or even a smartphone with Waze, would WWI have been avoided?)
  • Also, make sure your car is tuned up. There’s nothing worse than backing up and stalling in front of an assassin.
  • It may be a little late for this, but it looks like you can pick up a reasonably nice FN 1910 for short money on Gunbroker.