Homo homini rodentius est

Taking to the Streets

Anti-Prop 8 Protest Greenwich Village
An Army of Lovers: Hundreds of people protesting the California ballot initiative outcome.

Protests of the outcome of the California Proposition 8 ballot initiative were held all over the country today. I ran into the New York protest as it marched up Broadway toward Union Square. One of the protesters — the fellow in the leftmost image above, was running up to the windows of a diner and sticking his sign, which called for equal rights to love, into the faces of straight couples. They studiously avoided his glare as they ate their eggs. Walking west on 14th street I ran into them again as they came down 6th Avenue, heading toward Christopher Street. Ironically, they marched right past 15th Street, without being aware of the Mormon temple that resides there. Given the role of church organizations in getting the ballot initiative passed and the [extraordinary role of the LDS], I wish they had scheduled the protest for churches and temples on Sunday. Even still, while the marriage issue does not carry the gravity of the AIDS protests of the late 80s and early 90s — it sure was good to see angry queers in the streets, again.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Maya Angelou and The Olsen Twins
Culture Shock Union Square Barnes & Noble bookstore, New York City, October 25, 2008.

Monkey’s paw tossed into flames; Radar Magazine returns to its grave

Radar Magazine RIP
“Get down and stay down!”

It isn’t often a Halloween story involves a zombie announcing, “Feh!” turning around in its tracks and shambling back to the crypt whence it came. But that’s exactly the holiday tale that [Gawker] and [HuffPo] were relaying today when they announced that, yet again, Radar Magazine has lost its funding and will be shuttered.

I’ve [had] [fun] in the past tossing brickbats at Radar “The Little Magazine that Couldn’t” and its endless soap opera of being wooed by investors only to suffer unrequited funding, but there was a bigger story here beyond the questionable need for yet another celebrity-obsessed rag in an era up to its eyes in such tripe. It was a tragic… no, make that poignant — no, leave it tragic… tale of a promising young magazine editor caught at the turning of the tide in the publishing industry. Maer Roshan grew up worshiping Spy and Interview and Vanity Fair and wanted — so very much — to create something that would join those illustrious titles in the pantheon of magazine history. Alas, time and tide (and technology) wait for no man’s dreams of glory and Roshan, who I don’t think ever really got the internet, found the hallowed ground he sought crumbling under his feet as the online earthquake destroyed old print business models. It must sting that the only surviving part of the Radar opus will be the radaronline.com website which will be purchased by AMI, publishers of Star and the National Enquirer.

It was rumored back in 2006 when Roshan was shopping the magazine around to investors for its second iteration that he had been offered the job of editor at the revamped Star. Roshan, seeking a loftier roost, turned that opportunity down and it went to Bonnie Fuller, instead. Now AMI picks up the only valuable part of Radar — the website — for a song. Irony’s a bitch, huh?

Boomtown goes bust

Empty Storefronts in Greenwich Village
Another one bites the dust: Empty storefronts are multiplying in the neighborhood.

While pundits and economists quibble about whether the recession has actually gotten underway, yet, I was presented with stunning evidence of how it will look this morning as I walked through Greenwich Village. On the short walk up Bleeker Street from Christopher to Magnolia Bakery on 11th Street I counted 12 empty storefronts. Twelve. In what is perhaps the most sought-after residential area of Manhattan. I’ve never seen anything like that in the 24 years I’ve lived in the city.

It was obvious what has happened: during the go-go run up of the real estate boom greedy landlords ran out established neighborhood businesses by hiking leases to astronomical levels and now, with the boom over and credit locked up by a paralyzed financial system, they can’t fill the spaces. I have, of course, not a scintilla of sympathy for the landlords — they get what they deserve. But I regret that a neighborhood’s identity was gutted by their greed. Perhaps, if the recession is long enough and deep enough, it will create an opportunity for small businesses that are truly needed by residents to return. Less flash, more utility. We’re covered for designer dress shops, thank you — but a hardware store sure would be nice.

Logrolling in Our Time – The Sequel

Following up on my [post] of a few days ago that called out the New York Times for publishing an essay by one of its writers trumpeting the Google party line while neglecting to disclose the author’s association with Google, and that failed to indicate that one of the sources quoted on the deal works for a company (Publicis) that may benefit by it…

Even after bloggers and online journalists took the Times [to] [task], today the other shoe dropped — Google published a [website] entitled, “Facts about the Yahoo-Google advertising agreement” that collects in one place the flackish arguments in favor of the deal that’s now under review by the Department of Justice and European Commission. The site quotes prominent sources that back up Google’s claims, notably highlighting the very New York Times article that people have raised issues with and also features a quote from Maurice Levy — the CEO of Publicis — who views the deal as “very positive.” No kidding.

The arrogance of this company is really… unbelievable.

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