New York Attorney General Opens Probe Into Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Catholic Priests

Duomo  Firenze 1993
Duomo – Firenze, 1993


The New York attorney general’s office has issued subpoenas to all eight Roman Catholic dioceses in the state as part of its investigation into whether church officials covered up allegations of sexual abuse of young people, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The subpoenas, which come on the heels of a Pennsylvania grand jury report last month documenting the molestation of more than 1,000 children by priests in that state, are part of a broader civil investigation by the office, the existence of which was revealed Thursday. The probe of the dioceses, which are nonprofit institutions, is being conducted by the office’s charities bureau.

(click here to continue reading New York Attorney General Opens Probe Into Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Catholic Priests – WSJ.)

Shut them down, and sell off their real estate to pay restitution to those abused…

Eruvin Damaged in Manhattan

The Eruv (ערוב‎ )1 is one of the odder2 Jewish traditions. Basically, Orthodox Jews are able to skirt various rules of their faith by means of a string – pretending that the city streets in their neighborhood are an extension of their homes. We joke about it frequently, using metaphorical eruvs in non-religious contexts.

Trying to disappear

From Washington to New York State, a series of “snowmageddons” have wreaked a particular form of havoc for Orthodox Jews.

The storms have knocked down portions of the ritual boundary known as an eruv in Jewish communities in Silver Spring, Md., Center City Philadelphia, the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Monsey in suburban New York, and Teaneck and Passaic in New Jersey.

Almost literally invisible even to observant Jews, the wire or string of an eruv, connected from pole to pole, allows the outdoors to be considered an extension of the home. Which means, under Judaic law, that one can carry things on the Sabbath, an act that is otherwise forbidden outside the house.

Prayer shawls, prayer books, bottles of wine, platters of food and, perhaps most important, strollers with children in them — Orthodox Jews can haul or tote such items within the eruv. When a section of an eruv is knocked down by, let’s say, a big snowstorm, then the alerts go out by Internet and robocall, and human behavior changes dramatically.

Call it a case of absence as a form of presence. Conceive of the eruv and its tenders as the sets and stagehands of a Broadway show. You sit there in the audience, and whether the play is scintillating or tedious, most times you don’t notice or even think much about all the lights and scenery that are hitting their cues. Only if the expectedly ordinary goes haywire do you notice the offstage apparatus.

[Click to continue reading On Religion – On Religion – A Jewish Ritual Collides With Mother Nature –]

I’ve heard there are eruvin in Skokie, but I haven’t run across one yet. Probably in Rogers Park near Devon as well, but I don’t know specifically.


From the Wikipedia entry for eruv

Though a valid eruv enables people to carry or move most items outdoors on Shabbat, all other Shabbat restrictions still apply. These prohibitions include:
Objects that are muktzah may not be handled anywhere on Shabbat, indoors or outdoors.
Opening an umbrella is analogous to erecting a tent, which falls under the category of construction. Since umbrellas may not be opened, they are muktzah and may not be handled.
To protect the sanctity of Shabbat, one may not perform typical weekday activities (uvdin d’chol). The precise scope of this prohibition is subject to a wide range of rabbinic opinion.
One may not carry or move items in preparation for a post-Shabbat activity (hakhana), unless one has a legitimate use for them on Shabbat itself.
Sports involve several issues. Many authorities consider balls muktzah; others do not. In general, sports that result in holes or ruts being carved into the playing surface may be played only on surfaces that are not subject to such damage. Exercise of any kind is forbidden on Shabbat unless it is done solely for the pleasure of the activity itself, rather than for health or some other reason.

[From Eruv – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

and the basis of the whole practice

There are 39 categories of activity prohibited on Shabbat. On Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath), the Torah forbids moving an object from one domain to another, no matter its weight or purpose. According to Torah law as understood by the Talmud, this encompasses three actions: Moving an object from an enclosed area (such as a private home, public building, or fenced-in area) to a major thoroughfare, moving an object from a major thoroughfare to an enclosed area, or moving an object more than four cubits within a major thoroughfare. To prevent confusion over exactly what constitutes a major thoroughfare, the rabbis expanded the ban to any area that was not fenced or walled in.

An additional, rabbinic prohibition, which Jewish tradition ascribes to the religious court of King Solomon, forbids carrying in any area that was shared by the occupants of more than one dwelling, even if surrounded by fences or walls. But, in this case of areas surrounded by walls, carrying was allowed through the use of an eruv. The eruv consists of a food item – in general bread – that is shared by all dwellers. By means of this shared meal, all the dwellers are considered as if they were living in a common dwelling, thus exempting them from the added prohibition. The prohibition against carrying on the sabbath received special mention in the prophecy of Jeremiah, who warned the people of Jerusalem to “beware for your souls and carry no burden on the Sabbath day” (Jeremiah 17:21).

And it shall be if you hearken to Me, says the Lord, not to bring any burden into the gates of this city on the Sabbath day and to hallow the Sabbath day not to perform any labor thereon, Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on David’s throne, riding in chariots and with horses, they and their princes the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and this city shall be inhabited forever. (Jeremiah 17:24-26)

The Radak, a medieval Jewish commentator on the Prophets, opined that the reason Jeremiah referred to carrying a burden through the gates of the city is that Jerusalem had an eruv and its walls formed the boundary, so carrying within the city was permitted. This view that an entire city could have an eruv influenced later views that an eruv could encompass a “courtyard” covering a wide area. The Radak also held that the reference to “kings” rather than a single king refers to future kings yet to come, and hence that this prophecy, with its stress on the importance and redemptive power of observing the prohibition against carrying a burden on Shabbat outside an eruv, remains available to this day.The Talmud, in Tractate Shabbat, opined that consistent observance of Shabbat could bring redemption to the Jewish people.

Seems like a lot of hassle, but whatever floats your string…

  1. hmm, wonder how the plural is translated? I see both Eruvin and Eruvim. Wonder which is correct? []
  2. to me, anyway, but then most of religious doctrine is odd []

President Millard Fillmore Coin

First off, a dollar coin? Again? Second, anything that memorializes President Fillmore is going to be ridiculed, that’s just human nature

Nickles Not Pickles

Buffalo and Moravia, N.Y., are vying for a piece of the Millard Fillmore action.

The two communities both claim this mostly forgotten president, whose very name is associated with mediocrity, and whose oft-cited greatest achievement—installing a bathtub in the White House—was a hoax perpetrated by the writer H.L. Mencken .

Many in New York City have their theories about the man… and their guesses. But the 13th president of the United States is a hero in his hometown of Moravia, New York. WSJ’s Anna Prior reports.

The U.S. Mint this week is releasing the Millard Fillmore presidential dollar coin, with an official launch ceremony on Thursday in Moravia (pop. 4,000), near his birthplace. Some people in Buffalo are miffed.

Fillmore, you see, is buried in Buffalo, where he made his mark as the first chancellor of the University at Buffalo, founding member and first president of the Buffalo Club, and founder of the Buffalo Historical society.

“His legacy is here in Buffalo, not in—what is it?—Moravia,” says William Regan, special-events director for the University at Buffalo. He heads up the annual birthday tribute at Fillmore’s grave. “Why [the coin ceremony] isn’t in Buffalo, I couldn’t tell you. It is kind of strange.”

Buffalo has decided to have its own coin ceremony at City Hall, complete with the representative from the Mint who has promised to swing by. Not even George Washington got a coin launch complete with a Mint rep in two cities.

[Click to continue reading The U.S. Mint is rolling out President Millard Fillmore again, this time on a dollar coin –]

Wikpedia entry begins:

Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800 – March 8, 1874) was the 13th President of the United States, serving from 1850 until 1853 and the last member of the Whig Party to hold that office. He was the second Vice President to assume the presidency upon the death of a sitting president, succeeding Zachary Taylor, who died of what is thought to be acute gastroenteritis. Fillmore was never elected president; after serving out Taylor’s term, he failed to gain the nomination of the Whigs for president in the 1852 presidential election, and, four years later, in the 1856 presidential election, he again failed to win election as the Know Nothing Party and Whig candidate.

[Click to continue reading Millard Fillmore – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

couldn’t even get re-nominated by his own party. Yikes.

The definition of Cool

“Kind of Blue (Legacy Edition)” (Miles Davis)

Speaking of police arresting iconic black dudes, Miles Davis had his own dustup with the police, as Bernard Chazelle reminds us:

Why didn’t Professor Gates keep his cool? Not sure. Let’s ask the man who gave birth to the cool. In the words of Leonard Feather,

After escorting a young white girl out of the club to a taxi [outside Birdland in NYC] he was standing on the sidewalk when a patrolman came by and asked him to move on. When Miles said, “I’m not going nowhere — I’m just getting a breath of fresh air,” the patrolman threatened to arrest him. Miles said, “Go ahead, lock me up.” When the patrolman seized his arm, a scuffle ensued during which a painclothes cop passing by began hitting Miles with a blackjack. With blood dripping all over his clothes, he was taken to the police station where, with his distraught wife, Frances, at his side he was booked on charges of disorderly conduct and assault. At a hospital, 10 stitches were taken in his scalp.

Feather doesn’t tell us if President Eisenhower had the cops over for a beer.

[Click to continue reading A Tiny Revolution: “So What”]

[Miles Davis after resisting arrest]

From Miles Davis’ autobiography:

I had just finished doing an Armed Forces Day broadcast, you know, Voice of America and all that bullshit. I had just walked this pretty white girl named Judy out to get a cab. She got in the cab, and I’m standing there in front of Birdland wringing wet because it’s a hot, steaming, muggy night in August. This white policeman comes up to me and tells me to move on. At the time I was doing a lot of boxing, so I thought to myself, I ought to hit this motherfucker because I knew what he was doing. But instead I said, “Move on, for what? I’m working downstairs. That’s my name up there, Miles Davis,” and I pointed to my name on the marquee all up in lights.

He said, “I don’t care where you work, I said move on! If you don’t move on I’m going to arrest you.”

I just looked at his face real straight and hard, and I didn’t move. Then he said, “You’re under arrest!” He reached for his handcuffs, but he was stepping back. Now, boxers had told me that if a guy’s going to hit you, if you walk toward him you can see what’s happening. I saw by the way he was handling himself that the policeman was an ex-fighter. So I kind of leaned in closer because I wasn’t going to give him no distance so he could hit me on the head He stumbled, and all his stuff fell on the sidewalk, and I thought to myself, Oh, shit, they’re going to think that I fucked with him or something. I’m waiting for him to put the handcuffs, on, because all his stuff is on the ground and shit. Then I move closer so he won’t be able to fuck me up. A crowd had gathered all of a sudden from out of nowhere, and this white detective runs in and BAM! hits me on the head. I never saw him coming. Blood was running down the khaki suit I had on. Then I remember Dorothy Kilgallen coming outside with this horrible look on her face–I had known Dorothy for years and I used to date her good friend Jean Bock–and saying, “Miles, what happened?” I couldn’t say nothing. Illinois Jacquet was there, too.

It was almost a race riot, so the police got scared and hurried up and got my ass out of there and took me to the 54th Precinct, where they took pictures of me bleeding and shit. So, I’m sitting there, madder than a motherfucker, right? And they’re saying to me in the station, “So you’re the wiseguy, huh?” Then they’d bump up against me, you know, try to get me mad so they could probably knock me

[Click to continue reading Hot House: Race Relations, 50 Years Later]

Miles Davis after being arrested for standing next to a white girl, helping her catch a taxi

Back to Mr. Chazelle who subsequently enters into another kind of discussion, the kind I can read all day without really understanding the details. Just the feeling is enough. D-minor is a favorite chord of mine, albeit on guitar. I have never had a piano of my own that I could noodle/learn on, so haven’t ever figured out what chords are what without laboriously putting them together. I mean, I can create melodies on a piano, but don’t have enough formal musical training to sustain an entire 10 minute jam, much less explain what the hell Dorian modal scales are.

OK, What about the music? “Kind of Blue” is the most extraordinary jam session ever, featuring a dream team of jazz musicians (Miles, Evans, Coltrane, Adderley, Cobb, Chambers). It’s one of the most influential albums in jazz. It broke from bebop in a big way by going modal. But that’s not why I can listen to it a million times without ever getting tired. The reason for that is the dream team. All the modality does is give them space to breathe and explore melodic ideas that are ruled out in chord-heavy bebop (unless you’re Bird and you can play a full-fledged melody in two-and-a-half seconds).

“So What” is harmonically straightforward: you go Dorian for the first 16 bars, then move up half a step for 8 bars and then back to the original key for the last 8. Sounds so simple. Until, of course, it’s your turn to solo right after Coltrane. Good luck! It’s often said that jazz introduced modes to modern music. Nothing could be further from the truth. Satie, Debussy, Ravel and all those guys used modes heavily a good 50 years before Miles, using far more complex arrangements. But who cares? This video alone gives you a good sense of why jazz is the music of the 20th century par excellence.

Click to continue reading A Tiny Revolution: “So What”

Miles Davis and John Coltrane play one of the best renditions of SO WHAT ever captured on film-Live in 1958. Edit : in fact, was in New York, april 2, 1959. Recorded by CBS producer Robert Herridge. Cannonball Adderley had a migrane and was absent from the session. Wynton Kelly played piano–he was the regular band member at this time–but Bill Evans had played on the original recording of “So What” on March 2, 1959. The other musicians seen in the film were part of the Gil Evans Orchestra, who performed selections from “Miles Ahead”. Jimmy Cobb on drums.

Demise of Gehry Design for Nets Arena Is Blow to Brooklyn

The New Jersey Nets were supposed to have moved into a new stadium in Brooklyn by now, but there have a myriad of problems relocating the team from New Jersey. Now the stadium itself has been down-sized.

Hoops from Yesteryear

As Nicolai Ouroussoff writes:

Whatever you may have felt about Mr. Gehry’s design — too big, too flamboyant — there is little doubt that it was thoughtful architecture. His arena complex, in which the stadium was embedded in a matrix of towers resembling falling shards of glass, was a striking addition to the Brooklyn skyline; it was also a fervent effort to engage the life of the city below.

A new design by the firm Ellerbe Becket has no such ambitions. A colossal, spiritless box, it would fit more comfortably in a cornfield than at one of the busiest intersections of a vibrant metropolis. Its low-budget, no-frills design embodies the crass, bottom-line mentality that puts personal profit above the public good. If it is ever built, it will create a black hole in the heart of a vital neighborhood.

[Click to continue reading Architecture – Demise of Gehry Design for Nets Arena Is Blow to Brooklyn –]

Sport stadiums, and the financing of them, is one of the most puzzling and irritating aspects of US corporate welfare. Take Yankee Stadium, for instance…

One more quote from Mr. Ouroussoff’s piece:

Typically, a developer comes to the city with big plans. Promises are made. Serious architects are brought in. The needs of the community, like ample parkland and affordable housing, are taken into account. Editorial boards and critics, like me, praise the design for its ambition.

Eventually, the project takes on a momentum of its own. The city and state, afraid of an embarrassing public failure, feel pressured to get the project done at any cost, and begin to make concessions. Given the time such developments take to build, sometimes a decade or more, we then hit the inevitable economic downturn. The developer pleads poverty. Desperate to avoid more economic bad news, government officials cut a deal.

It’s a familiar ending, made more nauseating because we have seen it so many times before

Familiar, and sad. If owners of sports teams cannot afford to build a stadium for their team(s), perhaps they should be sold to the city that houses most of the team’s fans? End the public financing/private profit bullshit, in other words. In the New Jersey/New York plan, not only does the public pay for the stadium, but the stadium has no character and will probably destroy a vibrant neighborhood. Ever been past a million dollar condo near Chicago’s United Center? No, me either.

April Fools Comes Early

The New York Times pulls a Sarah Palin…

In Monday’s newspaper, we published a letter over the name of the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, criticizing Caroline Kennedy. This letter was a fraud and should not have been published. Mr. Delanoë’s office has since confirmed that he did not write it.

Printing the letter, which also appeared on until it was removed, violated the standards and procedures of The New York Times editorial department.

It is our practice to verify the authenticity of every letter we publish. Like most of our letters these days, this one arrived by e-mail. We sent an edited version back to the writer of the e-mail and did not receive a response.

At that point, the letter should have been set aside. It was not.

The Times has expressed its regret to Mr. Delanoë’s office for the lapse in judgment that led to this error. We now express those regrets to our readers.

We will be reviewing our procedures in an attempt to ensure that an error like this is not repeated.

[From Editors’ Note – Letter –]


The original letter read:

As mayor of Paris, I find Caroline Kennedy’s bid for the seat of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton both surprising and not very democratic, to say the least. What title has Ms. Kennedy to pretend to Hillary Clinton’s seat? We French can only see a dynastic move of the vanishing Kennedy clan in the very country of the Bill of Rights. It is both surprising and appalling.

With all the respect and admiration I have for Ms. Kennedy’s late father, I find her bid in very poor taste, and, after reading “Kennedy, Touring Upstate, Gets Less and Less Low-Key” (news article, Dec. 18), in my opinion she has no qualification whatsoever to bid for Senator Clinton’s seat.

We French have been consistently admiring of the American Constitution, but it seems that recently both Republicans and Democrats are drifting away from a truly democratic model. The Kennedy era is long gone, and I guess that New York has plenty of more qualified candidates to fill the shoes of Hillary Clinton. Can we speak of American decline?

Bertrand Delanoë Paris, Dec.

18, 2008

Possible Return of CBGB

“CBGB and OMFUG: Thirty Years from the Home of Underground Rock” (“Harry N. Abrams, Inc.”)

Cool, if it works out. The founder of CBGB, Hilly Kristal, has died, and his former wife, Karen, is disputing ownership. She probably just wants a percentage, doesn’t sound like she has any plan to try to reopen the club on her own.

The notorious urinal that served patrons of the famed New York rock club CBGB for 33 years now sits retired in a basement in Manhattan’s posh SoHo district.

Plucked from the graffiti-covered walls when the club closed in 2006, the urinal is among several CBGB artifacts — such as the gritty “CBGB & OMFUG” awning that hung over 315 Bowery and a phone booth covered with punk-rock band stickers — donated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC, which opened its doors last week.

The donation is just one step taken by entrepreneurial group CBGB Holdings LLC to revive the brand and transform it once more into a money-making business — without jeopardizing its counter-culture past.

Last month, the group struck a distribution deal with Bravado, a Universal Music Group company that markets rock-themed merchandise around the world, to help sell millions of CBGB T-shirts. Next summer, the Vans Warped Tour music festival will showcase an interactive CBGB exhibit.

These deals were crafted by two men who believe there’s life after death for the landmark venue: James Blueweiss, a marketer who began advising the club a year before it closed, and Robert Williams, a veteran of the retail music business who helped open HMV stores around the world. The two attracted capital from angel investors and paid $3.5 million for the rights to the CBGB brand in 2008. Their company, CBGB Holdings, owns all intellectual property, domestic and international trademarks, copyrights, video and audio libraries, ongoing apparel business, Web site and physical property of the original club.

[From The Return of Rock? –]
[non-WSJ subscribers use this link]

I never lived in New York, but I have gone to a couple of shows there, and yes, it was a bit of a dive. So many famous groups played there that CBGB will always be part of rock music history.

Yankees screw New Yorkers

Surprising to nobody, really, sports stadiums are one of the biggest swindles of the 21st century.

New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Westchester, released a report Tuesday that said the city of New York played games with the assessed value of the new Yankee Stadium to get tax breaks for the team.

A legislative report says the public is paying up and getting nothing in return but higher ticket prices. City and team: It’s not true

The report, by the Assembly Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee, which Brodsky chairs, also says the city promised the stadium project would create 1,000 permanent new jobs in order to win approval for massive public subsidies, and that the actual number of permanent new jobs being created is 15.

The report says the taxpayer price tag for building the stadium is somewhere between $550 million and $850 million. In exchange, Brodsky points out, the Yankees have raised ticket prices by orders of magnitude, something the city has made no effort to stop.

“The price of tickets to the new Yankee Stadium is a matter of legitimate public concern, given the enormous public subsidies involved,” Brodsky wrote.

[From Yankee Stadium shocker: Taxpayers fleeced? – King Kaufman’s Sports Daily – Salon]

The swindle works so well because there is always a second-string city somewhere who can be used as leverage (like when the Seattle Sonics got moved to BFE Oklahoma ). If city governments stood strong, the owners of the teams would end up financing the stadiums: the owners want to own a team, owners shouldn’t depend upon taxpayer largesse to fund the team’s building.

In this case, Mayor Bloomberg (and Rudy 9-11 before him) and the Yankees made all sorts of grandiose claims that the stadium would be a boon to the economy, and of course, it isn’t, and won’t be much different than the previous stadium, other than making more money for the owners.

Sin will find you out

[Sin Will Find You Out, somewhere near 54th Street, Hells Kitchen, who really remembers anymore. Scanned 35mm print, circa 1995]

I like this quote too:

Denny Hocking, who was an all-talk, no-hit utility infielder for the Minnesota Twins in 2002 when Forbes magazine published a report calling into question the claims of commissioner Bud Selig that Major League Baseball was losing money hand over fist.

“Gee,” Hocking said, “should I believe a magazine that spends 365 days a year researching finances, or a guy who has zero credibility?”

Some of the principals have changed in this case, but the principle is the same.

The Clash’s Shea Stadium Gig Heading To CD

“Clash on Broadway” (The Clash)

Excellent news. I’ve heard crappy versions of some of these songs, but an official release is exciting. The Clash are still one of my all time favorite bands.

Long bootlegged and sought after by collectors, the Clash’s Oct. 13, 1982, performance at New York’s Shea Stadium will finally see official release Oct. 7 via Legacy.

The gig found the Clash opening for the Who on the latter band’s “farewell” tour, and features a wealth of favorites, from “London Calling” and “Police on My Back” to “The Magnificent Seven” and “Clampdown.”

The band, which at the time was touring in support of its recent album “Combat Rock,” also offered up the singles from that effort, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and “Rock the Casbah.” According to Legacy, late guitarist Joe Strummer found the Shea tapes while preparing to move into a new house.

[From The Clash’s Shea Stadium Gig Heading To CD]

In case you were curious, this is the track listing:

Kosmo Vinyl Introduction

“London Calling”

“Police on My Back”

“Guns Of Brixton”

“Tommy Gun”

“The Magnificent Seven”

“Armagideon Time”

“The Magnificent Seven” (return)

“Rock the Casbah”

“Train in Vain”

“Career Opportunities”

“Spanish Bombs”


“English Civil War”

“Should I Stay or Should I Go”

“I Fought the Law”

Lou Reed is still a New Yorker

“The Bells” (Lou Reed)

Marrying Laurie Anderson did not dull Lou Reed’s abrasiveness, as Andrew M. Goldstein of New York Magazine discovers:

New York Mag: Sirius’s impending merger with XM is anticipated to boost earnings. Do you own any stock in the company?
Lou Reed: What are you, a fucking asshole? I’m here telling you the truth about music and you want to know if I have stock in the fucking radio? You fucking piece of shit. What did I do to deserve that?

NYM: Moving on. You’ve got a film out, you’ve got your radio show, you’ve got a new book of photography coming up — is there a new album in the works?
LR No. Nothing I feel like talking about. Good-bye.

[From Lou Reed Wants to Talk About His New Radio Show, Does Not Want to Talk About Money — Vulture — Entertainment & Culture Blog — New York Magazine]

Dr John Chile-eating champion

“City That Care Forgot” (Dr. John and the Lower 911)

Village Voice columnist Robert Sietsema once had an eye-ball eating contest with Dr. John in New York. He lost.

So, when I heard that the dapper New Orleans musician and composer once known as the Night Tripper was back in town chilling prior to the June 3 release of his new album, The City That Care Forgot, I asked a mutual friend to call and arrange a rematch.

He’d eaten a surfeit of eyes in the interim, so we decided to switch the contest to chile peppers. And the venue would be the spiciest restaurant I could think of: Grand Sichuan House in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I knew from several previous visits that the fearsome pepper onslaught would include dried red chilies, scarlet-chile oil, fresh green chilies, and—most formidable of all—Sichuan peppercorns, the berries of a shrub that induce a scary metallic numbness in the mouth, like a Novocain overdose. I secretly hoped the peppercorns would throw my adversary off a bit and give me the advantage.

The restaurant’s awning glowed yellow as we pulled up in Scooter’s blue Honda just as the sun was setting. As usual, Dr. John looked every bit the boulevardier in a trim black beret, leather coat, striped tunic, and carved African cane dangling gris-gris, the talismans of voodoo magic. The joint was nearly empty, but the staff was welcoming and cheery. Picking up the menu, I plotted the sequence of dishes so that the food would get hotter and hotter as the meal progressed.

[From village voice > Counter Culture: Dr. John and Our Critic Embark on a Chile-Pepper Eating Contest by Robert Sietsema ]

If you didn’t click the above link for the rest of the story (which includes details of all the spicy dishes consumed at Grand Sichuan House), I’ll tell you who won, Dr. John. New Orleans cuisine has a lot of spicy elements, Dr. John must have a tongue of steel. I like a bit of heat in my food as well, but don’t think I could keep up with the Night Tripper either.

Balcony Life HDR

The album, The City That Care Forgot, looks good, btw, but I’m a big fan:

Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Ani Difranco and Terence Blanchard join Dr. John and the Lower 911 in this musical paean to Dr. John’s beloved New Orleans. This powerful new recording features stirring and thought-provoking songs about the post-Katrina crises in the ravaged jewel of the American South, including “City That Care Forgot,” “Time for a Change,” “Promises, Promises,” “We Gettin’ There” and many more.

David Byrne Sonic Architect

A second reason to visit New York this summer (the first reason).

“So, what do you want to know?” asks David Byrne, beaming beneath a straw fedora, as erudite and affable as ever, even with a couple busted ribs. “What’s not apparent?” He’s gesturing to an ornate antique organ, the only adornment to this cavernous 9,000-square-foot hall in the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan. A bewildering farm of tubes and wires runs out from the back and snakes along to the walls, the towering columns, and the pipes looming overhead, as if the instrument itself were on life support. Not much, at first blush, is apparent.

David would like it if you came and had a go at the organ. Or, more accurately, the venue itself. Playing the Building, his partnership with arts gurus Creative Time, is basically an interactive experimental-music station, a chance for you (and/or your kids) to pretend you’re a member of Einstüerzende Neubauten for a couple minutes. Each key on the organ connects to a tube, which connects to some facet of the building, which dutiful whirls or clanks or whistles or saws at your command. The tones are generally arranged low to high on the keyboard, though you can’t exactly play “Stormy Weather” on it; it’d be more satisfying, perhaps, to rattle off a few full-keyboard slides, Bugs Bunny/Jerry Lee Lewis–style, though so far, everyone seems too polite (or too fearful of busting the thing) to do this. Probably just as well. Your choice, though. Spray-painted in yellow onto the cement floor at the foot of the organ is a simple request: “Please play.”

[From village voice > music > Down in Front: David Byrne: Sonic Architect by Rob Harvilla ]

The exhibit will be open till mid-August – he ought to take it on tour to a few other urban environments around the world (including Chicago, of course).

David Byrne blogs about the installation:

Playing the Building — my installation in the Battery Marine Building — opened to the public today. Creative Time had music, hot dogs, beer and ice cream downstairs. (No food or drink from the party was allowed in the actual installation space.) My iPod provided the music and I saw at least one couple dancing! The line to play the organ traversed all the way to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. The fire department only allows 150 people in the space at one time since the exits are not all well lit — hence the long wait times. But there were other long lines were just for ice cream or beer.

Jury Decides Against Knicks

During the trial, testimony by witnesses made the inner workings of the Garden, which like the Knicks is owned by Cablevision, appear dysfunctional, hostile and lewd. The Knick’s star guard, Stephon Marbury, testified that he had sex with a team intern in the trunk of his car after a group outing to a strip club in 2005.

[From Jury Decides Against Thomas and Knicks Owner – New York Times]

What kind of tricked-out trunk does Mr. Marbury have anyway? Is there a bed in it? a futon? I’m curious.

update: ooops. As we presumed, just a funny typo.

An earlier version of this article misstated the location of a 2005 sexual encounter between Stephon Marbury of the Knicks and a team intern. Mr. Marbury testified that it took place in his truck, not in the trunk of his car.

Marbury Trunk