New York Pole Tax Proposed

Felix Ortiz, a Brooklyn Democrat assemblyman introduced a bill on March 11th, that would require patrons of any NY State strip club, to pay and extra $10 cover charge, oops I mean “tax”, every time they enter the club or topless joint. Felix claims the new tax could raise as much as $500 million for victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse and child prostitution.

Huh>?

For one, I’ve found these type of taxes very unreasonable for several reasons. The Gov has no transparency so there’s really nothing public that can be used to track this tax back to the very programs he’s proposing. I see this as yet another “tax” generated by the NY state assemble and primarily pushed by Gov. Paterson, to minimize the state’s $14 billion budget deficit which ultimately will be forced upon New York City residents. Also been proposed are taxes on internet downloads such as mp3s and movies, including those in the Adult entertainment business.

Apparently states have increasingly turned to the adult-entertainment industry, this and the booze industry, which are the only ones still making money, to help close budget gaps in recent years.

NY isn’t the first, Texas lawmakers pitched a bill which would require a $5 “pole tax” which was later found to be unconstitutional by a state judge. Judge Scott Jenkins wrote that the fee, “while furthering laudable goals, violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and is therefore invalid.”

“The bottom line is, we have to protect people who have been victimized by unscrupulous individuals, and we cannot continue, especially in this economy, to have government pay for everything,” Ortiz said.

Fuck you Ortiz! Entering a strip clubs is a protected First Amendment activity. There hasn’t been any evidence provided that combining alcohol (or zero alcohol for full nude clubs) with topless erotic dancing correlates to sexual assaults, domestic violence or contributes to child prostitution. Where is the straight line from child porn/prostitution to adult entertainment? He’s just proposed taking more money away from law abiding citizens (both the patrons and the dancers as this would effect how much a participant contributes to the activity) so essentially the govt CAN pay for unrelated services.

Stripping may be politically unpopular, it is a guaranteed right for the citizens of the state and the US. Even if the state were to get by the constitutionality of the tax, there is no plausibly good reason that tax code should be a substitute for the criminal code. No one would object to contributing to educating and preventing sexually related crimes, however, I would hope communities locally and societies everywhere would want to fund such programs generally.

T-Pain – I’m in Love with a Stripper

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Wine tours in upstate NY

The last time I went on a wine tour on the east coast was out to Northfork Long Island and the best part of the experience was the scenic drive and just getting some familiarity with LI. The wines were average at best and those that I thought were good, turned out to be sour as my taste had blurred throughout the day.

This past weekend some friends organized another wine tour, this time upstate NY to some of this countries oldest and newest wineries. We started out with taking the Metro North to Salisbury Mills station near Washingtonville, NY. We had a limo service pick us up in a party bus and take us to the first spot on the tour: Brotherhood Winery.

It just happens that this past weekend Brotherhood had their 10th Annual Grape Harvest Festival which included food, craft merchants, bands and long lines at the tasting counters. We were only able to taste one selection of their wines and because of the crowds we were offered a spit of a taste from a small jello shot cup. Smelling the sausage w onions and peppers stand as we walked in, I knew I’d be devouring one of those savory links but we also shared in some of the best food of the festival from the Reggae Boy Cafe with jerk chicken and oxtail soup (check them out in Poughkeepsie, NY).

It was here I realized I wasn’t in “Kansas” anymore as I was surrounded by families, kids and even dogs draped in “Palin Country” and “McCain 08” gear, some of it even ripped up from their front lawns. A few sharp hells of hate against Obama further disturbed me but we weren’t here to canvas but to take in what good, was offered from these upstate wineries. Ultimately I did not like any of the Brotherhood wines that I tasted but I’m sure there’s some gems in there, I never got the opportunity to get there.

Back in the bus with some carnival sweets, we headed to Glorie Farm Winery, located up on a ridge overlooking the valley. A great view for a very small tasting “shack”. Glorie offered a few key wines that I would have bought and locally grown apples as well. It was $5 to taste 5. Of the ones offered, the Seyval Blanc Estate Reserve, Glorie De Chaunac Oak and the Cabernet Franc was a close third.

With a few bottles down, some scenic pics in the memory card, back on the bus we crammed to head to Stoutridge Winery just down the road. The property is the largest of the four wineries we saw and the newest as it has been rebuilt in 2001 from a vandal’s fire. We met Stephen Osborn and Kimberly Wagner, the owners of the winery and received more than our share of lecture before tasting on the gravity-flow winery that uses minimalist winemaking techniques. I think Stephen over sold his wines in the lecture and they just didn’t live up to the description; I would have preferred letting the wine speak for themselves with a follow up on the detail.

I didn’t have any favorite wines at Stoutridge but I did like their hard pair cider so it’s good to see that they are branching out into other areas that could work for them. I would have spent some time on their patio drinking other wines but as we were on Tim’s schedule we needed to make it to the last winery for a taste and get back to the station for our ride home.

We took a drive this time up another ridge to Benmarl Winery which is self proclaimed America’s Oldest Winery where Andrew Jackson Caywood first planted and bottled wine in the Hudson river valley. Now Marlboro, NY, Benmarl is the most romantic of the 4 wineries we visited, located up on the ridge with a beautiful grassy knowel for enjoying the wines or the blues that’s typically played through the summer.

We enjoyed our time at Benmarl so much we blew off the train tickets, bought a case of wine and started popping corks! Over all a fantastic trip up north bearing more fruit than my Northfork excursion. I’d recommend this trip over the long island one any day and was a much more enjoyable drive around the valley.


You got Spitz’d!

No need to cover this at lengths, it’s all over the news and an hourly topic here in New York since the NYTimes broke the story. Already though I’m tired of hearing about it.

First I do think prostitution should be legal, regulated and taxed like it is in Nevada. Too many women take to the life because they are fucked up and end up getting further fucked up, diseased, under the strong pimp hand or worse. That’s a debate for another time, however, what gov’na perv was caught doing was a result of arrogance and stupidity, unbecoming of a public official (especially one running under a platform of reform and ethics) and he should resign before he’s impeached.

I’m not talking stupid in the sense of paying $4K for a whore, although —> one is not likely to talk to a guy like Spitz even if he wasn’t married, however, I’m talking about stupid shit like calling the Emperor line from the attorney general’s office in Brooklyn, N.Y. (caller ID fool!), laundering his whore stash money through his own accounts (10 to 18 months prison term alone), using high profile locations like the Mayflower Hotel in DC, transporting whores across state lines (federal offense according to the old Mann Act), and finally not taking his own advice:

“Never talk when you can nod, and never nod when you can wink, and never write an e-mail because it’s death,” the then-New York attorney general said. “You’re giving prosecutors all the evidence we need.” Gov Spitzer’s advice to John’s

There are several angles developing from this. Spitzer had many enemies because he went after unethical financial institutions (the NY stock exchanged cheered for the scandal and then went up 400 points *unrelated to the fed influx of money I’m sure*) , politicians, public officials (reining in scandalous financial arrangements by public office officials), brought liberal laws to the forefront (same sex marriage law introduced) and even illegal sex related activities (sex trafficking laws increased). There’s some underlining stories that claim, those enemies were looking for ways to out him, reviewing his campaign financing, taxes etc and just happened to stumble into the gold-diggers ditch.

“He had the highest popularity ratings in the history of New York,” said New York Republican Congressman Peter King. “He had everything going his way, and over the last year he let his lust for power and his hypocrisy keep him from doing his job and has now brought about his destruction.”

David Letterman’s Top 10 Spitzer Excuses (note that Number 1 being first on the list and #10 being actually Dave’s #1):

  1. Oh come on, like you were never involved in a prostitution ring
  2. Hookers is fun
  3. Just trying to help the economy
  4. Have you ever been to Albany?
  5. It’s part of my new MTV prank show “Spitz’d”
  6. Haven’t been myself since Roy Schieder died
  7. Uh, tainted beef?
  8. Whether it’s a hooker or your wife, you’re always paying for it — you married fellas know what I’m talking about
  9. Wanted to be known as the Charlie Sheen of politics
  10. I thought Bill Clinton legalized this years ago

So this is what $4,300 can get you for a few hours? The New York Times interviewed “Kristen,” nee Ashley Youmans, now Ashley Alexandra Dupre (her Myspace page), age 22. She is an aspiring singer who lives in New York City and worked for Emperors Club VIP:



Pharmaceutical drugs in your drinking water?

I first saw this story on local news this morning: The AP press has just divulged a 5 month long study of our nations water supply, specifically looking for emerging contaminants or pharmaceuticals in the water supply. 24 major metropolitan areas (including SoCal, New York City, northern NJ, Detroit, Louisville, Dallas) and up to 41 million Americans are exposed to pharmaceutical drugs in their water supply. These drugs included but are not limited to acetaminophen, ibuprofen, heart medicine, infection fighters, estrogen, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizer and a tranquilizers. The extent of the risk is unknown.

In the New York water shed (not drinking water), 2 studies showed 16 pharmaceuticals or their breakdown products in levels below medical dosages. The scientific (and my own personal) concern for this finding requires more national attention as most water treatment plants do not treat for drugs and several don’t even test for the presence of any.

It’s believed these drugs are getting into the watershed from treated wastewater that is assumed ready for consumption and dumped back into natures watershed. With that even well water drinkers and bottled water fanatics are at risk as many vendors just filter and treat existing spring water.

Pharmaceuticals are specifically designed to work in and be active with your body, which could pose potential long term effects from exposure over other contaminants that don’t have such a ready uptake by the human body. There’s not a whole lot of scientific study on steady the long term effects of small dosages, however, assumptions are being made as some lab studies have showed shown residual effects of these drugs could alter human cells over time.

I’m deeply concerned about my own and our nations health as industry has continued to disregard our environment in the name of cheaper operations and more profits. Get involved and contact your congress person if you to are concerned.

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Subway violence

I’ve been riding the subway (in Manhattan) for over 4 years and I’ll never say that I know how it was back in the day where every day riders had to watch their back from muggings, thugs, knifing or other violence to the citizens of NYC. Since crimes in the city and on the subways have been at an all time low, I haven’t truly encountered a situation quite like the one in the latest Smoking Gun post:

“A” Train Beat Down Video*

*A male subway rider was beaten on a subway car, at night, in east New York, by a group of teenage girls who verbally taunted him before the attack, all caught on video.

I’m certain this abuse of riders (and other residents) happens more than it’s publicly give attention to, as it was a common occurrence in the 80’s when there were up to 40 criminal incidents reported a day in the NYC subway system. After watching this, it reminds me of why everyone needs to check themselves and their surroundings – never let your guard down and always expect the unexpected. The other side of this, is unless you know full well it won’t come to this, don’t engage unruly groups of kids/gangs/adults with out being prepared for this.

I can tell this guy was engaging this chick, and she full well wanted the confrontation – who wouldn’t stand up with 4,5,6 friends backing you up? In part I blame him for helping to escalate the situation, however, everyone has a choice and he could choose to walk away before it got to this point. You never know, one or several of these girls could have been packing tools, shivs, weapons etc. and there’s no guarantee a stranger will back you up in this town.

Ultimately we all want to think that gang violence shouldn’t happen, but kids are a product of their parental (or lack of) upbringing, their environment and the relationship with their peers.

Out here Manhattanites – and I say Manhattanites because we all do live on an island isolated from lower income residents, the disheveled neighborhoods, the street violence, and many of the lifestyles of the outer-borough residents (or other neighborhoods in this country) – have let their guard down for too long and are perceived weak and susceptible to attack from those that want to take advantage or prove something. I see them every day, unaware of the people around them because they feel guarded by the safety net Manhattan has seemed to have provide for the last few years. Violence has been pushed to the outer-boroughs; it can’t afford to survive in Manhattan anymore. But everyone should realize you can take the kid out of the ghetto but you can’t take the ghetto out of the kid, and if you didn’t know that East New York is only 30-40 minutes by train, you didn’t know you’re that close to some trouble.

If I give my perception of the video in the post (btw just fast forward to 2:45 into the vid), the guy is comfortable with or lives in East NY, he’s taking the train way out near Rockaway and he had several opportunities to dissolve or change the scenario. I don’t know what happened after the end, I can only hope he inflicted some pain on these girls, but I do know if he didn’t want it escalated to this, he could have moved cars, gotten off at an earlier stop, or just not engaged the mob mentality of this gang of bitches.

Now what I’ve written on this subject so far has been about mob mentality, violence, product of your environment, being in the wrong place at the wrong time… but what if I interjected race relations into this. Does it make a difference that the rider was white and the kids were black? Could it be that because of their race, is why there aren’t more people marching in the streets angered about this situation? This has been a light story around the streets for over a day now, and only online message boards and casual conversation have spurred debate on it.

What if the rider was black and the gang of kids attacking him were white? Do you think there would be more community outrage, at least even in the black community. Would Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson come out to denounce yet again the racial hatred in American and whites? Abso-fucking-lutely, but this incident was not about race, it was about garnering peer respect for showing superiority over another individual.

Ultimately this makes me think about the next time I take the A out to JFK, I might rather pony up the $45 for a car service…. or just make sure I have something other than my keys on me for protection…

Coldest Easter Ever

Happy Easter! and make sure you still have those parkas! I don’t have time to research NY but it’s certainly close to the coldest Easter on the East coast in spots south of here like VA, NC and KY (Accuweather.com). We had snow flurries today, which made this a colder day than the week of Christmas last year as well as forcing the ladies to keep all those “ultra-short” shorts I’ve been seeing around town new, for 2007, from coming out for the first time:

We started the morning with a hectic “Easter” brunch at Grey Dog’s Cafe, which is not an uncommon spectacle in this U of Michigan alumni owned west village spot (I now only go for the banana bread, chai and maybe a sandwich if it’s not too busy). Gotta say I thought the breakfasts were better before but I’ll still wander in when in the hood. We killed some time across the street at “Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books” store, which if ever on Carmine St, is a good walk in for those that like cheap books with cheap covers (lots of hon-fiction mixed with political and philosophy).

We headed to the NY International Auto Show shortly after and I’ll make a follow up post on that sooner than later (I hope).

Enjoy the rest of the week, it can only get warmer right? …to think spring was supposed to start over 2 weeks ago.

Presidential Easter Egg roll:

Weekender

A couple good finds this weekend. Saturday went out all night with the locals to watch the final four at a friends house in the upper west. Unfortunately G-town went down even after I thought they had the momentum to take it. The Gators came out on top with a stomping of the best defensive team in the country, UCLA. Great work as the Gators have a repeat of their Florida match up, with Ohio St (keep in mind the Gators blew out Ohio the last time they played, by 26 points).

Off to the Mill, the Gator’s central haven in NY for a few pitchers, games and the gator chants… “It’s great to be…” Not long after we broke off to go to Karma, a spot I will never go to again.

How ironic their name begets a tranquil and positive vibe, when the environment, employees and management promote nothing of the sorts. For one, there’s a line to get in, once in, the spot is barely 30% occupancy. I despise bars/clubs that create an artificial line to give the illusion, it’s a hot spot and they are at capacity. Drinks here are expensive and when asked for a hookah I was charged 15$ for what I found out was actually a $10 charge for girls or other patrons. Not sure if the surcharge was to add a tip for the waitress but this was bull shit. Last they have DJ playing dance tunes for both the upstairs and downstairs, yet they don’t have a cabaret license and will use this excuse to selectively kick out the guys to improve the girl-guy ratio they try to maintain.

So when half my friends were asked to leave, and not the women they were dancing with, we bounced.

New York Dolls, in New York

The New York Dolls, along with Iggy Pop and The Stooges are considered to be the inventing forces behind the music that became known as “Punk” rock.

The Dolls came on the scene from New York City in 1972 and literally and figuratively blew the city away. Dressing up like women and belting out raw, sweaty, pulsating blues licks, it might have seemed to many that this group of five men came from the planet Mars.

They quickly became incandescent the city, and were by far and away the toughest ticket in town. Led by singer David Johansen and guitarist Johnny Thunders, the Dolls are and where a one in a billion type band. They directly spawned bands like the Ramones and the Clash, along with today’s punk derivations The Strokes and The White Stripes. A young Steven Morrissey of The Smiths fame credits the Dolls with getting him interested in becoming a musician, and indeed he started the UK New York Dolls fan club in 1974. Over the past two years, he has been instrumental in getting the Dolls to reunite after thirty years apart. Unfortunately, only two of the original five are still alive.

You see, this was a true mother fucking rock and roll band–Thunders and Billy Mure both died of heroin overdoses, and tragically bassist Arthur “Killer” Kane died suddenly two years ago of undiagnosed leukemia. But don’t let that get you down, Johansen still is the quintessential frontman and original guitarist Sylvain. Sylvain will still blow out your ears.

I do not think I am exaggerating by saying one of their shows will be the monumental rock concert to witness. Three hundred years from now, when music historians are writing about rock and roll, punk music will be a very important chapter of that history. Punk and The Dolls were spawned in the filthy, bankrupt, rat infested, no mans land that was New York City in the early 70’s in order to save Rock and Roll from itself. This Wednesday we witnessed history, the rock and roll equivalent of watching Van Gogh paint.

Headlining the
Little Steven’s Underground Garage Tour
this summer, they roll into Irving Plaza in mid tour. The Supersuckers, going on right before the Dolls were great, I must check them out again

Some photos to be added later. Or Try Brian Romero’s here