Showing posts with label gentrification. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gentrification. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Jack Kerouac : King of the Beats (2012) Full Documentary

Watching this documentary makes me want to be a writer. A real writer, not just some blogger. I'm trying to write a novel right now and let me tell you it is FUCKING hard. I have about 79 pages so far, but I have no idea how many of them are useful. I can sometimes write for hours and hours and feel I'm making great progress, and then for days I write nothing. Nada. Creativity can't exactly be scheduled, it rears its head whenever it wants. I can't set my alarm to go off at 9 AM and declare, "It's time to be creative." It just doesn't work that way.

I've always wanted to actually write a book. Any book. The idea of writing a novel crossed my mind numerous times and I've had a few false starts that never went anywhere. This time it's different. I'm going to complete this novel or die trying. I'm aiming for at least 150 pages, but more closer to 200. Any real novel has at least about that much. The problem is I get creative mostly at night, right before I'm supposed to go to bed, right when I'm drowsy. I can't write anything during the day for some reason. I seem to have a creative aversion to bright light. I thrive in the darkness. I'm naturally nocturnal, did I mention?

There's going to be lots of philosophy in my book, along with sex and drugs. I'm going to touch on many topics dear to me: atheism, nihilism, existentialism, free will, determinism, Buddhism, religion, dating, polyamory, feminism, partying, economics and more, all through the mind of a millennial living in contemporary New York. I'm confident it will be awesome. It will be exactly the kind of book I would want to read. Isn't that the goal of every writer?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Walk Through Chinatown

I want to digress from religion bashing for a bit. For the past year or so I've been focusing intensely on counter-apologetics. I've been trying to take on the toughest arguments theism has to see if they hold any water. So far they don't. But it's always fun demonstrating so in the process, and one of the roles this blog plays is for me to share counter arguments with the skeptic community and have a repository available when I get into online debates with theists where I can simply copy and paste many of my arguments.

But since this blog is also about the city, I also want to share some of the doings about my city, New York. I recently took a walk in Chinatown in Manhattan and snapped a few pics. I loved Chinatown growing up. I remember my dad taking me there when I was a kid. I remember back in the day buying illegal fireworks there around July 4th with my older friend Jimmy so that we could  put on a show for the neighborhood folks, while nearly blowing it up in the process. The neighborhood has become a bit gentrified like all Manhattan neighborhoods, but it still retains most of its essential character.

I'm not sure if this is Confucius, arguable China's greatest and most well known philosopher, or someone else. This park used to be the site of Collect Pond, which was New York's water supply in the days when New York was a small town. See here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Conversation

We sat talking at the edge of the bar, oblivious to the noise around us. She was a pretty young brunette who had just transferred here from California. I was an overworked, jaded New Yorker in need of some Friday night beguilement. "I work in advertising" she says, barely audible. "Oh nice" I respond, "So what's better, New York or L.A.?" This question is one I frequently ask everyone I meet who moves to New York from L.A. I'm always comparing people's experience of New York to that of where they grew up. "Well," she says digging deep into her little mind, "New York is more convenient because everything is close by. And, you don't have to drive everywhere." I feign interest and pretend like her point is something I haven't heard. Unfortunately, I've heard it all.

I, the jaded New Yorker, have had this conversation one too many times. It's gotten to the point where, I already know what they're going to say. To spice things up, sometimes I play the guessing game, where I guess where they're from, or their ethnicity or religion. Just the other week, I correctly guessed two girls were Jewish just by knowing what neighborhood they grew up in.

Then suddenly, the conversation got interesting....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Seven Deadly Sins

Long is the way. And hard, that out of hell leads up to light.
-John Milton

When I was in high school I became obsessed with the movie "Seven". It's about a serial killer who kills his victims according to the seven deadly sins. The movie is a very dark portrait of a decaying American city, filled with crime, despair and awash in sin. I loved it and it had a profound affect on my during my adolescents. I wanted to do what the killer did, and rid the world of evil people. I've grown out of this fantasy over the years, and now that I'm older and know a great deal more about religion, I can reflect on the movie and its theme.

The seven deadly sins are not mentioned in the Bible, or by Jesus, they came about hundreds of years later in the 4th century by a monk named Evagrius Ponticus. They're an interesting list of vices that I won't dwell too deep into. They are:


I haven't read much literature about the seven deadly sins, but I might in the future. The movie is what I'm focusing on. It's suppose to be New York, before gentrification, before there was a Starbucks on every corner and million dollar condos were being built right next to housing projects. But New York is never mentioned in the movie, and the city is suppose to be a large anonymous American city, a template that could substitute for any large urban center. I loved how dark they made the movie. Seven was the darkest movie I had ever seen up until that point. Even the score was extremely dark and moody. The director used these low camera angles, and very low, dim lighting that is often pierced by bright yellow flash lights. We never see much of the cityscape, but only close ups of its more uglier districts. Every day it rains during the scenes in the movie, kind of like what's been going on in NY for the past 4 days. Rain rain rain. It's pouring rain now. The weather reminded me of the movie Seven and I guess that's why I wanted to write this post.

On the seven sins, the killer finds one person that exemplifies each sin to its extreme. An obese man, obviously guilty of gluttony; a lawyer filled with greed; a drug addict and pedophile guilty of sloth; a prostitute - lust; a beautiful model full of pride. The last two sins are part of the twist ending, and killers plan for himself to die. I see the movie as an example of how religion can make a man go absolutely insane with obsession and to find a perverse way to justify murder. I mean the killer was probably insane already, but religion gave him the justification he needed to torture and kill his victims. In his eyes, they were guilty of sin, of violating God's laws, and he was doing God's work by killing them. He thought God was on his side. He believed he was chosen by God to commit the murders he did: a martyr for God. Christopher Hitchens ponders what limits will people put on themselves when committing evil acts if they think they have God on their side. He makes the argument that when people think God is on their side, they will stop at nothing. No amount of violence or death is too much for the believer who thinks God is on their side, it justifies everything that might otherwise be deemed immoral.

And the movie "Seven" shows exactly how that can be true.

"One pound of flesh, no more no less, no cartilage no bone but only flesh, this task done...and he would go free."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Change is the only thing that's constant

I'm starting to learn that many good writers write daily, sometimes for hours. I've noticed that I make usually about a half dozen entries on this blog a month. Maybe I should be writing more. After all the more I write the better I will become at it. Great writers also read a lot also. I read a lot on the internet. I read a lot of news, but a great deal of my knowledge lately has come from watching videos on YouTube that explain concepts of science and philosophy and economics. This is very typical of the young today who can't even deal with the cliff notes anymore and have resorted to watching and listening to videos instead of actually reading about any of it. It is a pattern that a friend advised me to not get comfortable with.

Spelling is not an issue anymore thanks to the spell check mechanism. But spell check cannot make you a exceptional writer. I hate the laziness that comes and goes in me. I don't even have to get off my couch to do what I am doing now, and still I find an excuse to be lazy and not do it. Remember when you had to actually go out to obtain knowledge about a subject, to the library in the freezing cold? Those days are long gone and with it, that energy one had to have.

I did keep a written journal for years at a time and wrote several notebooks worth of events, documenting various stages of my life from high school to as recently as a few months ago. I still have one that I stopped writing in and for some reason I guess I stopped, maybe because of this blog. But in my notebooks I would write much more personal things regarding my personal life, and on this blog I've chosen for it to not be about my silly mundane day-to-day problems. My old journals I burned and destroyed years ago so no one could read them. I guess I wish I could have saved them until now, they'd be fascinating to read.

I really wish I was writing about my experiences hanging out with metal heads in high school in the 90s. It was a great era and subculture to document since a lot has changed in New York in the past ten years, and also because the heavy metal culture that existed back then has significantly waned. Change is the only thing that's constant. And that's never more true than in the secular metropolis.

High school was tough. I had a really hard time fitting in. Even among my own clique I was kind of the outcast. It took me a really long time to find myself, and to find my place. I'm still kind of looking but I'm a lot more focused now. I really wish back then I had the knowledge I have now, or at least (since saying that has become so cliche) I wish that I was as passionate about the same subjects back then as I am now (namely atheism and philosophy). I was always into atheism pretty much, but never had the passion to really dig deep into the philosophy behind it and religion. Also, I wish I had payed attention to more of the cultural changes over the years as they evolved slowly instead being shocked by seemingly abrupt changes that were really just the result of years my neglect towards them.


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