Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dancing is not a Crime! - Oh wait, yes it is!

Has anybody noticed how hot everything is right now? I'm so hot I can't even feel my skin anymore. And that's really weird.

I haven't posted in a while as I've been avoiding life, conflicts, projects, and things in general. I'm in a malaise and goodness only knows how I'm going to get myself out of this personal quagmire.

But enough of me, how's the rest of the world? Hmmm... let's see, I can sum it up in one word: crappy. C-R-A-P-P-Y. CRAPPY!!!!

Hell; we're about to all go there, at least according to the Bible-thumpers as the Middle East explodes; Iraq is still harsh, and now Turkey seems to be a tad upset as the Kurds are restless on the Turk's Southern border. Oh joy, oh bliss, oh rapture.

Oh... scratch that last one.

So into the fray is a bit of local NYC politics. In the five boroughs of New York City, it is illegal to dance in a bar, club, theater, etc., where three or more people congregate and where food or drink is served. So, no swing dancing, no moshing, no tango, no jazz tapping, no nothing, unless the venue has paid the city of New York a sum of money which legally allows patrons to dance.

There are currently 244 active cabaret licenses, a number that fluctuates depending on approvals, fines, and dormant licenses.

Sounds like, I don't know, Taliban country, eh? Well, I've been hearing that even in Afghanistan you can dance now, though I haven't been able to confirm it.

Back in 1926, these laws grew out of the jazz era in New York, when the races were mixing and the dance was hot and heavy; the last thing anyone needed was a meeting of the... coloreds and the whiteys. A Prohibition definition of lewdness was being regulated, and somehow, in 2006, the laws are still on the books. The background has changed, but the laws are still used to wontanly crack down on New York nightlife and keep our citizens in line.

There's been a few lawsuits in the past several years attempting to get rid of or modify the laws. Most attempts have been failures, though Paul Chevigny was able to strip the regulations concerning musicians: for years New York musicians had to have a license to play. One blight on their record and they could be denied the right to make a living by being denied the right to play. This law was stricken back in 1991. Musicians all over NYC went HOORAY!

Now, the last vestige of these laws lay in the anti-dancing portion of Public Law 20-359 regulating Public Dance Halls, Cabarets, and Catering Establishments in New York City, presumably one of the most enlightened places on Earth.

The bottom line is that dancing, my friends, is illegal in New York.

So, since all politics is actually local, on July 22 from 2-4 PM, there will be a protest at the corner of 5th Avenue and 79th Street, in view of Mayor Bloomberg's house. We are hoping to move the Administration to change the law and allow dancing while developing other regulations to control noise, overcrowding, and whatever else the City of New York needs to do to make places safe physically while allowing dancing.

So, see you there!

When: Saturday, July 22, 2006 from 2-4 PM

Where: At the corner of the Honorable Mayor Bloomberg’s home.
East 79th Street and Fifth Avenue.
Take the 6 train to 77th, the M79 or M2L buses to 79th and Fifth, or the M1, M2, M3, or M4 buses to 79th and Madison.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Kayaking Update, Nan Melville, Photographer

Just an update on the fireworks of July 4th on the East River!

We had professional photograph, Nan Melville, kayak with us at the fireworks. The Long Island City Community Boathouse posted a link to one of the photographs that she took of us while the fireworks were in progress. Amazing! (There's a few more photographs here.)

From the LIC Community Boathouse website, a little more regarding the event:
In addition to the boathouse volunteers, we hosted harbor guests. One was Tim Gamble, a longtime officer at the pioneering Dowtown Boathouse (they really got the free paddling movement going in NYC!) and recent co-founder of the Red Hook Boaters, a great paddling group affiliated through the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club. Another notable was Craig Kandell, who is a volunteer illustrator for the boathouse and a marathon swimmer with the Manhattan Island Foundation.

Some revelers stayed on the highground of the eco-arts and recreation center that John and Erik are assembling with Plaxall's help. After all, that's also where the food was. BBQ for carnivores and vegans alike. Other ventured out onto the East River aboard our kayaks!

It was spectacular. The waters were swept over with washes of color than rarely paused. The skyline began to bow to the fireworks as the flashes outshown lighted towers and smoke blanketed and smothered them. Several paddlers remarked that they'd never felt so near to fireworks this grand.

The LIC Community Boathouse is fortunate to have a launch on Anable Basin, which is literally yards north of the Coast Guard's holiday restricted zone. With lights, marine radios, and close coordination, we safely paddled out to see the show in a wide gap between the anchored pleasure craft. We scurried back before the traditional post-fireworks horn blowing was done. We also kept steady communication with the fireboats, police boats, and Coast Guard runabouts that were amply deployed.
I'm very happy to have found the Boathouse through my friend, John. I expect to be volunteering a lot to not only get the opportunity to ride the waters of New York, but to help the NYC community reconnect to our waterfronts. We are looking for sponsors for boats and if you feel like donating money or time or boats, please feel free.

Oh, and don't forget to come on over and kayak with us, too!

Friday, July 07, 2006

July 4th Kayaking on the East River

On a Kayak, East River Near Queens, Looking Toward Roosevelt Island and Manhattan, July 4, 2006

Lately, I've been doing something that I've dreamed about for the last ten years: kayaking on the rivers of New York City. In over 20 years of being in New York on and off, I'm one of many millions of New Yorkers who have looked longingly toward the water, either with desire to be in it, on it, or far away from it!

I was very lucky indeed to be on the water during the July 4th fireworks. Being out there in a small boat, with many gigantic boats, and watching the works together was a 4th I won't long forget. I'm very happy that I was able to do it and very happy that things are such in my life right now that I can enjoy the rivers of New York. It's good to be alive.

I took a few photos, but a moving boat and fireworks don't really go well... but it's kinda funky... I kinda like it...

On a Kayak, East River, Near Roosevelt Island, July 4, 2006

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Do You Think She's Trying to Tell Me Something?

I wish the photograph were better, but I was in a rush trying to catch Paikea Renee Esme sticking her tongue out at me. OK, she's really not sticking her tongue out AT me... she does this all the time. It's the cutest thing ever... though sometimes it reminds me of when Zanzibar died. The meds relaxed her so much that her tongue was hanging out and I had to ask the vet to put it back in. Ack. Believe me, it's much cuter from a cat that's alive!

Anyhoo.... I haven't been posting much as things have been a bit busy with projects I'm not finishing. Ack. I also have been doing some neat stuff such as kayaking, and watching my friends prance around as French MerMaids and Salty Seaman at the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. Somewhere along the line I obtained a cold from all the damned rain we've been having, and this weekend I went to Rockaway Beach to celebrate the holidays early.

The Atlantic was lovely! The first day I didn't go in because of my cold, but I stayed overnight and couldn't resist a dip on the second day. It only exacerbated my impending ear infection, and a few hours later I felt as if an elephant were stomping on my eardrum. But I woke up today feeling a bit better.

Well, I wish I had more to say, but the world is still crap, the World Cup is still going on, and there's still a day free from work to be had today.

Have an excellent 4th of July, everyone!