Monday, July 7, 2008


"So if the air looks dirty or the air quality board warns about the pollutant level, just take that workout indoors..."
LA Times asks if maybe you shouldn't engage in outdoor activities when the air quality is low. Apologies to my dear friends in LA, but remind me: Why do people live there again?


terryg said...

I'm not sure what your post has to do with city cycling, except maybe the part about Los Angeles being a world-class city. Wait, you didn't say that. I suspect people live there for any number of reasons, probably the exact same reasons why people live in Brooklyn.

(first google hit on "brooklyn air quality")

Michael, I'm certainly not interested in taking any side, but "let he who is without sin cast the first stone," so to speak.

I like your blog, it's very interesting to see how city cycling is evolving in the world-class city that New York City is. You've introduced me to some interesting sites and sights. And finally, I'm originally from LA, hence the tone....

Michael said...

My God, agreed! - New York is a mess. The people are rude, ignorant and they litter. The air is pretty dirty (there are many cities worse) and the chemicals in the soil make up for what isn't in the air. The mayor is an autocrat who bows to the whims of real estate interests while arresting the people for first amendment expressions. The city government is corrupt, down to every individual worker (I know, I'm one of them).

But, it's not a glorified strip mall, going on forever in a valley of smog and destitution. At least NYC has great public transit, which everyone uses - and I don't know anyone who owns a car, not one person (well, Caroline does, but she's over 65 and only uses it to go to Maine). To quote my favorite Los Angelino "LA is like...Nowhere...everyone who lives there is lost."

It's nothing against you or anyone who lives there - I've always hated LA. Partly because I'm an Oregonian and that's where most SoCalifornians go when they realize how disgusting it is there, so I learned to despise it from the best. I have many dear, dear friends who live there now or are from LA and I would never disparage those who live in that giant dump.

When I was there as a child, I do remember a magical night walking barefoot outdoors - I'd never felt night air so warm...and then we picked oranges from a tree in the backyard. That was one beautiful moment in LA that I will never forget.

: )

aLex said...

to answer your question, michael, i would say, "disneyland." at least, that's why i wanted to live there when i was 10.

when i read us weekly, i am always jealous of those infamous hiking trails into the hills. [le sigh] oh, and february. chicago sucks in february.

every city has its strong points and weaknesses. as one famous angeleno said, "can't we all just get along?"

Anonymous said...

of course we had to work in a little bloomberg bashing - YAWN - had it not been for him you wouldn't be living here

Michael said...

No, if Bloomberg hadn't been in office, I could AFFORD to live here. Instead, we had to move out of Manhattan.

The Bronze Bombshell said...

At first, I was afraid to leave a comment because of what you might say about Atlanta, but then I remembered a bunch of visitors from Nola who said the city was surprisingly green. Not "green" in the ecological sense, but in regards to all the parks an greenery we have. If we could get the city straight ecologically, then we'd be in great shape--literally, because people wouldn't have to stay indoors on those bad air quality days.

Michael said...

Bombshell - Thanks for reading - I've never been to Atlanta. Well, I've been to the airport, but I'm sure the rest of the city isn't full of bigoted, gluttonous rednecks...

I love a city with parks. I hear that Little Rock has a great green building - so cities can surprise, especially in the south. LA is really the only city I despise - it's because it's built to thwart the flâneur, which makes it a city for cars, not people, and I don't like cars. I don't have a drivers license and I've never had one. I'm not anti-mobile of any kind - except cars that run on gas and weigh a ton and are pointless.

Another of the reasons I'm super critical of LA is because I'm surrounded by high-falutin' PhDs who talk about urban design and human environments all the time - and LA is the model for what you don't want a city to be like if it's going to be good for the people and democracy and all that. I've learned to dislike it for some very white wine drinking, latte snorting reasons - or is it white wine snorting, I can never remember...

Great blog by the way - I love it!

Anonymous said...

FYI - if mike bloomberg weren't at the helm after 911 running nyc as a business this city would have crumbled - businesses were leaving - tax base would have eroded - city would have fallen apart - and it didn't because of the smart deals he made to keep this city alive - that includes manhattan and brooklyn and the rest of it - yes we all know the hipsters hate bloomberg for reasons i and others will never understand - had he not done to pull this city together after we were attacked there would be no new bikeways for instance - there would no new anything - you clearly don't understand business and economics - yes a sweet lovely city filled with artists and small businesses would be great - but it just doesn't work that way - nyc is a massive city - that requires a lot of money to run - that requires businesses being based here - and all that goes with it - yes oh my god retailers like starbucks and barnes and noble and even old navy - all part of the middle class culture of this country - and the middle class are necessary here in nyc to keep it a healthy vibrant city - so WAKE UP brooklyn hipster and be thankful for mayor bloomberg - let me point out that you lament having to leave manhattan for brooklyn because you can't afford manhattan - but you celebrate riding a $2000 bicycle - i mean come on - you could be riding a $100 used bicycle and have spent the $1900 left feeding a family of four for 4 months

Michael said...

Your vitriolic pro-bloomberg rants are getting creepier every week.

You're talking about a man who bought an election by saturating the market with his personal fortune.

You're talking about a man who donated 7 million dollars of his money to the Republican National Convention and then hid behind the central park conservancy to squash the rights of protesters, but calls himself an 'independent'.

I mean, you have to either benefit directly from his favor, work for or want to work for that man in order to defend this stuff...

Retailers like Starbucks, B&N and Old Navy/Gap/BR, etc. aren't something we need. They're anti-union businesses that pay a low wage, employ mostly part-time workers to avoid giving them benefits and drive out local businesses. All the while taking money from hard working New Yorkers and funneling it up to CEOs and executives elsewhere.

NYC needs a progressive Mayor. Not a Berlusconi wanna-be, wall street lacky.

Anonymous said...

now now michael - people who live in glass houses shouldn't cast stones - is it ok for you to produce 'vitriolic' anti-bloomberg rants but someone with an opposing view is not allowed the same freedom? - is that not the purpose of a 'progressive blog'?

a city like new york has to be properly 'managed' - and mayor bloomberg has done that brilliantly - on all levels - from the macro-economic side down to the simplest thing like keeping the parks clean and well run - he's not 'hiding behind' the central park conservancy - the central park conservancy has taken one of the most beautiful and democratic public spaces and restored it from almost complete destruction 30 years ago to one of the most magnificent places in the city - it is still a democratic place - as it should be and will always be - requiring permits for gatherings is not restricting the rights of people to gather - it is a way to manage a gorgeous park that is meant for everyone in this city - i spend at least 3 hours a day in the park as i have for the last 30 years - walking, riding my bike, relaxing - i have seen the park go from a trampled mess to what it is today - the great lawn is a perfect example - despite its name it was never a 'great lawn' in those 30 years until a few years ago when it was restored - it was a muddy crappy place - now it is spectacular - and it stays that way by controlling large crowds overusing it - so that it can be used for playing ball or lounging - there are still plenty of concerts there - crowds are controlled to protect it - not to restrict freedom - the sheep meadow has always had controlled access and has stayed a spectacular public space - the rest of the park has been slowly restored over the years - poets walk restored to its original beauty by replacing asphalt paving from the 60's to a crushed gravel surface like the original - the list goes on and on - and it has to be managed and protected - not to 'restrict right' - but to preserve the greatest piece of architecture and the greatest public space in the city - helping to keep the middle class here by making it a livable city - keeping private donations alive to make things like the central park conservancy and the friends of the high line possible - and yes that means barnes and noble and old navy and starbucks - i'm no fan of those places and i shop at small businesses almost exclusively - but i also respect that not everyone is me - and those places are a part of the middle class culture of this country and are necessary to make the city competitive with the suburbs as a place for the middle-class to live

i will admit i get angry when i read or hear people who ride $2000 bikes rant about 'yuppies' and all the evil they bring by patronizing upscale restaurants etc - the union square danny meyer restaurant rant comes to mind - is not riding a $2000 bike an 'upscale' gesture and statement when one could riding a $100 recycled bike instead - not meant to put you on the defensive - it is something i struggle with daily as i pass by people on my $2000 bike knowing that $2000 to them is something they will never know - none of us are perfect - not you - not me - not the 'yuppies' - we all have our inconsistencies and issues - but the solution is 'solutions' - not carte blanche dismissal of everyone who doesn't share our particular point of view - not giving credit where credit is due - in the case of mayor bloomberg for instance - not looking at the job he was faced with when he took office - a city that had just been attacked - businesses and people potentially fleeing - he has done a brilliant job (not perfect) of keeping this city together - but it is a much better place than it was 7 years ago - and a MUCH better place than it could have been - the first time around he defeated marc green - if you don't know anything about him then you should do a little research - a corrupt political scoundrel - nothing more - we were all blessed when bloomberg narrowly defeated him - this city would have been in shambles had green been elected - nothing more than a scion of a rich new york city real estate family who did nothing in his life other than suck off his daddy's fortune and build a shabby corrupt political career - look into in michael - you may have a greater appreciation of where i am coming from

Michael said...

The central park conservancy is only interested in preserving the park for certain kinds of people and certain kinds of activities - and that's what makes your arguments so insidious. They're great arguments, so long as you're the "right kind of person".

It's the same mentality that resulted in "exclusive" clubs all over new york and the country that wouldn't allow Jews. It's the same mentality that resulted in decades of segregation and separate but not equal. It's just gross and I can't think straight when I encounter it.

Now I understand why the revolutionaries always want to behead the bourgeoisie. It's because they only think about themselves...such a waste of a head.

gdonovan said...

Anonymous - I'm a bit confused by your Bloomberg boosterism, arguing that the city has drastically improved from 8 years ago says very, very little. After Giuliani there was no where for this city to go but up. There are of course cases to be made as to why one might think Bloomberg is a good mayor, but arguing he is an improvement from the time under Giuliani, or that we are better off than an unknown Green administration, has no traction.

You should do a little research regarding why the city and why the parks in particular were in such shambles, since the early 70s when Nixon took office and slashed funding for Johnson's "Great Society," there has been strategic disinvestment in cities and public spaces which necessitated the creation of public-private partnerships such as the Central Park Conservancy which uses private funds and private governance to "beautify" a PUBLIC park. And beautiful it may be, but the notion that it is "free" and "public" is laughable. How do you define free speech? Does requiring people to apply for a permit before organizing on public space sound like free speech to you? Does hiring your own private security force to police your park (which the CPC does) and harass homeless people and young minorities (gotta love racial profiling...) sound like free speech to you? Central Park may be beautiful, but it is "managed" according to the values and morals of the CPC, not of the public who actually owns the land.

As we've learned, when groups whose views don't line up with the morals and values of the mayor's office or the CPC, their permits are denied for such absurd reasons as a need to "protect the lawn." Free speech and the right to organize in public space is more important to me than grass. How about you???

This is exactly what happened when United for Peace and Justice tried to organize a protest during the RNC convention in 04. You should look into it . What's more, Bloomberg used the CPC as a way to deflect public outrage, denying any role in the denial of a permit when -- of course, he did play a BIG role -- as a NYTimes investigation found out, check it out . Not only did Bloomberg use the CPC to deny UPJ a permit, but he also had the NYPD illegally detain 2,000 protesters and held them (in defiance of a court order that they be released) until after Bush gave his speech at the convention. Again, you should look in to it . Bloomberg and the CPC's performance during the RNC was shameful, undemocratic and borderline fascist in its flagrant disregard for civil liberties.

Finally, arguing that the city needs to be "properly managed" is a horrible thing to say. Managed by who? According to whose values?? Further, a city isn't a business, plain and simple - its bottom line shouldn't be a financial one but a social one. Maybe you need to be babysat or managed, but I believe that when people are empowered and given the proper resources they do just fine. The mayor is a public employee, and as a citizen I'm the boss not him/her. Its called citizen power, you should look into it