Monday, November 28, 2005

Freedom Can't Wait

While Americans roll themselves through shopping malls in tryptophan induced merryment and prepare for the Christmas holidays, African-Americans have a little something special to celebrate.

This month, in 1865, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama all ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which outlaws all forms of human bondage.

The battle then moved on to Mississippi, where the future of slavery rests in the hands of the legislature. If Mississippi passes the law, becoming the 27th state to do so, it will formally end hundreds of years of forced bondage in the United States.

But Mississippi fails to ratify the Amendment, and it is up to Georgia to drive the final nail in slavery's coffin. Georgia quietly does so on December 6, 1865.

Mississippi eventually ratifies the 13th Amendment. In 1995.

Money, money, money

New York Magazine is reporting that Goldman Sachs will be divvying up a whopping $11 billion in bonus money this year. The mathematics works out to something like $500,000 for every Sachs employee.

For those of you poor sods like me in a studio apartment, New York Mag graciously explains how the boys (for there are few girls) get the co-op (the trophy wife comes later). Of course this being America, some boys are more equal than others. If you think the billions are spread evenly, think again.

Read up for a rare glimpse inside a financial titan.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

In ______ We Trust

Ever wondered why Americans and Europeans seem to stare at the same problems and come up with tremendously different answers? Is there truth to the cliche that Americans and Britons are the same people divided by a common language?

According to Edelman Public Relations, the answer may be in your shopping cart.

A recent survey conducted by the public relations giant found that the five most trusted brands in the US are:

1. Johnson & Johnson
2. Coca-Cola
3. Microsoft
4. Ford Motor Company
5. McDonald's

In trusty, capitalistic America, all of these corporate titans were trusted by more than 50% of people.

In Europe, the five most trusted you ask?

1. Amnesty International
2. World Wildlife Fund
3. Greenpeace
4. Oxfam
5. Microsoft

Hmmm...see something interesting? And more telling, only the first three brands in Europe enjoyed greater than 50% trust. Those Europeans....

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Way We Were

As those of you who know me know well, Hashbrown loves maps and politics. And anytime the two can go together, the better.

Some clever blogger in the the UK has attempted to tackle our nasty electoral college problem for us with a new fact, a whole new Nation.

The current system of 50 states and one District (which, incidentally has NO vote in Congress or representation, a minor Constitutional oversight along with women not being worthy of the vote and African-Americans only constituting 3/5 of a human being, but I digress) over-represents rural areas and neglects urban areas. After all, Wyoming, with about the same number of people as Staten Island (500,000), gets two Senators and one representative. California, with 33 million people, also gets just two Senators and proportionally fewer Representatives (using Wyoming's formula, it should have 66 instead of 51). The District of Columbia, with 600,000, gets zero of both.

The new map would create 50 states and one federal district of approximately the same population (5.61m). States would be re-districted after each census, and the map is not generated to favor one party over another, and adjusted very slightly to put whole cities in one state or another (so state populations will differ by a few hundred thousand).

It would never work. It skips over the fact that Americans are very proud of their states. They are not just political entities, but emotional ones as well. But it is a stark reminder of the inequity of our curious system, and the desperate need for reform.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Grime and Prejudice

Gothamist always gives Hashbrown news he can use, and this week is no exception. It seems our friends over at Mignon Media put together this nifty Google mashup map showing the 50 busiest subway stations in Manhattan.

Hashbrown's very own West 4th Street station (barely) made the list, with an average 33,000 daily riders. Which is probably about how many people ride the entire LA subway every day.

Perhaps this easy-to-understand, fun-to-play-with bubble map will encourage our newly landslide-elected mayor and the MTA to give these beaten up girlfriends a face lift.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Reuben Rocks Out; MOMA Makes Us SAFE

A week ago, Hashbrown moseyed out to the Lower East Side to listen to an evening of queer rockers sound off, and was blown away by studly Reuben Butchart. His voice is splendid, and his sense of humor will send you snickering. You all have a second chance to hear this talented young man this WEDNESDAY, November 16th when he performs at the Gay and Lesbian Center as part of a benefit for Mark Robert Jackson's "Night Falls Fast." Tickets are $10 at the door and it's worth every dime.

GLBT Center
208 W. 13th Center
First Floor
8 p.m.

This weekend, while squiring around friends from DC, we had the opportunity to check out the new MOMA for the first time. Can. We. Just. Say. Wow.

Run don't walk to New York to check this one out it truly an incredible sight to behold. And the collection is predicatably stunning, although Hashbrown was a bit dsappointed by suprisingly lacklustre photography.

On special exhibition is SAFE, the first major exhibition since MOMA's reopening. SAFE presents a collection of more than 300 products designed to protect the mind and body from dangerous and stressful circumstances.

Interestingly, a handy little circular given to people at the exhibit shockingly let's you know that you are more likely to die by legal execution than being bitten by poisonous spider. In fact, execution falls around the middle of the list. Thank you Texas.

SAFE is sponsored by BNP Paribas, the French bank. Hashbrown hopes they are keeping themselves safe and sound in these trying times.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

General Election '05: Kaine Crowned, Corzine Cleans Up and the "Governator" Gets KO'ed

The Democrats are smiling this morning, and the mood among Republicans undoubtedly matches the New York weather: dismal. All around the country, voters handed Democrats solid victories, with only lefty New York City providing the GOP some solace. So dear readers, here's a 2 minute rundown...

Virginia: Tim Kaine (D) vs. Jerry Kilgore (R)

All the polls had this one a squeaker, but it turned into a rout. While Governor and Presidential contender Mark Warner (D) is wildly popular (approval rating: 75%) but term-limited, VA stumped for Bush by 9% in 2004. Kilgore had every reason to expect victory. Throughout, the campaign was dominated by debates over the death penalty and vicious attack ads. At the eleventh-hour, President Bush, who has an approval rating in the low 40s in VA, stopped in to give Kilgore a boost. Some pundits think the opposite may have happened--on election day, Kaine handily carried the heavily Democratic Washington, D.C suburbs, rolling up huge victories in Arlington and Fairfax Counties. Kaine also managed to carry the exurbs that swept Bush to victory in 2004, hold his own in southeast and southwestern Virginia, and Richmond. In the end, Kilgore couldn't beat the math, losing by 6%

New Jersey: Corzine (D) Buries Forrester (R)

In many respects New Jersey is the opposite of Virginia: a solidly blue state that firmly backed both Al Gore and John Kerry. But polling showed Forrester had significantly closed the gap on New Jersey's freshman Senator after a year of withering political scandals bruised New Jersey's statehouse. But as New Jersey's blue state tendencies shone through, Forrester chose to air increasingly negative ads in the campaign's final days. On election day he paid the price--the result wasn't even close, Corzine buried Forrester by 10%.

New York City: A Sort-Of Republican Wins Big

New York "hearts" Mike Bloomberg, and with his approval rating well over 60%, the result of this was never in doubt--the only a question was how big. To stave off defeat Democrats unified behind Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough President. Either way, New Yorkers would make history on election day--they would either elect their first Latino mayor (Ferrer) or hand Gracie Mansion to a Republican for an unprecedented fourth term.

New Yorkers greeted the election with a giant yawn, assuming a Bloomberg victory to be a foregone conclusion. They were right. Bloomberg racked up a massive victory, winning 59% of the overall vote. Ferrer could only struggle to 39%. Bloomberg's 20-point margin is biggest majority ever won by a Republican in New York City. Ferrer managed to carry his hometown Bronx (where he won 59% of the vote), but Bloomberg carried Manhattan (61%), Brooklyn (58%), Queens (64%), and Republican-leaning Staten Island (77%).

One bright spot for the Democrats--their back bench is full for 2009. The Republicans have no natural successor to the New York Mike everyone seems to love.

California: The "Year of Reform" Falls Short

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) staked a considerable amount of his declining political capital on four ballot measures that, if passed, would have overhauled California's political system. The last year has been a dismal one for the Republican, as he has watched his sky-high popularity evaporate like San Francisco fog. With his poll numbers sitting dismally in the 40s, his re-election prospects were already looking bleak.

None of the propositions caught fire with voters, and all became a collective referendum on the Governor and the President. On Tuesday, Californians vented their anger. All were soundly defeated.

Other Races....

won election or were re-elected as Mayors in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Houston...and in a curious twist, one Democrat defeated another in St. Paul (the defeated Democrat mayor endorsed Bush in last year's General Election. He was subsequently defeated by a Democrat challenger by 40% points on Tuesday).

Maine voters soundly rejected a repeal of that state's gay rights law. The law now takes effect immediately, making Maine the sixth (and final) New England state to protect LGBT citizens from discrimination.

The GOP held on to office in San Diego and Charlotte.

In Texas, voters overwelmingly approved a state Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, making Texas the 19th state to do so.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Pretentious, Foul-tempered John Fowles Dies, Aged 198. World Finds Some Way to Immediately Move On.

John Fowles, author of The French Lieutenant's Woman, died today, aged 198. When word reached Hashbrown of his death, we rotely expressed shock and sadness, tempered only by our previous long-held belief that he had died many years ago.

A scion of British literature, Fowles' novel has been laboriously plowed through by generations of high schoolers all over the English-speaking world. Forced to spend the waning days of their summer vacations torturously skimming its depressing pages, we have always been able to take some measure of solace in the fact that there is a dismal movie version readily available for rent.

That 1982 film, with a young Meryl Streep in the title role, is best known as the first turn in which she babbled her lines in a foreign accent. Streep would not speak normally again until 1999.

Fowles also wrote some other good books.

Fowles' funeral, which will be completely ignored by everyone, will take place on Thursday.

That Makes Sense

We come across very few things every day that enthrall us, but this one sent us on a tangent. It seems some very clever folks have come up with a an absolutely fantastic way of redrawing the United States based on where we "feel" we live, rather than political boundaries. In other words, what metropolitan areas do we feel most influence and define us--not only culturally and physically, but also by such things as sports teams. Check it out, the results might just surprise you! And be sure to vote. The national map will be updated when 30,000 votes have been received.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A Note to My Readers


Jason West (G-New Paltz), is hot. I want to have his children. The Scientology way.

Tarts and Trainers

Good morning New York!

Today is Marathon Day. While this information is intuitively known by millions as an opportunity to celebrate the athletic achievements of people with little else to do in their lives (like the Olympics), I view it as a stellar opportunity to get hammered. So as we speak, I'm popping Excedrin to ward off a migraine before I totter off to a roof on the Upper East Side to sip Mimosas and watch the "marathonistes."

Have a great day.

Oh Mikey!

While the President's Supreme Court nods have gotten all the attention of late, two noteworthy news items managed to fly under the radar in the past week.

In a shocking bit of profundity, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt stated this week that "America has a drinking problem." That's about as a big an understatement as saying "Michael Bloomberg will win re-election next Tuesday." But now that I know we are a sodden nation, we can surely get to work fixing that. After we have a drink.

Meanwhile, the government released Brownie's emails, which really only go to demonstrate that you should never, ever put anything into an email. While lots of poor black people were drowning in New Orleans or dying of heat exhaustion in the Superdome, Mr. International Arabian Horse was bragging about how hot he thought he looked in his Nordstrom duds to his PR folks. I don't know what's worse: his complete lack of competence and compassion, or that he actually thought this outfit looked good.

Going Back In

What would my parents say if I just called them up and said "hey mom and dad, that whole gay thing, just a passing phase. I really don't like giving blowjobs to hot boys." Do you think they would be really pissed at all the shit they've gone through or relieved?

While we ponder this question, I ran across this little number on the web. If I did have to go back into a closet, it would definitely look something like this--because this closet isn't gay or anything.