(FAKE) The most intense street fight you will ever see

UPDATE: Alas, it's funny but it's fake.

Watch below. A triumphant Manhattan moment. I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me. I'm going to see it again and again and again and again and again.

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New York City's municipal debt collectors have forged an unholy alliance with sleazy subprime lenders

New York City's "marshal" service is a throwback to the Dutch colonial days; the 35 marshals are appointed by the mayor, draw no salary, and earn their livings by skimming a percentage off of the debts they collect, operating with impunity and reaching around the world. Read the rest

Where did this rare Mandarin duck in New York City's Central Park come from?

A rare and beautiful Mandarin duck, native to East Asia, has turned up in New York City's Central Park. The bird spends most of its time entertaining curious on-lookers in a pond near 59th Street and Fifth Avenue. City official plan to leave the duck alone so long as it's safe. From CBS News:

(Bird enthusiast Dave) Barrett said he's checked with every zoo in the city and none are missing a duck. It leads the bird-watching community to believe it was a domestic pet, which is illegal in New York City.

"It might have got away or someone might have got tired of it and dumped it," Barrett said.

It also may have flown to Manhattan from a neighboring town.

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Catch a glimpse of a New York City legend for the price of an MTA ticket

City Hall Loop was one of the terminus stations for the first subway line to be built under New York City. Opened to the public in 1904, it was beautiful, featuring brass chandeliers, glass tiling and sky lighting to fill it with a warm glow during the day. Unfortunately, the station was closed to the public back in 1945.

Happily, it's still possible and totally legal to catch a glimpse of this wonder from a bygone architectural era. All it takes is a little patience and a ticket to ride the MTA.

Image: by Rhododendrites - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link Read the rest

One in ten of New York's public school students is homeless

114,659 of New York's public school students is homeless, bouncing from shelters to relatives' beds: homelessness is a predictor of poor academic performance for all the obvious reasons, including very long commutes to school (some students' families have ended up at shelters that are two boroughs away from their schools). Read the rest

Aw, shit: New York's McNally Jackson Books is closing its Nolita store

New York City's amazing McNally Jackson Books is closing its flagship bookstore on Prince Street in Nolita; the store is a neighborhood fixture and a hub of literary events (I've appeared there); they also sport a cafe and a book-printing machine. Read the rest

New York's luxury real-estate market is crashing

New York is a great city that has been hollowed out by real-estate speculation, where the conversion of housing to safe-deposit boxes in the sky has pushed out the city's people and the city's businesses, who can't compete with financiers and oligarchs who value property as an investment, rather than as part of the fabric of a city. Read the rest

Secret box truck 'night market' pops up again in NYC

Described as "a transient bazaar that is not publicly announced, where nothing is for sale, and very little trace can be found of it afterward," it's been nearly 10 years since the first Lost Horizon Night Market hit New York City. Since then, this quirky underground event has popped up in other cities worldwide.

This past weekend it was back in Brooklyn.

Gothamist's Oriana Leckert went:

At a moment when the world seems to be going in a bleaker, more dangerous direction than at any point in our lifetimes, this is a night where New York’s most unusual spectacle-makers gather to share a few hours of pure weirdness and joy.

The Night Market is a shadowy affair, a truly underground, immersive occasion at a time when both those words have been so overused as to be rendered nearly meaningless. There is no mailing list to sign up for or Facebook page to “like”; one only learns of the sporadic soirée through word of mouth, and the market’s location, different each time, is not revealed until the day of. The only instruction truck proprietors receive is to create an interactive art piece within the vehicle’s four walls...

Saturday’s market, situated on two dimly lit blocks in industrial Bushwick, included 19 trucks, ranging from very simple to hilariously convoluted concepts. Each engendered its own atmosphere, engulfing visitors in a tiny world that was consuming enough to let people forget about the real one for a little while...

Read more: Photos: A Secret Box Truck Art Carnival Materialized Briefly In Brooklyn

photos by Alix Piorun for Gothamist, used with permission

Glitter gun fight

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Y'all we have made a pillow fight truck, if you just need to smash something and scream tonight.

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New York City! I'm onstage tonight with Radiolab's Jad Abumrad (Swarthmore, you're next!)

A reminder that I'm wrapping up my Columbia University lecture series tonight at 5PM, when I'm appearing onstage with Radiolab's Jad Abumrad at the lecture theater in Pulitzer Hall (RSVP here); and then I'm heading to Swarthmore tomorrow, to give a talk at the Lang Performing Arts Center Room (LPAC) 101 Cinema from 7-9PM. Both talks are free. Read the rest

Watch the previously unreleased music video for The Ramones' "She's the One"

The Ramones' fourth studio album Road To Ruins turns 40 tomorrow. To celebrate, Rhino Records released the Road To Ruin: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition with three CDs and one LP containing two mixes of the album, additional unreleased studio and live recordings, and a hardcover book. They've also unearthed this previously unreleased video for their classic punk ditty "She's the One."

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Hey, Swarthmore! I'm headed your way next week

I'm heading to the east coast next week, first for a lecture series in NYC for Columbia University (including a conversation with Radiolab's Jad Abumrad about Big Tech, monopolies and democratic technology); and from there I'm headed to Pennsylvania for a talk about my novel Walkaway at Swarthmore, on Sept 28 from 7-9PM at the Lang Performing Arts Center Room (LPAC) 101 Cinema. All the events are free, though some require tickets, so be sure to check in advance. Hope to see you there! Read the rest

20% of New York retail space is sitting vacant

A study conducted by Douglas Elliman Real Estate found that one in five New York retail spaces is sitting vacant; these spaces are boarded up and attract vandalism, drug-dealing, and other unsavory activities. The rate has more than tripled since 2016. Read the rest

IBM developed NYPD surveillance tools that let cops pick targets based on skin color

The NYPD's secretive Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center uses software from IBM in its video analytics system, which allows cops to automatically scan surveillance footage for machine-generated labels that identify clothing and other identifying classifiers. Read the rest

I'm heading to New York for a lecture series at Columbia!

Columbia University's Brown Institute is hosting me for a trio of lectures later this month in New York City: I kick off with a conversation with the Brown's Dennis Tenen about science fiction, copyright, and the arts on Sept 25, then a lecture on copyright and surveillance on Sept 26, and wrap up with an onstage conversation with Radiolab's Jad Abumrad about Big Tech, monopolies, and democratic technology on Sept 27. (I'm also dropping by Swarthmore for a lecture on Sept 28, details to follow). Read the rest

RIP, Kenny Shopsin, New York City's greatest restaurateur

Kenny Shopsin was the proprietor of Shopsin's, an incredible, storied, secretive, boisterous, tiny restaurant and general store in Greenwich Village, whose cookbook/memoir is a masterclass in sloppy diner chef-craft in the mode of Daniel Pinkwater's Fat Guys From Outer Space. He died this week. Read the rest

There's a giant geodesic dome floored with fake grass in NYC

Josh, one of my inbox zine's readers, made this. He wrote, "For a very long time I’ve wanted to build a giant geodesic dome filled with fake grass in lower Manhattan. This August it happened."

His piece is called dusk-space and it's an immersive synthetic environment meant to "recreate the experience of being in a remote country field at dusk." Here are some words about it from its statement (emphasis mine):

Urban life is completely disconnected from natural experience. There is no night in New York City, only an artificial dusk that lasts until dawn...

Everything about the experience is designed to evoke the sensations and feelings of the real thing, while always being obviously and unequivocally manufactured.

Visitors arriving at the dome will notice the sweet and clean smell of Premium Grade Fresh Cut Grass Fragrance Oil as they walk past the stands of 36-40" Tall Natural Meadow Grass in Green. The diffuse sounds of Ambient Cricket Loop will fill the air. Entering the dome, they will feel the unmatched softness of the SYNAugustineX47 dense thatch below their feet. Looking up, they will see the sharp twinkling of the Ultrabright White 5mm Untinted Non-Diffused LED stars above.

I hope that everyone who comes will enjoy the simple pleasure of lying in a field on a warm summer night looking up at the stars, even if it is only a simulation...

Finally, I hope a few will stop to think about the meaning of authenticity of experience in our technologically advancing artificial world.

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Zephyr Teachout wins the New York Times's endorsement for Attorney General of New York State

Zephyr Teachout (previously) is a netroots pioneer, a leading competition law scholar, and a progressive candidate for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General of New York State. Read the rest

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