Manhattan Project

Dispatches from CMJ: 12:15 a.m, The Protomen

October 28, 2009
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Nerds rejoice! This Nashville-based outfit transformed the Mega Man series into a merciless tumult of balls-to-the-wall rock. In support of their just-released Act II, the Trash Bar gig displayed the band’s potent guitar attacks, dreamy vocal chants and ominous rhythm. The audience literally hung onto Panther’s every fist pump. “You’re way more fucking awesome than the ones in Manhattan. And I mean that shit, too,” Panther told the Proto-faithful in reference to their earlier CMJ set at The Studio at Webster Hall. In the BK, this revolution wasn’t televised.


Creative Commons: Lance & Co


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The trumpet of the swan: How I beat the MTA in 5 easy steps

August 24, 2009
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291974774_b5653f720dOn the 59th Columbus Circle stop, down the urine soaked stairwell with its freshly Windex-ed Hearst Corporation billboard, I silently curse the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Rambling and unwieldy, the MTA is a bottomless money pit with a racked up debt to the tune of $26.8 billion. In fact, it’s an apt byproduct of our excessive capitalist system, thanks to its boom-and-bust crisis mode. The love spawn of Milton Friedman and a Chicago School bukakke, I say! But sometimes, I think the pastoral squalor of the Queens bound E train is the sexiest thing I have ever seen in my life. Especially with the ratty whirr of a sloth-cloth air conditioner and luscious leftover juices from a clogged track chute.

The  MTA is paved with shattered working-class dreams, dashed Dunkin’ Donuts flatbread sammiches and random grubby pamphlets from apocalypse-twiddlin’ Christians. In the history of MTA clusterfuckery, the Republicans and Republican-lites way up thar in Albany set aside bundles of cash baggies for upgrades and the like. Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomy throws us salivating pleebs an election year bone, as we lick our lips and thank our massers for pretending to give two shits. Yezzur, we’ll shine them shoes sure ’nuff. We’ll get right on that, masser…and so it goes.

Everyone expects their piece of the pie, by Carl, not realizing that their near 100 bucks monthly Metrocard will deliver scattershot weekend service and crumbling ceiling collapses. Since my curmudgeonly Millienial gevalting is usually repressed, I’ve got nothing to lose in the shysterin’ the MTA department. (I know, I know, quitters don’t quit in America!) Here’s a blurby primer for circumventing the MTA. Please note: some of these suggestions deliver the possibility of hefty fines ($100) and arrest for fare evasion. But I say: why let a little thing like the penal system stop you? If history is your guide, you’ll be in fine company: Malcolm X, MLK, and yes, Gary Glitter!

Ikea buses: You’ll be ridin’ the public transportation dirty in style with uppercrust and coach-style buses. Granted, the Red Hook shuttle service is rather limited in its reach (read: Court St., Fourth Ave., Smith, Ninth Sts subway stations and the Beard St. Ikea store.) But don’t let a little thing like shopping in a Swedish furniture store stop you. The Brooklyn News found that most riders never set foot in the Ikea, save for two Ikea employees. Sez Bianca Colon, “”It’s like a free car service. It takes us straight downtown and I don’t have to wait for the bus to stop every block to let people on and off.”

Freegan Bikes: The wooly insurgents hold monthly bike workshops for how-tos on fixing bikes, simple maintenance and tune-ups. A life without complications: leave the This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb bumper stickers at home, kids. The po pos can not tell the difference between pop cultural references and honest to God terrorism.

Date A Cripple: Yes, disabled boyfies come with perks, including the clandestine sneak-in behind emergency-exit-cum-disability-doors. I know, I know, the downside to this recommendation is looking like a heartless bastid. Obvious protip: Milk the boothers dry with the prolonged door hold for a hint of doe-eyed, hapless Good Samaritan stranger. As a general rule of thumb, check unlatched exit doors for easy access.

Disengage the simulator: The stuff of urban legend goodness. Hey rabblerousers and blusterbrowns of all ages, guess if this tip is an outdated has-been. Apparently, the myth goes that bending the Metrocard in just the right place demagnetizes the black strip. In the early 00s, this trick left the MTA with a gnawing void, and efforts to crack down on these muzzeins became the cause de jour. Sez 3tmk, “A friend of mine always tried to bend his card when riding the subway, but it never worked. He’s wasted quite a lot of cards, and he never made it. I’m sure with some luck some guy achieved success, but with a lot of luck to find the exact spot.” BTW, this tip may lead to run-ins with the fuzz.

Pay It Forward…literally: Whenever I hear the phrase “pay it forward,” I automatically dredge up memories of that fuzzy wuzzy sub-Lifetime flick starring Kevin Spacey and the kid from The Sixth Sense. The sight of disgruntled Brooklyn-ites swiping straphangers through turnstiles would make the follicles on Jesus’ beard stand on end. That’s where the People’s Transportation Program comes in. On the third Saturday of every month, this Sunset Park collective doles out the freebie swipes. The best thing about this tip: it’s technically not against MTA regs. “As long as they’re not charging people [for swipes], we can’t stop them from buying the cards and providing the service free to the people,” MTA spokesperson Paul Fleuranges told The Indypendent in a June 2009 article.

Creative Commons: John&Julie C

Further reading: Anti-capitalist actions around mass transit in San Francisco 1993-1995

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An Open Letter to Freecycle™ NYC FreeMeet: please don’t give me the poops

May 6, 2009

I learned my lesson after last month’s Really Really Free Market at the Judson Memorial Church. Note to self: if it looks like fermented cow dung, but possesses the texture and twang of BBQ tofu, an animal probably died somewhere along the way.

In fairness to the RRFM, the tainted dish was properly flounced by a plastic wrapper which read, “party size mini-Meatballs.” Apparently, I can barely read at a fifth grade level, I’ll tell you whut.

Things are looking up for Freecycle™ NYC FreeMeet! in Flatbush, Brooklyn this weekend. I swear to Carl.

The FreeCycle NYC Web site provides a Craiglist-y hook-up for discarded tevees from the uppercrust richies and spotless exercise equipment that was probably plucked from Suzanne Somers’ Botoxed hands. Deets and RRFM party reels after the jump….

Freecycle™ NYC FreeMeet!

Saturday, May 9, 2009, 11am-3pm 
P.S. 217 Playground (1100 Newkirk Avenue at Coney Island Avenue) Flatbush, Brooklyn

WHY: New Yorkers discard some 12,000 tons of waste each day, much of which is exported to landfills and incinerators in other states. Here’s your chance to help reduce waste and keep our environment clean by finding new homes for your old stuff, and getting some things you can use in the process. Leftovers will be donated or recycled to every extent possible.

WHAT TO BRING: Bring unwanted clothing, housewares and other reusable items* to share or simply bring a tote bag to fill. Bring friends and family too!

Got wire hangers? Bring ’em to the FreeMeet so we can hang clothes and
recycle the hangers afterwards.


*please bring portable items only and log on to http://www.Freecycle. org to give away furniture and other heavy stuff.

And now, onto the highlights and lowlights of the Really Really Free Market.

Poopportunity Knocks More than Once:

This skankifed cesspool of globby meatballs was possibly extracted from the Trader Joe's dumpster near Union Square. The aftermath? An unfortunate case of Poops McGee, where I cursed my mother, father and meegans everywhere.

This skankifed cesspool of globby meatballs was possibly extracted from the Trader Joe's dumpster near Union Square. The aftermath? An unfortunate case of Poops McGee, from whence I cursed my mother, father and meegans everywhere.


Free shiz that did not make me contemplate Seppuku:


RRFM's accupuncturist whipped out her business card. I promptly misplaced said card seconds later. Citizen journalism fail.

RRFM's accupuncturist whipped out her contact information. I promptly misplaced said card seconds later. (Citizen journalism fail.) My pithy review: homegirl had the skills to pay various bills.

An assortment of breads.

This book made me have strange dreams about Bill Cosby and Jell-O pudding.

After thumbing through this book on the subway, I suffered strange afternoon nap dreams involving Bill Cosby and Jell-O pudding.

New York anarchists play rabblerousing to the hilt

April 14, 2009
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For the 3rd Annual New York City AnarchyFest, the MM blurbaturbs took the plunge with half-assed punchlines late last week: patchouli body odors, trotkyist hyuks, etc. Who woulda thunk that subterranean Leno-isms make for compelling alternative weekly listing copy?

No matter. Last Saturday, the Judson Memorial Church was teeming with spiky haired dissidents and paunchy New York University adjuncts, respectively.

At 11am, I met Christian anarchist Kenny Andrew for the culture jamming caucus. Lecturer ClarkClarke, a potbellied hipster with an un-touche straw hat, was a refugee from Republican wastelands with a hard-on for Banksy. The diff: “Graffiti is about fame and identity. But in my work, it’s about message.”

In his video presentation, ClarkClarke demonstrated how to attract the attention of mainstream media zombies (cough: Fox News, cough) by dressing up as destitute Wall Street yuppies, busking for hard cash.

By the way, taggers, garbing yerself in enough black for a Johnny Cash biopic? It’s about as douchetastic as getting a tribal tattoo.

ClarkClarke recommends milling around construction sites and swiping orange mesh MTA vests in order to pull off that look of pure officiousness.

“When I was younger, I had fake IDs for getting into bars. Now, I have fake IDs for getting into subway tunnels.”

Repeat after him, kids: the dirtier, the better.

“Don’t graffiti in black. It’s pretty obvious…you should also make small talk with subway workers (when decked out in official gear,)” he added.

For the second hour, Larkin from HollabackNYC and the MTA Service Specialists chatted about streetside sickos and subway fare hikes, respectively.

HollabackNYC is an ingenious act of patriarchy-shaming. The Web site encourages New Yorkers to snap pix of wang-twiddling subway pervs. “Catch that jerk with your video phone or do journalistic style feature on street harassment and we’ll post it!” reads the disclaimer.

“I started seeing the power of creating your own media. If you impersonate, you can gain a lot of authority,” Larkin told attendees.

Enter MTA Service Specialists. With her 1940s-inspired stewardess getup, Larkin and three other “specialists” traverse subway trains to provide straphangers with sanitary wipes and snacks.

From The New York Daily News:

The MTA has found yet another way to make riding the subways more miserable.

On top of fare hikes and service cuts, it’s now dumping on “MTA service specialists,” four women who voluntarily ride the rails to help straphangers get around quicker and happier.


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority thinks the smiling women in their 1940s-style stewardess uniforms are giving riders the idea that the MTA is actually improving service, said specialist Kiki Valentine.

MTA lawyers filed a cease-and-desist order Tuesday giving the volunteers 72 hours to remove a video and make other changes on their Web site,, which the MTA says makes unfair use of the agency’s “intellectual property.”

But back at AnarchyFest, Larkin remains undettered. “I don’t take cease and desist e-mails very seriously,” she said.

[Numero Dos of AnarchyFest coverage will come later this week.]