Category Archives: Stephen

Forget NYC, its NYS… New York Skateboarding

Skateboarding Under the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo: Google.com

It’s no secret that the urban environment of New York City is a hotbed for skateboarders. Anyone with two eyes (some of the people with one eye, too) who has been run over by one has taken note. The architecture of the city was seemingly built for woodpushers. Some of the most well known ledges and handrails that were built for corporate America to push their fears to the limit while getting a bit of their teenage angst out while grinding the edges off of.

Skateboarders look at the world differently than anyone else. Where you see a spot to drink coffee on Wall St. during your break from crunching numbers, a skateboarder sees a skate spot to film their next video part, or to break their next bone.

When a skateboarder finds that perfect spot it is hard to let everyone know about it for fear of police becoming hot to the spot. Luckily for those people whose eyes aren’t so keen to this outlook, there is a website, skatespotter.com created mapping all of the skate sots in New York City Imaginable.

Musician Profile: Billy Kaufman

By: Stephen Tompkins

Billy Kaufman sits sprawled out on the windowsill of his Upper Westside apartment with a drum pad between his legs. Looking through his window, a wave of skyscrapers lie in the dark background resembling monsters like Godzilla, who swallow up young musicians who come to New York City with dreams similar to Kaufman’s. He sits calm, as if he doesn’t notice the towering monsters lurking behind him and plays intricate pieces of music from a list of songs on his computer. More often than not he chooses the songs with the funniest titles. He scrolls through his list and settles on a piece called “Grilled Cheese.” His lax approach to his music is ever noticeable. When asked how he wishes to be remembered one day he doesn’t have an answer.

Kaufman, 19, a native of New Milford, CT, came to New York City two years ago to study classical percussion at Mannes. He began playing percussion 12 years ago at home as a means of putting up with his boring surroundings.

“New Milford is really quiet, and there isn’t really much to do there,” Kaufman said. “I started playing drums when I was 11, and I just did it all the time.”

At 16, Kaufman enrolled in classes at Juliard Prep in New York City to prepare for his future as a percussionist. At Juliard the professors helped prepare him for future auditions. Studying in New York at such a young age was a major stepping stone for Kaufman.

“It really helped me out in a way that I think staying in New Milford couldn’t have helped me,” he said. “It was really easy to shine in New Milford. Seeing other kids [in New York City] my age and how good they were really pushed me to become a better percussionist.”

While in Juliard Kaufman sought the highest level of musical performance and decided that it would be either jazz or classical percussion.

“For a while I thought it would be jazz drumming because there are so many amazing jazz drummers. But as I began reading classical repotoire in high school I wanted to find out who the best percussionists were and it was the people that were doing classical music.

After not getting in to college division at Juliard, or Manhattan School of Music, Kaufman decided to study at Mannes, because he wanted to go to school in New York City. Kaufman shared a memory of his 15 minute audition he underwent to be accepted at Mannes.

“I was kind of freaked out because there were five or six people on the jury, and I had to play a couple snare drums pieces, and a couple marimba pieces,” he said. “I remember going up to the snare drum and before I picked up the sticks asking myself ‘Am I really here?'”

Now that Kaufman is in his sophomore year at Mannes, he finds himself facing the city and school’s constant competitive mentality.

“Everybody thinks they are better than you. We all think that we are better than each other.”

The precarious nature of living in such a competitive city has become instilled in Kaufman and is what pushes him to be the best percussionist student.

“In New York you have to be competitive or you are probably going to get kicked out of school,” he said. “That’s just the way it is.”
Although his future is in the hands of future juries, Kaufman is optimistic about his future, and thinks things will pan out.

“I want to live in New York City and be a freelance percussionist,” Kaufman said. “I hope I make enough connections in college to keep me going.”

Back in his apartment, Kaufman gets off the window sill, sets his drum pad down and picks up a beer from a table filled with an array of classical music sheets and says:

“I want to be remembered as a fucking really good percussionst.”

Department of Transportation closes 14-blocks of bicycle lanes on Bedford Ave.

Recently the Department of Transportation in Brooklyn decided to close a 14-block cycling route in Williamsburg. The route stretches from Division Ave. to Flushing Ave.

 

The closed lanes

 

The DOT press representative, Nicole Garcia, wasn’t prepared to comment on the subject when called early this morning.

 

Many non-cycling residents of Williamsburg are pleased with the DOT’s decision. There have been complaints about the lanes taking up available parking spaces, and hurting local small businesses since they were made.

 

Moses Apparition Causes Traffic on the Verrazano Bridge

By: Stephen Tompkins

A Crowd of people gather around Moses' ghost

Early on November 15 a crowd formed in the center of the Verrazano Bridge in New York City’s Bay Ridge. Passersby gasped as the ghost of Robert Moses stood in the middle of the road blocking traffic. Moses emerged from a fog underneath the bridge.

The fog from which Moses emerged

“This is incredible,” Mark Wahlberg (The Italian Job, Fear) said. “I go to Staten Island every day and I’ve never seen anything like this!”

The ghost of Moses called upon the forming audience and asked if they would help him reign over New York City once again and implied that he would be running against Michael Bloomberg in the next mayoral election.

“I will work for 50 cents a year,” Moses said. “And I will give New York City residents affordable living.”

In the blink of an eye Moses was gone, but he left something on the ground. The sun glimmered off of the object laying lone in the middle of the road, making it hard to see.

“Pick it up,” someone shouted.

I inched closer to the object and saw that it was in fact, a copy of The Power Broker.

The Power Broker lying in the middle of the Verrazano Bridge

Mark Wahlberg stepped in front of me and grabbed the book. He ran away, all the while yelling that he was quitting acting and going into urban development.

Blog

brooklynrocks.blogspot.com/

Halloween in New York City 2009 :)

Mr. T is walking my way and I’m terrified! He is walking to the ‘N’ train in Union Square as if he and the A-Team are headed to beat down a criminal at large. His bulky muscles, greased mohawk and gold chains are as intimidating as a wild bear headed towards you in the woods. But I approach him anyways.

“Hey Mr. T, can I get a photo of you?” I asked.

“Sure,” he replied in a less intimidating voice. And he was on his way.

Welcome to Halloween in New York City–where the craziest city in the world gets… a little crazier!

Mr. T
Mr. T? Close enough!
Here is the night in pictures.
esmerelda

A crazy woman who said she would cast a spell on me if I didn't pet Esmerelda, her FAKE Raven.

holy shit

Dressed as "Holy Shit"

nypd

A cop avoiding the rain

people on balcony

People watching the NYC Halloween parade from their balcony

shark attack

Shark attack costume

wario

I was going to be Wario for Halloween and couldn't. My costume would have been much better. OK, I'm bitter.

New York City Census 2010

By: Stephen Tompkins

Every 10 years the United States Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau counts the number of people living in the United States–this is done via snail mail. Each home is given a form with 10 questions to fill out about the people they live with. People of all ages, races, citizens, and non-citizens are counted regarless of their legal status and are included in the city’s population.

New York City 2000 Census statistics

New York City 2000 Census statistics

The purpose of the census is to determine who will represent you in city council, how many representatives we will have in congress, how much educational funding, and healthcare we will receive, and several other important pieces of information all New York City citizens should know about.

The U.S. Census Bureau has to submit the results of the census to President Barach Obama by December 31, 2010. This will help determine the congressional district you live in, and who will represent you in it.

Forms will be mailed to New York City citizens during February and march of 2010 and must be mailed back to the USDCCB by April 1.

An example of the form participants will fill out

An example of the form participants will fill out

As of July 2008 New York City’s population is 8.36 million people.

For more information on the census visit: http://nyc.gov/html/census2010/html/home/home.shtml