Tag Archive | "2012"

Gay Republican Weighs in on Obama’s Gay Marriage Stance

Eric Bennett, left, and Trenton Garris kiss during a demonstration to show support for President Barack Obama who visited the Paramount Theater one day after announcing his support for same sex marriage, in Seattle on Thursday, May 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Kevin P. Casey)

Barack Obama has just become the first president to openly endorse gay marriage.

Jimmy LaSavia is the co-founder of GoProud, a national organization that calls themselves “the voice of gay conservatives.”

LaSalvia’s vote is set for candidate Mitt Romney, but he says there’s a positive side to the President’s announcement earlier this week.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

 

Posted in The GlobeComments (0)

A Dominican Election Resting On The New York Vote

New York City is the battleground for a historic election this year.

Most of the candidates are New Yorkers, though the winners won’t be going to Washington or Albany.

They’ll be headed to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.

A constitutional change there that takes effect this year will give the Dominicans abroad–about one and-a-half million worldwide– a voice in their national congress.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in The GlobeComments (0)

“Stop And Frisk” Numbers are Up in New York City

The use of stop and frisk by the New York City Police Department has reached an all time high.

The NYPD reports that in 2011 officers made almost 700,000 stops.

This week the New York Civil Liberties Union responded with a report criticizing the practice, highlighting that police found weapons on less than two percent of the stops.

But the city sees this as a sign that stop and frisk works.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

HOST INTRO: The use of stop and frisk by the New York City Police Department has reached an all time high.

The NYPD reports that in 2011 officers made almost 700,000 stops.

This week the New York Civil Liberties Union responded with a report criticizing the practice, highlighting that police found weapons on less than two percent of the stops.

Mayor Bloomberg remains a firm supporter of stop and frisk. This morning during his weekly radio show he called the practice an effective crime deterrent.

BLOOMBERG
The whole idea here is not to catch people with guns, it’s to prevent people from carrying guns. The fact that we’re getting fewer guns says the program is working and the program will really have succeeded when we don’t get any guns.
TIME: 0:14

But the NYCLU takes issue with what Bloomberg calls success. The report focused on men age 14 to 24, the prime demographic for stop and frisk.

According to census numbers, white men in this age group account for 2 percent of the city’s population, but they accounted for almost four percent of stops. That’s pretty close.

But the report shows that while young Latino men make up almost 3 percent of the population, they accounted for 16 percent of stops.

The disparity was greatest among young black men. They account for just under two percent of New York’s population, but made up almost 26 percent of stops.

In fact, the NYCLU emphasized that the number of stops of young black men was higher than the population.

But there’s a reason for this, says Delores Jones-Brown, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

JONES-BROWN
The fact that it exceeds the number of young black men who fit that population in the city generally is not new or unexpected again because of the multiple stops that some young men endure.
TIME: 0:18

The New York Police Department did not respond to a request for comment in time for this story.

The NYCLU report does not address the idea that the same people are being stopped repeatedly.

It does say that it disproportionately affects young men of color, suggesting racial profiling.

They also call the practice an infringement on civil liberties.

Mayoral hopefuls including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, former Comptroller Bill Thompson, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio say stop and frisk needs some adjustments.

At a mural unveiling in Queens, de Blasio said reform should start with fewer stops.

de Blasio
Now the idea has to be bringing police and community together by figuring out the right number, not 700,000 stops and frisks, that’s absolutely inappropriate.
TIME: 0:10

Managing stop and frisk is still up to the mayor. And other organizations are trying to persuade Bloomberg to make changes. On Father’s Day the NAACP, the National Action Network and local unions will hold a march against stop and frisk outside the mayor’s home.

Posted in City LifeComments (0)

Fighting Effects of Alzheimer’s With Art And Interaction

A participant with Alzheimer's at the Studio Museum in Harlem (Photo/Cathy Greenblat)


When dementia sets in, it’s often thought that all is lost. But staff at the Studio Museum in Harlem doesn’t think so. It has a program to provide art therapy to Alzheimer’s patients, which is meant to keep moods up and minds active. Some hope the program might lessen the need for medication to fight depression. Andrew Parsons visits the museum, where seniors were discussing an art exhibit.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in HealthComments (1)

When Playtime Noise Annoys

The Ascension School on West 107th Street (Photo/Leanna Orr)

A leafy little block of west 107th street is pretty quiet 22 hours day of the day.

But around noon on school days, weather permitting, the street closes to traffic and opens to children on recess.

It’s all over in a couple of hours, but some block residents say the students’ playtime is no fun for them.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


HOST: A leafy little block of west 107th street is pretty quiet 22 hours day the day. But around noon on school days, weather permitting, the street closes to traffic and opens to children on recess. It’s all over in a couple of hours, but some block residents say the students’ playtime is no fun for them. Leanna Orr reports.

NARR: The Traffic barriers were put up just after 11 am on a sunny day earlier this week. Safe from traffic, the kids come out to play.

SOUND: Bring up rapidly so it if full by the word “play”. warm under transition from quiet ambi to kids playing uphold 2 seconds, fade under

NARR: The kids are sixth graders from the Catholic Catholic Ascension School. They are neatly dressed in white and navy uniforms. Ten minutes are already up, and two teachers hustle the students into a line, back inside. It’s peaceful for a moment, and then the sixth graders file out… Seventh graders are next  [describe the play, then lining up and being replaced by another group. Keep the noise hot. Describe how close Rosen’s house is before transioning to her complaint. But why start with a complaint about another person’s inconvenience instead of her a complaint about noise?] …and residents a half block walk from their doors

ROSEN: It’s been so loud that you can hardly hear yourself think.

NARR: The play street has become contentious ground. Carol Rosen’s third floor apartment faces the stained glass windows of the Ascension Church across the street. She wants recess to happen elsewhere—anywhere other than right below her window.

ROSEN: My work involves writing and I need peace and quiet when I’m able to write. And some of my work involves being on Skype and if the kids are out at the time I can’t hear the other party.

NARR: For Rosen and other outspoken neighbors noise isn’t the only issue. Rosen’s neighbor Samantha Burden says the barriers block out trucks and trap in cars.

BURDEN: Deliveries can’t come down the block until one o’clock. And there’s also alternate side of the street, which means we have to move it by 11:30, and they close it at 10:30 until 1:00.

NARR: Burden says she knows she is labeled as anti-children by her pro-play street neighbors. But she insists she is  looking out for the students, too.

BURDEN: There’s no need for them to play in the middle of the street, where there’s dead rats that we see all the time.

NARR: Connie Sanchez used to be a teacher at Ascension School

SANCHEZ: and actually we have a petition, and we had close to 1,000 people sign the petition saying that it didn’t bother them.

NARR: To Connie Sanchez, the conflict involves more than noisy children.

SANCHEZ: The people who complain about the children also complain about the church, and the fact that they have masses and funerals. So, the church and the school can’t disappear.

NARR: Ascension School’s principal Chris McMahon takes a diplomatic approach to the two-year squabble.

MCMAHON: It’s those little inconveniences that have been piling up for a while. And we do understand the residents’ frustrations, and we’re doing everything we can to try and alleviate those stresses.

NARR: Now, something even louder and messier than noisy kids is coming to the block. Construction on a new building begins in a few weeks, and 107th street will have to remain open all day for work vehicles. That means no more play street for the time being. Rosen is grateful for the respite, even if she’s not getting a quiet street in the bargain.

ROSEN: I’m not looking forward to the construction noise. It may be one problem replaced with another. But I can’t speak to that now because it hasn’t happened yet.

NARR: It probably won’t make the block any quieter or student-safe, but it just might bring peace among the neighbors.

Leanna Orr, Columbia Radio News.

Posted in City Life, EducationComments (0)

City Program Alleviates Food Deserts

New Yorkers who live far away from grocery stores struggle to stay healthy (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Three million New Yorkers live too far from grocery stores, according to the city.

Experts call these areas “food deserts”.

That’s because it’s difficult for residents to find fresh groceries. And as a result, they’re more prone to health problems like diabetes and obesity.

A city program is trying to tackle the issue.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

SLOTKIN
A super market in a food desert is like an oasis in real one. Sometimes, getting there and back requires an arduous journey.
FADE UP. Plastic bags, carts, and talking. Grocery.
At Food Bazaar in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, shoppers fill carts with what is easily a week’s worth of groceries.
CROSSFADE: Into parking lot
Many customers walk or drive their hauls home. But, others rely on livery cabs. A store security guard hails a mini-van for two middle-aged Hispanic women, they chat with the driver.
START FADE UP THEN DOWN ON WOMEN: THE TWO WOMEN
Then they get into the cab. Doors shut.
SOUND Of Doors
They drive away. Ricky Calhoun is the store security guard who hailed the cab. He only has to walk four blocks to get here. But he sees customers from Downtown Brooklyn and even Manhattan.
CALHOUN
They have a lot taxis that take them over from the Lower East Side.

SLOTKIN
People who live in food deserts spend a lot of extra time and money, if they want healthy food options.
So in 2009, the city started offering tax incentives to grocers to build and improve their stores. This year, Food Bazaar’s parent company, Bogopa, will take advantage of the program to expand sections of this store creating more shelf space.
The tax incentive from this project and renovations at five of the company’s other stores could amount to as much eight hundred thousand dollars. Bogopa spokesperson Justin Shon says the stores aren’t the only beneficiaries.
SHON
It helps the community in that we’ll be able to expand our fresh offerings for that store and will be able to save with the sales tax on the equipment that we purchased.

SLOTKIN
In other words, the city program allows grocers to reduce the sales tax they pay on construction materials and new equipment. So far, the city program has awarded benefits to fifteen grocery stores. In some cases, companies built new markets, others were simply expanded. New York City is not the first to address food deserts with incentives. Federal and state programs have offered grants, credits, and loans for about a decade.
But building better grocery oases in food deserts is tricky. Even identifying which neighborhoods are food deserts is difficult because conditions can vary so widely between cities. In some, people drive everywhere, but in other cities, like New York, most rely on public transit. Some cities are sprawling, others — densely packed. Mari Gallagher is a researcher and consultant known for popularizing the term “food desert”. She says those variations make diagnosis difficult.
Gallagher.
There’s not a perfect distance to a grocery store. So in Harlem New York for example. That’s going to be a little different than Queens. Which will be a little different than Chicago versus other parts of Chicago. Versus Detroit or Los Angeles or Savannah Georgia.

SLOTKIN
New York City’s definition of a food desert is anywhere where the nearest grocery store is more than a ten minute walk from your door.
The city tax incentive is not the only program trying to address the issue. In 2010, New York state started co-funding a grant program with a nonprofit that helped create eighty-eight new stores in Pennsylvania. Caroline Harries, works for the Philadelphia-based Food Trust, which partially funds the state program. Harries says benefits weren’t limited to food access.
Harries
These projects have worked to create and retain over 1.67 million square feet of food retail space as well as over 5,000 jobs. We estimate that the program has been able to improve access to healthy food for over half a million penn. Residents.

SLOTKIN
But grocery stores aren’t the only way to bring better food to the deserts. Public and private programs have also tried more agrarian options.

DIMITRI
You have community gardens from these groups, and farmers markets.

SLOTKIN
Carolyn Dimitri teaches food economics at NYU. She says, on their own, none of these ideas has a big effect.

DIMITRI
My question is is the cumulative effects of these small movements going enough to increase the amount of healthy food available in a neighborhoods. I’m not convinced it is but I don’t really see a model popping up.
By September, New York City will have one more grocery store subsidized by both the city and state programs, at the edge of one of the city’s food deserts on Staten Island. Jason Slotkin. Columbia Radio News.

Posted in City Life, HealthComments (0)

Bohemian Manhattan Landmark Under Threat

The Chelsea Hotel in 1978 (AP Photo/G. Paul Burnett)

The Chelsea Hotel is one of the most durable symbols of bohemian Manhattan. But lately, the atmosphere there has turned toxic. Last year, a real estate developer bought the Chelsea, and began renovations intended to turn the counterculture institution into a luxury hotel. Residents filed suit, alleging that the construction had led to health violations — and was really an attempt to push them out. After a court ruling in their favor this week, the remaining tenants still find themselves in conflict – both with the new owner, and each other.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in CultureComments (0)

My Voice Of Failure

Ben Bradford is no Pavarotti (AP Photo/Paul Valesco)


“Man of La Mancha” is the musical adapted from Cervantes’ Don Quixote, about the deluded hero who charges windmills on horseback. Commentator Ben Bradford feels for the Don–he has his own windmill.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in CommentariesComments (0)

JP Morgan’s $2 Billion Deal Backfires

JP Morgan's bank strategy has come under fire (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

J.P. Morgan Chase made it through the financial crisis relatively unscathed. And its CEO, Jamie Dimon [dye-mon] was supposed to be untouchable.

But yesterday, the firm announced that it had taken a two-billion dollar loss on a massive trade that backfired.

Dimon called the bank’s strategy “poorly executed and poorly monitored.”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in MoneyComments (1)

New Graduates Face A Grueling Job Search

Students graduating in Philadelphia earlier this month (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Thousands of college students will walk the stage this month at graduations across the country. And the majority of them will be looking for a job.

But if the past few years are any indication, they could be in for an unpleasant surprise!

Researchers at Rutgers University surveyed graduates from the past 6 years and found that only 50 percent of them are working full time.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in EducationComments (0)

Student Debt on the Mind of One Graduate

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

HOST INTRO:  Next week the people behind your favorite voices at Uptown Radio will graduate. For all of us, a diploma from Columbia means the opportunity to go onto bigger things in journalism. Commentator Acacia Squires is realizing this also means big debt.

SQUIRES: I was twenty-five and I’d just been promoted. I had a life insurance policy, and a 401K. I was living in Los Angeles and life seemed .. great. But I was getting restless.

It was late 2010, the economy was still in the toilet, and then… I quit my job.

I decided to get out of the yuck and muck of LA and head back to school.

So I took out a loan. Well, three loans. Totaling 65 thousand dollars, the largest loan at 7.9 percent interest. It didn’t seem all that insane to me at the time.

Come August of last year when the sticky summer wore off and classes began, it was payday. My loan servicer, Nelnet, dropped a heavy sum into my bank account.

It didn’t feel any different from the cash I’d made at work. Money was money, so I just continued with life as usual. Dinner? Yeah! Drinks? Of course! Shopping? For sure!

One night I slumped home from school really late, and grabbed the mail on the way in. There was another letter from Nelnet. I figured they were asking me to “like” them on Facebook again, so I ripped open the envelope without a second thought.

And there it was in black and white, staring me straight in the face. They’d been kind enough to estimate my total repayment with interest.

One. hundred. thousand. dollars… for my three loans over ten years. I’d be writing checks to Nelnet for eight hundred and fifty dollars every month for the next decade.

My jaw must have dropped. I put the letter down and crawled into bed. I tried not to think about it.

Then I realized I wasn’t alone under the heavy cost of school. It was on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and on the cover of magazines, congress was debating it – student loan debt was approaching a trillion dollars in the US. They’re even occupying student debt now.

With graduate school interest rates slightly below eight percent, and the unemployment rate, slightly above eight percent, something has got to give.

Reporters like to cite one fact over and over again. For the first time in history, student debt exceeds credit card debt. It makes sense considering people don’t normally charge sixty-five thousand dollars to their MasterCard.

So if you asked me if all the money was worth it, I’d have to consider the long nights, and the early mornings… and all of the stress. Then I’d remember my few precious successes, and celebrating with friends at the bar afterwards. And even if those drinks did come at seven point nine percent interest, I’d say, yeah, I think it’s worth it.

BACKANNOUNCE: Acacia will make her first eight hundred and fifty dollar payment in November, but tonight she’s buying the drinks.

Posted in CommentariesComments (0)

The Cost Of Dying

Dying is an expensive business – today the average funeral costs 8,000 dollars.

A hundred years ago, Jewish immigrants to New York shared that financial burden by forming burial societies, where members paid small yearly dues to reserve a grave site near their loved ones.

Today, those 15,000 societies are in unregulated decline – or don’t exist at all.
The result is a growing black market where funeral directors can charge as much as they like for graves in Jewish cemeteries.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in City LifeComments (0)

Bill de Blasio Critiques Bloomberg’s Education Cuts

Bill de Blasio, public advocate, speaks outside City Hall criticizing Mayor Bloomberg's proposed budget (Photo/ John Light)

 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

HOST INTRO

Another potential 2013 candidate for mayor has blasted Mayor Bloomberg for his 2013 budget. The budget would cut the number of contracts awarded for after school and early child care programs by about half. In the week since the mayor unveiled his budget, educators and parents have taken to the streets to protest. And today, Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio added his voice to the growing outcry. John Light reports.


JOHN LIGHT, REPORTER

At a press conference outside city hall, De Blasio said that Bloomberg’s proposed cuts are part of a trend that he finds unsettling. When the recession began, the public advocate said, there were more than 130,000 kids in after school programs and childcare programs.

BILL DE BLASIO

If this budget passes as it is, that combined figure will go to 53,000. 80,000 fewer kids.

JOHN LIGHT

De Blasio’s office has put together a report, called “Cut Now, Pay Later.” It argues that while the cuts may save money now, they’ll cost the city in the long run.

BILL DE BLASIO

We have a Harvard study that shows for every one dollar invested in early childhood education generates two dollars in economic activity.

JOHN LIGHT

Though De Blasio’s report looked to the future, some people in the crowd were focused on the next few weeks. Wanda Torres works at a daycare center in the South Bronx.

WANDA TORRES

We got a letter on Monday saying our contract wasn’t going to be renewed. So as of June 30th we’re no longer going to receive funds, and we’re going to be shut down.

JOHN LIGHT

Torres says that many parents who send their children to her daycare center are not sure where else they might be able to send their kids while they’re at work. She says … some parents have considered leaving their jobs or working part time, but for many, that’s not an option.

WANDA TORRES

If they leave their job, then who’s going to support their kids? So they were asking us if we have anything, but we’re just in the same place that they are. We don’t have any definite information as to what’s going to happen.

JOHN LIGHT

Educators across New York have rallied students and parents to protest the proposed cut since Bloomberg’s budget presentation last week. Just yesterday, Bloomberg announced a public information campaign — the largest ever of its kind — to address chronic absenteeism in public schools. Manhattan parent Elzora Cleveland finds Bloomberg’s focus on absenteeism ironic in light of his proposed cuts.

ELZORA CLEVELAND

It’s very interesting that he wants to target absenteeism at a time like now but yet he opts to close after school programs and early childhood education programs. I mean, that is going to have a ripple effect of more absenteeism.

JOHN LIGHT

When he presented the budget, Bloomberg admitted that he may not get all the cuts he’s asked for.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG

Well, number one, we work with the city council between now and June 30th. So we’ll see how all of that works out.

JOHN LIGHT

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn — who’s a likely candidte to succeed Bloomberg — will be overseeing any changes to the proposed budget. And Quinn vowed last week to reinstate funding to after school programs. Hearings on the cuts will begin Monday, May 14th.

John Light, Columbia Radio News.

Posted in MoneyComments (0)

Online Gaming: A Violent Subculture

Teenagers playing Halo 3. (AP Photo/Marcus R. Donner)

One of the most popular genres of video games are first-person shooters, like the Halo and Call of Duty series.

Millions of players compete against each other in virtual warfare, online. Amidst the violence, an unusual sub-culture has emerged.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

HOST INTRO:

One of the most popular genres of video games are first-person shooters, war games such as the Halo and Call of Duty franchises. Thousands of players compete against each other in virtual combat online. Amidst the violence, an unusual sub-culture has developed. We sent Ben Bradford to the virtual field of battle, and he embedded in an elite unit, the Peen Kings.

In a high-rise office building in New York City, Russian special forces are raking machine gun fire at us. (Sounds of fire). I’m crouched behind a desk watching the Peen Kings return fire, holding a gun that I refuse to use—journalistic ethics and all that. One Russian goes down. (Soldier is hit). The Russians have a bomb, and the unit has to stop them from setting it off.

Reckless: There’s the bomb.

We go after it. (Search and Destroy music.) Two members of the team, called Reckless and Marksman, take off running, and I follow. Out the window and along the side of the building.

Reckless: Matt break the window for me. (Sound of a smoke grenade through the window.)

A bullet pulls down Reckless mid-stride and just like that he’s gone. (Shot.)

Reckless: Snipers! [Expletive].

Then, Marksman, too. Exposed and suddenly alone, I dash for cover, while the sole remaining Peen King, Mouth of War, protects me with sniper fire from inside the office building. He methodically takes down two of the enemy.

Reckless: You’ve got two left.

Then, I’m hit. (Shot and heartbeat.) I don’t know from where. Thankfully, Mouth finds my assailant before he finds me.

Mouth: …I got him.

The Russians have one man left. And then– (Shots)

Reckless: Oh! With the headshot!

None. The battle took only a minute. But the next round begins immediately, only this time we’re the Russians. (Search and Destroy music).

This is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a 2 and a half year old first person shooter. An average game lasts 10 minutes, then we’ll spend a minute in a lobby with the opposing team while another level loads.

Offline, the Peen Kings are friends from Malden, Massachusetts—Tony, 20 years old, his brother Matt and their friend Daniel—both 17. They’ve allowed me to follow them in the game, and ask questions. In-between bursts of fire, I asked how many games they’ve played.

(Over gunfire:)

Tony (Reckless): We get some in—we get like 10 in every day.

The game records that all three have spent between 50 and 100 days playing. But the friends spend far more time chatting and bantering than strategizing.

Daniel (Mouth of War): We’ve played more than 20 games today.
Tony: I haven’t no way.
Daniel: Yes we have!

Tony and Daniel say the camaraderie essential to their experience.

(Over gunfire:)

Tony: Yeah I mean it’s fun. I don’t really play shooting games by myself, I just like playing with my friends.
Daniel: Yeah I can’t play by myself.

University of Alabama Professor Matt Payne says these online games allow players to connect with friends or strangers, and work together. That’s their appeal.

Payne: The reason why gamers play together is not simply to win, but it’s so they can be with one another, so they can accomplish things together, so they can do things together that they couldn’t do apart.

Payne admires the exploration and teamwork first-person shooters encourage. But go online, and you’re certain to experience far less friendly communication. Like from this guy. He’s just finished a game, and he has some words for his opponents.

Daddy Oakes: You all know you suck, right? Nail sucks. Homebird really sucks. Bus Patrol, I know you could have done better, but—hey Homebird, [expletive] you.

Payne says the anonymity of the Internet plus the game’s competitiveness fosters taunts, gloating, and personal attacks.

Payne: You have all of these gamers who are there to dominate. Part of that domination escapes the gameplay round and it gets expressed and manifests through language.

They shoot you, then they make fun of you. In all kinds of creatively insulting ways. If your killer crouches up and down on your corpse—that’s called teabagging. It means they “pwned” you, another gamer word. Teabagging may be in good fun…but the most odious mannerism is the use of the n-word. You hear that word everywhere. Tony and Daniel don’t see a problem with it.

(Over gunfire:)

Tony: You could be [expletive] yellow, you could be purple, you’ll still be called a [expletive]. You could just be out of friggin, like the Klan, and you’ll still be called a [expletive].
Daniel: Yeah, it’s just a word, it’s what we call each other.

In the real world, it’s a forbidden word for most people. In the virtual world, it’s as common as hello or goodbye. But then again, in a virtual world where slaughter is routine, perhaps the word is not so remarkable. Psychologist Brad Bushman of Ohio State University sees a connection between what he calls two taboo behaviors.

Bushman: I think taboo behaviors are contagious. … And engaging in one taboo behavior greatly increases the likelihood that you’ll engage in other taboo behaviors.

Studies by Bushman and others suggest violent games also raise players’ aggression—though that does not mean people turn into killers.

Bushman: In first person shooter games you have the same visual perspective as the killer, so you see the world through the killer’s eyes. You’re the one who pulls the trigger.

Scott Rigby studies the psychology behind games. He disputes that the nature of the games causes negative behavior.

Rigby: I enjoy headshots as a gamer, and I’m also a guy who catches bugs and takes them outside because I don’t want to kill them, so how do you reconcile those two things?

Rigby sees the competition and teamwork required by shooters as a psychological positive. But, he agrees the realistic, graphic violence—exploding heads and bloody corpses—can be desensitizing. His solution is to tone down the blood and guts while leaving the gameplay intact.

Back in an Afghani scrapyard, I’m hiding out with the Peen Kings (gunfire and explosions) and ask Tony what he thinks. He considers while a grenade explodes.

Tony: That’s completely retarded. I’ve never in this game went around and shotgunned someone and said that’s really cool, you know what I’m going to go and shotgun someone in real life.

The Kings don’t spend a lot of time considering the issues of violence or language. For them. the game is their hobby, and they’re just online to compete together, and to hang out, talk about sports, friends, girls, and of course to make fun of each other. (Sounds of battle slowly overwhelmed by a falling nuclear missile.)

Tony: Obviously I didn’t mean that way you [expletive] idiot.

From deep inside the game, I’m Ben Bradford, Columbia Radio News.

Daniel: You’re an idiot because you don’t know how to put your words together.
Tony: You’re an idiot for confusing my words together.

(Explosion.)

Posted in Science and TechComments (4)

James Brown Live At The Apollo: 50 Years On

James Brown performing live in 1991 (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

Before Pappa’s Got A Brand New Bag, It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World and Sex Machine, James Brown wasn’t quite the megastar we remember.

But that all changed 50 years ago this fall. That’s when James Brown recorded a show at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre which later became a seminal live album.

To mark that anniversary, a deluxe box set of Apollo recordings is on the way. 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

PAUL SMITH: A group of teenagers is getting a tour backstage at the Apollo Theatre. Billy Mitchell, the Apollo’s historian, is their guide. He points to a wall covered with performers’ autographs.

BILLY MITCHELL: We’ve got Snoop Dog, John Legend, Alicia Keys, Will. I. Am from the Black Eyed Peas….


PS: Mitchell says one autograph is missing. He was a teenager when he first came here. In the 60s, he’d mooch outside the stage door on 126th Street after school. One day one of the stars appearing at the theater gave him a $25 tip for fetching some fried chicken – a lot of money in those days. The man who gave him that money was James Brown.

Six years after his death, Brown still draws crowds to Harlem, Mitchell says.

 

Billy Mitchell: I get people that come here from tours all over the world who say they have that album.


P.S: That album is Live At The Apollo, recorded on this stage on October 24th 1962 and released a year later.

 

MUSIC: Fats Gonder Intro. 

“Mr Dynamite, the amazing Mr Please Please himself, the star of the show, James Brown and The Famous Flames”


P.S: But MC Fats Gonder’s introduction and the rest of the show nearly didn’t get recorded. Douglas Wolk is the author of Live At The Apollo, an in-depth examination of the concert and album. He describes the album as a tug of war between a stubborn young artist and the equally stubborn boss of his record label.

Douglas Wolk: He went to Syd Nathan, the guy who ran King Records – his label – and said, really the heart of what I do is the live show, I want to make a live recording, will you fund this? And Syd Nathan said No absolutely not.


P.S: Nathan wondered why anyone would buy an album of songs they already owned as singles. Singles made artists famous…not albums.

But Brown was determined. He offered up $5,700 from his own pocket to produce the live record and prove Nathan wrong. That’s just over $40,000 in today’s money,

As the crowd lined up outside the Theatre, New York was under nuclear threat. The Cuban Missile Crisis was on.

But inside the Apollo, there was a different kind of tension.

MUSIC: JAMES BROWN I’LL GO CRAZY

Y’know I feel alright. Y’know I feel alright children. I feel alright.


P.S: With the tape reels turning, Brown bolted on stage, accompanied by an orchestra, dancers and a trio of sharp suited male backing singers… the Famous Flames.

Music Up for first chorus: “If you leave me, I’ll go crazy. I love you too much.”


P.S: Bobby Bennett is the last surviving Flame. He now lives in the suburbs of Washington, DC. He’s proud of the recording and says it’s all the more impressive given the band’s grueling schedule.

 

BOBBY BENNETT: We did five or six shows a day. We would do a midnight show and we would have as many people out there at midnight trying to get into our show as we would at 10 o’clock in the morning.

 

P.S: That’s how Brown earned the epithet the hardest working man in showbiz. He was a formidable band leader, something Bennett experienced when he forgot to do his laundry.

 

BB: Well if we wouldn’t be clean like we’d supposed to be, we’d get a fine. If your pants wasn’t pressed right, if your jacket was wrinkled.

MUSIC – please please please


P.S. As the show went on, Brown screamed, sweated and slid across the stage on his knees. Author Douglas Wolk says Brown topped off the spectacle with a signature move.

DW: He would fake a heart attack and collapse and clutch his chest. His valet or someone would come over, put a cape on him and lead him off stage. Then he’d throw the cape off, rush back to the center of stage, sing another chorus and then collapse again and repeat the whole procedure a couple of times.


P.S: Brow’s antics sent the crowd berserk. You can hear it on the original 1963 vinyl. Or so it seems. Harry Weinger [Wine-grrr] is the vice president of A&R for Universal Music Enterprises. He holds the key to the master recordings. When he found the reels in a vault two decades ago, he noticed something strange. He could see where the tape had been cut and new crowd noise inserted.

 

HARRY WEINGER: If you go back to the original record, the very loud screams are not from the Apollo. They are white teenagers from a roller rink.


P.S: This was label boss Syd Nathan’s doing. He thought the record wasn’t thrilling enough. So he sent an engineer with a microphone to a Friday night social in Cincinnati. Then he edited the resulting screams into Brown’s record. They were removed from later pressings. But even after this studio trickery, Nathan still seemed unconvinced. Weinger dug up the record’s initial pressing order.

 

HW: Because album sales were low. Because James Brown was not someone who sold albums. Syd Nathan put in a purchase order for 5000 copies.


P.S: But Nathan was soon buying more because everyone was buying Live At The Apollo.

 

MUSIC: Night Train 


P.S: The record spent 14 months in the pop charts – pretty rare for an r&b album back then. It rose to #2, but couldn’t quite knock crooner Andy Williams off the top of the charts. Weinger says it became something of a party favorite for white audiences.

HW: It happens in every generation. There’s some record that distills the African American experience for a white audience and the white audience grabs it and runs with it.


P.S: Apollo Theatre Historian Billy Mitchell saw James Brown return to the venue again and again. He says the singer noticed little change.

 

BM: He would go up to the dressing rooms and reminisce and say these dressing rooms still looking raggedy, huh.

MUSIC: Night Train outro 

P.S: Brown recorded at the Apollo again too. Weinger says when the Live At The Apollo boxset comes out, it’ll include a previously unreleased recording from 1972, as well as three other shows from over the years.

 

 

Posted in CultureComments (0)

Newscast – Top of the Hour

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in UncategorizedComments (0)

Full Broadcast – May 4, 2012

Click here to listen to our full broadcast from Friday, April 27, 2012:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in Recent BroadcastsComments (0)

Obama and Romney Both Court Bloomberg

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney had breakfast with Mayor Michael Bloomberg earlier this week in Manhattan. President Obama had lunch with the mayor at the White House a few weeks ago. The obvious agenda: both the president and his challenger want Bloomberg’s endorsement. I spoke with Lois Romano, who writes for Politico, about the candidates’ courtship of the notoriously independent mayor.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in InterviewsComments (0)