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Things Not to Do in the Bike Lane: a helpful guide October 23, 2007

Posted by Alex Danger in Biking, Brooklyn.
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Dear fellow street-users,

I know, New York is a craaazy city and it can be hard to know whether you’re coming, going, or blocking everyone around you. With streets shared by cars, trucks, bikers, rollerbladers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and the occasional guy on a segway, it can be hard to determine whether or not you’re being an asshole to your fellow street-users. To help, I have compiled a list entitled Things Not to Do in the Bike Lane, from the perspective of a biker. You can, of course, weigh in with other self-evident courtesy tips. Without further ado, Things Not to Do in the Bike Lane:

  1. Walk. This one seems the most obvious, yet evades many. It doesn’t matter which direction you’re walking in, the bike lane is still not the place for you to be. Also, if you are walking with your bike, you are actually walking, not biking. Please make use of the sidewalk.
  2. Load your truck or van. I don’t care how much crap you have or how unbearable it is to park down the block or across the street — the bike lane is not your personal loading zone.
  3. Scratch various parts of your anatomy while deciding whether or not to cross the street. Not only is this not the place for such potentially life-altering decisions, it is also too late – because you are already in the street.
  4. Park. As with #1, obvious, yet pervasive. It is also not the double parking lane, no matter what you’ve concluded from your observations.
  5. Cruise for a parking spot. This is (hopefully) a fairly rare activity. Driving very slowly in the bike lane does not make you a bike. It just makes you a jerk.
  6. Talk to someone in a parked car with your ass sticking out. Believe me, I would like little more than to hit you in your seemingly vast, lane-blocking posterior. When my concerns for your bodily safety override this urge, don’t be a douchebag and yell at me to “relax” when I’m screaming “look out” and rapidly approaching collision. Just get out of the way, and be happy you did.
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“I mean, I don’t hate animals or anything, but” October 11, 2007

Posted by Alex Danger in Animal Rights, Feminism.
2 comments

I’ve noticed this pattern come up over and over again, talking to fairly progressive people. Whenever animal rights/animal welfare comes up stuff like “I have no problem with animals, but shouldn’t we spend [our resources] on [another issue, like domestic violence or prison reform]?” is all I ever hear.

Yesterday, in my DV & the law class, the statistic that there are x times as many pet shelters as women’s shelters came up, as in, what’s up with that? Well, first off, perhaps it is that there are more homeless animals than women in battering situations? I mean, I don’t know since the two amounts would be very difficult to tabulate – but it’s a worthy statistical question. The professor was concerned — “I love pets and all, but our priorities are clearly out of whack”. Another student commented about how we as a society perceive animals as helpless – perhaps we are expecting women to help themselves? She said it as if this was problematic thinking. Is it really? An animal can’t open its mouth and call for help, ask for food and shelter, demand to be free from harm. A woman can – at least physically – do these things.

I was also surprised that no one made the connection between domestic violence and animal abuse – although there is a readily apparent one. There are statistically high instances of DV abusers beating the household pet or threatening to do so. Many have a history of animal abuse in their childhoods. Hunting is also a prevalent hobby. Is it that hard to see the links, or does Carol J. Adams have to hit you over the head with them?

The problem with the above situation is we’re always pitting animals against some other issue that, for whatever reason, is deemed more “worthy” of our limited resources. What makes a population deserving of aid? Helplessness? Severity? Societal normatizing of suffering? What they mean to us? What they have to offer in return? Why are animal welfare issues constantly placed outside the realm of “legitimate” social activism? Is it because people are aware, or subconsciously aware, that it’s on them? That you can’t just get away with saying you “care” about animals without analyzing how you are complicit in their suffering – that so much of your life – what you eat, what you wear, what medicine you take, what shampoo you use – touches upon issues of animal welfare? That you actually have to change your lifestyle to take this position and not be a hypocrite?

Why are we so reluctant to see animal suffering as part of a continuum of violence against the politically weaker members of our society – women, children, queers, immigrants, transpeople, minorities, the poor and the disabled? Is it because people are reluctant to admit that we are like them, and they are like us? Or is it something else?

These aren’t rhetorical questions, please feel free to answer them in the comments section.

 For more on gender and animal rights, check out this.

police brutality at sylvia rivera celebration!! September 27, 2007

Posted by Alex Danger in Police, Queer Rights.
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Hello all,

Please distribute this far and wide. I was at the fundraiser after-party last night, and came out of the bar to find people collapsed on the sidewalk, crying in pain. There is no possible justification for using pepper spray and excessive force on a peaceful gathering — the police’s behavior last night cuts deep and reminds us all about the urgent need of organizations like SRLP to exist to protect the basic rights and human dignity of transgendered people.

–Alex

==========

NYC-area people are encouraged to show support for those arrested at 100 Centre Street today


PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY

At the Sylvia Rivera Law Project’s after-party following its fifth
anniversary celebration last night, two members of the community were
violently arrested and others were pepper sprayed by police without
warning or cause. The two folks who were arrested remain in police
custody and should be arraigned tomorrow. (More details of the
incident can be found below in the press release.)

We ask that people show up tomorrow, Thursday, starting at 9:30am and
continuing throughout the day to call for the immediate release of and
the dropping of charges against the people who were arrested. The
arraignment court rooms are at 100 Centre St (Directions: No. 4 or 5
train to Brooklyn Bridge Station; No. 6 train, N, R or C train to
Canal Street; No. 1 train to Franklin Street; M1, M6 and M15 bus lines
are nearby. 100 Centre Street is one block north of Worth Street,
three blocks south of Canal Street.) Ask for directions to the
arraignment rooms at the info desk when you enter.

For more information or to receive updates via email or text message,
contact Jack (post comments here on this blog).

PRESS RELEASE:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Police Brutality Strikes Fifth Anniversary of Sylvia Rivera Law Project

NEW YORK – On the night of Wednesday, September 26, officers from the
9th Precinct of the New York Police Department attacked without
provocation members of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and of its
community. Two of our community members were violently arrested, and
others were pepper sprayed in the face without warning or cause.

The Sylvia Rivera Law Project ( www.srlp.org) is an organization that
works on behalf of low-income people of color who are transgender,
gender non-conforming, or intersex, providing free legal services and
advocacy among many other initiatives. On Wednesday night, the Sylvia
Rivera Law Project was celebrating its fifth anniversary with a
celebration and fundraising event at a bar in the East Village.

A group of our community members, consisting largely of queer and
transgender people of color, witnessed two officers attempting to
detain a young Black man outside of the bar. Several of our community
members asked the officers why they were making the arrest and using
excessive force. Despite the fact that our community was on the
sidewalk, gathered peacefully and not obstructing foot traffic, the
NYPD chose to forcefully grab two people and arrested them. Without
warning, an officer then sprayed pepper spray across the group in a
wide arc, temporarily blinding many and causing vomiting and intense
pain.

“This is the sort of all-too-common police violence and overreaction
towards people of color that happens all the time,” said Dean Spade,
founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. “It’s ironic that we were
celebrating the work of an organization that specifically opposes
state violence against marginalized communities, and we experienced a
police attack at our celebration.”

“We are outraged, and demand that our community members be released
and the police be held accountable for unnecessary use of excessive
force and falsely arresting people,” Spade continued.

Damaris Reyes is executive director of GOLES, an organization working
to preserve the Lower East Side. She commented, “I’m extremely
concerned and disappointed by the 9th Precinct’s response to the
situation and how it escalated into violence. This kind of aggressive
behavior doesn’t do them any good in community-police relations.”

Supporters will be gathering at 100 Centre Street tomorrow, where the
two community members will be arraigned. The community calls for
charges to be dropped and to demand the immediate release of those
arrested.

– END –

doctor doctor July 12, 2007

Posted by Alex Danger in Fat, Health Care.
3 comments

I went to the doctor’s office yesterday for my recent stomach woes. In his relatively bare office, where I waited for him to arrive, 3 items hung on the walls. Two were certificates for specialist of the year from some medical society I’d never heard of. The other one, which hung above his desk and formed the focal point of the room was a BMI chart. This BMI chart was large, with a black background. Like most, it had an axis of heights and an axis of weights. “Normal” height/weight ratios formed a grey block. “Overweight” was an orange block of comparable size. “Obese” took up nearly 3/5ths of the chart, and was colored bright-danger-red. Curiously, there was no section marked “underweight” although I can say with certainty that many New Yorkers are. I guess anorexia is not a concern for the CDC. The aphorism “you can never be too thin or too rich” comes to mind.

I trace my height and weight, to discover that I am fortunate enough to be considered “normal” by the medical establishment. So why do I still feel so uncomfortable? The easy quantification of my whole body into a number, which can only be “okay,” “bad” or “very bad”? The front-and-center placement of the chart, which greets the patient before the doctor does? The fact that something relatively meaningless can be so meaning-laden? The poster speaks for the doctor. It says, “before you see me, check to see if you’re fat.” Why is it there? If it made me as uncomfortable as it did, I can only imagine how a larger person would feel about seeing it, how it would color their whole visit.

My girlfriend and I got into an argument about whether it was appropriate for a doctor (a gastroenterologist) to have that poster in his office. She seemed to think he chose it because it was free, made his office look “professional” (doctorial?) and informed patients of where they stand. I wouldn’t give him the benefit of the doubt on this. There aren’t many meanings a poster like this can have in a gastroenterologist’s office. Any patient who sees it in that context can pretty easily connect the dots.

Aside from the fact that it would make fat patients uncomfortable and felt judgmental to me, I’m not even clear on who this chart is supposed to benefit. Fat people know they’re fat. They are reminded of it every day, implicitly and, with alarming frequency, explicitly. Is the chart there to delineate to them whether they are “obese” or merely “overweight”? Is it there to guilt them before their meeting with the doctor? To, quite literally, let them know where they stand? Thin people probably know they’re thin; and anyways, they’re not even represented on this chart. Perhaps it’s there to allow “normal” people the comfort of knowing they aren’t overweight? Yet, somehow, I doubt this – the bright red color of the “fat zone” contravenes this hunch and suggests a quite opposite meaning.

Although I’ve never been told by a doctor to lose weight (granted, I rarely go to the doctor unless it’s absolutely necessary, which for me totals at less than once a year,) I have a number of friends who have. One was a fairly slim girl who, I suspect, would actually fall on the cusp of normal/underweight according to the BMI chart. When she had her annual checkup, the nurse at the health center told her she had high cholesterol and to lose oh, about 10 pounds. When asked why, the nurse told her that, in their experience, people who weight less have lower cholesterol. Riiight. Nice and easy. It certainly wasn’t the weekly hamburgers she was fond of eating. No, it was because she weighed too much. I actually cannot imagine what this girl would look like were she to lose the requisite weight, but the words “scary” and “unhealthy” come to mind. Another girl had a similar experience when she went in to get birth control. Unsolicited advice to drop 10-15lbs from the doctors and nurses at this health center. Again, if these “normal” girls are getting this kind of care, you don’t need to think too hard to envision what fat women (and men, though, I suspect, to a lesser extent) have to put up with from health care providers.

In fact, there was a guest blog post today @ Shapely Prose which lays it all out for you. Fat hatred kills. Read it. It’s fucking heartbreaking.

the luxury of being alone July 10, 2007

Posted by Alex Danger in Biking, Brooklyn, Reflection.
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Biking is for lovers

Last night, while sitting on the roof of my building enjoying the breeze and mostly-unadulterated view of northwest Brooklyn, I realized why biking to work feels not only physically, but mentally healthier. It’s the only time of the day when I’m pretty much alone. Aside from the time I spend in the bathroom, I’m surrounded by people almost all day long.

I live with roommates, I sleep with my girlfriend, I work with – well, you get the picture. If I take the subway to work, I’m alone probably 1% of my day. If I bike, however, I have about an hour a day where it’s just me. I can go where I want (so long as I obey or at least stay wary of traffic laws). I can take my time, do my thing, go at my pace. I can reflect or theorize, which is kinda hard to do when you’re running for the train or looking for a seat.

I always feel really independent, too. No other practical form of transportation offers this independence. You’re always relying on externalities – the train conductor, the 8 million commuters, gasoline, money. When I’m biking it’s just me. My fuel, my legs, my breakfast – if I screw up, it’s my fault, but most of the time, I love that my body can move me 10 miles a day.

I haven’t biked much since I fell off on the fourth of july, and I’ve been feeling really cranky about it. I was going to go today, but I nixed the idea when I saw it was high 90s (and I am somewhat sick). But really, I can’t fucking wait to get back in the saddle.

Bike picture by Marc for b-minus designs.

an escape, of sorts.. July 9, 2007

Posted by Alex Danger in Uncategorized.
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Livejournalling was becoming too solipsistic, so I started this to do “something else” with the overflow of ideas. We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, here are some links about goings-on about town, for my purposes as well as yours: