Summer's Here: Welcome Back Hotter
I've written about spring and how it needs to really step its game up and out of the shadow of summer, because you know, it's like the Kelly Rowland of seasons and summer is Beyonce. But it's too late for that now, because summer is here.
Like Beyonce, there are a lot of people fawning over summer, which is totally cool and is actually ingrained in our head from childhood, since summer is when school was on vacation. And like the great underachieving nation we are, America loves a sabbatical from learning.
Perhaps it's the return of beach weather, that makes people so happy about summer, especially if you live in Brooklyn, since Coney Island is always a fun time, even if it's lost its dodgy charm and Brighton Beach boasts quick access to vodka and pierogies, as well as the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.
Unfortunately, a staggering 24 percent of New Yorkers are considered obese, as reflected by this New York City government report, which translates to lots of obese people at city beaches, which doesn't sound like fun. Perhaps Bloomberg was overstepping the government's presence with the proposed jumbo soda ban. But folks were acting like a mega Fanta is part of their 2nd amendment rights and a Slurpie would need to be pried from their cold, dead hands.
With that said, these are some things about this particular summer that I don't like, at this moment... the list could grow once those dudes start with the fireworks around the end of June:
THE WORLD CUP
FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, that runs the World Cup, point blank, is pimpin'. They make host countries spend billions of dollars to build stadiums and infrastructure around the stadiums, in order to host the games. Then FIFA keeps the television and marketing rights, which is the guaranteed, big money and allows the host country to keep the ticket sales, which can be flakey revenue. In fact, I read that FIFA made a profit of 2 billion dollars on the 2010 World Cup games. Governments of the host countries, when they are developing nations, have other, far more pressing needs for the billions spend to get World Cup ready.
Not saying that the government is taking money away from programs to assist the less fortunate, which is waaaayyy too many people in Brazil, but the country's profits are going to the elite and not trickling down to the people.
The economic impact of the World Cup is usually way more muted than expected, and the spike in tourism flatlines after the games. All that's left are stadiums without enough sports teams, or sporting events, to make the glut of stadiums make sense. Yet FIFA plays to the soft spots that these countries have for soccer and appeals to their national pride when it comes to the beautiful game. Just ask South Africa about their World Cup experience from 2010 and more importantly about their disappointment. Here's a little ditty I wrote about Brazil and World Cup 2014, wanna read it? Here it go:
(To the melody of "Whitey On The Moon", by Gil Scott Heron)
Brazil's a country on its knees
and FIFA gets a field
Its Infrastructure under siege
and FIFA gets a field
Poverty rate is growing fast
and FIFA gets a field
Education system's a laugh
and FIFA gets a field
Empty bellies ain't even rare
yet FIFA gets a field
crime's in prime time everywhere
but FIFA gets a field
RACIST ICE CREAM TRUCK MUSIC
The summer should be about having fun, taking half-days on Fridays and going to the beach with large sodas; it should not be about Ice Cream trucks playing racist tunes. The fact that I've whistled that ice cream truck song, since I was a kid, only makes me feel worse. To a child, ice cream is everything and a kid would willingly trade her liver for a popsicle or ice cream sandwich. Somehow, that magically turns into vodka, as adults willing trade their livers for happy hour martinis, but that's another story.
The racist song has a sordid back story, with the N word, watermelon, Jim Crow and Zip Coon all having a starring role. Perhaps the story isn't true, as is posited by this article from New Republic, but either way, I now FEEL like the song is racist, which is the real problem and since we're talking about songs written nearly a century ago, it's no way to truly know the origins of the tunes. Where's a hundred year old bigot when ya need one?
Now, when I'm in my summer flow, wrecking my liver with a vodka tonic while sitting outside a cool, Brooklyn bar and talking to a pretty young transplant from Des Moines, desperately trying to keep my eyes above her neck, and the ice cream truck comes by playing Donald Sterling's ring tone, I might feel a slight tinge of discomfort if the girl I'm talking to is white. But just for a moment, cause honestly, ain't nobody got time for that.
Every time I see a ghost bike, it makes me incredibly sad. This past week, a friend of mine was hit by a car, which smashed him into another car, right at the intersection of Myrtle and Broadway, right under the JMZ train station, in Bushwick Brooklyn. It's on the border of Bushwick and Bed-Stuy and I know, as a bike rider, that it's a way dangerous intersection. His name was Zack Fortune.
He was a fellow DJ, a rapper, producer, T-shirt maker and just a super rad guy. We weren't good friends, but I quite frankly didn't expect him to die, at 27 years old, in a bike accident under the JMZ station, on the border of Bushwick and Bed-Stuy.
New York City has grown its bike culture and though it in no way rivals a Scandinavian country, there are lots of bicycles on the road and lots of bike lanes and tons of bike shops. Citibike and the bike share program are partially responsible, as it has increased the numbers of cyclists on the road, exponentially, which, it could be assumed, would increase awareness of bikes from motor vehicle drivers, but apparently not. Cars and trucks are just as reckless, if not more, with bicyclists, even though there are bikes everywhere.
I've personally had a car try to door me on purpose for no reason. The car was driven by a woman, and her passenger that tried to door me, was a woman. So being a automobile jerk obviously crosses the gender line, as it should or Gloria Steinem's fight would have been for naught. When it comes to responding to accidents with bicyclists, police officers are so lax, that they border on indifferent to the victim.
Their unwillingness to write up a police accident report is so frustrating and only furthers the anti-bike sentiment that cyclists already feel from cars and trucks on the road. To my dismay, the preponderance of ghost bikes seems to increase as bicycling becomes more popular and I am not in love with the direction of that dynamic.
So yeah, I'm really unhappy about the danger of bicycling in New York City this summer, and hopefully, things improve as the summer advances. But I honestly don't have high hopes that it's gonna happen.
RIP Zack "Furoche" Fortune