Harry Siegel

Movement v. System

09.3.2004 | Harry Siegel | Cultural Affairs | 4 Comments

At the march, I asked a fellow in a hammer and sickle shirt if he was a Communist. He told me he just thought “it was a cool shirt.” I suggested a swastika belt buckle might complete the look, but he didn’t seem to get it. Maybe he thought they’d clash. There were, though, numerous swastikas on signs and shirts comparing Bush to Hitler.

Siegel Shoots the RNC Protests

08.30.2004 | Harry Siegel | National Affairs, Partisan Art, Photography | 3 Comments
…a very white protest, even as such things go, full of youngsters who spent an awful lot of time cheering wildly for things that happened 20 blocks further north, as applause no longer connected to events snaked its way backward.

Critics' Critics, or, Who Watches the Watchmen?

07.21.2004 | Harry Siegel | Literature | 5 Comments
Mr. Munson’s critics repeatedly employ the phrase “Maud-bashing,” as though Maud is as instantly recognizable a noun as say, “gay.”

The NYC GOP's Short-Lived Revival

06.30.2004 | Harry Siegel | Urban Affairs | 5 Comments
And so it is that a decade of Republican mayors and a third term Republican governor in Albany add up to a Grand Old Party without a future in New York City. In fact, the mayoralty aside, it is becoming Gotham’s third most powerful party, behind the Democrats and the increasingly muscular Working Families Party.

The Againsters

04.4.2004 | Harry Siegel | Cultural Affairs, Literature | 1 Comment
I find it hard to imagine any sane person taking equal enjoyment from Gary Indiana’s clumsy vulgarities and Wendy Wasserstein’s well-wrought bourgeois dramas, Paul Auster’s bizarre racialisms and Jhumpa Lahiri’s brilliant attention to detail. But the crowd at the all-star-author hootenanny was, like the readers, united more in a lifestyle than a political movement, more interested in literature as a scene than as an art form.

At the NYC ANSWER Rally - A Photo Essay

Click the photos for more.

Krazy's America -- No Austerities

The brick — alternately weapon, valentine, and prison — is the symbol of the mutual miscommunication that unties the strip’s three principles. And words for Herriman are the bricks of language; his creations speak in a pun-y patois whose elements include but are by no means limited to Yiddish, Spanish, and slang, Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Dickens, full of purposeful misspelling and bizarre punctuation. The strip is a free market hodge-podge of cultures, sounds, and meanings, uniquely and unmistakably American.

Urban Legends -- the Decline and Fall of the American City

03.9.2004 | Harry Siegel | Urban Affairs | 4 Comments
Lyndon Johnson, the story goes, once delivered a speech in New York on the Great Society. Just as he declared America was engaged “in nothing less than an all-out war on poverty,” a voice from the crowd replied, “Mr. President, we surrender.”

Windows Not Broken

It’s a testament to how much the city has changed since the Dinkins years that hipsters, many of them newcomers to the city, lack the danger sense once shared by most all New Yorkers.

Bloomberg Thus Far

Time and again, Bloomberg has proved that he simply does not understand average New Yorkers or empathize with their travails. At a time when middle-class New Yorkers were outraged by his tax hikes, he jauntily told an elite Manhattan business group that the city was “a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product.”

The Fall of Quarter Man

*Umbrella, n — A derisive term for hipsters derived from the Handsome Family song Everything That Rises Must Converge (itself of course named after the story and collection of the same name by Flannery O’Connor): “Some folks are like umbrellas/ They pass through your life with little meaning.” Also from M’intosh the revenant in Joyce’s Ulysses, a character marked by his prophylactic garb, ill suited to the story’s weather, and detachment from his surroundings. See Also: Space Pirate.

The New Prohibition

“Think about crack, man, how raw that got back in the 1980s. This ain’t that bad yet, but there’s easy, almost make-believe money to be made hawking smokes, so it don’t matter what the police do … you’re going to have crews setting up franchises, cutting up the city, and deading the competition.” —A Brooklyn-based buttlegger

A Human Scaled Path of Manhattan

12.24.2003 | Harry Siegel | Urban Affairs
“It would be better to cultivate a familiarity with any kind of coarse and honest art, or any sort of regular employment, than to fall into the company of Bohemians. They are seductive in their ways, and they hold the finest sentiments, and have a distinctive aversion of anything that is low or mean, or common or inelegant. Still, the Bohemian cannot be called a useful member of society, and it is not an encouraging sign for us that the tribe has become so numerous among us as to form a distinct and recognizable class that does not object to being called by that name.” —The New York Times, 1858

Joe Henry Goes Sorrow Slumming

11.25.2003 | Harry Siegel | Music
“When I wrote this song I worried it might be too political for my taste. But my wife assured me my songs are so obtuse, no one has any idea what I’m talking about anyway.”

New York's Firemen Are Unprepared and Mad as Hell

“The last training I had was a half-day class in Staten Island — a joke — inside a classroom! The only thing it told you was how to be able to tell the type of problem you’re in — HAZMAT incident, radiation exposure, terrorism, whatever — by the people dead around you. A whole mass of dead people means one sort of incident, scattered blistered or convulsing people another.”

Philly Street Fight

The real question about the FBI bug was: Which crime were the feds probing? Mayor Street, who admits that money buys influence, has already been involved in a fistful of scandals, including a $1.1 million airport maintenance contract received by the mayor’s brother, a hot dog vendor. Then there’s the case of the Mercedes-driving black Muslims getting more than $3 million in city funds to run schools where pipes freeze and unpaid teachers routinely quit in the middle of the school year.

Corrupt and Content

10.27.2003 | Harry Siegel | Urban Affairs
“There are these rules that have been informally accepted in this country for as long as there’s been government, as long as there’s been patronage.” —Philadelphia Mayor John Street

Why the Bronx Stopped Burning

“The South Bronx was not saved the way decades of reformers insisted it would have to be saved: by eliminating poverty…. What changed the South Bronx from Fort Apache to a functioning community was not a sudden influx of wealth, but a careful restoration of order—in the built environment, in public spaces, and in people’s lives.”

Bloomberg's Delusions of Luxury

Suddenly, Mayor Bloomberg is looking more than a little like Mayor Dinkins, and the Rudy years more like just an eight-year interruption from the city’s long history of self-destructive, special-interest politics. Ground Zero has become the ultimate broken window, a festering reminder of what was, and of the mayor’s evident disinterest in the site.

The Immense Burden of Interdependence

04.23.2003 | Harry Siegel | Urban Affairs
“The metropolis is the epitome of multiplicity; the paradox of the phenomenon is made possible by an almost mystic unity.” —Cleveland Rodgers, a member of the New York City Planning Council from 1838-1951