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The Positive Brothers

I kind of forgot how bad the bad old days of the late 80s / early 90s were until the DJIA hit 7750 and the unbroken chilly gloom of February made pedestrians look like frosty denizens of an Edward Hopper painting. Then I went for a walk in Battery Park and saw the Postive Brothers doing their show, and I remembered how good it was to see guys performing acrobatics in the old fountain at Washington Square Park, telling me my monetary contribution was keeping my home safe from burglary later that night.

The show is much the same as it was back then: witty chatter, tension-diffusing racial jokes, break dancing, and some crazy acrobatics, usually concluded with a spectacular leap over the heads of six or seven terrified audince members. But these guys make it new every time with their good humor and positive vibes. If you’re feeling down with the market, unemployment, and empty pockets, go down to Battery Park on a sunny day and check out their show. Throw a dollar in the hat if you have it. They also accept enthusiastic applause for payment.

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oil-fields

Dubai is a palace of excess and contradition. It is a mushroom that paradoxically bloomed under the whithering rays of the sun. But the leadership of the UAE is a lot smarter than anyone in America today. From today’s New York Times:

[The UAE’s] new investment [in renewable energy] aims to maintain the gulf’s dominant position as a global energy supplier, gaining patents from the new technologies and promoting green manufacturing. But if the United States and the European Union have set energy independence from the gulf states as a goal of new renewable energy efforts, they may find they are arriving late at the party.

The irony that the most wasteful and oil dependent part of the globe should be on the cutting edge of green energy is unremarkable next to the ambition — characteristic of the Gulf states — to go all the way all at once. Consider Masdar City, a planned community outside of Abu Dhabi that claims it will have a zero-carbon footprint. Even though skeptics doubt this claim, it is notable not for its complete success in execution, but for its audacity.

According to the Times article, Qatar has invested $225 million into a British research fund, and Saudi Arabia has invested untold millions into American universities, including $25 million for Michael McGehee an associate professor at Stanford, to develop cutting edge technologies. That is fifty times the amount invested by Western governments or industry.

Finally, the Times tells us Masdar City “goes beyond creating new materials and is in fact exploring a new model for urban life.” To wit: “The city will have no cars; people will move around using driverless electric vehicles that move on a subterranean level. The air-conditioning will be solar powered.” As a New Yorker I take exception to this. After all, we also have subterranean electric cars that move people around. It’s called the subway. If only the city, state, and federal government could get their posteriors and capitals wired together they could see that a massive investment in the New York City subway is a necessary good faith effort to putting America into the 21st century.


My friend and I went to Kenka, a Japanese restaurant, on Saturday night (23/05/08). Though there was a twenty minute wait to get a table, I enjoyed hanging out on the sidewalk. Last week was Fleet Week in Manhattan, and the streets were jammed with sailors looking for a good time (and maybe a tattoo?).

Urban density means street life. We sat on the steps in front of Kenka watching the constant flow of people on the sidewalk, listening to conversations and soaking in the richness of the city. Some xenophobes and paranoiacs may feel short of breath on a crowded New York City sidewalk, but there is nowhere safer per capita in the U. S.! Though we were surrounded by different nationalities, ethnicities, and languages, the possible friction from those differences are overwhelmed by the sheer diversity of the street. Not even the scary Japanese mole-monster scared off diners!

Kenka has great food, and as far as I know it’s very authentic. Either that or the Japanese (Chinese and Koreans) that crowd the restaurant enjoy the Epcot vibe more than the “authentic” KFC you find all over Tokyo and Shanghai. Best of all, Kenka has a cotton candy machine just outside the front door, and they serve a little plastic cup of flavored sugar with your bill instead of fortune cookies. Use a chopstick to capture the cotton candy, and walk away with yummy desert!