Tagged: New York Times

It Turns Out: Banana Peels Were Actually Dangerous

Don't worry guys, disaster avoided. #banana #bananapeel #sidewalk #lookdown #slippery

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We’re all familiar with the old cartoons or old movies where a character slips on a banana peel and comes crashing down to the ground. But has anyone you know actually slipped on a banana peel and fallen? Probably not.

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But it turns out that banana peels were in fact dangerous, especially in the large cities of the East Coast at the turn of the twentieth century. Annie Correal, writing for the New York Times, profiles the secret life of the city banana and notes how their popularity over a hundred years ago also made them dangerous.

They were so plentiful that in some cities, peels became a hazard. Yes, seriously. People fell and were injured. At least one man actually died from slipping on a banana peel. A headline in The New York Times in 1896 declared a “War on the Banana Skin.”

The 1896 article recounts how, Theodore Roosevelt, then-president of the city’s police department, “explained the bad habits of the banana skin, dwelling particularly on its tendency to toss people into the air and bring them down with terrific force on the hard pavement.” Roosevelt charged the police precinct supervisors to crack down on fruit and vegetable dealers from dumping “banana peels, apple and potato skins, and similar articles” on the lower eastside streets where many markets were prevalent.

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Slipping on a banana peel was so common at these markets that it must have made an impression on Jewish immigrants who populated Manhattan’s Lower East Side. According to Correal, “the notion of slipping on a banana peel made its way into American culture, [Dan] Koeppel said, thanks to Yiddish theater, Vaudeville and, eventually, silent films.”1 From there, it was just a matter of time that it became a common trope in TV programs since then.

I knew I hated bananas for a reason.

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  1. Dan Koeppel is author of Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World (2008). 

New York City 2017 Bike Map Pays Tribute to Bill Cunningham

I finally had a chance to see the New York City 2017 Bike Map, and it took me a while to realize that the cover pays tribute to longtime New York Times fashion photographer and cultural icon Bill Cunningham. Cunningham was a well known bicycle enthusiast and was known to enjoy riding his bike to photograph New York street life in his weekly “On the Street” columns for the New York Times.

Film still from Bill Cunningham New York. First Thought Films/Zeitgeist Films.

There are a few giveaways that show the cover illustration depicts Cunningham:

  • it’s an older, white-haired man on cruiser,
  • he’s snapping a photo from his bike,
  • he’s wearing his trademark blue jacket and grey pants,
  • most obviously, the map indicates a credit of “Cover illustration of Bill Cunningham, used with permission of the Estate of William J. Cunningham.”

Bill Cunningham passed away at age 87 a year ago today. He was extensively covered in the 2010 documentary, Bill Cunningham New York, which as of today, is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

NYC Bike Map 2017 Inset Pays Tribute to Bill Cunningham

Booze News You Can Use: How to Ease a Hangover

The NY Today morning newsletter, published each weekday by the New York Times, is filled with stories that of interest to readers in the local area. There are bulletins on local events, stories that connect to local history, and some profiles of area people in newsworthy situations, in addition the weather forecast and updated on local mass transit conditions. Yesterday, they published a guide on how to ease a hangover.

The advice they got from a local nutritionist and wellness manager runs counter to various commonsense remedies. When we crave food to soak up the alcohol, our bodies are really asking for carbohydrates to raise our blood sugar. When we go in search of a bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich, it’s not the grease that is helping us recover but the salt that we’ve lost since taking the first drink. And, to get rid of that debilitating headache, drinking electrolytes, such as those founds in coconut water and energy drinks, should help. And as we’ve all figured out, your best friend when you’re hungover is water.

But conspicuously missing from these remedies is coffee. At no point does caffeine appear to help, other than curbing the headache you get from caffeine withdrawal, a sure sign that you’re an addict.

The Jobs Americans Do

Take some of the abundant leisure time that our post-industrial society has afforded you to read a series of nine portraits of working-class men and women in America, published last week in the New York Times Magazine. The article challenges the image of working-class jobs, which today are no longer in manufacturing as they were throughout most of the industrialized twentieth century.

The decline of the old working class has meant both an economic triumph for the nation and a personal tribulation for many of the workers. Technological progress has made American farms and factories more productive than ever, creating great wealth and cutting the cost of food and most other products. But the work no longer requires large numbers of workers.

But it’s not as if there are not any jobs. As we’ve known for decades, the working-class jobs of today are in services: health-care, education, hospitality, transportation, and customer service. Not only have the jobs changed, but they faces so have the faces of the American worker. “The emerging face of the American working class is,” as Binyamin Appelbaum succinctly summarized in the introduction to the article, “a Hispanic woman who has never set foot on a factory floor.”

A different author writes each of the stories. On a personal note, I was thrilled to see that a college chum and fellow KCSB alumnus, Eric Steuer, penned one of the stories, about a customer service representative at Zappos in Las Vegas named Sandi Dolan.

Is It Just Me, or Is It Hot (in) Here?

This past year, 2016, was the hottest recorded year on earth, according to a bunch of scientists. The previous record was set in 2015, which broke the record set it 2014. If one year is an anomaly, two might be a coincidence, and three might indicate a trend, right?


New York Times: How Much Warmer Was Your City in 2016?

The New York Times has compiled the data and made a fun tool that lets you search for how much warmer (or cooler) many cities were than their normal. As much fun as this tool was, the results were pretty chilling for some places that I searched. Not only were the temperatures all above normal, there were multiple records set. Here’s a sampling of some places I searched. (All temperatures are in Fahrenheit because I don’t speak Celsius.)

New York City
Average temperature of 57.2°, 2.2° above average. No wonder we played softball in early February.
Record highs in March at 79°, and in October at 85°, and record low in mid-February at -1°
Los Angeles
Average temperature of 67.1°, 1.6° above normal.
A bunch of record highs in February around 90° and another record high in July at 97°.
Santa Barbara
Average temperature of 60.8°, 1.7° above normal.
The always mild Santa Barbara set a few records in February, April, and July at 87°, 86°, and 94°, respectively.
Palmdale, Calif.
Average temperature of 65°, 0.5° above normal.
My parents town experienced some serious heat in February at 82° and tied a record at July at 108°.
Portland, Ore.
Average temperature of 56.5°, 2.1° above normal
Record highs abound with 62° in February, many days in the 80s in April, a couple of days at 98° in June, a whole lot of days between 90° and 99° in August, and days in the upper 60s in November.

Clearly, I have a coastal bias so I asked my friend for his hometown. It’s Detroit and despite its northern latitude, it was also considerably hotter than before, but it was still pretty darn cold.

Detroit
Average temperature of 52.9°, 2.5° above normal
Record highs set in February at 56°, in March at 71°, in November at 73°, in December at 53°, and tied a record at 98° in July. Note: don’t move to Detroit! Is it really that cold?!?

This is all something to think about as we enter a new age in US history, where climate change is something either a Chinese hoax intended to depress the American economy or something that is actually real but not something cause by humans.

LOL…it’s totally our fault!

Apple Pay Offers a Free Suburban New York Train Ride

Despite using Apple Pay since getting an iPhone 6 in 2014, I didn’t know until today that Apple maintained an offers page, or at least that they posted one for the holidays.

There’s some very compelling offers, such as…

That last one comes about a week too late for me. I did take an MTA Metro North train after Thanksgiving, returning from an short bike ride to Tarrytown, but this offer didn’t take effect until December 1.
Also, the offer expires on January 1, which is a shame. I would have appreciated a discount on the $36 round-trip fare to Greenport or Montauk when cycling season begins anew next year.

A Week Later

A week ago, it seemed like the US was on the cusp of having its first woman president of the United States. We had been preparing for this moment for a very long time, and as early as May, well before the party nominations were wrapped up, the New York Times published this map. They projected Clinton to carry these states.

It didn't work out this way.

It didn’t work out this way.

As you know, things didn’t turn out that way.

Were Clinton voters and democrats living in a filter bubble, similar to the one Mitt Romney supporters inhabited that made their candidate’s loss in 2012 unthinkable? Did the Democrats think that they could just run anyone against Trump and that the voters would reject an emotionally unstable, intellectually vacuous, and bigoted white man from New York?

The shock of a Trump presidency has been very difficult to process. It’s embarrassing that we as an electorate voted this way. A man who who has been a huckster and a charlatan will be a peer to the Roosevelts, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson. A man who’s name signified tackiness enshrined in gold will be the chief executive of the country. A man whose companies have declared bankruptcy several times will be the one who will be negotiating treaties and passing budgets. (I wonder what will happen when the debt ceiling will need to be raised in the March 2017: my guess is draconian cuts to spending and an attendant economic recession.)

No matter how embarrassing it is to watch Americans install a caricature of a successful businessman in the White House, the prospect of who will be running the federal government is an even more chilling prospect. Are we setting up to live in an autocracy? It certainly seems feasible with a pliant and spineless Republican Congress who will choose party over country every time. Our only hope is that the petit bureaucrats in Washington do their thing and bring sensible inaction to their jobs, but when did they ever come through for us?

Around here, the election and the aftermath has been a lot like a death. Many of us are in mourning, knowing that a lot of the the progress we made in the last decade will almost certainly evaporate. Many us fear what will come in terms of deportations, anti-semitism, rampant racism, misogyny, science denial, and good old fashioned crony capitalism. And we are stung by the unthinkable reality of an uncertain future as a failed state. As in mourning, emotions overwhelm rational thought.

But once we start to think more clearly, weren’t we unsatisfied with Hillary Clinton as the standard bearer for not only the Democrats but also for American women. Back in the spring, I wondered whether the ascendance of Bernie Sanders as a viable candidate was partly due to women supporting him—not Hillary Clinton—because they were hoping for someone better to be the first woman president. Sanders was more aligned with their interests, despite being a man, than Clinton was simply for being a woman. It reminded me of the days when the Democrats would try to put forward someone like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton as the first black presidential candidate of their party. We deserved better. And in time, we got Barack Obama. We deserve better than Hillary Clinton and someday we will know who that better candidate will be.

And after this mourning period, we start to move on and begin to see silver linings. One such bright spot Trump’s victory is that the Democrats and the nation have finally gotten rid of the Clintons and their moderate liberalism. They not pulled this country so far right that Richard Nixon could be a liberal Democrat today, as Lawrence Lessig pointed out last Wednesday morning, they unabashedly [sold the party out to Wall Street]. He published that piece hours after many of us awoke to realize that Trump would be the 45th president of the United States, and, at the time, it was cold comfort for what the future could hold. In time, we’ll excitedly move on.

And that is what must happen after the death of a loved one or a similarly stunning loss. We will move on. Things will never be the same again, but we will cope, and as a country, we will get through it.

He Died from a Stab Wound

A guy gets stabbed in New York City and dies from his wounds. That’s what happened to Tony Ciccarello. He died in September 2014 from what the medical examiner attributed to “complications of a bowel obstruction ‘due to ventral hernias due to remote exploratory laparotomy for treatment of stab wound of torso.'” He was stabbed, he had an operation to repair the wound, and he died from the attendant complications.

As ordinary as this might appear, there is one major twist. Ciccarello was stabbed “sometime in the late 1950s,” and died over fifty years later.

when he died in September, the unsolved and mostly forgotten crime took on elevated importance in the eyes of New York City. The medical examiner determined his death, at 97 years old, was connected to the stabbing five decades before.

It’s a homicide, and the police have launched a murder investigation.

I understand that from a medical perspective he died from that decades-old wound, but he was also 97 years old. He presumably outlived everyone involved in this case: the surgeons, his murderer, and just about anyone who could have been involved.

Not Counting Calories

Someone I see often and is currently counting calories excitedly told me a “fun fact.” She said, “Did you know that those Natural Power-Fu eggless wraps have only 200 calories?”

Immediately, I remembered that Casey Neistat video, where he takes a sample of his diet to two food scientists. They run those foods through a calorimeter to determine whether the posted calorie counts at chain restaurants and on packaged foods are accurate.

The biggest discrepancy was one of those Natural Power-Fu sandwiches. The calorimeter detected about 300 more calories than what the label specifies.

An employee at the tofu sandwich company, whose sandwich had nearly double the number of calories the label stated, told me that he wasn’t sure how the company came up with the data. He said the company would look into it and, if it found results similar to mine, would change the information on its labels.

But they’re healthy calories, right?

“It’s Russia!”

David Segal, writing for the New York Times, describing the hotels near some of the prominent Olympic venues in Sochi:

To appreciate the hotels in this area it is probably a good idea to think of them not as hotels but rather a rare opportunity to experience life in a centrally planned, Soviet-style dystopia. Only then will you understand, perhaps even enjoy, the peculiar mix of grandiosity and bungling that defines these buildings. Though called hotels, they look like austere, upscale apartments inspired by the Eastern bloc — Bauhaus meets the Super 8.

I’ll have to borrow that last bit, “Bauhaus meets the Super 8,” when I write my next critical Trip Advisor review.

There are a lot gems in this article, but the one that explains the attitude towards the slow progress on finishing the hotels and shopping areas is described by a shrug. “It’s Russia.”