The view of a non-native Nebraskan

I found this article by Meghan Daum this weekend about Nebraska, and particularly Lincoln, from the view of someone who moved there from the East Coast. Having grown up just outside of Lincoln and moved away, it’s very interesting to consider the area from a viewpoint the very opposite of mine.

The Lincoln I love—the reason I stayed as long as I did and have returned nearly every year since—actually starts where the city limits end. Drive five minutes out of town and farmland unspools before you, replacing the car dealerships and big-box stores with oceans of prairie grass and corn growing in lock step rows all the way to the horizon.

She points out one of the things that drove me away but now miss more than anything.

NYC mandates sex ed

New York City has mandated mandatory sex education classes for all public middle and high school students as part of Bloomberg’s new initiative to help black and Latino residents. Of course, it will be a benefit to all students attending public schools, though parents do have the option of opting their children out of the classes.

I wrote about this issue for the West Side Spirit and Our Town a few years ago when Planned Parenthood was starting a new initiative to try and force the city to require sex education classes.

Check out my new project!

I’m working on a new blog and podcast called The BK Buzz, featuring audio pieces on unique and exciting things happening in Brooklyn. Please check it out and subscribe to the podcast!

Catholic Leadership continues to question women’s role in the Church

An article published in the New York Times this week highlights another instance in which the prominent leaders of the Catholic Church have questioned or reconsidered the female role within the Church. As the article explains, a committee of American Roman Catholic Bishops have announced that the book “Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God,” written by Sister Elizabeth Johnson, theologian at Fordham University, should not be used in theology courses at Catholic Schools.

The committee’s statement explains, “The book does not take the faith of the Church as its starting point. Instead, the author employs standards from outside the faith to criticize and to revise in a radical fashion the conception of God revealed in Scripture and taught by the Magisterium.”

However, many theologians believe that the committee’s issue with the book stems from Sister Johnson’s discussion of a feminine aspect of God, a line of study informed by the Second Vatican Council, which urged the faithful to overcome “every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language or religion.”

This is not the first time in recent years that Catholic leadership has stepped back from the views set forth by the Second Vatican Council, particularly in regard to women within the church. I addressed the investigation into the “Quality of Life” of progressive American orders of nuns by the Vatican just over a year ago, as did Maureen Dowd in her Op-Ed column.

The continually more conservative standpoint of the Catholic Church will increasingly isolate the Church from future progress, alienate current members of the Church, and discourage new members. This stance, particularly regarding women, is just plain backward.

Government reforms not viable for rural schools?

This article on one of my favorite websites, the Daily Yonder, does a great job of outlining some of the core issues surrounding public schools in rural areas, and how the federal government is encouraging reform on a national scale that just doesn’t take rural school systems into account. Rural Schools Lose Race To The Top.

Public schools in areas with low populations are usually the only avenue most kids have to education. Resources are already stretched thin for many of these schools. The federal government needs to consider how to make this system better rather than removing funding from poorly funded schools that service large rural areas.

FTLGTP: Continued Collaboration

Final Stop: The Bitter End

Finally, a short walk west along Bleecker Street brings us to The Bitter End, at 147 Bleecker Street, the final stop on our tour. We end the tour here because this location is back in the heart of the Greenwich Village neighborhood. It is also a place where the punk rock artists like Patti Smith performed along with folk artists like Bob Dylan. It is a central location for the both the literary and music scenes in the Village during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. It is where all of these different worlds and ideas combine and where they continue.

The Bitter End continues to play host to up and coming musical acts of all genres and on any given night you can see up to 4 or 5 groups play. The artistic and experimental vibe that was so prevalent in the Village during the early to mid part of the 20th century is still present. That history continues to influence the musicians and artists that continue to hang out in the neighborhood.

Fighting for local independent retail on the Upper East Side

Check out a story I wrote for Our Town Newspaper this week. Councilmember Garodnick is looking into ways to fight the proliferation of chain stores like drug stores and banks through zoning and planning law reform.

FTLGTP: Country Blue Grass Blues

Stop #12: CBGB’s

Moving south and slightly west, we come to the former location of CBGB, which stands for Country Blue Grass Blues, at 315 Bowery. This became the primary venue for the proto punk scene in the 1970s. Patti Smith and Television began playing here early on. Later, bands like the Ramones, the Talking Heads, and Blondie also shared the stage.

Tom Verlaine (who named himself after Rimbaud’s lover, Paul Verlaine) discovered the venue when he walked by and saw it as a great new place to perform his music. Television began playing there regularly and eventually brought Smith and Kaye to the club in 1974 (Shaw, 79).

Continuing a connection between the Beat generation and the new generation of punk rockers, William S. Burroughs was a frequent visitor to the music club. Although he was much older than the performers and members of the audience, he sat up near the front of the stage and actively participated in the shows and supported the up and coming musicians.

In describing the musicians that played at CBGB and their connection to poetry, Kane states,

Musicians looked to poetry not just in terms of what the art had to offer them as a model for their own songwriting but also as a form that could provide them with ways of thinking about how to make actual lifestyle choices. That is to say, poetry was both something they read and, in one form or another, something they tried to live (191).

In a way, musicians like Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye, Tom Verlaine, and Richard Hell were trying live poetry through their music.

CBGB eventually became a rock n’ roll icon and began to grab bigger crowds and bigger names but it was the early punk movement that started it all for the small grungy venue. CBGB eventually closed in October of 2006.

Last Stop: The Bitter End

Big Changes for Big 12/Big Ten

Check out the coverage here.

FTLGTP: An Outlaw Posture

Stop #11: Cafe Metro

After the Café Les Deux Megots changed ownership, the poets migrated over to Cafe Metro, another East Village café, formerly located at 149 Second Avenue, where they continued their experimentation with spoken word poetry and other artistic expression including the mimeographed magazines. It was at the Metro that “poetry and a kind of outlaw posture verging on nihilism became apparent” (Kane, 195).

The examples of poetry and experimentation that was prominent at Café Les Deux Megots and later Café Metro show the strong connection between this new rule breaking poetry and the rule breaking punk rock that was starting to happen a little bit farther downtown.

Unfortunately I have no picture to share because I could not find any old pictures of the place and there isn’t really anything at 149 Second Avenue anymore. So it goes.

Up Next: CBGB’s