Members of the media gather by the New York Port Authority bus terminal following an attempted detonation during the morning rush hour in New York City, New York, U.S., December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

ISIS-Inspired Terrorist Uses Pipe Bomb to Attack NYC


A terrorist who was inspired by ISIS blew up a pipe bomb in New York City on Monday but ended up only seriously injuring himself in the blast.

The suspected terrorist, 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, entered the subway with the bomb strapped to himself with Velcro and zip ties. He headed toward the passenger walkway that’s between the Port Authority and Times Square stations and detonated the bomb at around 7:20 a.m. EST. However, the bomb didn’t detonate properly and Ullah ended up injuring his hands and abdomen. He is being treated at Bellevue Hospital.

Five additional people suffered injuries from the explosion, although they are not believed to be serious. The bombing did cause chaos in the subway as people screamed and feld from the station in panic.

Ullah admitted to investigators that he detonated the bomb in response to the United States’ airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and the Israeli airstrikes against Hamas in Gaza. Ullah said he chose the subway to launch the attack because of all the Christmas posters adorning the station. He claimed to have acted on his own.

Ullah is an immigrant from Bangladesh; he entered the country in 2011 on an F43 visa that allows children of American citizens to become permanent residents. He had a license to operate as a taxi driver for three years but it’s unclear how much he operated as a driver, if at all.

The night before Ullah’s failed attack, there was “a big blow-up” between him and his family, which involved “a lot of screaming and yelling,” according to the neighbors of the Ullahs.

People who have encountered Ullah described him as being rather unfriendly. Kat Mara, who had observed Ullah getting coffee from her work office, told the New York Post “he looked weird and “always angry.”

“He always seemed like he had something on his mind,” said Mara.

Alan Butrico, who owns a neighboring building next to the Ullah home, told CNN, “He wasn’t friendly at all. The family was very quiet themselves. They don’t talk to nobody. They just stay there.”

Neighbor Hasan Alam told the Post that he was “shocked because you know he was a religious person and not very outgoing.”

“I’m kind of scared for my family because we’re Muslims as well,” said Alam. “It gives a bad impression of our religion. We’re all very friendly people.”

Big Apple, Little Time


I flew to New York City last night on the red eye, and am leaving today at 1:00. I will be in the city that never sleeps, not sleeping, for 30 hours. I am here for a quick catch up with my Aussie Posse. A remarkable group of friends from Melbourne, Australia. We met at a wedding and this is our third year together to welcome in the holiday season. They are like family and I love them. By family of course I mean they are my ridiculously entertaining and attractive drunk uncles.

I don’t know if it is all Australians, or just this group in particular, but they can drink. They perfectly time the ordering of their drinks so that as they take the last sip of one cocktail, the next one arrives without skipping a beat, or a sip as it were. They are wonderful human beings and being with them makes me happy. It also makes my liver want cry. I love a cocktail, but these people are on a whole other level. They drink three drinks to every one of mine.

I arrived yesterday at 7:00 am and have not slept. I arrived, met a friend for breakfast, did a little shopping, then a bit of work, then lunch with another friend, then the debauchery began. We had a private area at the rooftop bar at The Standard Hotel. It was gorgeous and the service was perfection. I drank 3 cosmos, and no good can ever come of that. Particularly since the truth is I lost count after 3. I drank like it was my job and I was employee of the month.

We stayed out until only about 11, then I came back to the hotel, while the Aussie Posse went to a nightclub. I took a shower, put on my super cute pajamas, and crawled into bed. As I started to doze off, the nightclub seemingly relocated to the hotel. It started off as a couple of people talking quietly in the living room, then it became a few more voices, then it became a full on rave. There were over 100 attractive, young, gay men in our penthouse and I was amazed.

I was inspired by their beauty and their bravery to live their lives out loud. By out loud of course I mean with no clothes on. There was a whole lot of naked happening and I marveled at all of it. People were everywhere and I must say as the one old lady in a sea of young gay hotness, these men had impeccable manners. As they continuously came into the wrong room and found me in bed, they apologized, offered to get me water, and told me my hair was fabulous.

Eventually I gave in and embraced the fact that I was not going to get any sleep, so I joined the party. I chatted to a lot of people, got eyelash tips from a beautiful man in a dress, learned how to tape my boobs for perfect cleavage, and saw more bits and bobs than I have ever seen in my entire life, because apparently one’s bits are an important piece of wardrobe when you are a young, fabulous gay man in New York City. It was an evening of wonder and enlightenment.

I’m happy around this special group of people. I feel safe and pampered. They are generous of spirit and my time with them makes me see the world in a new way. They work hard, and play harder. They are unapologetic about their excesses, while remaining humble. Jayson and Stephen are the poster couple for relationship goals, and should either one of them decide they wanted to shake things up and marry a Jewish old lady, I’d push and claw my way to the front of that line.

Justin is the social director of the group and I love him like a son. Andrew is the Grande Dame and nothing but kindness. Laura is my soul sister and I want for her all the thing she wants for herself. I am blessed to be a part of this family and cannot speak of them without a shout out to my beloved Gamble, who brought us all together. Even though it is kind of nutty to travel so far for such a short time, I am very happy I came to celebrate Jayson’s birthday in the big apple.

I was meant to join everyone for a Drag Show brunch at 2 and take a flight home at 8:30 tonight, but I’ve decided to take an earlier flight and head back to LA. This experience made me feel young in some ways, but old in others. I’ve never been a stay up all night kind of person, and so this has taken a toll. I am tired, and probably still drunk, so I need to get home so I can go to work tomorrow without looking like I’m in need of some serious medical attention.

I learned something new about myself over the past 24 hours, which is always a good thing. I discovered I want to come back in my next life as an attractive gay man, with a loving and supportive family, and a dentist as my husband. Thank you to Jayson, Stephen, Justin, Andrew, Claudio, Laura, Jacek, and Kassidy for an amazing time. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world and cannot wait until we are all together again. Safe travels my darling friends. Be safe and keep the faith.

Real Housewives of New York City Finale Recap


Typos are lovingly provided by Jose Cuervo.

I am sad to see this season end. It’s been funny and quick and with the exception of the train wreck called Tinsley, almost perfect. This is what we want this show to be. I have loved doing bullet points, but as promised, I will end the season with a proper full size recap. I am with my beloved Jose and we are ready to go out with a bang. By go out of course I mean the reunion will be everything. This has been the greatest season of the Housewives, of any city, since the beginning.

We start at Carole’s apartment, where Bethenny has come by for a visit. Carole is a cat lady, which makes me love her. Her apartment is painfully hot, but she can’t open the windows as she has no screens and the cats may fall out. Hilarious. Get some screens, or some air conditioning, then get another cat I say. Bethenny is selling her apartment and getting a bigger one, but there are issues. Of course there are. Bethenny thrives on the challenge.

They talk about Mexico and agree it was a wonderful vacation and they loved it. SO did we! Cut to Luann, who is playing tennis with Tom. Lu tells us she is still in the honeymoon phase and Tom brings happiness to her life. Um, ok. This is sad. It is also painfully transparent. This is cringe worthy. Luann is talking about how she made it work against what everyone said. Oh. My. God. This is too good. You cannot make this stuff up and to file for divorce before this aired is brilliant.

Important to note, while I’m thinking about it, I have nothing but love for Luann. We have all been in relationships that we saw differently than the person we were with. We have all loved people more than they loved us. We have all been so excited about falling in love that we lost sight of who we were and instead became who we wanted to be. Love is grand and it is tragic and I send my love and best wishes to Luann. You are fabulous and love will find you again. Know it.

Over to Sonja’s, Ramona has come for a visit. Frenchie is back and while I love Sonja, I just don’t get it. Tinsley has just moved out and Sonja misses her. Ramona wants to move into Sonja’s townhouse part time so she can meet someone like Tinsley and Luann did while staying there. They also speak of how great Mexico was. Then Ramona tells Sonja Tinsley is planning a party for her. Ugh.

Sonja is not buying it. Tinsley is throwing the party to make herself look better, not because she wants to thank Sonja. Tinsley is an ungrateful drunk and Sonja would be well served to blow off the party of. Sonja questions how Tinsley can afford to throw her party. Right? I love Sonja, I am repulsed by Ramona, and I think Tinsley should be a one season girl. I also do not think, under any circumstances, that Jill Zarin should be invited back.

Back to Bethenny, she is doing a hockey player. As a Canadian I can tell you they are the sexiest men alive. Know it. Dorinda comes over to visit as Bethenny is in her new apartment which is huge. Bethenny sexually harasses the guy and for that I say thank you, Great ass. We get a tour of the apartment, which is fantastic. Can’t wait to see the finished product. Bethenny has never been more appealing, even though she is occasionally unappealing. Like right now for example.

Cut to Tinsley who is loving in a hotel and planning a fake thank you party for Sonja. Ugh. Not a fan of this chick at all. Carole comes to see the hotel and re-gifts a candle she got from Dorinda. Carole is everything this season. I freaking love her. Carole loves the hotel and says Tinsley should have moved there sooner. Tinsley is back peddling on her acting like a total twat to Sonja. Not buying it. Tinsley is trying to rethink how we see her, but it ain’t happening. Still a twat.

Time for Dorinda. Mean and messy drunk Dorinda. John has come over for dinner for the first time since her daughter moved out. They are playing house and it is cute. Boring, but cute. Back to Carole, she is still dating Adam, but has his own apartment. I like Carole and I think Adam needs to wash his hair. Over to Tinsley, she is getting ready for the party. The party that makes no sense. This is all about Tinsley and nothing to do with Sonja. I smell a rat and it stinks.

Sonja is with Frenchy. Oy vey with this already.  Sonja is going to Paris to meet his parents. Who are probably the same age as her. Tinsley is taking to her new boyfriend, calls him Baby, and they say they love each other. Wow. Tinsley is faster than Luann. Sonja is not going to Tinsley’s party. I love Sonja. LOVE HER. The back and forth between Tinsley and Sonja is funny, even though I hate the back and forth thing. It is party tine and I call bullshit on the whole thing.

Tinsley bought “thank you Sonja” t-shirt. Dear Lord. This is pathetic. The party is contrived and stupid. Carole arrive with Adam in gold lame MC Hammer pants that I find oddly pretty. Scott thanks Carole for introducing him to Tinsley while Tinsley says hello to all her guests, none of whom know Sonja other than the ladies. This is a party about Tinsley, not Sonja. I hate it when these chicks think we are dumb. This is scripted bullshit, but still the best season ever. Love it

Everyone is arriving except for Sonja! We meet Tinsley’s sister Dabney, who looks just like her. Even missy, tom’s ex is invited. Then Sonja arrives looking spectacular with a massive chip on her shoulder. Sonja is on fire and Tinsley is upset. Sonja says Frenchy “tossed her like a salad” before he left for Paris. I spit out my Jose. Sorry Jose. That was just wasteful. Sonja doesn’t know why so many of Ramona’s friends are they and I am sad we only have 15 minutes left.

Ramona tells Bethenny she is lonely and it is sad. I am 51 and alone and lonely and I get it. That said, I’d rather be alone than with someone just to be with someone, so my heart feels for Ramona. Important to note that is where the comparisons to me and Ramona end. The woman is bat shit crazy. Bless her. While Luann talks to Dorinda and Bethenny, Tom flirts with his ex Missy. Dear Lord. He is a pig and Luann is blessed to be rid of him. She should keep on tucking on move on fast.

Tom takes his mic off she he can talk openly with Missy at the same time Luann is professing her love for him. I’m telling you, Luann saw this episode and filed the next day. There is no way that is not true. No. Way. Bethenny calls out Tinsley for being disingenuous. Bravo. Bethenny is firmly on Team Sonja and I am happy about that. Dear Lord. I love Bethenny. Who am I? What is happening? Too much Jose? Is the apocalypse coming? A massive earthquake? I need to lie down.

Luann’s son Noel makes an appearance and I am not going to lie, I am having cougar feels right now. He is a child, but come on. Yummy, yummy, ding dong. He looks like a Kennedy. Time for Tinsley to give a toast and a gift. She gives a lovely speech. Blah, blah, blah. Sonja is touched. Tinsley gives Sonja a framed picture of them. One where she looks phenomenal and Sonja has her head cut off. Perfection. Tinsley can try and try and try, but she’ll never fit in here. Bye now.

It has been a pleasure to blog this season. I cannot wait for the reunion. I am left with many questions, which I am sure Andy will get answered over the reunion shows. I am bummed out to be left with RHOC, which is painful to watch and impossible to blog without doing some serious liver damage. I know RHOD is starting but there is just no way. I love you people, but I’m not doing it. I am traveling next week so will get my recap of part one of the reunion up ASAP. Thanks for reading! Just like the city of NYC, I am always keeping it real!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Housewives of New York City Week 16 Recap


Typos are lovingly provided by Jose Cuervo.

  • I am doing bullet points
  • I know some of you feel cheated by this format
  • I get it
  • You’ll be okay
  • Jose is here with me
  • He’s excited to see his motherland of Mexico
  • He wants me to do a shot in her honor
  • Done
  • He says if I love him, I love Mexico
  • Another shot in honor of Jose
  • Dear Lord
  • My gums are numb
  • Morning yoga and breakfast for the drunks
  • Luann has a hangover
  • She’s so classy
  • Tinsley got flowers for being slutty
  • Mazel Tov
  • Half the girls are going to surf
  • Others are being lazy
  • Bethenny talks to Ramona
  • Tells her not to come to Tequila
  • Ramona says whatever Bethenny wants
  • She’s going
  • Bethenny and Ramona are scripted
  • Bethenny handles it with classy
  • Ramona is mentally unstable
  • Bethenny, Luann, Dorinda and Carole go surfing
  • Sonja calls out Tinsley’s slutty behavior
  • Pot, Kettle
  • Sonja and Ramona are gossiping
  • Tinsley is talking to her “boyfriend”
  • Tinsley still wants to talk about Page 6
  • Tinsley wants Sonja to call Page 6
  • Sonja is over it
  • Luann thinks surfing will help her hangover
  • She drinks because Tom is at The Regency
  • Sonja is lecturing Tinsley
  • I want to impale myself
  • Tinsley is a one season kind of girl
  • Please
  • Everyone is in two cars to go shopping
  • Bethenny says Ramona knows she is not invited to Tequila
  • Everyone thinks Bethenny will cave
  • Shopping looks amazing
  • Ramona is licking Bethenny’s ass
  • Ramona buys Bethenny a gift
  • So lame
  • Ramona buys Bethenny another gift
  • Bethenny makes a stupid rape reference
  • Not necessary
  • Ramona bought a gift for everyone but Dorinda
  • Carole, Bethenny and Sonja are hot tubbing
  • Bethenny asks Sonja if she should invite Ramona
  • Bethenny tells Sonja to tell Ramona she can come
  • I wouldn’t have included Ramona
  • Better TV if she were left out
  • I just did another shot ( 3rd )
  • My liver is crying and laughing at the same time
  • Sonja tells Carole and Bethenny that Ramona is sad
  • She also says Ramona is not getting laid
  • That apparently is also what makes her so mean
  • Sonja wants Ramona to admit she is miserable
  • Not going to happen
  • Ramona gets a blow out, then goes for a fake run
  • Oh. My. God. This. Is. Perfect.
  • This is the best show on television.
  • Sonja invites Ramona for Bethenny
  • Ramona is pathological
  • Sonja is lovely, but also painful
  • Almost time for a Skinnygirl commercial
  • Wait for it……
  • Everyone is out for dinner
  • Tinsley is STILL TALKING ABOUT PAGE 6
  • I’m bored
  • I’m drunk
  • I’m bored and drunk
  • I want to punch Tinsley
  • Tinsley and Sonja are now screaming
  • People are staring
  • Talk turns to Ramona’s sex life
  • I can’t
  • Dorinda has gifts for everyone
  • Gag gifts, very funny
  • Bethenny gives a pre-Tequila debriefing
  • Ramona is invited
  • However Bethenny wants to talk to her
  • Bethenny begs Ramona to behave herself
  • She cries and begs Ramona to be nice
  • It is sad and touching and valid
  • Bethenny hugs Ramona
  • So gross
  • Shame she caved
  • Everyone is off to Tequila by helicopter
  • Ramona looks tragic
  • Ramona and Bethenny in the same helicopter is scripted
  • I call bullshit
  • Jose is hoping to see family
  • I love him
  • We’re making out
  • No shame
  • Jose knows Viktor
  • Jose knows Rafael
  • Ramona is now licking Bethenny’s ass
  • I can’t
  • Neither can Dorinda
  • This tequila tasting is my dream
  • I’ll pass on the horn though
  • Ramona is repulsive
  • Jose knows all those little kids
  • Skinnygirl commercial in three…two…one…
  • They are getting blasted
  • Luann is a Champion
  • Sonja hasn’t had a drink in 10 months
  • Her nose is growing
  • Time to go back to the house
  • Hilarious how often they say the name of the house
  • All drunks in the pool!
  • Sonja wants to make out with Luann
  • Dorinda and a rope swing do not mix
  • Sonja doesn’t think she will get married again
  • Ramona talks about Mario cheating
  • Sonja talks about Mario cheating
  • Sonja is sloppy
  • Sonja wants Ramona to admit she is not happy
  • Sonja is talking about Ramona having sex
  • Ramona is melancholy
  • Bethenny comes to Ramona’s defense
  • Sonja is slurring
  • Bethenny is screaming
  • Ramona is wallowing
  • Next week they’re still in Mexico!
  • I love this show
  • I love Jose
  • I love you for reading
  • I love keeping it real

Real Housewives of New York City Week 15 Recap


Typos are generously sponsored by Jose Cuervo.

  • Final wisdom tooth is out
  • Dental work is finally done
  • I’m tired
  • I’m medicated
  • Have to bullet point
  • Forgive me
  • I’ll be back to normal next week
  • I’m numb
  • 15 days sugar free
  • I need a Cosmo so bad
  • I’m watching Mexico with Jose
  • I love you Jose
  • Seriously, it’s love
  • I need to go to Mexico
  • Interesting travel outfits
  • These women are not from Beverly Hills
  • This trip is a year in the making
  • Ramona has had a chemical peel
  • Oh. My. God.
  • It’s Samantha from the SATC book launch
  • I think Carole is fabulous this season
  • Taco Bell is not from Mexico
  • I would NEVER blow Simon
  • Everyone would marry Carole
  • Everyone would bang LuAnn
  • Everyone would kill Tinsley
  • Makes sense to me
  • Luann wanted to be set up by Carole
  • Probably still does
  • Tinsley had a 5 day date with Carole’s friend
  • Tinsley is slutty
  • Probably because of all the booze and pills
  • Bless her
  • Sonja is comedy gold
  • She got a dick pick
  • It was the wrong number
  • Perfection
  • Ramona’s laugh makes me want to impale myself
  • The villa is fantastic
  • Everyone is rude to the staff
  • Only Tinsley shook a hand
  • Rude American bitches
  • Sonja chugs a margarita
  • Because she is not drinking
  • I freaking love her
  • Everyone admires the house
  • Ramona and Sonja scope rooms
  • They are gross
  • By they of course I mean Ramona
  • Shame Sonja thinks she needs Ramona
  • She doesn’t
  • Ramona has a hard on for the right room
  • Bethenny has the flu
  • Ramona is bullying Sonja
  • Poor Sonja
  • Bethenny shuts down the room scoping
  • She is not having it
  • Bethenny calls Ramona a twat
  • Yeah, she reads my blog
  • I’m over Ramona
  • She should be let go
  • It is time
  • They are drawing numbers for room selection
  • Grown up move
  • Tinsley gets to pick first, then Luann
  • Ramona and Sonja have to pick last
  • Karma is on holiday in Mexico too
  • Tinsley doesn’t want the pressure of picking first
  • She trades numbers with Bethenny
  • Bethenny now picks first and Tinsley third
  • Bravo Tinsley
  • The right move since it’s Bethenny’s trip
  • I’ve been writing this blog for 2 hours
  • I keep dozing off
  • Oy vey
  • Ramona is mentally deranged
  • Ramona thinks Tinsley should’ve given her pick to Sonja
  • Ramona is a vicious twat
  • Bethenny takes the room Ramona had selected
  • Bethenny and Luann have the two master suites
  • Sonja is now yelling at Tinsley
  • Ramona needs a slap across the face
  • I’ll do it!
  • We’ve been watching the room selection for 10 minutes
  • Really?
  • Ramona wants a room with 2 beds
  • Doesn’t she always say she and Sonja sleep together?
  • Dear Lord
  • Sonja is everything
  • Ramona is nothing
  • Dorinda is sticking to the room lottery
  • Make this stop
  • Please
  • I’m having a shot of Jose
  • It must be done
  • With a straw since I can’t feel my mouth
  • I’m fancy
  • Dorinda tells Bethenny to make Ramona stop
  • So much screaming
  • Bethenny sets Ramona and Sonja straight
  • Ramona stares like Charles Manson
  • She scares the shit out of me
  • Ramona is going to die alone
  • Who would marry this woman?
  • The medium kid from E! would tell her the same
  • Her requests of the staff are hideous
  • I want to push her down some stairs
  • Sorry
  • Not at all sorry
  • Not even a little bit
  • Everyone is happy about the trip
  • Sonja and Ramona are still complaining
  • I’ve lived in London for most of the last year
  • Lots of time in the English countryside
  • I’ve never played the balloon game
  • Dorinda’s description of the English is odd
  • Carole has no body fat
  • Thus popping a balloon really hurts
  • Tinsley is a whiner
  • I never trash talk my friends like this
  • Of course these people are not really friends
  • Tinsley is not a nice girl
  • She’s more just stupid and harmless
  • Ramona is blowing smoke up Sonja’s ass
  • Ramona doesn’t have command of the English language
  • Bethenny thinks Sonja needs to dump Ramona
  • Agreed
  • Ramona is desperate for a friend
  • She will shit on Sonja in a heartbeat
  • Mario laughs when he watches this show
  • Then he bangs his young lover
  • Who is also a whore
  • Dinner is served
  • Only Bethenny turns up
  • She is 90 minutes late
  • So rude to the chef
  • Why do they hug so much?
  • Page Six wrote about Tinsley
  • She is upset about it
  • Blah, blah, blah
  • Better to be on Page Six than not
  • Sonja fed a story to the paper
  • By Sonja of course I mean Ramona
  • Guaranteed
  • Everyone finally gets to dinner
  • I am digging me some Bethenny
  • Tinsley is painfully dumb
  • She also talks through her nasal cavity
  • It makes me itchy
  • Bethenny reminds Tinsley she needs to move out
  • Ugh
  • Same thing over and over again
  • Luann arrives to dinner absolutely trashed
  • Dorinda sleeps through dinner
  • I feel sorry for the chef her meal is disrespected
  • Luann thanks Bethenny for the trip
  • Ramona says it is a group trip so no need to thank her
  • Ramona is painfully unhappy
  • Bethenny is eating and talking with her mouth full
  • She’s right but gross
  • Bethenny calls out Ramona for being an asshole
  • Tinsley chimes in to make it about Page Six
  • Tinsley is high
  • Allegedly
  • Luann is drinking her sadness
  • Ramona avoids the press like a leak
  • Oh. My God.
  • This is the funniest show on television
  • Period
  • Sonja needs to separate from Ramona
  • Luann is still tucking
  • I don’t think Sonja went to the press
  • I think it was Ramona
  • Luann is sloppy
  • Probably because she can’t reach Tom on the phone
  • He’s at The Regency
  • Harsh
  • Tinsley is screeching
  • Make it stop
  • Shot number 2 is happening right now
  • I need to sleep
  • If there are no tears, it is not crying
  • Stop it Tinsley
  • Bethenny is certain Sonja planted the story
  • Ugh
  • Ramona leaves the room
  • Translation: guilty
  • Luann is a mess and it is fantastic
  • Ramona planted the story
  • Luann falls into the bushes
  • The poor guy from the hotel can hardly get her up
  • She’s an Amazonian
  • Ramona doesn’t offer to help Luann
  • Luann falls again down a step
  • I love this show so much
  • Again Ramona does not help Luann up
  • She tried Tom again, no answer
  • Bethenny is still lecturing Sonja
  • They all need to go to bed
  • I need to go to bed
  • Will be interesting to read this blog tomorrow
  • Oy vey
  • I’m done keeping it real

 

Real Housewives of New York City Week 14 Recap


Typos are lovingly provided by Vicodin and my Dentist.

I had dental work done yesterday and fell asleep before I posted the blog. When I got up this morning, I awoke to gibberish. We can thank painkillers and my dentist. I am now watching the episode again, not quite as drugged up, but still swollen and medicated. In the interest of time I may go back and forth between a proper blog and bullet points. Note to self, no dentist on Housewive’s day

We start with Bethenny who is pulling together the Mexico trip that was cancelled last year when she was bleeding to death and homeless. She wants it to be an amazing trip that impresses the ladies and reminds them of how rich she is. Bethenny planned the tequila trip but didn’t know there was an actual place called Tequila? Ugh. I cannot stand the scripted and totally fake bullshit.

Bethenny has not yet invited Ramona, but [plans on having her come a few days later than everyone else with Luann. Cut to Ramona wo tells Luann she is not yet invited, but it is a group trip and of course she will be included. Back to Bethenny, she is with Carole, who is oddly entertaining this season. Carole and Ramona have both been contacted by Ramona, whose thirst is very real.

Bethenny is over Ramona and wants nothing to do with her. Ramona has no comprehension of what she said and thinks she didn’t do anything that was unforgiveable. Ramona is really quite dumb. Bless her. I am totally bored by this entire storyline. Ramona is going, deal with it and move on. Bethenny says Ramona can come to Mexico, but is not invited to the day in Tequila.

Meanwhile Sonja is getting a Brazilian wax. Sonja is perfection and fantastic television. She is much funnier on her own than she is with Ramona. Ramona needs to go. Ten minutes of Sonja describing her vagina is about nine and a half minutes too long. Bless her. Sonja says she misses Frenchy and I can’t help but wonder if he were in NYC would he have gone to her waxing appointment?

 Time for dinner and Dorinda arrives first with the goal of everyone finding a happy place and getting along. Carole gets there next and sits next to Dorinda, followed by the “blondes”. Tinsley next to Carole, Sonja next to Dorinda, with Ramona on her other side. Carole is setting Tinsley up on a date. Ugh. The thought of following Tinsley’s dating life is more than I can manage after a root canal.

Bethenny arrives and sits next to Tinsley, with Luann rounding it out between Bethenny and Ramona. Ramona is staring at Bethenny is totally creepy way. It is actually freaking me out. Bethenny has gotten her hair cut and has decided Ramona is invisible, just we all have. Luann is obsessed with whether or not Ramona is invited to Mexico and I think it is weird they‘re talking about Mexico.

Ramona is just sitting there and I almost feel bad for her. They talk about rooms and Bethenny says they can pull straws so there is not a situation, and Tinsley points out that Ramona and Sonja will share a room. Bethenny changes the subject because it is awkward, then Luann says she is coming for the whole trip, not just a couple days as she had told Bethenny previously. Who writes this shit?

Bethenny tells Lu she doesn’t want to talk about it in front of Ramona and Lu tells her everyone has talked about Mexico to Ramona and she is assuming she is coming, Meanwhile Ramona is still staring at Bethenny with her lithium eyes and maybe it is my painkiller, but it is totally freaking me out. Bethenny says if she comes she is not invited to the day of tequila tasting, but Luann does not like that.

Lu explains to Bethenny she can’t exclude her for an entire day, then Ramona turns to Luann Sonja and tells her Bethenny is ignoring her and not inviting her. Ramona makes my lower back spasm. Tinsley announces she is moving into a hotel for 2 months while she gets her shit together. She says she always wanted to be Eloise, but I assure you, Tinsley is not moving into The Plaza. Not buying it.

Sonja and Tinsley are doing their weird bickering thing and it is stupid. Sonja is being Sonja, but Tinsley is being a bitch. Not a fan of her at all. Plus, she speaks out of her nasal cavity, which makes my right eye twitch. This storyline is fake and stupid. Sidebar: Tinsley, needs to be a one season girl. There is simply nothing to watch with her and she is sucking the joy out of the show. Enough already.

Bethenny says she is going to talk to Ramona and for everyone at the table to ignore them. Really? They are all listening, like we are, waiting to see how it plays out. Bethenny is clearly tense and says as much, then lashes out at Tinsley for listening to the conversation happening right next to her, ON CAMERA. Dear Lord. Bethenny tells Ramona she is not happy with how she has treated her.

Bethenny gives Ramona a couple of examples of what she has said, but Ramona denies any wrong doing.  Ramona tells Bethenny she has been just as mean to her, and Bethenny invites her to give examples, which Ramona cannot do. Ramona then loses her shit and tells Bethenny she ended her marriage and lost her money after investing 30 years, and Bethenny was married 2 and has no idea about anything.

Ramona is mental. Now, there may be some truth in what she is saying, but her delivery is all wrong and painfully unfunny. Ramona yells at Bethenny to have more respect and sympathy for her, then Bethenny says she changed her mind and Ramona is actually not invited to Mexico. Oh. My. God. This is so good. Ramona tells Bethenny it is a group trip and too bad, she is coming. Ramona is not well.

Sidebar: I black out when Tinsley talks about moving out and how hard her life is. I don’t care. I don’t think her living with Sonja is real or entertaining. She is following in the footsteps of Jules and needs to walk off this show as quickly as she walked on. Seriously, am I missing something here? Does anyone think she makes sense on this show? I do not get why she is here. She is a bore.

Bethenny is so calm that I have nothing but respect for her at this exact moment. No yelling, no raised voice, just calm and facts. Everyone else is commenting on how dumb Ramona is, but poor Ramona is too dumb to get she is being dumb. It would be so great if Ramona were actually excluded from the trip. That would be a great dose of reality. Never going to happen, but a girl can dream.

  • Ramona working out is stupid
  • They are milking the Mexico storyline
  • Ramona thinks she was invited to Mexico
  • She wasn’t
  • Carole is on a double date with Tinsley
  • Adam doesn’t look good
  • Carole is cute
  • Adam doesn’t get Carole
  • She needs someone older
  • And smarter
  • Tinsley arrives to the date drunk
  • She clearly has a drinking problem
  • The date likes Tinsley
  • Tinsley is sloppy
  • She is also wearing fishnet stocking
  • Um, no
  • Honestly, Tinsley is tanked
  • She keeps talking about her ex
  • Never good
  • Carole is a great wingman
  • Tinsley is getting more wasted
  • She is slurring her words
  • She’s going in for a kiss any minute
  • Tinsley is an alcoholic
  • Yikes
  • Booze makes her feel like herself
  • Red flag
  • Carole takes Tinsley on a break
  • Oy vey
  • Poor guy on the date
  • This is sad
  • But more funny
  • Tinsley takes off her wedding ring
  • On the date!
  • I can’t
  • Tinsley is now making out with her date
  • In front of Carole and Adam

Cut to everyone packing for Mexico, which will be a shit show of reality television gold. I love this show and am surprised by how much I am digging Carole and Bethenny. I cannot wait to see the effects of tequila on this group. It is going to be a fabulous trip and I can’t wait. I will be joined next week by my boyfriend, Jose Cuervo. We will be here, getting sloshed, and keeping it real.

 

 

 

 

 

Real Housewives of New York City Week 11 Recap


Typos are generously provided by Vicodin.

While I absolutely love doing bullet point recaps, it has been requested by several readers that this week I do a good old fashioned version with paragraphs and a little extra snark. Since you asked so nicely, I’m going to honor your wishes. By asking nice of course I mean some of you let me have it. I love it when you’re ballsy and demand blogs! Important to note I just got home from the dentist, the Novocain is wearing off, and I have had a painkiller. Have a cocktail for me and let’s get started.

We begin this week with Tinsley speaking through her nasal cavity and Carole joining her for a meal, which will undoubtedly make me sick.  They speak of an event they both went to and Carole says Anne Hathaway was not as great looking as the press said. Dear Lord. She then reads Page 6 where they mention how fabulous it is to have Tinsley back in New York society, and Carole gets mentioned as being with Tinsley. Oy vey. Carole will now want to go everywhere with Tinsley. #starfucker

Tinsley acts like she is hearing this for the first time when we all know she has already framed it and put it under her pillow. Bless her. Tinsley is suffering from PTSD from her arrest. I wonder how long she will milk that as a storyline. Carole thinks Tinsley should cut her hair to reinvent herself. It must be the Vicodin because I think Carole is being cute and kind of funny. I’m not well. Jose is looking at me with lust and I want to go to bed, but I shall persevere. Onward!

Over to Sonja’s, Frenchy is cooking her. I can’t. Sonja is absolutely fabulous and great TV, but this storyline is simply beneath her.  Sonja talking to Frenchy with some kind of an accent is hilarious. She is upset he comes into her bathroom unannounced, and he suggests she simply close the bathroom door. Sonja says he will have the bathroom Tinsley is using when she leaves. (She’s never leaving.) Sonja is a great girlfriend and unappreciated by the other women, which is a real shame.

Cut to Ramona who has Facetimed her daughter to talk about having a cocktail party to show off her redecorated apartment. Is Avery the only one who is willing to shoot with Ramona? The thirst is real with this broad. She is so thirsty she’d fit in better with the ladies of Atlanta because those bitches are parched. Back to Tinsley, she is looking at apartments with her mom, who is gorgeous. Can anyone explain why she would need a four bedroom apartment? Anyone? Hello?

Jumping to Carole, she is finally recovering her cat infested couch and manages to name drop. Ugh. Move on sweetie. Until Lee Radziwell joined her on camera for a cup of tea, she needs to let it go. Adam comes by and Carole explains she is happy they no longer live together. She then tells Adam to get every last thing of his out of the apartment, all the way down to his Tupperware. Adam needs a haircut and Carole needs to find someone more appropriate as this appears to have run its course.

It is a shame Tinsley cannot appreciate Sonja in the same way her mother does. Tinsley cries because she feels overwhelmed by her current circumstances. She again tells us she has experienced great trauma and while I can feel compassion for whatever is going on in her head, I’m done. I really want her to be on this show because I think she could be good TV at some point, but I will lose interest if she doesn’t get her shit together quickly. You can do it Tinsley! Gather up your balls.

Twenty-five minutes in and we finally get some Bethenny. She is making this show, so this is a bit long to wait for her. Fredrik is over to help her declutter her apartment so it is more sellable. There is a bar, which cost over $40,000, and Frederik does not think he can get top dollar for her apartment until it is gone. Moving it however, may break it. Really? Auction it off for charity and call it a day. Good for her that she can afford such things, but gross of her to talk about how much it cost.

Cut to Carole who is packing to go to Washington for the Women’s March with Dorinda. Bravo. Cut to Sonja, she has left Frenchy at home to meet Rocco for a date. Sonja needs to dump the French fame whore and be with Rocco for real. Time to grow up my darling Sonja. He is lovely, thinks you are fabulous, is age appropriate, and not only get you, but accepts you. I wish Sonja wanted for herself all the things we want for her. I love how he looks at her and listens to her. She does;t get it.

Sonja tells Rocco she is sleeping with Frenchy and I feel bad for him. Doing this on camera is in very poor taste. Sonja assures Rocco she is only sleeping with one other person. For the love of God. Sonja is crazy to think Frenchy is anything other than young, fame hungry, and gay. Rocca is being classy, charming, and ultimately foolish. Sonja needs to jump in or out and that needs to be decided yesterday. This storyline is embarrassing and not even a little bit interesting or flattering to Sonja.

Dorinda and Carole are in Washington at the Women’s March. BRAVO. Back to NYC, Ramona is having her cocktail party and for the first time on the show has pulled all her hair off her face into a ponytail. She looks like Kathy Lee Gifford. Carole slams the ponytail within two minutes, which is mean but funny. Tinsley’s mom Dale is divine and must come on more often. Her silent judgement of Ramona, while being a true Southern Belle, has instantly made me fall in love with her.

Everyone is arriving and seamlessly fall into classic blowing of smoke up each other’s asses. Dorinda tells Ramona she looks severe and she is not sure what to do with it. Seriously, who does not love Dorinda when she is not drunk and sloppy? Harry arrives and starts to flirt with Tinsley. He is gross and reminds me of Tom, who is also gross. Tinsley shuts Harry down, gets her mother away from him, and calls him an asshole. Perfection. Harry, like Tom, will end up marrying one of them. Ugh.

Sonja arrives and Harry is on her like white on rice. I can’t. Luann and Tom arrive and it is sad. I just don’t think Tom is that into Luann. Tragic. Bethenny is not going and Ramona took her RSVP of no as them talking. Ramona is painfully dumb. Bethenny does not like her and she is in a panic because if there is anyone who can ensure she does not come back for another season, it is Bethenny. Ramona is desperate and it is shameful. She sees her end in sight and is now pathetic, which is entertaining

Ramona has invited Missy, who was sleeping with Tom when he started dating Luann.  Of course she invited her by accident and never meant to mingle her two groups of friends. This is major bullshit. Ramona is putting nails into her own coffin and watching her do it is fascinating. This is Phaedra level shade and we all how that ended for Ms. Parks. Missy is standing too close to Tom, who tells her he is getting used to wearing a wedding ring, which he compares to a dog wearing a collar.

Poor Luann. This is mortifying but she has nobody to blame but herself. When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. She turned a blind eye and now has to see everything with perfect vision. I honestly feel bad for her. The humiliation will come quick and hard, much like how I assume Tom is in bed. Luann makes a b-line for Tom and asks if Missy is the woman from The Regency. He blows it off and Luann says she is also friends with her exes. Oh. My. God. Make it stop.

My painkiller has now fully kicked in. Luann is trying to will death upon Missy, Tom is wondering if he can slip into the bathroom with Missy, Sonja is talking about how cheap everything is in Ramona’s apartment, Dorinda is doing the Robot, and I need to go to bed. Someone breaks something in the apartment, Ramona screams oh shit, and Sonja assures them it is okay because it only cost $12.00. This show is fantastic. I’ll be back next week, thankfully with a cocktail, keeping it real.

Real Housewives of New York City Week 10 Recap


Typos are generously sponsored by Verve Clicquot.

It is FINALLY time for Luann to get married. Does this mean the women of NYC will move onto another topic and perhaps find a storyline? Probably not, but whatever. This show is brilliant and I am hooked on it like cheap street crack. I am sitting with Jose, we have a bottle of champagne and are ready for a wedding.

  • Sonja introduces us to Frenchy
  • Frenchy is a fame whore
  • He’s also handsome
  • He’s also a child
  • He’s also into Tinsley
  • Tinsley is painful
  • A one season girl to be sure
  • Please
  • Frenchy’s name is Edgar
  • Stick with Frenchy
  • Bethenny is having a holiday party
  • She subtly slams Dorinda’s party
  • Bitch
  • Skinnygirl commercial time
  • Ramona is not invited to Bethenny’s
  • Bethenny runs this show
  • Know it
  • Sonja is dropping by Bethenny’s
  • Then she heads to Thailand for vacation
  • Tinsley needs to move it
  • Now
  • Bethenny talks with her mouth full
  • Every single time she eats
  • Oysters are not sexy
  • Ramona is filming with Avery
  • Dear Lord this is sad
  • The Skinnygirl ice luge is perfection
  • Skinnygirl tastes like ass
  • Ramona is pathetic
  • Carole needs a straw to not drool
  • Unfortunate overbite
  • Bless her
  • Ramona had a party
  • Bethenny didn’t go
  • Tinsley let Ramona know about ‘s party
  • Ramona is gossiping to Avery’s friends
  • I can’t
  • The thirst is real with Ramona
  • Ramona thinks she is bonded to Avery’s friends
  • Um, no
  • Dorinda let Ramona have it about how dirty she is
  • The Playboy Mansion must be renamed Playboy Castle
  • So much better
  • Ramona denied trashing Dorinda’s house
  • Ramona is a liar
  • Carole is talking with her mouth full
  • STOP IT
  • Time for the wedding
  • Luann looks beautiful
  • Luann sounds delusional
  • The wedding is gorgeous
  • She should have worn flats instead of crouching
  • I’m happy for Luann
  • Not a lot of wedding coverage
  • Surprising since it is all they’ve talked about
  • It is now January 2017
  • Bethenny and Carole are eating
  • Never a good thing with these open mouth chewers
  • Adam moved out of Carole’s apartment
  • Blah, blah, blah
  • Ramona is at Dorinda’s to hear about the wedding
  • Dorinda was drunk at the wedding
  • Luann is having a NYC party
  • Very strange
  • Carole and Bethenny are strolling through Chinatown
  • Who cares about this?
  • Time filling bullshit
  • Frenchy is “moving in”
  • He wants kids and will adopt with Sonja
  • I call bullshit
  • Time for Luann’s party
  • Bethenny is going
  • I love Bethenny on this show
  • Pigs just flew out of my ass
  • Bethenny is the first to arrive and she is 15 minutes late
  • Honestly, Bethenny is funnier than fuck
  • For real
  • Dorinda arrives, so now it is the two of them
  • Avery is Ramona’s date to Luann’s party
  • Ramona is horrible
  • Tinsley brought a little boy to the party
  • Sonja arrives with Frenchy
  • She is nervous for him to meet the girls
  • Understandable
  • Tinsley’s date is 23
  • She’s an idiot
  • Ramona brings a date
  • I call bullshit
  • Tinsley’s date is getting drunk
  • Tinsley looks thirsty
  • Not in a parched way
  • Tom and Sonja together is creepy
  • I love this show
  • I’ve had three glasses of champagne
  • Tom and Luann are awkward
  • Dorinda is giving a toast
  • Oy vey
  • Dorinda is not a good toaster
  • This show is reality television perfection
  • See you next week
  • I’ll be making out with Jose
  • Getting lit and keeping it real

Real Housewives of New York City Week 7 Recap


Typos are generously provided by Absolute Vodka.

We are heading back to the Berkshires. Oy vey. It will be interesting, because it always is. I love this show, but I can’t decide what is more annoying, listening to how poor Bethenny is, or how rich she is. Either way she is bringing this show to life, so good for her. I’m in London, have a cocktail by my side, and I am going with bullet points today. They make me laugh, and are fast, so I’m hoping I can get through this week in three cocktails or less. By three of course I mean five.

  • Luann and Tom make me sad
  • Sad for her
  • Grossed out by him
  • I call divorce in under two years
  • Bless her
  • I get the desperation
  • Wouldn’t do it, but get it
  • Carole lives in animal squalor
  • Dorinda is fabulous
  • When she’s going mental on Sonja
  • Bethenny is selling her house
  • She is rich again
  • She is setting up her show with him
  • Free advertising
  • Great apartment
  • Teachers wear chalk everyday
  • That’s funny
  • Ramona is visiting Carole
  • Ramona is mental
  • I can smell the kitty litter
  • Carole is filled to the rim
  • Tight
  • All these bitches talk about is Luann
  • Tom creeps me out
  • Tom is not funny
  • Tom is a fame whore
  • And a regular whore
  • Blah, blah, blah
  • I’m over the gossip already
  • She is marrying him
  • Move on
  • Shorter hair suits Carole
  • Carole is concerned
  • Ramona is jealous
  • Tom wants to run
  • Luann is not running
  • I’m on drink number two
  • It’s an Absolut kind of evening
  • Ramona is friends with Trump
  • Ugh
  • This Tom gossip is painful
  • Time for Christmas in the Berkshires
  • Dorinda’s decorations are fascinating
  • Not in a good way
  • Ramona and Sonja arrive
  • So far, so good
  • Ramona is incredibly unappealing
  • Tinsley is having lunch with her mom
  • Tinsley is a one season addition
  • I can’t with her
  • Is Tinsley’s hair pink?
  • How old is she?
  • Tinsley is a drinker
  • Perhaps that explains her mugshot
  • Tinsley needs to move out of Sonja’s
  • Tinsley is ungrateful
  • Sonja has a hard on for Tinsley
  • Sonja looks like a crazy person
  • Tinsley looks like a mean girl
  • Time to decorate the tree
  • I’m bored
  • Carole is shopping with Adam’s parents
  • I can’t
  • Adam wants kids
  • Carole does not want kinds
  • Why are they together?
  • For a cookbook?
  • Tinsley arrives in the Berkshires
  • Sonja is jealous of Tinsley
  • Very strange
  • Morning brings Carole and Bethenny
  • Bethenny is very entertaining
  • Carole is invisible
  • Bethenny gets flowers at Dorinda’s
  • On Dorinda’s birthday
  • Dennis loves Bethenny
  • Flowers were weird though
  • More Tom gossip
  • Ugh
  • Enough already
  • They all love talking about Luann
  • Ramona is stupid
  • That’s mean
  • Ramona is stupid
  • No getting around it
  • MORE TOM GOSSIP
  • These chicks are relentless
  • The ladies dump or Dorinda
  • She is the chosen messenger
  • I honestly can’t take it
  • This is everyone’s storyline
  • Who cares?
  • Luann arrives
  • Let the games begin
  • But first, cookie decorating!
  • Luann arrives
  • I feel so sad for her
  • Public humiliation is rough
  • Sonja wants the decorating stuff
  • Classic
  • Tinsley is talking of moving out
  • Sonja is bitchy
  • Tinsley is too sensitive
  • Sonja loses her shit in 3..2..1..
  • Not cute Sonja
  • Eccentric is fabulous
  • Crazy is just crazy
  • Dorinda is going to dump it all on Luann
  • Luann takes it like a trooper
  • Poor thing already knows
  • Luann trusts Tom 100%
  • She knows it is right
  • She doesn’t check his phone
  • Big mistake
  • Huge
  • The Berkshire blowout will be next week
  • I went through three cocktails
  • I’ll be reunited with my boyfriend Jose next week
  • Tipsy, but keeping it real

 

 

Real Housewives of New York City Week 5 Recap


 

Typos are lovingly provided by Jose Cuervo.

It’s time for Carole’s election party. Ugh. I wonder what she will try to make her storyline for the rest of the season. Will we just watch her cry? Talk about shacking up? Carole is here because of Bethenny, and while Bethenny is bringing this season back to life, as she did last season, I’m not sure that is worth having to watch Carole. The good news is that I am taking a shot every time Carole chews with her mouth open and talks with her mouth full. Let the intoxication begin.

We start with Carole going to work on the election with her mother, who is only 18 yeas older than her. Her mother seems lovely, but I can’t. There is simply nothing interesting about Carole. Not one damn thing, including her Cookie Monster coat. Bless her. Cut to Ramona, she is having some face work done. More face work. She looks amazing for 60 so good for her. She is annoying, and a horrible friend, but there are no surprises here. Ramona is always simply Ramona.

Back to Carole, she is dropping the Kennedy name again and I am laughing. At her. Dear Lord. Carole needs to move on. She is bitching about Adam, trying again to make it sound like no big deal to be shacking up. Blah, blah, blah. Carole says she has no regrets in not having kids and also has no burning desire to introduce Adam to her parents. Carole is weird. Sidebar: I could watch the commercial for the finale of the RHOA reunion over and over again. So excited!

Time for time with Sonja. She is on a date with a man who is clearly into her. He is who she dates, not who she sleeps with. She has someone else for that. Oy vey. Sonja is fabulous and I love her. She should stop sleeping the child she is hooking up with, and marry Rocco. Enough already. Sonja mentions Tinsley didn’t bother to get her a birthday card. That is shitty since she’s staying with her. Even though that shacking up is scripted bullshit, she should’ve got a card.

Speaking of scripted bullshit, Dorinda and Luann meet to do some shopping for Tom. Lu has already bought Tom a Rolex for the wedding, but thinks he needs a tie too. Luann is blinded by love. Translation: she is a fool. Dorinda is planning a surprise birthday party for Ramona. It is election day and while some are blowing off Carole’s party, she is there and very high strung. It is funny to watch as we know how it all ended. She is clearly just a tad too invested.

Bethenny is out with friends who she will take with her to Carole’s. Bethenny is a good friend because she knows Carole is being mental, but supports her anyway. Bethenny is the exact opposite kind of friend to what Ramona is. I wouldn’t want to be fake lost at sea with Bethenny, but she is a good friend. Bath at Carole’s party, Heather Thomas is there and looks great. The numbers are coming in and Carole appears to be short of breath and it is very early. Hilarious.

Bethenny lets Dorinda know she is not going to Ramona’s birthday. Bravo. I wouldn’t go if I were her either. I would however give her a signed DVD of my “soft porn” film. Trump is projected to win and Carole leaves her own party. Cut to the morning and Trump has won. Carole is heartbroken and confused. Much like how all smart and educated people were on the morning after the election. Carole is crying and I feel for her because I cried the same day. Trump is garbage.

In another useless bit of scripted bullshit, Carole is shopping with Ramona. Come on! Ramona wants to talk about Bethenny, Carole doesn’t want to get involved, then talks about it. Whatever. Carole blows Dorinda’s surprise party, Ramona plays dumb, because she is dumb, and that is that. We are halfway through and I feel like I’m wasting my time. Over to Sonja, she is with Tinsley, getting ready to go out to Ramona’s surprise party. I’m taking a shot to perk me up.

Dorinda is picking up Ramona, but Dorinda is running late so she leaves without her. She is a truly shitty person. Ramona arrives, pretends to be surprised, and the party begins. This is so lame. Harry is there and Sonja is annoyed. Oy vey. Sonja is somewhat tragic, Tinsley is a bitch, and Ramona is really loud. She reminds me of Kathy Lee Gifford. Sorry Kathy Lee. Ramona’s date George arrives to the party. Really? I’m not buying that for one second. Not happening.

Ramona is ignoring her fake date and it is hilarious. John is talking up Luann and he remains icky. Bless him. Ramona asks Dorinda if she invited Bethenny, and is told she declined the invitation. Ramona is clearly annoyed. Whatever. Ramona is drunk and chatting with Sonja about Bethenny not coming. Sonja is blindly supportive, which is lovely, but Ramona is crazy and Sonja says as much. Did Ramona say Brynn is 6 and sophisticated enough to talk about porn? Dumbass.

Sonja is so lovely. She knows Ramona is being an idiot, but also knows there is nothing she can do or say to make Ramona see she was wrong. Ramona is lucky to have Sonja because she certainly does not deserve her friendship or loyalty. Another week gone without anything particularly interesting happening. Not to worry because next week will be a Ramona/Bethenny face off, which looks fabulous. I’ll be back next week, with Jose, to keep it real.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn, New York. Photo courtesy of Google Street View.

NY Jewish Children’s Museum hit with bomb threat


The Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn was evacuated after receiving an emailed bomb threat.

The museum was evacuated Thursday morning following a call to the police, AM New York reported.

Devorah Halberstam, the museum’s director of foundation and government services, told JTA the evacuation was still ongoing as of 11:15am.

“It’s a trying time for us as a Jewish people especially, and we need to be aware and we need to take heed, and we need to be careful,” Halberstam said.

She added: “I’m referring to all the threats that have been going on both locally and internationally — it’s something that is very frightening. Unfortunately anti-Semitism has been around for the longest time and I guess things don’t change, now it’s done by emails and phone calls. They use technology to hide behind it.”

Jewish institutions, including community centers and Anti-Defamation League offices, have been hit with more than 100 bomb threats so far this year, all of them hoaxes. Tuesday and Wednesday saw the sixth wave of threats, with 21 Jewish sites targeted in the United States and Canada.

Last week, the New York Police Department said that anti-Semitic incidents were up 94 percent in New York City over this time last year.

Kosher restaurant is victim of GrubHub fraud


Food delivery site GrubHub, which also owns Seamless, has overhauled its restaurant verification process on New York City restaurants listed on its site following an NBC4 I-Team investigation that found many restaurants listed on the famous sites appeared to be “ghosts” in that there was no actual restaurant at the locations listed online.

One of the restaurants the imposter used was Mike’s Bistro, a kosher restaurant in Manhattan, NBC’s I-Team revealed.

The show’s producer Ann Givens is seen in the video ordering vegetable dumplings and edamame from a restaurant named “Mike’s Bistro Asian Fusion” located on West 72nd Street. However, as the camera crews went to the location, they noticed the kitchen is closed. “I am confused because this place looks like it’s closed,” Givens is seen telling the delivery person as she points at the location across the street.

NBC’s I-Team investigators took the delivery to the real Mike Bistro’s that moved 20 blocks away 18 months ago. David Zinstein, the restaurant’s manager, told NBC4 that they do not sell vegetable dumplings since the food served at the restaurant is served in a high-standard manner.

“This could affect our business,” he said.

The imposter has yet to be located.

NY City police aware of ISIS video but say no specific threat


New York City police are aware of a newly released Islamic State video that suggests that the largest U.S. city was a potential target of attacks such as those in Paris last week, but that there are no current or specific threats, the department said on Wednesday.

“While some of the video footage is not new, the video reaffirms the message that New York City remains a top terrorist target,” Stephen Davis, a Deputy NYPD Commissioner, said in a statement. “While there is no current or specific threat to the city at this time, we will remain at a heightened state of vigilance.”

Israeli students attacked with firebomb in NYC


A firebomb was thrown at two Israeli yeshiva students in New York City in an incident being investigated as a hate crime.

Neither of the students, both 19, were injured in the Midtown Manhattan attack, which occurred Friday and was reported in the New York media on Sunday morning.

Detectives from the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force interviewed the students in the wake of the attack after an officer at the scene did not take a formal report. The officer said “nothing happened,” according to the New York Daily News.

“A firebomb is not the kind of thing you have sitting in your car or in your bag unless you have someone to throw it at,” Barry Sugar, director of the Jewish Leadership Council, said in a statement emailed to JTA. “It is conceivable that the attacker sees these boys every Friday and prepared this bomb to ambush them.”

The students, one of whom only speaks Hebrew, are studying at a Brooklyn yeshiva for one year. They often visit Jewish-owned businesses in the area to call on people to perform mitzvahs, the New York Post reported, citing community leaders.

In a second possible hate crime incident, objects were thrown at an Orthodox Jewish woman, 22, as she pushed her baby in a stroller past the Bangladesh Muslim Center in Brooklyn, the Post reported, citing police. The Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident as a possible bias incident.

Muslim vendor was target of NYC attack, not yeshiva students


A firebomb believed to have been thrown at two Israeli yeshiva students in New York City was actually aimed at a Muslim food truck vendor, police said.

The students, both 19, were walking in Midtown Manhattan on Friday when a still-unidentified assailant threw a bottle filled with combustible liquid that landed in front of them.

New York Police Department spokesman Lee Jones told the Gothamist blog on Monday that the Israeli students were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that the real target was the vendor, Saleh Hegazy, who had argued with someone who came back to attack him.

“It looks like an individual got into some sort of dispute with a manager at a food cart storage facility, came back and threw a bottle containing a combustible substance,” Jones said.

Jones also disputed the term “firebomb,” saying instead that an individual threw a bottle containing an unidentified substance.

The students, Yosef Rachimi and Yisrael Gadasi, are studying at a Brooklyn yeshiva for one year. They reportedly often visit Jewish-owned businesses to encourage people to perform mitzvahs, or good deeds.

Gustave Kaitz, the last Art Deco artist


The Art Deco movement of the 1920s and ’30s is best known for its stylish and geometric design: streamlined, modern furniture, textiles and jewelry, not to mention iconic New York City skyscrapers such as Rockefeller Center, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building.

It’s an aesthetic that heavily influenced the Jewish-American painter Gustave Kaitz, one of the last artists to paint in that style. In 1930, at the age of 17, he picked up his brush and painted “Sacrifice” — which depicts a Mesoamerican woman gazing upward, with angular features and a highly stylized headdress — and went on to create hundreds of paintings that he sold to department stores and collectors.

Kaitz in his Manhattan studio circa 1935

The first public retrospective of Kaitz’s work is now on display at the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard. More than 20 pieces will be shown, ranging from his earliest work of the 1930s and ’40s to the second chapter of his career in the 1970s, after he had put down his brush for more than two decades. The show doesn’t have a closing date but is expected to be on view for about nine months.

An automotive museum might seem like an odd venue for such an exhibit, but museum founder and chairman Peter W. Mullin said it fits his interest in Art Deco style, including French cars of the 1920s and ’30s. 

“His artistry is not something that people know a lot about or have seen, and part of our museum’s objective is to bring back for public view and enjoyment something special about the Art Deco period,” Mullin said. 

Mullin serves as the co-founder and chairman of the board of M Financial Holdings Inc. and as chairman of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

Kaitz’s daughter, Revalee Kaitz Brody, who is loaning the artwork to the museum, said that in a spiritual world, Mullin and her father would be kindred spirits. 

“Peter has a very innate understanding of many of the things that my father was searching for,” she said.

Kaitz’s paintings have a strong religious and spiritual component. He incorporated symbols and themes of mythology and science fiction in his work, which was unusual for the genre, according to Brittanie Kinch, the museum’s historian and guest curator.

“He was unique in that he was infusing his personal knowledge about philosophy and combined it with the aesthetic movement of the Art Deco period,” Kinch said. “He was very interested in myth and in infusing pieces of the dream world and personal mythologies, or even cultural mythologies.”

Kaitz’s figures evoke Mayan and Aztec civilizations, as well as Native American cultures and the classical elements of Greco-Roman sculpture. He regularly sought out the company of religious leaders from other faiths as well, spending time with Buddhist monks, Catholic priests and the Siddha Yoga guru Swami Muktananda. In the mid-’70s, he made the paintings “Buddha and the Eight Fold Path” and “Jesus the Jew.”

“My father loved being Jewish. He wouldn’t have wanted to be anything but Jewish,” Brody said. “When he was in discourse with men or women of other religions, he was able to learn more about Judaism from some of them. It helped him understand who he was.”

Kaitz was born in Brooklyn on Oct. 6, 1913, to Polish immigrant parents. His father was a businessman who ran a nightclub on Coney Island, and his mother was a homemaker. They encouraged his interest in art, and he channeled his love for French artists of the Art Deco movement into his paintings. 

“He continued painting in that way. He didn’t really have an evolution in painting,” Kinch said. “He preserved that painting style into his later works, which is why we call him one of the last to continue painting in that style.”

Kaitz took a 23-year hiatus from painting while he ran an antique store in Brooklyn with his wife, Mildred. They collected 19th-century art and oil paintings — expanding to three stores before relocating their collection to Monticello in upstate New York. There they had a summer home, where they entertained artists, writers and poets. Longtime friend and Pulitzer Prize nominee, the Yiddish poet Menke Katz, once wrote that Kaitz “is always walking the mountaintops, but he knows what’s going on in the streets.”

Kaitz’s first era of painting focused on mythical, goddess-like figures, while his later work involved celestial landscapes that could have been inhabited by the creatures in his earlier paintings. One futurist-inspired painting is “Voyager,” made in 1975. The abstract landscape appears to show a jagged spear of ice pointing toward a fractured moon, while orange ribbons of smoke curl around it, as if from a spaceship.

'Voyager'

“Even the title, ‘Voyager,’ kind of insinuates that this is a place you can travel to and escape in your brain,” Kinch said.

“Society needs fantasy,” Kaitz was quoted as saying in an Associated Press article reporting his 1992 death. “Reality is cruel, people seek a way out. The Deco movement was one of the ways out, to fantasize reality, to make it something we wish we were.”

As a child of Jewish immigrants in Brooklyn, it also might have been Kaitz’s way of exploring a foreign culture and seeking a way in.

“He was probably in a pretty isolated community, in that they had very specific rules and structures and stories that created their community. So he had the ability to anthropologically go into different societies and pick out how those people worked,” Kinch said. 

Perhaps his best-known work is “The Gatsby Girl,” painted in the 1930s and reflective of the Jazz Age as depicted in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American novel “The Great Gatsby,” which focused on millionaire Jay Gatsby and his obsession with the beautiful Daisy Buchanan. The subject of the painting wears a flapper hat and gazes at the viewer, with her head tilted and one hand covering her breast.

'The Gatsby Girl'

Kaitz continued his interest in strange and alluring women later in life, as in “Terra,” painted in the 1980s. The woman wears space-age jewelry and is holding a crescent-shaped, multicolored object. “Her divinity encompasses all of existence. In her hand she holds the spiritual realm of eternity,” Kaitz once said of the painting.

When Kaitz passed away, his daughter moved his extensive art collection to her home in New Jersey. 

“There were about 150 paintings and sketches, and probably 1,000 or more that are in homes and in families from three generations ago,” Brody said. “In the 1940s, he sold his art not only to private individuals but to department stores. If you’ve ever heard of Fortunoff or Gimbels in Manhattan, they’d buy them by the hundreds. The list was so long, it was as long as a roll of toilet paper. And he got so nervous, he hired some kids on the block to come and help him frame them.”

This is the first time a body of his work will be gathered for public view, and Brody said she hopes the show will help her father gain the widespread recognition he sought during his life.


For tickets and more information on the Gustave Kaitz exhibition, visit 

From orphans to terrorists: The childhood that became a breeding ground for vengeance


Before he killed two New York City police officers, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley was on a desperate search to find himself.

He “tried on identities as if they were new clothes,” The New York Times reported. He was mostly a street hustler who dabbled in petty crime and spent seven months in jail once for shooting a friend’s car. He tried to straighten out with a legitimate T-shirt-making business, but it quickly failed. His saving grace was an active fantasy life, which he openly expressed on social media, alternately portraying himself as an unrealized filmmaker, screenwriter or rap producer. 

After he committed double homicide and then killed himself, too, some seemed puzzled as to why Brinsley did it: There was no evidence to suggest he had a history of devout anti-police sentiment; or that he belonged to any hate-stoking activist group. He was Muslim, but hardly radical. In fact, until his final day, the most significant thing he ever took up arms against was the aforementioned car.

The Times concluded that Brinsley was no dedicated criminal; rather, he “seemed to be a grandstander at the end of his tether, homeless, jobless and hopeless.”

Homeless, jobless, hopeless. That’s a heady brew. Poisonous, even. And in the end, those three ingredients may have been what led Brinsley from a troubled life to an irredeemable one. But the question remains: Even in the worst circumstances, what accounts for the difference between those who emerge well adjusted and those who are incurably alienated?

Reach deep into Brinsley’s childhood, and clues converge to suggest why he became a difficult and dangerous adult. His parents split when he was 9; “his mother couldn’t handle him”; “[h]e learned that if he did poorly in school or acted out, his father came around,” so, “[h]e acted out often.” He “learned to live on a couch”; and he was “so estranged” from his mother, she couldn’t be counted upon to identify where her son went to high school.

Throughout his childhood, Brinsley lacked security, stability and love. Is it any surprise that a child who was never cared for never acquired the tools to care for himself? Anger was his only recourse, and it fueled a final rage that cost two more families their stability.

Consider the offspring of another shattered family: Cherif and Said Kouachi, who murdered 12 people at Charlie Hebdo last week, after spending years searching for an anchor of their own. Both orphans and immigrants, they turned to radical Islam for purpose and meaning — the ideology promised the answer to all that they lacked. But what did they lack?

Cherif and Said's Algerian-immigrant father died when they were young boys, leaving the family with limited resources. They were 10 and 12-years-old when they discovered their mother's body after an apparent suicide. After that, Cherif and Said were tossed to the French foster-care system that raised them. They did not grow up religious. They were not encouraged to do something great with their lives. So when they finally came of age, all that was available to them were menial jobs like fitness instructor, fishmonger or pizza delivery man. It was a hard life, not a cherished one. One, you might even imagine, they would happily give up for redemption in the world to come. But before their clarion calls of Allahu Akbar, the floundering brothers “initially drifted into petty delinquencies, not religious fanaticism.”

What changed them from lost children to found jihadists? In a 2005 documentary that aired on one of France’s state-owned television channels, Cherif was portrayed as an ordinary kid who liked rap music and late-night clubbing before stumbling into a dark underworld of hate and fanaticism. It was reportedly a 26-year-old janitor-turned-preacher who drew him to radical Islam by romanticizing jihad in passionate sermons. 

When he was brought to trial in 2008 for helping recruit young French Muslims to fight in Iraq, his lawyer presented him as a lost, confused soul who was hardly the devout Islamist he was believed to be. Cherif, his lawyer noted, “smoked marijuana … and described himself as an ‘occasional Muslim.’” (If there had been any hope for rehabilitation, it was conclusively dissolved once he was incarcerated and found a like-minded inmate who had plotted an attack on the American Embassy in Paris.) 

Once you start tumbling down a mountain, it’s hard to recover your balance.

The fact that the brothers had long been on the radar of French authorities, and had been detained and then released, indicates how futile it is to fight radical Islam in the streets. Drones can only do one thing. Should democracies arrest or kill every person who has ever walked into an Islamist mosque?

Beating back radical Islam will require addressing root causes of radical loneliness. The more young immigrants grow up in homes with education and real economic prospects, the less likely it is that they’ll become bait for ideological tyranny. There’s a reason the first book of Torah focuses on families — they are the bedrock from which everything else flows, for better or worse. Freud told us this; Stephen Sondheim repeated it when he cautioned: “Careful the things you say, children will listen. Careful the things you do, children will see.”

We can only hope more children witnessed the example of Lassana Bathily, the French-Muslim young man who ushered 15 kosher supermarket shoppers to safety, before escaping himself and helping French police assess the situation inside. Bathily proved it isn’t Islam itself that is so radical — or any other religion, for that matter. It is the choice a religious person makes to either lash out or love.

Haredi circumcision practice infects New York baby with herpes


A controversial circumcision practice has led to the infection of a New York City baby with neonatal herpes, according to the city’s health department.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced Tuesday in a press release that the case was reported in November and resulted “following ritual Jewish circumcision with direct orogenital suction,” a practice known as metzitzah b’peh. This is the fourth such case in 2014 and the 17th since 2000, according to the health department. Two of those cases have resulted in death and another two in brain damage.

Metzitzah b’peh, in which the mohel sucks blood from the wound following circumcision, is a common traditional practice among many haredi Orthodox mohels. When performed directly with the mouth (as opposed to through a sterile pipette), it has been directly linked to the transmission of the herpes virus. New York City health department regulations require the parents of a child to provide prior written consent for the practice, but the regulation has not been enforced.

 

Eric Garner’s death does not make me feel safer


The words of Leviticus (19:6) admonish us not to “stand idly by while the blood of your neighbor is shed.” These words should sting our ears and shock our conscience in the wake of a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict a New York City police officer who killed Eric Garner after using a chokehold, a long-prohibited technique, in attempting to arrest him for a simple misdemeanor – selling single, untaxed cigarettes.

Garner’s fatal encounter with police, including his cries for help, were documented on video. The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide. Can we imagine the likelihood of a similar outcome had Eric Garner been white? If he had been Jewish?

As a New Yorker and a rabbi, I believe the unfolding of these tragic events should disturb us on three levels. First, for the failure of justice in the grand jury decision. Second, for the discriminatory application of the system of “broken windows” policing, which led to the altercation that ended Eric Garner’s life. Third, because as Jews, we know what it means to walk in fear because of who we are, and we must empathize with anyone who faces discrimination today.

Broken windows policing is based on a theory that punishing minor quality-of-life infractions may help prevent more serious crimes. But whatever its merits, the policy is enforced with dramatic inconsistency in white neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color.

“There shall be one law for all of you,” insists Leviticus (24:22). Yet as applied by the NYPD, broken windows policing endangers many New Yorkers of color in the name of protecting others.

Longtime residents of my gentrified Manhattan block like to reminisce about when drug sales happened frequently on our corner and their kids’ friends weren’t allowed to come over because the neighborhood was so dangerous. Broken windows policing is intended to protect people who look like me, so we can safely walk home from the subway at night and feel good about our neighborhoods. But the policy led to the death of Eric Garner, a father of six, and has not made safer the lives of the many New Yorkers of color who have been victims of police violence and discriminatory police policies.

I love raising my children in New York City. My kids ask big questions about the complexity of their city every day and play happily on the sidewalk in front of our building. I have never been stopped and questioned by police while simply walking down the street or taking the subway. But is our illusion of safety coming at the price of the lives of people like Eric Garner?

According to a Quinnipiac poll in August, 72 percent of all New Yorkers and 96 percent of black New Yorkers believe police brutality is a serious problem. Yet 56 percent support enforcement of quality-of-life crimes. This case should open our eyes to the reality that this enforcement comes at a high cost in human dignity and human life, mostly to African-American men. Will those of us who benefit from this system stand idly by? Will we tolerate a dual system of justice?

Most white American Jews know both privilege and oppression. We experience the societal benefits of skin color and class, but also the fear of historical and rising anti-Semitism. We must not be complicit in a system that criminalizes people of color like Eric Garner but not the police officer who killed him.

Broken windows policing is actually deeply broken policing. We have a moral responsibility to oppose this injustice in solidarity with those who are most harmed by this policy – people of color, transgendered women, homeless people – both within and without the Jewish community. Passing the Right to Know Act, which is currently before the New York City Council, will strengthen police accountability and transparency, an important step toward ending broken windows policing and police brutality.

As I teach my children to be proud Jewish New Yorkers, I do so with the words of Deuteronomy (4:9) in mind: “Do not forget the things that you saw with your own eyes and so that they do not fade from your mind as long as you live. And make them known to your children and to your children’s children.”

(Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen is the director of the Center for Jewish Living at JCC Manhattan; co-chair of T’ruah, the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights; and a member of the Rabbinic Cabinet of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.)

 

New York increases security around synagogues


New York City increased its police presence at synagogues and other locations in the wake of an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue that left four dead.

“The NYPD is following developments in Jerusalem closely and working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force to monitor any further developments,” the city’s police commissioner, Bill Bratton, said in a statement. “As of now, there is no specific credible threat to New York City.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio asked New Yorkers to remain alert and report suspicious activity, WCBS-TV reported. He said that the NYPD is “in close contact with its liaison post in Israel.”

The FBI said in a statement that it is “aware of the situation” and was “working in close collaboration and cooperation with the appropriate Israeli allies and partners.”

In his statement, de Blasio said, “New York City stands in solidarity with Israel at this difficult time, and we hope and pray for a peaceful and secure future for all of its people.” The mayor said he was “horrified and heartbroken” by the attack.

RIP, Pete Seeger


Today began on a sad note with news that Pete Seeger, a man for whom the modifier “legendary” seems hopelessly inadequate, had died in New York City at 94.

Unlike some of my friends who were weaned on Seeger’s music, I encountered the man only later. An image from Alec Wilkinson’s 2006 New Yorker profile in particular stands out: Seeger, then in his mid-80s, protesting the Iraq war on a snowy stretch of Route 9 near his home in Beacon, N.Y. He didn’t call in the press. He didn’t call in anyone. He just stood there, alone, cars passing and a freezing rain falling on his head, bearing a sign with a single word: Peace.

Nearly as much as the music he wrote and helped popularize, Seeger will be remembered for his leftist politics: He supported the labor and civil rights movements, was an unabashed communist (with a small “c”) and opposed America’s wars. He was blacklisted for being a party member in the 1940s, indicted for contempt of Congress and sentenced to a year in jail, though the conviction was overturned on appeal. But Seeger was never cowed, even as he grew frail. He performed with Bruce Springsteen at Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 and, when the Occupy protests broke out in 2011, Seeger, supporting himself with two canes, joined a protest march of nearly 40 blocks in New York City.

Inevitably, such loyalties led Seeger to cross paths with Jewish activists over the years. Rabbi Michael Lerner, in the first of what surely will be many Jewish remembrances to come forth in the coming days, recalled when Seeger offered to perform at the first Tikkun conference in 1988. “Seeger understood that the kind of Judaism we espoused was rooted in the universalist and prophetic tradition that had led so many Jews to become deeply involved in the movements for peace and social justice – not the chauvinist nationalism that was becoming dominant in large sections of the organized Jewish community,” Lerner wrote.

Also inevitably, perhaps, Seeger was drawn into the increasingly vitriolic debate over Israel. Despite his longtime support for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, and his disgust at what he once called “monstrous” Israeli military actions against Palestinians, Seeger declined to bow out of an online rally for peace in the Middle East, despite urgings from the BDS movement.

“My religion is that the world will not survive without dialogue,” Seeger told JTA’s Sue Fishkoff in 2010. “I would say to the Israelis and the Palestinians, if you think it’s terrible now, just think ahead 50 years to when the world blows itself up. It will get worse unless you learn how to turn the world around peacefully.”

Maybe it was his age and his familiarity with an Israel that preceded the occupation, but Seeger seemed capable of seeing beyond an Israel caricatured as just another outpost of Western imperialism. Seeger first visited Israel in 1964 and spent time on Israeli kibbutzim — just the sort of collective communal enterprises he loved. He performed Israeli folk tunes with the Weavers in the 1950s as part of the larger folk revival he was helping to champion. And just two years ago, he recorded a video for the Jewish retreat center Isabella Freedman that recalls the three questions posed by the Jewish sage Hillel (amazingly, it’s been viewed less than 500 times).

In 2011, after a report that Seeger supported a boycott of Israel, he acknowledged to JTA that he “probably said” he supported such a measure, but that his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were evolving. My “opinions waver with each piece of information,” Seeger said.

We don’t live in a political culture with much tolerance for wavering opinions, regardless of one’s politics. At the risk of reading too much into that  single comment, I’d like to think Seeger was a link to an earlier moment — as he was in so many ways — a time before changing one’s mind was considered high treason in certain quarters, when folks still sat around campfires with banjos and moonshine.

N.Y. mayor vows to find Stark killer, condemns Post newspaper


New York City’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, said finding the killer of Charedi Orthodox Brooklyn landlord Menachem Stark is a priority and condemned the New York Post’s coverage of the incident.

De Blasio, who has been roundly criticized for his silence in the case, ripped the newspaper for its coverage on the front page of its Jan. 4 edition that included a headline blaring “Who Didn’t Want Him Dead?” next to a photo of Stark, 39, sporting a large shtreimel and graying side curls.

“It was unfair. It was hurtful. And there is really no place for that kind of thing in New York City,” de Blasio told the WMCA’s Orthodox-interest “Community Matters” radio program. “I know a lot of people are outraged, and I share their outrage.”

The mayor, who was sworn in at the start of the year, vowed to find Stark’s killer or killers.

“It’s a tragedy what happened to Mr. Stark. And my heart goes out for the family and they are in my thoughts and prayers,” de Blasio said. “And I know that for many, many people in the Jewish community this has been a very painful moment and I want to say: First of all, we are going to get to the bottom of it. We will find who did this to him and who robbed children of a father and a wife of a husband.”

Meanwhile, police reportedly found a new clue in the case, with WABC-TV reporting over the weekend that a cellphone being used as a tracking device was found taped under Stark’s car. Police are trying to identify the phone’s owner.

Stark’s body was found Jan. 3 on suburban Long Island some 16 miles away from his office in the heavily Satmar section of Williamsburg, from where he was kidnapped the previous evening. He reportedly was suffocated before his body was placed in a dumpster outside a Great Neck gas station and burned, according to police.

Video footage taken from his office reportedly showed Stark being taken into a van after a struggle outside his office. The identity of his abductors is not known.

Police: Caleb Jacoby found safe in NYC


The police department in Brookline, Mass., told JTA that 16-year-old Caleb Jacoby has been found safe in New York City.

Jacoby, an 11th-grader at the Maimonides School in suburban Boston, had been missing since midday on Jan. 6.

The case drew national attention, in part because the youth is the son of Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby.

Some 200 volunteers, including friends and neighbors of the family as well as members of local Jewish groups, searched throughout the Boston area in a coordinated effort on Wednesday. The effort was spearheaded by the Maimonides School.

“Our prayers have been answered,” Jacoby said via Twitter. “We are thrilled to hear from the Brookline Police that our beloved son Caleb has been found and is safe. Words can’t express our gratitude for the extraordinary outpouring of kindness and support that we have received from so many people. All we can think of at this moment is how wonderful it will be to see Caleb again and shower him with love.”

Boteach tweets of terror during N.J. mall shooting with family inside


Rabbi Shmuely Boteach tweeted “Please pray” as law enforcement scoured a New Jersey mall looking for the gunman who fired shots there while his daughter and wife took cover inside.

Boteach and three of his children were entering the Garden State Plaza in Paramus on Monday night to meet his wife and daughter near closing time when shoppers streamed through the doors shouting that there was a shooter in the mall.

Boteach ran with his children to safety, then called his wife to learn that they were holed up in a storage closest in one of the stores.

“Terror here at garden state mall in NJ and I know people inside. I left with my kids and now outside. Please pray,” Boteach tweeted. He did not indicate that his wife and daughter were among those inside until they were rescued.

Boteach’s wife and daughter were evacuated by a SWAT team about 90 minutes after the shooting began.

The gunman, identified as Richard Shoop, 20, of Teaneck, N.J., entered the mall just before 9:30 p.m. and fired his rifle at random targets, according to officials.

Shoop’s body was found early Tuesday morning in a storage area in the vast mall, which is located about 15 miles from New York City. State officials said he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

He reportedly had shot in the air and told mall patrons that he did not want to hurt anyone.

In a personal essay written after the incident, Boteach said that newly elected U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, a close friend, called as his wife was being rescued to inquire about her well-being.  Boteach had texted the New Jersey senator to inform him of the standoff.

“Still can’t sleep. have given up trying,” Boteach tweeted several hours after the incident.

Opinion still matters more than money


New York City voters appear to be moving beyond the era of their three-time mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has long dominated the city’s politics. With the Sept. 16 concession of William C. Thompson, the winner of New York’s Democratic mayoral primary is the liberal Bill de Blasio, who ran as the anti-Bloomberg and finished well ahead of the mayor’s choice, Christine Quinn. De Blasio’s Republican opponent in November will be Joseph J. Lhota, running as a supporter of the mayor, and as a distinct underdog.

Bloomberg has had a remarkable run in New York City politics, but in an era of big money in American politics, we nevertheless see once again that politics and our party system have rules of their own that can match and even overcome money’s power. And these limits on Bloomberg’s influence do not involve only New York City, but also his prospects for national influence.

Bloomberg is an unusual American political figure. He not only has one of the largest fortunes in the nation, but he has used that financial power effectively in support of a successful political career. He is no H. Ross Perot, turning into a caricature of himself. Nor is he like the Koch brothers, pulling strings behind the scenes to support their conservative ideology without facing the voters directly. Bloomberg has proven to be a popular candidate for office, and an influential and savvy office holder. 

For more than a decade, he has dominated New York City politics, about as difficult an environment to dominate as one can imagine. In that sense, he is more like Nelson Rockefeller, former governor of New York (1959-1973), than like most of the other rich folks who have seen in themselves great qualities of political leadership not visible to their fellow Americans. 

Ideologically, Bloomberg mixes social liberalism with centrist economics. Many business-oriented Republicans think this is where their party should be. Many Democrats like his deep pockets and effective organization in favor of gun control. Bloomberg has probably single-handedly kept the movement for gun control alive in the last few years. No matter what happens in the mayoral election, he is likely to remain a national force on that issue.

A Democrat until he switched parties to win as a Republican mayoral candidate in 2001, he inherited Rudy Giuliani’s right-leaning voters, but had much less of his predecessor’s overheated and polarizing style. State legislators who would never have let Giuliani get a whiff of controlling public education comfortably handed the school system over to Bloomberg. As a Wall Street-friendly mayor, he fit in well with the Bill Clinton/Cory Booker world of high finance and Democratic politics so prevalent in the Northeastern corridor.

And yet his power and appeal have proven to have limits. If the network of free-floating centrists that yearns for a candidate beyond party had their way, Bloomberg would have been chosen as president by acclimation years ago. But you still have to get elected president, and to get elected you first you have to win the nomination of a major party.

Bloomberg has run up against the inherent power of political parties to overcome even the best-bankrolled individual. He is way too liberal for the Republicans (as, similarly, John V. Lindsay found decades ago). After all, when Rockefeller made a bid for president, he was crushed by the grass-roots conservative forces of Barry Goldwater in 1964. And Bloomberg’s cherished political independence would not thrive in the brawling and diverse Democratic Party, with its already established and powerful fundraising network since the rise of Barack Obama and its increased focus on challenging economic inequality.

When Bloomberg has taken his show on the road, he has found his support a mixed asset. His backing of a Los Angeles school board candidate backfired, and his underfunded but locally effective opponent prevailed. The recent recall of two Colorado state senators who backed gun control, despite Bloomberg’s support, showed more limits to his reach. His efforts to influence the behavior of New Yorkers and what they consume became the fodder of late-night comedy. 

Bloomberg’s successful effort to expand the city’s two-term limits on mayors to win council approval of a third term showed his influence and even his popularity, but it also left him open to major changes in voter attitudes by the end of that third term.

For now, Bloomberg finds himself out of sync with growing numbers of his own constituents on two critically important issues: the stop-and-frisk policies that divided the city on racial grounds and the issue of economic inequality that has steadily grown as a challenge to Wall Street. In other words, old-fashioned voter opinion, likely to shift as demographics and issues evolve, still matters.

Bloomberg is proof that, while Americans have shown no particular distaste for wealthy candidates, neither has their electoral path been all that easy. Politics — whether the parties or the voters — still provides the essential check on the influence of those who command vast economic resources.


Raphael J. Sonenshein is executive director of the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles.

Met Council taps N.Y. finance chief Frankel to replace Rapfogel


The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty is bringing in New York City’s finance chief, David Frankel, to succeed the fired William Rapfogel as executive director and CEO.

The Met Council announced the appointment of Frankel, who has been the commissioner of the Department of Finance since 2009, on Monday. His department collects more than $30 billion in revenue for the city.

“Met Council’s work has improved the lives of many thousands of New York’s neediest people for more than 40 years, and I am honored and excited by the opportunity to lead such a respected and vital institution,” Frankel said.

Frankel will officially join the Met Council on Sept. 30.

Rapfogel, who headed the organization since 1992, was dismissed earlier this month after an internal investigation discovered financial malfeasance related to the company’s insurance policies. He is under investigation by the New York State attorney general and comptroller.

Met Council is one of New York’s largest human services agencies, providing services to 100,000 New Yorkers annually.

“We are proud and delighted to welcome David to Met Council,” said Steven Price, president of the social services agency board. “His integrity, passion for public service and understanding of the importance of our work will be extremely valuable resources for Met Council and our employees, volunteers, donors and partners as we work together to address the problem of poverty in New York.”

Prior to the Department of Finance, Frankel was a managing director at Morgan Stanley from 2004 to 2009, and he was the head of global operations for the AIG Trading Group from 1992 to 2004.

He also served as deputy commissioner of New York City Housing and Preservation and as special counsel to the commissioner for the Department of Correction. From 1978 to 1988, he practiced law at two New York firms.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Frankel “commanded the respect of anyone who worked with him because of his commitment to fairness.”

“Over the past four years,” the mayor said, “he has been dedicated to leveling the playing field for all New Yorkers by going after individuals and businesses that don’t play by the rules and protecting the ones that do.”

NYC suspends millions in funding to Met Council


New York City has reportedly suspended all funding to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty following the firing of its longtime CEO over alleged financial misdeeds.

“All pending awards have been put on hold until an investigation by [the New York Department of Investigation] is completed,” said mayoral spokesman Kamran Mumtaz, according to a report in The New York Post.

Unnamed sources quoted in the Post report say the move is holding up millions of dollars in payments from pending city contracts. The bulk of the organization’s revenue comes from federal, state and city funding.

The council’s CEO, William Rapfogel, was fired last week after an internal probe discovered “financial irregularities and apparent misconduct in connection with the organization’s insurance policies,” the organization said Monday. Rapfogel, 58, allegedly inflated insurance bills and pocketed the overcharges for himself.

The social service agency, which provides employment services, crisis intervention, emergency food and other programs for poor Jewish households, said in a statement it would “work diligently to appoint a replacement as quickly as possible.”

On the same day, Rapfogel, in a statement made through his lawyers, said, “I deeply regret the mistakes I have made that led to my departure from the organization.”

Rapfogel’s lawyer reportedly said that Rapfogel’s wife, Judy, and her boss, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, were unaware of the scheme.

Reclaiming the swastika


A swastika banner will fly over New York City and appear in other major cities around the world this Saturday.

No, the Nazis aren’t invading. This Saturday marks the fourth annual World Swastika Rehabilitation Day, organized by the International Raelian Movement. Founded in 1974, the movement claims more than 70,000 members in 104 countries who believe, according to the group’s website, that “thousands of years ago, scientists from another planet came to Earth and created all forms of life, including human beings, whom they created in their own image.”

The name of that alien race, by the way? Elohim.

The swastika features prominently in Raelian imagery, particularly in the religion’s symbol – a swastika interlocking with a Star of David. The swastika stands for infinity in time, while the two triangles making up the star represent infinity in space.

One of the movement’s goals is to reclaim the swastika, which was primarily a symbol of peace and good luck in many Eastern religions prior to the rise of the Nazi party, according to the ProSwastika Alliance. Swastika Reclamation Day events will be held Saturday in New York, Los Angeles, Switzerland, France and Australia. Because of Shabbat, the Raelians will mark the day in Tel Aviv today.

“We want to fully rehabilitate this symbol that’s so dear to billions of people,” said Thomas Kaenzig, Raelian guide and president of the ProSwastika Alliance in a statement. “It’s been used for thousands of years as a symbol of wellbeing and good luck, so when Westerners interpret it as meaning something ugly just because the Nazis used it, our society denies millions of people the right to live their religion freely.”

The character Alan Harper on the CBS show “Two and a Half Men,” after having a Hitler mustache drawn on his face once, commented that it was actually a good look, but “one guy had to ruin it for everyone.” Clearly, Kaenzig and company refuse to accept that.

Mezuzahs set ablaze in haredi Orthodox Brooklyn section


Eleven mezuzahs were set afire in a residential building in Brooklyn in an incident that New York City police are treating as a hate crime.

The vandalism occurred Monday afternoon — the day Israel observed Holocaust Remembrace Day — in public housing located in the predominantly haredi Orthodox section of Williamsburg.

No suspects have been apprehended in the crime.

“The Hate Crimes Task Force has been assigned to it and is treating it as a bias crime,” Paul Browne, the New York Police Department’s chief spokesman, told The New York Times. “The fact that they are all religious artifacts, we’re treating it as an anti-Semitic crime.”

Ed Koch Eulogized as Friend of Israel, Jewish People


Ed Koch was remembered as a friend of Israel and the Jewish people by a cast of political luminaries at the former New York City mayor’s funeral.

At a service that filled the cavernous sanctuary of Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan — the crowd included former President Bill Clinton, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — Koch was compared to Moses.

“In his own way, Ed was our Moses, just with a little less hair,” Bloomberg said, noting that this week’s Torah portion described Moses’ leadership in taking the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.

Koch, who died Feb. 1 at 88, is credited with leading New York City out of a debilitating financial crisis in the late 1970s, leading to a renewal that flourished under his successors.

Israel’s consul general in New York, Ido Aharoni, recalled in his eulogy that the combative Koch literally “bled” for Israel, retelling a famous story about how the mayor was hit on the head with a rock thrown by a Palestinian while on a trip to Israel in 1990. 

Koch was interred in an Episcopal cemetery in Manhattan.

+