MTA Increases Tolls + Fares, Cuts Service

25 03 2009

The board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted on Wednesday morning to enact a series of fare hikes and service cutbacks needed to keep the transit system from going broke. The vote was broken largely into three parts: fare hikes, toll increases and service cutbacks. After hearing from the public and the board members, the board approved each by a vote of 12 to 1.

The fare hikes on the subway and buses, including an increase in the base subway and bus fare to $2.50, from $2, will take effect on May 31. Commuter rail fares will increase on June 1. Tolls on the authority’s bridges and tunnels will also go up, with the increase taking effect in mid-July.

The service cuts are far reaching. They include the elimination of 35 bus routes and two subway lines, the W and Z. Off-peak and weekend subway, bus and commuter rail service will also be cut back.


Bill to Be Introduced on Tuesday

3 10 2008

City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn said on Thursday that legislation to alter the city’s term limits law would be introduced on Tuesday, paving the way for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Ms. Quinn and more than 40 other elected officials to stay in office four more years.

The Council’s vote on the measure — which Mr. Bloomberg has pushed for behind the scenes — could come later this month, Ms. Quinn told reporters at a news conference. And while she declined to reveal her position on the legislation, she said she would meet with other members of the Council to discuss the bill and “move forward in the process after that.”

Ms. Quinn’s remarks came on a dramatic day at City Hall, as Mr. Bloomberg for the first time explained why he wanted to run for another term. Her comments, and the rapid timetable she described, immediately set off criticism that a deal had already been struck between the mayor and Ms. Quinn, who has been his close ally, to overhaul the term limits law, which restricts citywide elected officials to two four-year terms.

Yankee Stadium

21 09 2008

After 85 years the most famous sporting lights in America are about to go dark forever.

New York Yankees stadium under construction, 18/09
Opinions are divided on the wisdom of the move

The New York Yankees do battle with the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday evening in their last home game of the regular baseball season, marking the team’s final appearance at Yankee Stadium.

Their millions of fans all over the baseball world had hoped for a bigger climax, as the most successful era in US sporting history draws to a premature close.

This season’s Yankees have failed to reach the play-off stage, which extends deep into October for the two teams who end up competing for baseball’s biggest prize.

With 26 World Series wins overall, the Yankees are the most successful sports franchise ever.

It is the first time in 13 years they have failed to reach the post-season phase, and the decline has been slow but steady since their last victory in 2000.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Sean Keller, who despite a leg in plaster, had flown to New York from the west coast city of Seattle, to visit Yankee Stadium one last time.

“It’s hard to believe. They call it a cathedral, and it feels like that in our hearts,” he said.

He was one of hundreds of fans who had come to pay homage in the final days.

‘New is better’

The eponymous new stadium is less than 50m away and is due to be completed in time for the start of next season, at a cost of $1.3bn (£710m).

The father and son team of Jonathan and Alek Morrison, had also travelled from the west coast to catch the game, and take one of the last guided tours.

“It makes the hair on my back stand up, just walking in,” said Mr Morrison.
Yankees fan Sean Keller
Fans such as Sean Keller travelled from the other sides of the US

“He grabbed some dirt off the outfield – he’s got it in his pocket,” he added, pointing at his grinning 13-year-old.

“It’s the greatest day of my life,” said Alek.

The 60,000-seat stadium was home to many of baseball’s star players and characters – from “Babe” Ruth to current captain Derek Jeter – but it also hosted many a world title boxing contest, and several papal masses.

“It’s time to change,” said retired school principal Bill Blazek, who had driven to the Bronx with a group of visitors from Iowa.

“I’ve been in a lot of baseball stadiums and it’s old. You’ve got to move on, and new is better,” he added, wistfully.

11th hour plea

Visitors slowly milling around the asphalt walkways, gazing up at the concrete walls, were euphoric with a sense that history is being made in these final hours.
Yankees stadium, file image
The old stadium has seen many thrilling victories for the home team

But one fan – conspicuous for not sporting a Yankees cap or shirt – said New York was making a terrible mistake in letting the stadium be torn down.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s a national icon,” said Eric Jones. He said he had signed an online petition calling for an 11th hour reprieve for the building, which is owned by the city.

“There’s 11 acres here they want to use for parkland, but they could go elsewhere. It’s a place of American culture.”

But for the vast majority, coming to the stadium was a chance for final photographs and the hope that some unusual souvenir could be found and carried away without the security guards noticing.

Ronak Trivedi, a 24-year-old from neighbouring New Jersey, said he had skipped work, in order to pay his respects.

“Man, it’s the holy land of baseball. I don’t think it can ever be replicated,” he said.

“The new stadium – it’s a whole different feeling.”

Despite the team’s poor performance in recent years, he said that the $250m players’ wages – and rising costs of the new stadium – were a price worth paying.

Yankees new stadium, 18/09
Will the new arena bear witness to such heroics?

After a turbulent season which saw the loss of their long-term manager, and ructions throughout the boardroom and dressing room, it is clear that the custodians of America’s premier sporting franchise are hoping to turn a new page in 2009.

But for now, the gleaming stadium across the street remains a virtually-ignored construction site.

All eyes are on a glorious past, contained within the crumbling walls opposite.

It will take a Herculean effort for the 21st Century Yankees to match the triumph of their predecessors in the Bronx, both on and off the field.


4 07 2008

Although it’s not the first release and ample supply is expected, a queue has reportedly begun outside of Apple’s Fifth Avenue retail store to buy iPhone 3G a full week before its release.

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As of mid-afternoon on Friday, a ten-person line has been spotted by Gear Diary along the marble border that surrounds the retail store above ground.

The lineup is acknowledged by both store security and Apple employees, some of whom have already left the store temporarily to talk with those in line. Chairs and other apparel make it clear the early visitors are there for the seven-day wait.

The names of those first in line are unknown, though unlike the queue at the same store last year, the front isn’t headed up by well-known line waiter Greg Packer, who regularly queues up early to be the first in line for many high-profile events.

Also unlike last year, however, there exists more of a clear incentive to be first in line at the New York City flagship outlet. With customers required to activate iPhone in-store rather than simply walk out with their purchases, the time spent processing each customer is estimated to take at least 10 minutes — a process that will slow the line down considerably versus the original launch, in which many customers could buy their handsets and leave in just a fraction of the time.

Man, and I though I was excited….

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Naked Cowboy Continues Lawsuit Against The Maker Of M&Ms

24 06 2008

An underpants-clad New York guitarist known as the “Naked Cowboy” can proceed with his trademark infringement lawsuit against the maker of M&Ms and its ad agency, a New York judge has ruled.

The Naked Cowboy is part of the scenery at New York’s Times Square.

The Naked Cowboy is part of the scenery at New York's Times Square.

Robert Burck has become a fixture in Times Square for playing the guitar dressed in a white cowboy hat, white cowboy boots and white underpants while tourists pose with him for pictures and slip money into his boots.

In February, the street performer filed a lawsuit against Mars Inc. and Chute Gerdeman Inc., after they released a video billboard showing a guitar-playing blue M&M dressed in a white cowboy hat, cowboy boots and underpants.

The company also ran print ads showing a similar yellow M&M.

Burck says in his lawsuit that he has registered trademarks to the Naked Cowboy name and likeness.

The lawsuit alleges that the ads violate Burck’s right to privacy and infringe on his trademark by “using his likeness, persona, and image for commercial purposes without his written permission and by falsely suggesting that he endorses M&M candy.”

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin ruled Monday that the trademark infringement claim can proceed.

Chin dismissed the privacy claim, however, saying New York law protects only the “name, portrait, or picture of a living person” and not a character “created or a role performed by a living person,” according to a statement from the court.

Lawyers for Mars and Chute Gerdeman did not return calls for comment.

Mars issued a statement saying, “we do not comment on matters of litigation. However, as a good corporate citizen, Mars will handle this matter accordingly.”

Burck said he is looking forward to pursuing the matter.

“I have spent 10 years in every kind of weather and going through the legal, step by step [process of getting a trademark],” Burck said. “It is imperative that damages are pushed so … an example will be set.”

He is seeking up to $100 million in punitive damages, plus attorney’s fees.

Chin ordered attorneys for both sides to appear at a pretrial conference July 11, according to the statement.

Google Opens Chelsea Market Offices

23 06 2008

Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, and Senator Charles E. Schumer joined hands on a large pair of scissors on Monday to cut the ribbon on Google’s new 50,000-square-foot offices in Chelsea Market, an expansion of their half-million square feet across the street on Eighth Avenue.

“We don’t have high-tech scissors?” Mr. Schumer asked, looking at the ribbon. “How about a laser?”