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The other New York City: Bayside.

Recently I had a discussion with someone City, I must have grown up in a war zone. It seems that New York City is represented by movies and television and not by reality. It’s not hard to understand; the number of movies and television shows that take place in New York are staggering. And all these movies and T.V. shows do their best to make use of the most sensationalistic aspects of living in a world city, most of which are totally false.

The reality is that New York has always been between eighth and tenth in violent crime among cities in the U.S. When there have been riots in other cities over various incidents and issues they rarely spill over into New York. Despite the reputation of rudeness, which is not entirely unearned, there is a “cool” in New York that lends it a certain rough civility.

The reality of growing up in New York, for me, is not what most people expect. Out toward the eastern edge of New York is a town named Bayside. I say “town” because, for New Yorkers, there are areas that have no political apparatus with names like Bay Ridge and Elmhurst that define people’s “location” much the way that living in a “real” town would. Once its own sovereign town, Bayside was eaten by the spread of New York as it rolled like a juggernaut out from an area not far above Wall Street. It moved out to eat a chunk of Long Island which eventually became Queens and Brooklyn. I grew up in New York City but also on Long Island. “Long Island” proper is really a section of the physical island to the east of Queens, comprised of Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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Confused? No surprise. New York’s geography is strange. It is the only city in the U.S. where the counties that comprise it are smaller than the city itself. New York County is Manhattan. Richmond County is Staten Island. Kings County is Brooklyn. Bronx is, not so oddly, Bronx County. And Queens, where I come from, is Queens county, the place where Bayside is.

Making it more complicated, all addresses in Queens are very strange and, I would guess, unique in all the world. They are they based on the “town” you come from. Yes, within a borough of New York City are separate towns that have no government but are separate just the same. Bayside is one of them. When I was a child I received letters addressed to Bayside, N. Y.

Each address has two pieces: the street you live on combined with a cross street. So a fictional mailing address in Bayside would be 10-15 Bayside, N.Y. I once got into an argument with a Nurse in Quebec who refused to believe that I had two numbers in my address. If you are in Brooklyn your address would be Brooklyn, NY, in Manhattan New York, NY. Outside of Queens there are no double number addresses and no towns in addresses.

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But this is just window dressing as interesting as it might be to geography nerds. What is far more significant is that growing up in Bayside, despite being part of one of the most complex cities in the world, was like growing up in a small town. One of the things that makes it different and not what most of the world would expect from a part of New York is that the subway, something that is part of the “media” version of New York, only goes so far out into Queens. Bayside is miles from the end of the nearest subway line, making it accessible, in terms of public transportation, only by a twenty minute bus ride from the end of the subway line. The traffic through Bayside consists of only buses and cars. This cuts down on the crowding and noise. It is quiet, low on crime and almost suburban.  If you can believe that.

Sounds like it’s a technical issue but, in a big city where areas are defined by their density, an area of low density is like a lull in the storm. And what fills that lull is quiet, low rise housing, and families.

Families.

Yes there are families in the rest of Queens. And in the rest of New York. But there is a difference. Families living in small one family houses, reasonably spread apart, function like a small village. Unlike much of New York, we knew all of our neighbors for at least a block around, often going to visit them or attend parties. Pretty good considering that we are talking about forty houses. And even for blocks around we’d know someone living in every few houses.

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Unlike the images of Snake Plisskin shooting his way through an army of decadent post-apocolyptic New York Zombies in “Escape from New York”, when I grew up, I would walk out onto my small lawn and sit, without my parent’s supervision. Or I would walk up to my friend Judy’s house down a quiet street without looking over my shoulder. We would play on our street until dark and, as we got older, beyond dark. No parent was worried and we required no supervision. Right in New York City was a place just like the wonderful small town communities that we hear about where no one locks their doors. Of course, living in New York we all locked our doors; it’s part of the culture J. But my parents didn’t put in an alarm system until I was I had been out of the house for ten years.

Late at night there was no noise to speak of. It was so quiet that all you heard was the faint sound of traffic on the ClearView expressway five blocks away. There were no people walking the streets; talking at the top of one’s lungs late at night as I later experienced when I moved to Manhattan was not done in Bayside; people stayed indoors late at night with their families. The stores around us were not your average big box store. All the stores were small and family owned. One store, three blocks away, was like a mecca for everyone in the neighborhood. All your neighbors would show up their sooner or later and you’d end up seeing them at least once a month. I remember standing in front of the only decent candy and snack cache for miles around. Funnybones, Slim Jims, Snobols, Wise Potato chips, Cracker Jacks, Sweet Tarts. Yes, for all my younger readers: all of these delights existed in the ‘60s.

What surprised me was when moved out of New York was that I found several facebook pages dedicated to Bayside. Part of the appeal has always been that Bayside is a waystation, a place where  immigrants to New York move out of their crowded first locations to what amounts to their first suburban experience. It’s a conduit to realizing the American dream.

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My neighbors consisted of a mixture of Irish, Italian, Jewish and a smattering of other ethnicities. The real, living culture of my town was a spontaneous mixture of all the groups that lived there. No one questioned a Jewish bakery, or a german bakery, or an Italian restaurant. Though I am not Italian, one of my greatest treats was to go to the local pizza place and get a piece of the oddly  square cut Sicilian pizza. One of the coolest places to eat in Bayside was Maria’s Trattoria, a small Homestyle Italian kitchen. Not far from me was a Chinese restaurant, one of the first in Bayside. Whatever food or culture that was in Bayside was accepted as though it had always been there. It was home and everything made sense, even as far back as the sixties. A new culture, but a rich one and living one just the same. Jews, Germans, Irish, Italians, Catholics, Protestants. All different and all the same.

People have changed in Bayside but not Bayside itself. While the Irish and Italians have been replaced by Asians, it still is the same small town, the same waystation. Bayside will always be an incubator for American culture, just as it was in my generation. The odd lesson of New York City is that one of rudest and bad tempered place on the planet is also one of the best examples of people living together and fulfilling the promise of the constitution and  scripture in that you are likely to treat people who are different than you as brothers. If you asked any New Yorker if those around him were his brothers he laugh long and loud. But in the end that would be the truth.

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A call for musicians to join the band “Abuse Nation”

abusenation

I am looking for musicians who would like to be part of a band called Abuse Nation. These musicians would preferably be abuse victims themselves but people sympathetic to abuse victims would be more than welcome. The songs would be about abuse. That could be a song about verbal or emotional abuse or about sexual abuse or human trafficking. While I write songs myself, I am hoping that the other members of the group will contribute songs, creating a variety of music.

Due to the that fact that it’s unlikely that all of the people interested  in a group like this will live in the same area, I expect this will be a virtual group. If engineering and mixdown is needed a kick-starter will be created to fund that.

The long term goal of this band is to be the symbol for a brand, also called Abuse Nation.  I have found that the majority of the non-abused population are unwilling to discuss abuse, blocking any substantial progress in strengthening laws and helping end abuse. I have settled on the idea of using music due to my feeling that people will listen to music about a controversial subject before they will take time to read a book or watch a movie or television show and they will do this without a lot of conscious thought. Perhaps it’s the fact that music seems to speak to listeners at a deeper level and passes the internal censors without trouble.  I am hoping to put this music on YouTube initially and eventually, have it played on the radio under the “Abuse Nation” brand. In the long run I expect that Abuse Nation will become a musical brand that is accepted by radio and internet listeners. What people become used to, they tend to accept.

The first contribution to this collection of music comes from me and can be found at:

http://www.neildouglasnewton.com/uploads/4/8/7/8/48782169/lamb.mp3

I can be reached at abusenation@gmail.com

Neil Newton

 

abusenation

Where the buck stops

abusenation

I am looking for musicians who would like to be part of a band called Abuse Nation. These musicians would preferably be abuse victims themselves but people sympathetic to abuse victims would be more than welcome. The songs would be about abuse. That could be a song about verbal or emotional abuse or about sexual abuse or human trafficking. While I write songs myself, I am hoping that the other members of the group will contribute songs, creating a variety of music.

Due to the that fact that it’s unlikely that all of the people interested  in a group like this will live in the same area, I expect this will be a virtual group. If engineering and mixdown is needed a kick-starter will be created to fund that.

The long term goal of this band is to be the symbol for a brand, also called Abuse Nation.  I have…

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Amazing opportunity: Download Crazy Writer Couple’s Anthology Free!!

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You’ve been looking for somehing “different” to read. We know the feeling. The Crazy Writer Couple is a married couple who have been working together to create unique fiction for the past fifteen years. Imagine fiction created within the magical world of a marriage. My wife is my best friend and we discuss everything. That is the basis of the stories in “The Crazy Writer Couple’s Crazy Anthology”; stories created through a special partnership and a marriage of two souls and a passion for creating incredible fiction.

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A call for musicians to join the band “Abuse Nation”

abusenation

 

I am looking for musicians who would like to be part of a band called Abuse Nation. These musicians would preferably be abuse victims themselves but people sympathetic to abuse victims would be more than welcome. The songs would be about abuse. That could be a song about verbal or emotional abuse or about sexual abuse or human trafficking. While I write songs myself, I am hoping that the other members of the group will contribute songs, creating a variety of music.

Due to the that fact that it’s unlikely that all of the people interested  in a group like this will live in the same area, I expect this will be a virtual group. If engineering and mixdown is needed a kick-starter will be created to fund that.

The long term goal of this band is to be the symbol for a brand, also called Abuse Nation.  I have found that the majority of the non-abused population are unwilling to discuss abuse, blocking any substantial progress in strengthening laws and helping end abuse. I have settled on the idea of using music due to my feeling that people will listen to music about a controversial subject before they will take time to read a book or watch a movie or television show and they will do this without a lot of conscious thought. Perhaps it’s the fact that music seems to speak to listeners at a deeper level and passes the internal censors without trouble.  I am hoping to put this music on YouTube initially and eventually, have it played on the radio under the “Abuse Nation” brand. In the long run I expect that Abuse Nation will become a musical brand that is accepted by radio and internet listeners. What people become used to, they tend to accept.

The first contribution to this collection of music comes from me and can be found at:

http://www.neildouglasnewton.com/uploads/4/8/7/8/48782169/lamb.mp3

I can be reached at abusenation@gmail.com

Neil Newtonabusenation

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Help to fight abuse, all types of abuse.

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Mental illness: An alternative cause of mass shootings

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Of course this is about the shooting in Fort Lauderdale. I’ve been to that airport several times, for travel, for a cruise. To me it is one of the most ordinary American locations I can think of. But the sad thing is that all locations of mass shootings are ordinary. The nine men and women killed in Charleston by Dylann Roof were in a place that was personally safe, normal and sacred.

After the Newtown shootings I saw one man interviewed with what would be considered a one off explanation and solution for mass shootings. He started by stating sadly that he would probably be a “voice in the wilderness” so out of the box was his opinion. His message made sense to me but I knew that it wouldn’t catch on. I’ve heard that particular opinion perhaps twice since. And, like that first expert, I feel that it is the answer and that we are taking the wrong path in trying to stop mass shootings.

First I’ll mention gun control since that seems to be the cure that most people believe in. I fully understand the impulse to control the sale of guns. We are a gun crazy society. People are shouting the righteousness of the second amendment when in fact it was created only to support a militia. In fact until the 1930’s the Supreme Court did not uphold the right to bear arms outside of the realm of a well armed militia. In other words the right to bear arms for every citizen in the U.S. was not the law of the land. This is not a criticism of the current right to bear arms. Only a reminder that even our most passionate claims are not pure; the U.S. in a country of turmoil and concession based on the ideas of our founding fathers.

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In my opinion gun control will lead down the wrong road. Certainly a ban on fully automatic weapons, supersized bullet clips, and special deadly ammunition might reduce shootings to some extent. But someone who is inclined to get a gun for illegal purposes will be able to get a gun; there are too many sources.

So what is the answer that this “voice in the wilderness” expert was selling? Consider this: not all mass killers use guns and the profile for mass shooters is invariably a young male, teenaged to late twenties, white and mentally ill. That last part is the key here. The Fort Lauderdale shooter admitted to the FBI that he heard voices. The FBI took his gun and eventually gave it to the local police who, in the way of American bureaucracy followed a diluted strain of the law and returned the gun to the shooter.

Other shooters, such as the Aurora shooter, took a film of himself walking through a deserted area, babbling and ranting; it was seen by a number of people. The way to prevent the odd and infrequent phenomenon of mass shootings is to detain and examine people who show signs of violent schizophrenia. I know what you’re thinking, you of high morals, and you are correct. There is more than enough room for abuse of this process, for corrupt officials to detain people they hate or who cause them trouble. To detain American citizens under false pretenses.

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This give me the same chills up my back as many of you must feel at this “opening the door” to the misuse of power that hangs over our heads at all times. So I have a suggestion: each of these detainees be assigned an advocate, a lawyer to oversee the progress of the investigation and to protect the rights of the detainee.

Expensive: yes. As an alternative, this one is far more disturbing and difficult than passing laws with a few constraints on buying firearms. But ask yourself this question. If you consider the possibility that gun control won’t, can’t stop mass shootings, what is your alternative?

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