*Whistles* Umph, Girl, You Fill Out Those Jeans

Apparently New York City lawmakers are pondering ways to reduce street harassment, better known as catcalling.

I was happy to read this news, but I’m not optimistic anything on the books will actually reduce catcalling. For example, if we make it a crime, it will be impossible to enforce. *Dials 311* “Um, hello, yeah, some guy just told me he wanted to suck my toes. Then he followed me for two blocks. No, I don’t know where he is now. Yeah, that’s all he did. But…but….OK, good-bye.”

Yeah, not gonna work.

(Ironically, “Beast of Burden just popped up on Pandora….)

The solution, as with so many things, is to raise boys to be men, not imbeciles.

That’s not going to change any time soon, though, sadly. Of all the shitty parenting that goes on in New York City, teaching boys about catcalling falls pretty low on the priority list. Which is too bad, as I’m sure there’s a positive correlation between men who catcall and men who abuse their children.

And if you think catcalling is only something you see on TV portrayals about New York City — usually a construction crew whistling at a scantily dressed woman — the reality is that it’s rampant, especially in Upper Manhattan neighborhoods like Harlem, Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights (though yes, it can happen anywhere).

I lived in Harlem for four years, and was harassed every day. I watched other women get harassed every day. The best short-term solution was to put on headphones and pretend we didn’t hear it. It didn’t matter what you looked like or what your wore or what you did: You were female, so you were subject to harassment, simple as that. The only time I didn’t get catcalled was when I was walking with Brendan.

Moving to Astoria in 2006 was like the clouds parting, the flowers blooming, the music starting: In this incredibly diverse, family oriented neighborhood, street harassment just doesn’t happen like it does in Manhattan. I don’t fully understand why, except that people here seem to have more respect for mothers, and women in general.

I was able to move away, but I’ll never forget what I endured. Every day I would think “is this the day that my brushing off of some guy’s idiotic wolf-whistle becomes the day I get beaten up or worse?”

It’s no way to live. If the City Council can find a way to help women who endure harassment and worse, day in and day out, well, they’ve got my vote.

The Four Types of Halloween Decorating in Astoria, Queens

My neighborhood here in Queens — which is well known for over-the-top Christmas displays — has gone truly batty for Halloween decorations. I’ve started to recognize a pattern, too. Basically, you have four types of decor themes. Let’s take a look:


Classy Astoria

1. Some homeowners go for the friendly, warm-hued, autumn harvest look, while also going out of their way to appeal to children in a non-threatening way. Notice Pooh and Minnie Mouse - who may be creepy, but not outright scary.



Astoria, Queens Halloween

2. Then some neighbors go for the "I'm OK with trick-or-treaters but I still want to freak you out a little" look. This one nicely balances autumn color and cheery scarecrows with a little arachnophobia. (I keep hoping to see a bed bug theme -- now THAT'S terrifying.)



3. A few neighbors let their late fall garden do all the talking. Who needs store-bought pumpkins when you have a front yard like this?




4. And then we have the neighbors who might possibly be set dressers for horror films at the nearby Kaufman Astoria Movie Studios. This skeleton looms over all passers-by, and I might have to wander over to their house on Halloween, just to see how many toddlers start crying at the sight of Mr. Way-Too-Realistically-Scary-Skeleton-Person.


Uncovered: The Mexico City Beetle Project

While poking around my computer’s hard drive tonight, I stumbled across this folder full of photos I took of Volkswagen Beetles — still one of the most popular cars in Mexico.

I took these shots in Mexico City, both this year and last year, with the eventual plans to maybe do some sort of  cool collage. These are some of my favorites. And good God, do I miss Mexico right now. I really wish I had some sort of transporter beam between New York and Mexico. Then life would be perfect.

Save the Tiny Shrimp to Save the Whales

Beating pleopods of a swimming Antarctic krill

Image via Wikipedia

One of my new favorite web sites, 10,000 birds, recently posted about a photo mosaic put together by the Antarctic Krill Conservation Project, known as Krill Count. You can add your photo to the mosaic — and WordPress.com users can sign up easily via their Gravatars — to show support for smart global restrictions on harvesting and managing krill.

You may be thinking wtf is krill? Here’s a quick lesson, courtesy of Krill Count:

Antarctic krill are tiny, little-known crustaceans that serve as the “bread and butter” for hundreds of species. For many marine mammals and seabirds, from the blue whale to the albatross, krill are by far the most important food in their diet.

Encompassing more than 80 species of open-ocean creatures scientifically classified as Euphausiids, Antarctic krill are about 2 ½ inches long (6 centimeters) and weigh 0.07 ounces or roughly two grams. Yet these little creatures are distinctive on several scores. Krill are one of the world’s most abundant multi-celled animals, producers of the most powerful enzymes yet discovered to break down proteins, and collectively thought to be one of the largest aggregations of marine life on the planet.

In the water, krill have an exotic appearance, with a translucent, reddish shell and large black eyes. Krill spend most of their 5-7 year life span in huge schools or “swarms,” living in concentrations so dense and vast that they cover kilometers in every direction with as many as 30,000 krill per cubic meter. Estimates of the total weight of Antarctic krill range from 50 to 500 million metric tonnes.

In other words, krill is the living breadbasket of the ocean, helping support many marine species from penguins to whales. These tiny shrimp are under threat. If they go, our whole ocean ecosystem goes. And that’s something I can’t live with.

While adding my photo probably has very little impact on the pending talks, it at least makes me feel a little bit better about trying.

Happy 60-something to you, Mom!

She won’t see this post until she gets back from vacation (she’s driving across New England with my Dad, checking out the fall foliage — including a stop in the Catskills to see the cabin we’re buying), but I just wanted to wish my Mom a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

Please, Someone, Bring Me One of These — Stat!

I read a lot of WordPress.com blog posts every day, and we have some of the world’s best food bloggers. They never fail to amaze me with the effort and passion they put into their writing, photography and recipe inventions. Case in point: This tasty far-more-natural twist on the Apple-tini. It’s apple season here in New York and apple sellers are basically giving away fresh cider. (And have you ever had an apple cider donut? To. Die. For.) Time to try this recipe, no?

Cocktail Hour: Apples to Apples I admit that I've tried a few "apple-tinis." You know, those unnaturally green cocktails made with artificially flavored sour apple schnapps and vodka, garnished with a maraschino cherry?  Any time I've tried one, I've always thought, "why am I not just eating a sour apple Jolly Rancher candy instead?"  I didn't set out to make a better, more natural version of this cocktail, but I think I ended up doing so. When the weather turns chilly in late … Read More

via Shallots Web