May 29, 2009 by
Filed under: New York City, Plagiarism 

postthumbalaevgrieveThere are things I want to do this curiously hazy Friday afternoon. Writing this post is not one of them. But it touches upon something I myself have experienced twice this month: a web site being used as a source for a print publication story without proper citation. Plagiarism. Thankfully this latest “incident” does not involve yours truly. You see, another thing I dislike doing is sending angry missives to people who have profited from my work. Nonetheless I feel compelled to pass this item along as it is one of— if not the most— flagrant examples of outright plagiarism I have encountered to date.

On May 28, 2009 Vanishing New York, a blog based in the East Village for those of you who are not in the know, wrote:

For some time, the New York Post has notoriously been ripping off blogger Miss Heather over at New York Shitty. She writes about neighbors angry at ice-cream truck noise, a day later, the Post is on the scene. She writes about weird graffiti, bam, there’s the Post with an “exclusive.” In that case, the journalist huffily defended himself saying that because he went to the scene and did his own research, that counts as an exclusive.

This is the Post’s MO. They take a blogger’s story, add their research, and call it their own, without ever crediting the blogger. Maybe they figure, Eh, who reads blogs anyway, especially way out there in Brooklyn?

Well, now they’re pillaging the East Village blogs. They did it to EV Grieve, calling their story on the Bullet Space squat an “exclusive.” And now they’re ripping me off

What is this latest “exclusive”, you ask? Very simple: a darkly entertaining tome about neighbors acting anything but neighborly. In this tale of noise, drunkenness and yes, Conway Twitty, we learn about the dysfunctional relationship between the patrons of the Cooper Square Hotel’s outdoor patio and the people who have the misfortune of living not only an earshot— but also a arm’s length from them and their apparently endless banter. The following are excerpts from Vanishing New York’s “Volumes I & II of Notes From the Backside” to give you a better grasp of the situation:

From Volume I, dated May 19:

…got to try the megaphone this week. About 2 am a drunk woman came out to the patio and wondered at its beauty. I pulled out the megaphone and said in a store announcer kind of voice “Attention Cooper Square Hotel douchebags: shut the hell up and get off the patio.”

Didn’t work. She said “That makes my new york experience complete” and continued to yammer away. The hotel made a half-hearted effort to get her out of there.

From Volume II, dated May 26:

We had a delicious victory yesterday. We saw that the hotel’s co-owner was sitting on the patio a few feet from our window. We put our speakers at the window.

But what to play?

The un-coolest thing we could come up with was Roger Miller and Conway Twitty’s greatest hits. Then we put on this vile, 7-minute comedy routine about a prostitute and a banana. And set it to repeat.

While highly entertaining this does not strike me as being the kind of thing that can or should qualify as an “exclusive” in a paper of record. But this is exactly what happened. Try this quote from the Post’s article on the subject (which went to print yesterday, May 28) on for size:

One resident, armed with a megaphone, leaned out his window and greeted a patron who strayed out on the patio after it was closed. When that didn’t work, he placed the megaphone next to a stereo speaker and shared a crude comedy skit.

Isn’t this more or less the same thing, albeit in less detail? Similarities abound between Vanishing New York’s coverage of this story and the Post’s article. Enough so that both City Room and Gothamist have taken note. The latter called the Post’s exclusive:

a shameless jack of original reporting

I am inclined to agree— or at the very least the timing and similarity of content demand an explanation. In closing I would like to pass along the following thoughts/observations:

  1. In the interest of fairness I eventually did get an apology of sorts from the reporter who wrote about Greenpoint’s “Nazi” graffiti.
  2. It was from this reporter I learned that the editorial staff elected to call his story an exclusive, not him.
  3. The previous brings me to a point I have been woefully remiss in making so I will do so here and now: to merely blame the reporters for lifting material from blogs is incredibly short-sighted and naive. It is all too clear this practice is sanctioned, if not out rightly encouraged, by their higher ups. In other words this is an institutional problem.
  4. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there are real stories to be followed up on out there, why this one? This is not to “pooh pooh” what the neighbors of the Cooper Square Hotel are experiencing— I understand their plight all too well. \But given the recent uptick in violence against homeless people and “crusties” at Tompkin’s Square Park— and the print media’s reluctance to report about it— I have to wonder where their priorities are. Actually I don’t have to wonder too much— it’s all about the numbers: they publish stories they think the public will read (so as to boost their circulation and reap more advertising revenue). If we didn’t read it, they would not publish it. Thus the story of a 26 year old woman who dies as a result of “wilding” in the East Village slides by and we read an amusing tale of neighbors at war instead. If you ask me this is a pretty damning indictment of not only the print media— but also the values espoused its readership. Yes, that means you and me.
  5. Ideally I envision reporters/print publications partnering with neighborhood blogs (inasmuch as I hate using the previous term) and generating some wonderful stories. Ideally. Frankly I do not see this happening anytime soon because the print media as a whole treats its online brethren (yes, brethren) with nothing short of cynical contempt. And if my experience over the last three years of writing New York Shitty and interfacing with other “bloggers” is any indication, the feeling is mutual.
  6. If anyone afflicted by the noise of the Cooper Square Hotel is reading this: try bagpipe music— just like Colt 45 it works every time!

Miss Heather

Image Credits: EVGrieve via Vanishing New York.


10 Comments on “Hostelity”

  1. ShatteredMonocle on Fri, 29th May 2009 1:43 pm
  2. I suggested bagpipes on May 26. Where’s my citation!?

  3. EV Grieve on Fri, 29th May 2009 1:47 pm
  4. Excellent points, Miss Heather. Thank you for posting…..

  5. missheather on Fri, 29th May 2009 1:51 pm
  6. Ah, you did! This I did not notice. I just recalled a guy I knew back in Texas EONS AGO who did this and it drove his neighbors NUTS!

  7. missheather on Fri, 29th May 2009 1:55 pm
  8. No problem.

  9. amandabee on Fri, 29th May 2009 2:56 pm
  10. Esh. The Crusty Row coverage kind of begs for a reporter to go ask some questions about what is going on and how it is being handled.

    Also, I recall seeing somewhere that bars with backyards in a certain part of Park Slope (natch) where patrons found themselves periodically sprayed with unseemly liquids. It was hard, as I recall, to tell where it was coming from. Something about water balloons or something. I’m just saying.

    And there’s always stink bombs.

    Or the old posted notices, “attention patrons: due to an outbreak of bedbugs in the hotel, we’re asking that you not make use of the patio area until an exterminator has thoroughly cleaned the area.

  11. amandabee on Fri, 29th May 2009 2:59 pm
  12. I’m really sorry about my grammar up there, by the way.

  13. amandabee on Fri, 29th May 2009 3:08 pm
  14. Oh! Or … once, on the train, there was a cell phone incident that ended with Chatty Cathy telling her co-locutor that “some old hag actually just told me not to talk on the phone? can you believe that? Oh, my god. She was like 800 years old and she just … yeah!” because I couldn’t get up the nerve to call my sister in California and tell her the story as loudly as possible. “So this girl behind me is breaking up with her boyfriend and also losing her apartment and I know she wants to process it and everything but now the whole train knows the whole story.” I didn’t do that. But I should have. I did say “thank you” to the “800 year old,” tho. Aaaanyhow, looking at the Post pictures it seems to me that a person could easily rig a mic and then just play back conversations from earlier in the night.

  15. missheather on Fri, 29th May 2009 5:15 pm
  16. In my opinion you would be hard pressed to find a more vile, reprehensible and thoroughly miserable human being than one who actively participates in or aids and abets the beating of a homeless person. Period.

    As for Miss Pupshaw I hope the police locate who is responsible for her untimely death and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law— but I am not going to hold my breath. Somehow I cannot shake the feeling if Lelia had been of a higher caste/class (say, a young woman with a MBA and a six figure income) this story would have been prominently featured in every paper in NYC. But she wasn’t. She was allegedly a “junkie” and therefore not worthy of media attention.

    Tell that to her mother, siblings, friends and loved ones.


  17. travis on Fri, 29th May 2009 11:19 pm
  18. When I used to live in the Tung-Fa Noodle Factory, one summer my neighbor sublet her loft to these collegy (actually like 25-30, but still) kids who had a pingpong table & liked to play late all night while doing E.
    One night, I had finally had enough, & went & gave a knock at 4am or so & asked if they could possibly stop playing pingpong so me & wife could sleep. The young gentlemen explained that he could do whatever he wanted to. I thanked him for explaining this & retired for the evening. They continued with their revels for quite some time.
    We had to get up at 8am (as I had explained to my new neighbor), but, pressed for time as we were, did not depart before connecting my band’s rather large PA to Christian radio (it being Sunday morning), placing the speaker cabinets in direct contact with our common wall (sheetrock over stud w/no insulation), facing into their loft, & turning the volume up to a level I felt would provide an adequate level of spiritual uplift for these young people, clearly in dire need of such.
    Such was the level of their subsequent spiritual development that they never played pingpong at night for the rest of the summer.
    Bagpipes a good one also.

  19. missheather on Fri, 29th May 2009 11:55 pm
  20. What I personally like about bagpipe music is it is totally without base. In other words (and to use an example) my obnoxious neighbor has been partying very heartily since 10:15 p.m. She’s still going at it. Smoking what I would deduce to be low grade (READ: STINKY) weed and playing crappy rap music. As of 1:00 a.m. she’s still going strong.

    No worries, I’m going to roll out the soundtrack to “Hair” if she keeps at it. 😉

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