From The New York Shitty Inbox: A Very Special Problem

January 30, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11222, Asshole, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

I recently finished reading David Rakoff’s latest opus: Half Empty. While yours truly found the book as a whole rather enjoyable, there is one passage I found particularly compelling:

In gypsy folklore, when one has a secret that can no longer borne in silence one digs a hole in the ground and speaks those terrible truths into it. I was that hole.

I mention the previous because there are many an occasion, gentle readers, the New York Shitty inbox feels like such a hole. The aftermath of last year’s blizzard— or more accurately the rage that came with it— is one example. Follows is yet another.

On the evening of January 29, 2011 X writes:

Hey Miss Heather, your site was recommended to me by a neighborhood friend and I must say it’s quite entertaining! I have an issue that I was hoping you could help shed light on.  I woke up this morning and discovered this on my windowsill.

It appears that one of my neighbors is so barbaric, they feel the need to discard their unwanted house guests by tossing them out the window.  I found not one but four glue traps on my windowsills and air conditioner!!  Now not only is this inexplicably reckless and unsanitary, it’s incredibly selfish and shows total disregard or concern for their neighbors. I spent most of today calling various government agencies, 311, building management and even the police to no avail.  Everybody seemed to want to pass the buck on this.  Since no one else seems to care, I was hoping you would publish this letter in an effort to expose the despicable coward who is committing this act.  I’m hoping that one of your readers can help identify exactly who is responsible for this action.  Thank you. P.S. I live on Manhattan Avenue between Green & Freeman Street.

I have lived in Greenpoint for going on 11 years now. In this time I:

  • have almost had a pot full of rancid curry dumped on my head.
  • have overheard a verbal altercation between a man and woman in a foreign tongue (Hindi, perhaps?) and then watched in disbelief as a cache of XXX VHS tapes and a partially cooked chicken flew out the window. For what it is worth, I salvaged what VHS tapes were not destroyed upon impact and made the Mister watch them. He told me they were pretty bad.*
  • had to listen to a smoke/carbon monoxide detector outside my window beep away with merry abandon for over 24 hours because its former owner did not know how to dismantle it. TIP: remove the batteries.
  • had to explain the difference between a cat and a raccoon to a couple of chaps who were not in the know.

All the previous have been at the behest of one neighbor or another and came to pass years ago. I had honestly thought Greenpoint’s gentrification had eliminated this kind of behavior. Obviously this is not the case. If anyone has an idea as to whom is responsible for this dastardly (and downright disgusting deed) please shoot me an email at missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot) com. Your identity will remain anonymous.

Miss Heather

*Little did we know at the time but this was the first of numerous pornographic purges from this residence. Among the DVDs to be had were “Latina Girls & Dirty Old Geezers” and “Raw Meat”. Tasty.

Gratitude

September 10, 2009 ·
Filed under: 11211, Brooklyn, Greenpoint, New York City, Plagiarism, Williamsburg 

I rarely give shout-outs to blogs for the simple reason I do not have the time. After I have completed my posts, sift through the detritus in my inbox and surfed the webs I call it quits. Today I am going to make an exception. Brooklyn11211 writes in a post entitled Behold the Power of the Interwebs:

Brooklyn11211

I can independently verify Einstein’s theory of relativity. That doesn’t mean I should call it my own. The Post has no more right to its “exclusive” based on its own verification of a blog post.

You’re making a very dangerous proposition 11211. You are making the argument that “neighborhood bloggers” (the ghetto print establishment likes to relegate the likes of me and you) and journalists are equals. We’re not. Mr. Ginsberg’s missive makes this all too clear:

Post policy prevented me from crediting you in print. Allow me to do so now. You did a fantastic reporting job. All I had to do was follow your steps (and make a few extra phone calls).

I won’t discuss at length the policy of not crediting blogs (or anyone else). I’ll just briefly explain that as long as we can independently verify every bit of info, we don’t credit…

Looking forward to amplifying more of your good work in the future.

The truly nauseating thing about Mr. Ginsberg’s comment is he thought he was being nice— and that I should be somehow beholden to him for “amplifying” my scoop. I am not grateful. I am pissed off. And no amount of crying “Post policy” is going to change this. If anything, it is a clear indication of a lack of moral/ethical fiber on his part. But I suppose that comes with the territory.

Needless to say when I read Suzi Halpin’s defense of her employer I damned near had an aneurysm:

The New York Post credits blogs, bloggers, and other media all the time, as our readers know.

Except when when your readers don’t know— because your employer, the New York Post, doesn’t cite them. Which is often. Here are a few examples to refresh your memory Ms. Halpin.

fathergiorgiotriangle

September 14, 2008: I wrote a post about how the plaque at Father Giorgio Square was stolen. I happened to walk by when the police were taking a report. There was no way the institution you represent would have known about it save my blog. I published it on a Sunday. The next day Murdoch’s flunkies were on it like flies on shit. They even called the Brooklyn Kitchen to ask about their stolen tree. Is this your idea of reporting? Stolen trees?

103normanavegillespie

May 4, 2009: I get a tip about strange graffiti in Greenpoint. I post it. My readers decipher ityet it was a New York Post “exclusive”. I take up the matter and get what can be best described as a semi-literate and crazed email from its author: John Doyle. If the previous is an indication of what it takes to be a reporter, god help us all.

lets-take-mccarren-park

May 18, 2009: I wrote a post about a flier I found at McCarren Park decrying the noise made ice cream trucks. Reuven Fenton and his homeboy were on the scene the next day. I know this because a reader and contributor of mine bumped into them:

I was just finishing my run in McCarren Park when I saw a guy sporting two fancy cameras talking to another guy near the pool.  Being a sucker for men with big lenses, I ventured over to see what they were up to and it turns out they were from the Post covering a story on ice cream trucks disturbing the neighbors of McCarren Park.  I mentioned NYshitty covering the story and I asked them where they heard about this story and they said Curbed and Gothamist. Hmmm… no new york shitty? The dudes names were Reuben and Paul, wait isn’t that like Pee Wee?

I called them on it. And your publication gave me a crumby quote in return. Removed from context and not linked to despite my creation of a mirror site: www.thatgreenpointblog.com.

It was at this point I began to understand that the paper you represent depends on people like me for their livelihood.

Which brings me to your institution’s latest act of plagiarism.

117s3st

August 19, 2009: I wrote a post about “Cutting Edge Fitness” at the behest of a tipster.

It took awhile for the Post, the publication you represent, to get around to it, but lift it they did!

August 31, 2009

GYMRAT

Quite frankly, I was disappointed it took almost two full weeks for your employer to rip off this one, Suzi. I’m not a patient person. Thankfully I was engaged in other things and Alex Ginsberg saw fit to post this comment on my blog:

Post policy prevented me from crediting you in print. Allow me to do so now. You did a fantastic reporting job. All I had to do was follow your steps (and make a few extra phone calls).

I won’t discuss at length the policy of not crediting blogs (or anyone else). I’ll just briefly explain that as long as we can independently verify every bit of info, we don’t credit.

You will find that the Daily News observes the same policy, but the Times does not. (They often write an explanatory phrase like, ‘The investigation into Mr. Spitzer was first reported in the New York Post.’ That’s not a real one. I just made it up. Although I would note that another Times policy would prevent them from actually printing the name of your blog, presenting them with an unresolvable conflict between two inflexible rules.)

Looking forward to “amplifying” more of your good work in the future.

Alex

I wrote a blog post about it. And you have been hired to explain it away. There is no explanation: it is plagiarism, plain and simple.

To drive the point home (because it is all too clear Mr. Ginsberg, you and your employer is too “thick” or arrogant to “get it”) here are a few more examples:

2009_01_future-of-coney-copyGL

Gowanus Lounge, January 13, 2009:

This is yesterday’s news, because we ran the story on Curbed early yesterday morning, and we’re sure some of the papers are going to be “discovering” the story and having some fun with it today, but The Future of Coney Island website URL was acquired by a Belgian porn entrepreneur. (The Post’s Rich Calder predictably reports the story as though he discovered it without crediting Curbed for breaking the news.)

spaceinavaders

POSTED May 18, 2009

bulletspaceEVGRIEVE

May 12, 2009: EV Grieve posted this. Your reporter’s “scoop” is pretty much verbatim regurgitation of EV Grieve’s work.

May 28, 2009: the New York Post, your employer, posted this:

HOSTEL

Vanishing New York, reported about this as early as May 19,2009. What’s more he (she?) kept at it.

I have just cited seven examples where the New York Post, your employer, has blatantly lifted material from blogs without citing them, Suzi. If you need more I’ll gladly tender them to you.

I understand that you are in a very tenuous position, Suzi. The print media, New York Post included, has not adapted to the reality of online media. I suspect this is why your employer, Rupert Murdoch, is waging war on Google. When defeated the entitled try to change the rules:

Mr Murdoch, the chief executive of News Corp, was among the first to hit out at Google, one of the biggest aggregators through its Google News service.

“Should we be allowing Google to steal our copyrights? If you have a brand like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, you don’t have to.” Robert Thomson, the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal which is owned by News Corp, went further in his attack. “There is a collective consciousness among content creators that they are bearing the costs and that others are reaping some of the revenues. “There is no doubt that certain websites are best described as parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the internet,” said Mr Thomson.

I find this ironic given the worst plagiarists I have dealt with to date, as a “blogger” (and by Murdoch’s definition a “parasite” or “tapeworm”) are New York Post reporters. Could you please clarify how your employer is any different from than various and sundry parasites who troll the webs and claim my content (as well as the above-listed as their own), Ms. Halpin?

To take Brooklyn11211’s more nuanced approach: if I can verify via “independent sources” that your employer, Rupert Murdoch, is an unscrupulous shitbag who is doing everything in his power to bully independent media, plagiarizes my blog and others— constantly, spouts right-wing bullshit and wants to suppress free speech do I need to cite him? I eagerly wait your answer to this question, Suzi Halpin.

Given the number of stories your publication has lifted from my blog I have ample credentials to be a “reporter” for crap rag you call the New York Post.

HIRE ME.

Oh wait— I have ethics.

Miss Heather

P.S.: Here’s a (working) honor roll of blogs, big and small, who have found Mr. Ginsberg’s/New York Post’s conduct objectionable:

“Hostelity”

May 29, 2009 ·
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.

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