The Year in NYPD Public Relations Disasters

Categories: NYPD

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C.S. Muncy for the Village Voice
This year has not been a good one for the NYPD. The department has found itself in an uphill PR battle for pretty much all of 2014, starting as far back as December 2013 with then-Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's announcement that Bill Bratton, considered to be the architect of the NYPD's much-reviled "broken windows" policing policy, would be returning to the force as its commissioner. There was the death of Eric Garner, who was killed when Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo used an apparent chokehold while trying to arrest him for selling illegal cigarettes on Staten Island. There was the shooting death of Akai Gurley at the hands of a rookie police officer. And then there was the Garner grand jury decision and the subsequent protests. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the NYPD will probably be happier than anyone to see the ball drop on New Year's Eve.

But this isn't to say that the NYPD hasn't tried to paint itself in a better light. It's just that they happen to be terrible at it. New York's finest have just not been able to keep their collective foot out of their collective mouth. Time and again this year, the department's best intentions managed to turn into exploding cigars. Here is a selection from the NYPD's greatest hits of 2014:

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Film Podcast: Annie, Mr. Turner, Big Eyes, and So Much More

Categories: Film and TV

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Mr. Turner
We begin this week's Voice Film Club podcast with a strange story about Giles Corey, who famously said, "More weight!" as stones were laid upon him during his witch trial. The end of the year is sort of like that for film critics, who are pressed upon with all the Very Important Movies of the Year. Your hosts Alan Scherstuhl, Stephanie Zacharek, and Amy Nicholson run down many of the movies coming out soon, including:

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Pulling The Interview Marks the End of Free Speech in Hollywood

Categories: Film and TV

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Kim Jong Un (Randall Park) calls the shots in The Interview -- and in reality.
Sony's official announcement that the studio will no longer release Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's North Korean comedy The Interview closes with the line, "We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression."

So what's it like when they don't?

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Serial Listening Parties Are Now a Thing

Categories: Hipsters

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Courtesy Serial
Once again, we're gathering around the radio digital music playback device.
It was inevitable, wasn't it?


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Seth Rogen Canceled All Public Appearances -- But First He Spoke to the Village Voice

Categories: Film and TV

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Ryan Orange
The Interview: The interview

Update: Sony Pictures has now canceled the release of The Interview entirely. A statement from the studio is below, at the end of this post.

Original Post:

Tuesday, December 16, brought news that Seth Rogen, co-writer, co-director, and co-star of lightning-rod satire The Interview, had canceled all media appearances in advance of the Christmas Day nationwide release of the movie, whose entirely fictional plot centers on a CIA plan to assassinate North Korea's real-life Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un. Rogen and co-star James Franco had been set to appear on BuzzFeed Brews in New York on Tuesday, and one or both were scheduled as guests later in the week on, among other shows, Late Night With Seth Meyers and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

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Amy Nicholson's Ten Best Movies of 2014

Categories: Film and TV

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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Here are movie moments from 2014 I'll never forget: Gugu Mbatha-Raw's sad pop tart smacking her ass in Beyond the Lights, the sickroom choked with flowers in Michel Gondry's Mood Indigo, Oscar Isaac and Kirsten Dunst's Greek island all-nighter in The Two Faces of January, and the entire soundtrack of Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo's Begin Again, which I've hummed every week since. But hard choices must be made. The movies that made it through to my annual top ten represent a full range of what the cinema can offer--and as such, I'm presenting them as awards. Click on the movie's title to read the full review.

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Twitter Trolls #BlueLivesMatter With Meme Featuring Smurfs, the Na'vi, and Tobias Fünke

Categories: NYPD

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Screenshot via YouTube
While the New York Police Department battles its growing, and vocal, critic base, a group of NYPD supporters have spent the last several days trying to make the hashtag #bluelivesmatter a thing. Well, they've definitely succeeded. Because it's a thing now.

The police advocates, calling themselves "Thank you NYPD," launched the hashtag after creating a Facebook page to help promote a rally they are planning to hold at City Hall on December 19. But with public opinion of the NYPD in free fall since the July death of Eric Garner, who was choked by an NYPD officer during an arrest -- and a grand jury's decision earlier this month not to indict the officer in question -- many activists have bristled at the group's efforts to give police a show of support. And, perhaps inevitably, their bristling has turned into a full-blown Twitter meme as #bluelivesmatter has turned into fodder for anyone wishing to promote the rights of such noted "blues" as the Smurfs, the Na'vi from the movie Avatar, and Arrested Development's Tobias Fünke.

The media war started on December 14 when Twitter user @blogdiva expressed annoyance that people were using #BlueLivesMatter in response to #BlackLivesMatter, a rallying refrain against systemic racism frequently heard at recent protests against the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police in New York City and Ferguson, Missouri.

"People are still trying to make #BlueLivesMatter and #ThankYouNYPD happen?" she said. "I didn't even know blue people were marginalized."'

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Legal Groups Fight in Court for More Info on Eric Garner Grand Jury

Categories: NYPD

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Skyler Reid for the Village Voice
A demonstrator at the Millions March on December 13
The call to release testimony heard by the Staten Island grand jury that cleared Daniel Pantaleo got a big boost last week, when Public Advocate Letitia James and two legal advocacy groups applied to have a wide range of materials from the proceedings disclosed.

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#ThankYouNYPD Rally Is Still a Go, But Its Organizers Might Not Show Up

Categories: NYPD

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C.S. Muncy for the Village Voice
Police officers wield batons as activists protest the lack of indictment after Eric Garner's death.

Despite significant backlash from online activists, organizers of a pro-police rally at City Hall want you to know that they will not be canceling the event. They just don't want you to come. And they, themselves, might not be able to make it.


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Stephanie Zacharek's Top 10 Movies of 2014

Categories: Film and TV, Lists

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Adult World
"If everything were great, nothing would be great."

That line, from Scott Coffey's smart and sweetly entertaining Adult World, is one of my favorite bits of movie dialogue this year, not least because it's applicable to every movie genre -- actually, every genre of everything. But in the movie world especially, this is the time of year when those of us who care about this thriving, ever-changing art form need to take stock, make ruthless choices, and come up with some sort of a ranking that reflects the greatest movies of the year. Now: How to define "greatest"? Personally, I prefer a freewheeling and joyous approach. What movies haunted me for days, weeks, or longer? Which ones brought me that ever-elusive figurative cask of jewels known as delight? Which movies made me laugh, even on the grimmest of days? If everything were great, nothing would be great. But however I define "greatness," in 2014, these movies came up at the top of the heap. Click on the movie's title to read the full review.

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Hot NYC Souvenirs on Craigslist: Dead Rats, Bacteria, and a Giant Middle Finger

Categories: Shopping

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Via Craigslist
Welcome to New York.
Summer tourist season, thankfully, ended months ago. But the holiday season is now in full swing, bringing with it swarms of slow-walkers and gawkers who are descending upon the city daily. They're here to take cheerful selfies at ground zero, see Wicked, and spend their hard-earned cash on foam Lady Liberty crowns and shockingly affordable Vuitton luggage. The authentic New York experience.

They're also here to buy souvenirs. And buy they will. But if they want a piece of real New York to take home with them, they should have a look at what real New Yorkers have to sell. And it turns out that real New Yorkers are willing to part with just about anything. Here are five souvenirs that are more authentically New York than any key chain, mug, or "New York Shitty" T-shirt you can buy in Times Square:

See also: Hillary Clinton's Head and 9 Other Online Items You Must Buy Immediately

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Where'd Elmo Go? NYC Takes Down Entire Online Fatherhood Campaign

Categories: Parenting

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with apologies to J.-N. L.
The website of the New York City mayor's office contains a feature called "10 Ways to Be a Better Dad." It's part of a campaign, called NYC Dads, that seeks to help fathers get tips on being a more present parent.

Well, it was.

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The Ten Worst New York City Landlords of 2014

Categories: Landlords, Lists

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Photo credit: joiseyshowaa via Compfight cc
As with everything else in this city, the field of awful landlords is a crowded one. Dirty, crumbling, roach-ridden apartments are a dime a dozen -- to stand out from the pack, a landlord must up his or her game to truly horrifying heights. Hostility comes in the form of actual, physical attacks; neglect looks like years without heat. Think your landlord's creepy? At least he didn't film you in the bathroom.

Among the perverts, bullies, and other shady characters who apparently control much of the city's real estate, these 10 landlords managed to distinguish themselves. Below, a list of the worst of the worst of the year:

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French Tourist Who Climbed Brooklyn Bridge Gets 240 Hours Scrubbing New York Toilets

Categories: NYPD

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Courtesy Yonathan Souid
Yonathan Souid in France in happier times
The Brooklyn District Attorney's office was not thrilled with Yonathan Souid when he became the fourth person to climb the Brooklyn Bridge in the span of a few months.

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While Manhattan Rages, Eric Garner's Family Protests Alone in Staten Island

Categories: Eric Garner, NYPD

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Katie Toth, the Village Voice
Erica Garner adjusts a rose on the memorial for her father, Eric.
Over the last two weeks, New Yorkers have disrupted commuters at Grand Central Terminal, snarled traffic on the city's streets and bridges, and occupied a handful of Manhattan's major retail stores. The actions were all staged in the name of Eric Garner -- the Staten Island man who was killed this summer as an NYPD officer deployed a chokehold while trying to arrest him. After the announcement on December 4 that a special grand jury was not going to indict the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, protestors have been willing to stop traffic to get their point across

But just a ferry ride away in Staten Island, the response to Garner's death has been eerily silent.


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Police Supporters Plan to Hold #ThankYouNYPD Rally Outside City Hall. This Should Go Well

Categories: Eric Garner, NYPD

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CS Muncy for the Village Voice
Police officers in Times Square hold zip ties for handcuffing protesters.
After weeks of anti-police protests, advocates for the New York Police Department are planning a rally to show their support for the NYPD, which has come under fire in the wake of the Eric Garner decision.

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The NYPD Wants You to Know It's Shooting Fewer People Than You Think

Categories: Eric Garner, NYPD

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Photo credit: Eino Sierpe via Flickr

Last year, eyewitnesses were certain that 16-year-old Kimani Gray was unarmed when two plainclothes officers shot him seven times in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. But the officers alleged that Gray pointed a .38-caliber Rohm's industry revolver at them.


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SantaCon Hires Civil Rights Lawyer to Pursue Official 'Parade' Status for Annual Bar Crawl

Categories: Holidays

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Jena Cumbo for the Village Voice
SantaCon may have degenerated from performance art to wasted merry mob, but organizers pledged Wednesday to rescue the notorious bar crawl from infamy and turn it into an official parade.

"Santa" (New York SantaCon's anonymous organizer) has hired famous civil rights lawyer Norm Siegel to help transform SantaCon into a well-organized march sanctioned by the city.

The announcement followed weeks of backlash against the 30,000-Santa daytime drunk-fest, including a boycott that shut down the event in Bushwick.

See Also: Ho, Ho, Bro: How Santacon Went From Joyful Performance Art to Hedonistic Bar Crawl

"While this event will always poke fun at society and the overly-commercialized aspects of the holiday, Santa and the Elves are working closely with city officials, the Parks Department and NYPD on better formats to manage the event while growing it as a much beloved annual tradition for the city," Santa wrote in his email announcement.


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How the NYPD Disciplines Its Officers Is Now Less Transparent Than Ever

Categories: NYPD

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C.S. Muncy for the Village Voice
New Freedom of Information Law directives have curtained the public's only window into police discipline.
An obscure legal determination has gone a long way toward making New York's police discipline process even less transparent.


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Our Favorite Books of 2014

Categories: Books, Lists

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Devoting yourself to a book, like a lover or Christopher Nolan movie, is an act of commitment. But which are worth the time and effort? Once again, we've done the dirty reading for you, separating the wheat from the chaff, the misplaced modifiers from the well-placed modifiers. Here are our favorites from 2014. Grab your glasses and a glass of something that tastes like whiskey and enjoy!

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