New York's King of Open Data Says City 'Can Do Better' in TEDx Talk

Categories: Technology

Screen grab
Statistics professor Ben Wellington has been turning ones and zeroes into amazing stories.
Ben Wellington has been blowing the minds of New Yorkers for quite a while.

More »

Brooklyn Cops Load Up Two Vans Full of Teens to See Selma

Categories: NYPD

Courtesy Paramount Pictures
NYPD officers took teens to see Selma (pictured above) on Martin Luther King Day.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, hundreds of people marched from Harlem to the United Nations in Manhattan to protest police brutality against people of color.

Meanwhile in Brooklyn, five police officers from the 81st Precinct in Bed-Stuy were stuffing about fourteen middle and high school students into a pair of police vans before heading off to the Alpine Cinemas in Bay Ridge. They were all on their way to the Oscar-nominated film Selma — courtesy of the NYPD.

More »

The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore Asks the Right Questions, But Doesn't Have Any Answers

Categories: Film and TV

The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore's great misfortune isn't that it replaces The Colbert Report, but that it premieres after Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. The Colbert Report was sui generis, and will likely remain so, because such a series makes leviathan demands on its host: crackerjack comedic skills, superb acting chops, and the massive humility to subsume himself completely into his character. Last Week Tonight, on the other hand, is a gauntlet thrown down before every other late-night comedy show (and news program), defying them to attempt its rare combination of smart, sidesplitting, and viral.

More »

Two New Yorkers Re-Create MTA's Etiquette Campaign Ads in New Video

Screenshot from CJ Koegel's YouTube
Enter Mr. Do and Mr. Don't.

By now we've all heard about the new subway etiquette placards the Metropolitan Transportation Authority rolled out earlier this month. As part of a new campaign focused on improving quality of life for all commuters, the signs are designed to dissuade riders — via colorful, faceless, stick-figure renderings — from participating in a number of new "don'ts," including pole-dancing, manspreading, and grooming. Since the campaign was launched in December 2014, the ads have received considerable attention in the media — and now two New Yorkers have taken it upon themselves to bring them to life.

More »

Here Are the Most Bizarre Nudes of New York Craigslist

Categories: Shopping

Via Craigslist
These days, it seems like you can't open an app without getting slapped in the eyeballs by someone's boner (artfully framed by a messy bedroom and a housecat or two). Prurient New Yorkers know that not all n00ds are created equal — and the selection of sexy goods they're selling reflects the taste and refinement for which this great city is known. You can pretty much guarantee that at any given moment, some New Yorker is preparing to sell something involving the naked human form. Here are some of the best currently available.

See also: Here are Some of the Most Bizarre Religious Items New Yorkers Are Selling Online

More »

This Rodeo Clown Dances Like Nobody's Watching

Although he clearly has this routine timed to the beat, professional rodeo clown Flint Rasmussen seems utterly carefree in those shorts and Nike soccer shoes. He just dances like nobody's watching. Watch as his movements become more fluid and exaggerated. Then you'll notice audience members start to clap along to "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. Once he's got them right where he wants them, he begins to really flourish.

More »

A Disabled Musician Shines a Light on the Accessibility of New York's Venues

Categories: Music

Courtesy Sean Gray
Sean Gray, who uses a walker and sings in the band Birth (Defects), is pissed off about the East Coast's inaccessible music venues.

Sean Gray probably knows more than you do about your favorite music venue.

For the 32-year-old, who has cerebral palsy and uses a walker, knowing the venues inside and out can be the difference between buying a ticket to a show he wants to see and having to wait for the bootleg.

Gray, a veteran of the Washington, D.C., hardcore scene, says that despite the existence of the now 25-year-old Americans With Disabilities Act, finding easy-to-navigate music venues is still a huge pain in the ass.

"To me, it's no different than any other kind of oppression," he says. "What if you're not allowed to go to a venue because you're gay or a person of color? That's what this feels like."

More »

Special Counsel for Brooklyn D.A. Named CCRB's New Executive Director

Categories: NYPD

Credit: Jacquie Hemmerdinger, courtesy CCRB
Mina Malik will serve as executive director of the troubled CCRB.
The city's independent police watchdog, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, has found a new executive director.

More »

Oscars Podcast: Can You Identify the Traits of 'Oscar Bait'?

Categories: Film and TV

The bicoastal film pod continues in 2015! In New York, Village Voice film editor Alan Scherstuhl, along with Voice film critic Stephanie Zacharek, connect via the magic of the internet with LA Weekly film critic Amy Nicholson to discuss the nominations for this year's Academy Awards, announced on January 15. The trio attempt to settle once and for all what sorts of movies make the Academy salivate, while other seemingly great films go stale. As always, send barbs, jabs, claims, or jokes to and follow us on the Twitter at @voicefilmclub. Read all of our movie reviews, interviews and news over at

Meet the Mutant Squirrels of City Hall Park

Categories: Science

Jon Campbell, Village Voice
The "melanistic" black squirrels in City Hall Park get their unusual color from a recessive gene.
Walk through City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan and you'll notice several things.

More »

Here Are New York City's Most Frequently Blocked Driveways of 2014

Categories: Real Estate

Katie Toth for the Village Voice
It's not easy driving a car in New York City. Even just getting from point A to point B, you've gotta weave through a maze of traffic, one-way streets, and, most recently, determined demonstrators. Then comes finding a place to park, an adventure all its own.

And even if you're lucky enough to have your own private driveway, it's not always a guarantee for a simpler life. Especially if your building boasts one of the most frequently blocked driveways of the past year.

Ben Wellington, a visiting assistant professor at the Pratt Institute who also runs the popular blog I Quant NY, looked at open data for 311 calls and found the ten properties with the highest numbers of complaints about selfish rogues blocking their driveways. Five are in Brooklyn; four are in Queens; the "winner" is in the Bronx.

More »

Here Are Some of the Most Bizarre Religious Items New Yorkers Are Selling Online

Categories: Shopping

Via Craigslist
We're in Existential Crisis season — that bleak miserable stretch between the holidays and the return of liveable weather — which drives many to drink heavily, diet aggressively, or, in some cases, find religion. As it turns out, you don't have to go to church to be Saved — plenty of New Yorkers (and other internet vendors) will sell you a little religion for your filthy cash. Finally, your own personal Jesus.

More »

Controversial Gravity Knife Law Challenged in Federal Court

Categories: Courts

Thumbnail image for original-gravity-knife.jpg
Photo courtesy of
A constitutional challenge against a controversial knife law continues.
A New York appeals court heard oral arguments on January 14 in a challenge to a controversial knife law that has landed tens of thousands of suspects in jail over the past ten years.

More »

Under Pressure, NY State Agrees to Scale Back Planned Gowanus Parole Center

Categories: Brooklyn

Katie Toth, Village Voice
Protesters in November demonstrating near the site of the future Gowanus parole center
A Brooklyn community group that formed in opposition to a massive proposed parole center in Gowanus has achieved a major victory as the state has agreed to scale back plans for the facility, which had been intended to serve 6,000 ex-criminals per month.

The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision announced on January 14 that it had settled a lawsuit filed in November 2014 by Gowanus United — a collective of nearby residents and business owners who opposed the facility — that accused the state of sidestepping city zoning laws to build the center and failing to consult the community before submitting plans. Residents argued that the center, located at 15 Second Avenue near the Gowanus Canal, would flood the neighborhood — which includes schools, churches, and many small businesses — with thousands of potentially dangerous past offenders, as well as impede truck traffic in the manufacturing-heavy neighborhood.

As part of the negotiated settlement, the state agreed to reduce the number of parolees reporting to the facility from 6,000 to 2,000, at least for the first two years of operation. During that time, the Department of Corrections will create a program of decentralized reporting locations throughout Brooklyn to serve the remaining 4,000 parolees.

See also:
Literally No One Is Happy About the Massive Parole Center Being Built in Gowanus

More »

Retired NYPD Captain Going From Borough to Borough to Rally for Police

Categories: NYPD

Courtesy of Queens Village Republican Club's Facebook
Joseph Concannon speaking at the rally in Queens.

While Mayor Bill de Blasio has spent much of the last several weeks trying to patch over the rift between his office and the NYPD rank and file, a former police captain is launching a one-man crusade against an administration that he says remains hostile to police.

Joseph Concannon, a 25-year veteran of the NYPD and president of the Queens Village Republican Club, says the mayor has repeatedly hung his ex–comrades in blue out to dry with "dangerous" and "divisive rhetoric" over the past two years — most notably since protests and anti-police sentiment erupted after a grand jury decided in December not to indict the police officer believed to be responsible for the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

More »

NYC Muslims Fear a Spike in NYPD Surveillance in the Wake of Paris Attack

Categories: NYPD

Screenshot via YouTube
In the wake of the terrorist attack on satirical French publication Charlie Hebdo, some New York Muslim groups are already expecting the worst in terms of increased police surveillance here at home.

More »

Study Finds Chokehold Use by NYPD 'Alarming'

Categories: NYPD

Timothy Fadek for the Village Voice
A protester is caught in an apparent chokehold at a demonstration last year.
A report released by NYPD Inspector General Philip Eure on January 12 found "alarming" use within the department of a long-banned chokehold technique.

More »

Latest MTA Campaign Takes Aim at 'Showtime' Pole-Dancers

Screenshot from MindlezzThoughtz II's YouTube

"What time is it? Showtime!"

More »

The MTA Still Doesn't Know If It Wants to Enforce Its Ban on Die-Ins

Categories: MTA

Courtesy Keegan Stephan

On January 12, about eight protesters dropped to the floor of Grand Central Terminal to protest police violence. They were staging a "die-in" by reenacting the seven minutes Eric Garner lay unconscious on the ground after an altercation with police.

It was a surprising turn of events, since just one week earlier, MTA officials had released a statement many interpreted as a ban on die-ins, a form of demonstration in which protesters lie on the ground, unmoving, as though they are dead.

See Also:
Will the MTA Enforce Its Ban on Die-Ins? They're Not Sure Yet
Reverend Billy Arrested at Grand Central Station

More »

Terrible Person Allegedly Steals Cash Collected for Beloved Accordionist's Funeral Fund

Kühr as he appears in a photo on the Main Squeeze website
In Dante's Inferno, the eighth circle of hell is reserved for thieves and falsifiers.

If there's any justice in the afterlife, that's where the dude who allegedly stole $650 in cash — from a beloved musician's funeral fund — will end up. At least according to the survivors of the late Walter Kühr.

More »