Monday, August 30, 2010

Do Fun Stuff - The Charity Album

My lovely wife is a HUGE fan of the beautiful and inspirational blog "Pacing The Panic Room." I am not a regular reader of the blog, however I enjoy it whenever I visit. If you are into people taking good pictures and building a loving, modern and complicated family, you will like this blog. They are also doing this great thing raising money for children with Smith Magenis Syndrome, a developmental disorder that you can read more about at Pacing The Panic Room or here with a new album (info in the sweet graphic below).

Of course it is worthy cause and if posting a neat graphic and some nice kids music can make my wife happy, well this is the least I can do! Enjoy and perhaps buy the album if you have some kids to entertain!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Suppose Saying Respectfully Submitted at the End Doesn't Make it Respectful...

Shockingly The NY Jewish Week did not publish this letter to the editor:

To whom it may concern;

As an “arrogant” defender of the 51 Park development, I expect to be dismissed by right-wing demagogues. I have come to understand that some may feel pain because of the community center. I even come to grasp some of the reprehensible and self-serving excuses Jewish “defense” and “tolerance” organizations are making to ensure continued funding differentiate the bigoted statements of many detractors and the question of respecting others bigoted ideas about Islam as a whole.

However, Jonathan Mark’s recent Route 17 column digresses into simple name calling. On August 8, Mr. Mark explains the need to consult public opinion polls when dealing with rights affirmed by the Constitution. That pesky little document was established a few hundred years ago to protect universal rights that often need to be protected from the mob mentality. You know that freedom of religion and assembly and speech that has supported a vibrant Jewish community in country sometimes does need to be shielded from overzealous “real Americans” trying to “keep America American.”

In addition to his regressive, offensive and down-right sophomoric approach to this issue, he writes: “I'd love to see a poll of shul-going Jews -- the real Jews, not the Chelsea Clinton Jews -- regarding the mosque, its imam, and these [51 Park development supporting] rabbis."

Leaving the horrifyingly ignorant reading of the Constitution aside for a minute, Mr. Mark is insulting for the sake of being insulting. Now, we know that Mr. Mark lives in a world full of tree lined avenues and small town charm, all connected by a Parkway of numbered exits. Things are simpler there. However, as the world continues to change—and we know it will as we have recently seen a non-Jewish former American President, the current non-Jewish Secretary of State and their non-Jewish daughter all raised on chairs, encircled by hora dancing wedding celebrants—perhaps a bit of humility within a racist tirade would go a long way to bring our entire Jewish community together.

While I have never agreed with anything Mr. Mark has said, his approach usually does not include sinat hinam (Baseless Hatred). I suppose we should expect more from the New York Jewish Week, but maybe not from Route 17.

Respectfully submitted,

New York, New York

Friday, August 20, 2010

An Open Letter to My Generation

Dear 20s in their emerging adulthood,

My name is dcc and I have job. It is this thing that gives you money that isn’t a trust fund or a parent. Having a job takes responsibility, sacrifice and time. Often it isn’t much fun but it does have its rewards. These include a sense of accomplishment, ability to stand on your own two feet and very often health insurance. I understand the draw to follow your dreams and discover the best taco cart in the world or write a novel or create the next music trend and even the importance of such aspirations, but at some point you will need to get a job.

Now about five years ago, I finished college and started out in the world. My parents supported me and in many ways still do, but I now bring home enough to very happily live my life, support my family and still have time to for identity exploration and feeling a sense of possibility in my life. The recent article in the New York Times Magazine that seems to be on everyone’s Facebook wall is telling us that your being lazy “finding yourself” is an important developmental state.

This is an excuse. Here are some facts:
- You aren’t over qualified for employment; your ego is too big.
- You can find yourself with a job that pays the bills
- If you want to find yourself full-time, get out of the fully furnished luxury apartment and move your ass to Astoria with a few roommates.
- The sense of possibility is greater when you can actually afford to do those things by yourself.

Shave and Get a Job.

From the article we learn:
That’s the impression you get reading Arnett’s case histories in his books and articles, or the essays in “20 Something Manifesto,” an anthology edited by a Los Angeles writer named Christine Hassler. “It’s somewhat terrifying,” writes a 25-year-old named Jennifer, “to think about all the things I’m supposed to be doing in order to ‘get somewhere’ successful: ‘Follow your passions, live your dreams, take risks, network with the right people, find mentors, be financially responsible, volunteer, work, think about or go to grad school, fall in love and maintain personal well-being, mental health and nutrition.’ When is there time to just be and enjoy?” Adds a 24-year-old from Virginia: “There is pressure to make decisions that will form the foundation for the rest of your life in your 20s. It’s almost as if having a range of limited options would be easier.”

Yup. It isn’t easy and no one should hold your hand. We are supposed to take the risks and work it out. All of our choices cost. They cost either time or money or both. After you emerge into adulthood (like many of us in our 20s have already) you will see that life, love, work and fun are all about figuring out the balance. Putting off this difficult and not fun exercise for later in life only makes you less prepared for your next step.

So, get a job, work hard, figure it out. Stop making excuses. Let me know if you need a resume reference.

All the best,


Monday, August 9, 2010

5:45 AM

Anyone who tells you the city is still at 5:45 AM isn’t paying much attention.

As I train for the upcoming New York City Marathon, I have been hitting the streets in penultimate minutes of darkness. There are trucks buzzing down the streets. There are people walking dogs. There are delivery men banging on store fronts and there are people in suits (both of the Brooks Brothers and jump varieties) on their way to work. Of course there are other runners. But most notably there are human beings waking-up to pack up their belongings and get on the move for the day.

Homelessness is a clearly defined problem in our city; however it seems most acute to me when a homeless person is waking-up from a night’s sleep on my running path.

Running is clearly a leisure activity. Yes, it keeps me healthy and helps me sleep better. But it is something that can only be done if one has access to leisure time. I very much enjoy spending my early mornings listening to my iPod (luxury item) while jogging along in my self-drying shirt and shorts (also luxuries). I have been getting excited to spend my early weekend mornings on runs, mapping these routes out using a number of different websites and free online services (also non-necessities).

The diametric opposite actions comprise the daily lives of people who I often pass on my morning runs.

These men (they are mostly men) pack their beds, if they have them, in shopping charts and get on the move in search of only necessities. In that they are without even shelter, it is clear that these folks will not be joining me on my morning runs through New York.

When I am running in the morning, between dodging delivery trucks and puppies, I have a lot of time to think. I get to wondering about what brought this guy to sleep under the 68th Street pedestrian overpass. Why not further away from the loud and dangerous FDR Drive? What happened in his life that took him from a home and placed him on a concrete slab in Manhattan? But I keep running, listening to my music and keeping pace for my hopefully 9 minute and 30 second miles.

I suppose I feel a little guilty about the situation. However, this gives me a perspective on our city that a vast majority of those with beds to sleep in at night choose not to have. The morning comes a lot earlier for those without beds. Those of us who hit the street in the last vestiges of night make a choice to spend our time on an activity that brings us joy or a sense of accomplishment. But for those we share the pathways with at 5:45 AM, it is not a choice and there is no leisure.

There are countless pathways to homelessness. Many of them traverse the minefield of mental illness and substance abuse. Others navigate physical or sexual abuse. Still others have changed directions to deal with this recession. But the one thing I know for sure is that a strong community infrastructure, with caring families, teachers, social workers and friends, makes the path less direct. There is a safety net. There are hands to hold and places to go for help. By no means is it fool-proof, but it does help.

The Union Settlement Association runs programs that build community, develops leaders and fosters self-sufficiency for its neighbors in East Harlem. For more than 100 years, Union Settlement has taken strides to redirect many of the traditional paths to homelessness towards success, and in the process has built a stronger and more vibrant community for everyone it touches in East Harlem.

I suppose it is fitting that I am running the marathon to support this organization. They gave me the spot and I am running to raise awareness that it isn’t still at 5:45 AM. I am comforted that there are people out there who are listening to the noise and doing something about it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

TheDCC Runs (a lot)

After five years of watching intrepid souls pound their way past our apartment running in the ING NYC Marathon, I am thrilled to report that I am going to join their ranks, strapping on my shoes, short shorts and neat-o running shirt to navigate 26.2 miles of New York City streets. This, like many of my best choices in life (see: "going to Jewish summer camp in Texas and meeting future wife"), was done "just because."

I received an email from the Union Settlement Association about opportunities to run in this year's ING NYC Marathon on Thursday July 8th. I read the email, thought about it over the weekend (even though my mind was made up) and signed up on Monday the 12th. To my surprise and delight, I got my welcome to the team letter this week and am now training like a mad man, including running more than I ever thought I could four days a week.

While I have been making great strides (sorry about that) in my training, I need your help. The Union Settlement Association is an organization that has been serving the East Harlem community since 1895, fostering community leadership and self-sufficiency by helping local residents build better lives for themselves and their families. I first learned of this organization through a partner at my firm about two years ago and have been interested in their work ever since. In signing up to run on the Union Settlement Team, I have pledged to raise $2,500 to support their work.

They have set up a web page to provide donations to your favorite runner (you are going to want to pick me) and ways to learn more about Union Settlement.

The last couple of years have been challenging for everyone, certainly for those who benefit from the work of the Union Settlement. While I realize it’s a tough time to ask for money, I ask that you dig deep and support me in this endeavor. If you are able to make a donation, any donation, regardless of the size, thank you for your generosity on behalf of the thousands of people who benefit from the life changing, sustaining and saving services of the Union Settlement Association. It’s an honor for me to run under the banner of the Union Settlement, and I look forward to reaching the double goal of raising $2,500 and finishing the race!