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Street closures for the Five Boro Bike Tour

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On Sunday bikers will occupy the city streets for the annual Five Boro Bike Tour. It is expected that about 32 thousand cyclists will participate. The event begins at 7.30 in the morning. The participants will bike through all five Boroughs of New York along the car free streets. If you ever wanted to see the city without cars, feel free to take part in this wonderful event.

This is a charitable event the goal of which is to collect finances for bike educational programs for adults and children.

The event will start in Lower Manhattan at Franklin Street and Church Street and will finish on Staten Island. The length of the route is about 40 miles.

Naturally, since the tour will go through five boroughs there will be a lot of streets closed. So make sure you are prepared and plan your route accordingly.

Here is a list of streets from all boroughs that will be closed this Sunday:

Staten Island
Bay Street between New York Avenue and Hylan Boulevard
Hylan Boulevard between Bay Street and Edgewater Street
Edgewater Street/ Front Street btw Hylan Boulevard and Hannah Street
Hannah Street between Front Street and Bay Street
Bay Street between Hannah Street and Richmond Terrace
Queens
21st Street between Queens Plaza South and Hoyt Avenue North
Queens Plaza South between 21st Street and Vernon Boulevard / Alternate Route
Hoyt Avenue North between 21st Street and 19th Street
19th Street between Hoyt Avenue North and Ditmars Boulevard
Ditmars Boulevard between 19th Street and Shore Boulevard
Shore Boulevard between Ditmars Boulevard and Astoria Park South
Astoria Park South between Shore Boulevard and14th Street
14th Street between Astoria Park South and 31st Avenue
31st Avenue between 14th Street and Vernon Boulevard
Vernon Boulevard between 31st Avenue and 44th Drive

44th Drive between Vernon Boulevard and 11th Street
11th Street between 44th Drive and Pulaski Bridge
Pulaski Bridge (Brooklyn bound)
Brooklyn
McGuiness Boulevard between Pulaski Bridge and Greenpoint Avenue
Java Street between McGuinness Boulevard and Franklin Street
Greenpoint Avenue between McGuinness Boulevard and Franklin Street
Franklin Street between Java Street and Kent Avenue
Kent Avenue between Java Street and Williamsburg Street West
Williamsburg Street West between Kent Avenue and Flushing Avenue
Flushing Avenue between Williamsburg Street West and Navy Street
North Elliot Place between Flushing Avenue and Park Avenue
Navy Street between Flushing Avenue and York Street
York Street between Navy Street and Gold Street
Gold Street between York Street and Front Street
Front Street between Gold Street and Old Fulton Street
Old Fulton between Furman Street and Prospect Street
Cadman Plaza West between Prospect Street and Tillary Street
Tillary Street between Cadman Plaza West and Adams Street
Brooklyn Bridge Promenade between Tillary Street and Centre Street
Furman Street between Old Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue
Joralemon Street between Furman Street and Atlantic Avenue
Atlantic Avenue between Furman Street and Columbia Street
Columbia Street btw Atlantic Avenue and BQE West Entrance Columbia Street
BQE/Gowanus Expressway btw BQE West Entrance Columbia St and Verrazano
Verrazano Bridge Lower Level (Staten Island-bound)
Manhattan

Peter Minuit Plaza between State Street and South Street
Whitehall Street between South Street and Water Street
State Street between Whitehall Street and Battery Place
Greenwich Street between Battery Place and Morris Street
Trinity Place between Morris Street and Liberty Street
Church Street between Liberty Street and Canal Street
Chambers Street between Broadway and West Broadway
Worth Street between Broadway and West Broadway
Canal Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue
6th Avenue between Franklin Street and West 59th Street
West 59th Street between 6th Avenue and 5th Avenue
Grand Army Plaza between West 59th Street and East Drive
East Drive between Grand Army Plaza and Center Drive
Center Drive between 5th Avenue and East Drive
East Drive between Center Drive and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard
Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard between West 110th Street and West 135th Street
East/West 135th Street btw Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Madison Avenue
Madison Avenue between East 135th Street and East 138th Street
Madison Avenue Bridge (Bronx bound)
Harlem River Drive / FDR Drive (Southbound Lanes Only) btw 3rd Avenue Bridge
and East 116th Street
East 116th Street between FDR Drive and Pleasant Avenue
Pleasant Avenue between East 116th Street and East 114th Street
Harlem River Drive / FDR Drive (Southbound Lanes Only) btw 116th Street and 63rd
Street Exit
East 63rd Street between FDR Drive (Southbound Lanes Only) and
Queens Borough Bridge Exit

Queens Borough Bridge Exit between East 63rd Street and East 60th Street
Queens Borough Bridge Upper Level (Manhattan bound)
Battery Place between State Street and West Street
Washington Street between Battery Place and Morris Street
Morris Street between Broadway and Greenwich Street
Rector Street between Broadway and Greenwich Street
Cedar Street between Broadway and Greenwich Street
Liberty Street between Broadway and Greenwich Street
Dey Street between Broadway and Church Street
Vesey Street between Broadway and West Broadway
Barclay Street between Broadway and West Broadway
Warren Street between Broadway and West Broadway
Reade Street between Broadway and West Broadway
Duane Street between Broadway and West Broadway
Thomas Street between Broadway and West Broadway
Leonard Street between Broadway and West Broadway
Franklin Street between Broadway and West Broadway
White Street between Broadway and West Broadway
Walker Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue
Lispenard Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue

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Two Nobel literature prizes to be awarded after sexual assault scandal

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The Nobel prize in literature will be awarded twice on Thursday, after the Swedish body that selects the laureates was engulfed in a sexual assault scandal that forced it to postpone the 2018 ceremony.

Among the favourites are the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood, and the poet Anne Carson, both from Canada, the novelist Maryse Condé, from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, the Japanese author Haruki Murakami and the Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o.

The Swedish Academy, founded in 1786, is thought likely to try to avoid any controversy as it seeks to rebuild its reputation after the scandal exposed harassment, furious infighting, conflicts of interest and a culture of secrecy among its 18 members, who are elected for life and seen as the country’s guardians of culture.

The poet Katarina Frostenson was among seven academy members who left the body after bitter rows over how to handle rape accusations made in 2017 against her husband, Frenchman Jean-Claude Arnault, who was also accused of leaking the names of several prize winners.

The couple ran a cultural club in Stockholm that was part-funded by the academy, and several of the assaults committed by Arnault – who is now serving a prison sentence for rape – took place in academy-owned properties.

The academy has since made changes that it says will improve transparency, including allowing members to voluntarily resign, which they could not previously do. It has also pledged to review its lifetime membership policy and appointed five members to its selection committee from outside the body.

Seven new members have been appointed and a respected literature professor, Mats Malm, took over as permanent secretary in June after the resignation of his predecessor, Sara Danius.

The Nobel Foundation, which funds the literary world’s most prestigious prize, said the academy still needed to do more. “I think they can – and to some extent they have already begun doing so – act more openly than they have done in the past and I think that would be a good thing,” said Lars Heikensten, the executive director of the Nobel Foundation, who in May gave the academy the green light to crown a laureate in 2019.

“Our reputation is everything,” Heikensten said. “Obviously it is important to avoid this kind of situation we have been in and of course it cannot be repeated.”

A Swedish literary critic, Madeleine Levy, told Agence-France Presse: “The Nobel prize is for many now associated with #MeToo … and a dysfunctional organisation.”

It seems almost certain that at least one of the laureates will be a woman. The Polish writers Olga Tokarczuk and Hanna Krall, South Korea’s Han Kang, Joyce Carol Oates of the US and the Russian novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya have all been mentioned as contenders. Only 14 of the 114 laureates since 1901 have been women.

Another male writer thought to be in with a chance is the Romanian novelist Mircea Cărtărescu.

Previous winners of the prize include Bob Dylan (2016), Alice Munro (2013), Orhan Pamuk (2006), Toni Morrison (2003) and Gabriel García Márquez (1982).

One academy member, Anders Olsson, said the committee had looked for a more diverse shortlist this year and tried to move away from a “male-oriented” and “Eurocentric perspective of literature”.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/oct/10/nobel-prize-for-literature-to-be-awarded-twice-after-sexual-assault-scandal

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Rewatching Taxi Driver in the Age of Joker

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So wrote John Hinckley Jr. in 1981 before attempting to assassinate President Ronald Reagan at the Washington Hilton Hotel. He wrote it in a two-page letter to then-18-year-old actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was obsessed.

The public would soon learn why. At his trial the following year, Hinckley’s psychiatrists claimed that he’d been partially influenced to carry out this attack by Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, a movie about a man named Travis Bickle who attempts an assassination on a presidential candidate and becomes obsessed with a 12-year-old sex worker—Foster. Watching the movie, as Hinckley apparently did as many as 18 times, stoked an unhealthy fixation, or so it was argued in his defense. Toward the end of the trial, the jury was made to watch Taxi Driver in court, beginning to end. Hinckley’s counsel must have felt that this evidence, a piece of art, spoke for itself: With it, the defense rested its case.

It’s a famous movie; we all know how it ends. A roaring blood bath; three men dead. A camera slowly tracking through the carnage, craning upward to find a city in shock. And a bitterly ironic twist by way of a letter from the rescued girl’s parents, which informs us that the disturbed and disturbing Bickle, whose pathologies we’d been soaking in for the last two hours, had in the end been fashioned into a hero by the public. He became the avenging angel he’d sought out to be.

Maybe it’s possible to read this ending—if you don’t read it as a dream—as an endorsement of Bickle’s acts, or at least as a failure to critique them. You might even read it allegorically, as evidence that the excessive nature of Bickle’s crimes, to say nothing of his grotesquely bigoted attitudes, might still be found righteous by the public—even as a great number of us watch the movie and think Bickle is a hopeless case. Yet the movie always struck me as fairly unambiguous on the rottenness of its subject, announcing its intentions in broad, loud, literalistic (but sophisticated) tones.

That’s horror you’re hearing in the hard and heavy snake rattles of the score, the work of Bernard Herrmann—a noted Hitchcock collaborator. And while the film’s slow visual backpedal from its brutal climax may feel infused with awe, it isn’t worshipful shock I sense in its hypnotic gaze, but the petrified caution of terror itself. You aren’t meant to accept Travis Bickle’s methods, even if simplifying his reasoning to its bare essence—the world is fucked—appeals in the abstract. You aren’t meant to convince yourself that justice is what prevails in those halls awash with brain matter and blood.

It would seem Hinckley did. But Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity—so there goes his interpretation. And here, after a Thirty Years’ War’s worth of preliminary discourse, comes Todd Phillips’s Joker, which finally landed in theaters last Friday, and predictably sailed to the top of the box office, hauling in $234 million globally and counting. It’s a movie that wears its indebtedness to Taxi Driver, as well as Scorsese’s The King of Comedy, on its sleeve, down to cribbing specific shots and entire thematic lines, drawing power, all the while, from repeated reference to one of Taxi Driver’s most indelible images: a pantomimed bullet to the head. (This essay will contain spoilers from here on.)

It makes sense. These are films set in an earlier, dirtier era of New York, before the cleanup of Times Square, before the city’s crime rates nosedived under its severe “tough on crime” policies. They’re meticulous, inventive studies in mental disarray; both feature magnificent turns from Robert De Niro, who has a winking role in Phillips’s film, to that end. And both are models for the kind of story Phillips is paying homage to in his retro gloss on the tried-and-true Joker myth: hard psychological portraits in which, as in Taxi Driver in particular, the central antihero is as much a product of his environment as he is a deranged aberration from it. Taxi Driver’s is a world as dirt-choked and grimy as an exhaust pipe; you can see how it’d bear fruit like Travis Bickle. He’s society’s id—and also its worst-case scenario. He’s like one of those violent outcasts in the work of Fritz Lang—the child murderer M, or the Lipstick Killer in While the City Sleeps: men whose worst qualities feel eerily representative of the worst of all of us, in sum.

Phillips’s Joker feels representative too. This is a retelling which, like almost every take on this character of late, is powered by the culture’s love of his anarchic unpredictability, his lack of politics, his frequent silliness—only Phillips broodingly cuts down on the silliness. The strange thing is how hard it is to imagine this Joker metastasizing an equal but opposite hero in the form of Batman, even as Phillips peppers the film with indications that this will be so. But where does this Joker go from here? He has no game, no hijinks, only traumas and ugly feelings. The movie fills in the black hole of his origin—something usually left mysterious—with a story. But it leaves vague any real sense of how this guy is supposed to persist as the mastermind he traditionally is, the kind of guy a man like Bruce Wayne is, whether or not he’d admit it, supposed to fear. (I’m aware that I’m veering dangerously close to asking for an explanatory sequel.)

The new Joker, played by Joaquin Phoenix, is—as the commentariat has suggested since at least the release of the movie’s first trailer—a riff on incels and other lonely, potentially dangerous men, or if not a riff, a peer in pain. Arthur Fleck, as he’s known, is a man failed by our social infrastructures. He was an abused child whose mother is also mentally ill. As an adult, he’s got a strange demeanor, a child-simple approach to the world that begins to give way to brutish anger. He’s also got a disconcerting behavioral tic: a condition that makes him heave with laughter even if he’s actually crying. He gets bullied seemingly wherever he goes and no matter what he does; one woman even scolds him for trying to make her child laugh. His angst is overwhelming. You sense the movie positing he’s merely one link in the citywide soul destruction of a struggling Gotham—a New York stand-in so angry and overrun with class injustice that someone could plausibly support the point-blank shootings of, say, three rich, white men. You also sense that Arthur’s peculiarities play a decisive role in this argument. The movie rightly grants him membership in a vulnerable political class, as anyone with a disability, or anyone beholden to the bureaucratic contingencies of social services, surely is.

If your theory is that a film like this might prove dangerous, the associations between Joker and Taxi Driver—thus potentially between Joker and Hinckley—prove no comfort. Never mind how strange it was for attorneys to wield art as explanation for a person’s insanity; the association is ominous. It’s been suggested for months now that the risk of Joker is that it might encourage real violence. It was assumed that this Joker would not only diagnose its central villain, it’d so overtly lay out this man’s feelings that any violence he enacted might, to the wrong sort, seem justified and worth reproducing.

This is logic I’ve struggled to wrap my head around—logic born of fear, which is itself born, at least in part, of amnesia. I was in middle school when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine High School shooters, opened fire on their classmates and teachers, killing 14 people, including themselves, and injuring 21 more. It’s clear to me now that Columbine was the beginning of my political consciousness, the event that forced me to start asking my own questions, independently of anything I’d been learning at school or at home, about the world I was living in. And I was opening my eyes to the world at a time when art and media—violent video games, Marilyn Manson, trench coats, and every other variety of unfiltered cultural “evil”—had become scapegoats in our debates over gun violence, as if they were its source. Despite evidence to the contrary. Despite the obvious irony that though video games are a worldwide phenomenon, mass shootings are a disease practically endemic to the United States.

Isaw Joker—another worldwide phenomenon—twice. There’s no accounting for how people relate to or understand even the most didactic movie. But what mostly struck me both times was how rotely, how condescendingly, the movie animates the tortured soul at its center. This is not a genuine exploration of a very real, present social condition, despite a morose seriousness in the movie’s tone that would seem to imply taking the subject seriously. This is a movie that knows how far it can get by appearing to be serious and wears this as a badge of distinction. Yet it takes what’s wrong with Arthur Fleck for granted, telling us, for example, that Arthur takes seven medications while obscuring which medications or what they’re for, because the number of pills, paired with a convenient discovery of childhood trauma, is meant to speak for itself. Arthur’s illness is reduced to context, when, by all accounts, it’s the movie’s prime subject.

Joker presents us a world in which Fleck is constantly trod upon, and the movie is so singularly intent on proving this point that most every other part of his life, everything that isn’t a chance to reiterate Arthur’s trauma and psychosis, slyly evaporates from view. What seems like a sympathetic depiction is really just slick engineering. The movie’s explanations for Arthur Fleck’s mental state are only insightful in the abstract—fodder for anyone who wants to say that the movie is “about mental health” (or, even more preposterously, “about the America that gave us Trump”), because these things make the movie sound somehow more substantial, like more than the usual superhero fare.

But what’s there, really? I couldn’t fully articulate the movie’s lapses for myself until I rewatched its Scorsese influences this weekend for the first time in years. Comparison is unfair, but Joker invites the comparisons, and suffers for them. What stood out upon rewatching Taxi Driver, in particular, was how thoroughly conceived Travis Bickle is. He isn’t a mashup of character traits with a tragic backstory, like Arthur Fleck; we in fact know very little about his past beyond his military history.

Taxi Driver, as sharply written by Paul Schrader, avoids the psychoanalysis-lite screenwriting trap of childhood traumas that explain adult pathologies; these things don’t matter. What matters: the journal Travis writes, which gives voice to an inner monologue laying out his obsessions, his fixations, his ideas, things that surpass the basics of the “plot” as such, things that persuade us to see Travis Bickle as a furious, disturbed, but articulate mind. It gives us Travis at home, alone, with no one else watching: an animal in his own domain, freak flag fully flying.

Taxi Driver takes the risk that Joker was expected to take, but never really does: It is completely subjective. It forces identification, or at least a shared mental crawlspace, with its strange, off-putting hero. Travis Bickle is an insomniac, and from the film’s very opening moments, with the dank, vibrant streets of ’70s New York rolling into view, the entire movie flows, sleepless and hazy, from incident to incident. We get montages of the city streets, with the same people flying past Travis’s cab windows each night (“scum,” he calls them); we get stuttering shots of streetlights meant to convince us of their utter redundancy, of the fact that life for the insomniac can feel like going nowhere. And all of this is wielded to bind us to the terrifying spell of Travis’s demented state. It’s practically hypnotism; we’re seduced into seeing the world through Travis’s tired, increasingly manic eyes.

Which means we’re seduced into seeing the people in that world, the “scum,” the way Travis does. Look back to all the shots of black men, especially, in this movie: at the ways that the camera lingers on those faces in imitation of Travis’s own gaze. Look at the ways those black faces become more menacing over the course of the film, not because of anything these men have done, but because of the ways Travis’s mind has grown more severe, corrupted by his own fears and prejudices. This isn’t something anyone, not even Travis, has to say. You can feel it in the cutting, the shot selection, the controlled deployment of well-timed details—and in the way these choices work to reveal new territories of character, like spotlights blaring in a darkened room.

I look to these qualities and try to find where Joker does anything comparably complex, or whether it ever surpasses its simplistic moral and mental framework to include something, anything beyond the obvious. What mostly stands out are the ways Phillips has gassed his story up with a structural fake-out—a revelation that a relationship we believe exists does not, in fact, exist—and those jarring, fake-deep moments of Joker dancing, for which Phoenix is both admirably and unfortunately a bit too game. The depths are missing; the sense that Arthur Fleck is a fully-realized specimen rather than a tangle of actorly tics is not there, even if Phoenix is particularly good at those tics.

Joker shares Taxi Driver’s racial hangup, too: the rich men he encounters are pointedly white, a quintet of teens that beats him up is pointedly not, and a trio of black women—a social worker, a neighbor (played by Zazie Beetz), and an employee of Arkham Asylum—play small-to-pivotal roles in Fleck’s self-perception and, importantly, his dealings with bureaucracy. (Another black Arkham employee, played by Brian Tyree Henry, also plays a role.) The film ends with Joker walking out of a room with the blood of one of these women coating the bottoms of his shoes. He kills her, presumably, but the movie doesn’t show it; it doesn’t “go there.” Taxi Driver goes there: Bickle shoots a black man, who’s robbing a convenience store, in the back. One of the great tensions of the movie is whether he does this primarily because he’s racist and looking for any excuse, as he undoubtedly is, or because the man is genuinely bad, whereas he, the deluded Travis Bickle, has convinced himself that he’s good.

We were worried that Joker would inspire people in the wrong ways, and by the way, we’re still not quite off the hook for that. It remains strange that in an era like ours, which prizes relatability to the point of rendering everything alien, we should be so worried over people doing exactly what we keep asking mainstream art to make us do: relate. The mere idea that human lives might depend on an audience getting the right message from a film like Joker feels like the logical extreme of a culture that can apparently only make sense of art by making it about ourselves. I don’t really care that Joker isn’t as good of a movie as the Scorsese classic, which is a classic for a reason. I care that it has very little to say on a subject that matters and has wedded itself to that subject in ways easily mistaken for insight. The problem with Joker is that it wants to satisfy that urge—it wants us to see ourselves, or men we know, in the life of Arthur Fleck, and to sympathize accordingly—while having little to offer us. The problem with Joker isn’t that it wants us to relate: It’s that it doesn’t know a single thing about us.

Source: https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2019/10/todd-phillips-joker-rewatching-taxi-driver

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The McRib is back again. Here’s why McDonald’s doesn’t sell it year-round

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McDonald’s McRib is back again.

The fast food company announced Thursday that the barbecue sandwich will be available in over 10,000 restaurants as soon as Monday. But, McDonald’s said, the menu item will only be around for a limited time.

That’s by design. Seasonal items are an important marketing tool for the food industry, according to Alexander Chernev, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Limited releases almost give consumers a Pavlovian response. For example, when the weather turns colder, Starbucks customers habitually get excited about Pumpkin Spice Lattes. In November, customers come in to check out the new holiday cups.

“When you have these exclusive products, which exist for a short period of time, it gives people a reason to come to the store,” Chernev explained.

It’s not just Starbucks and McDonald’s that come out with seasonal specials: Dunkin’ announced a whole slew of pumpkin-flavored treats in August. As the holiday season gets into full swing, we’ll be sure to see Coca-Cola’s Christmas trucks, turkey sandwiches from Subway and more. In the spring, it’ll be Girl Scout cookie time.

For fast food chains in particular, which rely on familiarity, holilday items can offer consumers some variety.

“You need consistency because that’s the brand mantra,” said Chernev. “But no matter how much you like something, consuming something different … increases the enjoyment of what you consumed before.”

Chernev says it’s a neat marketing ploy: Although a specialty item may be exciting on its own, it can also remind consumers how much they like the basics.

Seasonal offerings can also give brands a chance to test a new product. When Starbucks announced the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte two years ago, it also unveiled the Teavana Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Latte.

And Chernev pointed out that seasonal menu items mean brands have something new to talk about every quarter.

Starbucks has said that’s part of the rationale behind its seasonal drinks

“We strive to provide our customers with unique, seasonal offerings to celebrate each season, and customer response has been extremely positive to that,” a company spokesman said two years ago.

There are some basic supply-and-demand economics behind limited-time releases too: Scarcity can build hype.

“It’s a way to create excitement for the menu,” said R.J. Hottovy, a consumer strategist for Morningstar.

Items that might be popular for a few months probably wouldn’t generate enough year-round demand.

When the McRib debuted in 1981, it was a dud. McDonald’s pulled it from its menu four years later. Though it never achieved nationwide success, there were parts of the country where the McRib generated a solid enough fan base to bring it back every now and then.

Hottovy explained that sales typically rise for a short time when companies unveil seasonal items. But after a few weeks, that demand drops off after the core fans of the limited time product are satisfied.

So enjoy your McRib sandwiches while they last. And let’s be honest, you probably wouldn’t want one in April.

Source: https://pix11.com/2019/10/06/the-mcrib-is-back-again-heres-why-mcdonalds-doesnt-sell-it-year-round/

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