Traveling this holiday weekend? Whether you’re headed to New York or San Francisco, Singapore or Tokyo, we’ve put together a list of your destination’s must-see attractions and activities. So if you want to hit the tourist hotspots, or if you prefer to see how the locals live, these ideas will make your Labor Day planning a bit less laborious:
It's the eighth time Mark David Chapman was denied parole
The man who shot and killed John Lennon has been denied parole by the New York State Parole Board for the eighth time because his release would be “incompatible with the welfare of society.”
Mark David Chapman, 59, shot Lennon four times outside the musician’s New York City apartment in a 1980 murder that attracted worldwide attention. The crime earned him 20 years in prison.
In its decision, the parole board showed little hesitation to deny Chapman’s parole, Bloomberg reports.
“You stalked and waited for your victim and thereafter shot him multiple times causing his death,” the board said in its decision. “The victim had displayed kindness to you earlier in the day and your actions have devastated a family.”
Chapman will be up for parole again in 2016.
As if NYC apartment living wasn't hard enough
New Yorkers are used to finding all kinds of, er, little critters living in their apartments, but pretty much nothing compares to this. A woman in Elmhurst, Queens, began noticing a few bees buzzing around her apartment over the past few weeks — and then eventually learned that there were 50,000 of them living in her ceiling, local ABC affiliate WABC-TV reports.
Fifty. Thousand. Bees. Living. In. Her. Ceiling. Everything. Is. Awful.
“How did they get there? Where did they come from?” the woman, Frieda Turkmenilli, told WABC. “I was shocked.”
Well, yeah. If this happened to us, we’d totally pull a Nic Cage and be all, “NOOOO, NOT THE BEES.”
Anyway, two beekeepers were recruited to come remove the bees and relocate them — along with the 17 (!!!) honeycombs they managed to build — to a bee farm.
So next time you see a roach scuttling beneath your door or a mouse darting behind your fridge, remember: it could be way worse.
For example: the Pork & Mindy pizza and the Good Will Hotwing
People around the country have been finding all kinds of ways to honor Robin Williams following his shocking death Monday. In Brooklyn, the employees of Vinnie’s Pizzeria created a tribute that was a bit tastier than the rest. They named their specials after some of the actor’s most memorable works and displayed them on a whiteboard next to some lovely illustrations:
Vinnie’s is known for its pop culture-themed specials and corresponding illustrations — seriously, check these out, because they’re really great — but this one definitely stands out as a lovely tribute to a fallen star.
The culprits appear to have been German artists who are mystified by the reaction the act got in the U.S.
Two Berlin-based artists have taken credit — and provided evidence to back up their claim — for swapping out two giant American flags over the Brooklyn Bridge earlier this summer and replacing them with all-white versions.
After the flags suddenly appeared over the bridge on July 22, numerous people rushed to claim credit for the stunt. But German artists Mischa Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke have produced videos and pictures apparently taken from the Brooklyn Bridge that indicate they were, in fact, the culprits, the New York Times reports.
Many in New York City saw the flag stunt as a security breach, and embarrassed authorities rushed to launch an investigation. But Leinkauf and Wermke say they were shocked that the flags were perceived that way. Their actions weren’t supposed to be provocative, they said, but merely intended to celebrate “the beauty of public space.” They pulled off the caper on the anniversary of the 1869 death of John Roebling, the German engineer who built the bridge.
“We saw the bridge, which was designed by a German, trained in Berlin, who came to America because it was the place to fulfill his dreams, as the most beautiful expression of a great public space,” Leinkauf said. “That beauty was what we were trying to capture.”
The pair said that between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. on July 22 they carried the homemade white flags in backpacks while climbing the cables to the top of the bridge, where they replaced the American flags with the all-white versions. They did not see security cameras. They ceremonially folded the American flags, they said, and promise to return them.
Some people appreciate it, but others are strangely indifferent+ READ ARTICLE
Most New Yorkers just kind of sigh impatiently and bury their noses in a book or a smartphone when they see subway performers start to sing or dance, which is understandable. But it’s a different story when it’s actual BROADWAY PERFORMERS.
On an A train earlier this summer, members of the The Lion King cast surprised commuters with a beautiful a cappella performance of “The Circle of Life.” The singers were scattered around the car, initially blending in with the normals. But then, surprise! They’re actually Tony Award-winning Broadway actors launching into a spirited rendition of a classic tune.
Some riders get pretty into it, singing along and tapping their feet, while others act almost annoyed by the disruption. Some even keep their earbuds in! Like, seriously you guys? This is awesome and you should appreciate it.
If you’re hoping to catch one of these impromptu performances, it might happen again, since the Australian cast did something similar on a plane back in April. We just ask that you take off your headphones, put down your book, and actually enjoy the show.
We answer your burning questions about Ebola+ READ ARTICLE
In case you’ve missed it, the deadliest Ebola outbreak is spreading in Western Africa, taking at least 900 lives so far. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is sending 50 infectious disease specialists to the region in order to help quell the outbreak and provide much-needed resources and expertise. …
Improv Everywhere's latest prank+ READ ARTICLE
Ask any New Yorker and they’ll tell you: While summer in the city has some perks (see the Lovin’ Spoonful for verification), commuting on the subway in the summer is miserable. As the temperature rises, even the shortest subway trip can turn a rider into a sweaty hot mess as the heat turns stations into saunas.
For their latest subway prank, Improv Everywhere have taken something that every New York City commuter knows and taken it to its next logical step. They transformed the 34th Street subway stop into an actual sauna, complete with fresh towels, relaxing music, ice water steeped with lemon slices and hot stone massages. After all, if the subway station is a sauna, you may as well get a facial.
As with most of the Improv Everywhere pranks, the reactions of the passersby are the best part with jaded commuters smirking and shrugging while tourists gawk at the crazy city they are visiting.
The mixed-income residents helped make an old apartment complex feel like a community.
New York City’s Upper West Side will soon see a segregated 33-floor apartment building, with a back-alley door—for the poor residents.
The 55 residential families making at or below 60% of New York City’s median income must live on floors 2 through 6 (below the richer residents), face the street while the other families have waterfront views, and enter and leave the building through the back door. Meanwhile, development company Extell, benefits from tax breaks and is allowed to construct a bigger building than normal zoning would permit, though it reportedly plans to turn around and sell the extra space to another development within a half-mile of their site, a sale that could reap the company a few extra millions.
In 2007, I lived in a mixed-income apartment complex in La Mesa, a town just outside San Diego proper. There were regularly paying tenants like myself, and those on a sliding rent scale.
On my first night in an old but fairly spacious one-bedroom apartment, some guys dropped off a second-hand sofa in my driveway. I dragged it up the cement steps, but its legs wouldn’t fit through the entryway. Knowing no one, I knocked on my neighbor’s door, looking for a screwdriver.
A wiry man in filthy jeans opened the door, his bald head gleaming in the moonlight. He said nothing, just stood there with his arms crossed.
“Hi,” I said, after a few uncomfortable beats. “I’m your new neighbor.” I stuck out my hand.
He relaxed and shook my hand with a grunt. Then he helped me unscrew the legs of my couch and get it into my place while his wife looked on, feeding their baby and making small talk. Afterward, Rusty, Heather and I all relaxed on the stoop with the beer I’d bought.
Eventually, I got to know my other neighbors. The young people directly across from Rusty and Heather were a brother and sister pair of Mexican descent. They worked minimum-wage jobs and, other than a dutiful “How’s it going?” each day at 2 a.m. when I’d leave for work, kept to themselves. Every so often, after my shift, I’d sit on the stoop with Rusty and Heather while we waited for the woman who lived next to me to return home.
“Ooooh, sugars!” she’d shout as she stepped out of whichever random car gave her a lift that afternoon. “Where’s your little baby! I need to give him some loving!”
Angel never talked about what she did to make money. She had a 16-year-old daughter who went to high school and cooked her mother dinner.
There were other apartment buildings packed in, right behind us and to either side. We all shared a parking lot where little kids would play kickball and tag on the weekends. We did laundry in a repurposed garage with two rusty machines.
On a rare day when both machines were working, I met Florence and her son, Hank, who suffers from cerebral palsy. They lived off her social security income and his disability. During the days, they’d beg on the street corners in the nicer section of town to make ends meet.
“We can’t afford the copays for his medicine, otherwise,” she explained with an embarrassed shrug. I left them the rest of my quarters that day.
Affordable housing complexes sometimes house regular renters, like me, with those who receive reduced rental rates due to their income levels. The difference—aside from either the rents being set at a percentage of the family’s income or subsidies being given to developers for taking part in one of the programs—is that I didn’t have to fill out extensive paperwork proving my income level and outlining my assets. I also didn’t get put on a waiting list, nor did I have to go into detail about my medical history, domestic life, whether I’d recently been homeless or in a shelter, or my eviction status. All of those variables come into play when you apply for low-income housing options, depending, of course, on the state in which you apply.
For offering affordable housing units, Extell could profit greatly off the deal. This amounts to the poorer residents of the building subsidizing the construction costs, while a corporation makes millions.
The poor-door section of the building, meanwhile, is essentially another building altogether. Although it shares a wall with the proper site, Extell filed it as off-site housing. A loophole added in 2005, and modified in 2009, allows affordable housing to be built off-site, so long as it’s within a half mile of the original building plan. This is not integrated housing as the spirit of the program intended.
While technically allowed, this realization of the program—which is meant to encourage integration by mingling low- with moderate- or middle-income households either in the same building for on-site housing or in the same neighborhood for off-site housing—further entrenches the notion that being poor is a disease one brings upon oneself, that it is a personal failing and poor people don’t deserve to be seen within regular society.
If anyone thinks the poorer residents of 40 Riverside Boulevard on the Upper West Side are just waltzing into the apartments after signing a lease, they should think again. Those residents have already been put through a lengthy application process, multiple questionnaires and a long wait to be approved.
For my old neighborhood, the affordable housing program helped make an old apartment complex a community. Those who were ill had a roof over their heads, little kids could go to school knowing they had a permanent homestead to come back to, and people from all walks of life, with all different backstories, got a chance to try again.
And unlike 40 Riverside Boulevard, we all felt like we belonged.
Darlena Cunha is a mother of twins and a freelance writer for The Washington Post, Gainesville Sun and Gainesville and Ocalamagazines. You can reach her @parentwin on Twitter.
If only we could do this to everyone who displays poor subway etiquette+ READ ARTICLE
Taking a cue from World Cup refs, comedian Yoni Lotan decided to dash around the streets of New York City to charge pedestrians with various penalties. Transgressions included taking selfies in inappropriate places and donning the wrong footwear.
He seems to camp out in popular tourist areas like Times Square and the Theater District, so he’s mostly handing out penalty cards to visitors rather than New York residents. This makes sense, because tourists are more likely to play along, whereas New Yorkers would be more likely to tell him to, you know, get outta here. Still, we kind of wish the city would hire real referees to hand out yellow cards to people who do things like lean their entire bodies against the pole in a crowded subway car.