Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A view from Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park (video)

by Cody Lyon

The view in the above footage is from Fort Tryon park in Manhattan.

Named after Sir William Tryon, the last British Governor of New York, the 67 acre Ft Tryon Park sits on a commanding ridge in the Washington Heights section, overlooking the Hudson River and the Palisades of New Jersey. The park is home to the Metropolitan Museum's medieval collection "The Cloisters." Ft Tryon park was constructed after John D Rockefeller bought the land as part of an estate purchase from the Billings family for $35,000 an acre.

Rockefeller hired Frederick Law Olmstead Jr.,, son of the Central Park planner to design the park. Rockefeller then donated the park to the City of New York.

Interestingly, the ambitious project's construction commenced during the Great Depression, and reportedly created a number of jobs. Around the same time, the expansion of a 140 feet deep tunnel that allowed for a new subway station along the IND subway line at 190 street, an effort that opened in 1932. After a period of disrepair in the 1970's, today, the park is seen as one of New York City's greatest treasures, a testament to visionary individuals and a city's spirit despite what was a crippling economic depression.

One wonders if even an inkling of such vision exists today.

Footage from a protest on 9/11 (video)

Riding in new bike lane on Broadway (Video)

Cody Lyon's bike ride in a new Broadway bike near Union Square in New York City's Manhattan.

The city is home to around 200 miles of designated bike lanes with more planned for the future according to information at the New York City Department of Transportation.

Hearing spooky sounds in the NYC subway (Video)

TRAINSPOTTING;AMTRAK Train coming into New York City along the Hudson (video)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Intolerance in America and the tragic death of Tyler Clementi

OPINION- By Cody Lyon

The story of 18 year old Rutgers student Tyler Clementi has broken hearts across America, as countless individuals come to terms with the piercing pain and humiliation that could lead such a talented and gifted young man to jump from the George Washington Bridge into the cold, fast moving currents of the Hudson River.

According to most news reports, the New Jersey teenager took his life on September 22nd after he realized his roommate and another dorm mate had pulled what looks to be a cyber-world prank, and broadcast live images of Clementi having a sexual encounter with another man.

But if widely reported details of what happened are correct, the heightened humiliation and shame that drove the distinguished musician to suicide offers further evidence, we still live in a society where vast portions consider homosexuality taboo, immoral or at least, not normal.

Just last May, Gallup, the polling organization, published its annual values and beliefs survey. Results showed that Americans' support for the moral acceptability of gay and lesbian relations had crossed the symbolic 50% threshold in 2010. But, at the same time, the percentage calling these relations "morally wrong" was still at 43%. And, while that's the lowest in Gallup's decade-long trending of the issue, it's still significant.

Gay people are acutely aware of those sentiments, many struggle with internal homophobia and others attempt to project an image of normalcy to the masses in a world where many still consider them abnormal. In fact, a barometer of society's attitudes about homosexuality often shows up in the gay male community itself, for example, when gay men make a point of labeling themselves "straight acting" or "down low," as if the articulation as such, connotes masculinity, once again, normal behavior for men, an attribute society dictates is worth striving for.

More aptly to this latest tragedy, ponder this; While there is no tangible way to measure the pain or embarrassment that drove Tyler Clementi to take his own life, one wonders, would this talented young man have chosen a different path, were he living in a more tolerant and accepting world? Put more simply, assume for just a moment that Clementi's web-cast was heterosexual, not homosexual.

Days after news reports and talking head reactions to the awfulness of this human tragedy saturated the nation, conversations held with reasonably minded people led to similar hypothetical questions. If during similar invasions of privacy, where two individuals had been broadcast having sex, all without their knowledge, and one of those individuals had been either a married woman, or a married man with children, would the level of heightened humiliation be as measurable as what we appear to be assuming Tyler Clementi felt as he took his own life, after the broadcast of a same sex encounter?

There's simply no way to know for sure, but the mere comparisons beg a very important question about American attitudes towards LGBT people, that despite all the remarkable progress we see on the surface, the deeper answers seems pretty clear, and still, are quiet troubling.

Changing hearts and minds is sometimes best left to moments like this horrible tragedy in the Hudson when a young and gifted soul felt he had to leave this earth. The brutal evidence of society's intolerance often shows up in the most hurtful events. This appears to be one of them.

Once the coverage, celebrities and discussion fades, it is imperative that LGBT youth constantly be reminded and understand, that no matter how cruel, painful or embarrassing this big mean cyber world may seem at times, it all gets better with time. We all become better with time.