Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Tulipa turkestanica at the High Line

Over at the High Line, the Turkestanica is blooming again, featured as the plant of the week on the High Line's Blog. The photo above captures the exact moment I fell in love with this tulip in the last sunlight of the day, its petals apparently closing up for the evening. I was at the High Line. It was a few springs back, and at that time I wasn't quite sure exactly what I was looking at.

Tulipa turkestanica at the lot
Susan, Anne and I planted this really sweet species tulip in the stalled construction lot around the corner when trying to squeeze in a guerilla experiment in learning about growing flowers for market in much less than ideal conditions. I was wondering how this tulip would look and last in a small vase. And we were planting things on the sly that we thought might thrive under the conditions of the lot-- the poor soil and lack of irrigation being primary factors.

These bulbs are now buried beneath the 5 story building that has risen since, the construction nearing completion this spring. But in that singular spring a couple years back, seeing those blooms was more than all right.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Comprehension Quiz: Rockaway Pipeline according to Sane Energy: a Learning Tool

Comprehension quiz: Look at the first sentence on the left and the map beside it and see if you can spot the errors.

It would be hard to really do justice to all the mad rants and ramblings of Clare Donohue and friends at Sane Energy properly but I thought I would just take one simple message for starters-- one long sentence as it lines up with the map beside it. The map is small in the picure above, but even in this screencapture of an e-blast if one squints one can make out that there is a blue line representing the rockaway pipeline project under FERC's review and a red pipeline representing national grid's BQI project. The latter, at the time of the writing of this post (June 2012), had already been approved some 6 months prior. Even in this singular sentence Sane Energy can't accurately describe what the map depicts. Ms. Donohue or the writer cannot distinguish between the two colors and pipeline projects and also inaccurately states the pipeline runs across newly restored wetlands in Jamaica Bay. The map (and this is one of the more simplistic maps and easily understood information about the project) actually depicts something quite different from the words that are written. All the islands of the bay are also well off to the east of where the projects are going.

Bottom line:  Even when crafting one sentence and with a map before her very eyes Clare Donohue cannot get the details straight.

This might seem picayune but as a spokesperson for Sane Energy, Clare has gone on the radio and in the press attempting to explain things, FERC's permitting process being just one example and the entire pipeline infrasructure whether into NYC or all across NY state another, which are many many times more complex than one simple map. The Rockaway Lateral Project itself was described as unique and complex according to Williams based on its location primarily, pretty specifically the metering station being located in Historic Hangars in Floyd Bennett Field mentioned, and yet an above ground piece of infrastructure the size of about a football field is noticeably entirely absent from Sane Energy's one sentence inaccurate description of this project.

The FERC process on natural gas pipeline permits as summed up by Sane Energy is essentially a rubber stamp. In reality there are multiple agencies and permits, approvals, review etc involved.  It is not at all simple. The permitting process is actually exceedingly complex and layered and each project is in fact reviewed for what it is quite specifically. The Rockaway Pipeline project is not an extension of the Spectra pipeline into NYC nor are the issues it involves simply a rehashing of the controversy over the Spectra NY/NJ project. The projects are in fact quite different. And the people who are running around pretending to educate on this project, providing a false narrative on the Rockaway Project, have spent most of their time completely ignoring most of the specific details and huge volumes of written material about the project. What they factually have done is get in the way of the people who actually have read that material and know what the project is.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Activists Say (and do) the Darndest Things-- Outtakes from The Heart of a Movement-- The Reality Show!

There ought to be a tv show: One working title-- Activists Say (and do) the Darndest Things. It's obviously a comedy. There is certainly enough material to mine via the social media sites from just this one "Grassroots Alliance" meetup group which JK Canepa,CARP, Sane Energy, most especially the media darlings Occupy the Pipeline (slap Occupy in front of anything and wallah you got yourself a bonified movement of course) and a whole series of other questionnable, sometimes "straw" groups belong, for at least an entire first season I'm thinking. I can't say exactly how many times I've seen JK Canepa quoted in the news as an authority on the Rockaway Lateral Project, but this is someone who organized an "event" in the rockaways where she asked the astonishingly uninformed question of whether or not folks should ponder whether the Rockaway Lateral Project was even meant to deliver gas into NYC or secretly send it overseas. And that was after pretending to know, organize and educate about the project for a year. Perhaps she thought there was a secret underground tunnel straight to china hidden at Floyd Bennett Field? One never knows with these mystical and magikal creative types. What I can say is that the minute most park users left this group of folks far behind because of their inability to convey almost anything even remotely factual, their antics and statements only got increasingly more bizarre. 


Occupy Sandy's Jessica Roff enthusiastically explaining in a video in the aftermath of hurricane sandy how the rockaway pipeline project is like "literally" going under people's homes. Most maps show it going under Riis beach but whatevs right? If you've screamed about one pipeline you've screamed about them all.

MoveOn gives money to Martha Cameron so she can continue lying about the Rockaway Pipeline project or as she describes it "organizing" and building a movement.

 How many self-anointed and self-appointed leaders/spokespeople are there miseducating, or as they like to say mobilizing, or "organizing" folks on the Rockaway Pipeline project? Well it is not actually so many but amazingly they all seem to have incredible access to the media.

What is the real story behind the picture Martha Cameron used to represent "her" frack fighting campaign?
Number One: This is a picture and event that ended up in various media where no one at all even remotely connected with Floyd Bennett Field or the area participated, yet a Brooklyn paper defined it as a protest by gardeners and activists.  The activists in the picture hail from a variety of groups, 350 NYC, SaneEnergy, Occupy the Pipeline,United for Action primarily. They were specifically asked not to bring their Occupy the Pipeline signs down and pretend to be Rockaway Pipeline protestors and the event was largely staged to get press not to protest or to inform the public about anything.

Patrick Robbins, Jessica Roff and friends faking a "teach-in" on the Rockaway Project and Port Ambrose where it appears they are instructing mostly people they actually know

If anything sums up the true essence of activists saying and doing the darndest things I think it is this teach-in on the Rockaway Pipeline project and Port Ambrose by Occupy the Pipeline folks and Sane Energy in what appears to me to be them pretending to teach an audience which is made up of mostly themselves. The "teacher"? An Occupy activist named Patrick Robbins with zero actual "activism" against the Rockaway project with the exception that is of his appearances in the news and as far as I know zero working knowledge of either of the projects he is talking about.

Christopher Guest couldn't make this stuff up if he tried! Surely most of these people really deserve to be famous. They seem to be working so hard at it.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ground Truth

After the Rain 

I don't believe that gardening is a political act though I think the practice cannot help but remind one that their feet are always going to be on the ground, to swipe a line from Michael Stipe. (for gardening this sometimes also means other body parts-- eyes, an ear to the ground, elbows, knees and fingers for that matter) Gardening can be grounding, no pun intended. For me some of the joy in this "ground truthing", if I can play with the phrase just for the moment, has been learning simply to recognize and then call things by their name, which can be way more difficult then one would ever think. Is it a weed emerging you've seen before and what one for example?

An Epic Misinformation Campaign Spreads to Long Island courtesy of activists miseducating!

For much of the last year and a half, I have watched people get further and further away from remembering that their feet are actually on the ground so to speak and from anything even remotely resembling truth when they talk about the Rockaway Pipeline project and now Port Ambrose as well. Calling things by their name though doesn't just apply to botanic or common names of weeds. Misinformation is destructive not instructive. I'd bet that for a political campaign manager the misinformation campaign on the Rockaway Pipeline of the last year and half put out by Sane Energy Project, United for Action, Occupy the Pipeline and Coalition Against the Rockaway pipeline is perhaps small potatoes. But I've never seen up close and personal anything so absurd in my own life. I'm not sure if this quote I found on the internet from George Orwell is verbatim or even attributed correctly--"In a time of universal deceit-telling the truth is a revolutionary act"-- but I know the words strung together look just about right to me.

Friday, April 11, 2014

It's Only Called Capitalizing on Disaster When Someone Else is Doing It

"This pipeline will go through the neighborhood of Rockaway, NYC - an area that has just been devastated by Hurricane Sandy and will be highly vulnerable to future weather-related incidents.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, some folks who really should have known better and certainly should have behaved better thought it was a superduper idea to misinform people living in the Rockaways about exactly where the Rockaway Pipeline was going, of all things.  The only phrase for this that readily comes to mind (my mind at least) is disaster capitalism.  Occupy the Pipeline, Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline and friends promoted this even though some of these same people had actually seen maps that clearly demonstrated that they were both physically moving the path of the pipe a few miles and taking it from through Riis Park to down someone's street. I believe the phrase "literally under people's homes" actually is heard in at least one video "interpretation" of the Rockaway Pipeline story during this time period.

I wish that the story of the rockaway pipeline activists actually got better from that point on and that this was just a wee bit of misinformation and an aberration. But the opposite is true. From start to finish the only place the collective minds demonstrated any consistency at all was choosing not fact but fiction. From fabricating where the project was to what potential impacts might be/are to even what direction the gas is moving to claiming that National Grid's project received no environmental review at all nearly a year after that environmental review a few hundred pages long was published, the list of misinformation was a near constant onslaught and only got increasingly more bizarre over time.

I still can't help but think the truth would have been a lot less confusing. If no other reason, than simply because it's easier to remember.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Occupy the Rockaway Pipeline -- The Musical! The Stuff that Urban Legends are Made Of

@Occupy Wall Street, Protectors of Humanity in Rockaway Occupying the Pipeline tweet

I haven't thoroughly mined through this great big wonderful web of social media that weaves us all together for my all time favorite stuff that is integral in any telling of the Rockaway Pipeline story but I definitely heart the staggering and heartwarming genius of the tweet above. Tweets are definitely characters in the still unfolding epic saga of "The great Rockaway Pipeline warriors" even if they were like a lot of social media material never read. So are the legendary roving "Protectors of Humanity" troupe captured in the photo above with their exploding pipeline warning props. (In the musical rendition, I picture these folks as a kickline of sorts, like the Rockettes. I really like this name, Protectors of Humanity, for folks that generally go by the names of Sane Energy, Occupy the Pipeline, Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline among other titles.)

Also characters in this most interesting tale are facebook pages and sometimes entirely faux organizations. My second favorite choice today for the stuff that has made up the legend of the rockaway pipeline is below. It is both a faux group and a facebook page, a true lesson in urban legend-making at the same time.

  Friends of Floyd Bennett Field misinformation campaign on the Rockaway Pipeline where a fake facebook group states that this pipeline is somehow intended to deliver gas overseas despite years of paperwork, thousands of pages, and all logic and fact.

JK Canepa and the Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline misinformation campaign on the Rockaway Pipeline

"Is this gas indeed intended for the people of the Rockaways or is it meant for export across the sea?" was one of the pressing questions being explored at this free event. This is definitely a lesson in theatrics of the absurd except for the fact that the writers and performers actually think they are living in the real world and not the surreal world.

You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Rockaway Pipeline Follies (also a musical!!)

Scenes from a cantastoria. The Story of the Rockaway Pipeline as told by puppeteers & outside activists. (Ultimately the result of a pretty long misinformation campaign by a small number of people called the Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline/Sane Energy Project/Occupy the Pipeline getting by with a little help from their friends at United for Action.)

Recently the Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline began advertising for a faux fundraiser very aptly titled the Pipeline Follies.  Unfortunately the "Pipeline Follies" as a title pretty accurately describes not just this one event but a very long campaign of misinformation, mostly via facebook and internet postings, by these "activists", as they like to call themselves.

I wish this was all some elaborate prank.

But unfortunately, the reality is that it is very difficult to find a news story on the Rockaway Project that does not feature some form of folly put forth by extremely misinformed people pretending to be experts and educators. And if they cannot get news reporters to cover the story themselves, well they just up and write the story themselves. I'm not even sure the term spectacle would do all the performances justice at this point. I've often felt for the last year and half like I am actually living full time in an ongoing Christopher Guest mockumentary.

Today's charactor: Kim Fraczek. (of Occupy the Pipeline, Sane Energy, the emerging faux coalition Food not Fracking.) It's probably not her fault that the sungstory she has concocted is revisionist history. That's what she's been told.

From Where does the misinformation on the Rockaway Pipeline come?

Owen Crowley of United for Action, Sane Energy, Occupy the Pipeline and sometimes playing at Rockaway Pipeline myth making too.

There is a quote from Margaret Mead, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." In the case of a misinformation campaign on the Rockaway Pipeline project, which has been picked up by the media as well, there is an interesting play on that phrase, turning it oddly into something quite negative. Owen Crowley of Sane Energy is only one of the small group of people creating a false narrative of the rockaway pipeline project.

How do urban myths get started? Well sometimes it seems a small group of people promote a completely false message that is then amplified by other people. How so many people could not just promote but also then believe something as completely as nonsensical as the notion that the Rockaway Pipeline project is actually intended not to deliver gas into NYC but to Japan or London or is then leading to an export project offshore I will never understand. But I can trace the myth back to some of the very first people promoting this and name them as well. And they all hail from either the Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline, Sane Energy Project, Occupy the Pipeline or United for Action.

Apparently these days all it takes to be an authority on something is to represent yourself as fake group and whip yourself up a facebook page. A nice photo op doesn't hurt either by the way.

Occupy the Pipeline/Sane Energy folks posing as Coalition Against Rockaway Pipeline: Bringing their recycled Spectra pipeline signs down to Floyd Bennett Field as a props for a photo op. Were they asked not to do this? Well sure but hey they had these awesome signs just laying around. Did they make it in the news? Well of course they did even at first their "protest" being reported on as if the floyd bennett garden association was a participant.  They even produce the canned news themselves. They have a team of people that do that too. They create the myths, film them and report on them all at the same time. I've never seen anything as fraudulent in my life.

Is there anyone in that photo even marginally connected to Floyd Bennett Field, Riis beach, the Rockaways or Gateway National Recreation Area? No.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Occupy the Rockaway Pipeline -- The Musical!

Occupy the Rockaway Pipeline- The Musical

Someday I would love to tell the story of the way that a small group of antifracking activists, mainly people with no connection to either the Rockaways or Gateway National Recreation Area, turned all local efforts to educate and any and all opposition to the Rockaway Pipeline project into a circus. It's an ugly story, though every once in a while juxtaposed quite strangely with some very colorful pictures.

I joke of course about there actually being a musical, even though as evidenced from the photos here, there are enough props and costumes to create one in a flash. The starring roles in the madcap musical comedy would be antifracking activists from a few different groups, most notably Sane Energy, United for Action, Occupy the Pipeline and the Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline. (incidentally these are all actually the very same people)

Today's madcap link will introduce a central charactor:  Edie Kantrowitz, quasi-pipeline and frack fighter extrordinaire, from such groups as United for Action and Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline among others. The link is to a picture of Edie taken at a recent Wiccan event arranged by Occupy the Pipeline puppeteers and educators. The purpose of the event apparantly was to convince folks that the Port Ambrose LNG project is actually intended to be an export project designed to send gas from the Marcellus Shale overseas instead of how the project is described in paper work which in a nutshell is exactly the opposite.

They say the truth is always stranger than fiction. Had I never been involved with the Rockaway Pipeline project I would never have known just how true that statement really can be.