Friday, March 17, 2006

Justin Krebs

Last night I went to my second Thursday with Drinking Liberally. This time I actually got drunk. Drunk and quiet, for a little while before a restroom stop. That means next time I don't get drunk. Conversations are more fun than beer. Beer don't taste good in the first place. It's a seesaw experience. I was hoping to show up at the start time of 7:30. But then I was on instant messaging. So I was a few hours late. My internet was down for most of the day and only late in the day I realized I had stepped on my router on my way to bed the night before and the box had to be put back into shape to get my lifeline back, and I was giddy online. I watched a few clips of Jon Stewart. Funny, first time online. It's a Mary Joyce hint from Morocco. (Democracy Spreading Mechanism, The Demosphere Manifesto)

I had a rice dinner before I left for the site. But then a block away I saw a neon sign for falafel. Don't tell me ads don't work. So here I am at a Drinking Liberally event, a falafel sandwich in my hand while everyone else is drinking. Jen - first time meeting - spotted the thief. "That is not from here, is it?" No. I smuggled it, literally. I had it in my pocket when I entered. She is doing doctorate work at Columbia, something microbio. From Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "I got a picture with Vilsack." I said. Bird flu is a media myth, she opined. The media got m-e on that one.

The evening was a seesaw experience. Last week it felt like a liberation from the DFNYC structure. DFNYC events end at around 11, just when you are starting to warm up. I have yet to be the last man standing at a DL event.

This week I kind of missed DFNYC. There is too little political talk at Drinking Liberally. Or maybe I got too drunk to have fun; last week felt much more fun. It is like you sit and there are pitchers at the table literally staring you in the face. There was only one mild protest, from a young woman. "I paid for it." Oops, sorry.

But then my thing is this blog. I have plans for the video blogging aspects. The traditional way of only moving political ground by doing events will not work for me. Video blogging is like skipping a road tour. Also meetings are ineffiicient. In the blogosphere the learning curve is steeper. The exchanges are more intense at the ideas level. My political style does not involve shaking tons of hands.

And I have come to like the structurelessness of the Drinking Liberally events. I like the idea of showing up early and staying up late. I like the idea of there being at least one such event a week. Looks like I am going to get much more selective of which DFNYC events I show up for. And I like it that Drinking Liberally events are also in Williamburg, as elsewhere, Bronx, Queens. I am a proud Brooklynite. Brooklyn has character. It is not Manhattan or Queens, it is Brooklyn. It is more residential. There is a Desi tinge to my neighborhood too. There is a paan stall walking distance. That falls in the priceless category.

Justin Krebs has this presence about him. He has the look of a retired rock star. He is just cool and collected in his ways. He does have a ponytail. And one guy name starting with a J - I forget the name - pontificated on the ponytail. For a moment I thought Justin was running for something. I asked him if he was. He said no. The suggestion from J was that Justin should get rid of his pony express. Ask Robert DeNiro to get rid of his black dot: I have two of those.

There is another Jen. Incredibly friendly. She is one person who actively introduces people to each other, otherwise most people end up in these small bubbles of small groups, and outside the bubble there is sometimes the suggestion of stepping out of the comfort zone: we need a few more Jens. The whole thing is a group dynamics curiosity to me. She is easily life of the party. She is taking pictures. She teaches my name to a few people. Justin had to take some time off to go to a Screening Liberally after event, and Jen filled in. "Don't let the party die down," Justin said before he left. He might have said it to John though, but that's okay. And when Justin finally finally left for the evening, probably around one, maybe later, he gave me a card for another Liberally event. I guess he really puts in the effort. I want to get to know this guy. He is one of those movers/shakers.

It was not Stephanie. But Tiffany. The "on and off Broadway" actor. Seattle. Lives "two blocks from here." The Cincinnati Adam vacated the table. The CBS Tom - "yes, the Letterman CBS" - vacated the table. I was sitting and shaking my leg, kind of dancing to the music. Tom could not handle it. He was nice about it. He decided to stand up and mingle some more. And so Tiffany and I are talking. And we got flanked by two Js. I forget their names. Both webmasters. One is larger than life, talks in huge sweeps and gestures, also loud. Another thinks cable TV should be pay per channel. "$3 a channel, so I should be able to get the only three channels I watch for $9 a month. That idea right there should make someone a millionaire." How about me?

"What about online pay per view shows?" I pitch in.

And Tiffany got the royal treatment. One J poured her some drink. Another gave a gentle back rub, one stroke. And I am thinking, either they are picking up threads of conversations they started earlier, or this is a concerted white male attack on the budding race-gender coalition. After India takes over the world, I am going on a vacation. Justin dropped by at the table a little later. Three Js. "Tiffany and I live in the same neighborhood," Krebs added.

If you think about it, the anti-choice stance is symbolic rape. It is the woman's body, but others want to decide what happens to it. The woman may not have a say, they say.

Race, Gender And Relationships

Last week Tiffany brought up the royal massacre of 2001 when I told her I was from Nepal. She knew.

"I knew the guy."

"Why did he do it?"

"They wouldn't let him marry the girl he wanted."

Looks like this group also has this core, tight group of about 15 people, or maybe not so tight, just regulars, and there are many floaters. Kind of like DFNYC, some of whom make me feel claustrophobic, a few guys whose idea of intimacy is to invade your privacy. Sexist exclusion is not my idea of male bonding. If you want to get along, it is easy, just say hello.

But then like someone said, guys, no matter what their backgrounds otherwise, all they have to say is, "Man, women are weired," and they bond. It might be primal. And the woman's collective identity is a soup of its own.

Talk of DFNYC, they have something called the Spring Gala coming up. Jim Dean, Leecia Eve, Eric Schneiderman, Scott Stringer, Norman Siegel - looks like Siegel's magical grip over DFNYC continues! - are showing up, I think. These politicians show up at DFNYC events like their careers depended on it. $50 price tag. But there is dinner to be served. I hope it is not dress up, but it probably is. Leila Noor just emailed me saying it is not dress up. That is a Ms. Organizing Committee. She sits on every political committee in town, especially to do with events. I have thought of going and not going. $50 is expensive; I am not running for anything. What if I were to eat $20 woth of food? Gorge it?
Event Chair: Lewis Cohen. Host Committee: Hon. Liz Krueger, Hon. Trudy L. Mason, Hon. Jerrold Nadler, Hon. Eric Schneiderman, Hon. Scott Stringer, Steve Behar, Robert Behm, Sandra Bennett, Margaret Bidel, Ruth Benedict, Mike Brady, Theresa Canter, John Cohen, Paul H. Curtis, Miriam Danar, Tracey Denton, Leecia Eve, Bernadette Evangelist, Ethan Geto, David Kogelman, Stephanie Low, Bonnie Maslin, Eric Massa, Merle McEldowney, Abhishek Mistry, Leila Noor, Dana Northcraft, Sandy Schechter, Norman Siegel, Josh Skaller, Gordon Suber, Jessica Way, Bernard Whitman, and Heather Woodfield.
Good thing. I just fed these names to the search engines.

Looks like Tracey Denton is back in town from her Europe tour. She probably has war stories from her showup at the Olympic games for the physically challenged in Italy this month. These top DFNYC people, especially Heather and Tracey, have managed to create something close to a political machine. "You are like the Richard Daley of New York," I told Tracey the last time I saw her, which was six months back. Only this is not a patronage machine, this is a democracy machine, humming loud and clear. The first time I saw Denton she was reading fill up cards from people who seemed to apply to run for office. Now that has the smell of a machine.

"What is this weird music?" I said, sitting next to Tiffany.

"This would be Sinatra," she said.

"This music. Did you listen to this growing up?" I asked about the next tune out of the juke box. It sounded a little behind, not so 21st century. I wanted to be polite and/or neutral about the second weird piece of music in a row.

"I am not that old. This is from the 50s."

Two huge cultural blind spots got revealed. Flat fall. I am better with movies.

Jen got me to take her picture with Karioke, black guy with dreadlocks and all. After I had taken the snap, K complained some guy had made a racist comment to him a few minutes back.

"What did he say?"

"He said smile so you can get seen in the picture."

At that point Jen motioned in the way that we three walk over to the culprit to confront him. I did not get the hint right away. But I kept thinking. Someone said that to Clarence Thomas in the 70s. This is oldies stuff. Contemporary racism is supposed to be a little more sophisticated, a little less crude. You kill with your smile, softly.

But later in the evening I walked over to where the Cincy Andy was. He was sitting opposite Mandy, 22, originally from Philly, not at the bar for Liberally. And there were these two guys. They said something Norway.

"Are you two twins?"

"No. Including you we are triplets."

"Where you from?"

"New York. From Norway. But was in South Africa before, when the times were good, when there was money to go around."

"When was that?"

"In the 80s."

Maybe this was the guy who made the remark to K. He turned away. I looked at the guy next to me, perhaps part of that group.

"That guy is weird. He is siding with South African apartheid."

"He probably did not mean it."

A few rounds of popcorn later, I was facing the same guy. He gave me his card. He has a blog. He writers about relationships "from the perspective of a man. Otherwise all relationship stuff you get is women's perspective." It was a line thrown to me. Male bonding. We discussed the near absent business aspect of blogging. I looked at the curious biological specimen.

John, the postdoc maths guy from Houston from last time, introduced me to Sarah. She was schooled at Brandeis. Now works for a textbook publisher. Her specialty is international relations. I think I turned her off by suggesting all textbooks should go online and be available for free, making money from ads. She went for a restroom break last I saw her. I might have come across as Mr. Outsourcing. I got badgered at the Dean Issues Forum during Dean 2004 on that topic. Arab Americans get accused of terrorism, Indians of outsourcing. This is racism.

Callia is from California. She is in town for a few days for a conference. She works for W3C, the company that sets internet standards. She was at Berkeley during the dot com boom. "I saw it all pass by." She had a Bhutani boyfriend once.

I googled Justin Krebs not long back.

Justin Krebs - 1:34pm Justin is a founder and director of Cosmopolity, an organization which promotes progressive action through social interaction. In 2003, he co-founded Drinking Liberally, which has grown into a national network of democratic drinking clubs, and has spawned other initiatives to mix socializing with politics, including Laughing Liberally. He is also a founder and Artistic Director of The Tank, a space for emerging artists and activists. He has authored a history of New York City's playgrounds, produced a documentary on youth civic engagement in New York State, performed a 100-show improv comedy run and worked in the office of US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. He is a Hell's Kitchen resident & a New Jersey native.
The Blogging of the President - 1:41pm a community organizer in New York City who puts together cultural and
Cosmopolity - Tank RNC Blog
Drinking Liberally
Drinking Liberally
Blogger: User Profile: Justin Krebs
Justin Krebs's blog | Parks1
Central Park: Nature: Park activists
The Metropolist
Network-centric Parks Advocates Show Signs of Things to Come ...
New York Daily News - Ideas & Opinions - Justin Krebs: A Jets ...

I am thinking. The Williamsburg Liberally event is on alternate Tuesdays, I think. If it is so, between the two days I got all bases covered. And there are other Drinking Liberally events in other parts of town. Like Bronx. Otherwise the DFNYC events are too few and far between during the political off seasons. And I really am not trying to be part of the DFNYC machine: stay away from event planning has been my personal motto with DFNYC. I think that confuses some who have seen me show up so often. I am working instead to turn video blogging into a political tool, possibly a business idea. I am like ether, there, but then not there.

I bet people like Tracey Denton, and Heather Woodfield and Jason Krebs are part of some kind of a progressive cabal in the city.
Justin is a founder and director of Cosmopolity, an organization which promotes progressive action through social interaction. In 2003, he co-founded Drinking Liberally, which has grown into a national network of democratic drinking clubs, and has spawned other initiatives to mix socializing with politics, including Laughing Liberally. He is also a founder and Artistic Director of The Tank, a space for emerging artists and activists. He has authored a history of New York City's playgrounds, produced a documentary on youth civic engagement in New York State, performed a 100-show improv comedy run and worked in the office of US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. He is a Hell's Kitchen resident & a New Jersey native.
I keep thinking, I could become Mayor. It is just that I am much more interested in the countries these New Yorkers come from than the city they live in. And my political methods are heavily dependent on the online medium. Cut the crap, go straight to the people. Video blogging might be the only way to penetrate the ethnic markets. Blac power.

That Spring Gala is getting video blogged if I show up. Watch out.

I guess between my blog and the events I show up for, I am trying to get situated.

Blogging is politics at the speed of thought.

Video Blogging Is The Way To Go

From: "Kleinpeter, Elke"
To: "''"
Subject: ARD German Radio Network, Interview Request
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2006 09:28:41 -0500

Dear Paramendra Kumar Bhagat:

This e-mail is to request an interview with you. We are preparing a report on "Blooger" in New York City.

ARD German Radio Network is the leading public broadcast system in Germany. On an average weekday, we reach about 40 Million listeners with over 50 broadcasting programs. ARD can be compared with National Public Radio in America, and we are committed to highest quality standard in journalism and broadcasting. The radio plays a vital and important part in the daily life of Million's of people in Germany, who receive information about New York through the ARD network and our correspondents.

Our correspondent Martin BUTTLER will be back on March 28, 2006 and available for an interview. We look forward to hearing from you soon. Please call us at 1-212-752-9642 or e-mail us at: to arrange for the interview. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Elke M. Kleinpeter
- Producer -

633 Third Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Tel. + 212-752-9642
Fax + 212-949-4497
e-mail: 1

"Robin Hood Im Internet"

Looks like they like me out there in Germany. But I am not sure about them folks in the Bay Area. They had this blog blacklisted as a potential spam blog. Their robots did that. And so I have not been able to post for a few days. But they be learning.

Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2006 09:58:23 -0800
From: "Blogger Support"
To: "Paramendra Bhagat {U 3009636 B 8712669}"
Subject: Re: [#425408] Non-spam review and verification request:


Your blog has been reviewed, verified, and whitelisted so that it will no longer appear as potential spam. If you sign out of Blogger and sign back in again, you should be able to post as normal. Thanks for your patience, and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

Blogger Support

Looks like they also like me in Norway: Audio Clip.

Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2006 19:46:39 +0100
To: "Paramendra Kumar Bhagat"
Subject: "Take the F-train" is online!

Hi Paramendra,

Thank you so much for participating in "Take the F-train"!

It is now published at the website of NRK, the Norwegian national Public Service TV channel:

I had to do some editing on your audio clip to make it fit the length of the video, so I left out some references that might not be as meaningful to the Norwegian audience as to New Yorkers. Your character is on the Coney Island stop.

I hope you like it!

It´s in Norwegian so here are some quick instructions:

(You need to have Flash Player 7 or 8 installed, have the speakers on, and a good connection since there are some heavy files to be streamed)

1) Click on the grey link TAKE THE F-TRAIN which take you to the intro which you can skip by clicking "dropp intro"-button in the lower left corner.

2) Then you come to the menu where you choose which stop you want to go on. You choose a stop and then you have to wait for a little while, while it´s loading.

3) When the train comes and stops - drag and drop those of the characters you want to travel with into the wagon through the door when it opens (it normally works fine but if they are reluctant to enter just click on them when they at the train-door)

4) On the train - move the mouse over the characters to listen to their thoughts!

You can always choose a new stop before the ride is over by clicking the exit- button.

All the best and thanks again!

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