I oppose the city’s plan to rezone SoHo NoHo as this proposal will likely not produce any affordable housing despite that very promise being this project’s top selling point of allegedly providing more opportunities to low-income New Yorkers. This rezoning will also eliminate tenant protections for over 1200 residents in over 600 buildings in their already existing deeply affordable homes. These are vulnerable, elderly and immigrant residents: they deserve to be considered in this process, they deserve to be protected and we all have a moral obligation to keep these folks in their homes.
This rezoning’s proponents focus so heavily on this fallacy of its opposition being wealthy but in fact it’s the residents who are not wealthy and whose homes will be threatened who are here today, speaking out against this proposal. The very wealthy do not care, they can move, they have other homes, they have endless resources. It’s the residents without endless resources who are opposed to this plan, the people who are mostly elderly and mostly those who built these neighborhoods into what they are today. And now they are being shown the door out of this magical place they created with their own hands, money, sweat, love and tears. What a vicious betrayal by this city.
Adding to that betrayal is the false narrative promoted by Yimby zealots that these senior residents are members of the Ku Klux Klan and that their neighborhoods should be bombed like Dresden. Elderly residents have been bullied out of public engagement meetings because their pictures were taken and posted on social media so to shame them as alleged racists who no longer deserve to stay in their homes.
They do deserve to stay; they don’t deserve these lies. So let’s protect them.
I sent it to my building management’s office, specifically my landlord’s daughter (maybe granddaughter?), two years ago in 2018. To protect the guilty, I changed the landlord family surname to GreedymcGreedballs.
This written record demonstrates what some of us New Yorkers deal with in some stabilized buildings: and no, thank you, we do not want to move. We love where we live, we live in those places for decades and it is not just about the cheap rent: it is also about the investment of time. And that investment of time also translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars over the decades.
I’ve lived in my home for almost 23 years and have spent close to $300,000 despite my rent being insanely low for New York City. However, I also receive no maintenance, little heat, sometimes no hot water and this past year, during the pandemic, I had one week without electricity and one week without both heat and hot water.
I advocate for cheap housing because I live in cheap housing and benefit from cheap housing. But my goal is to change how it is managed. Because what happens to my fellow tenants and me is deplorable.
And greedy greedy greedy.
November 1, 2018
Enclosed is my check payment for my home’s rent.
As tenants in our homes in the building your father Papa GreedymcGreedballs owns, we appreciate that the heat was finally turned on to a sufficient level this past weekend in the building. That consistent delivery of heat proves there is no issue with the boiler: the boiler works fine when it is actually turned on. The only “problem” with the boiler happens for your tenants when you turn it off and refuse to provide adequate heat. We strongly suspect this happens solely for the purpose of saving fuel costs for the landlord Papa GreedymcGreedballs; we suspect this because it happens every heat season with the same unbelievable, illogical and untrue excuses given every year.
The management office for this building consistently engages in verbal abusive towards some of its tenants which is not only morally reprehensible and exhausting to experience, it is also against the law. Laws against such abuse in landlord tenant relationships, and even in business transactions, were created to combat behavior you, and others like you, embrace: it is a shame that actions and attitudes such as yours exist, most professional people would not dare function on such a morally corrupt level, but city laws against your behavior allow for the recipients of your lies and intimidation to obtain leverage against such abuse. Such behavior is unprofessional, gratuitous and distracting at best. At worst, it is abuse. Abuse is against the law, whether you like it or not: it is against the law.
It is against the law to direct your tenants to move out of the building: you are not to tell anyone, me or any other tenant, that their home is not their home simply because Papa GreedymcGreedballs owns the building or that the tenants should move if they are “unhappy” due to the lack of heat, hot water, superintendent and other legally-required amenities which do not exist in this building. It recently came to my attention you actually lied to several tenants by telling them that heat season doesn’t start until November 1: you are breaking the law when you relay this; you are willfully lying.
It is against the law to refuse to provide 24-hour hot water ever: hot water, by New York City law, must be available 365/366 days a year, 24 hours a day. Period. No more excuses: no more boiler “parts” which you all are “waiting” to arrive by “snail mail” from “Ohio” or from “Scandinavia” or “Dubai.” Are you kidding us? Do you think we’re all stupid? You’ve used this same, sorry excuse for half a decade now: every September and October, without fail, you all pull out the “missing part” card and milk it like crazy to avoid spending money on fuel. No one believes your obvious and clumsy lie. This is Queens, New York City: if there’s any “missing part” for the boiler, it’s a ten-minute car ride away with a three-minute purchase transaction. No one, including Housing Preservation Development, believes your absurd lies and you sound literally stupid and crooked when you (still) try using them.
No more last-minute posting of signs announcing no heat or hot water for consecutive weekends or for one weekend or for even one afternoon or hour. You are never to turn off that boiler ever again unless you rent a portable boiler. You will never withhold hot water from your tenants again and you will never exploit the tenants of this building again for the sole purpose of saving your own money: if you all have to utilize funds out of Papa GreedymcGreedballs’s own pocket to provide heat or hot water to this building, then that’s what you all will do. Papa GreedymcGreedballs just bought a nearby eleven-million-dollar mixed-use building last month: if he has $11,000,000 to spend on a building, one can logically assume he has enough capital to cover the fuel costs needed to provide legally required heat and hot water to his current tenants here. And if he doesn’t, maybe Papa GreedymcGreedballs needs to rethink how he runs his businesses: I am confident the City can help him with that brainstorming.
The building management staff become easily irritated when they are told they are breaking the law, as if the annoyance of being informed of their own illegal activity trumps the actual illegal activity they are committing. It’s part of the ploy which is used against your tenants: you scream at them, you hang up on them, you bark at them to move, you mock and criticize their “unhappiness” at the lack of heat or hot water and you also claim the tenants’ homes aren’t really their homes because they are renters. It is illegal to harass your tenants in such a manner and it is illegal to refuse to provide services. Tenants are home dwellers whether you like it or not: these rental apartments are, indeed and by law, our homes. It is disgusting to tell your tenants that their homes are not their homes: do not ever do that again to me or any other of your tenants. It is reprehensible how you speak to people: learn respect and give it to people who give you money on a regular basis. Your disrespect and abuse are not a fit for this building.
I found out last week that this building actually has a superintendent, someone other than the man who lives in one of the illegally-built rooms in our building’s basement. I was provided with this superintendent’s name and number from a fellow tenant who told me this individual is the “real” superintendent: I am curious as to why the building management office never supplied all its tenants with this man’s name and number. I was also told that the building management office has its “pets” in the building and that these “pets” are served immediately by your office and even treated with respect, unlike the way I and others are treated. It is illegal for you to provide preferential treatment to some tenants while refusing services to other tenants.
The HPD inspector who was in my home to follow up on the heat issues told me my apartment needed to be painted, as it never has been in over twenty years, and that my almost 21-year-old stove needed to be replaced for safety reasons.
I am also currently dealing with a cockroach issue in my kitchen and other areas of my home which I suspect is due to a leak in the wall between my kitchen and living room. I have been trying on my own and at my own expense to eradicate the bugs, but they persist and I may soon need help beyond my own means with this problem. As well, the hall closet outside my bathroom has a heavy unattached door which rests against the wall. Also, in my kitchen, there has been so much water damage that some of my shelves are swollen and deformed due to water saturation. The cabinets in my bathroom are similarly waterlogged; it is challenging to keep all the water-damaged areas clean and vermin-free.
Because I was informed years ago by the building management office that I would have to “go to court” in order to receive any legally required improvements, like a paint job or a new stove or a repaired closet door or exterminator services, I have either lived with inconvenience or have attempted to solve issues on my own. The HPD inspector affirmed I do not need to go to court and that I can contact 311 (“think of us as your super,” he said) for such repairs. This letter serves to inform you of these needed improvements: if you pretend to ignore them, I can resend this letter to you. These repairs are reasonable, legally appropriate and are the responsibility of Papa GreedymcGreedballs.
Any time I call your office, it is a legitimate request for help. I am not “lying” when I relay to you that we have no heat and/or no hot water. I am not bored and making a call as a ruse just to bother you: it is absurd and disgusting to accuse me of this. There is no goodwill on your end when I call your office: I am treated like garbage, I am told to “move,” I am told my home is not mine. I am forced to endure these barrages and many times, nothing ever even happens to amend the complaint. I then have to report you to 311 in order to get the heat turned on because you refuse to turn it on when I call you. You waste so much of my time, it’s like a fulltime job to document what you do, it’s exhausting and it is 100% because of your neglect that I have to take the steps I take. You have no idea what it is to live the way you expect your tenants to live: you enjoy a hot shower or bath every day of your life but you expect your tenants to go without that simple and legally-required basic service for two days every week, almost a third of the week. Just so Papa GreedymcGreedballs can save some money. It is disgusting, it is illegal and it is never happening in this building again.
The building management office staff have insulted me, hung up on me, mocked me and dismissed me. I’ve taken notes on every incident. I also write down every time the heat goes on and goes off: I keep track. There are years of my complaints to 311. My phone carrier has years of my calls into your office and years of texts pleading for heat: I have extensive records. I did that on purpose. And I “hate” talking to your office, too: I hate lies and liars and thieves. Hate them: hate talking to them. But if I have to suffer liars and suffer lying in order to continue to keeping track, then that is what I’ll do. I will do it and I won’t stop doing it until your illegal behavior stops. The latter will never stop, knowing the GreedymcGreedballs family, so I will continue to keep track of it all.
No matter what your office says to me, I am not moving, you’re not bullying out of my apartment which I have rented since 1998, I am not going anywhere: this is my home and you are legally required to keep it in livable condition.
And this rushed push to upzone two industrial, historical and particularly unique downtown Manhattan neighborhoods has found its ultimate cheerleader in Yimby [“yes in my backyard”] group Open New York.
But the barest scratch beneath the ONY surface reveals a laser-focused real estate development agenda steered by a vigorous yet small troupe of garrulous and snippy professionals who are mostly men, mostly younger than middle-aged and majority white.
Yimby is the pro-gentrification movement and clapback to its older Nimby opposition, composed of what used to be the 1960s/1970s “not in my backyard” racist Archie Bunker stalwarts opposing any potential real estate development in their area. The Yimby movement, not just in NYC but nationally too, claims to be about housing equity thus the potential insidiousness lies in its promoters flying under the radar as well-meaning “housing activists” who portray themselves as cute, fun and accessible. Twitter usernames include avocado emojis (“hey! healthiness!”) and/or bike emojis (“hey! small carbon footprint! awesomeness!”) to enhance this manipulated semblance of niceness and/or normalcy.
These members and supporters work diligently, while not always that successfully, to present a neutral and friendly front despite their thick, obvious, and undeniable ties to the real estate industry which belie their alleged better intentions; their act has fallen so flat with others that the frequently-employed avocado has been viewed as a “political emoji.”
A false narrative perpetuated by Yimby is that all Nimbys are wealthy, elderly, elitist and racist homeowners, but in truth the modern Nimbys’ cultural alignment has morphed more into what the hippy artistic 70s Yimbys of yore used to be: Nimbys now are politically progressive, socially open and include many renters, including older, working-class-income creatives with stabilized leases.
I first came across ONY, and subsequently Yimby, only last year during the spring and summer of 2019 when its membership had cultivated and promoted the campaign of Long Island City resident and ONY member Justin Potter, an openly pro-AmazonHQ2, pro-development candidate for Queens District 12 State Senate, challenging infamous “Amazon Slayer” Michael Gianaris. Potter, a 20-year-voting Republican, had changed parties so to run against Democrat Gianaris but the former’s quiet and inconsequential campaign ended with Potter dropping out even before the race’s June 2020 Democratic Primary.
But what had stuck out most in Potter’s lackluster crusade were his honkingly loud Yimby supporters, including the real-estate-industry-aligned consortium ONY: a Greek chorus of earnest urbanists mocking Jane Jacobs; advocating to turn NYC into a modern Asian municipality and scoffing at concepts like “neighbor character” and “historical value.”
My NYC childhood had been heavily peppered with the squawks of adults who had never gotten over what had been the recent destruction of the old, iconic, airy Pennsylvania Station, occurring the year before I was born. The former Penn Station’s demolition horrified NYC (and rest of the world), and birthed the local landmark and preservation movement the year after I was born. I have always been in love with New York City and have long felt protective of its old, glorious structures, appreciating their history, significance and beauty along with the fathoming that once something beloved is gone, it is gone forever.
I had figured preserving New York history, especially its architecture, would never be threatened again.
It was Fedak who coined the concept that NYC preservationists were selfish: “There’s a lot of hatred of development out there,” he declared about Nimbys in 2014. “But generally it comes from selfish people who don’t want to lose their views.”
Selfish is a purposeful and deliberate word choice and is also the hook upon which every Yimby persists on hanging their primary argument: they are “hated!” by “selfish people!” By alleging it is not sentimentality which endears people to their environment and physical surroundings but rather narcissism, self-absorption and an absence of empathy, Yimby attempts to pivot the aesthetic appreciation argument to a character flaw. The tactic depicts Nimby as lacking decency, being morally inept, even racist, simply because Nimbys enjoy and celebrate specific places and neighborhoods; this enjoyment is viewed as selfish and perpetuating prejudiced practices.
This is the only way Yimby and ONY know how to defend their argument for development: their opponents are immoral while they, themselves, are not.
Because aesthetic appreciation, or the lack thereof, is a matter of taste, not morals. It is a perception, not a moral flaw, by where one conceives of preference and of appeal: aesthetic inclination is more opinion than feeling; it is what a person likes and to which they are drawn and cannot be utilized in good faith against any person because none of us have any control over what we love.
We cannot help to which we react, to which we are attracted, those sights we love, the places which inspire us. ONY and Yimby strive to use that against us. So if you find yourself fancying a building for your entire lifetime or being awed by the expanse of sky or feeling a strong, primal attachment to a geographic area, you are perceived, strategically and deliberately, by this small group as “being selfish.” An intentional and purposeful strategy: you are selfish while they, by default, are not. The Yimby “I’m good! You’re bad!!” strategy also allows for the morphing of the accusation of “selfish” slapped onto Nimbyism to start wearing more sinister coats: “horrible” is commonly used by this faction as well, as are “immoral,” “racist,” and “classist.”
It is bad faith to either blame, or read more into, the human inclination of the appreciation of beauty.
But bad faith is all that Yimby, and Open New York, bring to the table.
It shouldn’t matter that ONY and their supporters are, like Potter and Thypin, mostly in their 30’s, most male, mostly white and mostly not from NYC, but that materiality is nonetheless their own glaring reality. Composed solely of highly educated, multi-degree-earning individuals, ONY is deeply aligned with NYC real estate development although it hotly protests not to be. Thypin even plays defensive victim crying poor when confronted on his background and financial success.
The smokescreen ONY creates, and then hides behind, is an alleged advocation of housing and a claim there are not enough homes for NYC residents, which is complete balderdash. They pretend not to be wealthy and privileged while whiningly accusing any opposition of being exactly that: wealthy and privileged. Deliberately and strategically, they falsely characterize Nimbys to be old, white, wealthy, cheap, immoral, selfish and racist: all Nimbys are the same to them, one big tenet in their quite flawed argument.
And with ONY, it isn’t just their insincere platform: it’s their conduct. Bad faith arguing is born out of desperation, which can be tough to discern when the manner of conduct is so brash and confident.
As a lobbying entity, ONY presents a threat to New York City historical landmarking and preservation as they aim to abolish landmarking preservation in the name of racism. But ONY’s motivation goes way beyond standing up to racism just like the issue of racist housing practices spread way beyond redlining and historical preservation.
It is the behavior, comportment and type of engagement exhibited by the ONY crew which screams louder than their anti-racist rhetoric: they are, as individuals and together, a group of purposefully impatient, condescending, exaggerative (dishonest) bullies with no productive, civic or good faith engagement.
ONY board member Miller’s piece to support urban density rests on his sole argument that Nimby objections to gentrification should be answered with a toddleresque and astonishingly obtuse retort of “tough.” No logic, no facts, no math: just “tough.”
I had also dared to confront ONY board member Schmidt on Twitter about a resoundingly abhorred project in Sunnyside, Queens, the notorious Phipps proposal at 50-25 Barnett Avenue, only to experience the signature and oft-practiced pile-on of a dozen Yimbys jumping in to accuse me of hating poor people and of being an immoral person. It was a conversation which started at 9am and lasted through the whole day until after 8pm: that is how they operate; they’ll take hours working on one person, trying to exhaust them, trying to get a bad reaction out of them, deliberately and habitually.
City officials have also sparred with ONY members. Lower Manhattan District Leader Paul Newell’s tweet thread on Thypin’s history and behavior is gloriously thorough and revealing. Committeman Ben Yee called them out for the same pile on treatment I received.
ONY and Yimby are intrigued by the idea of being perceived as thought leaders and world changers and they are eager for a substantial win: knocking down the Elizabeth Street Garden is seen as important and urgent to them. They don’t care how much the community loves this space: they care about winning; they crave a psychological conquest and they want to be victorious over Soho. This has never been about what the community wants for them: they loudly advocate that the community shouldn’t even have a voice (they feel they should have a voice but not the residents who actually live in the area).
One challenge we do not need now, especially as we endure the covid19 pandemic, is a Yimby apocalypse. The last thing we need are more new buildings, more empty luxury tax-break structures and more of the exasperated youthful white males who support their construction.
We face extraordinary times and we need perchance very un-American approaches, like a socialist methodology for emergency housing needs along with rent and mortgage forgiveness and universal basic income. These are uncomfortable constructs: I appreciate how traditional capitalists balk at such concessions but we still need to consider them because rampant construction has never been the answer.
ONY and Yimbys come up short on any answers for NYC, especially regarding its historic districts. ONY’s flimsy claims about creating less racist living standards are revealed as false by expiration-dated affordable housing which will revert to luxury units within one generation. The effort to upzone Soho by angry young transients is not what NYC architecture and history needs or even deserves.
Open your eyes to Open New York: New York City can do so much better.
Postscript:It seems I misunderstood Ben Thypin’s mention of his “ancestral homeland of LIC:” how foolish of me to have drawn the conclusion that he was, indeed, from Queens. Mr. Thypin, is in fact, not from New York but rather New Jersey, a detail which I have amended above. But the fact that Thypin, along with the rest of his small knot of Yimby proponents, is not from NYC even more weakens and diminishes his argument to destroy this city in the name of his own profit.
It has been one year since my Twitter account was suspended. It was a jarring experience for me which unfortunately changed my behavior and engagement on my favorite platform.
It also turned me into a blocker.
Before this incident, I had prided myself on not blocking back those who had blocked me so to keep my content available for view to anyone, especially to those who had obstructed my view of their content.
And I had been blocked by some high profile pork: Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times investigative reporter SergeKovaleski, perhaps best known for having been disability-shamed by Donald Trump; Amazon’s Global Head of Public Policy BrianHuseman; Yimby blogger Market Urbanism, aka Stephen Smith; and xenophobic Trump supporter and onetime comedienne Roseanne Barr. Roseanne had blocked me for calling her a racist and the other three had blocked me over my anti-Amazon HQ2 stance.
I had realized something might be wrong in the late afternoon of Friday, October 4, 2019 as I scampered out my front door for a meet&greet I had organized for New York District 12 congressional candidate Lauren Ashcraft: the Twitter app on my phone wasn’t loading. I closed it and reopened it several times. It was frozen.
At first, as I raced down towards Northern Boulevard, I had wondered if Twitter itself was down but a quick check on a separate browser confirmed my daunting suspicion that nothing was wrong with the site itself and that my account seemed to have been suspended.
I had been suspended once before, a few months earlier during the summer in 2019 but it was more of a “limitation:” a 12-hour timeout doled to me for my tweet to a white nationalist, threatening to report their racist rhetoric. That tweet of mine had somehow got *me* reported instead and I was placed in Twitter jail where I had received an explanation of the “temporary limitations” I would endure for the determined half day sentence, along with an ever-present countdown of when my account would be reinstated.
I knew what I had done and was given an end time.
This time around though, I was given no explanation, no time sentence, no information whatsoever.
“what’d i do?” I typed in the offered pop-up to Twitter as I hauled across to 40th Avenue, “i don’t even know what i did!”
Frowning, I turned on 23rd Street to head south towards the LocalNY hostel on 44th Avenue where I was hosting Ashcraft’s event in their lobby lounge: what exactly did I do?
As well, I realized to my horror that a few of the people attending this event could only communicate with me via Twitter: it wasn’t just my feed which I could access, I also lost the capacity for direct messaging and interpersonal contact.
As the group arrived, we checked their newsfeeds: my throat tightened as we all saw my account definitely had been suspended. And in the moment, with nothing to be done about it, I parked my worry to the side of me, like a brick formed by hardened turds, even though I am sure my freakout patina was palpable.
We had a great night: a rousing conversation about how we could make our borough and city a more fair and equitable place to live over a few rounds of five dollar locally-produced Queens draft beers; our loud voices full of passion and hope as we sat in what was formerly an elevator factory and was now a budget boutique hostel. It was what I have become accustomed to here in my magical industrial Long Island City neighborhood: a typical Queens evening.
Ashcraft caught my deer-in-headlights eye as the night wound down and the look of abject anxiety crawled back on my face, newly distracted by my resurging thoughts on how I was going to handle what was happening and wondering anew what had set it off.
She said to me, “you got this.”
“Do I? Ugh. It’s my name, I just want it back, waaahh” I whined.
“I know,” she laughed. “You got this.”
I knew she was right; I knew I was going to figure it out, I was thankful she could see me freaking out, I was thankful to not be alone in it. I remain grateful I had something to do that night and that it was with people who support Ashcraft’s campaign, a gathering of smart and caring folks, good company.
I exhaled. She made me feel better. I put on my jacket and hugged my thanks; our night had been a success.
Ambling home in the dark and back in my thoughts, I had no idea what to expect with Twitter and still no idea what I had done.
I was already thinking what name would I have to concoct up, what variation on fuelgrannie I would have to use: fuelgrannienyc? fuelgrannietragicreturn? fuelgreatgrannie? I didn’t want to lose the perfect simplicity of my already ridiculous name, one I had been using for decades, since the internet’s inception.
And I had a suspicion, already, as I traced through the familiar streets back to my apartment building: I was starting to wonder if I had been strategically attacked.
I had certainly made a lot of enemies on Twitter but most of them were accounts I had been dealing with for months at that point, who were pro-Amazon, conservative and neolib local Yimbys. I reckoned that if this was their doing, they would have already attacked me by now, wouldn’t they have?
I was used to being hated on Twitter but I wasn’t used to being silenced.
After all these denunciations which have been tweeted to me, and are still tweeted to me, just what was it that *I* had said which would have caused my account to be disabled at this juncture? I could not even report most of the insults tossed at me because they did not violate Twitter’s terms of service: I mean, “White Female Micro-Aggression Scottish Slaveowning Karen in the Wild” isn’t a threat. It’s untrue but there’s, oddly, no classifications for falsehood on Twitter reporting, only for threats and racial slurs.
So what, specifically, had I done or said? It was consuming not to know.
After arriving home, I announced my news via a late night pity party post on my Instagram stories, a screenshot of my greyed-out Twitter page, the avatar now an egg; my very moniker looking suspicious, like I was guilty; “account suspended.”
I pasted a sad face on the screenshot; I felt so oddly disconnected, not having access to Twitter. It was like my second mouth. I had nowhere to go to vent, other than my Instagram stories; I wasn’t about to whine about what happened on a permanent post because the more I thought about it, the more deeply I suspected that I had been targeted. For the moment, though, I wanted to keep that to my chest and not make my thoughts public.
I was exhausted, defeated and very much needing to express myself, a habit I never realized how much meant to me until it was frozen away from me.
What am I going to do? What will this adjustment look like? What name will I have to pick?
I still had my blogwebsites, although they had lain dormant of late. But the thought of them, of fleshing out my longform once again, felt like a future to me. And I still did “own” the name fuelgrannie, that personality is permanently linked to me, yet now I faced the odd hurdle of zero entry to the largest platform for that moniker. It was a loss to me; I didn’t understand how much of an assumption I had made that I would always have access to Twitter and to the content which I had created. My suspension earlier that summer had affected none of that: the only restriction then was a privately delivered chastisement declaring I could neither post nor like tweets for 12 hours.
This night, though, I couldn’t even open the app.
What, specifically, had caused this suspension? And, perhaps more importantly, why was it happening now? Why this week? Why this timeframe?
Because this week and timeframe did hold a significance regarding a particular faction of my adversaries, which is why I had my suspicion. My suspension had been activated less than 48 hours after a certain NYC pro-Yimby group had held their monthly meeting on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 in downtown Manhattan, the very same week this same Yimby group’s board members and members had started blocking me on Twitter. The timing to me was telling.
But I had no proof that it was them who were responsible for getting my account suspended.
And I could not rule out that all of this may in fact be due to one of my own tweets: but which one?
I was so curious. The dearth of information and explanation was a major part of my anxiety and added to my feeling of having no control. How do I fight something I am not sure of?
After a few more hours, Twitter emailed me with a copy of my own pop-up plea and instructions to write back with any other pertinent information so to appeal my suspension. Immediately, I wrote back with another “but like what did i do?” short message.
After I sent it, I dawned on me to fight more.
Another email came back from Twitter, acknowledging my recent correspondence and the same instructions to follow up.
I had a new distraction: what I would say, what I would write, to get my account back. I wanted my content back, too, not just my name and followers and I needed to construct an argument to get all that back, via this one open door. I had to plea for all the work I had done which was essentially stored and visible via my account: my tweets and threads were buckets of information; I didn’t want to lose any of the research which I had already presented. At the very least I was going to beg for a printed version of the 10 years of content I had created.
The following afternoon, Sunday, I finished and emailed my plea. Less than 36 hours later, on Tuesday morning, I got my account back.
Once I was finally able to access my profile, I immediately started blocking all the emeffers who had blocked me along with anyone else who had danced on my grave during my suspension or any accounts which had the word “Yimby” in the bio or who had pathologically supported gentrification or who had threatened violence or who had mocked my family.
Frankly, I would rather not block people. Over the course of 2019, I had gotten to a point where I had already stopped directly communicating with accounts who I had caught in lies or who had insinuated bodily harm towards me. Some of them had still tried to goad me into conversation but I ignored them. I was already comfortable and practiced in paying no heed to these few people.
Before my suspension, I had had no need to block people: I was proud not to block; proud to be visible, proud to be found, proud not to hide.
But when my voice on the platform had been shut down and silenced, with me having no idea what had happened or who had been involved, the only action I knew to take to protect my account and ultimately my voice was to block troublesome accounts.
So that’s why I block other users: that’s the reason and only reason.
Not because I “hate” those accounts or am “scared” by them or am “weak with no spine” or “can’t take discourse.”
I don’t want my voice taken away from me: that’s my priority on Twitter now. My priority used to be just expressing myself and it is, obviously, still that but it is also about just keeping my account safe from people who want to silence me and would prefer I not have or use this platform.
I used to view blocking differently: now I find it to be a fair move.
I do believe, especially now over a year’s passage of time, that my account had indeed been targeted. My understanding is that any account or tweet which receives 70 to 80 reports in a short amount of time is automatically flagged and the account suspended until further investigation. Perhaps that week where the Yimby group members had started blocking my accounts and had coincidentally also held their monthly meeting, there may have been some organization of their membership, their board and whatever sock-puppeted comrades and fellow fuelgrannie haters they could muster up. The timing is significant and telling; I cannot ignore it. Equally telling is the fact that I directly named and specifically accused that group to Twitter and got my account back less than two days later with nothing missing, neither content nor followers. It makes me suspect that Twitter found this to be a valid, cogent and potentially provable hypothesis.
And to this day, my account remains Twitter-wonky.
I still receive the same message every time I check my tweet stats: “Looks like there was a problem with your account,” along with its prompt to follow up with Twitter Ads; it is the exact same message I got that night when my account was frozen and has never stopped appearing since.
I have even followed up a few times on that prompt which then led me to this stilted sort of appeal process, several occasions ending with an instant rejection of my appeal along with a vague reprimand to watch my language (I mean, there is literally porn on Twitter but please tell me again how offensive my account is) but to date, I have never been given any reason or detail on any specific issue I had caused or what I can do to amend it. So I have just learned to live with this chronic ad prompt.
The word “fuck” is offensive, abrasive, unchristian, inappropriate for mixed company, even subject to federal censure in some instances.
It is a slap of a word.
For some of us, though, that slap is a common occurrence, a word we use and hear often, not a big deal, a regular visitor. It is not that the word has become meaningless in its repetition but rather that it has remained a satisfying sound to use, a reverberation which suitably fits particular moments and situations as the best means of expression.
For others, however, the eff bomb is appalling, gratuitous, a betrayer of low class, a demonstration of anger, a denouncement of God, even an expression of violence. When the word is said to them, it is as if they cannot hear anything else beyond that word: the uttering of it ends the communication and the utterer is held in contempt and subject to judgment for having dared to have used it. The word is then held against the speaker as if it were the sole act committed, a great crime which conveniently diminishes the integrity of all else spoken.
But maybe such a word falls somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, between complete ease and complete inconsolable horror. Because there is a credibility to sporadic use of a good curse word: when utilized sparingly, there is a gravitas to it, however offensive it may be.
Sometimes, no other word will do. Sometimes, “fuck” just simply fits.
And in the case of Jimmy Van Bramer’s pointed response to the latest false accusation of Pat Lynch who heads of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York: that “fuck” fit.
Mr. Lynch’s assertion that “LIC residents should know that this is exactly what @JimmyVanBramer and his radicals comrades wanted: decriminalize everything, then undermine and sideline the NYPD” is a lie about me, too as one of those “radicals [sic] comrades.”
Lynch’s habitual, fear-mongering whine belies his rage that his zero-credibility “benevolent association” is under especially deep scrutiny these days as the call to defunding the police builds momentum. The PBA is known for consistent dishonesty so the demand for greater transparency has never been more warranted.
At the height of the Black Lives Matter movement here in the city, in order to plea for pro-cop sympathy, the PBA dramatically tweeted that police officers had been “poisoned” at Shake Shack which was immediately called out for the lie it was.
The NYCPBA continually reveal themselves to be desperate, cheating, greedy fabricators who will do anything to maintain their power, which ultimately means maintaining their cash flow.
Because no one wants to “sideline the NYPD:” every NYC citizen wants order but we also seek to manage the financial and political power of an abusive union.
And no one is “pro-crime” in this city, either: that is as much of a lie as Donald Trump’s present claim that American cities are “on fire.”
New York City is a population which wants fairness, a dynamic that somehow threatens the quite oddly monikered Benevolent Association. Is that why they endorsed Trump for a second term? What an absurd and inappropriate gesture: it is like they are in fact the ones who are trying to “sideline” the city with such misguided support.
Police unions are corrupt, blatantly corrupt in this city in particular. They fool no one.
So, in this instance, Jimmy Van Bramer telling the NYCPBA to “fuck off” is fitting.
It is forceful, it is offensive but it is also fitting.
And Jimmy catches hell when he drops an eff bomb, which isn’t often.
In January 2019, at what turned out to be the final NYC Council hearing for Amazon HQ2 LIC, Van Bramer derided Amazon Global Public Policy Head Brian Huseman for Amazon’s inability to guarantee any significant job numbers for low income public housing residents; the best Huseman could come up with was a one-office-site call center, offering 30 part-time, no-benefits roles.
The passage of time has since confirmed the treachery of Amazon, Brian Huseman and their ever-present team of lobbyists: their secrecy and inability to partner warranted such a response.
Amazon was not in NYC to try to make HQ2LIC work for everyone involved: it was in New York to do whatever it wanted to do. That’s how Amazon operates.
When HQ2 was met by the Queens community with suspicion and the demand for transparency and negotiation, Amazon decided leaving was a better option than trying. Two weeks after that January 2019 NY City Council hearing, Amazon quit.
Amazon spent over two years whittling down choices on which Northern Hemisphere city it would take as its new HQ2 bride: a commitment of years which then culminated in a lukewarm, 12-week courtship where a reluctant, evasive and absent Amazon, after having spent no time in Long Island City and met with no constituents, at least not publicly, rolled its eye at the deserved criticism and just walked out.
I mean, are you fucking kidding me?
This year’s story of fired warehouse manager Chris Smalls corroborates Amazon’s inability to partner or lead, which directly reflects exactly LIC’s experience of Amazon as an entity here in Queens. It is a sneaky, silent, cheating liar.
Jimmy was right to say “fuck” to Amazon almost two years ago and he is right to use it now with the NYCPBA.
Because a lie is a lie is a lie and all lies need to be called out each and every time they happen.
Jimmy was endlessly criticized for using rough language, that one word, at that city council meeting: it is still held against him.
But I come from the camp which believes politicians are allowed to be angry.
Politicians are allowed, by law and freedom, to express their exasperation and chagrin. In fact, it is beneficial and relieving for the voting public to see the human inside the person they have elected, to hear the anger, to witness its effect.
Cursing is jarring for sure, but not necessarily inappropriate, especially when executed sporadically. Abuse of foul language is not Van Bramer’s style: he knows the strength of a good swear is its spare utilization.
And despite a broad political divide in his district, along with the hatred, homophobia and veiled physical threats thrown at him, Jimmy Van Bramer’s service to our community remains consistent, enthusiastic, thoughtful and passionate. And pandemic notwithstanding, his popularity has even grown.
So, fuck yeah, Jimmy Van Bramer!
Thank you for swearing, thank you for taking the heat, thank you for advocating for sanity, thank you for always taking a stand for what is right.
Just a simple question, Michael Lambert: what exactly have I lied about?
I have been specific and detailed in my allegations against you, both with the incident from last summer which is detailed in my pinned tweet and with the recent unearthing of the #livejournalgate plot with which you were involved.
But you have not proven any dishonesty on my end. In fact, you haven’t even been that clear about what it is which, according to you, I have actually lied about.
I watched your video diary about me: the 20-some-odd clips make only vague and non-specific accusations with no examples or details on my deceit. It would be useful to learn exactly what your viewers should be looking for in determining my dishonesty: it would serve your stance if you could define, in particular, what I’ve said which is false.
You only state *that* I am a liar but you never get around to depicting *how* I am a liar.
By contrast, you do prove how insulting I am towards you, with which I certainly do concur. I take full responsibility for referring to you as a “pompous asshat,” a “donuthead,” a “whackadoodle,” and a “narcissist on wheels.”
In fact, I wholeheartedly stand by these assertions about you. I do think you are a pompous narcissist: you refer to yourself as Da Guvnah, Mr. Lambert. You fancy yourself some kind of leader or teacher of your devoted and rapt followers when you are, in fact, simply just another user yourself, no more different or special or commanding than anyone else on a social media forum. I believe you kid yourself on who really buys your act.
I also agree with your accusation that I am “tantamount to a pest,” which is both cogent and documented: I have indeed trolled your account because I wanted your followers as well as folks who browse your account to see my calling you out on your silence regarding #livejournalgate. I am indeed guilty of going after your tweets as I wanted to share that story via your own tweet threads.
I had been trolling each one of you since that Daily News story (which Joe’s team planted, hello) hit on June 13, 2020. I had been trolling all of you, not just you alone as I sought to amplify that Joe was behind that story and I wanted residents and voters to know the truth about how that whole operation went down, who was involved, my history with those parties and their repeated pattern of behavior.
That is the reason why I went after all of you: to amplify the truth.
I do not have to unblock a blocked account so to leave a reply. I left replies so users could read my take on you, not because I am obsessed with you or because I need to get some help: it was to show the truth about you, about the antics of the Lentol campaign and your role in it. And to amplify the subsequent silence from all of you about the attempted smear after it backfired.
I seek to point out that lack of accountability: I seek to shine a light on it.
The democratic primary for New York State Assembly District 50 in Brooklyn is a public political campaign. The actions of the teams supporting the candidates for Brooklyn AD 50 are subject to public scrutiny. I believe #livejournalgate was a dirty trick by Joe Lentol’s group in a political campaign and the general public should be aware: the public deserves to have every piece of available information about any political race in front of them so they can make an informed decision.
Despite the robust length of your video diary, you still don’t make any specific case against me in terms of my own dishonesty. It’s like you’re asking people to just take your word on how dishonest I am instead of showing them how exactly I lie. With the tweets of mine you have chosen to highlight in your diary, you in fact amplify my experiences with you and end up supporting and strengthening my stance more than your own.
And your claim that I am a racist holds little water as well.
I believe you are calling me a racist so to diminish my argument against you. I take accusations of racism directed at me very seriously, most especially when they come from people of color; I remain accountable for my words and actions and I also remain open to feedback.
I do not believe my tweet about you being “openly for sale” was in any way racially inappropriate given that you are a person who has been compensated to work on political campaigns: my words were in no way making reference to your skin color but were rather illuminating a pattern of your displayed behavior, the pattern of working on campaigns and working for politicians.
Because you work for politicians: you are paid by politicians to do work for them.
Your insinuation that my “openly for sale” statement is an expression of my white privilege to sell your black body to the highest bidder as a transaction of bought human flesh is thus off base and appears like an attempt to smear me.
Because my tweet that you are “openly for sale” is my declaration that you work for politicians, nothing more. Because you are openly for sale for politicians.
You work for politicians. That is what I mean by “openly for sale.”
My tweet was in direct reference to you yourself sharing you would welcome such work (“do it again”) from politicians: because you work for politicians. I tweeted you were “openly for sale” for that. Because you are: you work for politicians.
Not because I am white and you are black.
But because you work for politicians.
That’s what this all comes down to.
And Mr. Lambert, I appreciate what it looks like for me as a white woman to come at you, a Black Caribbean immigrant, with accusations flying out of my white mouth. I make no accusations lightly. I certainly didn’t last summer when I caught you in that lie in my pinned tweet.
I never accused you of videotaping anyone. I accused you of having knowledge that these tapes exist and that videotape surveillance is a regular practice of the Queens Machine and the minions who support it.
I accuse you of having that knowledge. And you having that knowledge does seem evident in that pinned thread, despite your cries against it. I essentially live-tweeted my reaction to you as it happened, as I observed you, as I saw this situation play out right in front of my eyes: that is the real meat of my pinned tweet. It is me witnessing you in real time as you lie and my physical reaction to you lying.
I was stunned by your dishonesty when I first beheld it. You had always been pompous and condescending but especially because you made Christian references, I did not think you were a liar; I just had you pegged as a guy who thinks he’s better than everyone else.
It remains there to this day, almost a year later, for a reason. I will change my pinned tweet when there is finally some progress in the breaking up all the mechanisms which allow the Queens Machine to run. I will change it when some transparency directly shines on the activities which I witnessed with my own eyes and described in that discourse.
In fact, both you and Mr. Christopher held the exact same role and fee for Joe Lentol’s campaign: social media consultant for $2500 a month. It weakens your credibility when you try to suggest such a robust bond does not exist between you and Mr. Christopher when it clearly does.
And, Mr. Lambert, you are right, I bet no one reads what I blog about. But in case they do, and even if you do, I stand by my actions, I stand by my work and I stand by my witnessing of you.
When we met briefly in November 2019 at the Forest Hills Queens Borough President debate forum, I told you that you were acting exactly as how I suspected you would have acted with me: I knew how you would be with me and I told you as much to your face.
During our discourse, you had such trouble making eye contact that I had to ask you to please look me in the eye because you spoke off to the side, as if to an nonexistent audience, perhaps so to soothe yourself. You monologued about Coro training: you wouldn’t look at me yet you reprimanded me, via your imaginary audience, for not having taken a course you took.
You treated me as you always had, like I was a cartoon character, a person not worthy of any respect.
You said in a tweet later that day that you wanted to still meet with me but then your video diary you outright claim I turned “caustic and nasty” immediately after I introduced myself to you and that there were witnesses.
Sir, I had friends there, too and I never became caustic and nasty with you.
In fact we spoke for about four minutes or so; you confronted me, fairly, about my having blocked you and I explained that I had to protect my account. You also brought up my pinned tweet. I didn’t bring it up: you did. Whereupon I looked you in the eye and told you that I suspected you had knowledge of videotaped surveillance.
Because you do.
You, sir, then stuck out your hand for mine and wished me a brisk goodbye. Even as you shook my hand, you never met my eye. You then turned and ran away from me.
Curiously though, you approached me for a second goodbye after I had walked out from the middle of the row where you and I had been talking and into the aisle so I could exit: there you were again. And it was a pleasant second goodbye; although I had been bracing myself for a famous Michael Lambert “last word,” you merely said it was nice to meet me, a sentiment I easily returned.
Mr. Lambert, our interaction was perfectly pleasant: I was never caustic or nasty and neither were you.
You struggled to make eye contact. I think meeting me threw you a little but neither of us ever got caustic or nasty. Your witnesses saw that and my witnesses saw that too.
There is no reason for you to lie about this. Why on earth would you then want to have a meal with someone who was “caustic and nasty?” Give me a break, Mr. Lambert: don’t lie about the one meeting we had, the one which I made happen because I went to introduce myself to you. Please do not misrepresent how that conversation happened: I remember it so well.
You have always treated me like that, from over a year ago, when you and I first started interacting over Amazon: you are pro-Amazon and I am anti-Amazon and had stood up to HQ2. We stood on opposite sides of the 2019 Queens District Attorney race: you volunteered for Melinda Katz’s campaign while I canvassed for Tiffany Cabán.
You always laughed at me, mocked me, dismissed me, even blew me off when I suggested we meet. You preferred instead to fight all day long on Twitter, much to my chagrin and disappointment. Although I presently call you a whackadoodle with a personality disorder, back then I was very respectful to you, no matter how mocking and condescending you were. Even in my pinned tweet, as I accuse you of not being honest, I repeatedly call you “sir,” because I appreciate how audacious it is for me to make such an allegation, as a white female against a Black man.
That is why I called you “sir.” That is why I always took what you dished out to me, Mr. Lambert, whether it was a six-hour bad faith conversation of you defending Amazon as an equal opportunity employer or you snickering at me for daring to argue with you.
I took it.
Back then, during the summer of 2019, I gave you way more respect than you ever gave me.
Being respectful to you at that point wasn’t hard for me to do: it was time-consuming for sure, but it was easy. It was the right thing for me to do and it was the appropriate response for me to take with you. It also showed my character with you: it showed my patience and respect for you even when I argued with you.
As trying as you could be, I still always thought of the bigger picture and how our arguments were an opportunity for me to continue to share research and data; they were also an opportunity to show my attempts at diplomacy and my displays of deference.
I believe my words and actions speak for themselves.
I believe your words and actions speak for themselves, too. And I do not find you credible with your latest accusation. I do not believe you have proven me to be either a racist or a liar.
I believe you are in fact lessening your credibility with your indictments against me and I remain here to defend myself as we all move forward.
But, sir, #livejournalgate is going nowhere, nor is my pinned tweet, nor is the scrutiny which follows you, which you both deserve and have earned.
And I ask you again, Michael Lambert: what specifically have I lied about?
(My holiday email conversation: I am making this public because you’re lying about it on Twitter, Penelope Katsaras. You cannot avoid the truth when you deal with me. Happy 4th of July!)
PenelopeFriday, July 3, 2020 8:33pm
How about we talk privately.
MeSaturday, July 4, 2020, 7:50am
PenelopeSaturday, July 4, 2020 9:33am
Do you want Trump gone? Do you want to eliminate poverty? Do you want equality for all? Do you want a greener earth? Do you want to fix health care?
If so, we have to end the battle. We may not agree on every method how to get there. That is fine. Dialogue is good.
But if we have the same goals, we need to end the battle. Division of the progressive movement is our greatest obstacle to achieving our goals.
We can say this was a misunderstanding and move on. We can ignore each other for now. That might be best?
The alternative is an endless battle.
I have thought of writing a blog about you. I could do that. But honestly I don’t think it would be productive. If I write about you, then you write about me, and I write about you, and the circle continues. And the war does not end.
I propose a peace treaty. I will remove all tweets about you, mention you, have you in the discussion, etc.; if you do the same (including the blog) and we start over.
I just blocked you. I didn’t know how it worked. I didn’t know I could block you if you blocked me. I will unblock you so you can check my Tweets.
I deleted the make art account a while ago like I said I would. But I reopened it after you wrote the blog. It is locked now. No one can read it. I will delete it again permanently.
It’s not my personality to have an endless argument. I don’t like fights.
Think about what I am saying. Someday we may have to work together to get good things for us like healthcare or UBI or something.
I am staying with family outside of NY for the summer. Therefore I can’t meet for coffee till September.
I will celebrate the Oglala Lacota today. My heart breaks for them. We should give them their mountain.
America is in crisis.
Progressives should unite and take back the country.
Sleep on it.
MeSaturday, July 4, 2020, 10:15am
To refresh your memory: you came for me, over and over, last year with your @WonnderrWommann account; then it was your @HestiaofQueens account; then it was @plane_astrolabe; now you’re hiding behind @LoveAllLoveAll_.
You hid behind multiple personas and you also did the exact same thing to other people. On Twitter and on your precious Facebook.
This is no “misunderstanding:” this is you never taking accountability for your own actions. You need to admit what you did and what you continue to do: it is absurdly obvious at this point and I am beyond the only person who figured out it this is all you. Everyone knows who you are in all your incarnations.
Why do you think the community board gives so much weight to what I said in my blog? Is it because I lay out my case so thoroughly using your own actions and words, could that be it?
Why do you think people would forget what you did to them, the words you used, the approach you took?
Take responsibility for what you do, Penelope.
And you fight constantly: it’s all you do. You’re doing it right now, this morning, both via email and on your @PenelopeEleni account. All you do is fight: you are known for it. Fighting and lying: *that* is your “personality.”
It’s not that you “don’t like fights:” rather, you don’t like being found out.
And you are so found out. You are so busted. And you can’t face any of it: you’re not used to accountability. Your habit is to change your username and pretend nothing happened. While we all watch you do it, over and over and over again.
You need to fathom what you look like; you display no capacity for introspection. You need to see yourself through another set of eyes: the eyes which witness your repetitive shenanigans on social media.
I’m not removing anything I’ve tweeted either: I don’t delete or archive my tweets, that’s your specialty. You are not my boss, you don’t get to direct me on what you want me to do just because you are too ashamed to face your own actions.
This situation is one you created: the fact that you refuse to take any responsibility for your own actions and the situations you create speaks so much to who you are. Your actions and denial of your actions define you to everyone around you: face who you are and how you are seen.
You prove who you are with every action you take, every word you articulate: you show who you are, Penelope.
And we all see it.
PenelopeSaturday, July 4, 2020 10:42am
Sleep on it. Do you want Trump gone? Do you want a United progressive movement? Or do you want division? Sleep on it and we will talk again.
MeSaturday, July 4, 2020, 10:50am
I don’t need to sleep on anything, you liar: stop talking about Trump and instead take responsibility for your own actions.
This has nothing to do with Trump or Amazon or Yang or UBI or any other of your insane disconnected distractions. You look crazy and you look guilty, Penelope.
For all these profiles, it is evident that the content is crafted by a lone architect; there are consistent, repeated (many times verbatim) narrative, phrasing, and, perhaps most informatively, punctuation use.
Despite these visible, frequent and obvious regularities appearing in all of the accounts, you have nonetheless defiantly denied ownership on multiple social media platforms: perchance because you cannot believe that people were able to connect the very few dots to be able to figure it out, thereby figuring you out.
My aim here, serving as an alternate to tweeting at you directly, is to help break down these dots as I cannot engage with you anymore on Twitter via your most recent incarnation @MakeArt15. I reported you for not only creating an account with the sole purpose of “talking to” me but also because you had tweeted you were going to report every tweet I post. I had to block you: you did not leave me much of a choice.
I wonder if you understand what it looks like for you to have all these different accounts and for the way you behave on all these accounts. I suspect you possess neither the introspection to perceive how you might be coming across nor the foresight to contemplate any consequences despite the inevitable, and now current, arrival of the latter.
And this is not my treatise to implore you to change: it is not my place to tell you what to do and how to be; I doubt you have much inclination to behave any differently, certainly not via my prompting.
Rather, this is my witnessing of what I have seen you do and how you have treated me: this is a documentation of your actions and patterns. You seem to be more angry at people for having found out that these accounts are all you than you are angry at yourself for your clumsy management of this discernible farce.
The truth matters. It matters that Amazon is not honest and it matters that its supporters are equally dishonest. And this isn’t about using a pseudonym on social media: I use one. It is not a lie to employ a self-styled moniker as a Twitter handle; I have no issue with you or anyone else doing that. The issue I have had with you all along, Penelope, is your lack of truthfulness in your content. I just happened to have found out your real identity while I was reporting on the dishonesty in your timeline.
I figured out who you were back in March/April 2019: I knew your name from discussions last spring after a Queens Council of the Arts event (and you are a recipient of a QCA grant ) where the name Penelope came up as a vociferous attendee who persistently expressed how upset she was about the demise of HQ2LIC to a roomful of people who disagreed with her and were struck by her odd argument of Amazon being a savior. This Penelope impressed repeatedly that she was an artist, a teacher and a parent, curiously the same three descriptors you persistently ascribe to yourself on all of your Twitter accounts. When presented with trepidation about the HQ2 deal, this Penelope had argued back that Amazon was going to rebuild the MTA and NYCHA housing. She had no sources and told people that all her information could be found “in the deal, just read it,” when, in fact, none of what Penelope had said was in the memorandum of understanding.
At this QCA event, Penelope had stood out.
Around that same time, I had already become acquainted with your @WonnderrWommann incarnation as we had started engaging directly and/or peripherally soon after the 2019 Valentine’s Day announcement of the Amazon HQ2 pullout: you had been posting Amazon propaganda which I had then been refuting. What you posted was so grossly incorrect: Amazon was going to repair the subway system; Amazon was going to eradicate poverty in New York City and “hire the children of the undocumented;” Amazon deserved no criticism and everyone loved it.
You consistently condescendingly referred to NYCHA housing as “the projects;” you bemoaned a Queens with “bodegas and dollar pizza” while yearning for more of a corporate presence and thereby exposing a surface materialism which betrays your own selfish interests. I appreciate you want a sanitized, Manhattan-esque version of Queens so your children can enjoy designer birthday cakes and private piano lessons but that’s not everyone’s dream for our Borough of Enchantment. You speak only for yourself with these wishes.
Your engagement with me had been aggressive, not that I mind at all, but acting in such a manner drew attention to yourself. You were disagreeable and demanding: one morning you even snapped at me to get off Twitter and go make pancakes. It’s hypocritical and foolish to use Twitter to tell another user to get off Twitter: take your own advice, whackadoodle. And it is no cogent argument in terms of your Amazon stance: trying to silence another person does not make what they are saying any less true.
You also habitually referred to yourself as not being human, as being above others, as having superpowers, as being all-knowing and better. It is a laughable way for an individual to present themselves on social media. It’s one thing for the Twitter @Steak-Umm account, who is no more a bunch of ready-to-cook meat slices than you are a Greek goddess, to represent its brand because it is not pretending to be something it is not nor is it spouting false propaganda. The problem I have always had with you is that you have not been honest while hiding behind what is essentially a catfish personality.
And your patterns gave you away: you asked “huh” a lot; you referenced people’s usernames frequently; and, when presented with inarguable truth, you would tell people you were suddenly very busy and didn’t have time for them.
And you used dots constantly: the humble ellipsis peppered your content.
The simple ellipsis and your excessive use of it ended up becoming your own Achilles tendon. Two Greek terms readily revealing one Greek lady trying to hide behind a persona.
You were patronizing yet predictable: an account pretending to be a god, who wanted to fight, expected to dominate and wasn’t shy with the insults or shade. When you started calling me “Connie” repeatedly, I saw your intention to attempt to shame me by revealing my identity, a detail I never hid. There was such a snideness to your tone with me, especially in the repetitive use of my name: a palpable and gratuitous passive aggression followed by those dots.
It backfired on you as I called your bluff: I not only didn’t care that you knew my given name, I was thrilled that you did. It seemed you did not expect that reaction from me; you were surprised that I reveled in being “revealed,” that I am publicly active in my community and that I don’t lie or pretend on social media (or in real life, for that matter). I think you were stunned that I didn’t melt down or deny my own name or block you: funnily enough, these were all actions you ended up taking very quickly, not me.
So, I played then your game back on you. I called you “penelope.”
Unsurprisingly, soon after you blocked me which you announced on Twitter with a smiley face, a tweet you then deleted but not before I had been able to take a screenshot of it. I suspect you blocked me because, like Amazon, you didn’t like that I knew the truth about you.
Your patterns of behavior have remained constant: you’ve deleted a lot of your tweets; you’ve rage tweeted; and you’ve pointedly use other people’s names followed by those three dots, ellipsis ad nauseam. Dot dot dot.
And you never found fault with Amazon. You never informed yourself about what kind of organization it is: instead, you blamed politicians. You singled out one junior congresswoman, in particular: one who had zero involvement in any aspect of Amazon HQ2 other than criticizing the shady deal, along with millions of other people.
The convenient targeting of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is extraordinarily obtuse: AOC is your district’s congressperson so you would know better than anyone that she does not represent Long Island City, the district where HQ2 had been planned to be.
HQ2 wasn’t even going to be in her district. It is fake news for Amazon to blame AOC and it is fake news for you to blame her, too.
AOC had nothing to do with any HQ2 deal negotiations. AOC had been sworn in six weeks before Amazon pulled out of Queens. AOC did nothing to affect the HQ2 project: she was involved in no way.
It is a lie to say she is responsible, let alone solely responsible, for a mess Amazon made all by itself.
And yet you blamed her anyway over and over, all while pretending to be a deity.
But it was when you linked a petition to bring Amazon HQ2 back to Queens that you officially revealed who you were: the site’s welcoming pop-up revealed your name. This is the most critical proof in this whole “mystery” and what ultimately sealed your fate: Penelope Katsaras was inextricably tied to your many burner accounts because of that one link.
The dots, the ellipses, betrayed your habits but it was that pop-up which proved it.
Dot dot dot: it’s you, Penelope.
I don’t think you will ever change. I don’t think you will ever learn anything. But you are now found out, something with which you must live. One’s reputation defines who one is. Your reputation is that you create personas, lie about it, and then get found out by your very own actions.
You’re a liar; not a very smart one at that.
I do not wish ill on you nor have I ever expressed that to you. I wish you no karma for your actions other than the karma of truth. You have lied about who you are and you have continued to push untrue propaganda about Amazon. Your family history, your education and your work experience, no matter how exemplary, have nothing to do with your behavior on social media and do not excuse or erase your dishonesty.
So, if you are really serious about getting a cup of coffee, I am always down for an in-person confab; I wonder if you would truly want to take me up on it, despite it being your own offer. I nonetheless suspect that you most likely would not want to listen to anything I have to say and would prefer to yell at me, interrupt me, bark goodbye to me repeatedly while continually circling back and dictating, “And another thing!”
And if that is what you would like to do: not listen to me, yell at me, tell me what’s wrong with me, interrupt me, laugh at me and scream…
Guess what, angelface? I am ackshually up for it.
I would love to meet you.
I’ve met with Justin Potter several times; I’ve introduced myself in person to Michael Lambert; and I have a rapport with a few people at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. I always get something out of meeting with an adversary; sometimes a unique rapport can even be forged.
I’ve said this to Justin Potter: I never expect to win most of the battles I fight but I am still compelled to fight them and to at least try; I enjoy knowing the players in these fights, interacting with them and hopefully learning from them.
The fight is important because the effort counts. Standing up for something generally falls on a lot of deaf ears but taking a stand, even when ignored, still has value. It is still always worth it for me to fight for what I believe in, no matter how much I get criticized for it or how “stupid” and “crazy” I may appear to others.
I found out to my huge surprise that, occasionally, fighting works. The Amazon pullout demonstrated that fighting can be effective, that criticism of a shady deal and even shadier company can actually be heard.
I have never understood your steadfast disregard of all the cogent and proven criticism of Amazon. I appreciate you only saw the alleged good in Amazon but that doesn’t mean that corruption doesn’t live and breathe like a choking weed in that corporation.
You may never see that or even want to see that; and I know I will never see Amazon your way because your information about it is not correct. Still I think it’s always useful for people who disagree to meet: it’s always meaningful to spend time with another person who doesn’t share one’s own views; a lot can be gained and a lot could be squashed.
I did indeed “just schlep all the way from LIC” on January 23, 2020 to attend and address Manhattan Community Board 2: but it wasn’t to “just shit all over Open New York.” And it certainly wasn’t much of a “schlep,” either, Mr. Thypin: it’s ackshually called a “direct subway ride.” Perchance I am out of the loop on just what exactly a schlep entails but a trip to Soho via New York City mass transit is especially quick and easy from Long Island City.
To clarify, I did not attend that CB2 meeting to shit all over you: I don’t need to do that because you and your fellow ONY members and supporters do a sufficient job of defecating all over you and your “organization” all by yourselves; your own words and actions reveal that.
If anything, you all make your critics’ work easy: all we have to do is shine a light on your words and actions.
Again, I made this trip, I executed this “schlep,” out of love.
New York City, my hometown, is my first and most enduring love and I will always feel compelled to fight for it. I do what I do in Queens out of love and I said what I said at CB2 out of love. Last year, I stood up to and spoke out against Amazon HQ2LIC because Seattle warned New York that, among other aspects, Amazon “[hasn’t] been the best civic neighbor” and I care about who moves into my neighborhood, especially when they appear to be a global bully with a shady land deal. As a former executive search industry researcher and knowledge manager, I know a poor corporate culture when I read about one and Amazon reeked and acted like early 2000s Walmart: I wasn’t about to let an abusive tyrant just slide on in, using public land (our land, our city land) via a secretive, vague and breakable deal, without saying something about it. I love where I live: I will always stand up for it, out of my love.
There was no other reason for me to do this. This isn’t about my hatred of wealthy people or my need to be popular with radical groups: this is about how much I love my city, my enduring, magical, extraordinary city. Downtown Manhattan was where this country was born and for centuries now has never diminished as the city’s center: the whole area, most especially the airy lofts of Soho, deserves special consideration for preservation. Development is neither desired nor necessary in this area; repurposing is a better option and running an inventory of all unused spaces and apartments, especially chronically empty luxury apartments, is a logical next step.
I had no idea such a movement as yours existed until last year, when ONY member Justin Potter ran his quiet, inconsequential campaign against Senator Mike Gianaris before unsurprisingly dropping out earlier this month. Aside from supporting a skittish monopoly, Potter’s pro-Amazon supporters also advocated for the destruction of landmarked buildings, the elimination of historical districts and the demolition of brownstones: I was surprised such sentiment existed and was saddened to see it. The logic employed had some reason to it, though, even I had to admit that much: the promotion of a carless society in cities by increasing residential density near mass transit. But there was a brusqueness to this group’s engagement, a snappy impatience, an eye-rolling mocking snarkiness, a trigger-happy tendency towards insults, condescension and even sanctimoniousness.
Back in mid-2019, I was so unassuming when I first stumbled across ONY on Twitter that I had started following the account; I naïvely assumed too quickly that ONY was a pro-tenant organization because of the reference of wanting to be a neighbor in its Twitter bio. This implied ability to partner was soon revealed as conditional and ultimately insincere.
As I had witnessed with its pro-Amazon peers, I observed Yimby in New York to be a small group of easily identifiable and loquacious personalities; I became quickly acquainted with the tiny cadre of troupe players and what I suspected was a strategic and deliberate style of social engagement, and with which I was already familiar having witnessed Justin Potter in action. ONY members and supporters conduct themselves in a ridiculing, impatient, snarky and disrespectful manner.
Deliberate bad faith is consistently used by ONY: mockery is tossed as bait to throw off the main focus of discourse; derision is hurled in what seems a desire to get a reaction; words are purposefully twisted and nontangential accusations are created to deflect from the point at hand. This is a repeated pattern, seen in numerous public interactions, all by the same players, this same small group.
Good, fair and productive arguments include respectful debate, a reasonable and generous attitude and a sense of peerage and deference to the other person. Not with ONY members and supporters, though: you guys arrive at the ready with impertinent (and false) accusations of racism, classism and depravity. A pattern of accusations, the same accusations, over and over.
And that, Mr. Thypin, is what I strove to “shit all over” at CB2 on January 23: the repeated behavior, the insults, the bad faith engagement. I shine a light on it. You wish it was shit: because feces isn’t see-through. And what you all do and say is very easy to see through: it is all clear and self-evident to everyone but you and your small group, it seems.
Another tidy little fact in all this is that you, sir, in particular, stand to make a profit in the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan. And you already have, Scion Thypin: your family’s wealth expands way beyond real estate.
And I mean, if your tactics are fair, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about when you receive criticism, right? You should be proud of how you operate: you don’t have anything to hide, do you?
And of course, I can express myself publicly, just like you can express yourself in such a fashion: that’s only fair, isn’t it? It’s only right, isn’t it?
Because, to me, two sides expressing their viewpoint seems like the crux of democracy: you have your opinion and I have mine and we both get to express our own opinions. No matter what our opinions are or how disparate they may be, they get to be expressed by us in public forums: that in itself is a beautiful thing; a democratic declaration.
And I don’t put you down, Mr. Thypin, for having an opinion, no matter how much I take issue with what you say. But what I *do* do is take issue with your opinions, aka your words. I then form specific arguments against your opinions, against the words you say. I use my words to express my issue with your words.
You, in turn, use your words to express your issue with me opening my mouth but you quite never get around to the part of specifically critiquing what comes out of my mouth: you only take issue with me expressing myself.
You never address what it is that I say, instead you disparage me for opening my mouth. Conveniently, though, you ignore what I say.
Someone from ONY must have filmed the speakers at that January 2020 CB2 meeting: you have a history of photographing community speakers. I wonder if I was videotaped, if my words were captured. And if so, I wonder why no one posted what I said: I mean, it must have been absurd and untrue, right? I must have looked like a crazy person, I am sure.
Funny that what I *said* was totally disregarded.
How come you never directly address what I say?
Because that’s what I do with you: I cite your own words and actions to depict how you and your ONY cohorts conduct yourselves and how you chronically treat other people. I seek to raise awareness about it: I wonder why you are not open to such relevant and fair criticism. And it’s not slanderous, either: if I am showing your own words and your own content along with published media about you, how can that be considered defamatory or even insulting? If you wrote it, you should be able to stand by it: all of it.
Your words and actions represent you: I assume you are proud of them. So it’s problematic how defensive you are about your own words or your real estate business and family legacy. It’s problematic how snarky, quick-tempered, overly dramatic, condescending and insulting ONY members and supporters are. It’s especially problematic as this behavior appears to be strategic and deliberate: even city officials have noted this obvious and clumsy conduct. Lower Manhattan District Leader Paul Newell’s tweet thread on your own history and comportment is gloriously thorough and revealing. Committeman Ben Yee called ONY out for something I experience for one whole day: the pile on. My own pile on lasted 12 hours where I was falsely but deliberately accused of hating poor people and of being immoral. It was so obvious what you all were doing in that conversation with me: it was so telling. It shows who you all are.
January 21, 2020: Citing personal reasons in a statement released this morning, Jimmy Van Bramer announces he is dropping out of the Queens Borough President race. At last week’s Queens BP forum in Sunnyside, there was no hint of such trouble while Van Bramer scuffled enthusiastically with Queens Machine darling Donovan Richards over Amazon, bail reform and gentrification.
But today’s announcement follows months of neighborhood murmurings about Van Bramer’s quiet dissociation from his progressive base, despite his having been a soldier on the front lines in last year’s local fight against Amazon: it was as if he could not quite square his progressive past (albeit a shaky one: never forget 5Pointz) with his broader political aspirations.
And what better step for any ambitious Queens politician than Borough President? Until this morning, one could have argued the QBP race was JVB’s to lose: after all, he was the first to announce he was running for it and it seemed the perfect next move for this homegrown borough son.
Maybe Van Bramer did not expect such strong competition, especially from Miranda, whose campaign is being managed by AOC’s former campaign manager Vigie Ramos-Ríos and rising progressive activist Nick Haby.
Van Bramer will land on his feet for his next step whether aided by the Queens Machine or not. It’s a completely different Queens from when JVB first started his political career, a Queens which may no longer fit him and in which he may find he no longer fits. Progressive progrowing pains: it’s now a race between Costa and Miranda.