NYCity Snapshot: Spending Takes a Holiday


Reporters from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism hit city streets, asking residents, “How will the economy affect your holidays plans?”

A majority of those surveyed said they planned to spend less this year than last on presents, holiday celebrations and travel.

Explore an interactive mosaic of multimedia responses, using the filters to slice and dice the results. Add your responses by taking our online survey. And check back soon to view a “word cloud” of your answer to the question, “What would you most like for the holidays?”

Meet Olivier Rabbath: Frenchman, Philosopher, and Jack of Many Trades

From his little shop in Boerum Hill, Olivier Rabbath, 51, makes magic. Born in Paris, he moved to the states in 1987 pursuing his love for fashion and boots. He felt France was too focused on the old world, which didn’t give him room to expand and grow. He worked in Miami, making thousands of boots by hand, before moving to New York and opening up shop in Brooklyn.

He’s created well over 30,000 boots in his lifetime, and that’s not even mentioning everything else he’s done. He’s also a cartoonist, painter, graphic designer, media designer, decorator, composer, writer, and inventor (to name a few).

Even after all these years, life fills Rabbath with wonder, excitement, and energy. He says while his friends age around him, he maintains his vitality by being passionate about what he does and living in the moment. Continue reading

Has Obama Worked Hard Enough for African Americans?

President Obama addressed the Congressional Black Caucus about the future of the economy and black unemployment in September, telling the audience that his policies would lead to an economic recovery. The group has become increasingly critical of the president in recent months, especially after Labor Department figures showed black joblessness at 16.7 percent – almost double the national average and at a 27-year high.

The president was clearly revved up, telling the crowd of about 3,000 to “put on your marching shoes” and join the unemployment battle.

Obama continued to push his American Jobs Act, saying budget proposals by Republicans would only hurt black Americans more. He said the package will benefit 100,000 black-owned businesses and 20 million African-American workers. It will achieve this through infrastructure spending, payroll tax cuts, business tax breaks, and – to the dismay of Republicans – tax increases for the wealthiest Americans and big businesses. Obama said the time to act is now:

Why are we shortchanging our children when we could be putting teachers back in the classroom right now, where they belong? Laying off teachers, laying off police officer, laying off firefighters all across the country because state and local budgets are tough. Why aren’t we helping? We did in the first two years. And then this other crowd came into Congress and now suddenly they want to stop. Tell me why we shouldn’t give companies tax credits for hiring the men and women who’ve risked their lives for this country — our veterans. There is no good answer for that. They shouldn’t be fighting to find a job when they come home.
These Republicans in Congress like to talk about job creators. How about doing something real for job creators? Pass this jobs bill, and every small business owner in America, including 100,000 black-owned businesses, will get a tax cut. You say you’re the party of tax cuts. Pass this jobs bill, and every worker in America, including nearly 20 million African American workers, will get a tax cut. Pass this jobs bill, and prove you’ll fight just as hard for a tax cut for ordinary folks as you do for all your contributors.

African American voters remain a key voting bloc for Obama. Their historic turnout in the 2008 election helped catapult the then-presidential hopeful to victory.

Black Caucus leaders remain supportive of Obama, but have been put off by the president’s concessions to Republicans, especially in this summer’s debate over raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

Do you think President Obama has given enough attention to the problem of black unemployment?

Holiday Wishes, In a Word

Family. Peace. Happiness. Love. Health.

These were some of the fundamental holiday hopes shared by hundreds of New York residents who spoke with reporters. We’d already pumped them for basic info about holiday spending patterns, job status, and whether or not they had health insurance. But then we asked a question that aimed deeper – “What would you most like for the holidays, in a word?”

This being New York, the responses were not all so idealistic. For some, the holiday word was “clothes” or “manicure” or “bicycle” or just plain “money.” And of course, there were plenty who said “iPad” and “iPhone.” Click on the image above to see more.

And you can tell us what your word is, plus share other info, by taking our survey.

Logistical Wizardry of OWS

The day starts slowly for some protesters after a night in a bag.

More than 40 days, 30,000 feet of granite, hundreds of occupiers, and zero Porta-Potties — perhaps one of the most extraordinary aspects of the Occupy Wall Street movement is the logistical finesse of its participants. As the protest nears its second month, Zuccotti Park has been transformed into a city within a city, complete with a kitchen, a sanitary team, a library and a sea of sleeping bags.

Protesters spend their days engaging in general assemblies and group discussions on issues like taxing the rich, cuts in public spending and tackling poverty.

Continue reading

Beware The NYC Marathon Bandit Catcher

Bandits: You will run, but Neidich will hunt you down.

If you’re a marathon bandit, Les Neidich is the one who will hunt you down right before the finish line. Meet the veteran, whose tour of duty spans nearly 20 years.


Les Neidich hunts bandits. He guards the New York City Marathon finish line like a hawk hunting prey among the 47,000 marathoners streaming by. Continue reading