The Spectacular Thefts of Apollo Robbins, Pickpocket
Amazing and wonderful story in the New Yorker of a Las Vegas pickpocket act who develops his craft so well that he now advises the Department of Defense on “counterdeception” and coauthors papers in neuroscience journals. Success stories like this just warm my heart.
I love how clinical, even philosophical, he is about how his act works:
I said, “So if you were going to take the wallet that’s when you would have done it, on the turn?” Robbins brought his hand forward to show me that he was holding my wallet between his fingers. Even though he had explained each step along the way, I hadn’t felt a thing.
But physical technique, Robbins pointed out, is merely a tool. “It’s all about the choreography of people’s attention,” he said. “Attention is like water. It flows. It’s liquid. You create channels to divert it, and you hope that it flows the right way.”
Hat tip to journalist John Dickerson, who mentioned the piece on the Slate Political Gabfest.
Downtown Welcomes The Courtyard Marriott
The hotel manager, Nick Pappagallo, was kind enough to give me a tour of the facilites. I also had the pleasure of staying there for a night so I could get a first-hand perspective of the place, and I’ve gotta say I was pretty pleased throughout.
I love how Debbie Galant of the NJ News Commons put this:
The arrival of a Courtyard Marriott wouldn’t raise a journalist’s eyebrow anywhere else, but in Newark, it’s a story.
Citizens rush council members as chaos erupts at Newark City Hall meeting
But when Speight was escorted by police to be sworn in, a group of residents, led by SEIU Local 617 President Rahaman Muhammad, stormed the dais and appeared to lunge toward Speight and her grade-school-age son.
Police restrained the group as they toppled a podium and residents were caught in the rush. When Muhammad would not give way, an officer doused him with pepper spray, along with residents, reporters and at least one other officer.
“This truly was an out-of-body experience,” said Sharif. “The mayor, who goes all around the country to talk about democracy … literally in the back of the room, hiding in the shadows.”
If you’ve been wondering why things around here have been a little quiet this past month, let me introduce you to the reason:
Violet Grace was born in Newark on Jul 27 at 6:14am. We’re now pretty recovered from having the baby and getting used to three little ones running around, so I’ll be resuming regular posts.
As a sneak preview, I’m working on a new piece about Newark’s “New” Slumlords, and I’ll be participating in a video podcast with some venerated journalists today about the Mayor’s DNC speech. Stay tuned.
Media round-up: Buzz around Cory Booker before his convention speech tonight
Mayor Booker will be presenting the Democratic Party platform this evening in a speech at 6pm. The Ledger has a great overview for lunchtime reading ahead of the speech, which can be seen on C-SPAN.org or your local TV coverage.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker will address the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte tonight to announce the party’s platform, the only New Jerseyan who will speak to the convention.
While the convention is supposed to be about re-electing President Obama, David Giambusso reports from Charlotte that the New Jersey delegation is distracted thinking about next year’s gubernatorial race, including whether Booker will jump in.
Dodge Poetry Festival 2012 will be held in Newark, NJ again
The event will be held for 4 days from October 11 to 14, 2012 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (PAC Center) along the Passaic River in downtown Newark. It promises to be even better than last year, continuing for the second year at this world class venue.
With a tradition of excellence, the event draws about 18,000 to Newark, and has brought attention to the galleries, restaurants and historical offerings of NJ’s largest city. It is the largest poetry event in North America and autumn should be a relaxing, and cooler time to enjoy the plethora of cultural offerings.
NJPAC is one of the jewels of this city.
Examiner: Trenton mayor Tony Mack has home searched by FBI
In keeping with the tradition of New Jersey politicians, Trenton mayor Tony Mack had a pre-dawn search executed on his home on Berekely Avenue.
Chicago Tribune: Chicago stand-ins steal revenue but not thunder in new ‘Dark Knight Rises’
“The Dark Knight Rises” has already been a blessing for Pittsburgh and Newark, N.J., two non-traditional film locations that replaced Chicago as Gotham City in the third Christopher Nolan-directed Batman film.
“There was so much attention and media for Newark,” said Gorelick. “We estimated they dropped $2 million during their time here. They created a lot of sets in City Hall and were here weeks before and a number of days after. … We were thrilled. Newark is enjoying this renaissance. Any attention and positive publicity is a good thing. We got a lot of good PR out of it.”
Expecting City Hall to shine on film.
The new Newark CityPlex theater is featuring a marathon of the Dark Knight trilogy tomorrow night for $20/ticket.
Washington Examiner: DOJ says Newark mis-used $3.5 million on $3.7 million COPS grant
Auditors with the Justice Department’s Inspector-General say Newark, NJ, officials improperly used every penny of a $2.8 million Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) plus most of an addition $987,000 in local funds.
The DOJ-IG’s lengthy list of deficiencies in how Newark officials spent the COPS funds unusually blunt and deserves being quoted at length.
The report is brutal in its analysis of misuse of the funds.
It’s great that the Mayor can bring in outside support like the COPS grant, but unless proper governance is in place to administer the funds, progress will take one step forward, two steps back.
Lia Eustachewich: Four New Charter Schools to Open in Newark
Paulo Freire Charter School, 100 Legacy and virtual charter schools Merit Preparatory of Newark and Newark Prep will open their doors this upcoming school year, bringing the total number of charters in the state to 86 and joining nearly two dozen already existing schools in the city.
The just-approved schools, as well as existing ones, will be measured against new Performance Frameworks designed to improve oversight and accountability for the schools by setting clear expectations, DOE said in a press release. The schools will be evaluated in three comprehensive areas: Academic, organizational and financial performances.
“Charter schools are granted autonomy in exchange for accountability, and we at the state level will continue to hold all charter schools accountable for results to ensure that they offer all students a high-quality education and an equality of opportunity,” said Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf in a statement.
Mark Di Ionno: Newark Anti-Violence Coalition trying to do its part to stop killings
Di Ionno profiles the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition, which has been protesting violence in the city since 2009.
The latest protest took place at the site of the shooting that claimed Kendal Spear, a Newark student who grew into a life any parent would be proud of. Spear was gunned down trying to break up an altercation.
His mother, Kelley, is quoted here.
Kelley Spear grew up in Weequahic, and came home after college to raise her family.
“Her motivation was her two sons,” Schuppe said. “Like most Newark parents, she struggled to balance two competing instincts: to let her children be children, and to protect them from the streets. This is a theme of the book. I’ve met many mothers and fathers who, like Kelley, seem to be doing all the right things, but live in constant fear that their work will be extinguished by one bad decision, one slip of fate.”
Schuppe said the last time he talked to Kelley, “she told me with pride – and some relief — that her son Kendal was attending technical school in Florida. He’d made it.”
Brick City Love: Because Somebody Cares
Newarker Carrie does get part to beautify her neighborhood.
One of the main impetus for putting in a spigot out front was my stoop. Come the spring & summer, I enjoy sprucing up the stoop with flowers. It all started in 2010 when my mom decided the large planter on the sidewalk needed some flowers.
More like this, please.
Transportation Nation: Newark Gets Its Very First Bike Lane
Newark, New Jersey now boasts 277,000 residents and one bike lane. Six more green textured bike paths are set to open by the end of 2012.
Mayor Cory Booker issued a car-metaphor as encouragement to cyclists. “I commend the Department of Engineering and Rutgers-Newark on this partnership, and urge residents to put the pedal to the metal on Washington Street.” We assume he means bike pedal.
More lanes planned for later in the year. For more on Newark’s car-oriented history, check out Zemin Zhang’s piece, “Newark’s Autopia.”
Paul Milo: Newark Energy Center Vote Postponed; $23 Million in Limbo
The national debate about pollution and climate change played out in microcosm during a special meeting of the Newark Municipal Council Wednesday night, when environmentalists squared off against citizens favoring more development and the jobs it would bring.
“In my opinion, the goodies they’re giving mask the effects of the plant. It’s 30 pieces of silver,” said West Ward Councilman Ron Rice.
Construction of the plant is already approved by the council; this is an implementation detail.
Detractors are attempting to use it as leverage against Hess for further concessions, but it’s not a very long lever: Hess will reroute lines through Kearny if the council declines to approve this measure.