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A Tribute to 5 Pointz: The Graffiti Street Art Mecca of NYC

New York City is on the verge of losing one of it’s most recognizable landmarks. 5 Pointz, also known as the “Phun Phactory” is set to be demolished and replaced with high-rise apartment building complexes. While most residents of New York City could care less, artists from not only the city, but around the world are up in arms about the decision to remove the graffiti mecca that has blessed our city for over 30 years. Read more of this post

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NYC Fashion Week Kick-off: Meet Designer Michele Lovetri

One of the great things about ZazenLife is that we genuinely enjoy helping people out with any start-ups, foundations, charities, non-profits etc. We were once a newly born website looking for guidance and direction, and we received it from people that we consider business partners today. Karma is an amazing thing. Sharing and spreading positive energy with anyone can go a long way.

Since Fashion Week has started up in NYC, we decided to promote a non-profit called CITYarts, Inc and up and coming designer Michele Lovetri. She is a handbag designer who started last September 2012 and has quickly impressed the fashion world. During her latest show, they raised $2,000 for CITYarts. Check out some pictures of her work and latest fashion show below!

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The Evolution of New York City (VIDEO)

This is a slideshow video that shows how much New York City has changed over its long and storied history. The main lesson to be learned from this video is that the city is always changing, and times can get tough, but New York and New Yorkers will always come back newer and better then ever! Read more of this post

Tornadoes Touch Ground in NYC Area (IMAGES)

Pictures taken by citizens of the NYC area this morning of tornadoes threatening the greatest city in the world. 

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The Odds of Being Shot in NYC

Anyone can be shot in NYC, and anyone can be struck by lighting in NYC – but what are the odds?

Today Police in New York City say at least four people have been shot near the Empire State Building, and according to reports the suspect is dead along with a bystander. You may feel that stuff like this is always happening in NYC, which it is – but it happens everywhere else as well. It just happens to be that NYC is the most popular place in the country and anything and everything that happens there hits the media almost immediately. I am not saying it is a big deal, but if this happened in Alabama, it probably wouldn’t have got all this hype.  

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ABSCAM

Twenty-five years ago the world learned of our high-level investigation into public corruption and organized crime, infamously code-named ABSCAM.

The unfolding details were riveting: …Everything from mobsters hocking stolen paintings and fake securities in the Big Apple to politicians peddling influence in the nation’s capitol; …High-ranking government officials caught on tape stuffing wads of bribe money in their pockets and saying things like, “I’ve got larceny in my blood”; …And FBI agents posing as representatives of a fictitious Middle Eastern sheik, gathering evidence of these big league crimes.

It all started in July 1978, when we set out to catch New York City underworld figures dealing in stolen art. We set up a bogus company in Long Island—Abdul Enterprises, thus the name “AB(dul)SCAM”—said to be owned by a wealthy Arab sheik who wished to invest oil money in valuable artworks. Then, we recruited an informer who connected us with crooks willing to sell us stolen treasures. It worked. Within months, we’d recovered two paintings worth a combined $1 million.

Through that operation, we were introduced to criminals who were dealing in fake stocks and bonds. Again, success. Our undercover work ended up halting the sale of nearly $600 million worth of fraudulent securities.

From there, our investigation led to southern New Jersey … and on to Washington, D.C. Our criminal contacts led us to politicians in Camden who were willing to offer bribes to get our “business” a gambling license in Atlantic City. Then, when we expressed interest in their suggestion to get the sheik asylum in the U.S., these corrupt politicians arranged for us to meet some U.S. Congressmen who could make it happen with private legislation. For a price, of course: $50,000 up front and an extra $50,000 later.

When the dust settled, one senator, six congressman, and more than a dozen other criminals and corrupt officials were arrested and found guilty.

Like many high-profile, sensitive investigations, ABSCAM generated its share of controversy. In particular, questions were raised about whether our undercover efforts led to entrapment. The courts ruled otherwise, upholding all convictions. In the end, the case reaffirmed the importance of undercover operations and led to stronger rules and safeguards on these kinds of investigations within the FBI.

Twenty-five years later, the bottom line lessons of ABSCAM remain the same: No one is above the law. To uphold order and justice, abuse of the public trust cannot and will not be tolerated. Which is exactly why the FBI continues to rank public corruption as a top investigative priority.

The House That Donnie Built

The New York Knickerbockers

Courtesy: @NervousNeophyte

I would like to personally dedicate this New York Knicks blog to the former General Manager and President Joseph Donald Walsh Jr.,(aka Donnie Walsh), for doing everything a recent Knicks fan has ever asked for.

When I sit down and actually think about what that man has done for the Knicks in the past two years, I find it hard not to smile.

I’ll never forget the days when the Knicks and the MSG network would try to sell us the games of Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury and my favorite one of them all, Eddy Curry. The 2011-2012 New York Knicks are possible championship contenders with an all star front court filled with a great amount of respect that is given by us so-called die-hard New York Knick fans.

I’d be lying to you if I said I never thought about giving up on the Knicks in the past few years.

Staying home for a Friday night Knicks vs. Timberwolves match up and seeing them get blown out while the Timberwolves star forward Kevin Love drops 30 points and 30 rebounds isn’t necessarily what I would call a productive Friday night for Knicks fans.

I can now say that the NYK community can finally enjoy some productive and winning basketball. I hope I don’t jinx it but knowing the Knicks of late they’ll find a way to break the hearts of thousands once again. Check the 2010 Knicks playoff exit if you don’t believe me.

What amazed me the most about Donnie Walsh, is the way he negotiated multiple trades, not in favor of the basketball talent on the court, but in favor of their payroll. Mr. Walsh came in with one goal and one goal only, and that was to completely dump every huge salary issue the Knicks had on their financial books. Its funny how former coach, GM and President Isaiah Thomas found a way to make such a mess on and off the court; even though he was one of the games best guards to ever play the game.

Mr. Thomas would spend money like I do after a twelve pack and a few tequila shots and believe me that’s not a good thing.

Thomas deserves 75 percent of the blame for the Knicks abominable free agent signings and pathetic performances.

But year after year, New York Knicks and New York Rangers owner, James Dolan never tried to put a stop to the madness. He just continued to sign the checks and live in hiding.

Dolan would refuse to address the media every year.

I’m convinced he has no idea about hockey or basketball and doesn’t want to come off like an idiot in front of his hard paying fans if caught in a tough question during a press conference. Dolan showed his face when newly acquired superstar power forward Amar’e Stoudemire signed his new five year $100 million dollar contract.

When things are all going right in the MSG world, Dolan doesn’t hesitate to show his smile. During the dark days, he was just the wealthy ghost of 33rd and 7th Avenue.

Now the Knicks have a “Big Three” that consists of  Brooklyn’s own Carmelo Anthony , power forward Amar’e Stoudemire and seven-footer Tyson Chandler.

The roster the Knicks have put together this year could arguably be one of the most talented opening day rosters in franchise history. With Carmelo’s ability to score at will and Amar’e Stoudemire’s leadership, the Knicks should be in tip-top shape to make a serious run at the NBA title. Its hard to believe how far the Knicks have come in the past three years.

The Knicks are plugging in veteran role players such as Mike Bibby and Baron Davis to give quality minutes  and guide the way to the young talents of Iman Shumpert , Landry Fields and Tony “Teach Me How To” Douglas.

The garden will be rocking every time the boys in orange and blue are in town.

This New York City fan base is ready to join them at the Canyon of Heroes during their championship parade.

P.S. What ever happened to David Lee?

The “Mole People” of NYC

  • People live deep beneath the surface of Manhattan

In 1900, New York City began constructing the worlds largest underground railway system.

In 1940, this underground railway expanded to almost 750 miles long, creating a maze of tunnels. Soon after, many of these tunnels became obsolete and were forgotten about.

This long-lost area became the home of the “Mole People.”

Under the busy streets of New York City, there is said to be a civilization ranging from 3,000-5,000 homeless people. They live in “multilevel labyrinths” beneath Grand Central and Penn station, feasting on rats, garbage or anything they can get their hands on.

Before Jennifer Roth published her book “The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels beneath NYC,” most people perceived these Mole People to be alcoholics, drug addicts, or mentally ill.

But when Jennifer Roth went to find out herself, she discovered it wasn’t as simple as just a bunch of lunatics living in the tunnels.

Within these 5,000 homeless people underground, there is a sizable community consisting of a group of 200 separate people. These 200 people formed their own society deep under ground in a strange place.

This Community has its own social structure consisting of:

  • a teacher
  • a mayor
  • a nurse
  • an exercise room
  • cooking
  • electricity
  • “runners” (discussed later in the article)

Their “homes” are constructed with plywood and cinder blocks. They have beds, rugs, night stands and even gas stoves in these homes. Children were seen using leaking pipes as showers.

One man explained that his alarm clock is the sound of a train passing 3 feet over his head. Since he has no watch, and he knows the subway schedule so well, he uses the sound of the trains to manage his time. He called himself a “Runner.”

These “Runners” go to the surface of NYC to collect food and supplies that their society needs. They have jobs, they steal, they ravage through garbage pals, and they even collect government checks from churches.

People of NYC have seen runners climbing through the tunnels and going in and out of their “secret doors” sandwiched between midtown apartment buildings and bodegas.

The leaders of this society have been down there for over 15 years.

When they were interviewed by Jennifer Roth and filmmaker Mark Singer, they explained that life down in the tunnels is better than “at the top.”

Some of them have chosen to live in the tunnels, leaving everything they had behind. I question why they would want to live in such a strange place.

Fighting gangs that try to take over their territory has been a major concern for them, but their only fears are that Police and/or the MTA will have them evicted. They have yet to cause any disturbance to any New Yorkers, but the MTA still wants them evicted. Their excuse is that the tunnels are too dangerous for the homeless people.

I personally believe that this is a lie. I feel that they want them evicted because they are living down there for free.

Years after she discovered the society and her book was released, Jennifer Roth fled from New York City because her life was anonymously threatened.

The fact that there is an organized civilization in the tunnels has given the mole people a spot in our strange place collection.

See the rest of our strange place collection here!

Here is a short video introducing the Mole People:

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