Sunday, March 29, 2009

So glad you said that...

The fine folks from NYC & Co., the tourism agency of New York City, are seen in this amusing clip explaining in withering detail how the carriage industry rakes in the money. Never mind that the city derives not a single penny of direct revenue from this cash-only business. Kimberly Spell is persistent, though, even wagging a finger at Council Member Tony Avella several times as he listens intently to her explanation. See why Avella, sponsor of the bill that would ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City, is so delighted to hear her say it!
Avella invoked the rarely used Sponsor's Privilege rule to force a public hearing in January on two bills affecting the carriage industry: his proposed ban, and an industry bill that would help the drivers but not the horses. NYC & Co. has drunk Mayor Bloomberg's Kool-Aid, which is why their math is so fuzzy. This hilarious testimony provided comic relief during the long hearing, I'm told.
Video by Anthony Speziale. Visit "PitytheHorses" channel on YouTube for more clips (more to come, we're told!)
Also see: "One Council Member to Another"

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Best of the worst: Andrew Eiler

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) doesn't know the legally allowable fare for a horse-drawn carriage. Or, at least, Andrew Eiler, the DCA's legislative director, didn't know when that question was asked of him at the public hearing. He pulls out some legalese at the end, giving us the "tree in the forest" line of thinking--that there's no problem unless a consumer files a complaint. Convenient, because tourists don't KNOW they're being blatantly and illegally ripped off. That's going to change! Anyway, view this entertaining clip of what Tony Avella, sponsor of Intro. 658, described as "the poorest testimony." Hilarious.
This is one of the first video clips to be made available from the hearing, and we're told that others are being uploaded soon. Watch for them on YouTube channel "PitytheHorses."
Also view the excellent testimony by Elaine Sloan on overcharging that is overlooked by the city.
Video credit: Anthony Speziale

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hilly and dangerous

Night shift
Trudging up hilly 10th Avenue, behind St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center.
New York City's carriage horses live in multistory stables in Hell's Kitchen, up to 2 miles from Central Park. Their daily commutes are treacherous.
Photo courtesy of "Horsefeathers"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Danger ahead

Putting us all in harm's way

This kind of reckless behavior speaks for itself: it is dangerous and it endangers the public safety. All those people around, and the driver surely doesn't have his eyes on the road or his horse.
Video from March 8, 2009, 72nd St. east-west transverse in Central Park.
Courtesy of YouTube member "DriversRunninScared"

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Critical acclaim for "Blinders"

**** UPDATE, MARCH 29, 2009 ****
Documentary exposes "the truth behind the tradition"

Manhattan screening March 20
"Blinders," the award-winning documentary by independent filmmaker Donny Moss, is nominated for a Genesis Award--a distinction that recognizes excellence in television, film, print, and the arts for raising public understanding of animal issues. The awards, presented by the Hollywood office of the Humane Society of the United States, will be handed out on March 28, in Los Angeles. "Blinders," which is nominated in the category TV Documentary (Documentary Channel), shows the plight of New York City's carriage horses, who toil in immoderate weather and live in multistory stables as far as 2 miles from Central Park.

The nomination of "Blinders" is great news for Donny Moss, and for the horses! The highly visible Genesis Awards bring the message of his powerful film to a national and international audience. The awards recognize the best of the best. Nominees include "Dogtown: Saving the Michael Vick Dogs" (nominated in the category Unscripted Television Series) and "National Geographic Channel's Strange Days on Planet Earth" (TV Documentary).
Learn more about this year's Genesis Awards, which are dedicated to ending the Canadian seal hunt.
(c) Nigel Barker
See the full list of
2009 nominees.

**** "BLINDERS" screening in Manhattan, March 20, 2009! ****
March 20, 7:00 p.m.
New York Film and Video Festival
Village East Cinemas
181-189 2nd Avenue (12th St.)
Tickets - $12

Accolades for "Blinders"
Film Festivals 2008

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The daily grind

If you think the carriage horse in this photo is making pretty good time, you're right! It is clear that they're moving at a brisk clip. The driver has left the park, above the busy roundabout at Columbus Circle. Here they are seen crossing Broadway, and the driver is taking his horse back to the stable (a dreadful commute down to Hell's Kitchen.)

Another driver was seen nearby on Thursday standing up in the carriage for several blocks--tightly clenching the reins--while his horse sped south (this after the driver had nudged the horse out into the middle of a busy intersection to begin the evening rush-hour journey). Standing up may give the driver some sense, anyway, of control. But if a horse should spook in heavy traffic, all bets are off. Horses, carriage drivers, motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians are in harm's way.
Sometimes the horses are moving so fast that I can't get a photo. That happened last week at 43rd and Eighth Avenue, near Times Square. That horse was flying west on a street with potholes aplenty. The working on pavement day in, day out takes its toll on the horses, who are at risk for laminitis. It's understandably hard on arthritic joints and fragile hooves, equine experts agree.
Enforcement of the industry is sadly lacking, and the Departments of Health and Consumer Affairs are implicated in the sorry state of affairs. By law, carriage horses shall NOT be driven at a pace "faster than a trot." That never happens, right? WRONG!
Support a ban on horse-drawn carriages in NYC.

Photo: March 5, 2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Horses in heavy traffic

Longtime carriage driver Cornelius Byrne has been quoted as saying that garbage trucks are among the things that carriage horses fear most. Unfortunately, the horses' daily commutes put them alongside garbage trucks, emergency vehicles, buses, and wailing fire engines. About 58 seconds in, this short video shows a horse hemmed in between a city bus and gridlocked traffic--while traffic helicopters hover overhead. A dangerous mix.
Video courtesy of YouTube users "HorsesinNYC" and "DriversRunninScared."
Cornelius Byrne's interview with The New Yorker, and more recent news
You can help: Support a ban on horse-drawn carriages in New York City