Don’t attack the person, attack the argument

My SECOND video on How to Talk Trump at Thanksgiving is called “Don’t attack the person, attack the argument.”

Also known as, the Ad Hominem Fallacy.

We’ve seen this type of fallacy on both sides, calling people “racist”, “crooked”, “weak”, a “liar”. The Ad Hominem fallacy is dangerous because it diverts the attention of the argument (that we’re discussing), and it puts it on person.

Because if you can prove that your opponent is a liar, you don’t have to prove that the substance of what you’re talking about is true.

Look out for phrases like…

  1. “Of course you would say that…”
  2. “The only reason you could possibly be in favor of this is…”
  3. “How can you argue for eating vegetarian when you sometimes eat fish” (One of my favs, this clearly shows how a person is attacked instead of being addressed for or against his argument.)

This Thanksgiving, look out for when people attack the person, and not the argument. And maybe try to keep focused on the argument. You would do that, wouldn’t you!

How to Talk Trump at Thanksgiving

How do we talk about Trump at Thanksgiving?

As people feel unsafe, fear moves them to either silence, or violence. Lashing out, or not saying anything.

Based on the current tone of my Facebook Wall I anticipate some emotional conversations happening in America tomorrow. (As well as failed opportunities for finding mutual understanding.)

So… I made a short series of videos for YouTube on how to have difficult conversations.

Check them out, share with people you think might benefit, and if you have any feedback for me please let me know! 🙂

Waking up in Trump’s America

It’s time to Unite the Country! [ep1 ]

I feel like I’ve been in an episode of Black Mirror… not (only) because Trump won. But because of what it tells us: we live in a divided country.

And I was wrong. And being wrong like this has caused me pain. I had no sense how divided we were, and Tuesday night (election night) was a wake up call. Americans are angry. Americans are divided. And so I’m here to speak about that, to humbly admit I was wrong, and to promote conversations that work to unite the country.

The Day After Trump Won in NYC [ep2]

Unfriend all Trump supporters!? [ep3 ]

The Obstacle is the Way [ep 4]

“The things which hurt, instruct,” said Benjamin Franklin. Through our pain, we will find the cure. And so I’m looking for ways to turn my pain over the division in our country, into a positive dialogue where we can unite the country.

Why Doesn’t America Have a National Museum of Slavery?

Upon arriving back home from Berlin, Germany I can’t stop wondering: Why isn’t there a Museum of American Slavery?

Last Sunday, while at a dinner party in Germany, I asked my friend a question about the Nazis. “Immediately, I realized it might be rude to discuss that painful period in German history. I apologized and tried to change the subject.”

My friend interrupted me, “No need to apologize, please let’s talk about the Nazis.” From there he explained at length how modern Germany has come to terms with such a regretful past. In our conversation I came to admire the educational resources, artifacts, and museums that the German people have to keep their past alive. All of these resources act together to advance the mantra: this should never happen again, not in Germany, not anywhere in the world.

I wish Americans felt the same way about our relationship to slavery. Sure, in America we have built museums that uphold memories of our history and monuments that praise our fallen veterans. But what I’ve noticed is that we tend to erect monuments where we see ourselves as either the victors, or victims. For instance, Vietnam Memorial includes only American names, and does not have any of the names of the Vietnamese dead.

Compare this with Germany, where in Berlin’s city center you will find the an enormous Holocaust memorial: 19,000 square meters wide and right in the center of the city situated behind the US Embassy and the Brandenburg Gate. It is there for everyone to see. The name imparts tremendous responsibility on the German people: “The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.” This is what responsibility looks like! The monument serves as artifacts of a regretful past. We can learn from it, and have conversations about it, all so that we never forget.

Someone once said that “those who do not know history are destined to repeat it.” I’m afraid that in America, we often repeat the bad parts of history.

Take a look at Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall between Mexico and America: I can tell you that there are no conversations in Germany at the moment where the solution is to build a wall between Germany and its border countries! Why? Because there is literally still a wall still standing in Berlin to remind the Germans that, “Nope, that wall didn’t work out.” But here in America, we hide our scars. We don’t take the same responsibility.

While at dinner that night in Berlin, I admired my friend. Because when speaking about Nazis, he took responsibility for his German past. Not “responsibility” for the horrors committed, but the responsibility for not letting people forget.

Why Doesn’t America Have a Museum of Slavery? I’m not sure of the answer. All I can wonder is that if history is truly written by the winners, then why don’t the “winners” of the 13th Amendment have their own museum? Only after all Americans can take the same level of responsibility for the past, can we ever evolve as a country beyond our wounds, and finally start healing.

A Visual Retelling of Bukowski at the Charleston International Film Festival

Charleston International Film Festival

The Shoelace (2016) has been nominated for an award at the Charleston International Film Festival! The Shoelace is a short film (3 minutes) that I created as a visual retelling of the 1984 Charles Bukowski poem of the same title.

I first read “The Shoelace” when I was 14. At that age it was jarring to hear such an authentic adult voice – Bukowski’s writing lit me alive with pleasure. This is my attempt to bring an old poem to life in a new media – one that is fit for YouTubers.

The car won’t start, the toilet chain is broken, and a toothache has been killing him for days, it’s never ending. Then there’s that moment when it all comes crashing down. And that moment begins and ends with the snap of a shoelace.

The Shoelace will be available on Vimeo in early December. In the meantime read the original poem: “The Shoelace.  And if you’re near Charleston, please drop by the Charleston Music Hall on Friday, November 4th @ 7pm for the live screening.

Selected Stills: 

The Shoelace Opening




Best Vegetarian Food in the East Village, NYC For Under $10

1. Whole Foods
Whole Foods

$6 Salads and $8 wraps upstairs! They’re fresh, and mostly organic.

95 E Houston St
New York, NY 10002
Visit Yelp

2. Punjabi


$3.50 Chickpeas and Samosa. WHAT. THE. HELL. WOW. For $5 you get an entire plate. Live like a king.

Note: Punjabi  is not a restaurant, it’s more like a to-go stand.

114 E 1st St, New York 10009
(Btwn 1st Ave & Ave A)
Visit Yelp

3. Superiority Burger

Superiority Burger

$6 Superiority Burger + $4 Burt Broccoli = awesome

430 E 9th St (btwn 1st Ave & Ave A), New York, NY

4. Souen


$9.75 for the Macro Plate. Everything is organic, and veggie. Most dishes $10-$13.

326 E 6th St, New York,
NY 10003
Visit Yelp

5. By Chloe

$10 for the Taco Salad! This place is a favorite – in Greenwich Village and Soho. (Not East Village, but close enough)

6. V-Nam Cafe

Vnam cafe

$8.95 — Veggie Pho w/ Soy Protein

20 1st Avenue, New York,
NY 10003
Visit Yelp

7. B&H Diner


$5 soups, $6 sandwiches. This place is a wonder.

127 2nd Ave, New York,
NY 10003
Visit Yelp

8. Atlas Cafe


$7 sandwiches, tons of them.

73 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
b/t 1st Ave & 5th St
Visit Yelp

9. Spice East Village


$8 lunch specials, BOOM!

75 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
b/t 4th St & 5th St
Visit Yelp

10. Cafe Himalaya


All dishes under $10! Fricken great. 

78 E 1st St
New York, NY 10009
Visit Yelp

Honorable mentions!

11. Tiny Giant

Tiny Giant

129 Rivington St
New York, NY 10002
b/t Norfolk St & Essex St
Visit Yelp

12. Corner Grocers 
corner grocery on Rivington

$6 sandwiches – It’s not quite a restaurant, it’s a bodega. But they have some pretty great stuff to-go. Avocado, Vegan BLT, Vegan BBQ Chicken

140 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002

13. Maoz Vegetarian in Union Square


$6 sandwiches, eggplant, falafel, and various other salads
558 7th Ave, New York,
NY 10018
Visit Yelp

More expensive, but amazing vegetarian food

  • Angelica’s Kitchen
  • Dirt Candy (LES)
  • Caravan of Dreams
Updated: February 4, 2017 

Shut up. Yes, you are influential.

I was having a conversation this last weekend, and got in an argument with someone who didn’t think they were influential.

What? Everyone is influential. YOU! YOU ARE INFLUENTIAL. And I’m shocked because I don’t think that everyone knows that.
Here are 5 ways in which you are influential:

1. Do you have a brother, mother, daughter or son or anyone that trusts your opinion? You are influential! The people around you are inspired by you.

2. Do you have Facebook friends? Yes, you are influential and have the power to share life-changing ideas.

3. Do you eat meat? You are influential and can save up to 20,000 animal lives just by not eating meat. You have that power.

4. Do you live in America? You are influential! You get to say who becomes the next president of the United States this November.

5. Do you spend money? You are influential! You spend millions of dollars over the course of your life. Your dollar is a vote for the survival of companies you want to see survive.

You don’t need permission. You are influential. So, it’s time for you to know that, and take responsibility for your influence.

14th Street PeopleWay: The Dream of a Car-free New York City

I dream of a car-free New York City.

Every night honking cars arrest me from sleep, and every day myself and millions of New Yorkers breathe the carbon monoxide exhaust from a sea of passing cars.

The 14th street “PeopleWay” is a proposal to make the 14th street corridor car-free: used by buses, bikes, and pedestrians only.

With the proposed L Train reconstruction approximately 50,000 New Yorkers will now be traveling across town in some way other than the L train. New York City needs to take steps to reimagine transportation in the communities that are going to have to do without the subway. And this is the perfect opportunity to reimagine a safer, less polluted city at the same time.

Transportation Alternatives describes the14th Street Peopleway’s proposal,

Private motor vehicle trips are the least efficient form of travel in terms of capacity. A combination of two-way protected bike lanes, dedicated bus lanes and expanded sidewalks could double the corridor’s current capacity, serving up to 24,500 people per hour or more than 500,000 people per day.  – TransAlt

If you dream of a car-free New York City too? Sign the petition for the 14th Street Peopleway, and RSVP to join the 14th Street Peopleway Campaign this Wed 6/22 in Union Square.

How to Make Anyone Happy

How to make big bubbles

The bubbles of Bushwick are majestic. I’ve seen bubbles sailing off rooftops, I’ve seen bubbles swirling around my feet while standing in line for Roberta’s Pizza, and I’ve seen bubbles fly out of the Morgan Avenue subway station. Bubbles everywhere, and everyone seems to love them.

Last Saturday, as I sat watching the bubbles, it occurred to me that making bubbles must be the cheapest and quickest way to make just about anyone happy.

Whereas most things in life demand a certain amount of energy and investment, the bubbles just are. They don’t force a perspective or agenda. There’s no competition, no judgment. And as soon as you look too hard, or try to touch one…


It’s amazing how much joy people get from such a simple, temporary thing.

The man responsible for putting the blue bucket on the street is local artist Alexis Rondeau – also known by the community as Dr. Bubbles. With his bucket of Dawn and a little bit of magic powder, he’s encouraged hundreds of passersby to take a break and make street art. The only thing he asks is that participants give themselves an artist name. (“There’s been Bubble Trouble, DJ. Suds, and Bubblicious,” Rondeau tells me.)

Rondeau is a 30-something inventor / artist, and like many New York City residents he carries multiple business cards. I asked him what gave him the bubble idea and he credited the work of Brian Eno for the inspiration:

“You know how airports spend billions of dollars on architecture, and then they flood the place with the lamest music? Eno was passionate about bringing art to improve those environments. He used this concept of ‘furniture music’ to make art that blended into the atmosphere of the room, rather than to be focused on. Ultimately: art that doesn’t demand your attention, yet improves your experience. I asked myself, ‘What would Brian Eno do?’ and wanted to bring that kind of art to Bushwick. Bubbles seemed like a fun and positive medium to play with.”

On one hand, I believe Rondeau is selling the art form short by saying that his Bushwick bubbles don’t demand any attention. They’re quite enchanting: I’ve seen the huge, 10-foot wide bubbles slow club kids to a whisper, and the smaller bubbles lead both children and adults in energetic pursuit. Yet, I can understand the comparison to Eno’s art; shortly after the bubbles leave the wand they are absorbed into the background, gradually and then all at once. They become part of the landscape. The fenced-off Boar’s Head distribution center never looked so colorful. The Wonton Food Inc. building never so soft. The McKibbin Lofts so serene.

One of the most wonderful things about the bubbles is that they bring people together. Rondeau tells me, “I’ve met almost all my neighbors and some new friends as well.”

“Who’s the last person you met that really stood out to you?” I asked him, and he shared this story:

“Last Saturday we were on the street when a 6-foot tall bearded man on a skateboard came riding by. He was wearing a torn blue dress. And as he passed through the bubbles he graciously shouted to me, ‘Thank you for the bubbles!’ That guy made my night.”

Make bubbles and you are making people happy. And the happiness that comes out if it is disproportionately higher than the effort that goes into it. If you put in 100%, what you get back is 1000% percent. 

How to Make Big Bubbles

Since writing this piece, Alexis has relocated to Berlin. Which means the Bushwick sky this summer will be less majestic than in years past. Unless we do something about it! It’s up to you to keep the magic afloat. The recipe is simple:

Ingredients for the Bubble Solution

Ingredients for Bubble Wands

Step-by-step your first time making bubbles: 

  1. Cut off a long piece of rope 3x the length of one dowel
  2. Cut rope into 2 pieces: 1x length of dowel, 2x length of dowel
  3. If your rope has a nylon core, pull it out inch by inch
  4. Knot ropes
  5. Attach knotted edges to dowels
  6. Soak Bubble Wand Ropes in solution for at least 20 minutes
  7. Dip the wands in bubble mix
  8.  Cover the world in bubbles!

Tips & Tricks: Bubbles are sensitive so avoid hot sun. Dry air and too much wind will make ‘em pop too quickly, too.

Bushwick is a feeling. Now spread that feeling. Bubble safely!

*Bubble recipe courtesy of Dr. Bubbles himself.