Corey Bearak
making a difference in people's lives

Physical Graffiti

Physical Graffiti
1763 days ago 10 comments Categories: Music Tags:Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin, Poco, Blue Water, MTA, Yogi, John Fogerty, Pete Seeger, Lies, Brooklyn Chamber, Brooklyn Law,,

People comment about the music. All the time. They like the links. To songs. To bands. To lyrics. And more. They enjoy! Me too! No secret here music infuses my being and I find ways to insert it in my work and play and many things in between; that includes my writing. This commentary shares how an “innocent” post in a daily newspaper political blog influenced me to take that sensibility and run with it.


I recall using lyrics from Poco’s song Blue Water in testimony or a statement I wrote concerning legislation aimed to protect New York City’s water supply some three decades ago (maybe longer). It started,

Take the water blue water

Can you see how far it is from flowin' free

Can we let it just be

Without a feelin' of bein' just a little guilty.”


But it would take decades for me to really get at it.


In March 2009, in a statement supporting a sound alternative financing plan for the MTA and criticizing “toll-taxers” who wanted (and probably still seek) to impose tolls on free East River bridges in New York city, I used in the subtitle and opening phrase, “When will they ever learn?” with a footnote crediting Pete Seeger who wrote “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” Later that summer, I titled a commentary Deja 2nd Avenue All Over Again playing on a John Fogerty song based on Yogi’s famous saying. Those cases did not involve me linking to actual songs. Most folks knew those phrases.


A few weeks later, an innocent news release promising not to post political signs illegally on street poles got me thinking. Then New York Daily News City Hall Bureau Chief Adam Lisberg posted a blog, “Sign of the times” about politicians getting fines for posting signs illegally. At the recommendation of my friend Kalman Yeger (the absolute best at guiding compliance with NYC’s public campaign finance system), I took on advising Isaac Abraham running for City Council in a district running from Greenpoint and Williamsburg through Brooklyn Heights. Adam wrote,


Out in Brooklyn Heights, Council candidate Isaac Abraham has also tried to make an issue out of what he calls the "physical graffiti" left by his opponents. (I can't resist a Chasid making a Led Zeppelin reference in a press release.)


Read the entire post here (and listen to the double album here).


I saw Adam later at City Hall and told him that I used the phrase a lot in material I wrote on the City’s no-posting law strengthened by legislation I conceived that made the person on the sign responsible whether or not a staffer or volunteer was caught in the act posting the sign. Adam’s post induced to start using songs to help drive home a point when I released posted commentaries, often advocating on behalf of client. I would remind Adam of what he wrought when I saw him at the MTA where he later served as chief spokesman.


Just after that year’s November election, I posted a brief, “Lies,” at I quoted the opening lyrics and linked to the singer-songwriter, the LP and also to the band’s founder in critiquing the previous Mayor backtracking on a 2009 campaign promise to deliver free bus service river to river in Manhattan.


A month later I used a Poco lyric from a song originally titled “Who’s Your Next Fool?” It included a lyric which became the title, You're The Next Fool!, in response to further efforts to impose tolling where crossings remain free.


Bring it all back to Gotham, the idea to share this story resulted, when following the initial meeting of the Gotham Power Breakfast last month at the Brooklyn Chamber, Bob O(livari) and I sauntered over to Brooklyn Law School where the Chamber hosted a presentation by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. There, Chamber Senior VP Rich Russo introduced me to Chamber communications chief Meredith Daniels who shared she worked at the MTA. I shared a short form of this story with her and realized perhaps time has come today to share it. So now you know.


And it’s Just For Me and You.



Bonus track

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