Here's our second mention in the mainstream Queens press:
Where The Faceless Queensites Gripe
BY THERESA JUVA
Its “mascot” is a scowl-faced Unisphere sitting on a toilet. Its entries are marked by an abundance of capped words and exclamation points, shouting signs that make Queens Crap, http://queenscrap.blogspot.com the new blog for unhappy Queens residents, the virtual equivalent of a boiled over civic association meeting.
With titled posts like “Crap-o-rama” and “On the Market: Queens Crap Blvd.,” bloggers send in photos and locations of buildings around the borough that violate Department of Buildings regulations, fail to display adequate work permits, or commit the ultimate offense: ugliness.
“Notice how the boring blond brick contrasts with the tasteful brick design of the adjacent rowhouses,” one entry reads about the construction on a home in Maspeth.
Words like “monster,” “military bunker,” and “eyesore” are used to characterize home transformations that the bloggers believe are destroying their communities by inviting big developers in to build mega structures.
The blog’s heavy criticism of real estate developers is why the blog’s founder does not want to reveal her identity.
“The fact is that people in the real estate industry like to pressure and intimidate people who report infractions against them,” she said in an e-mail.
The site began in December from photos she had collected of illegal construction sites around the borough.
She said she is driven by the belief that “real estate money runs the city via campaign contributions to elected officials,” and wants to give people a forum to not only document their concerns in the borough, but also question their local politicians.
And by questioning them, bloggers turn them into caricatures: for example, according to one post, Councilman Dennis Gallagher is called “Dennis the Menace,” and also nicknamed “Pinky,” because of his cheeks’ reddish hue.
Alan Gross of Flushing said he posts on the site as a way of venting about what he views as destructive changes in his neighborhood.
“It’s a two-fold function for me,” he said in a phone interview. “It gives me a chance to vent, but it also gives me a chance to read news that isn’t in any of the papers.”
Gross believes the pressing issues of his community are largely ignored by most newspapers, a point that New York University urban sociologist Eric Klinenberg supports.
In his new book called “Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media,” Klinenberg said as newsrooms shrink and local reporting suffers, people turn to blogs. One negative effect is that bloggers may not verify their facts and inaccurate information emerges. He cautioned that while blogs can be useful tools for journalists, they cannot stand on their own.
“My big theme is we shouldn’t see them as substitutes for quality local journalism; they are supplements,” he said. “I hope that the two kinds of outlets have a healthy, complimentary relationship.”
He said if blogs gain reputations for dispersing misinformation, it will steer people back to mainstream media.
But reliable blogs can survive.
Brownstoner, a blog created by a Brooklyn man several years ago, has become a premier blog for community information—a site description calls it “an unhealthy obsession with historic Brooklyn brownstones and the neighborhoods and lifestyles they define.”
“I certainly didn’t start it day one thinking that it’ll get as big as it did,” said the site’s creator, who also wished to remain anonymous because of his negative criticism of real estate developers and brokers.
He said the site attracts about 100,000 viewers a month, “a broad cross-section of readers,” who go beyond just prattle and engage in discussion about how race and class play a role in the borough’s development.
Some bloggers aren’t convinced that Queens Crap promotes this kind of productive conversation.
On Curbed.com, a blog with pages for different neighborhoods across the City, bloggers were skeptical of it, writing that “the whiners have their very own site now,” and that “some of these folks need to pack it in and retire to Florida and let things move forward.”
But for Queens Crap bloggers, the site finally gives them a voice they believe has been muffled by the sound of cement trucks rolling through their neighborhoods.
Rick Duskiewicz, president of the Creedmoor Civic Association, recently found the site and said while he doesn’t agree with all the posts, he understands the outrage. Many Queens residents chose the borough, he said, because they don’t want to live among the skyscrapers in Manhattan.
“We moved to Queens for green spaces and open space. Some people thinking paving over those spaces is progress,” he said.
Queens Crap may be about making noise, but Duskiewicz said it’s ultimately about preserving peace.
“In Queens, you get to see a sunrise and a sunset,” he said.
(Note, I changed to queenspress.com version which shows more of the actual article and the web address.)
Not surprisingly, there is not one issue of the paper available anywhere in the Crapper's neighborhood. That's what happens when your elected officials are not too pleased with the publicity that your website is getting.