PR-to-English translation of the announcement of new NYS license plates


New York State Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee David J. Swarts today unveiled the “Empire Gold” license plate which will be issued to most vehicles registered in the state beginning in April, 2010.

Our committee spent eight months trying to come up with something that looked like “work”, and the only thing we agreed on was this ugly-ass license plate. You know, the same one we got rid of 20 years ago.

“The bold colors of the new license plate reflect New York’s force and its resilience,” said Commissioner Swarts. “These new plates, in the official colors of the State of New York, will help maintain highway safety, reduce the number of unregistered and uninsured vehicles on our roads, and generate $129 million in General Fund revenue over two years, which will help address the State’s financial crisis.”

We could probably help the budget crisis by reinstating a more progressive tax structure and reducing graft, inefficiency, and corruption. Or we could just nickel and dime you schmucks for $129 million, because even though it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the $12 billion deficit, it still looks like we’re “doing something”.

State Police Superintendent Harry J. Corbitt said, “License plates are a fundamental tool of law enforcement that has been enhanced in recent years through a variety of technologies that improve their readability, especially under low light conditions. The State Police has worked cooperatively with DMV to ensure that the new plates will continue to serve the law enforcement community effectively.”

Oooh, they’re shiny! And reflective!

“This project will benefit law enforcement efforts, and therefore enhance public safety, in several ways,” said Denise E. O’Donnell, Deputy Secretary for Public Safety and Commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. “For instance, nearly 300 police agencies in New York State are currently deploying approximately 500 computerized license plate readers (LPRs) that enable authorities to quickly identify vehicles that have been stolen or used in a crime. These new plates will ensure that the LPRs are as effective as possible.”

Oh my god, we are laughing so hard that you people let us get away with buying all this crap.

DMV will begin issuing the new plates for registration renewals that expire in May 2010. Customers renewing their vehicle registrations in person in a DMV office, over the phone, by mail or through the Internet, will receive their new Empire Gold plates in the mail. Customers completing an original over-the-counter registration transaction will receive their plates immediately. [ . . . ] A plate fee of $25.00 will be added to the registration renewal fee. Single plate registrations (e.g. motorcycles) will be charged a plate fee of $12.50. Motorists registered in the Passenger (PAS), Commercial (COM), Motorcycle (MOT) or Trailer (TRL) registration classes will have the option to keep their current plate number/letter combination. Those with vehicles registered in other classes may also have this option. The registration renewal invitation will tell motorists if this option is available. Those choosing to keep their current plate number/letter combination on the new Empire Gold plate will be required to pay a $20.00 fee. Those motorists holding a personalized plate will automatically be re-issued the same number/letter combination on their new plate. Because they currently pay an annual personalized plate fee, they will not be required to pay the $20.00 fee. Most plates with the New York skyline banner across the top of the plate will begin to be replaced by the new Empire Gold plate in April. Custom picture plates will be replaced at a later date. The DMV will also be electronically sharing updated plate number information with EZ-Pass so that motorists who participate in that program will not have to do so.

We’re making the entire process as obtuse as possible so that we can smack you with additional fees and fines when you inevitably fuck it up the first time. Good luck!

posted 11/10/09 by Tony at 3:40pm to Local, Politics, The stupid, it burns, WTF? · 0 replies · »

On reading for pleasure

This morning someone asked what novel I’d read most recently. I told them.

“Wow, I never imagined you’d read something like that,” they said almost in horror, as though I’d just admitted to a world-class sommelier that I drink Lambrusco straight from the bottle.

I love really good literature, obviously. But I don’t have a lot of time for leisure reading, and when I do, I don’t necessarily reach for a Cormac McCarthy or Kazuo Ishiguro.

I don’t choose books that I think will impress friends or colleagues or strangers in a café.

I don’t care if you gasp when I admit I didn’t like a certain “classic” novel by default simply because it is a classic.

I don’t care if you turn your nose up at me because I’m not reading whatever sneering deconstructionist tome you’re slogging through—dripping with semiotic snobbery and hoary lit crit nonsense—and pretending you’re enjoying it.

Basically I want to read a fucking story.

I want to read about places I haven’t seen, full of people I’ve never met, involved in something fascinating and perhaps just a tad over the threshold of plausibility.

I want to read about people doing things. If most of the verbs in the book are variations of thought or said or felt, forget it.

Give me some characters with faults. Give them important, wonderful things. And then yank them away. Let me see the wind knocked out of them so I can watch them react and see what they’re made of. What do they do?

If I find a work of fiction that gives me that, I’ll likely read it, no matter what lasting literary “value” it may have or the cachet it displays when I pull it out of my bag.

posted 11/5/09 by Tony at 3:53pm to Books, Writing · 1 reply · »

An audience of one

I can tell straightaway when a fiction author has little interest in or passion for their subject material, and crafted a story for the sole purpose of hitting a “market segment”. I have real contempt for such writers.

No matter what kind of writing you do—short stories, books, children’s lit, screenplays, stand-up bits, whatever—don’t ever approach it as though you’re trying to please an audience. Don’t ever write what you think people want. Don’t ever write about something you think is popular. Because invariably, it will suck. And it will suck hard.

Write to please one person and one person only: yourself.

Which is to say, write the kind of book that you love to read. Write the kind of script that you want to see on the screen.

If you write something you don’t like, you’ll get bored with it and shelve it, or throw it away and start over, because you don’t want it to see the light of day. And rightly so; if you’re not interested in the story, no one else will be either. But if you write something that thrills you, mark my words you’ll finish that fucking thing. You’ll find a way. And you will work your ass off to polish it before it leaves your desk.

Obviously there’s no guarantee it will reach an audience. But at least you didn’t write a dispassionate tale about teenage vampires, for example, simply because teenage vampires are a popular thing. You wrote something that pleased you immensely, based on topics and themes and interests that tickle your brain and grab you right in the guts. You wrote the kind of story you’d pay to read if it had been written by someone else. Which means it’s likely that a load of other people with similar interests would pay to read it as well. What’s more, savvy readers can always tell the difference between derivative crap written to editorial order, and prose by someone who clearly wrote the story solely because they loved it and wanted it told.

And that’s good news for you.

posted 9/21/09 by Tony at 4:47pm to Writing · 1 reply · »


I’ve migrated all of my little story bits, short works, and microfiction over to a new sub-site: the half empty moleskine. That way, if you get tired of my drivel here, you can just skip it and go directly to the fiction.


posted 9/20/09 by Tony at 8:21am to Me me me, Site stuff, Writing · 0 replies · »

Sophomore effort

Your first novel is fueled by passion for your craft, belief in your talent as a storyteller, a fire that burns in your belly, a head full of imaginary people speaking to you, millions of collapsing waveforms of narrative possibility, and entire days that pass like mere minutes. Not to mention liberal doses of caffeine, adrenaline, sugar, alcohol, and endorphins.

Your second novel is hampered by crippling doubt, self-loathing, a paralyzing fear of failure, a head full of imaginary people screaming at you, hundreds of words of uninspired narrative dross, and minutes that pass like entire days. Not to mention excessive doses of caffeine, alcohol, and empty carbohydrates.

posted 9/15/09 by Tony at 2:11pm to Writing · 3 replies · »