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Kids

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Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Internet Exhibitionists

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Oh, for the days when a parent's major concerns were merely junior choking to death on a stray Lego or being burned alive in non-retardent PJs. But no more. As Wired News reports, this week's Toy Fair at the Javits Center was not only a festival of the intellectually uplifting — like, say, the "sculpture in a box" for the mini-Calder in your life — but also a smorgasbord of digitally locked-down playthings designed to keep children from BlackBerrying themselves (or texting or IMing or whatever kids do these days) into the arms of dirty old perverts.

Introducing Jewish Dolls (Penn Diplomas Not Included)

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As the saying goes, who knew? Seems there's a toy company that makes explicitly Jewish dolls for little Orthodox girls to play with. We know this because we just received a press release announcing that they've come out with a new line of Sephardic playthings, thus augmenting their previously Ashkenazi-centric line. Each doll, the release says, comes with a "10-piece wooden toy Shabbat kit, a Hebrew/English name birth certificate, and matching Magen-David (Star of David) bracelets (for doll and owner)." And, actually, we think those accessories are kind of necessary: Judging from what we found on the Website, we don't quite see how these straight-haired, button-nosed dolls are supposed to be Jewish. Except that they're wearing frum-ish long denim skirts. And come from Teaneck. Gali Girls [Official site]

Nickelodeon Launches Virtual World for Kids; Advertisers and Avatars Are Fat, Happy

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From our friends at Viacom comes the latest development in the Tron-itization of today's youth, according to yesterday's Mediaweek: Nicktropolis, Nickelodeon's new so-called Second Life for kids. The new virtual hangout space for tech-savvy rugrats allows kids to do all the stuff the big wired kids do: create avatars, hang out in virtual bedrooms, visit virtual stores, go to virtual amusement parks, and — most important — chat online with virtual friends. Also this:
Besides spending their time exploring, Nicktropolis offers a variety of multimedia options for its intended nine- to 14-year-old audience. They can listen to Nick.com radio stations, play numerous games and watch videos — either in a Rec Room located in Downtown Nicktropolis on virtual TVs they have purchased using points, which serve as the virtual world's currency.
Got that? This is a technological innovation that allows kids to sit in front of a real-world computer screen and use that computer to watch a virtual TV screen. Presumably, the option for avatars to display signs of childhood obesity and ADD will be part of Nicktropolis 2.0. Nicktropolis [Nick.com] Nickelodeon Launches Nicktropolis Web Playground [Mediaweek]

So Much for the Hill-Rupe Alliance

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• Hillary stumps in Iowa — hey, the caucus is only twelve months away — and the Post is already scandalized. See, Hillary rolled her eyes when asked if she can handle "evil men" — and we all know what that means. [NYP] • Remember Efrain Gonzalez, the Albany politician who funneled children's-charity funds into vacation houses and custom cigars? Turns out Gonzalez is, at least, as cruel to his own children as to others': He has "virtually abandoned" his disabled son, an ex-wife says. [NYDN] • Charles and Camilla's itinerary for the weekend New York visit included watching Harlem kids perform Shakespeare, picking up an environmental award from Al Gore, and getting photographed shooting hoops (one of the two princely shots went in). [WABC] • The new contract between public-school teachers and the city had an interesting side effect: Teachers will now be making more than principals, who aren't part of the same union. The latter aren't happy (especially now that Bloomberg wants to give them more authority). [NYT] • And thousands ran the "Idiotarod" from Greenpoint to Queens on Saturday — a bizarro race wherein costumed participants, tied to shopping carts, throw edibles at each other. The official winner is not yet known, so we'll just go ahead and call it for Hillary. [amNY]

Teen-Business Trend Less Good for Us Than We Thought

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Because we're continually informed that all kids do these days is hang out online tweaking their MySpace pages, we've been getting a bit worried about how that generation will possibly be equipped to take care of us in our old age. But our fears were briefly dispelled this morning when we read in the Times that the hottest trend among those pubescent buggers is starting one's own businesses. (A teen who makes payroll, we reasoned, will become an adult who pays nursing-home bills.) Our joy, however, disappeared when we saw the inevitable quote from teen expert and newly minted MySpace icon Atoosa Rubenstein:
"Now it's social currency to have your own business. It used to be your wardrobe or your sport. Now your own business makes a statement about you and your interests. It almost breaks down into cliques: the future C.E.O. types, the fashionistas making T-shirts, the Webby guys tutoring adults on the computer or selling games on eBay."
Sigh. So actually this isn't about nascent financial responsibility but rather just about signifying who gives and who receives the virtual wedgie? Great. Back to hoping Social Security works out. Barons Before Bedtime [NYT]

Nerve Kids' Site Encourages Dads to Bend Over and Enjoy It

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Exciting news for gruppy parents today on Nerve-offshoot baby-site Babble.com. The site's Stroller Derby blog has word of a new product called the Daddle, a saddlelike contraption that allows Pops, once he straps it on, to get down on all fours and have Junior ride him like, well, a horse. Only Nerve, of course, would find the one children's product that is impossible to describe without sounding absolutely filthy. There's no word on whether riding crop and backless chaps are included. Or whether it can be used for, uh, off-label purposes. The Daddle? Now I've Seen Everything [Stroller Derby/Babble] The Daddle [Official site]

The Cost of Utopia

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• The city's doing so well financially that some City Council members — Democrats, even — are raising the specter of a tax cut. With the Independent Budget Office projecting a $688 million surplus in 2008, why not? [NYP] • A souped-up playground is coming to South Street Seaport. One suggested game: groups of children "loading containers with sand, hoisting them up with pulleys and then lowering them down to wagons." David Rockwell designs the kiddie labor camp, pro bono. [NYT] • Time to check in with our pal Koral Karsan, Yoko Ono's driver turned attempted blackmailer, now that the full text of his demand is public. Stalking points: Karsan frames his $2 million demand as compensation for "pain and suffering," threatens to expose John as a "wife-beating asshole," and boasts friendship with "NY media." And yet, Koral, you never call anymore. [NYDN] • Say what you want about the new Village Voice, but at least it's not afraid of readers' letters. From the new issue's crop: "You … take a dying paper and kill it over and over again." "The Village Voice is dead." "Reader's Digest is edgier than you are." [VV] • And a city Department of Sanitation cap is apparently a huge seller and a nascent fashion staple; Scorsese, Liv Tyler, et al have been spotted in them. So reports the Scotsman, our trusted source for apparel news. [Scotsman]

Parents and Loss: ‘WSJ’ Examines Allowance

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There's a piece in today's Wall Street Journal about the difficulty of budgeting kids' allowances in the age of a cashless society, and it's unsurprising to learn that the ease of iTunes-esque online shopping has driven some parents to prepaid debit cards and Excel spreadsheets to prevent their children from bankrupting the family with RuneScape. (Actually, wait, it does surprise us a little. Do earbuds prevent kids from hearing "Go outside and play"?) More interesting is the accompanying charticle, which has revealing info on the allowance-giving habits of some notable New Yorkers. To wit: The toy-flush CEO of FAO Schwarz hasn't gotten around to setting an allowance for his daughter, the kids of Pitney Bowes CEO Michael J. Critelli earn "market price" for those chores they choose to do, and Charles Schumer's offspring receive an "undisclosed bi-weekly sum." Bloomberg's predilection for massive "donations" to younguns? Unconfirmed. Allowance 2.0 [WSJ]

Petty Cash

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• New Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, in a Spitzerian move, will go after Albany's hot potato du jour: "member items" (the lawmakers' richly funded discretionary-spending kitty). The AG's office promises to look into more than 6,000 individual items. Come on, that Elks clubhouse totally needed a new humidifier. [NYT] • The bizarrely warm weather (66 degrees tomorrow, kids!) is wreaking havoc on every seasonal business: Apparel shops are stuck with non-selling winter gear, cafés are making a killing on outside tables, you can rent a boat in Central Park, and city pothole crews are aimlessly wandering the streets. [NYP] • The city's all but throwing a parade for Wesley Autrey, the Playboy hat-wearing Samaritan who jumped in front of a subway train to save a fellow commuter. Among the fruits of his good deed so far: the Bronze Medallion (NYC's highest award), $10,000 from Donald Trump, and a year's worth of free MetroCards. [NYT] • Civic heroism being infectious, two Bronx friends are credited with a spectacular rescue of a 3-year-old boy dangling off a fire escape. One cushioned the fall with his body, and the other caught the child as he bounced off. Heartwarming, and just a teeny bit slapsticky. [amNY] • Finally, the Daily News catches a great throwaway moment in its Busta Rhymes item. The arrested rapper covered his $3,500 bail (on an assault charge) when an associate pulled the needed amount in cash out of his pocket. [NYDN]

And They Shall Call It ‘iTimes’

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The Times is looking at creating a new, youth-oriented tabloid edition of the paper, according to a report in today's Observer. Everyone knows print media is the place to be nowadays, so this move makes perfect sense. But what would Times articles look like when tweaked for a young, hip, ADD audience? We've taken the liberty of rewriting today's Page One heads to make them, as the kids say, "something we would, you know, read." No worries, Bill. You're welcome. Bush Concedes Iraq War More Difficult Than He Expected Okay. You Know When You Try to Crack iTunes? Fear and Hope in Immigrant's Furtive Existence No iPod, No Green Card: Here's the Deal Public Universities Chase Excellence, at a Price State School: Not Cheap In This Town, Even a Mall Rat Can Get Rattled One Town, Many Abercrombies Fanfare for Ham, a Country Cousin Mmmm. Ham. Times Dreams Little Free Tabloid Project, Aims for Elusive Young [NYO]

Scenes From Park Slope: Paper-or-Plastic Edition

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"Void. Does anyone have a void?" The cashier made a mistake — counted the orange juice twice — and needed a manager's card swipe. People on line would be irritated — that is, if the cashier didn't have visible difficulty lifting the juice carton. The cashier was 8. The kid stood on a milk crate, which, although it got him on the adult eye level, somehow made him look even smaller. The air of supreme confidence, even as he barked "Void!" was downright confounding. This wasn't a take-your-son-to-work day. He looked, well, experienced. He was also, from the looks of it, the only white worker in the store. "How old are you?" asked a Park Slope mother, watching the kid swipe her organic greens and good cheese. "Do you like this job? I have an 8-year-old too. Would you recommend this job to him?" She couldn't quite choose the right pitch for this conversation, alternating between mock seriousness and baby talk. People looked on, half amused, half queasy. Nervous child-labor jokes flew. "Debit or credit?" he asked. "Do you need cash back? Thanks. Next."

Babes in Nerveland

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When we heard Nerve, the ur-intellectual sex site, was launching a baby site, Babble, we were dismayed. Of course, according to a film we viewed in sixth grade, offspring is one of the natural outgrowths of coitus, and, judging by our friends' children, Babyville, like sexville, seems to involve a lot of rough stripping and plastic accessories. Still — unlike sex — having children is a personal act. We understand people do it, but we don't need to hear about it or anything. We thought our fears were confirmed when we saw today's yawn-inducing headline on one of Babble's blogs, Stroller Derby: "Kids Are Never Too Sick for a Double-Cheeseburger." Then we read it:
A friend of mine is a gastroenterologist. Whenever I ask him to tell me horror stories from his job, I hear one of two things: 1. He pulled a 12-inch black dildo out of some dude's ass (and the dudes invariably say they slipped in the shower and "fell on" the dildo).
Whoa. Pass the nipple! Kids Are Never Too Sick for a Double Cheeseburger [Babble/Stroller Derby]

How's My Strolling?

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Because it's not enough for New York parents to obsess merely over the right preschool and the right language lessons and all the other right things to do to get little infant Susie into Harvard, now there's one more way to indulge neurotic obsessions about your child's well-being: stroller license plates. Slap one on, as demonstrated in this photo that appeared in our inbox, and now every other nosy New Yorker becomes your eyes and ears, able to report your nanny (or perhaps your spouse) for maternal malfeasance. Speaking of which, doesn't it seem there are a whole bunch of cars ready to speed up the avenue, at that stroller? Bad parent! Bad photographer! The Swarm of the Super-Applicants [NYM]

How Much Is That Cat in the Window?

Brooklyn: Area man throws cat out window, gets arrested. Honestly, who throws a cat? [NYS] Chelsea: After renting an unheated, bathroom-less space in an attempt ride to Larry Gagosian's coattails across the street, artist Hubert Waldroup closes up shop without selling a painting. [Chelsea Now] Greenpoint: Ladies and gentlemen, Greenpoint is gentrifying. (Is this news?) [amNY] Lower East Side: There's no eruv — a boundary within which certain things usually forbidden to orthodox Jews on Shabbat are allowed — on the Lower East Side. Should there be one? Maybe. [Downtown Express] Midwood: One public high school produced three U.S. senators. Huh. [Brooklyn Record] Park Slope: New kiddie boutique makes it that much easier to scar kids for life dressing them in psychedelic, cuddly, fluffy getups. [Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn] Upper West Side: It's not quite Stuy Town, but it's still a big deal: The Apthorp has sold for $425 million. Strangely, the new owners plan to keep it rental. [NYT]

Carroll Gardeners Fight the Good Fight

Carroll Gardens: Volunteers MoveOn into vacant Carroll Gardens apartment, using it to call voters round the country. [Brooklyn Papers] Kensington: City drags its feet in building playground, kids sad. [NYDN] Lower East Side: Cronkite Pizzeria and Wine Bar helps hipsters indulge their inner child and their repressed adult by serving up cotton candy and affordable wine. [Gothamist] Park Slope: Sharing is caring, and drivers and bikers will soon be splitting Fifth Avenue. [Streets Blog] Prospect Heights: From ghetto to glorious: New bodega management patches hole in wall and actually stocks what its customers want, which is beer and cigarettes. [Daily Heights] West Village: Ye Waverly Inn reopens, with better lighting and a new mural but sadly, when these photos were taken, no Graydon. [Eater] Williamsburg: Breast-feeding has come to the 'Burg, and the nabe's okay with it. But not quite as okay as lactating moms would like. [Brooklyn Record]

Kids These Days

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• New York parents keep their kids from starting kindergarten until they're nearly 6, or even older, all in hopes of ensuring their kid isn't the "runt of the class." We suggested last November it might not be the worst idea. But remember: It also increases the chance your daughter is the one who's first to bring tampons to school. [NYT] • In other kid-related news, a New York City prosecutor wants parents to put "license plates" on their kids' strollers so that bad nanny behavior can be reported. But what if you're the one reported, on nanny's day off? Awk-ward! [NYDN] • The debate over nightlife security got even uglier yesterday, with, first, the Bloomberg administration backing away from the City Council proposal to install I.D. scanners and security cameras at nightclubs; second, the New York Nightlife Association raising a hue and cry over the entire thing; and, third, NYNA and NYPD fighting over whether off-duty cops should be allowed to do security. Sit back, get comfy, and watch the fight. [NYS] • Moynihan Station is officially dead for now, thanks to Shelly Silver. He thinks the current plan to turn the main post office into a new train station isn't comprehensive enough. He added that he'll never let Bloomberg build a plan he wants on the West Side, ever. Then he said nanny-nanny-poo-poo. [amNY] • Rangers lost; Devils won; nobody cared. Those Mets, on the other hand... boo-yah! [NYP]