Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The NYC Playground

The Jungle Gym of Your Dreams

The world looks different from up above.

Pick your hiding place.

Can You Spot the Ninja?
Well It Spots You...

NYC! Truly the Greatest City in the World!
What a Complex of Steel and Cement...

And this is only a fraction of the city. And it's not even nighttime in any of these pictures! Do you see the possibility? Ninja could thrive in this giant, intricate cityscape. At least, I think so.

On a side note, I've run into a bit of a hiccup with the Melinda Gomez sighting. The group that interviewed her, Underground Update, hasn't gotten back to me yet about permission to reprint their article. They're usually cool about stuff like this, but you can never be too sure these days--that's why I got all of these photos off a stock photo site. But if they doesn't get back to me within a day, I'll just summarize it for you guys using my own words--you won't miss a beat of the story, I promise.

Until then, cowabunga I guess.

And if you couldn't 'spot the ninja' in the one pic, that's because it's daytime.

--Manhattan Joe

P.S. (I'll try and get some actual "supposed ninja" pics up on the site as well, though they're rare and it will take a bit of legwork. Also just as a reminder, I don't want to attract a hoard of hoaxers but if you've seen a ninja, and good god, if you've got a picture, or, holy shit, a video!--please, let me and the rest of the world hear about it. We won't laugh at you here! At least I won't, I mean.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

True Entrepreneurship in a City Packed Like Sardines

One final reason why a city is not such an inhospital place to ninja: The city is crowded and nuts. Who would notice a man getting stuck from behind with a poison pin at lunch time on the crowded streets of Fifth Ave? And even if a New Yorker did see it, would they even care? But I’ve already touched upon the great camouflage the crowd provides.

Rather than being a detriment to the success of a modern stealth organization, the gargantuan amount of people in New York City is one of the greatest benefits--and not just for concealment purposes. Think of the money! That’s what mercenaries are about, right? What better time and place for a ninja to get back into business then right now in NYC? The market is, quite literally, thousands of times greater than the market of Old Japan! I don’t know how they find their clients—I’m assuming the ninja make first contact, perhaps with a clandestine note to a person in need for spilled blood—or perhaps they’ve already won a lucrative contract with the mafia—it doesn’t matter, those things can be debated later—the point is: NYC has close to nine million people in it each and every day!

The chaos and energy nine million people bring with them is enough to mask many things. In a city, the chance of the clan’s activity being discovered is kept at a minimum. As anyone who once transferred from a tiny school to a large school (or vice versa) knows, private information of any sort is always kept more private at the larger school, where ripples are hard to make; where not everybody knows you; where there is generally more business and all sorts of information flying around at all times. So despite the existence of many more eyes, overpopulation suits a secret well, especially the day-to-day operation (as ridiculous as it may sound) of a modern day ninja organization.

Take the clan’s headquarters, for example—how much harder would it be to locate this hideout in suffocating New York, with its “don’t give a damn” citizens, as opposed to the sparse vistas of someplace rural, where the people are not only obliging but knowledgeable to every little thing that goes on around them?

In the country rumors spread and stick and are often true. In the city, rumors are loose, wild, and overly abundant to the point where New Yorkers don’t pay them any mind at all. “Oh, there’s ninja in New York? You don’t say?” And they go back to their day just like that, determined not to waste another second on another stupid bit of information from another weirdo stranger.

As of now, we’re just about finished making arguments for the ninja’s possible existence. From here on, the game gets slower.

What you might not know about me…is that I’m out late, walking in the city nearly every night, with my head to the sky, looking and looking, at the dark rooftops, the neon signs, the fire escapes, everything, just looking and looking. For ninja.

That is not an easy thing for a twenty something year old man to admit. But I’m convinced that I’m not wasting my time, even if ninja aren’t real. I like the city at night. Before ninja rumors came along, I was out taking late strolls anyways. The difference is, now I’m happier.

This blog is for all those who take walks late at night, not knowing what they’re looking for. We finally have something to look for.

I’m going to keep you up to date on anything ninja related from the streets of Manhattan herself. Most likely, I will spill into the other boroughs as well, on particularly restless nights.

But for my next post I have a special treat. A transcript of the growingly famous Melinda Gomez sighting in which a “ninja” was spotted rather eerily in the Bronx.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cyber Ninja Are Corny

When I was a kid, I used to have a periscope, one of those things that you could use to peak over a couch without bringing your eyes above the couch. I thought it was the coolest thing—I thought I was near invisible. Of course, there was a giant lens staring my brother right in the face and I was anything but invisible! But nowadays the technology is crazy. They’ve got worm cams and such. Everything is so tiny. A ninja could lie down flat on a building top, tucked up nicely against the ledge, and look into a lens and see all that he would see were his head actually exposed. Of course, a tiny, tiny camera rests on the ledge, but it’s no more noticeable than pigeon crap, and a lot less so than a peering black head with signature headband flowing behind.

My point is, there’s really no limit to what can be done these days in the realm of stealth. There are applications, I’m sure, that I can’t even fathom. Maybe there are mini cameras all over the city! Even filming the both of us right now! (I’m only joking.) And there’s a secret underground lair, deep in the subterranean (or an apartment if you prefer) where ninja sit in warmth munching sushi (or noodles or pizza or whatever haha) while they see all they need to see. How’s that for stealth!? It's damn effective, and I'm sure if it wasn't just a stupid example the ninja would take advantage without a bat of the eye--but I don't think I like it.

Technology corrupts and makes everything quick and cheap, ruining tradition and romance. It’s technological corruption! And it could apply to ninja as well, even though ninja don't give a damn for my romance. For example, if ninja wore invisible suits, sure they’d be greater at stealth but…I would no longer think ninja were as cool. And if they’re sitting in front of monitors, I’d think even less of them. Technology stinks. I’m sure ninja have incorporated new machinery into their operations—it’s only natural and necessary and it is their way—but I hope they they’ve kept the balance between the old ways and the new technological age, between the romantic and the electronic, at an even, if only because I hate the idea of a computer hacking ninja, especially when I compare it to my Western-er image of the picturesque ninja crouching atop a padoga with the moon at its back and a sword halfway drawn.

It is interesting to conjecture just how much technology the shinobi have incorporated into their ancient work, which is already something of an artistry. They have always been supple to change and have used whatever tools they found useful. Unlike their samurai enemy, ninja have never been pinned down by honor or tradition.

Knowing this, it makes sense that ninja would take advantage of any and all modern technology. Unless, perhaps, they don’t need to—perhaps their ancient skills continue to be as effective as they were centuries ago.

Night vision goggles, for example would only be a hindrance to their trained eye; it would muddle their visibility, eliminating the shadows they call home. But what tech would be useful to them? What new methods have they adopted into their legacy of deadly ingenuity? I wonder.

If you have any ideas, please let me hear in the comments page.

-- Manhattan Joe

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Art of Disinformation

Back in Old Japan the ninja were masters of disinformation, purposely perpetrating and perpetuating rumors about themselves until the fearful commoners actually began to think that ninja were strange creatures with supernatural powers. They are master manipulators, the shinobi. For god’s sake, just look at the image they retain today, hundred of years later! They’ve got quite a public relations team—people love them, despite the fact that they were, put simply, ruthless mercenaries.

And now they’ve come to New York, the heart of disinformation, where the media never rests, where rumors of all kind constantly fly. And just when our city’s gossip was growing stale, when people were forced into obscene focus on celebrities, along come the ninja.
The question isn’t how the ninja will take advantage of the digital age and the new culture it’s spawned, but how they won’t—whatever they want us to think of them, we will end up thinking. If they want us to think that they are a joke, a hoax, a rumor, then that is what we will think and nobody will take believers seriously. The truth of their existence will only be further clouded when it becomes popular to make ninja hoax pictures and videos. People have a natural desire to fuel the fire.

Once the media actually becomes savvier to the new NYC ninja infestation, I think we’re all doomed. The truth will never be uncovered under the weight of 9 million sensationalist liars. This is, after all, the city where a famous person can’t eat a burrito without it turning into some sort of gossip soup filled with confusion and lies.

The tragedy will climax when real sightings, and real photos, and real videos are released, and nobody believes they are real due to the quantity of hoaxes. It is in this way, that a ninja can not only be seen, but caught on tape, and still not reveal the clan’s existence in the city. It is in this way, that the ninja use disinformation in the modern day city—more effectively than they did in feudal Japan—so effectively that nobody even believes they are real.

--Manhattan Joe

Friday, June 26, 2009

This City Is a Jungle. A Ninja Jungle Gym to Be Exact.

Look how a city is constructed, with its towering spires, its building ledges, rooftops, awning, fire escapes, poles, chimneys, windows, wires, signs, alleys—it is nothing more than a playground for the acrobatically able. Haven’t you ever seen those parkour guys? And you want to tell me a city isn’t a fit place for a ninja?

Compare a rural village with its few hiding places, namely darkness and trees and rooftops, to a city and its millions of different spawnings and protrusions. A ninja must feel overjoyed at the amount of objects he can creatively utilize in order to remain hidden and eventually assassinate. It’s like playing ‘hide and seek’ in an open field compared to, well, a gigantic city.

Would it be easier to infiltrate a Lord’s castle when approaching from miles of empty land? Or would it be easier to infiltrate your landlord’s apartment from a dazzling, packed array of building blocks, all of different sizes and shapes?

Just look out your window and admire all of those buildings our city has grown. Let me ask you something, can you see through any of those building walls? Then why wouldn’t a ninja also hide or travel within them when needed, like how a rat crawls through your pipes and the guts of your wall until it finally reaches the trashcan?

Perhaps there’s a ninja in your home right now. “I’d know,” you may boast. But, the thing is, you really wouldn’t—this ain’t some kid playing secret agent or just your average clumsy New Yorker, no, I hate to be redundant, but these are real ninja, the greatest assassins of all history. Stealth is their game, their lifeblood since birth. They are pros and to be seen by the average man—even though ‘to see’ is far easier than it is ‘to hide’—would be a shame so terrible for a ninja as to be worthy of suicide. Us versus them is like your kid’s basketball team taking on the Knicks. And don’t make any jokes about that. I’m mad enough as it is that we didn’t get Stephen Curry.

I just want to clear something up because people keep asking me the same question. I am not na├»ve enough to think that a ninja operates primarily in traditional costume, at night, sneaking, hiding, and killing. On the contrary, I’d say that NYC shinobi spend about ninety percent of their on-the-job time using the best camouflage a city has to offer: the people.

That’s right, they are among you and me both, walking in line with the globs of people on these NYC streets, gathering information, totally hidden, until they know your entire day’s schedule and where you live and how best to take your life without making one speck of mess. Perhaps even, when the time is ripe and the crowd is rushing and swarming across a red lit crossway, the ninja can walk up real close to you and give a good prick to your back—you, the finance banker—that they’ve been stalking. And perhaps that finance banker will be dead in two hours from dioxin poisoning, and people will frown and refuse to even think that maybe, just maybe, it was ninja. But the rumors will still get out because people just don’t die from dioxin.

And you could never spot that ninja in a massive crowd. Not ever.
Ninja would only dress in black when the need presented itself, when extra measures were required to complete an assignment, like, for example, if their target was very rich and well protected, or if they needed to steal information from a very secure business.

This is nothing new. The ninja have always employed disguise before they resorted to placing themselves out on the line. It is far more romantic, however, when they opt to remain completely unseen rather than completely overlooked. And it is also far from obsolete for a ninja to do so, even though the New York citizen disguise is so seductively effective. How do I know this? Because in Old Japan they didn’t always rely on disguise—in this line of work you can’t or else you’re second rate at best. Sometimes people have thick waves of security and seemingly impregnable headquarters at both work and home. Sometimes there are too many witnesses during the day. Sometimes special skills are required. The ninja must still venture out beneath the moon and the stars because it is a necessary part of their job and one that can never be outsourced.

So here’s what I want you to do NYC. I want you to look out of your windows at whatever view you’ve got, and I want you to imagine where and how a ninja could be hiding, as unlikely as it is that there’s a ninja there at all—this means along air conditioning units, and inside chimneys, and atop gargoyles—I don’t care, so long as you look because as ridiculously likely as it is that there’s nothing there, somewhere in this city, on this very summer night, I can almost guarantee you that there is a ninja hiding somewhere. And it might just be right outside of your window.

And if you see a ninja, don’t be embarrassed, let the city know at once—contact me, the crazy person who will believe you because he’s got nothing better to do.

But hoaxer’s beware, don’t mess with me. I’ve seen some of the homemade pictures and videos lately and it isn’t right. Listen: the next entry deals with the art of disinformation, an old ninja favorite that they are finding ever more effective in the city because of hoaxers like you and, hell, even bloggers like me. If you keep making hoax videos, not a soul will believe ninja are real. Which is exactly what the ninja want!

One last thing, I do not believe in ninja. I am not sure what I believe. But in exploring the problem I’ve found, at least at first, that I must play the role of the believer if only to convince people that there is a problem to be debated—that this isn’t all some joke or piece of fiction. Thank you and please subscribe. I don’t think anyone is reading. And if no one is reading, I might just have to ninja vanish myself.

But someday, I swear, NYC is going to realize what strange birds are nesting on its roofs when the sun goes down—even if the ninja aren’t real—the rumor is ripe to explode, and once it does New York isn’t just going to have a new tourist attraction, it’s going to have a problem, because people are going to start making it real—not just with pictures, not just with videos and made up sightings, but with costumes.

And when that happens and if ninja do actually exist, then I’m going to be the only guy who warned you all ahead of time, before the pop culture bomb exploded and masked it all in shadows forever. We don’t have much time to figure this all out. Join the hunt! NYC ninja—fact or fiction?

-- Manhattan Joe

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Lights Are Much Greater There

I’ve heard many people say that the city is too bright to accommodate ninja. Light is, after all, the purest enemy of stealth. But these people are usually not from the city and they don’t understand that despite the brilliance of many surrounding lights which a city contains, dark splotches always abound—on the roofs, in the alleys, parks, and fire escapes—and these shadows of the city are made even darker due to their location among such brightness. We can see far better in the dark when all is dark and our pupils expand. But our eyes are always dancing in the light, the light, the light, and we skip over the darkness because we are not accustomed to it; and so, while the dark of a city isn’t necessarily dark like the country, it is still quite adequate for a skilled ninja, dressed in black or navy blue, to remain invisible.

Having said that, the light of the city can actually work to a ninja’s advantage in another way. Besides the prey’s inability to see beyond the darkness, they are also more easily tracked, because while the ninja is up above in the shadows unseen, the prey is sitting out there like a lame duck, walking the streets or what have you, bathed in streetlamps. As opposed to tracking a target in the countryside, where both predator and prey are enveloped in near blackness, and the two must keep within a few yards of one another for the game to persist, the ninja can easily watch their target from a faraway distance, and wait for the blind fool to stumble themself into a vulnerable position, whether it be their place of dwelling, the bathroom of a restaurant, or, most preferably, most foolishly, into the very darkness itself.

Not all of NYC is Times Square you know. Heck, not all of NYC is Manhattan. There are thousands of crimes that go by unseen on these streets every year. Are you telling me that thugs and hustlers are smoother than a ninja?

Here’s an exercise you can try out with a friend. Go outside when it’s really dark and have your friend go some distance away. How well can you see him? What if he crouches? What if he’s up against a wall? I think you will find that the friend doesn’t even need to be wearing black—the night is a dark place and can hide things right out in the open. Now imagine your friend was dressed all in black and was fifty feet above you!

There are no lights on most roofs. A man on a roof is impossible to see!

The misconception is: “Oh, how could you kill unseen in a city of a million lights and a million eyes?” But, just look at the corpses. Look at where they’re found when they’re found at all: in alleys, on rooftops, in apartments, poisoned, cut, or worst of all, dead without apparent reason, dead by assumed heart attack—doesn’t anyone remember that ninja know death touches? Look it up! But we’ll get to that later on.

City light is not the only advantage an urban ninja--a true urban ninja--possesses.

Just Listen to the Music of the Traffic in the City.

The country is a place of deathly quiet, and so to remain unheard the ninja too must be deathly quiet. But as any resident will attest, NYC is not a quiet place. The amount of noise pollution, let alone general sound, in NYC is constant and astounding; and thus, the ninja are granted an enormous assistance—a buffer, if you will. In my opinion, it would take a miracle for a New Yorker to hear a ninja creeping about. And since being heard is half the game of stealth, I would also have to--once again--say that a city is more adequate for shinobi-style assassination than is the countryside.

For example, in the country one might step on a twig, cracking the eerie silence, while in the city a ninja could bathe underneath chatter and horns and engines and walk the concrete silent—and, to take it one step further, even wait for a truck or bus to roar by before striking, so that nobody, not even Batman, could hear the death shriek of the victim echoing out from behind the green dumpster in that tiny little alley out back of the Chinese restaurant, totally muffled.
More reasons to come. Hopefully some readers too. Does nobody believe?


For what is a city but an opportunity? There are ninja here in NYC. At night they speckle the skyline silhouette, tiny dark figures, nearly invisible, crouching, darting, killing beneath the moonlight, the neon signs and the skyscrapers. Of course, we hardly ever see them and their existence hasn’t been proven, but I believe they are here, working as they did in centuries past, assassinating.

Yeah...when I first heard about ninja in NYC, I was just as critical as you're probably being right now. The whole idea seems ridiculous at first!

The main problem is public perception of ninja. Because of pop culture, ninja do not seem like historical figures. They are as fictional and ridiculous as Mickey Mouse or Captain Planet. It is easy to forget that ninja, like pirates, were once real and could always be real, as much as we've saturated them with fiction and legend.

I’ll tell you right now, there is no definite proof of ninja on these streets. And in a city where myths and legends run rampant, you've always got to cast a doubtful eye on even the tamest of rumors. But still, I assure you, there are ninja in our nights. How do I know? I don’t. But I have thought a lot about the subject and now…well I may not know anything still, but I believe. And I'm just a normal guy from Manhattan--I am not a nut!

Some people point to the lack of solid evidence. First and foremost, if there were real ninja in NYC, there wouldn’t be any solid evidence. If there were hoaxing goons running around in ninja costumes, the number of sightings would be off the charts.

Of course, there are some sightings; ninja twittering along telephone wires, scaling buildings like spiders, darting across rooftops, whooshing by windows—and all sorts of extraordinary in between. Some tales are, understandably, more credible than others. I’ve talked with many of these witnesses first hand, (the interviews which I'll include in later posts) and some of them are indeed frauds—there’s no doubt about it—but others are…respectable people in deathly earnest.
The diversity of the eyewitnesses, from a thirty five year old female teacher, to a fifty four year old Queens plumber, to four eighty-year old black gentlemen playing cards on their porch, is a great argument for the legitimacy of the ninja argument. Are these people lying? Why would they? No, they are sincere—they are just normal people--they are not nuts! Sightings are rare; as of now, there have only been a handful of them. The city has nearly 8 million people in it. That's what I call good stealth! As for myself, I have never seen a ninja. But, we’ll get to that. This is all just so fantastic.

Another reassuring fact is how the first witnesses never used the word “ninja.” "Darkly clad men" were seen atop roofs. "Darkly clad men" were seen lying flat on fire escapes. "Darkly clad men" were seen curled up beneath water towers. “Ninja” were never mentioned. It was only over time, that people started thinking.

Here's what we sort of know. In Japan, there exist many phony ninjutsu schools that claim authenticity. But the real ninjustu schools claim nothing, because nobody even knows about them. These schools have koryuu origins, which means they’ve descend from the real deal—the true ninja families of old. These are not cheesy rip offs where they teach students how to do fancy flips. The graduating students are as deadly as ninjutsu is deadly—as deadly as the ninja from history books were deadly. This sounds fanciful, but it is all fact. From generation to generation the training and skills and knowledge of true stealth and assassination were passed down. And the ninja never died out—they only stopped working.

It’s anyone’s guess why the ninja, who first appeared in fourteenth century feudal Japan, have been inoperable for so long . One can only assume that the changing time’s forced them out of business and complacency kept them out; the Japanese are very conservative. But look at our city. Really, look at it closely and tell me there isn’t an opportunity. Tell me there isn’t a market for ninja out there in our corrupt city! Nobody hiring for assassination, espionage, and sabotage these days? Not in this economy? No mafia, corrupt business men, or even more corrupt politicians to speak of?

The issue then is not whether modern day ninja possess a reason to exist, but whether modern day ninja can exist. A lot has changed since the fourteenth century. How would ninja operate in a mega metropolis like NYC? The answer to this question, at least the one I’ve come up with, may surprise you. Ninja would operate even more efficiently in a current urban setting than they would in Old Japan.

I understand that this is going to be a tough pill for many of you New Yorkers to swallow, but I'll fully explain myself in upcoming posts. I've got about seven great reasons why shinobi would thrive within the Big Apple. Until then, try to think of the reasons yourself.

One more thing, if any of you out there have seen ninja (and NO HOAXERS ALLOWED) please contact me, or send your pictures or videos and I'll include them on the blog for the benefit of the New York people. Thank you. Keep your eyes open out there and maybe we'll get to the bottom of this thing together. (Note: Pay special attention to the fire escapes and go down any and all dark alleys you can find, unless you have enemies.)

And, oh yeah, I'm not crazy! Start talking to your neighbors and maybe you'll see just how many people are starting to believe...that there are ninja in New York.

-- Manhattan Joe