Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stern Unconcerned

At the NBA’s 2008 All-Star Game, basketball Commissioner David Stern made some comments about our beloved Knicks. He said, “I’m optimistic, at least for next season.” And to think that we fans in New York were looking ahead to another catastrophic, hopeless year at Madison Square Garden. Silly us!

Albanian Flags Fly In New York For Kosovo

Ten years ago, the war-ravaged country of Kosovo suffered 10,000 casualties under brutal ethnic cleansing conducted by Serbian Slobodan Milosevic. For those who remember it, the tragedy was staggering. When word reached New York that Kosovo had declared itself to be a free country, ethnic locals who supported the move erupted in joyous celebration. Albanian flags could be seen flying in cars parading up and down city streets and in many shop windows too. Congratulations to the world’s newest democracy! As free people, high taxes aside, I’m confident most New Yorkers salute your new country and peoples. I also wish you peace and prosperity in the years to come.

Mama Mia, It’s $4.00 Pizza!

Di Fara’s Pizza, known in Midwood Brooklyn since 1964 for one of the best tasting slices around, is now known for having the most expensive regular slice in New York! Though it just jumped from $3.00 to $4.00 per slice, the regulars keep lining up for more. Pizza elsewhere in Brooklyn typically sells for $2.00-$2.50 per slice. The owner, Mr. DeMarco says the price increase is necessary because of the higher-priced, quality products he imports direct from Italy. So far it appears that Di Fara’s loyal customers are more than willing to swallow the high/higher/highest prices so long as their favorite pizza keeps on tasting as good as ever.

NOTE: Just a quick thought. Every Italian I ever spoke with claims New York pizza tastes much better than any made in Italy. Maybe it’s our water and not their products that make for really great pizza flavor!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Raccoons Survive And Thrive Among The Dead

Brooklyn’s venerable 478-acre Green-Wood Cemetery is reportedly overrun by 100’s and more likely, 1,000’s of hungry raccoons. Years of “looking the other way” by New York city officials have been a “boon to the raccoon” here. The situation is as bad as it has been in the last 40 years; yet, appropriate city employees are “dead at their desks.” The mask-eyed critters easily survive on insects and vegetation, fresh sod and flowers left on graves and food items scavenged from neighborhood garbage pails. Crypts have often become homes to the more intrepid of the lot.

Alas, nighttime in this graveyard reveals no spirits for ghost-hunters to record. Only the glowing eyes of creatures that are in their element may be seen here … and are seen, everywhere! No longer captured and euthanized, they will continue to multiply and live in impunity. Perhaps in years to come, those of us who become residents of Green-Wood will hear scratching on our casket lid. Nobody in government is listening now. Too late for us to act or complain then.

NYC Sperm Banks Spreading "Seeds" Of Doubt

The New York State Health Department reportedly found many serious violations at 5 local sperm banks. Deadly bookkeeping and medical errors were rampant. Problems may exist in other centers as well. Check thoroughly before making a potentially sperm-spoiled deposit or withdrawal. I wonder if these banks will be forced to offer free checking to keep their clients and attract new customers in the future?

NYC’s Ferry Fairy

There’s a new idea that’s being floated in this town. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is proposing a plan to develop commuter-ferry service linking all five boroughs in New York. The plan is in it’s early stages and undoubtedly needs tinkering, but the concept and potential benefits to the city and it’s commuters are exciting. Generally considered to be one of the most powerful women in New York, Quinn may actually her vision come to be. Boat tours around Manhattan have been very popular for over a century. Being stuck on a train or in traffic has been very unpopular for about the same amount of time. Let’s hope this idea of hers proves to be water-worthy and not a Titanic waste of money.

Are We The Big Apple Or The Big Banana?

Did you know that NYC has it’s own official condom? Well, as the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic with about 100,000 of New York’s 8.2 million residents infected, something radical needed to be done. Roughly 3 million free condoms a month were distributed last year by the Health Department. This year, a new ad campaign, “get some,” or “pontello (Spanish)," hopes to make an even greater impact. Free condoms are available locally in hundreds of bars, restaurants, salons and distributed by several non-profit groups. Health Department teams will also travel around the city handing them out. Hey New Yorkers! If 42nd Street could be cleaned up, make sure your sexual attractions are safer too.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mets To Ignore Their Roots On New Turf

In 1962, the New York Metropolitans (Mets) came into being as a baseball franchise. They were a consolation gift to National League fans still broken-hearted over the departure of their beloved, California dreaming Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants 5 years before. From their original logo and team colors (Blue-Dodgers, Orange-Giants) to their opening day ceremonies, the Mets were to be an amalgam of two teams with long histories in New York. However, it seems as though half of the team’s origin has been lost in the construction and celebration of their new Citi Field. Ebbet’s Field and the Dodgers are openly lauded while the Polo Grounds and Giants are nearly ignored. Though the Giants were always the third most popular team in town behind the Yankees and the Dodgers, they, their fans and those who cherish the history of baseball deserve much better representation at Citi Field.

In 2009, the Mets replace their Shea Stadium digs with the new Citi Field ballpark. The Yankees move as well from Yankee Stadium across the street to Yankee Stadium. No name change for them. No need. There’s something to be said for knowing one’s history and honoring tradition. Unfortunately for Mets’ fans, their team’s ownership isn't the best one to discuss history and honor.

P.S. Giants fans everywhere should demand that their team not be forgotten in Met's history like perhaps ... the Brooklyn Superbas.

Beagle Is Numero UNO At The Garden

Congratulations are heartily given to Uno and his handler, Aaron Wilkerson. Uno was the first beagle in the 132 year history of Westminster to claim first prize. From all accounts, he performed magnificently throughout the event. His championship title was justly deserved. Hopefully my New York Rangers or your New York Knicks will each win their next championship in fewer years than that. Bet on the Rangers doing it. Bet on a beagle winning again before the Knicks do.

Naked Cowboy Sues Chocolate Coated Cowpoke

Robert Burck, Time Square’s Naked Cowboy, thinks the Mars Candy Corporation has stolen his image to create their Singing Cowboy M and M. Burck, 37, is known to mosey around Times Square, singing songs while entertaining all who see and interact with him. Wearing his white hat, white boots and skimpy white underwear (with a guitar strategically hung in front), he’s been a unique sight in a unique city. That is, until this Melodious M and M rode in on a video billboard at the Mars store on 42nd Street. Honest Injun, the resemblance, right down to their white boots is obvious. Now there’s two troubadours in town. Now, it’s "The Cowboy vs. The Marsians" in a $6 million legal battle over trademark rights and other claims. I wish New York's Naked Cowboy the best of luck with his lawsuit. Originality and those who dare to walk the streets of Manhattan in their underwear need to be protected.

Nation’s Kids Prefer Big Apple Sheepskin

Applications are arriving at record rates from high school seniors around the country who wish to attend New York City’s colleges and universities. That’s not surprising. How are you going to keep them down on the farm, after they’ve seen New York on cable TV?

Yankees & Mets Tickets Spike For 2008 At Record Levels

I applaud Major League Baseball for making an attempt to clean up the game by bringing the HGH and steroid problem to light with the Mitchell Report. It’s long overdue. Recommendations to enforce tougher testing procedures and suggestions to increase penalties for abuse need to be applied quickly. In truth though, I think the Mitchell Report only scratched the surface of the problem. MLB needs to do much, much more to get drugs out of baseball. I hope they do because it’s a great game. On a somewhat similar note, whoever can get steroids out of 2008’s bulked up ticket prices may be doing an even greater service for New York City baseball fans!

Local Baseball History For Sale … In The Future

The end of the 2008 major league baseball season brings a close to our two cherished baseball parks; Yankee Stadium and Shea … unless of course the teams make it to the Playoffs! Whether the dreams of Yankee or Mets fans end in September or October, new baseball dreams will begin soon after.

The Department of Parks and Recreation owns both facilities. Soon after the last out is made, you can own something from each MLB ball field too. The city plans to sell everything it possibly can to interested fans, collectors and investors who want to own a piece of nostalgia. Best of luck to all fans that plan to buy something. “Everything” is being sold so your chances of getting “something” are good. What’s not for sale are all of the great memories. No matter anyway. Real fans know they’re truly priceless and guaranteed to increase in value in the years to come.

Westminster Dog Show Vs. Knicks Dog Show

Madison Square Garden welcomed a new set of dogs this week. However, this group of championship hounds performed at a level that far exceeded any we’ve seen in recent years by our Knicks. Kind of makes one dream of Rin Tin Tin, Lassie and Old Yeller up front with Eddie (Frasier) and Benji in the backcourt. We should only be so lucky.

Jacob Javits Convention Center Can’t Compete Without Change

New York City surely doesn’t have the same lure it once had for business expositions and conventioneers. Other cities have responded far better than the Big Apple. They’ve dropped us way down on the list of places for successful meetings and commerce. As a result, the city and local businesses have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in sales and taxes.

Roughly 21 years after it first opened, the Javits Center, seemingly still sits apart from the rest of Manhattan. Worse still, it’s now in dire need of major structural repairs. From the entire roof which must be replaced, to the black glass panels which will be swapped for clear ones, much renovation is required. Foolishly perhaps, plans for major expansion of this facility and to create significant commercial development for the West side have all but been killed by Governor Spitzer in Albany. To become America’s Convention Center once again, NYC needs a great building to house promoters and a surrounding neighborhood that complements and properly supports a convention center. We’ll also need a visionary leader to step forward and make things happen. We can’t wait another 21 years.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cameras For Crooks And Honest Citizens Alike

Officials from both the NYPD and the Parks Department concur that pretty soon, security cameras will be as common as squirrels in New York City’s parks. They say this technology will be used to increase successful prosecutions of those arrested for criminal acts. They also believe these high-tech electronics are effective deterrents of crime. As one who’s read George Orwell’s 1984 (a recommended read in 2008), I’m leery about their concept and conclusions.

It’s a known fact that most inmates released from prison wind up committing crimes again. Sadly, too few are rehabilitated to live respectably within our society. Has a study ever been conducted to determine if crime might drop if sentences for convicted criminals were longer? Or, might the fear of longer sentencing be a more effective deterrent than hidden cameras? Maybe it’s time we got the answers to these questions. I suggest we examine all of our personal safety options before we’re all examined (on camera) ourselves.

The Intent Tenant of 54th Street

Horace Tumbell, a Manhattan resident of a rent-stabilized building at 261 West 54th Street for the last 23 years plans on staying just a bit longer. Despite the fact that a 39 story skyscraper is underway around him, he is not underway himself. That’s because Mr. Tumbell, the last of the building’s residents, is holding out for enough cash to buy a one bedroom midtown apartment (estimated to be $600,000-$900,000), hopefully on a more stable block. So far, a buyout settlement has been impossible for the two sides to agree on. The builder plans to refuse to renew his lease come October. Mr. Tumbell threatens to delay the project in court for years if they do. I wonder. In a few months, won’t the book and movie rights enable Mr. Tumbell to buy the new 39 story building?

The Lady And The Tramps In Charge Of Her Safety

In a story dated February 10th, it was reported that the Department of the Interior found gross and dangerous lapses regarding the security of our Statue of Liberty. All New Yorkers and all patriotic Americans should be appalled by these facts and motivated to write to their elected officials demanding swift action. As of now, it’s the National Parks Service’s responsibility to ensure Her safety. Maybe that should be changed … as of NOW.

Immediate action must be taken to correct past mistakes. Those apes in charge of Her safety must be reprimanded, reassigned or fired. Perhaps we need not worry about foreign terrorists who have talked about destroying this symbol of our freedom so much as government officials who fail to discuss and take immediate action NOW.

“I Love New York” Logo For Good, Not Bad

To their credit, New York City officials are looking into ways of banning the use of the city’s famous slogan from licensed novelties such as cigarette lighters and ash trays. These items are associated with unhealthy practices and no longer deemed by some to be things the city should be associated with. Perhaps the shot glass is next to go. Or better still perhaps, VH1’s “I Love New York” reality(?) cable show which ain’t exactly Disney … even if Disney is now on 42nd Street.

Gucci Knocks-Off “I Love New York” Ad Campaign

In an effort to promote the opening of Gucci’s newest/largest store in the world which will boast a Manhattan address, Gucci borrowed the Empire State’s graphic design theme for use on some of their items (Gucci Loves NY – with the word “Loves” replaced by the familiar red heart). Unfortunately for them, they forgot to request permission first. It’s expected that New York state officials will go easy on the company as profits from the sale of these items will be donated to charity. Seems like their expected pardon is … in the bag.

NYFD Parking Placards Are Hot Items

There’s been several car break-ins around firehouses in New York City. More often than not, the only thing stolen is an NYFD parking permit. This sign permits the vehicle to legally park in otherwise illegal areas, like at a pump; but only near a firehouse. Only an idiotic thief would steal it to use when it’s illegal use would be easy to detect by an alert NYPD agent. I mean, why not put a flashing red light on top of the car too attracting more attention? Citizens should keep their eyes open for an eBay “Buy It Now” deal at a steal of a price.