Saturday, March 29, 2008

Latest Pier 40 Plans Deep 6’d

Originally built in 1954 and used as a garage, Pier 40 has undergone several transformations in it’s 54 years. It's most recent incarnation is as a sports field complex. As evidence of structural decay grows, new plans for the building and rehab of this 14 acre structure jutting out into the Hudson River get shelved or scrapped. Hudson River Park officials will consider other proposals now for the pier’s long-term use. It's a unique part of the mosaic of New York City. Save it, and they will come.

Godzilla Marries Non-Bridezilla

It was finally revealed that Hideki Matsui, of Tokyo Yomiuri Giants and New York Yankees fame, left spring training to marry a 25-year-old Japanese lady. No name or photo given for this mystery woman yet but we hear she’s a professional woman of tremendous beauty and class. Now that the nuptials are revealed, CONGRATULATIONS AND BEST WISHES TO YOU BOTH!

Friday, March 28, 2008

New York Is Getting Crowded

Finding it tougher to navigate untouched through a sidewalk crowd? Do train platforms have less space between commuters than before? Are you unable to squeeze into elevators lately? The reason may be that New Yorkers are 10 million pounds heavier in just the past two years! That’s an increase of 17% compared to the national average of 6.5%. To be blunt, we, as a population are seriously overweight. Many New Yorkers are now designated as “obese.” Unless this trend reverses (And who believes it really will anytime soon?), serious implications are on the menu. Future health risks and financial costs will be staggering for us all. Present peaceful co-existence with one another may be threatened too. Let's exercise, people!

Staten Island Ferries Won’t Go Bump In The Stormy Night

The Statue of Liberty’s torch isn’t powerful enough to light Upper New York Bay. Let’s be fair though. For over 100 years, her flame safely guided millions here from around the world. It doesn't need to be New York City’s night light too! Staten Island Ferry boats have been somewhat at the mercy of bad weather. To remedy this potentially dangerous situation, high-tech radar will be installed in 2008 on the city’s ferry boats and docks. This gear will enable captains to see their way clear through even the worst of storms. Great idea, but has New York truly gone all these years without this type of electronic system in place? That wasn't too bright.

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Staten Island

For unknown reasons, Staten Island has the highest rate for smoking in New York City. In fact, 27% of those in the borough are smokers compared to an average of 17% in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx. Among pregnant women, Staten Island moms-to-be smoke at an alarming 19% rate while in the Bronx the number is 5%, Manhattan and Queens are both at 5.1% and Brooklyn is 5.9%. The plus-puffing figures are puzzling. Residents of Staten Island will soon be barraged with a new wave of NYC-sponsored ads urging them to give up smoking. Hopefully they’ll be able to see through their own smoke to read them.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bowery Becoming “Boutiquey”

Down in the Lower East Side, just off East First Street, in a filthy back alley called “Extra Place,” another neighborhood makeover of the Bowery from bum days and CBGB nights will soon take place. Developers plan to reclaim this seedy place. Where the punk rock Ramones once posed, half a dozen high-end retailers will soon ply their trade. Add them to the other new fancy shoppes, high-rise co-ops, banks and yuppies that now frequent this once infamous part of town. It’s getting so that a young drinker who can’t hold his liquor won’t be able to find a free spot to puke or piss anymore! Maybe pay toilets are next.

“Rescue Ink” Writes Happy Ending

Clara the bulldog was dog-napped last week in midtown. Clara’s owner, Jessica Kurland, is friends with Beth Ostrosky, beau of the King of All Media, Howard Stern. Through their broadcast efforts and a New York Post article, Rescue Ink (tattooed toughs with big hearts) a Long Island nonprofit group, learned of the crime and decided to help. These animal-like, animal lovers hit the pavement hard, knocking on doors and quizzing the locals. Several days later, two anonymous good Samaritans(?) called to say they had spotted Clara and took her in. Clara was reunited with Jessica soon afterwards. Rescue Ink deserves a reality TV show at the very least for their good deed.

(IMAGE NOTE: Given a choice between a bulldog, half a dozen burly, tattooed guys or a drop-dead gorgeous blond model, the photo choice for this story was a no-brainer!)

NYPD Cadet To “Cop” Special Badge

St. John’s University student Ryan Baer will proudly enter the next Police Academy class in July. Awaiting him at graduation? A badge bearing the number his great-great-grandfather wore nearly 100 years ago. Patrolman Bryan L. O’Donnell died while in the line of duty while trying to arrest three punks. Best wishes and prayers to Ryan during his training and throughout his career with the finest police force in the world!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Yankees & Mets Want To Buy Their Old Homes

In 2009, both local ball clubs will play in new stadiums. New York City is the current owner of Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium, both slated for demolition after the 2008 season. The Houses that Ruth and Kranepool built will be no more. Gone, but not forgotten … and maybe not totally gone either. Negotiations are taking place to let the Yankees and Mets buy their old ballparks. Their similar plan is to dismantle and peddle stadium memorabilia to fans and baseball collectors worldwide. Revenue from the sales of seats, lockers, bricks and even dirt are expected to bring in tens of millions of dollars for each team. Now, if these stadium deals go through (and they will), wouldn’t it be nice if the teams donated their collectible revenues to building and improving baseball fields around New York City? It’s fans, past and present, that contributed to the success of these teams. It’s the teams that should give more to our city's baseball youth and develop their fans of tomorrow. Each team is now looking to go out with cash in their pockets. Donating this cash to our kids let’s them go out as winners.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sierra Club Set To Sue

The well known environmental group, Sierra Club, is ready to make waves to maintain the waves along five piers at the planned Brooklyn Bridge Park. The points of controversy include wave-calming systems and floating walkways. They’re convinced that these additions to the 85 acre park will be harmful to local marine life. The New York State subsidiary managing the project insists that these additions are necessary to lure new boaters and establish a fancy marina. One would think that fish and other marine life could be safely diverted away from this development area. Perhaps the Sierra Club might find a solution that benefits both fish and New Yorkers instead of damning the entire idea.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Subway Superhero Saves Sot

Veeramuthu Kalimuthu is a mechanic at Columbia University. On March 14th, he was a subway superhero. On that day, during evening rush hour, he heard people screaming and saw them running around at the 116th Street station in Morningside Heights. An intoxicated man (as later reported by a NYCTA official) had fallen onto the subway tracks, directly across the platform from Kalimuthu. Without regard for his own safety, “Kali” hopped onto the train bed, jumped across 3 sets of tracks and 3 third rails (the rails with 600 volts of lethal electricity) and then heaved the heavier victim onto the platform. Once completing his mission of mercy, he hopped back across the 3 sets of tracks and headed home to his family as if nothing extraordinary happened. Kali's quote? “People should help people. If all of us get along well in this world then we’ll get a better world to live.” That’s easy for a subway superhero to say. New York is an amazing city with some amazing residents, isn't it?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Police’s Paltry Starting Salary Hurts Hires

NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly testified that within a few months, the lowest number of uniformed officers since the early 1990’s will be on duty. He says it’s directly related to the low starting salary of only $25,100. That is low! The entire force deserves tremendous praise in recent years for drastic crime reduction across the board. It’s not difficult to forecast though that at some point (probably soon), without enough boots on the ground to enforce the law, crime rates will surely rise. I suggest that those in power immediately approve a rate increase for new hires. At the same time, they must demand hourly accountability from those already on the force. NYC residents should always get their money’s worth whatever they pay for. One more thing to those still uncertain. We can pay them our cops better now … or pay for it in bad statistics later.

Webster Hall Gets It’s Call

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission approved landmark status for this 19th-century entertainment emporium in the East Village. Since 1886, Webster Hall (known in the 1980's as The Ritz) has been well known for it’s society balls, political rallies, decadent bohemian bacchanals, speakeasy liquor, live entertainment, recording performances and since 1990, a nightclub and concert hall. The building's owners plan to fight the new landmark designation because it limits their real estate options and lowers their sales price (should they decide to sell). While I sympathize with their objections, this building and it’s rich history are too special to risk losing to some future real estate developer’s wrecking ball.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hope For Knicks Hoops?

Rumors are flying below the basket now that New York Knickerbocker fans may soon be nearing the end of their long, dark drive through the Isiah Thomas Tunnel-Vision Tunnel. According to inside sources, team owner Jim Dolan is talking with retiring Indiana Pacer executive Donnie Walsh. Hopefully, Dolan is also chatting with the very best GM & coaches around the game. To the basketball gods in the heavens, we beseech you … deliver us Knick fans from this dark and dreadful place we're in!

All Hail The Kings Of Kings And Queens

Congratulations to the renowned chess team of Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn. For the ninth year in a row, they won the New York state championship; this time, in dramatic comeback fashion. The team has already had a book written about them entitled “The Kings of New York.” Maybe Hollywood can figure out how to make a chess team as engrossing as a football squad.

Raise The Loew’s

In Flatbush, Brooklyn at 1025-35 Flatbush Avenue, a 79-year-old desperately needs your help. The formerly grand, 3,195 seat Loew’s Kings Theater is in dire need of a multi-million dollar renovation. Closed since 1978, it’s in a serious state of disrepair. For many, many years, things looked grim for the building’s recovery. However, there are exciting plans being discussed to revive both it and the surrounding area. All ideas and proposals should be carefully reviewed now. Once approved, they should be acted on immediately. This neighborhood needs to be rehabbed for the people living there now. The ex-vaudeville house deserves to be restored to it’s former glory for Brooklynites and visitors to enjoy as an historical keepsake. Borough President Marty Markowitz is staunchly behind the effort to get this done. We all should be. Viewing a movie or live performance in a refurbished theater from a bygone era is an experience nobody should miss.

Parking Permit Abuse Must Be Curbed

A recent yearlong study found that 9% of all vehicle permits in lower Manhattan were phony, 1 in 8 vehicles with permits were parked illegally and 42% of vehicles with “Official Business” permits were parked outside their designated spaces and in excess of the time permitted. On an average day between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., over 3,300 vehicles displayed law enforcement placards. 18% of available parking meters and 22% of loading-zone spaces were used by vehicles with permits. And the revolting numbers go on and on. New Yorkers don’t need more studies. Local business owners and ordinary citizen/drivers need action. I realize most of these reported violations were on government vehicles, but why not ticket, tow and impound these illegally parked cars? How about punishing the registered placard owners by withdrawing permit privileges for repeated offenses? Those who break the law with counterfeit placards should be severely punished and maybe even jailed. Those who we entrust to enforce the law should not be above it; or permitted to get away with it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

MTA Urging “Nay” If You’re Not O.K.

The New York City Transit Authority wants to discourage ill passengers from riding the trains. According to their findings, in 2007, over 6,000 train delays resulted from riders who had medical emergencies on board. The MTA is posting signs that read, “Feeling under the weather today? Best thing to do is not get on the train.” Other messages of “concern,” too. However, no mention is made of passengers made sick by subway service in general. Perhaps their next rate increase might be easier justified by subsidizing health care for all riders.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Stairway From Heaven?

It's known as the "Survivor's Staircase." Whether kept intact by miracle from up above, or an escape route that may have saved 100’s, perhaps 1,000’s from death on September 11th, nobody can say for sure. The 37-step staircase that survived the destruction of the Towers in Manhattan will now be permanently embedded at the main entrance to the future WTC Memorial. In a transient world such as ours, tangible reminders of things that need to be remembered can be of great importance. This staircase is that powerful kind of mental poke. We all must be reminded from time to time what happened on 9/11 ... at the World Trade Center, and at the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field. Lord knows that New Yorkers and those who stand as our allies don't need to wake up to another morning like that. However, this staircase should serve as a visible reminder that we must all remain awake and on guard now. The world we knew nearly seven years ago is gone. The steps we take now must be deliberate. The steps we take now must be forward and upward as well.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Cash In Our Trash

Scavengers are stealing our garbage! So say city officials who claim that in 2007, New York City lost $150,000 in recyclable metals. We’ve prosecuted and fined those who were caught in our cans and impounded over 100 vehicles yet refuse robbery continues. Apparently, "one man’s garbage is another man’s gold (or other valuable scrap metal)." The City Council has raised fines from $100 to $2,000 to protect New York’s rubbish. Hopefully, this will slam the lid down hard on this sanitation problem.

The Pricey Plaza

The Plaza hotel has reopened in Manhattan after years of extensive renovations. It remains one of the premier hotels in the world. Not surprisingly, an overnight stay there still costs more than the nearest Motel 6. It’s less expensive though than buying one of their new co-op apartments upstairs.

“Mosquito” Swarm To Hit City

A new type of security device emitting a high-frequency sound is creating a buzz around town. This “Mosquito” irritates people between the ages of 13-25 with high-pitched decibels. The sound is so annoying that it chases most kids away from the immediate vicinity. Yet, it’s unheard by nearly everyone else! Has something to do with how our hearing changes as we age. Did you hear that??? It's already big in England (at least with property owners). Now, it’s being installed in more and more NYC buildings to chase youths from building lobbies and hanging outside of stores. Sounds like a good idea, just so long as it’s been properly tested and won't cause any long-term harm.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Naval Tribute And Commemoration Of 9/11

The US Navy christened it’s newest amphibious transport dock ship; the USS New York. This vessel was forged with 24 tons of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center (WTC). The ship’s motto is “Never Forget.” Those words should be important to New Yorkers and to those around the world who cherish democracy. Let’s all say a prayer for the captain and crew’s safety … and wish them, “good hunting!”

Illegal Guns Are Going, Going … But Not Gone

The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reported that 16% fewer guns were recovered in New York City in 2007 than 2006. Almost 6,000 pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns, derringers, machine guns, destructive devices and others in total were collected. Their belief is that the reduced number means that there are fewer guns in the "bad guys" hands. I hope they're right but their conjecture is improvable. less guns on the streets? Maybe we could check with the city’s street cleaners for the real scoop.

Buck Bagels

With less wheat on the market and the cost of wheat on the rise, bagels in New York City have now hit the dollar mark ... and more. A dollar for a bagel! Many in this city are becoming irate. Can’t blame the bagel store owners if their costs rise just like business costs everywhere. Look for the brightest of the “bagel boys” to install an ATM machine in their establishments real soon; just in case someone wants to buy a bagel with a schmear of cream cheese and lox!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Eat Your Fruits And Veggies!

The City Council passed Mayor Bloomberg’s “green carts” proposal 37-9. This plan calls for permitting 1,000 vending carts in 34 low-income neighborhoods to provide residents with fresh foods. By having more places to make healthier food choices, it's hoped that people's overall health will improve. It’s a noble/good idea, but a tough break for local grocers already struggling to do the same. Perhaps a tax break or other form of assistance can be offered to these local business people who'll be negatively impacted by the city’s good intentions.

Anti-Congestion Ideas Collide

Supporters of Straphangers Campaign are looking to charge drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street to ease city traffic and raise money for mass transit. Supporters of Keep NYC Congestion Tax Free are opposed to the idea believing this isn’t the solution. I suspect that the idea of taxing people to put more dollars into a government agency like the MTA will ultimately win out. Doesn’t it always?

Heliport Hell-Raisers May Cause Havoc

Since the 1950’s, a Hudson River heliport on West 30th Street has served the needs of New York businessmen, the well-heeled and tourists alike. It’s been very handy too for emergencies that unexpectedly popup. Today, it’s the only 24/7 heliport in Manhattan. Yet, a suit was recently filed by The Friends of the Hudson River Park to shut down this vital facility. They cite a 1998 state law requiring the heliport to be moved to create more park space on the west side. Admittedly, a more serious effort should have been made by now and certainly, should be made now to locate the heliport to a new location. However, legally forcing this heliport to close puts many New Yorkers at unnecessary risk to add grass and trees.

Now, I welcome the new parks being built around the city; but not at the expense of people’s lives and property. City government needs to hover … uhhh, huddle together with all parties concerned and hammer out a solution. Put on your “thinking caps” people! Tree-huggers and those in black robes should not determine this matter alone.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

East Side Park Power

Final plans and negotiations are underway to build a 5 acre park along the East River in Manhattan. This major redevelopment on the former site of the Con Edison power plant will also include 4,000 new apartments. A floating pylon will be constructed in the river to become the new location of a restaurant, ferry landing, viewing center and exhibition space. The Municipal Arts Society deserves much of the credit for this waterfront park concept. Let’s seize the moment, embrace their idea and turn this property into another jewel in the necklace to surround Manhattan with greenery for decades and the appreciation of generations to come.

New Schools With The Same Rules

This September, the city plans to open 52 new public schools for children in kindergarten through high school. 20 in Brooklyn, 14 in Queens, 8 in The Bronx, 7 in Manhattan and 3 on Staten Island. Half of these will replace failing schools. (Question: Do schools fail or do policies and people?) Pay close attention class. New school R-chitecture won’t impact our kids as much as ensuring that all students learn the "3 R’s." Reading. Writing. Arithmetic. When will anyone (students, parents or politicians) ever learn?