January 30, 2008
I've heard that the old fire was completely lacking in all of his recent campaign appearances. He didn't seem to really want it, he had lost his edge entirely.
In retrospect, the Giuliani campaign strategy was incomprehensibly bad. I'd sent him a $100 campaign contribution, and I feel like asking for a refund.
The strategy to bet the ranch on Florida let Romney, McCain and Huckabee gain all the momentum, while the only publicity Rudy was getting was from a stream of negative articles from the jackals of the NY Times, the NY Daily News, NY Magazine. Even Tim Russert gave Rudy far more brutal treatment than he dished out to anyone else.
I'd like to see Rudy Giuliani in a position of public service once more. McCain-Giuliani is no impossibility.
Now, pardon me while I take down the Rudy banner.
The store was open, so I went inside and bought a few things. Chose not to speak to the staff about Mr. Rossi's death--I don't know them personally, and they're surely getting enough questions right now.
Why was the place open so soon afterward? Well, their customers need their prescriptions filled. And it can be very good therapy to go to work. I'll encourage everyone reading this who lives nearby to stop in at Lowen's and buy a few things. It was and is a good neighborhood business.
A lot of speculation in the NY Daily News and in our very own Bay Ridge Rover that this may not have been a suicide after all. I don't go in for conspiracies much, but the more I think about this, the more plausible a mob/other hit sounds. A lot of people had an interest in Mr. Rossi not talking.
Last night, I stopped off at the mini-mart by the Exxon Station on Fourth & Senator. A woman waiting at checkout asked if anyone knew what was going on at 69th and Third. The local TV stations had camera crews down there.
None of us knew why.
Today, on a plane bound for Chicago, the newspapers told me what happened. John Rossi, one of the owners of Lowen's Pharmacy, was found dead, apparently by suicide.
I'll not speak of the troubles John Rossi apparently was in, or speculation from some parties that perhaps this wasn't the suicide that it appears to be. I don't know.
I've shopped at Lowen's many times over the years. This business has long roots in the neighborhood - Kenny was telling me how he remembers their old location, and the real life Mr. Lowen, pharmacist ,who ran it, near 68th and Third, right next to Three Jolly Pigeons.
When the neighborhood's other small pharmacies --including Alpine Pharmacy and Physicians & Surgeon's , both on Fourth Avenue, quietly expired, Lowen's actually expanded. It moved to 69th Street and took over I think three stores. This gave it some degree of size, so that it actually prospered while competing against Rite Aid and the ohter mega-chains that invaded Bay Ridge and all of America.
Now a suicide. I took some comfort in knowing that it didn't happen in the store. I am advised that it happened in the office above the store, at about 7pm.
I hope that the employees are OK, and I hope that the store remains open. Lowen's Pharmacy has been a beloved part of the neighborhood for 30-40 years or more.
This has been a terrible year for 69th Street. There was a fatal shooting in an apartment, which was followed by the August tornado ( some houses remain closed ), and now this.
I hope to shop in Lowen's this weekend.
January 27, 2008
Lets go back in time to when Peggy O'Neill's bar in Bay Ridge was one of the more rocking traditional Irish bars in all of NYC. (*)
They had lots of traditional bands there in the 1980s and 90s, and the one song that was guaranteed to bring down the house -- Irish, Norwegians, and regular Americans-- was " The Black Velvet Band ".
I don't think that the Dubliners ever played there. But they would have felt right at home if they had.
(*) Before the kids messed with a sure fire moneymaking formula by turning it into a quasi disco or whatever they thought they were trying to do.
January 15, 2008
Don Cardwell, best known here as a member of the 1969 New York Mets Championship team, has died at the age of 72.
That team was known as the "Miracle Mets", but that's not really accurate. Miracle implies that the good performance was the result mainly of good luck. But the extremely rapid improvement in the 1969 Mets came from a strong manager in Gil Hodges, some really good trades, and 25 young and old players of varying talents, all with a professional attitude.
Some of that attitude, that leadership, came from Don Cardwell. He was near the end of his career by the time he got to the Mets. But he did whatever they asked him to do, which was to be a spot starter, and occasionally to pitch in relief.
“He was a tremendous mentor to the young guys on our staff,” Seaver, a Hall of Famer who won 25 games for the 1969 Mets, said in a statement Monday. “When he said something, you listened. He was the ultimate professional.”
In 1960, Cardwell was traded to the Chicago Cubs. In his first start with them, he pitched a no hitter ( Press the in Wrigley Field! It was the second game of a doubleheader. Press the link for a WGN film of the bottom of the ninth. Check out the two good catches. Blow the image up to full screen, and you'll really enjoy it.
Don Cardwell, World Series champion and respected member of a pitching staff that included Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry, Nolan Ryan, and Tug McGraw. Not half bad.
January 13, 2008
Just a lovely song, and now largely forgotten.
This song reached Number Five on the American charts in 1969. There were four current songs better than this? I do not think so.
Tee Set was a pop rock band formed in 1966 in Delft, Holland. The group cut a single in 1969 entitled "Ma Belle Amie", which was a hit in their native country, selling over 100,000 copies. The group released an album in the U.S. on Quality Records in 1970 entitled Ma Belle Amie, which hit #158 on the Billboard 200 chart as the single took off in America, eventually reaching #5. A follow-up single, "If You Do Believe in Love", hit #81. The group disbanded in 1971.
* Peter Tetteroo (vocals) (born 8 July 1947, in Delft, Holland died 9 September 2002)
* Dill Dennink (guitar, flute, banjo)
* Joop Bloom (drums)
* Franklin Madjid (bass guitar)
* Hans Van Eijck (keyboards)
January 11, 2008
Goose won't have a career in standup, but he sure had a great career as a relief pitcher.
Only this week, I learned that Gossage never got along with manager Billy Martin.
When Gossage came to the Yankees in 1978, Martin ordered Gossage to hit Billy Sample of the Texas Rangers in the first spring training game. Gossage refused, and Martin always held that against him.
This incident tells me all I need to know about the difference between a genuine tough guy like Rich Gossage and a drunken sissy like Billy Martin.
Congratulations, Rich Gossage, Hall of Famer.
January 09, 2008
The NY Daily News reports that there is an illegal milk trading operation in Bay Ridge as well as other locations in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.
The culprits are mothers who want unpasteurized milks for their children. Apparently, they find one another over the internet and avoid breaking the law by not having any money change hands. Who knew?
Apparently, the Swede out in Staten Island has beaten the Phantom to the punch--he now has Verizon FIOS, which won't be available in Bay Ridge until December 32, 2099. The Swede household now has Internet and Phone service from Verizon FIOS. Mrs. Swede tells me that Verizon will have TV service available in Staten Island ( and presumably the two houses Verizon FIOS serves in Brooklyn ) as of March 2008.
January 06, 2008
January 05, 2008
The site of the old Scruffy Murphy's bar, on Fourth Avenue between 68th Street and Bay Ridge Avenue, has been rented. Alpine Realty advises that it will be a Chinese restaurant.
I wish the new neighbors well, but one thing this area certainly has plenty of is Chinese restaurants. This place will have an underperforming Japanese place next door and a Chinese takeout across the street.
I think its only chance at success will be if it goes a bit upscale, with eat-in waiter service. If they go the Mister Tang's route, they'll do well. It its another Fu Lai Kitchen ( my favorite cheap takeout, on Third Avenue) , they will be toast, since we already have Fu Lai and lots of places like it.
We miss Sean and Scruffy Murphy's, a typical friendly Irish place with live bands on couple of days a week. Believe that he went back to Ireland.
This is an old photo from 2006. See the faded green paint around the edges of the property? That's from the old "Curran's" bar an "old man's bar" that had been at the site for many decades.
I think that there used to be four bars in this one block area if you add the two sides of Fourth Avenue: Lion Rampant and Curran's on the west side, a bar on 68th/Fourth swcorner, and going way back, Rob Roy bar on Bay Ridge Avenue/Fourth, where the pizzeria is now. Make that five--of course there was Joe Majors' bar/restaurant just to the north of where Scruffy's was.
There used to be four/five bars, and now there are none. By some standards that is progress --no more drunks making noise when the bars close at four am, none of the casual drug dealing that was known to go on Lion Rampant, but...some of the life of the neighborhood has gone.
To Sean, wherever you are, Happy New Year. To the new neighbors- good luck!
January 03, 2008
Rudy Giuliani has been the target of a pretty aggressive media campaign of the last month to six weeks. They've caused some of his poll numbers to go down. Well, don't count him out yet. This guy can take a punch, and expect him to make the strongest of comebacks the minute the Iowa results are in.
This guy has more talent, and far more history of getting things done than all the Republican and Democratic candidates combined.
I'm a lifelong New York resident. I lived through the historic crime reduction that he managed through his eight years. As a kid, we used to leave the doors unlocked when going out for short errands. Now, after the Giuliani crime reductions, I again leave the door unlocked when going out for short errands.
Before Giuliani, I bought a car, which I parked on the streets of Bay Ridge. I, and nearly all of my motorist neighbors would lock a "Club" security device on the steering wheel before leaving the parked car. Now nearly nobody uses the Club anymore in Bay Ridge, or elsewhere in Brooklyn.
Those are my personal leading indicators.
There are some who like to say that the reduction in crime happened everywhere ( it didn't ) or that someone else, even the feckless David Dinkins, deserves credit for being the prime mover in the historic reduction in the crime rate in my city. In my borough of Brooklyn. In my neighborhood of Bay Ridge. On my block of 68th Street. I saw it happen, and I know why it happened.
I worked in the World Trade Center. I saw how Mayor Giuliani helped heal my city in the terrible hours and days after the unimaginable happened. My city and my country could have fallen into a cycle of fear, terror, and street riots after such disaster. This did not happen. He is a big part of the reason that it didn't happen.
This candidate is neither a liberal nor a conservative as most would define those terms. He's something entirely new in American politics.
He's not a actor, a preacher, a trial lawyer, or a former President's spouse. He's an brilliant manager and a fine leader who has accomplished a lot. And now he's ready to lead the United States of America.
We'll address this issue again from time to time.
Rudy for President!