March 31, 2007

Andrew McCann added to Bay Ridge Blog Staff

In a stunning coup, we've hired Andrew McCann away from north Irish websiteA Tangled Web!

The Phantom and McCann have conducted secret negotiations over the past two months, and the deal was struck when the Phantom had summit talks with McCann in the Magpie Pub in London.

McCann, reached at his Yorkshire flat, explained: " I had to get out A Tangled Web, for Gods sake. That Vance [David Vance, proprietor of ATW] , he was on my back about every bloody thing. When I'd miss an "On This Day" post, he'd be on my back about it for a month."


"Bloody hell yes! But I'll admit that another reason was that the Phantom offered me big Yankee dollars, while that Vance would only give me the scrapings of the Tip Jar. In NI Notes yet! I'm through with him. What a user!"

Why the transatlantic move? Will you relocate?
" I see this as a chance to crack into the New York blog market. Don't just want to be speaking to the Madradin Ruad and that damned lot every damned day, right?

I may relocate someday, but for now, I'll be happy to stay here in Yorkshire. Me and my computer, and a fresh start. I do so look forward to it"

A shellshocked David Vance, reached at the Vance Estate told El Matador " That scheming little Judas. After all I did for him. ATW will be much better without him."
Rumor has it that Vance will take on Chris Gaskin as Chief Political Commentator, while Vance and the other ATW commentators focus on cultural and lifestyle matters.

The Phantom, reached outside the Waterfront Alehouse in Brooklyn, said with a grin " Bringing McCann over should mix up things up a bit. It'll be a Nixon to China moment. Only I'm not sure who's the Nixon here"!

March 28, 2007

Bay Ridge St. Patrick's Day Parade - 2007

I wasn't there, but Steve from Brooklyn Parrotswas, and he took this video. Thanks, Steve.

March 22, 2007

Sayreville War Memorial Concert Band At Carnegie Hall

New York City has many crown jewels, none more precious than Carnegie Hall. It was built by the Scottish millionaire/philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1890, with an official opening night on May 5, 1891. The first act was a performance conducted by Tchaikovsky No joke.
There is an endless list of greats who have performed there: Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Pavarotti, Toscanini, Simon & Garfunkel, Itzhak Perlman.
And The Beatles. They played two shows there in February 1964!

On Thursday, March 22, 2007, the performance was "America's Youth In Concert", where musicians from seven high schools from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania performed. Here, the Sayreville War Memorial Concert Band perform:
John Moss: Contemporary Chorale for Band
Sean O'Loughlin: "Achilles' Wrath"
David R. Holsinger: "Abram's Pursuit"
Henry Fillmore: "His Honor"

For one day, the Sayreville War Memorial Concert Band was on the bill at Carnegie Hall! Great job, all.

(Double click on photos to enlarge them)

March 18, 2007

New York Subway vs London Underground

OK, sorry for the delay. We left this off with the match tied at one apiece. London got the nod as the most comprehensive system, based largely on the fact that it serves Heathrow, while NY was voted here as the cleaner system.

I'm going to get rid of the Third Category -- Ease of Use-- and will roll it into "Fares and Fare Collection". And will add "Express vs Local Trains"

Round Three: Hours of Operation

This is not meant to be a setup. New York's subway is unique among all the world systems in that it runs 24 hours. Which is a unique, wonderful advantage to living here. There's been many the time when I've boarded the NY Subway at 1am or later, to board a --crowded-- subway back to Brooklyn. The London Underground trains start running at 5am, and stop at 1am-ish. Those are long hours, but they ain't 24.

Advantage: New York

Express vs Local Trains

Most of the New York system has express lines, which can race past as many as seven local stations ( the A and D trains skip seven stations when they run between 59th St and 125th Street ). This can make for a much faster trip. I can just miss my R local train home at Pacific Street, but then catch the N Express four or five minutes later, which will easily overtake the R train I had missed, so that I can catch it at 36th or 59th Street.

London does not have express trains.

Advantage: New York


OK, now for the final round

Fares and Fare Collection

New York's system is much simpler than London's. The entire system consists of one zone. Whether you go one stop or whether you travel from Coney Island to the north Bronx, the base fare is $2.

The Underground has a zone system. Center city is Zone One. There are five other zones. In NY, you pay your fare and that's it. In London, you present your ticket when entering the system but then have to hold onto it--you must display it when leaving also. If you lose it, you are charged the "maximum fare" even if your trip was actually all within Zone One.

The fares in London are the highest in the world. The base cash fare for a trip within Zone one costs four British pounds-- a draw-dropping $7.76. Most London commuters pay a lot less when they use the Oyster Card, but most New Yorkers pay less than $2 when they use the MetroCard. No matter how you slice it --and here I intentionally avoid some of the complexities--London's system is both more expensive and more complex.

The NYC MetroCard is pretty easy to use. You present it only on entering the system. With the pay-per-ride version, you can pay for up to four people traveling together with the one card, including transfers. With London's Oyster Card, you must touch the electronic reader both on entering and departing the system ( no big hassle there ) but only one traveler at a time can use it.

I met a business contact at Heathrow when just in London, and I used my Oyster Card to pay for my fare to Green Park station. I would have liked to pay for my friend with the Oyster Card, but could not. I took out four one pound coins to buy him a ticket.

Advantage: New York

And the Title Goes To: New York's Subway

There are many points of comparison that I've not even touched on--ie London's system has more breakdowns-- but even without considering these, I think that there's no contest but that NY's is the better system across the board. Its simpler, its cheaper, its cleaner, and it never closes.

London's system is a good one, but I'll take the NY Subway anyday.

March 08, 2007

New York Subway vs London Underground

Alright, let's touch gloves and I want a clean fight.

Comprehensiveness of the Network
The London Underground has 253 miles of tracks in "revenue service" and 275 stations that cover the city well. But the New York Subway has 656 ( ! ) miles of revenue track, and 468 stations along it. This makes NY the clear winner, right? No, not so fast.

A large number of NYC's stations are so close together that they may as well be one station. The IRT's 1 train has a stop at 14th Street, then another four blocks away at 18th Street. Some entire sections, such as most of the A train stations in the Rockaways, have very few riders. Other lines-the 4 and D up in the Bronx, various lines in Manhattan--run parallel to one another, a block or two apart. If the system was built today, noone would design these lines this way.

The NY Subway does not serve the big borough of Staten Island at all ( though there is a subway-like train, the Staten Island Railway, that covers some of it)

London's Underground does one thing with its 275 miles that NY's subway does not do with its 656 miles--it goes right to the airport. Yep, the Piccadilly Line has cheap --if slow--service to Heathrow Airport. And it has taken me to the City, and everywhere else in the London area I want to go.

Advantage: London


Ambience, Cleanliness

London's trains have nice cushioned seats, while NY's are made of hard plastic.

You'd think London would win the cleanliness sweepstakes, but you'd be WRONG. I notice a lot more discarded newspapers and other trash in the London trains than I do in NY.

One reason why--there are no waste baskets in the London system, anywhere. This sounds unbelievable, until you hear why--they removed them during the IRA attacks of the 1970s- - 1990s. Couldn't allow for the possibility of bombs being hid there. In the post 9/11 world, they won't come back soon.

Most of the passengers in London are well-behaved, but most of the passengers in NY are fine, too.

Advantage: New York

Will finish this up on Saturday night. Gotta go.

March 07, 2007

New York Subway vs London Underground

The vast cities of London and New York are served by two old, vast subway systems. London of course came first. The line between Paddington and Farringdon opened for service in January 1863. That would have been the same January 1863 in which Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

New York's system is a relative baby. Though there were predecessor train lines, both under and above the ground, the commonly accepted beginning of the subway system is October 1904, when the IRT line opened between City Hall and 145th Street/Broadway. The Russo-Japanese War was going strong then.

There are loads of good histories of both systems, but what follows here is a comparison of the two systems based on personal observation. I've rode the NY Subway since forever, and have seen and used the London Underground a number of times since I first travelled on it in the 1970s.

Here, we'll compare them on the basis of:
  1. Comprehensiveness of the network
  2. Ambience, Cleanliness
  3. Ease of Use
  4. Hours of Operation
  5. Fares and Fare Collection
And that comparison will be done tomorrow.

DSCF9858_subway_nycbabes, originally uploaded by lauratitian.

March 05, 2007

How to get to Waterloo

Just back from a London business trip. As usual, I cheated myself of sleep for the two nights before, so if someone needs advice on how not to do a transatlantic trip, I'm just the one to give it.

I stayed at the Hilton Green Park, on Half Moon Street, off Piccadilly. It's an OK place, if you don't mind staff knocking on your door when the "Do Not Disturb" sign is hung.

I'm a mass transit geek, and somehow the public senses this. At the Green Park tube station, an English woman asked for directions as to how to get to Waterloo Station. And I was able to give it--just take the Jubilee Line one stop south.

As the holder of both a New York MetroCard and a London Oyster Card, its time for me to do a practical comparison of these two vast,venerable subway systems.

Both of you, get to your respective corners, and I want a clean fight. Let the best subway win. We'll start the bout in a day or so.

BTW, has there ever been a better album than Buena Vista Social Club? Haven't played it for a couple of years. Listening to it again now, and its like hearing it for the first time. Deeply beautiful, in all of its music and lyrics.