July 29, 2007

Sunday Music: Jimmy Cliff "The Harder They Come"

Jimmy Cliff sings "The Harder they Come" on the Dick Cavett Show.

I saw the movie of the same name many times when it was shown in Manhattan's Art Theater. Its gone now. It was on Eighth Street, near Astor Place. I worked as an usher there for a while. Do any movie theaters still have ushers?

July 24, 2007

Drewes Village in Bay Ridge

(click on image to make it larger)

Oh baby this goes back.

Drewes Village was a "complex", I believe with common ownership on Fourth Avenue between 68th Street and 69th Street(Bay Ridge Avenue). There was a deli, a liquor store, and a bakery.

When my family moved to 68th Street in the early 1960s, all three Drewes stores were going strong.

The deli did a roaring trade in canned goods, cold cuts, quart bottles of beer. They made an honest hero sandwich. There were always roast chickens for sale. If you were a little short that week, no problem--if they knew you, the clerk would write down what you owed in his book, and you could true it up on payday. All on the honor system--you didn't have to sign anything.

There was a small Scottish colony in the immediate neighborhood in those days, and some of them staffed Drewes Bake Shop. There was the most wonderful smell coming out of there on a Sunday morning, inviting you to come in to buy scones, soda breads, and flat oatmeal cookies with a white sugared coating on top. There was a fairly long line in there when Sunday services let out from nearby OLA, and the nearer still Lutheran and Methodist churches.

Unfortunately, Drewes is long gone. What was the deli is now a Latin diner. The bakery is now a so-so Chinese takeout place with harsh fluorescent lighting and plastic booths.

The liquor store remains a liquor store. Some things never change.


I found the above image this afternoon on ebay. Someone was selling a linen postcard with this image on it. The bidding came to an end a few minutes ago, and I now own this little relic of a long time ago, so near I could touch it.

July 22, 2007

Sunday Music: "Long Black Train" by Josh Turner

Josh Turner wrote this song after listening to an anthology of Hank Williams. Hank would have been proud to be associated with this timeless, classic song. Video's good,too.

Senator Street Duane Reade Closed - Lets Replace it with a Key Food!

I wasn't surprised to see that the Duane Reade at Senator St/Fourth Avenue Duane Reade has closed. I wasn't happy when it opened a few years ago. It gave Bay Ridge a new box drugstore, which it did NOT need ( there's a Rite Aid two blocks away ), and it took the place of the A&P/Waldbaum's Supermarket, which the neighborhood needed badly.

This part of Bay Ridge has no real supermarkets. I can drive to the Key Food on 95th Street, or to the Pathmark at Borough Park, but a lot of the retired or otherwise car-less people do not have that option.

This location is not huge, but it is as big as some very successful Key Food supermarkets.

I think that a Key Food supermarket would be the perfect tenant for this location. It would have no competition. Please hit "contact us" at the bottom of the Key Food website and ask them to consider moving to Senator Street and Fourth.

If they come here, I'll roll out the red carpet myself!

July 18, 2007

Bay Ridge Avenue Shooting? Photo Five of Five

Third Avenue and 69th Street. There were two helicopters-one, stationary, stood up at about Fifth Avenue and Senator Streets. The other, at a lower elevation circled the immediate neighborhood. At about 1110pm it left the area.

There should definitely be something about this in the papers tomorrow morning.

Bay Ridge Avenue Shooting? Photo Four of Five

Channel 2 (WCBS) reporter holding the mike interviews woman who knows the family. Right after this, the police asked us to move back from the corner.

Bay Ridge Avenue Shooting? Photo Three of Five

Plainclothes NYPD officers on the corner of 69th and Third.

Bay Ridge Avenue Shooting? Photo Two of Five

A helmeted NYPD officer walks across Third Avenue.

Rumor has it that there was a shooting in an apartment building on 69th near Third. That is was a dispute between a father and son, with the son barricaded in the apartment.

Bay Ridge Avenue Shooting? Photo One of Five

July 18, 2007 at 10pm or so. Below Third Avenue and Bay Ridge Avenue (known by all locals as 69th Street) There is a massive NYPD and FDNY presence. 69th Street is blocked off at both Third Avenue (here) and Fourth Avenue intersections.

July 17, 2007

Shelly Silver to New York: Drop Dead

This past week, New York City has seen one of the worst performances by a public official in its long history. And in the city that brought us Bill O'Dwyer and David Dinkins, that's saying something.

For a period of months, Mayor Bloomberg has been promoting a congestion pricing plan, that would impose a charge for those who drove into Manhattan during peak hours. The objective was to reduce pollution and relieve the unbelievable traffic congestion that impacts Manhattan and the entire Staten Island Expressway/Gowanus/BQE corridor all through the day.

Congestion pricing died this week. Governor Spitzer was not the problem. State Senate Majority leader Joe Bruno had come around- he clearly was not the problem. The problem was Assembly Speaker Sheldon "Shelly" Silver. In order for congestion pricing to pass, it needed to clear the Assembly- but Silver never allowed the vote to take place.

That's despicable.

Congestion would have led to cleaner air, a better flow of traffic, probably a better economy. It would have raised money for various mass transit projects. Now, because of a politician with neither character nor backbone, we'll have none of it.

Even lower than Silver are the minority of "outer borough" politicians who opposed congestion pricing. Instead of listening to the big majority of their constituents who commute by bus and subway, they chose to listen to the five percent ( or whatever ) of voters who think they're too good to ride the subway with the normal people. These officials joined Silver in selling New York City and the entire region down the river.

The repricussions will be felt for decades. Mayor Mike, thanks for trying to lead. But some dogs cannot be led.


July 15, 2007

Sunday Music: Linda Ronstadt on the Johnny Cash Show

A young and not yet famous Linda Ronstadt appears on the Johnny Cash Show, in 1969 and 1970. She sings "The Only Moma That'll Walk the Line". Then together they sing the country standard "I Never Will Marry"

Beth pointed out that the links to Bay Ridge/Brooklyn Paper and to bayridge.com did not work. She was right, and I've now fixed them. "Bayridge.com" is actually "bayridge.net" now.

Bad News for Downtown R Train Riders-Cortlandt St to remain closed
The Cortlandt Street station will remain closed for a couple of years, reports Downtown Express

"The opening of the revamped Cortlandt St. N/R station was postponed six months last fall, but now, M.T.A. representative Uday Durg said, it will remain closed for the foreseeable future. The M.T.A.’s work on the station has been complete for months, but the station entrance sits within the Port Authority’s staging area for World Trade Center construction. The M.T.A. and the Port had been working to find a solution, but those efforts have not been successful. Therefore the station will stay closed until the Port is done using the site — 2009 at the earliest, according to Port representative Quentin Brathwaite."

Oh, hell.

David Lind Band Sings "Bay Ridge Avenue"

Did you go to OLA? Or did you go to PS 102? Either way, you'll like this "Bay Ridge Avenue" song by the local
David Lind Band Good luck, guys.

David, I would have posted a photo with this, but it overlapped with the song playing widget, so the widget stays and the photo goes!

July 08, 2007

Sunday Music- "Mull of Kintyre" , Paul McCartney

This was an immense hit in England, but not in America. Pity. Its a lovely tune, and I like the video very much--the pipe band, the townspeople coming down for the bonfire, all of it. The image quality is not that great, but thats OK. Play it loud so you can hear the full effect of the pipes from the local Campbeltown Pipe Band.

Linda McCartney was in advanced pregnancy then, which is why she's a little quiet here.

(from Wikipedia)
Mull of Kintyre is a popular 1977 song by former Beatle Paul McCartney and his band Wings. The song was penned by McCartney and bandmate Denny Laine in tribute to the picturesque Mull of Kintyre peninsula in Argyll, Scotland, where McCartney had owned a home and recording studio since the late 1960s.

The lyrics are an ode to the area's natural beauty and sense of home:

Mull of Kintyre
Oh mist rolling in from the sea,
My desire is always to be here
Oh Mull of Kintyre

McCartney explained how the song came into being:
“ "I certainly loved Scotland enough, so I came up with a song about where we were living; an area called Mull of Kintyre. It was a love song really, about how I enjoyed being there and imagining I was travelling away and wanting to get back there."[1]

July 07, 2007

New York Subway: Redbirds Dumped into Ocean

Back in 2003, old "redbird" cars, formerly used on the 7 line to Shea Stadium and Flushing, were dumped into the Atlantic Ocean off New Jersey. It's a win-win: New Jersey gains artificial reefs meant to attract fish, NY finds an environmentally friendly way to get rid of old subway cars.

Here is a news clip of the dumping, along with some fascinating images of barracuda, jellyfish and sea turtles swimming through cars that I may well have rode in, on my many trips to Shea Stadium.

The redbirds, used on the IRT lines ( the "number" trains L 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 lines) were durable models that served the City well over many decades. Even in their last days they had a low breakdown rate.

July 04, 2007

Echos of Fireworks in Bay Ridge

I just came from the Sunnydale Farms deli on 68th Street and Third Avenue, and saw something that you just don't see anymore.

A cluster of ten kids outside one of the apartment houses on 68th was lighting firecrackers and throwing them into the street. I walked through a heavy gunpowder cloud as I approached the store.

As I emerged from the store, an NYPD squad car was parked at an angle on the corner. A male and female cop were about to get in the faces of the culprits, much to the chagrin of some men in front of the Three Jolly Pigeons pub, who yelled across the street "Its the Fourth of July for Gods sake"

Back when I was a kid, Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst was fireworks central. I was a fireworks maniac, as were many of my friends. Many of the fathers in the area loved fireworks also, and would put up huge displays in front of their houses.

Some kids would finance their drug habit by selling drugs. I financed my fireworks habit by re-selling fireworks.

My connection was Italian guys up in Bensonhurst. We'd ride our bikes up to Stacy Car Service on Bath Avenue and 16th Avenue. There were always guys hanging around who could get you what you wanted. The fireworks were kept behind someone's house, in the garage.

A "mat" of fireworks consisted of 80 "packs", and would cost you $4. We could sell the individual packs for ten cents each. And it was not that hard to sell them. Capitalism at its finest.

We soon grew out of lighting packs. We needed bigger fixes and got them by igniting an entire mat at a time. An excellent method was to throw it in a burning trash can.

Another fine way of upping the ante was to set off cherry bombs or "ashcans", or the dreaded "blockbusters" which were said to have the power of a quarter of a stick of dynamite. I never used blockbusters --every juvenile delinquent has his limits --but God did I love the cherry bombs. They made a most superb echo when detonated down the exit stairways of the Bay Ridge Avenue or 77th Street subway stations.

Never was into rockets that much. I never really got the point of "jap rockets". Whistling jupiters, Roman Candles, chasers, they were all fine, but I only got excited by the big boomers.

Wnen Rudy Giuliani was mayor, he decided that he was going to put an end to the illegal use of fireworks. And amazingly he did just that. It took him a couple of years, but he put an end to it. Nowhere was this felt more than in Bay Ridge.

Which is a good thing--I am sure that this has saved hundreds of children and adults from injury.

But, while I applaud the NYPD for vigorously enforcing the law, you'll pardon me if a little part of me was entirely in sympathy with the kids in front of the apartment house by Sunnydale's.

Happy July 4, everybody.

Cherry Bomb definition ( from wikipedia )
Cherry bomb fireworks are exploding fireworks, usually round, approximately one inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, and coloured red with a green fuse. They contain a core made of explosive flash powder, a layer of sawdust, and a coating of sodium silicate. They are powerful enough to cause very serious injury. Historically, the cherry bomb contained approximately 3/4 gram of a chlorate/sulfur/aluminum flash powder (a notoriously dangerous formulation) making it substantially less powerful than most other large firecrackers like the M-80 and silver salute.

Cherry bombs are considered illegal explosive devices in the United States[1].

Blockbuster definition ( from wikipedia )
he Block Buster is an illegal firecracker of large size measuring either 2.25" x 1.25" or 2.5" x 1". It houses approx. 20-25 grams of flash powder making it around 250 times more powerful than a legal firecracker. These fireworks are no longer legally produced, and possessing these can result in either heavy fines, jail time, or both. They are extremely dangerous as they are usually home made and there is no quality control on these fireworks.

July 03, 2007

The Hero of Glasgow Airport

When terrorists attacked Glasgow Airport on Saturday, baggage handler John Smeaton was out having a cigarette when he spotted a burning jeep and a man in flames grappling with a policeman.

"So I ran straight towards the guy, we're all trying to get a kick-in at him, take a boot to subdue the guy." He fought the attacker and helped bring him to the ground.

As quoted in the (London) Times, he says "Glasgow doesnae accept this, if you come tae Glasgow, we'll set about you."

This guy has brass balls. And there a LOT more people like him than you think, in Glasgow, in New York, everywhere.