February 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Johnny Cash

February 26 is Johnny Cash's birthday. Live your life accordingly.

There is a wealth of Johnny Cash material available on youtube. This song is from a concert he did in the Manhattan Center in NYC in 1994. Kicked to the curb long before by a country music establishment that didn't understand him, Cash was "rediscoved" (ha) by a new, young urban audience.

"[This song] was written by Nick Lowe and Carleen Carter...they got me pegged too" he said, before starting "The Beast in Me".

Why didn't anyone tell me about this?

February 24, 2008

Does Obama Have Terrorist Connections?

William Ayers to the left, back in the day. You Don't Need A Weatherman to know which way the wind blows!

It sounds like the most bizarre right-wing conspiracy tale, but apparently he really does. Not with foreign terrorists- with former domestic terrorists.

Apparently Obama is at least casual friends with with William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. If you're younger than 40, these names may mean nothing to you. Ayers and Dohrn were members of The Weathermen. A hard left group that accidentally bombed a townhouse in Greenwich Village in NYC and who very intentionally bombed the Pentagon and other government buildings.

Apparently, Barack Obama began his political career at a fundraiser at the home of Dohrn and Ayers. They're not close allies, but they are described as "friends".

MSNBC said today "Ever-so-slowly, Obama's run-ins with a couple of notorious '60s radicals is starting to seep into the MSM... the visit by Obama to their home-part of a campaign courtship-reflects more extensive interaction than has previously reported.”

If there is ANY additional corroboration to any Ayers-Dorhn relationship with Obama , Obama is finished.

In a NY Times article dated September 11, 2001 --of all the days-- William Ayers said "I don't regret setting bombs"

Obama may have the Democratic nomination locked up, but he also may have just lost the Presidential Election.

( First heard on the John Batchelor Show, on KFI Los Angeles internet stream. Batchelor brought up the connection, (lefty) guest Katrina Van Den Heuvel of "The Nation" got angry, saying the story was "stupid" but did not challenge any detail of the Ayers-Dohrn connection with Obama. Believe that KFI archives its programs so please listen to it yourself. This was in the first hour of the program)

Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin' that the heat put
Plants in the bed but
The phone's tapped anyway
Maggie says that many say
They must bust in early May
Orders from the D. A.
Look out kid
Don't matter what you did
Walk on your tip toes
Don't try "No Doz"
Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don't need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows
(Bob Dylan, from Subterranean Homesick Blues, 1965)

Letter to Editor: Bay Ridge Methodist Church

February 24, 2008

To the Editor,

In a public forum, Pastor Robert Emerick stated that he had no interest in growing his congregation. That’s the bottom line. If the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church truly cared, then they would be jumping all over opportunities to grow their congregation, and by doing so they would generate enough income through memberships, additional donations or other programs, to not only fund the work of their mission but also enough to repair, restore and improve their magnificent church building.

By failing to act to grow their congregation, they have managed to allow their membership to dwindle to such low levels, that they see no options other than tearing down all the buildings on their very large plot of ground, selling most of it for the building of new condos and holding on to only a very small plot for a new smaller church – accepting as permanent the downsizing of their congregation.

Their neighbor right across the street, the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, advertises in the local papers with a slogan “Active and Growing for more than 100 years.” That church, one of dozens of Lutheran churches in the area has an amazingly active and vibrant congregation. Through an interesting real estate deal several years ago they sold an adjacent building they owned, part of which has become a public intermediate school, and generated plenty of cash to further their mission while maintaining their building.

Other religious institutions in Brooklyn and throughout the city have sold off part of their land, allowing residential buildings to be built behind or next to their church buildings, generating enough cash to fund their missions and repair and restore their churches.

St. Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue in Manhattan tried to build a skyscraper over its landmarked parish house but was stopped by the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission. Rather than despair, they established an innovative approach to congregation building, founded an active theater, opened a sidewalk cafĂ©/restaurant and used advertising to grow their congregation. They have become so successful that they now offer seminars teaching others how to ‘think outside the box’ – providing results that include growing a congregation, supporting one’s mission and innovative ways to preserve facilities and buildings.

At a meeting that we attended with the trustees and the pastor of the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church we suggested that they attend such a seminar. Pastor Emerick immediately responded, “WE DON’T WANT TO GROW OUR CONGREGATION!”

We find it incredible and disingenuous that any pastor of any congregation of any denomination would feel this way. It makes us feel that it is only about the money, and despite their claims that it was a hard decision to make because they say they truly love their home, they must be blinded by the reported $9.75 million dollars generated by the sale. This must be the reason that the trustees and pastor rejected a plan offered by Con Edison and arranged by Council Member Vincent Gentile. That plan would have generated between $300,000 and $350,000 annually, built much-needed senior housing and would have kept the church building intact.

Destruction is not the only answer, but it seems that the big payout is preventing them from considering any other options.


Ronald Gross & Eric Rouda
Senator Street Historic District
335 Senator Street
Brooklyn, NY 11220

February 23, 2008

Sunday Music: Louis Armstrong Plays with Johnny Cash

( Johnny Cash Show, October 28, 1970 )
This was one of Louis Armstrong's last performances. Johnny Cash loved Louis Armstrong.

Opurkert, who posted this on youtube, advises that this is on the two DVD set of The Johnny Cash Show

Bay Ridge Medical Pavilion Is A Disgrace

I hope that this outfit takes better care of its patients than it does of its sidewalks. More than 24 hours after the snow stopped falling, they hadn't bothered to shovel their sidewalks. There was a snowmelt lake in the middle of the parking lot right in front of the door. Imagine some old or frail person walking through this slippery mess on the way to a doctor appointment. Click photos to enlarge.

Construction at 68th Street and Fourth Avenue

You tell me if this is legal construction or not.

At the SW corner of 68th/Fourth Avenue, construction has been taking place over the past two weeks. You hear an awful lot of banging going on, much of it with the doors or newly-added roll gates closed.

There's no dumpster...the bricks and other debris are being removed by common truck. ( This one has signage for Desvignes Ent Moving 347-307-4536)

These photos were taken today at around 12 noon. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

February 21, 2008

The Phantom Discovers Three Buck Chuck

Two-Buck Chuck again, originally uploaded by Just Karen.

I owed Nick a bottle of red, since I lost the Giuliani bet. I said that Rudy would be the Republican nominee, and as you may have heard, that didn't quite work out. I was unable to go to my favorite wine store, Astor Wines and Spirits on Lafayette Street, but I happened to be on 14th Street, so I went into the relatively new Trader Joe's wine store there. Got him a decent bottle of Clos du Bois, and got a few bottles of red for myself--including my first bottle of "Three Buck Chuck".

"Three Buck Chuck" is Trader Joe's house wine. ( Outside Manhattan, its "two buck chuck". NYC real estate costs won't allow for $2 wines here )

I bought the Cabernet Sauvignon. And you know--it was NOT BAD. It was not the best wine I have ever tasted, but it was a bit better than wine you typically get by the glass in most bars or at catered events.

The Gyro place slated to open at the NW corner of 68th Street and Fourth Avenue awaits only a health inspector visit. Supposedly, there is a long wait for an appointment now.

Across the street, at the SW corner, someone is doing a lot of interior construction in the building next to the grocery...and it sounds like the wall between the two buildings is being removed or having holes punched in it. The work is being done behind closed doors, and I don't see any Construction permits on display.


The NY Post has a story on the ANGRY super on 91st Street. But they don't give credit to those who reported it first, like the Brooklyn Paper, Curbed or Right in Bay Ridge. This guy may want to calm down.

February 18, 2008

Donating Platelets

Today, I donated platelets at the New York Blood Center location at Lawrence Street, Brooklyn. Its a short block from the Lawrence Street stop of the R train. The location could not be easier to get to for most Brooklynites.

I've done this a few times now, and its easy as pie. I sign up online, then show up on a Saturday, or on the way home from work, and 90 minutes later, I''m outta there. Some of the staff recognize me now. And I love the cookies they give you.

If you want to know how the actual process works, don't ask me. Watch this video, from a North Carolina Red Cross center.

Sign up today, they really need platelets!

February 17, 2008

Bay Ridge Methodist Church- Historical Photos

A big tip of the hat to Ron Gross of Senator Street for pointing me in the direction of the Brooklyn Public Library's excellent collection of historic Brooklyn photographs.

Here, Bay Ridge Methodist Church (which I think was then called Grace Methodist Episcopal Church) stands tall over its surroundings in 1905.

The Fourth Avenue subway will not arrive until 1916. The avenue would be used mainly by horse traffic, and those wires would be for telegraph messages--doubt many had phones back then.

Here, the church in 1944.

Bay Ridge Methodist Church in 1966. Note the different clock face. This may be at the peak of its membership. If this just after two in the afternoon time was on a school day, I was probably down the avenue in Our Lady of Angels elementary school.

Sunday Music: " The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

Gordon Lightfoot had a major hit with this song in November 1974. It was years before I learned what it was really all about- the sinking of an immense iron ore carrier on Lake Superior, with the loss of all 29 lives.

Much interesting detail on the SS Edmund Fitzgerald can be found on Wikipedia.

February 16, 2008

Rally to Save Bay Ridge Methodist Church

While Bay Ridge's politicians slept in their beds, a small, intrepid band assembled in front of Bay Ridge Methodist Church on Fourth and Ovington Avenues this morning. A slideshow of the event can be found here

The die may be cast, thirty pieces of silver may be about to change hands, but a few who came out on a chilly morning to demand that this lovely 109 year old building be saved.

The pastor of the congregation apparently has signed a contract with a reputed slumlord who wants to replace the building with "luxury condos".

Apparently, 362 Ovington, the first limestone house on the street, is to be demolished as part of this project. This does not make the owners of 360 Ovington too happy, as that building shares a common wall with 362 Ovington.

A man in the crowd was overheard saying "This is post modern bullshit. This is not Christianity".

Councilman Gentile, Senator Golden, Borough President Markowitz, and Congressman Fossella were nowhere to be seen.

I ran into a few of the other Bay Ridge bloggers there. We had a two minute summit conference before I had to run off.

A man encountered the demonstrators and asked what was going on. Upon hearing that it was to protest the pending demolition of the Bay Ridge Methodist Church, he recoiled, saying " No, they can't do that. This building is a landmark!"

February 14, 2008

Rally to Save Bay Ridge Methodist Church this Saturday at 10am

I've been derelict in my duties. I've not written much about the impending demise of the Bay Ridge Methodist Church. It has been far too depressing to write about.

This lovely building, built of green stone from Pennsylvania, has stood at the corner of Fourth and Ovington since 1899. That's 16 years before my house on 68th Street was built, in 1915. The same year the Fourth Avenue Local subway was punched out as far as Bay Ridge Avenue. ( 77th Street station opened in April 1916)

I'd love to see a photo of this church when it was new, or even 10-20 years old. None of the nearby apartment houses on Fourth or Ovington were up yet. Even the limestone buildings on the south side of Ovington between Third and Fourth weren't built until 1910. ( Many of these limestone houses were vandalized by their owners not so long ago, who ripped out the front gardens to put up legal or illegal parking spaces when no one was looking )

When the Bay Ridge Methodist Church was built 1n 1899, Bay Ridge had working farms. Oh yes it did. There were farms on and nearby to 68th Street as recently as 1915 ( "Aunt Maude", who lived her life on 68th Street, told us this in the 1960s. And if there were farms on 68th Street, there were surely small farms, for cabbages and other crops, only two blocks away on Ovington Avenue.

This would have been the tallest building in the area when it was built, towering over the wooden buildings, farm shacks and whatever else was in the rural, soon to be suburban, soon to be urban area of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, back in 1899. Must have been one beautiful sight.

I walked past this church for six years on the way to elementary school at Our Lady of Angels. At night, I remember hearing the bells of Bay Ridge Methodist Church. These lovely bells, like those of Our Lady of Angels have been gone for some time now. I don't know or understand why. The loss of the church bells, in Bay Ridge, America, and the world, are indicative of a western world that sees it's Christianity, it's confidence and all of it's love of beauty fade, a bit more every day, over the past fifty years.

The Bay Ridge and Brooklyn blogs have done a good job discussing this issue. But for my ten cents, some of the best work has been done by a former Bay Ridge resident who does not forget --Kevin Walsh of NYC blog treasure
Forgotten NY<. He has some commentary and some lovely photos of the church and environs here

And he has devoted a page of his large website to a demonstration to save the church that will take place this Saturday, March 16 at 10am

Here, I reprint the last link in its entirety. I didn't ask for permission, because I know that its not necessary. I expect to be there, and hope to see you also.



On Saturday, February 16th, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., the Committee will hold a rally at the Green Church. We hope to circle the entire block at Ovington/Fourth/72nd/3rd.

Please join us on the corner of 4th and Ovington at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 16th.

If you live on the block and you support our cause, we urge you, if you cannot join us on the street, to put up a sign in your front window to show solidarity.

With us at the rally on the 16th will be many of the Church's neighbors on the block, including David and Dorcas Kimball, who own the limestone row house next to the parsonage.

Because of the way that row houses are constructed, with the end walls buttressing the entire row, the Kimballs fear that when the parsonage, which they share a common wall with, is demolished, the outer wall of their house will be damaged, destabilizing the structure and forcing them and Dorcas' elderly mother and father out of their home.

An application for leave to sell the Church property was filed on behalf of the congregation by the law firm of Donovan and Gianuzzi, LLP on or about January 3rd, 2008 in Index No. 43305/07. This appears to have been a re-filing of the application filed in November, 2007.

No one other than the applicant was notified of the hearing date six days later on January 9th or was permitted to appear or be heard.

Judge Larry Martin's ex parte order grants permission to sell the Church property, including Lot 43 (the limestone row house) and Lot 48 (the Church) to "362 Ovington, L.L.C.", pursuant to a purchase and sale agreement singed by John Donlon and Abe Betesh on March 29, 2007.

Certified letters sent by the Committee to the Clerk of the Kings County Supreme Court and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees requesting notice of the hearing on the application were ignored. Neither the Committee nor the Attorney General have any standing to appear.
The following information was gleaned from Judge Martin's order:

The purchase price is $9,750,000.00.

After the brokers and attorneys are paid, the net proceeds of the sale will be spent on the construction of a new church and an "endowment".

The income from the "endowment" will be spent as follows: on "annual budget", "enhancing local services to the elderly and children", "supporting ecumenical and interfaith ministries in Brooklyn", "supporting global ministries", and supporting the "United Methodist Church (UMC) in New York City".

The parsonage (the limestone row house) will be demolished to build the new church and the back yard of the parsonage will become a parking lot. (There is no money for a new parsonage in the order).

Within days after the order was signed, "Yellow Hooker" columnist Matthew Lysiak touted the congregation's victory over local preservationists in a Daily News article in which Pastor Emerick invites the Bay Ridge community to attend a "demolition party" at the Church this spring and take home a piece of the Church's Serpentine stone facade as a souvenir.

The same week, Pastor Emerick, with three congregation members, picketed Councilmember Vincent Gentile's office carrying signs accusing Gentile of trying to "hurt" the congregation by supporting the efforts of local preservationists to landmark the Church.

Abe Betesh's representatives have reportedly stated to neighbors that the Church will be demolished in March.
The following information was gleaned from the petition:

The petitioner (a corporation referred to as the "Bay Ridge United Methodist Church, Inc.") maintains a Methodist “house of worship” in Kings County and engages in various kindred “religious, educational, civic and social activities”.

The petitioner's “principal mission” is to: “further its religious goals and activities”, “administer to the needs of its parishioners and the community at large”, and “carry on the mission of Jesus Christ by working toward the kingdom of God on earth”.

The petitioner seeks permission to sell all of its real property at 362-364 Ovington Avenue (7002 4th Avenue), Section 18, Block 5891, Lots 43 and 48 on the Kings County Tax Map.

A “reserved” 56’ X 90’ “footprint” of land within the property where a “newly-designed state-of-the-art church building”, other “church-related facilities” and a 56’ X 25’ parking lot will be constructed will be either a 200-year ground lease or a perpetual easement. The congregation will retain no ownership interest.

The purchase price, after closing costs, brokers' and attorneys' fees are deducted, will be used to “construct and operate” the new church and “promote the mission of Jesus Christ”.

Exclusive selling agent Massey-Knakal marketed the property for a year before the purchase-and-sale contract was signed on March 29, 2007, which would mean that M-K was marketing the property while the group that later formed the Committee to Save the Green Church was negotiating in good faith with the trustees to save the Church building. (Perhaps this explains why M-K reportedly accompanied Pastor Emerick and the trustees to those negotiations.)

The sale will “promote the petitioner's mission and the mission of Jesus Christ” by keeping the congregation in Bay Ridge for the foreseeable future rather than pouring its “limited financial resources” into the “extraordinary cost of repairing and maintaining its rapidly-deteriorating 108-year-old existing church” (described as in “very poor condition” and in need of "substantial ‘gut’ renovations”).

Selling its property will provide the congregation with the “structural and financial permanence and stability” essential to its “survival and preservation”.

On March 29th, 2007, at a special meeting of the “Charge Conference”, the petitioner resolved, by a majority of those voting, to sell the Church property.

On the same date, March 29, 2007, John Donlon, chairman of the board of trustees, executed the purchase and sale agreement with buyer Abe Betesh.

On June 11, 2007, the petitioner, at a meeting of the “Church Conference”, "unanimously" passed a resolution authorizing the sale of the property pursuant to the purchase and sale agreement. Pastor Emerick consented in writing to the proposed sale on that same date.

On October 8, 2007, the board of trustees (Walter Crowe, Ernie Colvin, Robina Colvin, Marjorie Sullivan, Frank Breuer, John Donlon, Scott Cummings, Lois Habenicht, and Thomas McGivern) at a "duly-noticed special meeting" with "2/3 of the board present and voting", resolved to carry out the resolutions of the Charge Conference and the Church Conference.

On October 17, 2007, Rev. Gunshik Shim, Superintendent of the Long Island West District of the New York Conference, consented in writing to the proposed sale.

The following is gleaned from the purchase and sale agreement:

The down-payment is $500,000.00, payable upon the receipt of the necessary “government approvals”.

Lobbyist James Capalino was jointly hired by the buyer and seller as a condition of the purchase and sale agreement to act as “government relations consultant” to expedite the demolition permit for the Church for a minimm fee of $10,000.00.

It is the responsibility of the congregation to demolish the Church (which gives new meaning to Pastor Emerick’s invitation to the Bay Ridge community to come and help the congregation tear down it down.)

Background of the Controversy:

The Committee to Save the Green Church was formed in the Spring of 2007 as the successor to an effort by local preservationists dating back to 2005 to save the Church building at the corner of Ovington and Fourth Avenues in Bay Ridge, so-called because of its ashlar facade of rare Serpentine stone.

The Green Church, a Bay Ridge landmark since 1899, is a uniquely American architectural treasure, designed by eminent 19th Century American architect George W. Kramer in a transitional late Victorian/Romanesque Revival style -- on the cusp of the American Arts and Crafts movement.

The Church has been listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places since 1999, through an application process -- which the congregation ironically initiated -- that included a structural analysis of the Church. Despite its damaged Serpentine facade, the Church is of sound brick construction.

Next to the Church facing 4th Avenue is a specially-constructed vault, marked by a stone, containing the remains of 211 early congregants of the Methodist Episcopal Church of New Utrecht, the first Methodist Episcopal congregation in Brooklyn, founded in 1794. (In 1942, the Church was re-named "Bay Ridge United Methodist"). The remains were disinterred in 1901 from the former Methodist Cemetery on 6th Avenue and reinterred next to the Green Church.

The dwindling UMC congregation (reportedly numbering fewer than 20, mostly elderly, people) approved a plan to sell the Church property at some point between 2004 and 2007.

In an effort to avoid the demolition of the Church, the local group that later formed the Committee worked with Councilmember Vincent Gentile for more than two years, beginning in 2005, to negotiate a compromise with the congregation that would spare the Church building.

During this time, the group and Gentile partnered with the Con Edison Renaissance Project to propose an alternative development plan that would have spared the Church building, would have left the property in the hands of the congregation, and would have netted over $300,000 in annual income while providing Bay Ridge with much-needed senior housing.

The congregation rejected the proposal, making it clear that any proposal that involved the congregation maintaining the Church would be similarly rejected.

Sometime between 2006 and 2007, the congregation listed the Church property for sale with realtor Massey-Knakal. The asking price, at the height of the real estate bubble, was $12.5 million. The realtor's Website reported in the spring of 2007 that the property was in contract. It was initially rumored that the buyer was Basile Builders (demolisher of the so-called "74th Street Victorians"), but that was never confirmed.

Last fall, a property that matched the description of the Church was posted on Craig's List at the asking price of $11.5 million. Rumors again circulated that the property was in contract -- to Abe Betesh, of Abeco Management, a Brooklyn developer accused by an irate Harlem tenant group in 2007 of being a "slumlord" with a long list of Housing Code violations, and rumored to possibly be the subject of similar complaints by elderly low-income tenants in Bushwick.

Betesh confirmed to media sources last fall that he was in contract to buy the property.

Betesh's plan is to level the entire corner, including the Church building, the adjoining brick Sunday school (Heartshare Human Services will be evicted) and the adjoining limestone row house (which will no longer serve as a parsonage) -- and cover the corner at Ovington and Fourth with a 7-story 50-condo development.

The congregation is reportedly selling Church's stained glass windows, surveyors have been seen on the property, day-glo cones and plastic pennants now mark the vault, workmen have taken boring samples from the lot, and the congregation has reportedly been shown plans for the new building that will replace the demolished limestone row house.

Only local landmark protection can save a historic building in New York City from demolition. The State and National Registers of Historic Places offer no protection against a hostile owner.

Efforts by local preservationists to calendar a request for evaluation ("RFE") with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission ("LPC") began years before the Church property was listed for sale, but in early 2007, after the congregation rejected the Con Edison proposal, the newly-formed Committee to Save the Green Church filed a new RFE with the LPC on behalf of the Church.

For a year now, LPC Chairman Robert Tierney has declined to calendar the RFE for hearing by the full Commission, despite the dedicated and persistent efforts of the Bay Ridge community: 1,200 letters, hundreds of signatures on petitions, the pleas of the Committee, and the pleas of Councilmember Gentile and State Representative Janele Hyer-Spencer, have been ignored.

If Chairman Tierney would do no more than calendar the RFE for hearing by the full Commission, that would prevent the demolition of the Church, pending the date of the hearing on the RFE.

Because the Church is a New York not-for-profit religious corporation, a court order from a Kings County Supreme Court judge is required to finalize the sale, but it turns out that the hearing on the application for leave to sell is ex parte: the UMC is one of a handful of denominations the State legislature has made exempt from the requirement of notice to the New York State Attorney General -- or to any interested party -- when applying for an order for leave to sell.

Therefore, neither the Attorney General nor the Committee were permitted to review the application or appear at the hearing.

For further information about the Committee and its activities, including the date of the next meeting, please contact the Committee at the following address:

P.O.Box 57
6904 Colonial Road
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11209

February 12, 2008

Obama "Yes We Can". But McCain Can Too!

I will not be voting for Senator Obama. But he may not be needing my vote. With today's primary victories in DC, Maryland and Virginia, I think that makes him ten victories without a loss since "Super Tuesday".

Hillary is staggering, desperately grabbing for the ropes, yelling to her cornerman "who is this guy"? . It should soon be over. Sometime next month, she'll be meeting Rudy for cocktails at the Heartbreak Hotel.

Here, the excellent Obama video by the Black Eyed Peas and friends. This ad cost Obama nada but is worth lots. You're not seeing free videos made for Hillary.

Obama absolutely has supporters in Bay Ridge. I've seen them handing out brochures on the Bay Ridge Avenue R train platform. And I've seen people wearing Obama buttons on the subways .

In an Obama-McCain race, which is what it clearly looks to be, the senator from Arizona gets my vote. But I am intrigued by Obama and by what he represents.

A former POW vs a black man from Illinois by way of Hawaii. We could have done worse.


A spy at Verizon tells me that they will (very) soon sign a contract to provide TV service in New York City. They also said that 80% of the city already has fiber optic wires nearby, which I don't believe for a second.


The snow was more than expected. Maybe four inches total, a heavy snow with an icy skim on top. Tomorrow, it all melts away.

February 10, 2008

Sunday Music: "Midnight, With the Stars and You" by Ray Noble and his Orchestra, Vocals by Al Bowlly

Vocals by Al Bowlly. Recorded February 1934 in London.

If you know this song, you've seen "The Shining". Or you're a fan of the John Batchelor radio show. Or you're older than I think you are!

Al Bowlly was an international recording artist who made 1000 recordings in his career. He was killed by a German bomb during the blitz of London in April 1941. ( source wikipedia )


Lowen's closed at 5pm today. (sign on the door ) The memorial is still out front.


The store just off the southwest corner of 68th and Fourth has been closed for over three decades. Its had vinyl siding over where the windows used to be, and has recently been used only for storage.

At one time, I think it was a liquor store. It was a campaign headquarters for Nixon in 1968. And when the Bay Ridge Towers were under construction, this store served as the sales office.

The new owners and or renters of this space and the corner store ( now a convenience store ) have intstalled two shiny rolldown metal gates - one on the side of the corner store, one on the second store in. The guy in the corner store says that the second store--the one now being reopened after the longest hiatus in history-- will serve as a cell phone store.

February 05, 2008

Happy Election Day

I voted at 7:30am at PS 102 , and was the third Republican voter in my district. Indications were of a low turnout in both parties. School's open today. I went in the side door, and saw a bunch of first graders walking into a classroom.

If the turnout is light across Bay Ridge, that could be good for the flying saucer fans supporting Ron Paul. They can get what looks to be a high percentage of a low base and then take pride in their "big victory".


Crossed Broadway in lower Manhattan today. Half the NYPD is preparing for the New York Giants victory parade.

But why is my taxpayer money being used to glorify a business that left New York City for New Jersey 32 years ago? Will there be parades for the other businesses that leave NYC?

Shame on Bloomberg. I am happy that the Giants won, but spending taxpayer money on behalf of a NJ team is a disgrace.

February 04, 2008

Mitt Romney for President

I wanted to vote for Giuliani for President, but that option no longer exists. My first inclination is to follow Rudy's advice and vote for John McCain in tomorrow's NY primary election.

I voted for John McCain in the 2000 Republican primary. Eight years later, its clear that both this country and the world would have been infinitely better off if McCain had won.

Bush did some things right, but, now, in 2008, there's no sense denying it--the man's not intelligent. He was not up to the job in a hundred different ways-- he sat idly by as the Republican Congress spent like no Democrat Congress would have dared to, he never proposed an effective strategy on dealing with illegal immigration, it was under his watch that the Iraq occupation was botched.

McCain would have jumped down the throat of the Republican Senator who proposed the "Bridge to Nowhere", and he would have similarly flayed the many Republicans who larded up the budget with earmarks and other thefts. He probably would have done a much better job in Afghanistan and in Iraq-if he would have gone into Iraq at all. But what of illegal immigration?

I think that illegal immigration is one of the most serious problems that Bay Ridge --New York--all of America now faces. Only national security is more important. The economy is a distant third. Its not the economy, stupid!!

The problems brought on by illegal immigration impact every other problem that we face--schools, health care, taxation, social security, national security, overcrowding in major cities, all are made more difficult to deal with by massive, and uncontrolled illegal immigration.

McCain forged an immigration agreement with Senator Kennedy in 2005. Which went nowhere, as it was widely, and correctly seen as "amnesty". Illegals now in the US would have had a clear path to citizenship. Pay a little money, wait a while, you're in, sign on the dotted line. I don't believe that McCain has ever retreated from this position. Yes, he wants to "secure the borders". But even now, in February 2008, his website does not use the words illegal immigration. How the hell are you going to solve the problem if you cannot bring yourself to call it by its name?

Mitt Romney has said clearly and unambigously that he wants to end the tide of illegal immigration. Romney, like Giuliani, has a record of extreme competence in an executive position.

So, sorry Rudy. Sometime before 7am, I will be at P.S. 102, casting a vote for Mitt Romney.

I will always respect John McCain. But Mitt Romney for President!

A good piece by the NY Times on neighborhood reaction to the sad death of John Rossi of Lowens

One gentle correction: they say that Lowen's had been at 69th and Third since 1953. Actually, in 1953, they opened at Third Avenue near 68th St. It was years later that they moved one block south to 69th Street ( Bay Ridge Avenue ).
Now reading: 1491, by Charles C. Mann. Very good. More on this later.

February 03, 2008

Mel Gibson's " Apocalypto"

The other night, I watched Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" on DVD.

It is one of the most violent movies, I've ever seen, with Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" probably taking top prize in that category. Its probably challenging to a mass audience that there are no famous actors in it--virtually all the acting was done by Mayan Indians, and that all the dialogue is in the
Yucatec Maya language.

The violence, I believe, is historically accurate- the Mayans did wage in constant war, they took slaves, and human sacrifice was practiced. It wasn't just the Aztecs who did that.

I absolutely could not take my eyes off this film. Its a gripping story, that I'm not going to get into, other than to say that you'll never forget Jaguar Paw. And that Mel Gibson is a great director.

Don't see it with the kids. But do see it.

Sunday Music: The Wild Rover

Back in the 1980s, when Peggy O'Neill's was the best Irish pub in Brooklyn, this was one of the two songs that would bring down the house. The other one was "Black Velvet Band", which we played last week.

Here's what Quincy Massachussetts based The Dropkick Murphys did with it.

Its still a mystery to me as to why Peggy O'Neill's decided to stop change the formula. When it was an authentic Irish pub with live music most nights, the place was jammed. Since they mucked around with it, its been empty. You'd think a lesson might have been learned. Especially now with Henry Gratton's gone, there is a screaming opportunity to make money for somebody who wants to open an authentic Irish pub with live music in Bay Ridge. There are still enough Irish / Scandinavians / everyone else who loves this stuff in Bay Ridge / nearby to make such a business an absolute license to print money. Do exactly what Peggy's used to do in the 1980s and you will be the most successful bar in the neighborhood--take it to the bank.