July 31, 2008

Obama is Here Video: Ludacris ; Bay Ridge Food Co-op

I ran into Ludacris in Three Jolly Pigeons, where he was playing poker with Hon Fong, Richard Martin, the Swede and the Green Hornet. I took the opportunity to congratulate Ludacris on his fine new video. He's pleased with the public reaction, and hopes to sing it at the Democratic Convention.

Ludacris “Obama Is Here” Lyrics

I’m back on it like I just signed my record deal
Yeah the best is here, the Bentley Coup paint is dripping wet, it got sex appeal
Never should have hated, You never should’ve doubted him
With a slot in the president’s iPod Obama shouted ‘em

Said I handle my biz and I’m one of his favorite rappers
Well give Luda a special pardon if I’m ever in the slammer
Better yet put me in office, make me your vice president
Hillary hated on you, so that bitch is irrelevant

Jesse talking slick and apologizing for what?
If you said it then you meant it how you want it head or gut?
And all you other politicians trying to hate on my man,
watch us win majority vote in every state on my man

You can’t stop what’s bout to happen, we bout to make history
The first black president is destined and it’s meant to be
The threats ain’t fazing us, the nooses or the jokes
So get off your ass, black people, it’s time to get out and vote!

Paint the White House black and I’m sure that’s got ‘em terrified
McCain don’t belong in any chair unless he’s paralyzed
Yeah I said it cause Bush is mentally handicapped
Ball up all of his speeches and just throw ‘em like candy wrap
’cause what you talking I hear nothing even relevant
and you the worst of all 43 presidents

Get out and vote or the end’ll be near
The world is ready for change because Obama is here
’cause Obama is here
The world is ready for change because Obama is here, yeah
cuz Obama is here

Bay Ridge Food Co-op?

from David
Some people have begun the process of exploring the feasibility of a food coop in Brooklyn.

If you are interested, happy to have you involved.
Here's a link to the graphic announcing the next meeting

July 27, 2008

Victoria Hofmo in the NY Times

Stolen from NY Times

Vickie Hofmo, local preservationist and activist is the subject of an article in the "City" section of today's NY Times.

I've known her for years, and was unaware that she has founded a museum, for Christ's sake. It's the Scandinavian East Coast Museum, which documents the long, rich history of the Vikings and Viqueens in Brooklyn and elsewhere on the US East Coast.

"There’s this thing in Scandinavian culture called janteloven. It means that you’re not better than anyone else. “We don’t brag. We’re humble. I think it’s part of the reason Scandinavians haven’t been documented so well. When I first started going around collecting things, people would say, “Is my stuff good enough?” I’m like, “All the stuff is a story, and of course your story is important.” I can toot their horn because I don’t have that same sense. I think it’s O.K. to be proud."

Hey, Vickie, good job. We're proud, too.

July 26, 2008

WTC: " Man on a Wire " Trailer

On August 4, 1974, Philippe Petit walked on a high wire strung between the towers of the World Trade Center. It was an act of such genius and beauty that words will never describe it.

Now, there is Man on A Wire a documentary about the crime of the century.

"Man on Wire has won the prestigious Special Jury Award and Audience Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival[4], the International Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Standard Life Audience Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival[5]. The film has also won the Jury Prize and Audience Award in the World Cinema: Documentary competition at the Sundance Film Festival. To date, Man on Wire is only the 6th film ever in the history of Sundance to pick up both top awards and the first from outside the US" ( from Wikipedia )

Its showing in Manhattan and in some other places, and I intend to see it very soon. I've thought about this incident so often over the past seven years, wondering why noone made a movie of it. Now, someone has.

Sunday Music: " Summertime"- Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Janis Joplin

It's summertime across North America, and its time to relax. Put on some good music. And it doesn't get any better than Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

Unless you want to hear Janis's completely different version. Which wasn't bad either. She's live from Stockholm, in 1969

July 20, 2008

Sunday Music: Blotto " I Wanna Be A Lifeguard"

Blotto was maybe a one hit wonder, but this was really just a Northeast area hit. But what a cool song it was.

It was played on MTV on the first day of MTV. So you have to give them that.


I am happy that the 75th and Third Avenue Starbucks survived the bloodletting. That location does do well, and is an absolute asset to the neighborhood.


"On some nights, New York is as hot as Bangkok". That was the opening sentence of Saul Bellow's "The Victim". This is one of the many such nights, and not the worst of them by a long shot. Lets pray for a nice cold front.

I cannot possibly understand why people wish to move and/or retire to places like Florida and other furnace-like places. If I was to move anywhere, I think it would be north. Give me Nova Scotia over Florida any day. I like the cold weather and love it when it is cool. But hot and humid days have no redeeming qualities. They're tolerable when the odd gust of wind comes by. Otherwise, they're days to be endured, not enjoyed.

The phone rang at 7am, but no one was there. It rang again a half hour later, and noone was there. This wasn't a prank caller, it was an incompetent caller. Caller ID showed it was Con Ed. I called them and they said that they wanted to advise Bay Ridge customers to cut down on electricity use Not sure how one-ring phone calls with no message were supposed to convince people of that, but hey that's our Con Ed for you.

July 15, 2008

Budweiser is Dead And I'm Not Happy About It

They didn't sell billions of gallons of this stuff for because of the quality.

But it was never as bad as the pinky- in- the- air beer snobs claimed. It was a middle of the road mass production light beer that most people liked. Nothing more, nothing less. Not a bad thing.

What made Budweiser great was its deep, American heritage. One hundred and thirty years of history in St. Louis, Missouri. ( It predated the fake Czech "Budvar" by about 15 years. ) The fact that they marked the ending of Prohibition by sending a team of Clydesdales to the White House to deliver fresh-brewed Budweiser to President Roosevelt. The fact that you and I had it in college and at weddings and with friends since we were old enough to drink, or since we were big enough to pretend that we were old enough to drink.

All this history went down the tubes this past weekend when a bunch of Belgian cutthroats acquired this American icon.

I love Europe and I love the rich and deep universe of European beers. But Inbev is not a quality brewer. And Budweiser won't be Budweiser if its owned by a bunch of cost-cutting smart alecks in Brussels.

An era has ended, and I'm not too happy about it. If you're coming over to visit, don't bring any Budweiser with you. They don't make Budweiser anymore.

July 06, 2008

Sunday Music:: "Downtown", by Petula Clark

This song brought to you by the R train. Connecting Bay Ridge with "downtown" since 1916.

Bay Ridge High School Occupation of Leif Ericson Park to end?

Click to enlarge. Photo taken today, about 3pm

For the nearly 40 years I've known it, Bay Ridge High School ( now " High School of Telecommunications" ) has been an alien presence in the neighborhood. I knew of no local residents who attended school there, none who worked there. I never heard of any " open houses " or the like when the school ever invited the locals to come in. Blocks of parking spaces on 67th Street were reserved for the school staff. No locals need apply. The school never reached out, never tried to be friendly.

Students from the school sat on the stoops nearby, and didn't like it too much when they were asked to move. It's not as bad as it was some years ago, but you still see loitering "students" cutting class. smoking reefer, on 68th Street, Senator, all the nearby blocks.

Ten years ago, Bay Ridge High School took outdid themselves by commandeering a swath of Leif Eriscon Park that runs between Fourth and Third Avenues. They built temporary classrooms in the park, closed off the Fourth Avenue entrance, and told the locals to stay the hell out.

A major addition to the school has been completed for some time. They don't even need the temporary classroom anymore. But the principal and the Education Department didn't lift a finger to remove the festering sore from the neighborhood. They kept playing pocket pool between coffee breaks and were evidently planning on leaving the trailers in the park for another decade or two.

This was a lovely small park at one time. If you see the stretch near Third Avenue, you can see how the entire park could be pretty once more. But first the hostile and unwelcome Education Dept building must leave.

The NY Daily News, which covers Bay Ridge and Brooklyn better than the Post and the Times combined, covered this story 12 days ago. Only because of their persistent questioning, the sluggards, deadbeats and do-nothings of the NY City Education will move the trailers. One of these years.

It is also noted that the City still has "no parking" signs on Senator blocking three parking spots, even though construction of the Bay Ridge High School (or whatever they're calling it today ) annex has long been completed.

You can enter the park on the Third Avenue side. But if you walk up the path, this is what you run into. Shame on the City and on all of our elected officials for allowing this state of affairs to exist for even one day.

Today, on a Sunday, the air conditioning was going full blast in this empty building. I'm sure it was going strong all weekend.

July 02, 2008

Riding the Bay Ridge Express Bus

Disembarking at 69th Street and Third Avenue, July 2, 2008

I live in Bay Ridge, and commute to Manhattan by mass transit. This has always meant a journey involving the R train, but not this past week. I decided to conduct a scientific experiment and commute for a week via the Express Bus.

Since most people in Bay Ridge have never taken an express bus, let me first say what they are. There are two express buses serving Bay Ridge- the X27 goes to downtown Manhattan, while the X37 travels to midtown. They travel the length of Shore Road to 69th Street, from which they hang a left on Third Avenue, where they take the on-ramp to the Gowanus Expressway.

The Gowanus is painfully congested at all hours, but worse still during the rush hours. But since the express buses get to use the HOV lane, they cruise at a blazing 45 mph or so, while the cars to the right stand still.

For the week of my experiment, I boarded the X27 at Third and Senator, and took it to a stop at Rector and Church. The trip back was from Cedar and Broadway to 69th and Third Avenues.

How was it? On the way in to the city, it was pretty damned good. Despite the fact that I was boarding near the last Bay Ridge stop, there were plenty of cushioned, if tight, seats. The trip was very fast- 14 to 20 minutes going to Rector, vs 30-35 minutes on the R train to the identical location.

For whatever reason, the return trip always took longer, 22 minutes at best, 35 minutes the longest. I am told that its always longer going back.

Lots of women who don't like subway rush hour ride the express bus.

Unfortunately, cell phones work on the bus. The bus drives post nastygrams asking cell phone users to sit in the back and to keep it down.

The fare on the Express bus is $5 each way, vs $2 for a normal bus or for the subway. You can buy a special 7 day unlimited-use MetroCard that allows use of all local and express buses, plus the subway, for $41. That's a sweet deal, esp. if you use mass transit both to commute to work, and on the weekend.

I'll be returning to my normal R train commute tomorrow, but I'm happy I took the time to learn about the Express bus option. Everyone in Bay Ridge should learn how to use it--even if you don't live particularly near one of the stops. Its a boutique service, a mass transit luxury liner, and a handy option the next time the R train derails or is flooded out.

Which idiot decided to run it the express buses on Shore Road anyway? Very inconvenient for the huge majority of Bay Ridge residents. No skin off my back, as long as you keep that Senator St. stop, boys.