November 30, 2008

Bay Ridge from the Air!

This dramatic photo was found on flickr and was taken by Jenniferrt66

Click on the photo to enlarge it.

If you look under the wing, by the small slit and where the Belt Parkway and Verrazano access roads merge, you see the twin [reddish] Bay Ridge Towers buildings and can navigate from there. My house is about four blocks to the left of the east tower, the one closer to the bottom of the photo.

From the low traffic volume on the BQE access roads, my guess is that this was an early morning flight into LaGuardia, probably on the weekend.

At the lower right, you can see the Dust Bowl sports field, dusty as ever. Grass will never grow on that land for very long because of very heavy use by softball / soccer / football teams.

As you go from left to right on the photo, the roads head to Manhattan.

Going right to left by the water, you can see Owls Head Park, the 69th Street Pier. baseball fields, and Fort Hamilton High School and its athletic field.

Staten Island and New Jersey are across the great Narrows, a part of New York Harbor that connects the Hudson / East Rivers with the Atlantic Ocean. If you head a couple of miles to the left, you'll pass the Verrazano Bridge and be in the open Atlantic.

Bet you didn't know this: Muhammad Ali once spoke at a KKK Rally . And they liked him. No joke. From a film primarily about the great Joe Frazier, and recently shown on British television. It shows a different side of Ali- who was vicious and cruel to the great Joe Frazier for years. Ali wants to forget this. The proud Joe Frazier never will.

Sunday Music : "Flathead" by the Fratellis

Saw this today while working out at NY Sports Clubs on 86th Street, looking out at Century 21 through the drizzle. And I knew what this week's song was going to be.

The Fratellis are an alternative rock band from Glasgow, Scotland. The band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Jon Fratelli (real name John Lawler), bass guitarist Barry Fratelli (real name Barry Wallace), and drummer, backing vocalist, occasional guitarist and banjo player Mince Fratelli (real name Gordon McRory).(wiki)

November 25, 2008

Subway and Bus Cuts to Bay Ridge: The Good and the Bad

"Rush hour" at on the northbound M train, at 804am Wednesday December 26 at 36th Street. This is as crowded as this train gets- an hour when the R is very crowded, and a time when you have to fight your way onto the N or D train. These lines have been mismanaged for many years.

There's an economic crisis, and services are going to be cut. The buses and subways are not immune, nor should they be.

The Brooklyn paper reports that the following route cuts , which would impact Bay Ridge/Sunset Park/Bensonhurst directly or indirectly are possible:
  • elimination of the the X27 Express bus on the weekend
  • the M train will be truncated, and will no longer run from downtown Brooklyn to Bay Parkway during rush hours
  • elimination of the W train
  • elimination of the B37 bus ( Third Avenue bus )
First, I'm not going to be like our elected officials and pretend that nothing should be cut. Some of these services should be cut, and should have been cut a long time ago.

Elimination of X27 Bus Service on the weekend is Completely Justified

Let's begin with the X27 bus. This service runs a ludicrous route along Shore Road along the far edge of the neighborhood, before it hits the Gowanus Expressway, which means that it is inaccessible to most Bay Ridge residents. It's not a Bay Ridge service at all, it's a service that only has value to those who live on Shore Road or Narrows Avenue.

The dirty little secret is that this service is not that popular. The buses are rather crowded in the rush hour ( though rarely full ), and they are rather empty mid day or late night, and near completely empty during over the weekend. Don't believe me? Take a walk over to Senator Street/Third Avenue on the weekend and watch any bus as it arrives back from Manhattan or just before it goes into Manhattan. I'll bet you a round at Three Jolly Pigeons that the bus will be empty.

These buses serve a tiny minority of Bay Ridge residents. Weekend service should be cut, for budgetary and environmental reasons. Its bad environmental policy to have empty buses running along a crowded highway.

Elimination of the W Train is Completely Justified

The W Train runs from Astoria down Broadway in Manhattan, and technically doesn't go near Bay Ridge.

Except that if you are traveling early in the morning, sometimes you can luck out and catch a W train on the way from the Coney Island yards to Manhattan. They pick up passengers on the local track from 59th Street into Manhattan with a largely empty train. It's great to catch this train, but its an inefficient use of resources.

Another way this train impacts Bay Ridge is that they bunch up around its Whitehall Street terminus, as a southbound W waits for the northbound W to leave the center island track. This can and does cause delays on the southbound R train during the day. I notice it during the late evening trains.

This is a lot of trouble caused by a W train that seems to run empty to uncrowded all the time. This train is like the V line - there was never a good reason for it to exist. Lets kill the W train right now. Like the weekend X27, this is a no brainer.

Shrink the M Train? Only if They Revive the Chambers Street Shuttles

Let's get real- few people take the rush hour lower Manhattan- Bay Parkway leg of this train. While the R/N/D trains are crowded all through the rush hours, the M Trainis one train where you have nearly an 100% chance of getting a seat.

And, just as the W causes delays at Whitehall, the M has a nasty habit of arriving at 36th Street at the same time as the D train. The southbound (crowded) D train is always given priority and the M waits on the local platform, blocking the more crowded Bay Ridge bound R train.

The south Brooklyn M train should be eliminated, but some of the resulting savings should be used to re-establish the Chambers Street Special, running from 95th Street to Chambers Street during morning and evening rush hours. This would alleviate the current overcrowding on the R train, would proactively address the greater overcrowding that will take place on R trains from 36th and Borough Hall if the M/W are eliminated and nothing takes their place, and does not involve unnecessary crossovers from one track to another.

The M train never made sense as it ran in south Brooklyn. Running it along the West End line was evidently done for the convenience of the Transit Authority ( who can run empty southbound trains right into the Coney Island yards ) and never made sense as far as respects passenger flows or operational efficiency for most of the route.

Don't Even Think of Getting Rid of the Third Avenue Bus

The B37 bus runs faster than the sluggish Fifth Avenue bus. If you take it all the way to downtown Brooklyn, you'll see that lots of people use it, especially older people who are nervous about taking the crowded subway or who have a hard time navigating the subway steps.

If this service is removed, the entire Third Avenue corridor that runs under the creaking horror that is the Gowanus Expressway will be turned into a lifeless desert. Elimination of the Third Avenue Bus cannot be considered.

If cuts must be made, Bay Ridge and Brooklyn must do their fair share. And this is as good a time as any to rethink some routes, such as the M train and the X27 bus that were never properly thought out.

Every route must be justified, and we can't tolerate buses or trains that run empty on a regular basis. But, even in the context of budget cuts, a smart administration should be able to add new routes such as the Chambers Street special that remedy long standing flaws in the system.

November 22, 2008

Sunday Music: Cold Cold Heart

This may date back to 1950, in the prehistoric days of television. But, still, this is wonderful. The singer needs no introduction.

November 21, 2008

69th Street Key Food Delayed

I called Key Food and they said that the 69th Street location is now scheduled to open in January 2009.

I am back from sunny Israel and will resume blogging soon.

Tonight, I expect to write on the major cuts in subway and bus service --the elimination of the W train and X27 and X28 buses, and the elimination of M train service to west Brooklyn, and how this will impact Bay Ridge and surrounding neighborhoods.

November 08, 2008

Hi from Tel Aviv, Israel

Alec Baldwin said he'd leave the country if Bush was elected, but he wasn't man enough to do it

I said that I would leave the country if Obama was elected, and I have just backed it up. I flew to Tel Aviv Friday night, and am now in a small hotel on Allenby Street in town.

Now, it is possible that I will return to Brooklyn some day (perhaps a week from now) but for now, I'm going to hang out in and near Tel Aviv.

I'm very tired, so that's it for now. I bid you adieu from my exile!!

November 04, 2008

Election Day In Bay Ridge and across America

The lines at Bay Ridges' P.S. 102 were longer than normal, but manageable. I had the great fortune of not having to wait in line at all. No lines at the 83 Election District as oft 715 am.
(click photo to enlarge)

This is one year I'll be swimming against the tide. The Republicans made an immense error by not choosing John McCain in 2000. Eight years later, the country is set to make the same mistake. A fake reformer will be chosen over a real reformer.

Finally, a long line at a Wall Street Manhattan polling station at 830 am.

Don't forget to go to Starbucks today. If you tell them you voted, you get a free cup of coffee!

November 03, 2008

November 01, 2008

Why McCain? John McCain Returns to Hanoi (1985)

John McCain has always served his country.

After five years of torture in Vietnam, he had the strength of character to leave it all behind him. He was instrumental in the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Vietnam. He could have stopped it by lifting a finger.

I respect John McCain more than any living American politician.

This Tuesday, you will have the opportunity to vote for this man for president. Please take advantage of that opportunity.

Do the right thing, Bay Ridge. Vote McCain!

Most of NYC votes Democrat reflexively, without much thought. Bay Ridge has often been, along with Staten Island, a light in a sea of knee-jerk Democrats. We often --not always, but often --vote Republican. I hope that's the case this year.

The 2008 election takes place under brutal economic conditions. People are scared, and they have every right to be scared. They hold GW Bush to be largely responsible for the bad economy, and some have turned against McCain as he is from the same Republican Party. This is unsound thinking.

Bush - and nearly all the free spending Republican Congress - deserve great blame for the economic crisis. But so does the Democratic Congressional delegation, which spent and spent and protected Fannie Mae and in many cases accepted their money.

Alan Greenspan deserves blame too-- he served under both President GW Bush and under President Clinton, and had the same economic policies throughout the entire period.

The blame for the wreck belongs to both major parties.

There is only one reformer in this race, and he is John McCain. He sounded the alarm on Fannie Mae in 2006"

McCain has spent his entire career attacking the role of money in politics- Obama first said that he would accept public financing, then he went back on his word, possibly destroying that system. McCain kept his word- he said that he would take public financing. Which has left him outgunned by an Obama who has accepted a torrent of money from all kinds of people.

McCain served his country with great honor in Vietnam for over five years. When faced with an easy way out of the Hanoi Hilton ( which I have visited ), he chose the hard but correct path. Compare this to the career of the community organizer who took money from a man in Bill Ayers, a man who tried to kill NY police officers and US military men and who said he wasn't sorry about it one bit. Of course, Obama didn't know who Ayers or Dorhn were. He knew how to collect Ayers' money, he knew how to get to the living room in Ayers' house but this graduate of Columbia and Harvard Law didn't know nothin about Ayers' past. Obama, you're a liar.

Obama's plans to increase taxes are the worst possible tactic in dealing with a recession. McCain is a " JFK Democrat " who knows that the way to get the economy going is to lower taxes strategically--not to soak the so-called rich in order to give welfare checks to those who do not pay federal income taxes at present.

The issue of taxes is especially important in tax burdened New York City. People here pay very high Federal, State and Local taxes plus Social Security taxes as it is. We make more money than those in other parts of the US, but we also have higher costs for most things. Any New Yorker with a job who votes for Obama or the Democrats is voting against the interests of their own families.

The choice this year could not be clearer. You can vote for a cipher with bad friends, one who conceals much about his past, or you can vote for a man with a long history as a political and economic reformer.

New York will vote Democrat, but I hope that Bay Ridge and the rest of America does the right thing and votes for John McCain.

John McCain. Best for Bay Ridge. Best for America.

The Phantom approves of this mesage.