March 31, 2009

Bay Ridge Blog to Become a Paid-Only Site

Doing a blog takes time, and my time is worth plenty. So, effective 1201 am on April 15, 2009, this blog will only be available to those who pay for a subscription.

Google does pay me a pittance for the adsense ads, but I want more. Someone has to pay me for my Time Warner high speed internet, subscriptions to magazines, luxury travel on the express bus. Plus the odd expense account dinner at Embers to meet with sources.

Subscriptions will run $75.99 a year, via Paypal. It's cheaper than the NY Times, and lets face it, its a lot more fun. ( $10 a year if you pay in cash at Three Jolly Pigeons Sunday night )

You know it's worth it. So pay up.

March 29, 2009

New Home for NY Mets Opens

The New York Mets have a new home, and some of us got the chance to check it out today.

They opened the doors two weeks before Opening Day for a ball game between St. Johns and Georgetown. A nice gesture to college baseball, and a chance for the Mets to make sure that things work at the new building.

It was weird seeing Shea Stadium completely gone - there's only a pile of dirt where it once stood, a block away from the new ballpark.

The new stadium is lovely. It's everything that Shea was not. The seats are wider and there is more legroom between them. You're closer to the field. The sound system is impeccable.

In this more intimate environment, you probably won't hear the airplanes as much.

There are food courts everywhere, with decent chow at prices that will shock the average fan - a slice of pizza will now set you back $6. A sixteen ounce Budweiser is $7.50. You can use credit cards pretty much anywhere, good thing at these prices.

There are no more ushers, which means that there will be no one to wipe off your seat, which is bad, and there is no one expecting a tip, which is good. The guys who used to work as ushers now act as gatekeepers for individual seating sections ( as in Giants Stadium ).

Where Shea was a cookie cutter ballpark, this is an intimate stadium with many nooks and crannies. The fans are really going to like it.

This was a really good day for Georgetown's baseball team- they threw the first pitch in the new stadium, shown here, they hit the first home run, and won the game. St. Johns was actually the visiting team today.

Click to enlarge.

There is plenty of legroom, and a cupholder at each seat.

The little that remains of the mighty Shea Stadium may be found behind the blue fence, right outside the new stadium.


Twenty two great photos here in the NY Daily News

March 22, 2009


I've just returned from a Saturday funeral service in Napa, CA.

Suzanne worked in our San Francisco office. She was a native of the nearby town of Napa.

She'd had pancreatic cancer. She underwent a brutal regime of chemo and the rest. Then it came back.

There was a large gathering of lifelong girlfriends, neighbors, her husband, mother, and friends from work.

The service was presided over by a Catholic priest. And a number of people got up to speak.

One of the girlfriends told the story of how when they were all sixteen, they walked about 20 miles on a whim along the side of a highway to visit a friend, only to find that she wasn't home! This was the first time the mother had heard this, and stuff like this kept the thing from being too heavy.

That and the story of how her first job after graduating Barnard College was as an editor at Playboy Publishing. ( " Sorry father!")

I don't know how people have the courage to get up and speak at these things, but it's a good thing.

They played this as the service ended.

After the service, we moved a mile down Napa's quiet Main Street to Angele Restaurant for a light lunch, where some of her many friends raised glasses of her Napa Valley Chardonnay in her memory.

March 19, 2009

Natasha Richardson

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come;
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Ame

March 17, 2009

New Connection Between Whitehall Street and South Ferry Station

Click to enlarge, so you can appreciate the nice tilework.

They opened a new, better South Ferry station yesterday. The main beneficiaries are " 1 " train riders connecting with the Staten Ferry.

But it also provides a free transfer between the R and 1 train--very good for Brooklyn subway riders traveling to lots of places on the West Side of Manhattan.

If you're going to Tribeca or other places on the West Side, this is worth a try. Ttake the last car of the R train to Whitehall Street. Go up stairs, and walk past the tree tilework and down the stairs to northbound 1 train.

It can be a better way to connect to the West Side IRT lines than the hellish Pacific St/Atlantic Avenue connection, and it's fewer steps than the Borough Hall option. And since this is the first stop of the 1 train, you'll often get a seat.

Check it out.


NY1 reports on how a call by Sidney Levine to the station got NY City off it's dead ass to restore street signs and lights on 86th Street and Third Avenue

March 14, 2009

" Danny Boy ", by Keith Jarrett

Take a lovely tune ( " Londonderry Air " ), bring to it lyrics by Frederick Weatherly ( an English lawyer! ), blend them together, and the result is this signature Irish tune. But it's long since jumped the shores of Ireland.

With it's themes of loss, and the love of family and between the generations, " Danny Boy " strikes a resonant chord in Asia. It ( as is " Sally Gardens " ) is well known in Japan and Korea.

But here, there are no lyrics, and we strip it down to " Londonderry Air ", as performed by Keith Jarrett. The great jazz pianist had suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome which kept him housebound for long periods of time.

But he got a bit better, well enough to do these 2002 concerts in Tokyo. I don't think that he's overemoting here. He may be struggling physically and emotionally, and he really knows what this most tune, and what the here unspoken words mean.

To the entire tribe, and I cast a fairly wide net when I say that - Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all.

March 09, 2009

Subway Ridership Report - Major Gains in Last Decade

Real Bay Ridge people take the subway at all hours of the day and night!

The Center for an Urban Future sent us a report the other day that shows that ridership broken down by subway station- very interesting for us geeks with an interest in mass transit.

Subway ridership is way up compared with a decade ago. I think that this is due to the Giuliani/Maple/Bratton leadership which essentially lowered crime rates beyond all recognition, and by improvements in the system from the bad old days.

Much of the increased ridership is in Brooklyn.

But let's look at some of the statistics in Bay Ridge and Sunset Park on the R line, showing average weekday ridership by station for 2008, and how this ridership compares with that of 1998:

  • 95th Street, 5722 riders, up 23%
  • 86th Street, 10,659 riders, up 57%
  • 77th Street, 5326 riders, up 32%
  • Bay Ridge Avenue, 8215 riders, up 34%
  • 59th Street, 12,020 riders, up 67%
  • 53rd Street, 7648 riders, up 39%
  • 45th Street, 7303 riders, up 39%
  • 36th Street, 11,151 riders, up 44%
People in Bay Ridge have voted with their feet, and they vote for more mass transit. We cannot let the service on the R, N, D or any other subway lines regress to the bad old Abe Beame days.

See the original press release, and a link to the interesting source material, below.


March 9, 2009 – The Center for an Urban Future, a nonpartisan think tank based in New York City, today published a study which reveals that Brooklyn was home to 51 of the 111 subway stations that experienced an increase in ridership of 50 percent or more between 1998 and 2008. The report also shows that bus ridership in Brooklyn increased by 21.9 percent between 1998 and 2008, dwarfing the 7.6 percent growth rate for Manhattan during the same period.

Overall, the Center’s study found that the largest gains in transit ridership over the past decade occurred at subway stations and on bus routes located in the boroughs outside of Manhattan. The Center’s analysis, which documents the percentage increase in weekday ridership for every subway station in the system between 1998 and 2008 as well as the growth in daily bus ridership by borough, highlights just how important the city’s public transportation system has become for residents living outside of Manhattan. And it comes at a time when the MTA is planning to make a series of devastating service cutbacks on bus and subway lines outside of Manhattan and as some outer-borough legislators are opposing new tolls on the bridges as a way to prevent the transit cuts.

The Center’s findings include:

· 20 of the 22 stations with the largest percentage increase in average weekday subway ridership between 1998 and 2008 were either in the outer boroughs or in Manhattan north of 96th Street.

· In 2008, 62 stations outside of Manhattan had an average weekday ridership of more than 10,000 people, up significantly from 46 stations in 2003 and 36 in 1998.

· More than a quarter of all New York City subway stations—111 out of 425—saw an increase in average weekday ridership of 50 percent or more between 1998 and 2008. Brooklyn accounted for nearly half (51) of those stations; there were 28 in Manhattan, 20 in the Bronx and 12 in Queens.

· 13 stations on the L line and nine on the N line were among the 50 fastest growing stations citywide. Other lines with several stations among the 50 fastest-growing stations in the system between 1998 and 2008 were: the 2 (seven stations), 3 (six stations), F (five stations), J (five stations) and M (five stations).

· Overall, 82 percent of the citywide gain in bus ridership between 1998 and 2008 occurred in the boroughs outside of Manhattan.

· While average daily bus ridership in Manhattan increased by just 7.6 percent during the past decade, bus ridership surged by 28.4 percent in Queens, 28.4 percent in Staten Island, 23.5 percent in the Bronx and 21.9 percent in Brooklyn. (Manhattan actually experienced a 6.7 percent decline in bus ridership between 2003 and 2008, the only borough to see a decrease during this period.)

The Center’s analysis, which is based on data from MTA New York City Transit, is the latest issue of New York by the Numbers, the Center for an Urban Future’s monthly economic snapshot of the five boroughs.

Last month, the Center published a major report about the challenges facing New York City’s middle class which argued that rising commuting times and overcrowded subways have already become a key quality of life issue for many residents living in the boroughs outside of Manhattan. This new data makes a strong case that these residents should be seeing an improvement in transit service rather than a dramatic cut—and it suggests that elected officials representing neighborhoods in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx would be well-served to pay as much or more attention to their transit-riding constituents as to the relative handful of car drivers into Manhattan.

The new study is available here