Tuesday, June 27, 2017

40 Years ago - - the 1977 summer in NYC

On that oppressive and sticky July evening, I was enjoying my rainbow sherbet while my parents and I were watching TV - - suddenly a little after 9, the lights in our fifth floor apartment went out.   We looked out the window and saw the entire Flatbush, Brooklyn neighborhood in darkness, unaware of a massive blackout which brought NYC into darkness.  The next day, we went outside to see the commercial strips of Parkside Ave and Flatbush Ave in ruins, stores looted as owners guarded whatever little is left of their merchandise.

That was one of the many facets which collectively made up the summer of 1977 in NYC - - one summer which nobody will ever forget - - Star Wars, NY Yankees with the Reggie/Billy Martin feud, the Son of Sam terrorizing Queens and Brooklyn, the second blackout in 11 years, and the dirty NYC Mayoral race - - how an unsung hero from Greenwich Village would win it and save NYC from heading deeper into financial abyss.

Let's look at these five:

1.  Star Wars:  Jaws defined summer blockbusters, Star Wars wrote the book on  science fiction sagas. The groundbreaking film written and directed by George Lucas defined the generation where everyone would be dressed up as a Stormtropper or Darth Vader while having a great love story of a would be Jedi named Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who rescues Princess Leia and leads the rebels in the destruction of the evil Empire and the Death Star.  The film thrilled millions of moviegoers all summer long.   And where else to watch this film but the 2,100 seat Loews Astor Plaza in Times Square with it's massive 70MM screen and Dolby sound - - the cheering of an sold out audience would rock the basement.   The Astor Plaza is now gone but the legacy of Star Wars remains a worldwide icon.

2.  NY Yankees:  I remember the 1977 Yankees - - Guidry, Munson (sadly he was killed in a plane crash in 1979), Randolph, Rivers, Catfish Hunter, and the feud between manager Billy Martin with Reggie Jackson, a scruffy right fielder who struggled most of the season - - only to redeem himself and the entire Yankee team in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers with only three at-bats, three pitchers he faced (Mike Torrez, Burt Hooton and Elias Sosa) - - one pitch each, and three hard swings of his bat - - 3 home runs in one game which led the Yankees into their first World Series Championship in over 15 years.  Jackson earned the nickname Mr. October, and Yankee manager Billy Martin a longer tenure on his job.

3.  Son of Sam:   Throughout 1976 into the summer of 1977, the .44 caliber killer or more known as the Son of Sam, would terrorize blonde women (and some men whom they were with) in parked cars within the outer boroughs of The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, killing six and injuring nearly a dozen more.  The Son of Sam's reign of terror in a city already filled with fear triggered the largest manhunt in NYC Police Department history with as many as 250 officers/detectives working on this case.   At the end, it was a parking ticket which the vehicle was traced to a David Berkowitz of Yonkers, an ex-Marine and postal worker who delivered mail by day and killed people at night.     On August 10, 1977 New Yorkers who stayed up late watched or listened to the news that the Son of Sam was taken into police custody - - and he had the nerve to say to the Yonkers and NYPD  cops that his neighbor's dog ordered him to carry out the killing spree.  David Berkowitz is presently serving multiple life sentences..

4.  The 1977 blackout:   In 1965, New York experienced it's first blackout on a cold November day.  However, the 1977 blackout occurred on July 14 during a hot, muggy, and miserable evening when a lightning strike at the Con Edison power plant in Buchanan, NY triggered an 1 hour chain reaction which blanketed the city's metropolitan area (including New Jersey) into total darkness by 9:30 PM.   Right after the lights went out, looters took advantage on anything that was not nailed down in stores.  Beds, electronics, TVs, groceries, furniture - - anything that can be carried out or hauled by truck - - looters terrorized the city, especially Bushwick, Brooklyn and the south Bronx.   Within minutes, stores were cleaned out by looters, every NYPD officer was called into service and precinct prison cells were filled, courts were overburdened with many perpetrators (and a lot more who were never caught from the pilfering.)

5.  The 1977 NYC Mayoral race:   NYC was still hemorrhaging from the 1975 fiscal crisis which NYC teetered on the brink of bankruptcy as well as the destruction of the Bronx's housing market and the city's rising crime rate.   Incumbent Mayor Abraham Beame was faced with five candidates running for the Democratic ticket, all eager to kick Beame out of City Hall.   Did you know about Bella Abzug?   She led the pack in the Democratic Primary race, but Mario Cuomo and Ed Koch got first and second places, respectively - - knocking Beame out of his tenancy.  However, neither candidate achieved the 40 percent mark to win the primary outright so a runoff two weeks later was done.  In the runoff, Koch won New York with 54 percent of the vote against Cuomo's 45 percent. Cuomo was undeterred by his loss to Koch so he went on the November ballot as a Liberal while Roy Goodman would represent the Republican party in the election.  Round 2 of Koch and Cuomo was no contest despite mudslinging between Koch and Cuomo as Koch went on to win the November Mayoral election.  For NYC, it was a new beginning with a new incoming Mayor in 1978 and Koch was the man which he would really save NYC from the 1975 financial ruin.  Of course, Cuomo went on to win the NY State Governor race in 1982.  But it was Ed Koch, a Bronx-born and longtime Greenwich Village resident - - who invented the catchphrase "How am I doin?"
 


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Your NYC Summer, 2017 outdoor movie guide

Summer season is here - - with Memorial Day kicking things off, it's time for vacations, street fairs, amusement parks, and most of all, outdoor movies.  Outdoor movies have been a longtime NYC staple and this year is no different with more offerings and more places to go.  Here is the complete list I know of (and some in Westchester and Long Island).  NOTE:  Always read the rules on each linked website, as some items may be prohibited, such as lawn chairs at the Bryant Park festival.  Most locations offer free popcorn and snacks.


1.  Bryant Park Film Festival:  The grandaddy of outdoor movies is now in their 23rd year with a rescreening of their first ever film at the great lawn, the original King Kong (1933).   Other notable films being shown this year are On The Town (June 26), The Muppets Take Manhattan (July 3), and the ultimate escapist Hitchcock film, North by Northwest (August 14).  The lawn fills up VERY fast as it opens to the public at 5 PM, so get there early if you want a good spot.

2.  NYC Parks Free Summer Movies  :   NYC Parks has the largest selection of free summer movies across all 5 boroughs.  They are great places to go if you don't want to deal with the crowds and parking like Bryant Park.  The list also includes the Hudson River Flicks at the two piers along the Hudson River - - Wednesdays for the adults at Chelsea Piers (Pier 61) and Fridays for the kids at Pier 46 near Christopher St.  I don't know why the Lego Batman film is scheduled for Wednesday when the site notes these films are rated PG-13 and up.

3.  Movies with a View at Brooklyn Bridge Park:   Another popular outdoor movie spot is also among the most beautiful and scenic places to watch a film, Brooklyn Bridge Park.  Right by the East River in DUMBO you can watch a great film on Thursdays from July 6th through August 24th with the final being show by popular vote of the three films, Footloose, Dear White People or Network.

4.  Rooftop films:   This independent website has different venues showing indie and documentary films - - some require advance ticket purchase while others are free.  As the name implies, some of their locations are at rooftops which is a neat and cool way to watch a film.

5.  SummerScreen at McCarren Park:   10 years strong, this Greenpoint, Brooklyn staple has another stellar lineup of Wednesday night films, including an audience pick for the finale on August 9th.

6.  Bronx Terminal Market Rooftop Films:   Right at the 145th Street Bridge and the Major Deegan Expressway is this interesting place of history, the Bronx Terminal Market - - once a month for the summer months, the rooftop is another place to watch family friendly films in the Bronx.

7.  Waterside Plaza movie nights in August:  It's in a semi-remote location off the FDR Drive and the M34A SBS+ bus route - - but it has a great view of Brooklyn and the East River but Monday nights in August is a great spot to watch a film right by the East River,  At this time, the 2017 schedule has not been released yet so check back on that link in July for more detailed information.

8.  Central Park movies:  Also in August, the Central Park Conservancy has their annual outdoor movie list.  Check back on the accompanying link for more info in July.

9.  Prospect Park Summer movies under the stars:   Enter from Grand Army Plaza and walk to the long meadow.    


And the outdoor movie fun is not limited to NYC - -  Westchester County and the eastern part of Long Island (which I call Nassau and Suffolk Counties) both have a short list too.


WESTCHESTER COUNTY:


1.  Wednesday movie nights:   County-wide, they are showing outdoor films on select Wednesday nights, however there is a $5 admission for adults.   Each week is a different venue, so please check their calendar carefully and plan ahead.

2.  Hudson River Museum:   Nestled in the NW section of Yonkers, they use the outdoor amphitheater to show concerts and movies.  On select Saturday nights, they show family classics such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.   Check the events schedule and plan ahead as always.

3.  Ridge Hill Movie Mondays:   Right off the NY State Thruway and the Sprain Brook Parkway, Ridge Hill has three movies showing on alternate nights.   FYI:   Parking is only available in garages and costs $3 for the entire day.


4.  White Plains Movies:      Various locations - - dates are July 10 at Mattison Park (The Little Mermaid), July 11 at George Washington School (Finding Nemo) and two other movie night locations, both showing Moana.


NASSAU AND SUFFOLK COUNTY:

1.  Jones Beach:  Thursday nights (and an non-Thursday), movies are shown at the bandshell.   Remember, there is a fee for parking at Jones Beach.

Other locations where you can watch outdoor movies are Eisenhower Park in Garden City (their 2017 schedule has not been announced yet), Baldwin Park, and other locations.  You also might want to look into websites like mommypoppins.com   and Life on Long Island which update their list of summer outdoor movies - - there will be announced by late June too.





Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May 2017 update on NYPD placard abuse

When you post photos of an NYPD vehicle with a placard used in violation of the Patrol Guide, whether or not the vehicle was illegally parked - - on Twitter - - you are reporting corruption, right?   Not according to one Brooklyn precinct who blocked Placard Abuse for good, and people in Twitter are starting to cry foul against the NYPD.

In my continuing reports of parking abuse by the NYPD, such as the Inside Edition report of illegal plastic covers  as well as false 311 reports  and parking abuse by other agencies, some current developments are taking place.

1.  72nd Precinct Blocks Placard Abuse:  Earlier this month, the ever versatile Placard Abuse reported a tweet that one of the placards issued and maintained by the 72nd Precinct in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, was misused by another driver (using the assigned placard in a different vehicle is in violation of the NYPD Patrol Guide), a common practice across most NYPD Precincts and central offices.   And what happened next?   The 72nd Precinct took to their twitter account and blocked him.   I spoke to Commanding Officer, Captain Emmanuel Gomez for blocking hiding your corruption.   BTW:   Why wasn't this vehicle with expired NYS DMV safety/emissions sticker, and illegally parked in No Standing Anytime Zone (with a 72nd Precinct placard displayed) also addressed? )  Update:  Both the 72nd and 49th Precincts unblocked us.


2. The NYPD Surgeon takes in a Broadway Show:   Dr. Richard Leinhardt, a part-time NYPD surgeon was busted for using his NYPD issued placard to park in front of a Broadway theater while attending the show inside.   If he car afford a Mercedes, then he can afford to garage it in Manhattan.   No surprise that NYPD placards are going around like water - - every cop needs some.

3.   MTA Board Member does the NYPD Surgeon placard thingy too:   Outspoken MTA Board Member Charles Moerdler (he is the one with the glasses who questions almost everything at Committee and Board meetings), acted like a tough guy when he was also caught using his MTA Police issued placard to illegally park in front of a swanky hotel, on East 44th Street    I should question him in the June MTA Committee meetings

4.  De Blasio's 50,000 placard question:  Thanks to NYC Mayor De Blasio and an arbitrator's decision benefiting the United Federation of Teachers, 50,000 new placards were issued to NYC Department of Education teachers, administrators and support staff.   and with only 11,000 parking spaces available for school employees in those "No Parking, School Days", you know the other 39,000 employees will go to great lengths to illegally park at bus stops, hydrants, bike lanes, etc.   The response from De Blasio??   "No big deal".   That's why former NYC DOT Commissioner Samuel "Gridlock Sam" Schwartz was spot on in the above link, saying that anyone with a parking placard will abuse it,


5.  NY1 gets real with Placard Abuse:  On the NY1 daily news show, The Road to City Hall, host Errol Louis touched on the second half of this video with some brilliant observations of placard abuse .  Truth be told, that as much as Placard Abuse can do only so much on Twitter (along with a dozen others, including me), we don't get noticed by the news media that much.  Mr. Louis, along with Inside Edition's Lisa Guerrero busting up those license plate covers on NYPD personal vehicles, show that they care about eroding corruption, no matter how big or small it is.  Thank you Mr. Louis for your fine work on that show, ending that it won't be the last segment on this cancer which erodes our trust in NYC government.

6.  Mayor De Blasio Announces Placard Crackdown:  Yesterday, I visited the City Hall in the Bronx open house to ask Mayor De Blasio about the placard crackdown - - De Blasio announced today he was doing a real placard abuse crackdown, for real.   Thanks to PlacardAbuse and others (including me) on Twitter, we have forced a hand with the Mayor and NYPD Police Commissioner James O'Neill.   While the newest crackdown will address some issues, it fails to tackle important matters, such as NY State and Federal placard abuse, nor does this crackdown go after Theft Vests, those who use construction vests as placards to steal valuable parking and possibly evading the cost of feeding meters.   The crackdown does not mention NYC and NY State placards on out-of-state registered vehicles, a very common abuse by the NY State Court Officers, nor on vehicles with expired NY State registration and inspection stickers/  Let's hope this crackdown is not a band-aid which will dissipate in a few days and the crooks will return back to their illegal and corrupt ways of parking abuse.



Some pictures of the month:

NYPD and Manhattan DA placards on out-of-state registered vehicles.  The NYPD placard is also blank, meaning that there is no vehicle plate # assigned to it.  The Manhattan DA placard expired almost a month ago.









NY State Court Officer with illegal front and rear plate covers over #KALLEL 


Serious crosswalk obstruction with multiple vehicles having NYS placards  - right where Mayor De Blasio held his open house.






I will follow up over the summer to see how the newest crackdown is doing.  Regardless of the future outcome, I wanted to give extra special thanks and kudos to PlacardAbuse whom we have me tweeting and reporting placard corruption - - surely it won't be the end.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

President Trump's tax and health care plans - - all for the 1 percenters

If anyone has any doubts that President Trump is all for the 1 percenters - and not for the 99 percenters, look no further than the latest tax reform and health care plans.   Right to the point it screws the middle class, especially homeowners and those with pre-existing conditions, while benefiting the 1 one percent of all earners.


The smoke and mirrors objectives on Trump's tax plan can be found in left (fake) and right (real) leaning stories - - such as Fox Business telling the top 5 great benefits  of the 2017 tax reform.   On the other side, the tax plan will hurt taxpayers who rely on state and local income taxes as part of their itemized deductions - - especially homeowners in high property tax states like California and New York who pay up to 15K annually.  But first, compare President Trump's tax plan to this plan he "proposed" while running for office - - which had 4 income tax brackets, including no tax liability for married couples up to 50K and just 15 percent for single filers up to 150K (married couples up to 300K). However most filers will give up a lot of "unspecified" deductions which would still be offset by eliminating most tax and the troubles of itemizing deductions, but keeps the wonderful mortgage interest and charitable deductions.  Yes, the wealthiest get a huge cut from 39.6 percent down to 25 percent and that is a problem for me, but at least that plan benefitted the working class a lot.


Now Trump is President, his new one page proposed plan calls for 15/25/35 percent income tax brackets instead of his originally proposed 4 tax brackets, while still eliminating most deductions.   Nothing was mentioned about the specific income levels in relation to each tax bracket but it's not much of a difference from the current 7 brackets. Even when standard deductions are doubled, President Trump still wants to eliminate most deductions and he certainly has said nothing about the Earned Income Credit which was helped low income families with child dependents.

And as of this blog post, President Trump is on the verge of replacing former President Obama's Affordable Care Act, or more commonly know as Obamacare with the American Health Care Act of 2017 or what we call Trumpcare.    Take a look at the moderate website, The Hill's, comparisons between Obamacare and Trumpcare  and surely you will see that while the revised plan will allow more people to be insured than the first disastrous draft, it will cost a lot more for older patients and those with pre-existing conditions.  And allocating only $8 billion for a high risk pool of those who cannot afford the premiums, it will not be enough as estimates call for upwards of $200 billion.


Personally, I never was a fan of Obamacare either, with the communist approach of requiring everyone to have health insurance or pay an IRS penalty - - as well as buying insurance within the state marketplace instead of buying insurance across state lines and I am vehemently opposed to covering abortion and contraception - - it is a woman's choice for her to either abstain until marriage or have premarital sex - - the government should not be paying for what a woman decided which got her pregnant if she was not able to take care of the newborn.  but now with Trumpcare, it's worse with more people will not be able to afford to buy insurance in the marketplace with pre-existing conditions while the wealthiest 1 percent, according to Politifact, will receive two tax breaks.


Once again, the establishment has screwed the working middle class.  Shame!!!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

AG Sessions is right: The NYPD is soft on crime AND corruption

I still think of the idiocy of the Trump Administration (such as Spicer's comments on the holoucaust) but U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions III said what IS right:  The NYPD is soft on crime in all ways, AND soft on corruption too.


Take a look at these pictures of illegal license plate covers, very well ignored by the NYPD - - all parked outside 100 Centre Street - - aka Manhattan Criminal Court or the Tombs next door.   These vehicles belong to NY State Court Officers and NYC Correction Officers working in the adjacent jail.













That's just the tip of the iceberg - - there is the 10 to 20 daily photos posted by Placard Abuse and other users (including me) on Twitter that has been gaining momentum in the past month with many other users backlashing against the NYPD's corrupt practices in parking abuse.  If the NYPD was not soft on crime and corruption, then it would take swift and decisive action against the hundreds of NYPD and non-NYPD law enforcement officers using illegal license plate covers to steal city and state revenues from tolls and red light/speed camera fines.   License plate covers are not small potatoes - - they prevent identification of a vehicle involved in a hit and run accident, a felony if the accident causes death of another individual.  License plate covers rip off toll authorities to millions of dollars, which results in higher tolls, be it from law enforcement officers who do this.

Then there is De Blasio's soft stance on quality of life - - public urinating or carrying an open container of alcohol will get you a free pass in the courts because that is no longer an arrestable offense  even though they show disorder and decay in NYC.  De Blasio's argument is that this frees up 10,000 cases in criminal court.   How about going after the Court Officers and NYC Correction Officers who use license plate covers outside Manhattan Criminal Court as I have shown?  How about  the end of filing false 311 reports by the NYPD claiming they took action (summons or tow)
when it is clear that they didn't?  How about making Traffic Enforcement Agents do their jobs in ticketing or towing personal vehicles owned/leased by NYPD officers and civilians which are illegally parked, have expired placards, or illegal license plate covers - - instead of ignoring them.   (Do you want to be reminded of that illegally parked vehicle in Times Square??   Consider this article which might shed some light on the parking abuse and corruption)

Friday, April 7, 2017

East 180th Street IRT stationhouse already in shambles

Thousands of people a day use or pass through the East 180th Street station on the IRT 2 and 5 lines in the Bronx.  Most customers are unaware of the station's historical significance, especially the landmarked stationhouse entrance which sits at the NW corner of East 180th Street and Morris Park Ave in the Bronx.  The stationhouse was built in 1911 for a now defunct railway called the New York, Westchester and Boston Railway (NYW&B Railway) which ran a no-frills commuter rail service between Port Morris terminal in the South Bronx and either White Plains or Port Chester.  You can read all the history of the NYW&B railway on two great rail history websites here and here (a month's worth of viewing).   MTA New York City Transit undertook a beautiful restoration of the East 180th Street stationhouse which was completed in 2013 with Lee Harris Pomeroy as the architectural firm hired to draw the blueprints for the restoration process.  The station is listed in both National Register of Historical Places and a NYC Landmark so it's something which NYC Transit should preserve.


Now 4 years later, the stationhouse's exterior is already in shambles from the elements of mother nature and the cold harsh winters.









Side views of stationhouse:









When you paint a house, you should be able to maintain the paint - - primer it before painting then do a new repainting job every 4 to 7 years (in NYC, it's more on the 4 year side because of those brutal winters, LOL).  You don't let paint peel off in large areas like this - - and it's only 4 years old.   It's sad that MTA New York City Transit will let this house (which is registered as TWO landmarks) decay again, unless they do some overcoat within a year or so.  While I talk about the stationhouse, there is a very interesting "exhibit" just to the right as you enter from the Morris Park Ave (main) side - - a 1970's Hagstrom wall map of the Bronx.  Take a look at this:


Bronx campus of New York University, now Bronx Community College

Hostos Community College and Lincoln Hospital not yet built.  

Third Ave el. and Wilkins Ave, now Louis Nine Blvd at Freeman St


High Bridge Station on the old PCRR Hudson line

Bronx State Hospital, now closed.  Jacobi and Albert Einsten Hospitals remain. 

Manhattan State Hospital

Newly constructed Bruckner Interchange which now all highway traffic bypasses a traffic signal at Brush Ave.  



Southern terminus of 3rd Ave el at East 149th Street.  Map appears to be somewhere between 1972/73





Co-Op City - - note old exit numbers on I95 and some unfinished loops inside the complex - - no malls.  Today, the exit numbers on I95 are 11 and 12.

138th Street station on the old Penn-Central.  



This is not some ordinary stationhouse like Franklin Ave and Fulton St in Brooklyn - - this is a landmark and of great historical significance which the MTA New York City Transit should not ignore.  It's very sad for them to let this crown jewel decay into the current state as the East 180th Street stationhouse represents part of the glory days in railroading history.





Sunday, April 2, 2017

MTA keeps ignoring error on missing bus stop near Citifield

Play ball, the boys of summer are back today  - - baseball is back and let's hope for another NYC Subway Series with the NY Yankees and Mets this fall.

And another year which the MTA NYC Transit keeps telling us about a bus stop that no longer exists, for years.  Last Thursday, MTA HQ released a press release about encouraging baseball fans to take the bus or train to their favorite baseball home.  Buried in this PR are directions by bus to CitiField, specifically the Q19 and Q66 bus routes which run along Northern Blvd, just north of CitiField.   They tell you that westbound Q19 and Q66  (towards Astoria and Long Island City, respectively) buses "stop" at 126th Street and Northern Blvd, about two blocks from the stadium.


Trouble is, there never was a westbound bus stop for years, here are the latest photos taken Saturday which show that there is no room for a bus stop, nor signs.  Guardrails are protecting the north side of Northern Blvd, except for a cut at the crosswalk.







The MTA Bustime app and Trip Planner also has errors, the Q66 route shows the bus stop for the Westbound side of Northern and 126th Street - - even Trip Planner+  will get you lost if you follow their directions from Downtown Main Street.  The Q19, which only was recently extended to Flushing-Main Street area, correctly does not have the westbound Northern/126th Street bus stop in MTA Bustime.  







So how long has this error been ignored by the MTA?   How about 2016  2015 and also here and here although it appears the MTA lied in a purported email from this user on the (often volatile) discussion board Subchat in 2016 that they "corrected it"  - - presently there is NO bus stop according to NYC DOT which maintains a database of parking regulations.


So MTA, how many decades will it take for you to correct this egregious mistake which you have ignored and lied about in multiple press releases and news stories?