Sunday, December 27, 2015

New NYCT President starts Monday - an open blog post.

Tomorrow, Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim will start her first day as the 8th permanent President of MTA NYC Transit.  She returns to the MTA family after serving a brief stint at NJ Transit and enter a fragmented time where the MTA and NYC Transit are in the midst of rebuilding the nations largest  urban transportation network from Superstorm Sandy as well as coping with dwindling on-time performance in the subways due to record high ridership, work programs, and equipment malfunctions.    As Ms. Hakim starts to lead the ship abandoned by the last NYCT President, Carmen Bianco earlier this year, I wish her great success in 2016.

That said, I am making an open blog post (like an open letter) to Ms. Hakim about some suggestions to improve the customer's perception of MTA NYC Transit.

1. Improve on-time performance and scheduling.  That is most obvious given that some lines such as the 2, 4, 5 and 6 lines have below 50 percent on-time performance.  Page 31 of the November MTA NYC Transit Committee Meeting document shows these lines have poor weekday on-time performance.  On weekends, only the 2, 4 and F lines have below 50 percent O/T performance.  (The best explanation why the 5 line has a much better 71 percent on-time performance is probably because the line had some Bronx only shuttle train service scheduled on certain weekends or if the line ran the entire length to Bowling Green, then some weekends were at 20 minute intervals.  Using platform controllers as well as better response times to trains involved in minor incidents might help.  Of course I am not an expert as to how NYC Transit should improve on-time performance but I do know that no more trains can be added during rush hours due to constraints in system capacity.  But with the recent rash of equipment failures like signals going on the blink almost very day or the gap fillers at the Downtown side of 14th Street-Union Square on the 4/5/6 lines are not working properly - - and these gap fillers were replaced this year - - then it's time for NYCT to stop purchasing cheap equipment which continues to break down.

2.  Improve customer information and communications:  That is one of my biggest issues - - you cannot have inaccurate information hereherehere and here,  Oh yes, did I remind you that the MTA Weekender pages still have the Bronx House of Detention and other errors after all these years?  As for train announcements, you cannot say transfer to the 7 train if that line is not running in Manhattan on any given weekend (except for a shuttle train between Times Square and 34th-Hudson Yards)  So if te MTA NYC Transit announces a weekend A/C Cranberry tube shutdown, then there is absolutely no reason why I should hear the A/C transfer on 2/3/4/5 trains at Fulton Street (I cannot vouch for the J train as I have yet to ride any during the Cranberry Tube shutdown).   Same goes for a bus line - - I should not be hearing a "Transfer to the Bx41 SBS" at Gun Hill Road at 10 PM when the last Bx 41 SBS left the intermodal terminal an hour ago.  /  

3.  Improve customer service and response:  One thing NYC Transit loves to do is to answer customer's concerns with form letters - - a letter with "we will take care of this" which they end up not doing anything at all.  Nothing ticks a customer off than getting a form letter as a reply - - they should reach out via email directly to the customer and see how this matter can be resolved that way.  Most people have email accounts so this is a cost effective way in taking care of customer's concerns.  Other people who don't have computer access can still receive letters the old fashioned method. 

4.  Reach out to customers in person:  Former NYCT President Alan Keipper ran the system from 1990 to 1996 and during his tenure, he took a hands-on approach in the system's day-to-day operations.  Mr. Keipper would hold forums at specific subway stops, usually about once or twice a month and during the weekday PM rush hour - - listening to customer's concerns and directing the appropriate issue to a senior NYCT manager,  I attended a few of these meetings, once at 168th Street  A/C station and another at 205th Street on the D for example.  Reach out and hear what customers are talking - - social media such as Facebook and Twitter have made a positive impact in improving customer service but sometimes there is nothing like the old fashioned way of face to face interaction.  

And lastly, ride the system - - see what is being done right and what is done wrong.  Whatever you see that is wrong, try to see if there is a way to fix it without being cost-prohibitive. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Avenue X station renewal work complete and other NYC Transit errors.

Today, MTA New York City issued a press release with the title "Avenue X F Line Station Renewal Completed".  The title implies that the renewal work at the Avenue X station on the F line in Brooklyn is complete and all would be left are the finishing touches.  You would think NYCT's contractor completed work on this station.  

But the Avenue X station is only about 50 percent finished.  Not even close to be done.

The details on the press release are clear that on Monday morning (12/28) at 5 AM the Manhattan-bound side on Avenue X station will reopen.  As anyone who works and/or lives in this area, the Coney Island bound side is yet to be done - - that requires a full closure of this platform which is yet to be announced.  Has anyone at NYCT bothered to proofread this PR before the majority of the NYC area press receives this?  

Other mistakes I encountered on the MTA website are as follows:  

1.  The S89 and S93 Limited bus routes don't operate on December 26 (a Saturday) anyway.   

2.  Pelham Bay Park ADA elevator closure needs to be updated - - you cannot transfer between 4 and 6 trains at 125th Street due to these elevators are being closed for replacement on Jan. 8 (also see below)

3, 125th Street elevator outage on Jan 8, 2016 - - no access to Simpson St 2/5 station because these elevators are being replaced too,.  Also the Bx19 bus stop on Westchester Ave and Southern Blvd is too far away from the Hunts Point Ave 6 line station.   The correct location is around the Southern Blvd and Hunts Point Ave area.  


Errors makes us human - - that's why NYCT needs to proofread their work before posting.  

Friday, December 18, 2015

Diallo cop gets promoted - - where's his apology to the Diallo family?

Kenneth Boss, one of the 4 officers who shot and killed Armadou Diallo when they mistook his wallet for a gun on the 1100 block of Wheeler Ave in the Bronx on Feb 4, 1999, was promoted to NYPD Sergeant yesterday.  Of course this infuriated Diallo's mom, Kadiatou Diallo and reopened old wound between NYPD and minorities.  Let's get one thing clear, Boss was promoted by Civili Serviced rules where he took the NYPD Sergeant's exam, passed it, and was later pulled off from the eligible list.  There is nothing anyone can do under NY State Civil Service Law to prevent anyone from being promoted.   And I am a proponent of Civil Service.  

However, it appears that Boss is not really interested in his mea culpa or apology to the Diallo family.  In 2003, Kenneth Boss claims that he didn't find any time in his "busy" schedule in apologizing to the Diallo family for that tragedy (since a jury in Albany found the 4 officers not guilty of all counts, we will refer this as a tragedy, given they received due process of the law.) - - and to this day, he still refuses to apologize to the Diallo family.   But he found a lot of time to file NY State and Federal lawsuits against the NYPD to get his gun back, not to mention pleading with three police commissioners before  the last Commissioner, Raymond Kelly, gave Boss his gun back in 2012. Boy, you can't just have a press conference or meet with Diallo's mom to man up and apologize cause you couldn't find the time to do so but you wanted everything else that's good for your restoration of your career with the NYPD.    Maybe you don't understand what Diallo's mom is going through for nearly 16 years - - a $3 million settlement with the city won;t bring her son back from that Wheeler Ave apartment lobby.  About a week after the shooting, I visited the walk-up apartment building and saw walls ripped with bullet holes.

In contrast to Kenneth Boss' self-righteous attitude, Sean Carroll, one of the other officers who confronted Diallo that fateful night, at least had a heart about what happened, saying that he has felt sorry about this incident from Day 1. / Carroll was emotionally distraught about it but whether Carroll's response is real or crocodile tears, at least he apologized for it.


The NYPD promoted dozens of Sergeants at 1 Police Plaza - - one of them was vermin.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Star Wars returns - May the Force Be With You

Last Saturday, I was fighting the Times Square and Santa-Con crowds to get to 8th Ave for the subway - - I passed by the Playstation 4 theater on West 44th Street where I had my fondest childhood memory in a long, long time ago (but a galaxy not far away) of another movie theater.  Back in the summer of 1977, my father took me to see Star Wars for the first time at the Loews Astor Plaza theater - - the same location where the PS 4 theater is now (and that used to the the Nokia or Best Buy theater - - how much we lose sight of naming rights).  Watching Star Wars at the largest regular first run single screen theater in New York City was an experience in itself which can never be duplicated in an IMAX or regular theater - - the 1,500 seat theater situated in the basement of 1 Astor Plaza, largest of it's kind with 50+ rows of seats (and plenty of room for standees), the long escalators, the wall murals of actors/actresses like Bogie, Cagney, Sinatra, Crosby, Monroe and other stars from the 1930s through 50s,, the large concession stand (and a smaller one in the back of the theater) and the awesome Dolby sound system on a huge (and I mean MAMMOTH 70MM screen. ).  But most of all, watching Star Wars with the crowd experience was the best time I had at the movies, hands down. When the Death Star exploded at the end of the film, the crowd cheered so loudly, you can feel the earth shake.   I also remember watching huge movie hits at the Astor Plaza, such as Superman I and II, the next two Star Wars films, (Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) and Logans Run (prior to Star Wars).    Today, the largest auditorium of a multiplex theater typically hovers around 300-450 seats although there are IMAX theaters with more seats.  This Friday, December 18th, Star Wars, The Force Awakens opens in U.S. theaters and will be projected to be one of the biggest, if not biggest, all time box office blockbusters in recorded history, filling multiplex theaters with die hard Star Wars fans dressed out in a stormtropper, Yoda, Jabba The Hut, or Darth Vader.   Of course many theaters will be showing evening shows tomorrow evening (12/17).

To me, Star Wars is every one's childhood memory and like a candle burning forever, that memory will carry on for past, present and future generations.   It feels like yesterday about that memorable trip my father and I took to a Long, Long, Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far, Far Away.  May the Force Be With You. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

1 train skips stops - -,before announcement was made

Many times, trains running behind schedule would skip certain stops to make up lost time and to maintain even intervals of train service - - this is known in NYC Transit jargon as a "battery run" and I never have a problem with that as long as there is a train right behind us.  What I do have a problem with is making a battery run first then telling customers after the fact.  Such a case of miscommunication took place last week on the 1 line, historically known for it's frequent battery runs as many trains fall behind schedule.  

On Friday December 4th, at approx 2 PM, I was on a northbound 1 train (car #1841) when a woman dragging her heavy bag was struggling with her daughter - - it was crowded at that time of midday.  When we got to 181st Street, it was a normal stop and the conductor announced 191 as the next stop.  Once the doors closed and the train was leaving the station, the conductor changed his previous announcement - - stating that the next stop is Dyckman Street - - thus the train will bypass 191st Street station.  This made the woman with the heavy package and daughter angry - - she was cursing.  At Dyckman, I asked the conductor why did he make the announcement to skip 191 after we left 181 - - the conductor said that control center (RCC) told him to skip 191 even though he told them that our train already left 181 when the order was made.  The conductor also told me that RCC told him to keep it moved because our train was way behind schedule.  We continued our conversation after our train left Dyckman with 225th Street being our next stop (as per RCC) to make up some lost minutes and he did apologized for the error.  .

That's great miscommunication - - now what about the woman with the package and the girl - - they needed to leave the train at - where else?  191st Street, of course.    The woman would have to ride all the way to 242nd Street/Van Cortlandt Park, the northern terminal for the 1 line then ride back to 191 as she would not be able to drag the package all the way down the stairs at Dyckman (she still would have steps at 191 though).  The conductor told me that there are elevators at Dyckman and I told him that he was only half right - - there is only one elevator at Dyckman and that is only on the southbound side from mezzanine to platform.  There is no elevator from the mezzanine to the northbound platform.  (Another important piece of information which NYCT employees should be trained on).   So I made sure that the woman and girl would stay on the same 1 train when leaving 242 before I left the terminal.

This is one reason why the MTA's Pledge To Customers is pure garbage and lies - - nothing more than a PR smokescreen to make them look good.  To make the announcement after the train leaves the station as miscommunication occurs can be dangerous - - what if RCC gave one set of instructions to avoid an accident or dangerous condition and the crew does not get the information until it's too late?   If the order was made after the train left the last station where customers can wait then the adjustment should be made.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

AHA's Jump Rope and Hoops for Heart Events - - how you can help.

I don't need to remind you how prevalent heart disease is in adults - - the facts speak for themselves about heart attacks are the leading cause of death among adults in America.  We think of heart disease in adults but how many of us think about children who are diagnosed with a heart condition at a very early age?  Yes children can have heart conditions too, or Pediatric Heart Disease  - - the most common is Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) which most children acquire it at birth - - their heart is not working at optimal capacity like most children who have healthy hearts.    It is psychologically devastating for a child to endure a lifetime without any or restricted physical activity at the school gym or playing with friends/siblings - - it's most difficut for  the parents who keep praying for the continued health of their child.  40,000 babies are diagnosed with CHD at birth each year along with other children who acquire CHD later on in their lives.  Approx 10,000 of those babies who have CHD will require heart surgery or intense medical help to prolong their lives.

But it's an ongoing tragedy which you can help - - The American Heart Association, in partnership with local elementary/middle schools across the nation, is sponsoring the first ever Jump Rope/Hoops for Heart events in 2016 and I am pleased to announce that my daughter Sabella is participating in this event - - sponsored by her school.  You can make an online donation through Sabella's dedicated online webpage.  Additionally, you can leave an encouraging or thank you note to Sabella (don't worry, I will make sure she reads any of them each day before her bedtime.).  Your support will help children such as, Vivian, Cassandra, and other kids who are living with PHD.  Thank you.  


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Westchester Bee Line communication fail.

Westchester County' Bee Line bus system has a good operation, although they could improve on-time performance on some bus roues like the 25.  But when it comes to providing information on their website, they are worse than the MTA.

From November 8th until now, a road construction project on Jerome Ave at the Woodlawn Subway terminal on the NYC subway 4 line has detoured Bee Line bus routes 4, 20/20X/21 in the northbound direction.  These buses usually run on Jerome Ave from Bedford Park Blvd to Yonkers and are the busiest routes in the entire Bee Line system (the 20/20X/21 is Bee Line's busiest while route 4 ranks up there for it's quick access from Yonkers' Getty Square to the 4 train).  Northbound buses are detoured off from Jerome Ave onto Gun Hill Road and Bainbridge Ave until further notice.

But nothing about this service diversion is posted on the Westchetser Bee Line website - - I called Bee Line on two occasions to let them know about the missing information on this temporary detour on their website and it still hasn't been fixed.  Mind you, this is not the first time that Bee Line has not posted information about planned detours.


This is the screenshot as of today (12/3) - - only one service notice on Route 1 in Hastings:




The following pictures were taken on Monday at the Woodlawn subway terminal area - - I also drove past this area tonight - - here is a White Plains bound 20 local on Bainbridge Ave





Here is the NYC Transit Bx16/34 bus stop - - now Bee Line buses have to share this stop.



Here is the original bus stop, with temporary sign directing Bee Line customers to walk across Bainbridge Ave to the Bx16/34 bus stop - - note the road work which has taken out the curb lane





And the service notice - - this picture was too blurry to make out the start date but it was November 8th when the northbound 4/20/20X/21 Bee Line buses to be detoured off Jerome Ave.  Therefore, Bee Line was aware of the road work on Jerome and implemented the detour.





So why can't they post this detour on their website?  When a fire destroyed a row of stores, and damaged  the 260 year old Saint John's Episcopal Church in Yonkers' Getty Square - - Bee Line posted every bus detour which was affected by the street closings. They also go a good job during temporary service changes due to snow over the winter.  But I also noticed last summer that Bee Line doesn't post bus detour information during weekend parades and street fairs which required street closures. During 2016 when warmer weather approaches and the parades/fairs kick off along Westchester and Bronx counties, I will try to follow the Bee Line website to see how Bee Line is performing.

For a detour to last almost a month now - - and Bee Line is aware of this project in the Bronx - - it's inexcusable for them not to update this on their website.  That is a major communication fail. Wake up Bee Line.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

53 years of James Bond, Part 2

Now let's take a look at the rest of the James Bond films

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

The Good:  Best pre-credits sequence ever with a breathtaking ski jump by stuntman Rick Sylvester, Jaws fights Bond, excellent plot, Roger Moore finally gets comfortable in his Bond role, the Lotus Esprit car that can swim underwater as well as drive on the road.

The Bad:  Kurt Jergens as Stromberg is one of the weaker playing villains, Stromber's lair reminds us of Dr. No.

Gerber's take:  This is my favorite Roger Moore film and the third best 007 film in the series, Moore clashes with Jaws so brilliantly in a great story about the capture of USA and the now former USSR nuclear submarines hijacked as Bond's main woman is a KGB agent who might kill him for the death of her lover during the opening ski chase.  The casting of Barbara Bach as a smart Bond woman is a complete departure from Britt Elkland who set womanhood back a 100 years in the Man With The Golden Gun.  Grade: A

Fun Fact:  This is the first 007 film where Bond directly kills a woman (Caroline Munro as Namoi),   It is also the first Bond film to be shot is Dolby Stereo as well as the only Bond film where M's name was used (Miles)


Moonraker (1979)

The good:  Bond in outer space, Bond and Jaws tangle again, good plot to create a master race in outer space to destroy earth.

The bad:  The film takes the laughable route, at one point a "Magnificent Seven" type scene occurs.  Then the film goes the Star Wars route.

Gerber's take:  It's laughable at times and Roger Moore really does a lot of jokes - - but what makes this film so interesting to watch is the use o he space shuttles as well as the special effects - - just 2 years after this film was released, NASA launches the first space shuttle, Columbia (STS-1).  But Q line at the very end of the film ("I think he's attempting reentry, sir") is the best  of the Bond series.  Grade B

Fun fact:  #1 This is the fifth and final Bond film where the original and undiluted John Barry/Monty Norman 007 theme could be heard - - as well as the only Roger Moore film using said theme.  The others were Dr. No, From Russia With Love, You Only Live Twice and OHMSS.  #2  Director Lewis Gilbert's last film but more interestingly is the fact that it's his second film which deals with an outer space theme (You Only Live Twice)


For Your Eyes Only (1981)

The Good:  Roger's Moore's best film, good chase sequences, Topol, Bond finally kills Blofeld as well

The Bad:  Film suffers from rehash of previous Bond film with underwater sequences (Thunderball), and a ski chase (OHMSS) as well as the recovery of an encryption device (the Lektor in From Russia With Love),

Gerber's take:  Moore takes his role more seriously then his other Bond outings and Julian Glover is decent as the main villain.  There is a satisfying conclusion to Bond finally killing Blofeld after Bond visits his wife's grave, however the ski chase and underwater sequences remind us of past Bond films.  Grade C+

Fun Fact:  Julian Glover appeared in 2 episodes of The Saint's Roger Moore.  Coincidentally, at the end of a different episode of The Saint, "Luella" (1963), a woman would come up to Roger Moore's Simon Templar - looking forward to work alongside James Bond then asks Templar if he was James Bond.  9 years later, Moore would start playing Bond in 1972 for Live and Let Die.

Octopussy (1983)

The Good:  Carly Simon's theme song, Maude Adams returns to play the title character.  Good plot to start an Soviet invasion on Europe.

The Bad:  Moore getting silly but still holding his own, some actions sequences are getting worn.

Gerber's take:  Silly at times (Bond as Tarzan and a clown) but this is a film starting Roger Moore and he does provide the comic relief mixed in with a very good plot to disarm most of Europe by plating a nuclear bomb to kill thousands at a U.S. air force base in West Germany, allowing the Soviet Union to invade Europe.  This is a much better film than Never Say Never Again, however is falls short of the best Bond films.  Grade:  B-

Fun fact:  This is the first Bond film to use a title named after a female character as well the first actress (Adams) to "die" in one Bond film (The Man With the Golden Gun) then appear in another film.

Never Say Never Again (1983)

The Good:  Sean Connery comes back for one more Bond, good cast with Kim Basinger, Klaus Maria Brandauer, and

The Bad:  Thunderball ripoff plot, Connery gets beaten up most of the time, Since this was a Warner Bros film, not MGM-UA, no gun barrel sequence

Gerber's take: Producer Kevin McClory finally got his wish to see his Thunderball version on the big screen after a nearly 2 decade court battle with Eon Productions over McClory's rights to the Thunderball novelization by Ian Fleming.  He should have burned the entire production down.  The only bright spot in the film is Barbara Carrrera who plays the killer Fatima Blush.  Edward Fox plays a overacting M, lousy.   Grade:  D

Fun Fact:  The only differences between Thunderball and Never Say Never Again are the absences of the gun barrel sequence and the Aston Martin car in the latter, as we as some minor character differences between the two films (Emily Largo/Maximilian Largo, Fiona Volpe/Fatima Blush, etc.) and addition of the video game battle between Bond and Largo in the latter.  Adjust those items and you have two nearly identical films.


A View To A Kill (1985)

The Good:  Duran,Duran's theme song, Grace Jones and Christopher Walken as baddies.

The Bad:  Moore is too old and worn to play Bond anymore.  Plot to destroy Silicon Valley, CA - - ho hum.

Gerber's take:  Christopher Walken is a great actor but he is so stiff in this weak Bond film, Moore lacks the humor he exhibited in eariler films and he is bedding women half his age.  Grade C+

Fun Facts  #1  Patrick MacNee would be the third Avengers TV star to appear in a James Bond film.  The other two - Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg.  #2  So far, this would be the final James Bond film to be shot in the United States.


The Living Daylights (1987)  


The Good:  Bond seeking revenge against a drug lord, Dalton's final film

The bad:  Truck doing a wheelie?????  Oh please

Gerber's take:  Only Die Another Day tops the worst Bond film.  No megalomaniac bad guy, no interesting Bond, and it plays more like a made-for-TV film.  Banal Bond.  Grade:  F

Fun fact: #1 Final film for longtime Bond filmmakers Richard Malibum (Screenwriter), Maurice Binder (he's the one who created the famous Bond title sequences), and director John Glen.  Glen also was film editor of On Her Majesty's Secret Service.   #2  David Hedison is the first actor to play Felix Leiter in more than one Bond film.  His first appearance was Live and Let Die.


Goldeneye (1995)

The Good:  New Bond (Pierce Brosnan) reignites the Bond franchise after a 7 year hiatus,  Tina Turner belts out the title song, Judi Dench as the new "M".

The Bad:  Special effects start to take over the Bond series,  Some critics say Brosnan is nowhere near the league of Connery and Moore

Gerber's take:  No doubt Brosnan is a definitive improvement over Dalton but he is nowhere near Connery, Moore or even Daniel Craig.  There is a terrific chase between Bond (in a tank) and Ourumov (Gottfried John).  The film is Brosnan's best but he goes downhill from there with the next 3 entries.  Grade:  B-

Fun fact:  Joe Don Baker is the fourth actor who appeared as two different characters - - as the arms dealer Brad Whitaker in The Living Daylights and as CIA agent Jack Wade.  Baker reprises his Jade Wade role one more time in the next film, Tomorrow Never Dies.

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

The Good:  Johnatha Pryce as an above average villian, good plot to cause WW III by a media mogul

The Bad:  Typical Bond formula

Gerber's take:  Part Thunderball (stolen missile), part From Russia With Love (encoder machine) - - with the only best parts are from Johnathan Pryce and Michelle Yech as a Chinese spy working alongside Bond.  Bond does his exercise by jumping over machine gun bullets, ho hum.  Grade:  C-

Fun Fact:  TND opened the same day as the epic classic Titanic, enough said!.

The World is Not Enough (1999)
The Good:  At last an original Bond plot that does not rely on previous films, spectacular opening sequence which is the longest in any Bond film, at nearly 15 minutes.

The Bad:  Robert Caryle as Renard is one of the weakest Bond villains,

Gerber's take:  After a fantastic pre-credits sequence where Bond escapes death then chases a woman who killed a friend of M's - the chase ends at the Millennium Dome and nearly 15 minutes into the film - the rest of the movie goes the convoluted route and becomes and exercise in action without rhyme/reasoning - - as well as a lack of character development.  Grade:  D

Fun fact:  Final film for Desmond Llewelyn as Q (Major Boothroyd).  Mr. Llewelyn remains the longest serving actor in a recurring role to date with 17 films over 36 years - - the notable exceptions where Lleewelyn did not appear in a Bond film are Dr. No and Live and Let Die.  (Never Say Never Again does not count because it's not an Eon produced film).

Die Another Day (2003)

The Good:  The 20th Bond film takes everything from the previous 19 films  (excluding Never Say Never Again which is a remake of Thunderball),, Halle Berry, Madonna singing the title song, Piecre Brosnan's final Bond role.

The bad:  Awful CGI takes up almost the entire film, too many scenes reflecting on the past 19 Bond films, plot is ripoff of Diamonds Are Forever

Gerber's take:  Positively the worst Bond film ever made - - instead of a film which reflects on the past 19 Bond films  - - it is crammed into almost every scene along with some of the most awful CGI special effects/  Take for instance the invisible car, Bond surviving an avalanche (shades of OMHSS) by now take a surf wave, Bond rescuing Jinx by finding a hot water area in a glacier filled scene (????).  Even Roger Moor hated this film (and he made it clear that shooting Bond in outer space was preposterous) Grade: F

Fun fact:  Almost every single reference to the previous 19 Bond films can be found in the "classified" MI6 page here  Even a page as detailed as this can have a couple of omissions too, one of them I know is the "house of mirrors" sequence in the "Thunderball" health clinic.  Those mirrors are from The Man With Golden Gun.

Casino Royale (2006)

The Good:  Daniel Craig as the new Bond.  Film is based on Ian Flemings first novel, the 007 franchise gets a new life with a "reboot" - how Bond gets it 007 status.

The Bad:  Longest film until Spectre, no gadgets,

Gerber's take:  Casino Royale is one of the best Bond films.  The film not only take us back to Bond's roots as a cold-blooded killer of bad guys, the film allows Daniel Craig to mold and grow into his Bond role. Instead of the phony CGI effects in DAD, we see Craig as not a cartoon character but a man who is vulnerable and intimidating.  The Madagascar Parkour chase sequence with S├ębastien Foucan as Molika is one of the best action sequences ever filmed, using Parkour free running moves.  Grade:  A

Fun Fact:  Loved that Parkour chase sequence?  You should because this foot chase it is the very first non-vehicle chase sequence in the entire 007 franchise (well 95 percent of the time as Bond hops on the back of a truck for a few seconds).

Quantum of Solace (2008)

The good:  Continuation of Casino Royale, Judi Dence as M has a larger role

The bad:  Shortest Bond film in history,  product placement is getting annoying (possibly because of the short running time),

Gerber's take:  QOS could have been a much better film if director Marc Foster and his crew took more time in continuing to develop Daniel Craig's Bond.  We immediately jump to a car chase sequence which looks like part of the northbound FDR Drive tunnels in New York City (but it's not, obviously) without any reasoning why this chase happened until after it ends (Mr. White from Casino Royal is tied up in the car's trunk).  The short running time builds on one thing, chase and action sequences - - and leaves little time on the plot development until the last 30 minutes of the film.  And the last 30 minutes of the film is not that great either.  Grade:  C-

Fun Fact:  To date, this is the only Bond film which as a car, boat and foot chase sequences.

Skyfall (2010)

The Good:  Craig in one of his better Bond roles, Judi Dench in her best role as M

The bad:  Judi Dench's final film as M

Gerber's take:  Judi Dench gives her best performance as M - - this film has a lot of character development as well as humor - - especially between Bond and the bad guy Raul Silver (played by Javier Bardem). Skyfall also makes you want to care about Bond relationship with his boss, M.  However, the final 30 minutes is disappointing, not so much when M dies but the overall action takes places in a house.  Grade B+

Fun fact:  Skyfall received the most Academy Award nominations in the entire Bond franchise with five, winning two of them (Best Original Song performed by Adele, also the first for a Bond film to win in song and sound editing)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Paris attacks in comparison to other attacks this year.

Blogger's note:  The Bond films and other stuff will resume next week,

Tragic

Paris and the world are mourning right now since ISIS orchestrated the largest terrorist attack in France since Hitler's invasion of Europe in 1939.  Social media and news media dominated coverage of the Paris attacks with millions of Facebook users using the France flag on their profile pictures.

But the attention on France is different from other terrorist attacks which get little or no interest in news and social media, like this interesting news page from the Inquisitir on the April 3, 2015 attack in a Kenya school which left 143 dead - - or the 2,000 innocent people in Boko Haram in January, 2015.   Both attacks were plotted by Islamic extremists like ISIS and both resulted in mass casualties.  They received little media attention and far less attention on social media.

And President Obama's response to the Paris attacks?  Forget it, he is a joke - - his response after a reporter grilled Obama during the G-20 Summit shows how much a joke he is on terrorism.


A human life is a human life - - we need to think about God's children, regardless of the city or country,


Pray for France, Kenya, Boko Haram, and everyone in this world.



Sunday, November 8, 2015

53 years of James Bond - - a look back (Part 1)



In honor of the 25th James Bond film, Spectre - which opened last month in the United Kingdom and this weekend across North America/Hawaii - here is a look back of the other 24 films over the past 53 years.  Part 1 will cover Dr. No through The Man with the Golden Gun


Dr. No (1962)
The Good: First film starring Sean Connery, Lois Maxwell (as Ms. Moneypenny) and Bernard Lee (as Bond's boss, M), that catchy Monty Norman 007 theme song, exotic Jamaica locales, Ursula Andress in that killer suit

The Bad: Film is dated compared to more recent 007 entries, no Q gadgets and car although Bond is introduced by his Walter PPK gun issued by Major Boothroyd (who is actually Q - - played by Peter Burton in his only 007 film appearance), Dr. No does not appear until about the last 40 minutes of the 1:50 long film.

Gerber's take: A solid opening film which Connery is in control of his debut role. Jack Lord, Joseph Wiseman, John Kitzmiller (as Quarrel) and Ms. Andress provide great supporting cast. Best scene: Connery telling Professor Dent that he has had his "six" (shots) before finishing him off.   Grade B+

Fun fact: Most of the Jamaica scenes were filmed when Jamaica was under British control - - prior to seceding as an independent county on August 4th, 1962


From Russia With Love (1963)

The Good: Strong plot line, first film to introduce Q branch (Desmond L and those gadgets which would become a hallmark for most of the Bond films, great train fight sequence. Excellent supporting cast of Robert Shaw.and Pedro Armendariz. First film of Desmond Llewelyn who plays Major Boothroyd, aka Q (he would go on to appear in a total of 17 Bond films over 36 years)

The bad: Amendariz died while filming, Bond does not have his own car yet, the plot introduction is a bit long before Bond first appears

Gerber's take: Great film with Connery wearing a hat more often in this film than his other entries. Robert Shaw is menacing as Red Grant.and the fight sequence aboard the Orient Express is unmatched to this day.  Grade A

Fun fact: As Bond, Kerim Bay (Armendariz) and Tatinia Romanova are boarding the Orient Express train after recovering the Lektor device, take a really close look at who first spots them. It's Krilencu who is seated at a table - - but he was killed earlier in the film by Bond and Bay's sniper rilfe (in retaliation for Krilencu's attack on Bay's gypsy settlement) while trying to escape through the "mouth" of a Bob Hope movie ad. You would really have to use pause and slo-mo to see this continuity goof.


Goldfinger (1964)

The Good: By many people, this is the quienssiential 007 entry, a really great plot with two of the best villians, Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) and Oddjob (Harold Sakata) , Bond's clever escape from being sliced in half by Goldfinger's laser beam, Bond's first car, the Aston Martin DBV, Shirley Bassey's title song, the many one-liners and catchphrases throughout the film. First film to use an army of people to infiltrate a location where the enemy is hiding or attacking at the end of the film, - - (this would be a common sight for most of the future Bond films). And Pussy Galore,(Honor Blackman) of course.

The Bad: The film is too short to really enjoy it. Gert Frobe's voice was dubbed

Gerber's take: As much as I find Goldfinger to be a rich and invigorating viewing experience, it is actually number 2 on my list. Still, the many scenes where Bond matches wits with Goldfinger in face to face conversations highlight the powerful aspects of this film. Grade A+
Fun facts: #1) Look for a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant when Felix Leiter tracks Bond at Goldfinger's estate in Kentucky - - its when Goldfinger orders Oddjob to kill Mr/ Solo (one of the gangsters who does not want any part of Goldfinger's scheme to raid Fort Knox). #2 The name Auric Goldfinger is derived from Au in the first name - - Au is the symbol for gold in the Periodic Table of Elements and is number 79.


Thunderball (1965)
The good: Spectacular underwater sequences, strong plot, Connery still in top form, great action sequences, the jet-pack Bond uses in the pre-credits sequence

The bad: Longest film to date at 2:12, underwater sequences can be tiresome to watch for some people, overlong plot development, Emily Largo (Adolfo Celi) does not have the sinister acting like Red Grant or Goldfinger, the Aston Martin makes a brief appearance in the pre-credits sequence and is garaged for the rest of the film

Gerber's tale: I'm sorry, I feel this is the best Bond film because when you look at the detail of the underwater sequences it is amazing to watch humans instead of CGI play out their roles in several sequences. Connery is still fun to watch with his one-liners and relaxed attitude. Grade A+

Fun fact: Thunderball remains the highest grossing (adjusted for inflation) Bond film of all time at over $600 million.


You Only Live Twice (1967)

The Good: Plot involving outer space, Donald Pleasance as Blofeld, great Far East locales and action sequences, including Little Nellie, the personal autogyro with a lot of firepower.

The Bad: Connery looks old and tired (and gets beaten more often in this film), long sequences, Q's Little Nellie is the only gadget in the film.
Gerber's take: The film relies or a worn out Bond with Connery's one-liner's are now few and far between. The oriental sequences are a nice departure from the plot but some of the fight sequences are pointless against Blofeld's plot to capture space capsules to trigger a war between Russia and the United States. The overall film is still good compared to the Dalton and Bronsan films with a massive set involving an underground launch station below a "volcano".  Grade B+.
Fun fact: Charles Gray is the first non-regular actor to appear in two different Bond films, while playing two different characters (You Only Live Twice as Mr. Henderson and Diamonds are Forever as Blofeld). He is also the first actor to be "killed" off in one film then appear in another (Maude Adams is the first actress to do the same). But Mr. Gray is most famous as The Criminologist/narrator in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.


On Her Majestys Secret Service (1969)

The Good: Strong Blofeld (Telly Savalas), a new Bond played by George Lazenby (his only Bond film) great Switzerland locations, tragic ending

The bad: Longest film at 2:20, long drawn out plot, Lazenby lacks the charisma and class of Connery.

Gerber's take: If you really want one redeeming feature of OHMSS, Lazenby can act and he is the only Bond actor who cries. I really think if the film were not as long as it was, it would have been a great film. Lazenby, Savalas, and Diana Rigg are terrific in this film and frankly, it could have been one of the best if 20 minutes of this film were chopped off. Grade A-
Fun fact: The ABC TV broadcast of OHMSS in 1976 was butchered to show that Bond is narrating the story and the first scene in the TV showing was Bond escaping from Piz Gloria (about 80 minutes into the film) while the flashback sequence is actually the pre-credits sequence. If ABC had a hand to kill Lanzeby's reputation as James Bond off, it was this broadcast.


Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

The Good: Connery comes back for his purported "final" appearance as Bond, Amsterdam and Las Vegas locations, some interesting action sequences including Bond chased in a moon buggy, Bond's revenge against Blofeld for the murder of his newlywed in OHMSS, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd

The bad: The film does not answer how Blofeld escaped from oil platform, com

Gerber's take: Connery looks older and does not have the wit of his earlier films while the film takes a less serious tone. Jill St. John as a 40-something Bond girl does not help. Action sequences balance out the comic relief of this film - - I mean Willard Whyte was played by Jimmy Dean, are you serious?   Grade B-
Fun fact #1: Bruce Cabot played Bert Saxby, Blofeld's casino manager - - nearly 40 years ago he played the man who would bring King Kong to New York in the 1933 classic. Fun fact #2: Since this was Connery's "last" film, the final sequence shot was Bond knocked out by Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd then placed in a coffin for cremation. The date of this final scene was on a Friday the 13th (source, IMDB).


Live and Let Die (1973)

The good: Roger Moore's first film, Paul McCartney's title song, great boat chase sequence, ,

The bad: No Q, poor plot (Bond goes after a drug dealer), film follows the height of the 70's blaexploitation film era.

Gerber's take: It's Moore's first film and he takes his "Saint" humor to an enjoyable romp. Yes the plot is thin compared to other Bond films and the ending is lackluster.  But enjoy this romp because you don;t need CGI to make a great boat chase like this film.  Grade B-

Fun fact: The subway entrance shown in this film is on the SW corner of Lenox Ave and 125th Street in New York City and is the downtown side of 125th Street station on the 2/3 lines.. Lenox Ave is now Malcolm X Blvd.

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

The good: Christopher Lee as a badass villian, a good car flip sequence, Bond targeted for death by a professional assasian. ,
The bad: Dull plot, Britt Elkland one the worst Bond girls, Clifton James returns as that now annoyingly Sgt. Pepper,

Gerber's take: Moore's worst outing (A View to a Kill is not far behind) and the film suffers from a lack of good action sequences - - the training camp was lifted from You Only Live Twice.  Sgt. Pepper's return appearance and Elkland's banal acting sink this movie which is too bad because Christopher Lee and Herve Villechaize were great villians in a so-so story which was directed by Guy Hamilton, his fourth and last Bond film.  Grade D


Part 2 will follow next week,.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Allan Rosen and the 34th Street Herald Square elevator

Blogger's note:  After this post was made, it was brought up at Subchat.com through this post that Sheepshead Bites terminated their relationship with freelancer Allan Rosen - - and subsequently Mr. Rosen placed a Facebook comment on his last known article from September 1st.  While this happened more than a month prior to this blog post and I was at that time unaware Mr. Rosens's termination, I still apologize for the oversight.

In blogging, it takes research and facts to make sure what you post is accurate.  Blogging is no different from news reporting.  Sometimes the facts in a blog are either distorted or incomplete - - let's take a look at one example.

Allen Rosen is a former NYCT employee who worked in Operations Planning in the 1970s and was the architect of the massive southern Brooklyn bus route changes in 1978.  Today, Mr. Rosen writes a op-ed column for Sheepshead Bites, a Brooklyn neighborhood newspaper (and the word bites come from Sharks, the name of Sheepshead Bay HS sports teams and my alma matter.)  Mr. Rosen, like me is highly critical of NYC Transit, especially Select Bus Service, and he has made some links to a few of my blog posts about NYCT's inaccuracies.  

One of Mr. Rosen's posts details about the street to mezzanine elevator to the 34th Street-Herald Square NYCT portion of this complex.  The elevator is located on the west side of Ave of The Americas (6th Ave) between 34th and 33rd Streets - - it is currently out of service  until January, 2016 for a complete replacement.  Mr. Rosen claims that the PATH elevator one block south, in front of Manhattan Mall, can be used to access the passageway from the PATH station to the 34th Street full time fare control area.   He blasts NYCT because PATH operates this elevator then NYCT does not want to provide this information to their customers even though they could have requested permission from PATH to include this elevator in their service notice.  Mr. Rosen claims that by taking the PATH elevator, they can still access the B/D/F/M/N/Q/R lines at 34th Street.   Let's take a look to see if Mr. Rosen's assertions are true.

The elevator to the PATH level may be available 24/7 but the passageway to the IND/BMT side is not.  That passageway is closed overnight.  Here is the street entrance outside 6th Ave


This is a poorly zoomed shot as I had to be standing on the NYCT stairwell by JC Penney - - Port Authority of NY and NJ  regulations (that's the folks who operate the PATH system)  prohibit ANY photography (even tourist photographs) while standing on their property, unless you have a permit or are tied to a leash and escorted by a PANY&NJ employee  - BOOO!!! The grainy photograph shows that this passageway is closed - - what this picture does not say that this passageway is closed overnight - - which does not make it ADA accessible because one of the requirements of ADA accessibility is 24/7 open access when the station is open 24/7 (and you now wondered why now that weekend J train service is now running to Broad Street, so it can serve an ADA accessible station, Fulton Street  - 24/7.)


Then lets say that the passageway from PATH side at 32nd Street to the NYCT full time booth at 34th Street side is open 24/7 - - the ramp has a very steep grade which would prohibit ADA access.  The NYCT elevator which is under complete replacement, is behind the temporary blue construction wall in the first picture.




An ADA accessible ramp shall not have a slope steeper than 6 inches from a ratio of greater than 1:10 to 1:12.  While this is technical stuff, even for myself - - it clearly shows that the high degree of slope on this ramp must be the main reason why NYCT never suggested using the PATH elevator because mobility impaired customers would have difficulty in navigating this steep ramp.  At Times Square, the 41st Street underground passageway from the 7 line upper mezzanine to the 8th Ave A/C/E mezzanine area has a steep ramp as well - - thus NYCT claims that ramp is not ADA accessible.

Conclusion:  NYCT is correct in not suggesting the PATH elevator as an ADA alternative entry/exit point to the 34th Street Herald Square complex.  While Mr. Rosen's contented that customers should use that elevator, the overnight closure as well as the steep ramp are two things he should look at first while doing his research before blogging about this..

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Worst President Obama disses Chris Mintz, the Oregon hero and former U.S. veteran

Google the following links:

Oregon Shooter - - 12.5 Million news sources

Chris Harper Mercer - -  over 5 million news sources.

Chris Mintz - - only 1.7 M sources


Obviously the liberal dominated news media is glorifying the Oregon shooter while giving a little information about an unsung hero, Chris Mintz,   Mintz was a decorated Army infantryman who served time at Fort Bragg in Fayetville, NC from 2004 to 2007 and was celebrating his sons birthday at Oregon's Umpqua Community College when the coward asked students in one of the school's classrooms for their religion and started shooting at them, killing 10 people and wounding others.  Mintz, pulled the alarms in the library building then ran back to the classroom so he and try stopping the coward.  Mintz took a few bullets and broke both of his legs in the process.   Mintz not only risked his life to save others, especially his son, but his skills in the army were put to the test in trying to stop the cowardly gunman  (the coward shot himself to death minutes after police officers arrived.)

And President Obama has said NOTHING about Mintz, the great hero and child of God.   For Obama to the so-called Commander-in-Chief of our U.S. Armed Forces and speak about gun control, terrorism, and other things but not once did he even mention Chris Mintz in Thursday's speech.   

What a disgrace - - President Obama not recognizing one of your own soldiers who served our country while you started running for U.S. President in 2007-08 and who saved many lives.   Disgusting - - Jimmy Carter may have been the worst U.S. President ever but as of today, Obama eclipsed Carter by a wide margin.   Obama can extend an White House invitation to Ahmed Mohamed, the 14 year old who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to his school, but he won't even pick up the phone to congratulate Mintz.  Mintz will need months of rehabilitation before he can walk again - at least there is a White House petition circulating  to get Obama in awarding Mintz the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Mintz gets an automatic Medal of Freedom - - why should the petition be needed in the first place?  Mohamed didn't need a White House petition to meet Obama.

And Obama is supposed to be leader of a superpower country?  Obama is a coward, just like the Oregon gunman.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

More reasons why the MTA does not keep it's "Pledge to Customers"

I still don't understand how MTA continues to have it's "Pledge to Customers" when they have so much inaccurate information or they just don't care about updating the information.   Let's get right to each instance.

On August 10th, the MTA Bridges and Tunnels implemented a 24/7 lane closure of the southbound Henry Hudson Bridge (the lower level into Manhattan), yet (as of this post) there is no service alert about this round-the-clock lane closure.





While the MTA Arts for Transit has recently added information for the 34th Street Hudson Yards station on the 7 line, go back one stop to Times Square and you can see the description for the Roy Lichenstin artwork over by the N/Q/R/S and W trains.   The W line was discontinued in 2010.   Of course the MTA continues to ignore this.


You cannot uphold the MTA's Pledge to Customers if you refuse to correct the automated announcements on the newest subway cars.  Presently, transfer lines are announced based on the six specific time blocks of the day:  AM Rush Hour, Midday, PM Rush Hour, Evening, Late night and Weekend.  So a "Transfer to the Bx41 Select Bus Service (SBS+)" announcement from a 2 train arriving at Gun Hill Road or 3rd Ave 149th Street at 11:30 PM would be inaccurate because the Bx41 SBS+ stops running before 10 PM.  But because the Bx41 operates in the early evenings, that is part of the evening (7 PM to midnight) time period for these automated announcements inside subway cars.  And as I have said time after time the MTA NYC Transit should look into the ability to add or remove lines at transfer stops so theses announcements can be more accurate,  This would be exceptionally useful such as the A/C Cranberry Tube weekend reroutes.

Even new service changes have errors.  According to NYCT, the first Bx10 local bus leaves Riverdale at 1:40 am - - but the Bx10 operates 24/7 anyway so how could there be an first and last bus?


Bus Time, a popular bus tracking service which I use, now has the countdown minutes instead of the number of stops.  With that in mind, they also corrected only 50 percent of the errors of the bus stops at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, NY.  While I noted in March 2014, that Sterns, Woolworths and Caldor are on the list of bus stops in their data, they took a long time to correct two of the three stops.  Since then, the Sunrise Multiplex Cinemas closed in January to make way for a significant expansion of Green Acres Mall.  So they still have two errors (The Caldor and Sunrise theater) in this Q5 and Q85 bus stop data.




When the driver of an tractor-trailer struck a major electrical cable on the elevated 4 line south of Woodlawn terminal, causing a major fire which shut down 4 service between Burnside Ave and the Woodlawn terminal, NYCT offered alternative bus suggestions while leaving out the obvious choice - - Grand Concourse and the B/D trains as well as the Bx1/2 buses.  The Bx10/28 are useful only between Mosholu Parkway and Bedford Park Blvd and Kingsbridge Road on the D, respectively.  The Bx32 does not have the frequency to take some burden off from 4 train riders who are displaced at Burnside and that bus route runs short of Bedford Park Blvd.




The MTA's Pledge to Customers continues to be a smokescreen.  They need improvement in proofreading as well as executing the proper notifications in an accurate and timely manner.  And the MTA needs to stop waiting for more than 10 years to fix long standing errors.  To be fair, their service notifications on the MTA website have been mostly good, when they take the time to post a good service alert.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

34th Street-Hudson Yards, a late but great station

I visited the newest subway station, 34th Street-Hudson Yards, early Monday AM and I must say, it was a job well done by MTA Capital Construction - - despite the cost overruns and delays.  You can read the entire description of the new 34th Street station right here. 


I started my journey to the 469th station at Grand Central, guess what front window (or railfan window as railfans call them) I had?




The new rollsigns on the older R62A subway cars have the appropriate south terminal.  By early next year, the rest of these cars will be transferred to the 6 line anyway.



Pictures of the station platform:


.


And the lower mezzanine:






These are the two incline elevators which are really cool to look at - - they are the first of it's kind in the NYC sbway system (and one of the first in the Northeast)



Here is the video I took from the adjoining escalator which shows one of these elevators in action, going to the upper mezzanine,



Long way up or down on the other 3 escalators





And outside on Hudson Blvd East - - a dead end street off 34th Street.  Because the elevators and escalators travel east, you would wind up closer to 10th Ave.









I like this station.  It's large but it's not excessive like the bloated Fulton Transit Center building or the PATH WTC terminal arch superstructure.  The station can handle anything, Javits crowds, High Line walkers, travelers from the Bolt  and Mega bus lines, and even the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks, if they decide to hold the next show on the Hudson side of Manhattan.  Very nice job, considering the City of New York ponied up most of the funds for this project.  


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Big NYCT embarrassment - Q56 bus route on ten signs at Flushing - Main St

A sign error may sit unnoticed for months or years - - it's just an error which does need attention.   But what if the error was on TEN signs at a major transportation hub in Queens and sits unnoticed for years while hundreds of employees walk through this station?  Yes.  Only the MTA and NYC Transt can accomplish this feat and they have done it at the Main Street-Flushing, Queens terminal on the 7 line.  This terminal is the home to nearly 2 dozen feeder bus routes, a nearby LIRR station and a very diverse community.  19 million people went through the turnstiles in 2014, making it the 12th busiest station.  While I do not have exact figures, about a good 200 to 300 NYCT employees work at this station at any given 24 hour period. 

And no NYCT employee saw the mistake on the ten station signs, all of them on both platforms - - one of the bus routes listed on these signs is mistakenly the Q56.   The Q56 bus route runs between Downtown Jamaica, and East New York along Jamaica Ave - - that's about 6 miles from Downtown Flushing.   The route which NYCT intended was the Q58 which starts on 41st Road, about two blocks south of Main and Roosevelt and runs to Ridgewood at the Brooklyn/Queens line.    Here is the YouTube video I took last week where nobody saw something and said something about this goof.





Usually NYCT places a sticker over an existing sign to update subway and/or bus routes - - this is done to save cost of making signs from scratch.  Regardless of the method NYCT used, none of the hundreds of employees who worked at this station - - conductors, train operators, station agents, station supervisors, train service supervisors, etc. noticed this mistake as they walked down either platform.  Those who are familiar with the Queens bus network, couldn't tell between the Q56 in Jamaica and the Q58 in Flushing.  I don't expect every person to be knowledgeable  about the bus routes at the Flushing terminal but when some employees who live in the area or take a bus to report at this terminal, and nobody sees this for years (these sticker based signs apparently were installed around 2010 with the Q15A) then there is a total inability for NYCT to correct something.  It's unacceptable for station supervisors and mangers to walk around this complex and not report this condition because one of the responsibilities of a station supervisor is to report deficient conditions such as sign errors like the Q56 - - and with ten wrong signs on two station platforms in the same terminal, how could they MISS this???  What if the E/F/M/R transfers were on these ten signs (there are no transfers to other subway lines at this station), would they be overlooked and ignored for years?  With NYCT, suspend your disbelief, because it's most likely a yes.

NYCT accomplished the impossible when it comes to ignorance to their own errors.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Disgrace in Brooklyn during the West Indian Day parade

All lives don't matter

That should be the slogan in Brooklyn among some minorities, after what happened during the J'Ouvert pre-dawn parade when Carey Gabay, a Harvard educated aide to NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo, was shot in the head as he tried to run for cover.  The shooting was gang related and one of several incidents which continue to tarnish the West Indian Parade and related festivities.  The J'ouvert early morning parade and the main event later in the day are supposed to celebrate millions of West Indians through their cultures and food.  Let us pray for Mr. Gabay's recovery.  I used to attend these parades to see the floats and the costumed women (when I was single, of course) but in the pas 10 years, violence at this parade continues to tarnish the black image.  But I guess if black people really care about their image, then they should empower themselves to change the ghetto mentality while invoking change to develop a stronger dialogue and respect between minorities and law enforcement.  Start with a ban on those saggy pants boys (not men) wear down at their kneecaps.  It's disgusting to walk with your children, especially girls, to see boys showing their asses through their drawers.  Next, clean up your language and 'hood.  See a bottle on the sidewalk?  Pick it up and find a recycling or trash canister to put it there.  The first image an outsider sees is neighborhood appearance - - when they see wine bottles, cigarette butts on the sidewalk while illegal billboards, graffiti and paper signs plaster everything that is nailed down to the ground, it's a sign of lawlessness and disorder.   Then make it your business to attend your local community board or police council meetings.  Show your concerns about the quality of life and let them know we need more houses of worship, restaurants and jobs than liquor stores and motels. 

Finally, it's all up to you to raise your children the right way before they fall into the cracks and join gangs.  Take them to parks,libraries and to the house of worship of your choice.  Stop using profane words in front of a child.  The dining table is the most important place to have a good conversation with your child. Show them the world and how important they are within - - there are many free resources available for parents and their children.   And then, remember to say Please and Thank You to anyone when needed - - say hello or good morning to a stranger on the street and see what happens.  If blacks can change the 'hood for the better then these gang related incidents would not happen. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Rick Perlstein and his POW-MIA flag rant

Rick Perlstein is an anti-American and left-wing liberal who wrote an article for The Washington Spectator and was reprinted in Newsweek about the POW-MIA flag being racist and should be removed like the Confederate flag.   Mr. Perlstein, a purported historian, claims the flag is simply black-and-white and most POWs were "anti-war activists".  Additionally he notes that Ronald  Reagan was the first U.S. President to order the POW-MIA flag flown at the White House.

That makes Mr. Perlstein an anti-war activist himself too - - clearly the writing based on his so-called biased history shows his disrespect to every captured or presumed dead soldier during the Vietnam conflict.  Yes, I have a longstanding belief that the United States involvement in 'Nam was a big mistake and many soldiers died for nothing but that does not mean we should not remember the missing and captured.   NYC and Long Island have, NY State Rt. 27 in Queens (through Long Island). The POW-MIA flag is proudly waved by hundreds of spectators at most Memorial and Veterans Day parades across the nation (I was one of them at a Memorial Day Parade in Little Neck, NY) and Mr. Perlstein wants nobody to fly that flag?  Please - - this is not like the Confederate flag.    Although Mr. Pearlstein apologized about the racist remark against the POW-MIA flag, my view that he hates U.S. soldiers still stands. 

Mr. Perlstein, find another country to live in, like North Korea or Iran.  Your hatred to the U.S. Armed forces shows you have no place in the United States - - Red, White, Blue or Black and White, these colors don't run. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The A/C Cranberry tunnels reconstuction - - same old wrong information.

Last weekend was the first of 40 non-consecutive weekends where A and C trains were rerouted on the F line in both directions between Jay Street-Metrotech in Brooklyn and West 4th Street in Manhattan.  The repairs are directed at the Cranberry Street tubes - - the portion where A and C trains travel under the East River between Fulton Street in Manhattan and High Street in Brooklyn.  Cranberry Tube is not named after a delicious fruit which is good for your urinary tract system but rather it's named after a street on the Brooklyn side of the tubes which A and C trains run underneath.  These tunnels were heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy and were in the third worst condition after the R Montague Street and G Greenpoint-LIC tunnels.

As usual, MTA New York City Transit knows how to screw up information a well as their lack of proofreading skills.  This MTA-NYCT Press Release, dated August 6th, shows travel alternatives for weekday services even though the page clearly shows the words "WEEKEND(S)(ER)" a total of eleven times.  Noted alternate services include the M at Broadway-Lafayette, the Z at Delancey/Essex, and the 5 at Borough Hall station.  If NYC Transit really knows how to proofread and check their own services, they would realize and correct these mistakes - - the Z runs weekday rush hours only, the 5 does not normally travel to Brooklyn on weekends and M service does not travel north/west of Delancey Street or Myrtle Ave on weekends as well.    These mistakes were carried over to a least one news story from WABC-TV which is not really their fault since MTA screwed up this information. 


So how were the train announcements related to the A/C closure on the first weekend?  To be honest, I surveyed only the 2/3 lines for about 45 minutes by traveling back and forth while listening to the car announcements at the Fulton Street and Park Place stations, both are transfer points to the A/C lines - - all but one failed the test.  All but one had the "Transfer to the A/C ..." announcement.  One conductor said he didn't know about the A/C closure - - two conductors thought there was no J service at Fulton Street on weekends.  This sample was taken on Saturday (8/8) evening



Time


Line


Direction


Car #


Result
8:50
2
SB
6425
Fail/Fail "No J"
8:55
3
NB
1411
Pass/Pass "No J"
9:01
2
SB
6415
Fail/Fail
9:15
2
NB
6316
Fail/Fail  "I didn't know (no A/C)" when asked
9:30
2
SB
6386
Fail/Fail

9:35
2
NB
6486
Fail/Fail



If this is going to be the norm of 40 weekends of misinformation and incorrect announcements - - just as I stated the miscommunication during the L line shutdowns  or when the R Montague tunnels were shut down for repairs , nothing appears to change about how the way MTA New York City Transit informs their customers - - not even after a so-called Pledge to Customers  which I stated it's funnier to read than watching Airplane. when they post wrong information or make wrong announcements.  NYCT President Carmen Bianco is retiring on August 21 and is being replaced by interim President James Ferrera  who has zero public transportation experience - - Mr. Bianco, don't hit your head on your way out.