Don’t be a victim of holiday-related crime this season. Photo courtesy of Adrian Cabrero (Mustagrapho) / Flickr
Telling Tips is a series of articles from local experts to help you save money, make better decisions and plan for a better future.
Light up your tax return with year-end tax planning. The candles of the holiday season are glowing. Will you be after your tax return is completed?
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Call it a homecoming.
Writer, producer and actor William DeMeo, who got his big acting break in A Bronx Tale (portions of which were filmed in Sheepshead Bay) and named his production West Street after the Gravesend street he grew up on, is back in the neighborhood today, filming scenes for his upcoming feature-length indie flick Back in the Day at Night Light Cafe (1657 Sheepshead Bay Road).
The bar will serve as the scene of an “argument in the neighborhood bar,” and crew on set this morning told us that DeMeo and Shannon Doherty will both be in the area for today’s filming.
We’re told Danny Glover will be in the movie, and even Mike Tyson has a cameo. Consider this a scoop – none of these stars are listed on the IMDB page, which does note that Michael Madsen, Joe D’Onofrio and Paul Borghese will co-star, and Borghese is serving is director.
The film, written by DeMeo, takes place in the 1980s and the current day, following Anthony Rodriguez (DeMeo), a half-Italian, half-Puerto Rican youth growing up in Bensonhurst. After losing his mother and suffering his abusive, alcoholic father, he’s taken under the wing of a local mob boss (Madsen), who supports him as he rises as a boxing talent to eventually become a world champion.
The movie will definitely feature Southern Brooklyn prominently, and future shoots around Sheepshead Bay – as well as Gravesend and Bensonhurst – are likely. For now, mind the traffic: Sheepshead Bay Road is a nightmare to get down.
The tragic death of a screenwriting mentor is driving a Sheepshead Bay High School teacher to do everything he can to finish a stalled movie project that he has poured his soul into. The New York Daily News is reporting that Keith Black, a math teacher, has started a crowd-funding initiative to realize his dream and honor his deceased friend.
Black’s fallen friend, Mark Troy, was a Hollywood screenwriter who died at the age of 51 from meningitis. According to Black, Troy believed in his work and co-wrote his script. The Daily News described their relationship and the sacrifices Black made to make the project:
“He was more than someone just writing the script,” Black said of Troy, with whom he worked primarily over the telephone to finish the screenplay over a period of two years. “He would do anything to make me succeed. He believed in Keith Black 100%.”
The finished product so impressed the accomplished cast members, Black said, that they agreed to work for next to nothing.
Black — who sold off his prized comic book collection and dipped into his retirement savings to pour $70,000 into the movie — grudgingly abandoned the project about a year ago with little more than a quarter of the movie in the can.
But then, this past May, Troy suddenly died of meningitis at age 51.
“Him passing reawakened my dream and his dream to get this movie on the big screen,” said Black. “I got the momentum back. I gotta do it for me. I gotta do it for Mark.”
As evidenced in the trailer above, the cast includes some famous actors including Mickey Rooney, Renee Taylor and Dick Cavett. While 25 percent of the movie had been shot before production got shut down, Black plans to scrap that footage and start over because several of the actors have died and because Black has trimmed down his physique considerably.
According to Black’s crowdfunding page, he is looking to raise an ambitious $700,000 to finish the project. If you would like to contribute to Black’s project and donate to his cause, you can do so by clicking here.
Best of luck Keith.
Photo by Robert Fernandez
Many Sheepshead Bay businesses began cleaning up as soon as the water receded. A new group is hoping to get them up and running faster in the future.
While there are plenty of groups operating in the hopes of making Sheepshead Bay’s homes and communities more resilient from future disasters, there have been none dedicated entirely to helping fortify the business industry and develop plans for faster recovery. Until now.
The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, working with a grant, is teaming up with NYU’s Wagner Capstone program to study and make recommendations to strengthen businesses in the flood zone, including all of those along Emmons Avenue and Sheepshead Bay Road. Here’s an excerpt explaining the Capstone program and their focus in this project from an e-mail blast sent by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce:
NYU Wagner Capstone is a world renowned program that brings together NYU graduate students in public administration and urban planning to address complex challenges that a client organization has brought to the table and aids them in identifying new opportunities. Capstone teams pursue each project for 1 full academic year, and produce a final presentation and report on their findings and recommendations by May.
As we all know, Sheepshead Bay did not receive the attention and aid it needed to reach a fast recovery in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and many of Sheepshead Bay’s businesses suffered from a slow summer-season. The Brooklyn Chamber has brought this issue to our Capstone team and will be working together on the development of a guide for the assessment of Sheepshead Bay’s many assets and how this coastal community can better take advantage and promote its beautiful waterfront access.
The Chamber’s team was in Sheepshead Bay today to distribute fliers to the storefronts about the program. There will also be an open forum next Wednesday, December 11, at 9 a.m. at Maria’s Ristorante (3073 Emmons Avenue) where business owners can learn more, ask questions, and sign up to be interviewed about their challenges. Interviews will be no longer than 30 minutes, and can be done in-person or over the phone. If you’re a business owner but can’t make it to the forum and want to ensure your input makes it into the project, e-mail email@example.com.
Salon Evolution, one of the corridor’s handful of high-end salons and spas, is adding to the Sheepshead Bay Road business exodus and is set to leave the 1722 Sheepshead Bay Road storefront on January 1.
The business has announced that it is relocating way down to the other end of the waterfront, at 3075 Emmons Avenue, near the corner of Brown Street.
While the store’s management and clientele might be moving, the salon’s equipment and storefront are for sale. This listing shows that they’re asking for $100,000 for a full turn-key salon business, with all the equipment included. Rent is $9,000 a month.
That’s a lot of split ends, ain’t it?
A fraylichen Chanukah!
The Shorefront Y (3300 Coney Island Avenue) ushered in the festival of lights with a community celebration this past Sunday, December 1. Hundreds of community members attended the free event that celebrated the Jewish holiday, and featured fun, food and entertainment for all.
There was an incredible puppet show, children’s book readings in a custom-made Dr. Seuss reading room, and arts and crafts. Children’s Scholastic books were also on sale to help raise money for the institution’s special needs children, seniors and early childhood programs.
Check out the photos below, courtesy of the Shorefront Y.
A long-standing sidewalk obstacle in front of the derelict Maimonides clinic at 3121 Ocean Avenue is finally being fixed, with contractors on the scene yesterday.
The site was previously a pit covered by a foot-tall concrete slab and surrounded by barricades.
Here’s what it looked like when we passed by in October:
It was covered in trash and debris, and was long on my to-do list for griping here on this site. It bothered me because it not only attracted garbage and was a fairly horrendous eyesore, but also because it was an obstacle that took up a huge portion of sidewalk. Next door to the site is the Bainbridge Center, an adult daycare facility. So it’s fair to assume the area is pretty highly trafficked by seniors and the disabled.
A contractor on the scene told us it was a telephone utility manhole damaged during Superstorm Sandy. Looking into the pit while they worked, it was deep and empty. While the contractor blamed Sandy, I recall this being a problem spot long before the storm, with the sidewalk broken and raised up. I can’t remember if they began the work before the storm, but I believe they did.
It also bothered me because it was supposed to be fixed nearly a year ago. A sign on the site over the summer indicated it was a ConEd job, not a telephone utility, and work was supposed to be done by February:
That never happened. Some time in the fall this sign was spray painted so that the construction information could not be read. Covering tracks much? Maybe.
Hopefully they finish the work quickly and responsibly. It’ll be nice for neighbors to have their sidewalk back, instead of covered in construction and trash.
While it is difficult to find those silver linings in events as destructive as Superstorm Sandy, stories of bravery and heroism have surfaced, centering on people saving lives in the face of horrendous circumstances. The New York Daily News is reporting that a group of MTA employees helped rescue a group of residents and themselves in the storm’s worst moments last year.
The amazing acts of heroism involved the rescue of four transit workers trapped in a Coney Island facility, a man and woman who had abandoned their car on Neptune Avenue, and an elderly lady gripping on to a fire-alarm box who was submerged up to her neck in water. The New York Daily News described the rescue effort undertaken by a determined group of MTA workers:
All would escape, thanks to a rescue operation that started with signals division maintenance supervisor Michael Watt and superintendent Eric Williams answering a radio call for help from their four trapped colleagues…
Watt and Williams had just evacuated the signals facility and arrived at another transit building on Bay 50th St. when the emergency call came in.
“We have to get out of here,” superintendent Steve Miller said from his office. “You have to come back and get us.”
Watt and Williams jumped into their MTA Suburban. By the time they reached Neptune and Stillwell Aves., the water was up to the SUV’s door handles. “It had to be moving 15 mph,” Watt said. “It was fast and dangerous.”
The MTA employees trapped inside the facility— Miller, superintendent Sal Ambrosino, and signal maintainers Colombo Solimo and Kevin Puma — couldn’t push open the doors. The water outside was too high, the pressure too great. The building’s windows were locked from the outside, one of the men said.
Members of the group headed to the garage and opened a roll-up door. Afraid the electronic controls would short out if they waited much longer, they opened the door. The ensuing torrent into the garage was so powerful it picked up 5-foot-tall “gang boxes” easily containing more than 100 pounds of tools.
“I was walking down a narrow hallway towards the garage when a 4-foot wave comes shooting throughout the building,” Miller said. “The water’s up to my chest.”
The four fought their way to the Suburban, which was idling on a bit of higher ground on Neptune Ave. Miller waded to the building and shut the roll-down gate to protect the facility from any looters.
“There’s millions of dollars worth of equipment in there,” Watt explained.
Miller, a certified rescue scuba diver, helped the young man and woman reach the Suburban. She was hysterical, screaming “my mother, my mother,” the transit workers recalled.
“I looked down the street and I see this older lady holding onto the fire box,” Miller said. “She’s about 100 to 150 feet away, and the water’s up to her neck.”
Miller and the young man waded to the woman and, taking one arm each, pulled her back to the Suburban.
Wow. The incredible actions of the team has put them in contention for a Hometown Heroes in Transit award, a special award put together by the MTA, the Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the New York Daily News that honors transit workers who give extra effort in helping their communities. Best of luck to all the nominees on their amazing work.
Honestly, in a culture that makes spectacles of rewarding the accomplishments of actors and athletes, the Hometown Heroes in Transit award is an honor that actually means something. It puts into perspective what really counts in our society.
Photo by Randy Contello / RandyCPhotography