No, it's not "Hedwig," Harry Potter's pet owl, but it sure does bear a strong resemblance

Sheepshead Bites reader Stuart sent us these incredible photographs, along with the email below, and… what else is there to say but “WOW!”

These were taken by a friend of mine, who also is an avid fisherman in the area. He was fishing just next to Hoffman Island, which is one of the two islands, just south of the Verranzano [sic] Bridge at the entrance of New York Harbor… He had his camera with him and was most fortunate to get these magnificent pictures of what I believe to be a Snowy Owl.

According to Wikipedia, the winged wonder does appear to be the Snowy Owl, though why Mr. Owl is hangin’ loose in NYC’s unusually clement climes is anyone’s guess. According to the entry:

Snowy Owls nest in the Arctic tundra of the northernmost stretches of Alaska, Canada and Eurasia. They winter south through Canada and northern Eurasia, with irruptions occurring further south in some years. Snowy Owls are attracted to open areas like coastal dunes and prairies that appear somewhat similar to tundra. They have been reported as far south as Texas, Georgia, the American Gulf states, southern Russia, northern China, and even the Caribbean. Between 1967 and 1975, Snowy Owls bred on the remote island of Fetlar in the Shetland Isles north of Scotland, UK. Females summered as recently as 1993, but their status in the British Isles is now that of a rare winter visitor to Shetland, the Outer Hebrides and the Cairngorms. In January 2009, a Snowy Owl appeared in Spring Hill, Tennessee, the first reported sighting in the state since 1987.

Enjoy more photos of this magnificent creature.

The following announcement from the Office of City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn was forwarded to us by our friend, Ed Jaworski, president of the Marine-Madison-Homecrest Civic Association. If memories of abandoned cars, a blizzard-crippled transit system, stranded ambulances, unplowed thoroughfares, and six-foot-high snowbanks make your blood run cold, that should be impetus enough to attend tomorrow’s hearing. Pertinent details, such as date, time, location and contact information, have been bolded:

Dear New Yorker,

Next Wednesday, November 30th, the City Council’s Committees on Public Safety and Sanitation and Solid Waste Management will be holding a joint oversight hearing on the borough-based snow plans and citywide winter emergency protocols issued by the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), respectively.

Copies of the DSNY borough-based snow plans are available at, and the OEM Snow Preparedness and Response Report is available at

We know snow removal and other snow-related issues are on many people’s mind, especially as we edge closer to winter, and anyone who wishes to is more than welcome to attend this hearing.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. in the 14th Floor Committee Room at 250 Broadway in Lower Manhattan.

If you would like to testify, please be sure to register with the sergeant-of-arms on the 14th Floor. Due to increased building security procedures, please bring identification and allot some extra time for entry through the building lobby.

You can also email your written remarks to us at, and we’ll be sure to forward them to the committee’s staff.

If you have any questions about Wednesday’s hearing, please feel free to contact Jarret Hova in the Council’s Infrastructure Division. He can be reached by phone at (212) 788-9104 or email at

Thanks and have a wonderful weekend.


Christine C. Quinn


NYC Council


Peter F. Vallone, Jr.


Public Safety Committee

NYC Council


Letitia James


Sanitation and Solid Waste Management Committee

NYC Council

We all know about Roll-N-Roaster’s commercials; after all, the same commercial has been airing since the 1980s alongside late-night cable programming. And there are some of the old ads we’ve featured in the past.

But over the weekend, the above commercial for that other legendary Emmons Avenue eatery – Randazzo’s Clam Bar – surfaced on YouTube.

Produced in the 1970′s, the ad captures some awesome footage of not just the existing Randazzo’s Italian Restaurant – “known the world over for seafood at its best” – but also some blasts from the past. There’s the original location of Randazzo’s Clam Bar, Randazzo’s Sea and Turf Restaurant, as well as the old Randazzo’s Fish Market, where “most seafood and fish are delivered fresh daily from right across the street.”

All of the businesses were located on Emmons Avenue between Ocean Avenue and East 21st Street, but only the corner location still stands.

Bonus points? The video has a heck of a lot of mustaches and tight-fitting jeans, proving, once and for all, that Brooklynites are the original hipsters. Today’s Little Wisco freakettes are 40 years too late.


Thugs vandalized the Avenue Z Jewish Center last year, destroying artifacts like the Torah above and stealing hundreds of dollars. (Photo: Ari Kagan)

Neil S. Friedman is a veteran reporter and photographer, and spent the last 15 years as a features editor at Canarsie Courier. Aside from reporting, he did public relations work for brands including Showtime, The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson. In addition to his freelance reporting for Sheepshead Bites, Friedman contributes occasional columns on life, culture and politics in Sheepshead Bay.

When anti-Semitism resurfaces, it strikes a chord that reminds Jews of the ongoing bigotry that has existed for centuries; since Pharaoh drove the Jews from Egypt, as described in the Old Testament; from attacks in the Dark Ages when Christians believed Jews were responsible for killing Jesus Christ; from the pogroms across Eastern Europe in the 19th century to the horrors of the 20th century Holocaust to violent and non-violent attacks that crop up every now and then.

Sadly, in Brooklyn, the “now” has taken place with a slew of episodes in recent weeks.

Continue Reading »

File:Judenstern JMW.jpg

The yellow badge. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

It seems we have not yet seen the end of the recent spate of anti-Semitic vandalism and crime in Southern Brooklyn. The latest incident was uncovered yesterday morning, when a Jewish family found the words “G-d don’t like Jews” painted on their car’s windshield. Police from the 63rd Precinct responded and are investigating the vandalism.

The graffiti comes on the heels of two other local anti-Semitic acts of vandalism. On November 11, three cars were found burned, and two others damaged in the heavily-Jewish Midwood neighborhood. The vandals had spray-painted swastikas and “KKK” nearby. Less than a week later, someone spray-painted the Avenue J Brighton Line station sign, adding “EW” to make it read “Avenue Jew.”

Read a joint statement about the incident from local politicians and civic organizations serving Marine Park.

Waiting for the B36 on Avenue Z and Coney Island Avenue after being dumped by the B4, necessitating the use of another fare. Yawn.

Photo by Erica Sherman

Source: wheany/Flickr

Brighton Beach has a lot in common with the English Channel. After all, Wall Street Journal has discovered that some expert swimmers are using it as a training spot before heading to other ends of the globe like the Bering Strait and Beagle Channel, since the local beach offers similar hard-to-find conditions.

The waters of Brighton, protected from rough tides by Breezy Point and Sandy Hook, New Jersey, make swimmers accustomed to the conditions that can be found in an open water swimming meet. But it’s safer than just dropping into the ocean, since it allows swimmers to exit the water whenever they want.

“You find the same conditions you encounter in the middle of the ocean… but it is a pretty safe training ground,” says Cristian Vergara, a founding member of the Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS).

CIBBOWS is a non-profit group that’s dedicated to serve all swimmers on all levels. The group gives swimmers the opportunity to practice in open water year-round while offering advice to fellow members.

With the growing popularity of open-water swimming, it became a Olympic sport in 2008. So move over Coney Island Polar Bear Club, you have some competition.

Photo by PayPaul

Sheepshead Bites reader PayPaul spotted the terrible tableau of appalling irony you see above and sent us the photo along with the following message:

Today I saw a blatant example what some us humans do or do not do when they are allowed to have animals. It is not only one but two blatant instances of disregard or even disrespect given to the sign posted on the fence by the Knights Of Columbus on Emmons Avenue. Is the sign to [sic] low for them to read or can the pet owners read at all? Perhaps it’s more a case of not caring for the rights of others over their own. Is it symptomatic of a greater disregard for decency in Sheepshead Bay? The evidence is here for all to see, smell and step in. If things keep going the way they are we are going to be in real deep.

Amen, brother.

While once lamenting a similar minefield of dog turds along a stretch of sidewalk, the possibility was pointed out to me that stray animals could be just as culpable for such an offense, and I have certainly taken that notion into consideration, but still… my gut instincts tell me: “Naaaaaaaah.”

Assuming the droppings were left by dogs whose owners do not possess the decency to clean up after their canine companions, consider this: While we live in difficult times, the very least we can do is try to have some pride in our community, because in helping to keep a clean community, we also help to make Sheepshead Bay a more marketable neighborhood — one in which people might wish to vacation in the various hotels along our waterfront, eat in our ethnic restaurants, open businesses along our major corridors, and further invest money into the community we all call home.

To leave two steaming piles of dog poop on the sidewalk in front of a memorial to our veterans and next to the Knights of Columbus building is a lowbrow, disrespectful act of classlessness, one for which there is no excuse. It doesn’t cost anything to take a plastic bag or, if you prefer to be more eco-friendly, some newspapers with you when you take your dog for a walk.

Simply put, if you are unable to clean up after your dog, you shouldn’t have one in the first place.

Community Board 15 will meet tomorrow, November 29, at 7:00 p.m. at Kingsborough Community College’s faculty dining room (2001 Oriental Boulevard).

On the agenda are three zoning items, two for special permits to enlarge their homes at 1860 East 23rd Street and 2257 East 14th Street, and one for a variance to permit the construction of a house of worship at 2085 Ocean Parkway.

Aside from that, the Community Board will hear residents’ concerns, and local elected officials will give updates on their efforts to represent their constituents.

It might seem obvious to those of us that live in Brooklyn’s southern stretches, but research has confirmed it: New York is populated by more Russian Jews than any other place in the world. But putting a number on that population – here and in the country as a whole – remains an elusive task.

Harvard University recently hosted a conference to examine issues of Russian-speaking Jewry, but the event appears to have led to more academic squabbling than certainty.

Some speakers at the event claimed that the nation was home to as many as 800,000 Russian-speaking Jews, while others put it at less than 500,000.

“By any account, the number of Russian-speaking Jews in the United States now probably exceeds those of Russia and Ukraine combined,” said Sam Kliger director of Russian community affairs at the American Jewish Committee. Kliger believes previous studies underestimated the population. “New York today is populated by more Russian Jews than any other place in the world.”

Keep reading, and weigh in on what it means to be a Russian-speaking Jew.