Strolling over the Ocean Avenue footbridge’s wooden planks has been the quintessential Sheepshead Bay experience for 131 years, but a Department of Transportation initiative will soon see the familiar timber ripped out in favor of new materials – a decision they’ve made without community input.

For at least a month, the bridge, spanning the waters between Emmons Avenue and Manhattan Beach, has been a testing site for three materials expected to replace the tropical hardwood planks that make the walkway. But community leaders, organizations and activists are blasting the city agency behind the project for making such striking alterations without so much as a phone call to local stakeholders.

“They have never asked us,” said Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo. “I know nothing about the wood they’re using. It looks like they’re just doing whatever. When Department of Transportation has pure control, this is what happens. There’s no notification. Nothing.”

Read about the proposed changes, view photos of the new materials, and find out what local leaders say about it.

Oh, goodness. There are just so many things I love about this poster.

I was first drawn to it by the handwritten note:

“Why do I need a degree in Liberal Arts?”

“So Barnes & Knoble [sic] can sell more books??”

We have a winner, ladies and gentlemen!

The second bit about this poster that caught my attention was the crazed look of the guy on top. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be the student, bewildered by the suggestion he needs a Liberal Arts degree, or the teacher, crazed at the idea that you think you’re wasting his time asking such an obvious question like “Why do you need a Liberal Arts degree.”

Or maybe it’s the serial killer who’s pattern is to go after people with useful, specialized educations – the only actual answer I can think of to “Why do I need a degree in Liberal Arts?”

Apologies for you Liberal Arts majors out there, but I’ve never quite grasped the point of such a degree. Seemed to me like it was just putting in time until you decided what you really wanted to do, you know, a lot like a Communication degree.

But apparently there are reasons. Why else would they have a PANEL DISCUSSION on the topic? Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it. But I’m pretty sure some people got together and talked about how, without one, you would never be able to operate on the same level as your fellow waiters, baristas, book store clerks or community college teachers.

Ouch, that burned. Sorry again to the Liberal Arts majors. So very, very sorry.

P.S. – This is what happens when Erica asks me to do the Morning Mug. If you were offended, please blame her.

Below is a press release from the organizers of the rally. Please consider attending and showing your support for New York City’s public schools.

Hundreds of students, parents and teachers will march through South Brooklyn November 30, protesting ongoing budget cuts under the banner, “Some Cuts Don’t Heal.”

“We’ve had enough,” said Mike Schirtzer, a history teacher at Leon M. Goldstein High School in Manhattan Beach. “These cuts are hurting our children and it’s just not right.”

The last round of education cuts left city schools like Goldstein in dire circumstances. Classrooms are packed to capacity, while resources are being spread thinner and thinner. Some schools are running out of paper, while others don’t have enough books to go around.

One student at Goldstein, a senior, noted that because of budget cuts, she has fewer classes to choose from: “Art classes, classes that are considered less important, all these things are being cut.” She said she was concerned that this would drastically limit her options after graduation.

School staff have also suffered under these cuts. During the most recent round of cuts, most schools were forced to lay off some or all of their school aides, professionals who perform vital administrative and support functions. “School aides are invaluable,” said Schirtzer. “They help monitor the lunch rooms, hallways, and student activities. Without them, there is less adult supervision in the building and this endangers the safety of our students.”

The rally will be attended by teachers and students from Goldstein, Grady, New Utrecht, John Dewey, and Franklin D. Roosevelt High Schools. But while this campaign started with students and teachers, a wide range of city workers will participate. Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, which represents New York’s subway and bus workers, endorsed the rally, which will begin at the Coney Island/Stillwell Ave subway station, a major transit hub. Like school workers, transit workers have suffered mightily from city cuts in recent years, and a large contingent of subway and bus workers will be present at the November 30 rally.

The rally has also been endorsed by TWU Local 101, which represents the city’s gas workers. Workers from local firehouses, hospitals, and public libraries will also be in attendance, along with other New Yorkers who are simply concerned about the state of their city. Professors and students from Kingsborough Community College will also be in attendance.

“What kind of city are we building for our children?” asked Schirtzer. “What kind of future will they have, living in neighborhoods where the schools and libraries are cut to the bone? We need to fight for them now, before it’s too late.”

The November 30 march will begin at 4:00 pm, outside the Coney Island/Stillwell Ave. subway station. From there, marchers will head through Brooklyn to Abraham Lincoln High School on Ocean Parkway. To see the march route, go to

For more information about the march, contact Kit Wainer at 917-846-3292 or To learn about the campaign, go to

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.