Sam Tsang, Meijiao Chi, Theresa Scavo

Source: World Journal

It’s hard enough trying to run a small retail business, but in Babel-like New York City, immigrant business owners face a whole other world of challenges.

Chinese newspaper World Journal has a report about Meijao Chi, owner of a fabric and toy store at 1231 Avenue U. Chi doesn’t speak much English, and when Department of Consumer Affairs inspectors came around, fines started piling up while Chi’s Chinese got tangled up with the city’s legalese.

“Towards the end of August 2011, an agent from New York City Department of Consumer Affairs issued two citations,” Meijao Chi said. “One citation was a $125 fine for unregistered merchandise, and another citation was for the toy guns.  The agent at that time did not say how much the total amount would be for the fines.  The next day, the second citation ticket was mailed to the store.”

Chi, who does not speak English, paid a $125 fine, thinking that doing so would take care of the two citations.  That only covered one citation, however, and the other citation remained unresolved.  Later on, she received a court appearance notice and disregarded it.  Two months later, she received a $5,000 fine.

Things didn’t end so badly for Chi. After reaching out to Sam Tsang, Community Board 15′s only Chinese member (and also an Asian community liaison to the 61st Precinct), Tsang worked as a middleman for Chi, the Community Board and the Department of Consumer Affairs. After explaining that the the language barrier caused confusion which led to Chi’s failure to appear in court, her fine was reduced to $900. Tsang is also going around reminding other business owners to speak up when they need help navigating the city’s complex web of regulations.

As a side note, Sheepshead Bites needs to give a well-deserved tip o’ the hat to CUNY’s Voices of New York project, which aggregates and translates ethnic media outlets. Without their dedication to helping ethnic media stories reach a larger audience, we never would’ve heard a word about this issue.

Other than the Asian-owned businesses on Avenue U, Sheepshead Bay has a dense population of Eastern European- and Turkish-owned businesses. What kind of unique challenges do they face?

Two women were left wounded after a gunman opened fire in front of Millenium Theatre, the same building that houses Oceana Hall, at 1029 Brighton Beach Avenue.

The shootings happened early Sunday morning and the victims were taken to Lutheran Medical Center. They were in stable condition, according to News 12.

Coincidentally, we received an anonymous e-mail Sunday afternoon from a nearby resident, complaining that Millenium Theatre Oceana Hall has started bringing rowdy crowds in for their events – and that Saturday night’s event was particularly troublesome.

We’re not sure if the shooting had anything to do with the theater or their events, or if the people involved were attending a show there. In fact, the venue’s calendar has no events listed for this past Saturday. Millenium was not hosting an event, but Oceana Hall had a party called Presidents Weekend Shut Down with Hot 97 Live. (CORRECTED – see below)

But we’ve got to ask those who live around it: is Millenium Theatre – one of Southern Brooklyn’s only cultural venues - Oceana Hall becoming a problem for the community?

Here’s the e-mail we received:

i am a resident of the Brighton beach area and have noticed that oceana hall has been hosting “hip hop” parties on Saturdays. now, i was all fine by it while the party-goers where quite and civil, but now they have gone crazy. tonight, they came out the venue and started YELLING, SCREAMING, RUNNING, CURSING, HITTING WINDOWS, CARS, DISPLAYS. just completely and utterly going nuts. the surrounding neighborhoods are nice, i.e. manhatten beach, oceana, sheepshead bay, and various other buildings along the shore line. it’s just becoming a burden on Saturdays, it’s coming to the point where people are afraid to leave their house because these people come out the venue in “groups” and start going wild on everything in their path. i really dont know what they are going to do next, vandalize? rob? kill? beat up?.. do they have weapons on them since they are so violent upon coming out the venue. i just dont know. the reason i am reaching out to sheepsheadbites is because if you can do an article about this, maybe the surrounding neighbors would be more open to complaining about the situation or reaching out to the property owner and asking him WTHeck he is doing ?? its just become a burden, i’m actually nervous about going to that area of Brighton on Saturdays because of this.

CORRECTION (2/21/2012 @ 11:34 a.m.): This post has been changed after we mistakenly conflated Millenium Theatre with Oceana Hall. A more in-depth correction and explanation can be found here. We apologize for any confusion.

"Q Train" (pastel on paper, 22 x 30) by Nigel van Wieck

If you are traveling via Q train anytime from 11:45 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. between February 21-24, here are some SNAFUs changes the MTA wants you to know about:

11:45 PM to 5 AM, Tue to Fri, Feb 21 – 24

Q Service operates in two sections:

  1. Between 57 St-7 Av and Atlantic Av-Pacific St
  2. Between Atlantic Av and Stillwell Av, every 30 minutes

To continue your trip, transfer via passageway at Atlantic Av-Pacific St.


11:45 PM to 5 AM, Tue to Fri, Feb 21 – 24

Manhattan-bound Q trains skip Dekalb Av

May the Force be with all of you.

For more of  Nigel Van Wieck’s paintings, check out

Source: Katie McNish

A large tree tumbled from the Brighton line subway abutment into an adjacent empty lot, leaving part of the tree hanging from a power line and putting considerable stress on it.

We’re not sure when this happened, but we spotted it today. We last passed this lot on East 15th Street, between Avenue X and Avenue Y, two or three weeks ago and the fallen tree was not there.

Given that the lot and easement is full of dead trees, weathered wooden planks and dry leaves, if the power line snaps we foresee a pretty bad situation. The lot is also surrounded on either side by older wood-based homes, making them particularly vulnerable to a fire if the lines do snap, sending sparks everywhere.

There is no open complaint found for this problem on the 311 website, so we opened one. We’ll keep an eye on it to see how long it takes to fix this dangerous situation.

The small stretch of Sheepshead Bay Road between East 13th Street and East 14th Street may have been the only part of the strip below Avenue Z without a sushi restaurant.

No longer!

Osaka Sushi Express will soon open at 1328 Sheepshead Bay Road. We caught them putting the sign up this morning, on what used to be a video rental store.

We’re not sure if this place is at all connected to Osaka Japanese Restaurant at 2805 Avenue U. It’s possible, but we guess it’s also possible that we’ve cycled through the entire list of generic sushi restaurant names.

Heavily pockmarked tile at the Borough Hall #4 and #5 Station, replaced only eight years ago, now needs to be replaced again. Photo by Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTEOkay, so it is President’s Day, but some people still have to get to work. Not every company gives its employees the day off. The MTA has decided, however, to treat today as if it were still the weekend by continuing its weekend maintenance work throughout today. That means no Brighton line between Prospect Park and Manhattan. Good luck with the shuttle bus from Prospect Park to Atlantic Avenue. You can avoid the Q altogether by taking a crosstown bus (B1, B3, B4, B6, B7, B9, B11, B36 or B82) to the F train instead of having to deal with shuttle buses or by taking the B44 to the Junction.

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A snippet of a lovely email we received from a very talented Bath Beach-based photographer:

I shoot mainly in film, but I do scan and upload the negatives online. I’d like to submit this particular photo shot at Steeplechase Pier last November (11/08/2011).

Details: A woman napping at Steeplechase Pier. Kodak Gold 200. Canon A-1. Canon FD 50mm 1:1.4.

I cannot say enough nice things about his photos, and his ability to frame an image in his mind, and capture it so uniquely and beautifully.

Photo by David Tan. More of his incredible images can be seen here.

Photo by Erica Sherman

Source: Robert Hoge (Lincoln Memorial) and Sarah Korf (Ash Wednesday) / Flickr

As previously reported here (where you can also get a complete listing of the entire 2012 NYC Parking Calendar), alternate side of the street parking regulations for street cleaning will be suspended on Monday, February 20, in observance of Presidents Day, and Wednesday, February 22, in observance of Ash Wednesday. All other street parking regulations, including parking meters, remain in effect.

Photo by Robert Fernandez

And the story behind this compelling image, shot on the fence of the municipal parking lot on Avenue Z, is: The New York City Department of Transportation invested $25,000 into haikus and stick-figure illustrations, such as the one you see above (sans haiku), in an attempt to curb increased pedestrian fatalities and “prod the city’s plugged-in throngs to put down their smartphones and pay more attention” [when they cross the street].

The $25,000 transportation grant from the state was comprised of accrued fines generated from DWI arrests. DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who is also a strong proponent of bike lanes and pedestrian plazas, touted the initiative as a “way to surprise people on the streets of New York.”

Surprise! Not everyone is impressed, though.

Queens City Councilman Eric Ulrich, a member of both the City Council’s Public Safety and Transportation committees, told the New York Post that, “I can think of better ways to spend $25,000 of the state’s money — it’s a waste,’’ and his colleague, City Councilman James Vacca, chair of the Transportation Committee concurred: “I think most drivers would feel safer if DOT forgot about the haikus and fixed potholes within three days instead of 10.’’

John Morse, the East Village artist who designed the artwork, told the Post that, he just wants people to “think about the fragility of your body. You’re just a human. You’re nothing against these cars.”

Thanks for the reminder, John.

It makes other failed initiatives that attempted to “prod the city’s plugged-in throngs to put down their smartphones and pay more attention” seem not all that crazy after all.

What do you think of the initiative?