Source: Ralph Hockens/Flickr

The train screeched to a halt somewhere after DeKalb Avenue and before the bridge. It was summertime, probably about five years ago, and though the air conditioning stayed on, it lost out to the sweltering heat of the tunnel and the stench of other riders. A baby cried. Someone had smelly food. Everyone looked confused.

It took 10 minutes before there was an announcement, and when it finally came, it sounded like the conductor had swallowed a kazoo and was delivering his much-anticipated oration from the other end of a cave. In that cave was a large, rushing river. And bats, stirred to a screeching fury. And a very vocal constipated ox.

There’s a point to this story. Really. Keep reading.

Gerritsen Beach’s Knights of Columbus post was burglarized this morning, with thieves stealing thousands of dollars raised for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, reports.

The Knights of Columbus Rev. E. J. Matthews #5989 (2882 Gerritsen Avenue) also had money taken from the bar, as well as cameras, computers and raffle tickets.

We’ll have more information as it becomes available.

Joe with the recently posted Elizabeth Taylor pinup. (Source: Wandering NYC)

About a year ago, we posted about some of the best traditional barbershops for men in our area. Thanks to Wandering NYC, there’s another special one to add to the list.

This barbershop is called Joe and Bart’s Unisex Salon and is located at 2087 Haring Street, north of Avenue U.

Wandering NYC writes:

When you walk into Joe and Bart’s you may be greeted with a hot cup of espresso or directed to a box of Italian pastries taking up one of the chairs in their waiting area. You might be treated to some free entertainment by their cast of regulars. You could even run into Al Pacino stopping by to say hello in between filming scenes for a new movie around the corner. One thing that’s certain is you will experience a barber shop in much the same way New Yorkers have for generations.

If you visit them in the near future, you may see the centerfold they have on display commemorating the late Elizabeth Taylor.

Authentic Brooklyn barbershop with a cast of characters? Old guys who tell great stories? Haircutting/styling with Italian pastries? Sounds like they get the job done right.

Remember this idiot, who tore up a parked car because he didn’t know how to handle the plow?

If a snow plow truck damaged anything that you own in the wake of the December 26 storm, including your home, your car, or your self, you may receive compensation from the city if you haven’t already. According to Gothamist, the city has paid out $729,677 to people whose homes, cars, or selves were damaged by city crews responding to the snow.

Oh, but the city is far from done. Not even halfway done, actually. So far, the city has only paid 297 of the 842 claims.

Hopefully, those who suffered damages already filed their claims, since they had to be in by this week to meet the 90-day post-storm deadline. Obviously, most involve damaged vehicles or damaged property. However, the Gothamist found out that 65 have claimed personal injury. Some were cases where family members died because ambulances couldn’t reach them in the snow. Perhaps the price tag on this thing will encourage a better response?

Photo by Yura Dashevsky.

Councilman Lew Fidler spent most of his time before Community Board 15 last night discussing the city budget, and his message was an unhappy one.

“I find myself using a few words I don’t use very often, ‘Mayor Bloomberg is right,’” Fidler told the board.

Fidler said the city was handed an unfair deal, with state lawmakers shorting New York City residents by millions of dollars, and leaving the mayor little option but to slash away.

Keep reading about how the city may face even more cuts, according to Fidler.

Welcome back to The Bite, Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

Avenue U west of Ocean Avenue has a reputation among the foodies of NYC as being Brooklyn’s “Mini China Town.”  Only Sunset Park’s “China Town” surpasses our neighborhood in size, but I believe our restaurants and markets are much better. Maybe I’m biased?

Stroll along the avenue and you’ll find Chinese bakeries, markets, stores and restaurants. Many of the store signs are in Chinese, leaving this guilo wondering what wonders await inside.

Today I followed my nose and stepped into L & U Cafe for a quick bite – a Cha Siu Baau or BBQ Pork Bun. Hmm, did someone say BBQ?

BBQ Pork – Who could ask for more?

An artifact from the Congress of Curious Peoples exhibit (Source: Coney Island USA)

If you think Coney Island is all sorts of wild now, you should have seen it 100 years ago. Coney Island was once a place filled with unforgettable freak shows and spectacles that would be controversial today.

A typical day in Coney Island between 1890 and 1915 would mean seeing shows that included everything from live fires to hundreds of midgets to real premature babies. A year long series of exhibitions, performances and lectures hope to capture everything that Coney Island was back then.

Continue Reading »

A rendering of United Methodist Church without steeples, made by Valerie Landriscina.

When I sat down with the New York Times reporter to discuss the United Methodist Church of Sheepshead Bay (3087 Ocean Avenue) and its soon-to-expire steeples, he asked me one hundred different ways: how come no one is trying to stop it? If this were brownstone Brooklyn the community would be up in arms, he said. Why not here?

I gave him the long answer, which involved a lot of convoluted sentences and parenthetical statements about community fragmentation, civic decay and media penetration rates. It was an academic answer so unsuitable for quotation that he wrote me an e-mail asking the same question again – in three different ways – just so he could capture one line to push the narrative forward.

The simple answer? We could blame demographic shifts. Or we could blame weak civic institutions. Or the failure of local media to bridge cultural divides.

But at the end of the day, there’s one thing missing from the equation that’s needed before we can blame anything else: a leader.

Of all the media attention the issue got, and all the “Oh, that’s a pity” statements we heard from history buffs and preservationists, not a darn person tried to rally people, raise the money, and save the steeples.

Until now.

Read about the emerging voice for preservation of the United Methodist Church, and find out how you can help.

You don't know what a kanun is?! Jeez, we have to show you everything around here.

The Turkish Cultural Center at 245 Avenue U will have a presentation on music’s healing powers tonight, March 30, at 7 p.m.

Julie Ann Cunningham, a freelance writer and musician, will discuss her recent article in The Fountain Magazine titled “Music of the Spheres,” which explored different cultures and their use of music to heal body and soul. From Ancient Greeks to Egyptians, Indians to Israelis and Europeans, mere sound waves have long been used to affect people’s health, and Cunningham will talk about the different traditions, notable figures and instruments used by various civilizations.

Oh, but it’s not all talkie-talkie. There will be musical performances with the kanun, a popular Turkish instrument, and light Turkish food will also be served.