If the Department of Transportation needs a copy editor, my services are available.
Seen on East 15th Street near Avenue Y. Thanks to Christina K. for submitting.
If the Department of Transportation needs a copy editor, my services are available.
Seen on East 15th Street near Avenue Y. Thanks to Christina K. for submitting.
The beloved dough-tossers at Midwood’s Di Fara Pizza were forced to defend themselves against allegations that they existed only to feed New York City’s elite, after mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio declared it his favorite pizza.
The issue surfaced after the Daily News, in yet another hard-hitting policy report (akin to the “So… would ya’ kill a kittie?” fiasco), asked Democratic contender Bill de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota which pizzeria produced their favorite slice.
De Blasio, erring on the side of, well, every freakin’ top-10 list in the city, said his heart and stomach are with Di Fara’s (1424 Avenue J).
“To all the Manhattan foodies out there: it’s not even close. This is clearly the best,” he told the newspaper, fawning of Dom’s use of “buffalo milk mozzarella, which is beloved in my grandfather’s province in Italy.”
The Daily News, in the business of creating controversy where there is none, declared that the rundown, generation-spanning family business is just a front for upper-crust snobbery, citing their $5 slice and $28 pie, believed to be among the highest in the city. They claim it’s at odds with de Blasio’s self-anointed status as a champion of the downtrodden.
“Mr. Tale of Two Cities eats his pizza with the 1%,” the paper claims. “But the man who says he’ll make the city a better place for the downtrodden if elected mayor insists the Brooklyn slice joint is worth the price — and the famously long line that snakes out its door.”
New York Observer’s Politicker blog, of course, wouldn’t let sleeping dogs lie, and turned to the pizza king for a rebuttal.
“No, I feel like we have a very unique product,” an employee told The Observer. “Anyone who tries it is going to find it to be a quality product. We hear people all day saying it’s one of the best things they’ve ever eaten. No matter what percent you’re in, once you try it, you’ll love it.”
And, of course, the whole idea that any pizza not laden with diamonds and the squandered dreams of Detroit factory workers is for the one percent is ludicrous. Even at the high price tag – $28 – a family of four can eat a meal and not break the bank.
What the Daily News should really be focusing on is Lhota’s answer. Not only can he not name his favorite pizzeria, he claims that his favorite slice is – gasp! – buffalo chicken! From Queens!!!
Of all the weird and wacky stories coming across our desks about Sheepshead Bay’s quirky business scene, this is easily my favorite. Rasputin Restaurant, at 2670 Coney Island Avenue, has reopened with new ownership and a new name: Romanoff Restaurant.
Like Rasputin, it will be a Russian-themed banquet and dance hall, doling out mounds of salmon roe for its ritzy clientele.
But why is it funny? Well, as most who follow this site know, Rasputin was shuttered in May after federal authorities seized the assets of its owner, Michael Levitis, who they’ve charged with fraud in relation to his side business, Mission Settlement Agency. He is accused of swindling clients out of millions of dollars in charges for debt settlement services never rendered.
In choosing “Romanoff” as their name, the new owners are tipping their hat – perhaps unintentionally – to the whole mess.
Romanoff, you see, was the surname of Michael Romanoff, a.k.a. Prince Michael Dimitri Alexandrovich Obolensky-Romanoff, but, actually, a man born in Lithuania as Hershel Geguzin. Romanoff established the famed Hollywood venue Romanoff’s, a beacon for L.A.’s elite in the 1940s and 1950s.
But Romanoff wasn’t who he said he was. Hardly a prince, he was one of America’s most legendary conmen. After traveling the world under different identities, he eventually settled in Hollywood and became a social gadfly, regaling stars with tales of his phony claim to Russian royalty, claiming to be a nephew of Tsar Nicholas II.
Ultimately, he was deported to France to serve time for fraud.
So, opening up on the site of another restaurant that was shuttered when its Eastern European owner was charged with fraud, and dubbing it Romanoff, the name of another Eastern European restaurateur charged with fraud… yeah, that’s funny.
Unfortunately, we doubt the owners had this in mind when they chose the name.
Regardless, good luck, Romanoff.
In this photograph we have a group of three female lifeguards standing vigil over the waters of Brighton Beach in the swinging jazz days of 1921. In case you are wondering, these are not the vintage ladies we featured last December. Those female lifeguards, who very well could have been the daughters of the lifeguards featured above, were from 1940 and protected Manhattan Beach right before the outbreak of World War II.
This is a fantastic photograph that invites all sorts of interesting sociological observations. I love how the guard on the far left is laced up in what could be a pair of early 20th century Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Converse, which had been around since 1908, introduced its first pair of Chucks in 1921, so this young woman could very well be the world’s first hipster. After all, she meets all the other criteria; slim figure, skin tight leggings, and a chic, short haircut. She even has a hipster name, Gertrude Neumarker. I wonder how she expected to swim effectively with water logged canvas and rubber weighing her legs down.
As much as we fantasize about buxom Baywatch beauties giving up mouth-to-mouth after nearly drowning in the ocean, in reality, I’d much rather have the woman in the middle coming to my rescue. This guard, identified as Bertha Tomkins, is a buffed-up militarized-looking ocean protector, guaranteed not to let anyone drown on her watch. With no shoes or leg coverings, she is not constrained by the fashion taboos of her time, realizing that modest beachwear is clunky and slows down rescues.
I don’t know what to make of the last guard, Gertrude Goodstein, on the far right. She seems about as strong as the woman in the middle and as modest as the woman on the left. If I were taking the photo, I’d tell her to stand in the middle because she just seems to represent a mix of the three ladies present.
Anyway, thanks to StephiaMadelyne for posting the photo on her Now York City blog and thanks to Bettmann Corbis for providing it in the first place. If anyone else has more vintage Southern Brooklyn lifeguard photos or videos, please send them our way. We love this stuff.
I’ve been riding the subway a lot lately.
For the past four years or so, I haven’t had to. My commute, as it were, comprises of going from the top of a flight of stairs to the bottom, through a room, ’round the way, and suddenly in a small subsection of my home with cheap carpeting, fluorescent lighting and all the other trappings of a humble, modern office.
But my girlfriend lives in Central Brooklyn, and, since Sandy, when my home also became the home of displaced family members, I’ve found my way out to her place to spend evenings and weekends.
And, thus, a commute is born. A commute “of sorts,” anyway, since I get to choose my own hours and can operate the entire business on my cell phone, if need be. And commutes are rarely anything if not mandatory, so the optional nature of it makes the word “commuting” somewhat imprecise.
But a commute we’ll call it.
So my commute now is about 20 minutes on the subway at whatever time pleases me, and so surely that means you won’t see me during rush hour. No one wants to be on the subway during rush hour. Not when Mr. Lee gets on at Canal Street with his red shopping bag sweating fish juice that inevitably finds itself perspiring on your leg, or when the Showtime Boys elbow out the space needed to defy gravity, or when Hally Toesis stands at the pole, face to face with you, mouthing the words to Fifty Shades of Grey with breathy whispers, punctuating the decadence with whiffs of tooth decay.
No. No one wants to be on the subway during rush hour.
And so I find myself on the train during “regular” hours. My Midday Commute.
And I’ve learned something about commuting, as it were, in the middle of the day. During regular hours. And yet, there is so very little that is “regular.”
I ride along with the dregs of society. The animals and the malcontents and the mouth-breathers and the twits. Yes, I’m sure they’re there during rush hour – no, I know it – but the herd appears thinned when buffered by the somewhat normal city dwellers. In those situations, the dregs just don’t stand out until they start muttering to themselves, and even then only get sideways glances from the complicit straphangers, for whom, I imagine, the greatest fear must be to have another straphanger call them a weenie for changing seats or, gasp, alerting a conductor to one disturbance or another. (Well, I suppose if conductors went about addressing disturbances, we’d have quiet subway cars that never make it anywhere.)
So I ride the train in the middle of the day with the dregs, and anyone who is friends with me on Facebook knows I occasionally let off a little steam just to be consoled by friends and perhaps, hopefully, maybe, hear a kind word from the world that I’m not alone, not crazy, not one of the dregs myself.
Like last week, I shared this story: I sat down on the train and saw an Olympic-sized pool of spit sloshing its way closer and closer to me on the humped curve of a Q seat. I didn’t see it when I sat down, and I was reluctant to move – because some straphanger might think me a weenie – and so instead I sat and I glared at it and glared at the guy two seats away who kept making hocking sounds – the mating call of the dreg, I suppose – who I assumed summoned this watery golum from the depths of the shambling mess of his existence.
And I looked across the row and saw a mouth breather, the kind of person who you can’t help but imagine a bouquet of bacteria bursting forth with every exhale. And down the line, one of the twitchers, whose bodies always jerk and jive in exaggerated response to the subway’s rumbling ride.
There was a guy whose ass hung out of his tighty whities, which hung out of his jeans, and none of which – ass included – was where it should have been, anatomically speaking. He was testing out his ringtones, which all appeared to be purchased in 2003 from one of those commercials that aired on late-night cable television; the ones that told you how you could show your friends you were at the cutting edge of technological achievement if your phone blasted a midi of Chingy’s “Right Thurr” when mom calls.
And between all of these people there was me. Me and no one else. The ratio of dreg-to-Ned was about 16-to-1.
But I ride the subway in the middle of the day because no one wants to be on the subway during rush hour. Maybe I ought to reconsider, before that dreg-to-Ned ratio worsens.
The open thread is now open.
Gosh. There really isn’t much to say, except maybe “Why does this exist?”
We don’t have any answers.
Thanks to reader Boris O. for sending this over… I think.
Vic DiBiteto is clearly a victim of the media hype surrounding Nemo – which, by the way, is a name bestowed by The Weather Channel, not the National Weather Service, which doles out the real names, and never to winter storms.
Anyway, Vic, a comedian and former performer at the much-missed Pips, needs to get his bread and milk before the flurries start falling.
Have you picked up your bread and milk?
Thanks to Ann H. for pointing this out to us on Facebook.
As we all know, New York City is a huge sprawling megalopolis populated by millions of people with a seemingly infinite amount of streets. These realities make it convenient for many dog owners to not care about cleaning up after their dogs. Well, you should clean up after your dog and not just because it keeps your neighborhoods clean, but because the piles of unattended dog feces creates an unfair obstacle course for those in wheelchairs trying to navigate our streets.
Remember, a lot of wheelchair users still propel their wheels forward with their hands, so if they roll over dog doodie, it becomes a horrible situation for someone just trying to get around town. You can use your imagination.
State Senator Marty Golden, after receiving letters from families of handicapped constituents dealing with this problem, has vowed to take action, according to a press release.
“Those who do not clean up after their dogs destroy the quality of life for all residents, and this letter highlights the impact that it has on our disabled neighbors,” Golden said. “I do hope that these concerns raised in this letter will not be ignored. The next time you are out walking your dog, stop and think for a moment, and pick up after your dog.”
Golden has petitioned the Department of Sanitation to place more signs that remind owners to pick up after their dogs.
The headline here is a tweak of two suggestions that came to us on Facebook, thanks to readers Ben Jonjak and Hillary Stackpole.
I always thought it was so trite to begin a post, essay, or any piece of writing with the definition of a word but, as an homage to the anonymous everyman who spoke for so many of us Southern Brooklynites — the writer behind the eponymously-named blog, Die Hipster, who abdicated his literary throne this week — I offer you the definition of the word “prophet”:
A person gifted with profound moral insight and exceptional powers of expression.
While Die Hipster, by no means, claimed to “speak by divine inspiration or as the interpreter through whom the will of a god is expressed,” the perennially exacerbated wordsmith took to the Internets to decry the “culdesacian culture vultures [who] have basically destroyed art and music just about to the point of irreparable,” in his final post on the site.
The targets of Die Hipster’s wrath may have had blessedly little to nothing to do with our end of the borough (at least for the time being, for hipsters are a transient breed), he took the Herculean task upon himself to protect our Southern Brooklyn enclave from their unicycled migration like a modern-day Davy Crockett staving off those who would breach the Alamo.
Flavorpill published this great piece yesterday, listing some of the worst development ideas for New York City that never materialized. One of them was this nifty little amusement park, a Coney Island on the islands of Jamaica Bay, and boasting a Venetian theme.
Apparently, in the years around 1910 the government was spending boatloads of money “erecting piers around the shores of this great natural harbor,” the blurb above the caption states. “It has been suggested that the numerous low, marshy islands in the centre of the bay will not be required for commerce for half a century at least.”
And, shoot, if no one else is using it other than some pesky birds, fish and other wildlife, why the heck not turn it into an opulent resort and amusement park, a la Coney Island?
That was the thinking of these planners, who envisioned “something like a modern New Word Venice, at a cost not at all prohibitory.”
At least according to the illustration, the plan would have built up a dozen or so of the marsh islands, connecting them with footbridges and spurring what I assume is the world’s second largest gondola industry. And, hey, two or three phallic structures just for the heck of it.
Have we mentioned that many of these islands have eroded away over the last 100 years, and the Army Corps of Engineers is routinely shoring them up for both coastal storm protection and wildlife habitat?
I can’t help but wonder what Sandy would’ve done to something like this if it was built.
Our friend Dan Hendrick was the first to point it out to us on Twitter:
— Dan Hendrick (@JamaicaBayLives) January 8, 2013
But, you know what? Hendrick might be glad the plan never materialized, but I think the environmentalist in him should see the benefits this would have brought.
For example, I doubt they’d put a natural gas pipeline and metering station in an amusement park…
Images via Chronicling America