Author Archive

CIviolence

Mathylde Frontus led the meeting at the Urban Neighborhood Services

by Steven Volynets

Following the second fatal shooting in as many days, Coney Island residents and local leaders met at the Urban Neighborhood Services (UNS) office (1718 Mermaid Avenue) on Friday to voice concern over the growing number of gun deaths in the area.

On Christmas Eve, 17-year-old Yaquin English was shot to death in front of his home in the Gravesend Houses at 3144 Bay View Avenue. Just two days later, a man was shot dead on Thursday inside a Coney Island high-rise building on West 27th Street and Surf Avenue.

Shawn White, 25, was found on the fourth floor stairwell with several gunshot wounds to the head, torso and leg at approximately 9:30 p.m. First responders pronounced the victim dead on arrival, according to the NYPD.

Shawn White was found shot to death on Thursday in a building at West 27th Street and Surf Avenue. (Source: Google Maps)

Shawn White was found shot to death on Thursday in a building at West 27th Street and Surf Avenue. (Source: Google Maps)

The spate of deadly shootings has left community members grappling for an effective response to the violence, which UNS noted seemed concentrated in public housing.

Community members, including parents, a teacher and local clergy, discussed drafting a letter to local officials calling for more cameras and greater police presence throughout Coney Island neighborhoods.

“What can we ask of our State Senator Diane Savino? What can we ask of our Congressman Hakeem Jeffries?” said UNS Director Mathylde Frontus, who organized the event. Congressman Jeffries’s representative Lee Church and Victoria Lynch, president of Coney Island Site 8 Residents Association, attended the meeting.

Gravesend Houses, where Yaquin English was shot to death on Christmas Eve (Source: Google Maps)

Also present, Rhonda Brown Moore, board member of Man Up, a Brownsville-based neighborhood improvement organization, said Coney Island could benefit from one of their anti-violence programs.

“We have men in vans patrolling the neighborhood in the middle of the night, talking to some of the people doing the shootings,” Moore said.

Frontus also stressed greater involvement of local business owners and corporate interests.

“A lot of money is hovering over us, but nothing is trickling down to the community,” she said. That money, she added, could fund programs like Man Up, as well as art, music and sports activities for Coney Island youth.

Gravesend Houses (Source: Google Maps)

Gravesend Houses (Source: Google Maps)

A 17-year-old was shot dead across the street from a Coney Island playground on Christmas Eve.

Police responded to a 911 call at approximately 7:00 p.m. to find a male shot on Bay View Avenue, near the corner of Neptune Avenue.

The victim, 17 year-old Yaquin English, had multiple gunshot wounds to the leg and torso and was pronounced dead on the scene, according to the NYPD. No arrests have yet been made.

English was gunned down in front of the Gravesend Community Center building of the Gravesend Houses at 3144 Bay View Avenue, across the street from the Leon S. Kaiser Playground in Coney Island.  It is the seventh murder of 2013 in the 60th Precinct, which includes Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Gravesend.

– Steven Volynets

mexi-steak

THE BITE: I order my Mexican fare solely from El Mexicano Restaurante, which I consider the best place in the neighborhood to get my taco and burrito fill. The delivery men are friendly, the food reasonably priced. So much so that fellow Bite writer Lenny Markh has already tackled the restaurant’s tacos for this column. But I still wanted to find an unexplored gem on their menu, so I took a tough look at it for this week’s piece and decided to give the Mexican Philly cheesesteak a shot.

Like so many Chinese restaurants in America, I noticed that El Mexicano’s menu also tries to appeal to the American palate by including items such as French fries and chicken wings. Looking at the photos of these American-style foods, they seemed uninspired – until my eyes fell up on the Mexican Philly cheesesteak. This is not something I would normally do. I trust them fully with guacamole, rice and beans, and any incarnation of tortilla or marinated pork, but sesame-seed sprinkled hoagies? It seemed suspect.

But this sandwich was amazing for take-out joint fare. The bread was toasted golden and slightly crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, holding in place marinated beef, salty queso blanco- a mild Mexican cheese similar to mozzarella – and a spicy mix of onions and peppers. Bonus tip: I also got a side of guacamole to go with this. This may have been an extravagant move, but I assure you they go well together.

In short, every bite of this enormous sandwich was delicious. I don’t know what possessed me to take this risk, but I’m really glad I did. I think I just learned an important lesson about… not judging a book by it’s cover?… or something…

El Mexicano Resaurante, 2102 East 15th Street, between Avenue U and Avenue V, (718) 676-2700 or (718) 676-2703.

– Sonia Rapaport

The Bite is 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.

dom3

The following is a paid announcement from Dom Realty Broker .

dom5

dom4

dom2

dom1

The large, two-family home at 2802 Avenue Y is a semi-detached corner property with great sun exposure. It has four bedrooms and three full bathrooms. The house has a great open floor plan with lots of windows. The large master bedroom has a walk-in closet and Jacuzzi bath. The home is made complete with a large deck, perfect for barbecues and entertaining guests.

The newly renovated property includes a one bedroom apartment perfect for renting, an investment estimated to begin bringing in $1500 a month right away. The house also has a two car garage plus driveway space. A video surveillance system and backup generator will let you sleep knowing you’re safe and prepared for anything.

Interior features

  • 4 bedrooms
  • 3 bathrooms
  • Large kitchen
  • Dining area
  • Spacious living room
  • Laundry room

 Exterior features

  • 2 car garage
  • Big terrace
  • Video surveillance system
  • Backup generator

Asking Price: $998,000

For more information about this home please contact: Boris Rudoy at Dom Realty Broker. Call (718) 407-6366 or e-mail do[email protected]. Visit www.BrooklynDom.com for more listings from Dom Realty. You can view more photos of the home here.

dom6

The above is a paid announcement by Dom Realty Broker. Sheepshead Bites has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, e-mail us at advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

pastry

THE BITE: One recent morning, I walked into Sheepshead Bay Fruit & Vegetables Market, also known as Sheepshead Bay Gourmet Market, and while the newly added fresh meats display did entice me with it’s array of pink-gray veal and tongue, it was, as I’ve mentioned, early in the day. Making a note to come back at a later hour, I continued past to the pastry section to start my day off right with a good dose of sugar.

The pastry case was full of all the regulars: danishes, turnovers, black and white cookies. I apathetically grabbed an almond croissant, which looked more like a frosting covered almond stick. Regardless, I paid my $1.25 for it and was on my way.

Feeling content enough to have kept my breakfast budget low, I unexcitedly bit into my “croissant.” The bits of frosting and crunchy almonds that encrusted it came cascading down my clothes immediately, but the messier the meal, the better, right?

It was pretty fresh-tasting, doughy and a bit buttery, which I hadn’t expected from a plastic-wrapped grocery-bought pastry. And yet another surprise awaited me: somehow the baker had managed to fit two stripes of almond paste into the center of this pastry. I hadn’t particularly planned on mentioning this purchase to anyone, let alone writing about it, but c’mon, marzipan is big news!

Brought up by a European family, anywhere marzipan turns up in American-bought foods, even in an Eastern European store, surprises and delights me. I know there are other brands of almond croissants out there that also feature a marzipan filling, but I’ve often been disappointed either by a lack of filling whatsoever, or by an overly sweet white paste trying to pass for marzipan. Not here. You could see the brown flecks of almond in the filling, indicating actual ground nuts and not just artificially flavored goop.

This was a great way to start the day.

I also should note that the picture only shows about 40 percent of the length of this pastry. That’s right, I ate more than half of it before I regained my wits and took a picture.

Check out our previous review of Sheepshead Bay Gourmet Market’s spinach bourek.

Sheepshead Bay Gourmet Market, 1717 Avenue Z at East 17th Street, (718) 891-8449.

– Sonia Rapaport

The Bite is 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.

State Senator Marty Golden. Source: NYSenate.gov

State Senator Marty Golden. Source: NYSenate.gov

State Senator Martin J. Golden is initiating a series of new holiday events he calls “Holiday Senior Festivals,” which will feature the participation of numerous city and state agencies, free blood pressure screenings, entertainment and lunch, raffles, as well as a free shredding truck parked outside to shred old and sensitive documents, and a tree trimming.

Invited governmental agencies include Aging, Sanitation, Environmental Protection, Finance, the Fire Department, Parks and the Police Department. The events will also serve as collection sites to support the Toys for Tots campaign. Letters and cards can also be brought to the events, which will then be mailed to our American servicemen and women overseas.

The events, which are free and open to the public, are scheduled for:

  • Wednesday, December 18 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at St. Francis Cabrini, 16th Avenue (entrance) between 86th Street and Benson Avenue
  • Thursday, December 19 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Auditorium, 9511 Fourth Avenue
  • Friday, December 20 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at St. Edmund’s Preparatory High School, 2474 Ocean Avenue

For more, contact Senator Golden’s district office at (718) 238-6044 or email [email protected]

With only three weeks left to the end of the year, Captain John M. Chell, commanding officer of the 61st Precinct, reported a 1.4 percent overall crime increase for the year, noting a rise in domestic violence and holiday-related theft .

“The crime that really took up by surprise this year is domestic violence,” Chell said, adding that while instances of domestic violence are hard to prevent, a team of trained officers is now in place to deal with the problem. Chell made the statements during the monthly 61st Precinct Community Council meeting on Wednesday.

Chell also attributed a spike in identity theft, car break-ins and the DIPs (dipping in people’s purses) to the holiday shopping season. These crimes have been reported to take place on buses and along popular shopping routes like Kings Highway, Avenue U and Sheepshead Bay Road.

To curb DIPs and other theft, Chell assured that police presence has been bolstered on city buses across Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods.

“I have a group of young cops riding the B49 with me all week,” he said. Chell also cautioned against leaving bags and other personal belongings in cars as they tend to attract thieves.

Meanwhile, Capitan Chell lauded the efforts of the 61st Precinct officers in helping reduce vehicle accidents and traffic-related pedestrian injuries, both of which are down for the year.

– Steven Volynets

Photo from a previous BBT performance of Nutcracker.

Photo from a previous BBT performance of The Nutcracker.

by Jennifer Szulman

The 27-year-old Brighton Ballet Theater/School of Russian American Ballet (BBT) will be one of only three schools in Brooklyn this winter to perform a version of the classic ballet The Nutcracker, and theirs will offer a distinct telling featuring inspiration from the neighborhood’s various cultures.

Since 1995, BBT has remained the only dance school in Brooklyn to perform The Nutcracker. This year, however, they will be one of three local schools to perform the ballet, and will feature more than 40 young dancers alongside seasoned professionals. Cheographed by Edouard Kouchnarev, the 55-minute-long production draws nuanced inspiration from a Russian Nutcracker-inspired cartoon, and a heartwarming tale of diversity aimed at a young audience.

In this particular version, a young girl similar to Disney’s Cinderella becomes a princess. It is good to simplify an otherwise intricate plot for little children, BBT’s owner said, because they can understand what is happening. Most of the parts are danced by kids and instead of ending in The Land of Sweets, this version finishes in the Land of Cultures, where all the cultures flourish together – not unlike their adopted Southern Brooklyn community.

Founded in 1987, creating the prestigious school took perseverance, drive and the childhood dream of a young dancer.

As an immigrant from the Soviet Union, Irina Roizin aspired to open her own dance school. These dreams came to life when she saw a newspaper advertisement about a small ballet school open on Avenue M. Lessons were held in a quaint living room where three students were trained by a former student of Russian ballet teacher Agrippina Vaganova. At the time, the school had no owner and was funded by the parents of the three students. The teacher and Roizin eventually worked together to create a program for young children. In time, Roizin moved the school to Brighton Beach.

Roizin taught for nearly three decades, growing it to accommodate approximately 400 children per year.

“Our goal is to serve the community,” Roizin said. “Over 27 years, about 15 of our students became professional dancers. We do achieve our goal by bringing up professional dancers but the main thing is to give all children an opportunity to dance professional scale ballet. Even if they’re not going to become dancers, they will take something from this that they can bring to a different profession.”

For those who wish to become masters of the craft, ballet helps dancers develop a skill set used to shape not only themselves physically, but also emotionally and socially.

“This is disciplined, something that gives children an opportunity to be closer to arts, to change their personality, ideas, what music they’ll listen to,” Roizin said. “It’s not too many kids that understand classical music, can be disciplined about themselves, about what they eat. We realize that most of the kids that take ballet for a lot of years do better in school. It’s better attention, social skills and self-esteem. It helps them in a lot of ways.”

Professional dancers are invited to the school for young students to learn from, allowing the children to see what can come from their dedication and hard work.

The non-profit BBT continues to grow its services, recently opening up a pilot program for children with autism, and offers scholarships to students with need.

“We never turn a child away,” Roizon said.

For parents thinking this is just a place to drop their kids off for a play date, though, Roizon points out that she aims to train the best of the best.

“When kids come and parents tell the child, ‘Okay, go have fun!’ I always say, no, you can have fun at the park,” Roizin said. “You don’t have to pay money to have fun. They come here to work and learn something. Maybe this is a little bit of a different approach. The parents who understand stay with us and understand that whatever we do, we do to help parents raise intelligent, educated children. The kids need to understand that it’s fun when they dance and wear costumes and perform, but it’s also hard work.”

BBT will perform The Nutcracker on Saturday, December 21 at 6:30 p.m. The performance will be held at the Leon M. Goldstein Performing Arts Center at Kingsborough Community College, 2001 Oriental Boulevard. For tickets, call (718) 769-9161.

waffles

THE BITE: A few weekends ago, on one of those 20-degree early winter mornings, I was looking forward to breakfast but dreading the moment I would have to leave my apartment to forage for food. I took a long look at the radiator whistling in the corner of my room and decided I wasn’t going anywhere.

Luckily, I recently discovered that the Kouros Bay Diner (3861 Nostrand Avenue) delivers. I decided to try the waffles with bacon ($9.90), fully aware that they would probably be lukewarm by the time they made it to my door. Still, I tipped big for the poor delivery person braving the cold instead of me, and happily awaited my breakfast in the comfort of my pajamas.

When the food came, I was pleasantly surprised to find it steaming hot in the aluminum takeout container. However, it was not a picturesque waffle. In line with the tragedy of most takeout food, it was smashed against the side of the container, and the bacon was clumped together at the bottom. Oh well. This wasn’t a meal about aesthetics.

Plastic cutlery in hand and miniature packets of butter and syrup at the ready, I dug in. The waffle was a bit soggy with condensation, but still spongy, slightly sweet, and delicious. And that clump of bacon was full of the salty, chewy goodness you expect from bacon of any shape. All in all, I congratulated myself on some great morning decision-making.

But, I felt it would be a disservice to the Kouros Bay Diner and waffles in general to leave it at that. To really give it a fair chance, I decided I must go to the diner and eat a waffle fresh off the iron. For research purposes and the good of our readers, you understand.

So on a less frigid, more recent weekend morning, that’s exactly what I did. Despite it being fairly busy, the waitstaff was friendly and the order came out quickly. Crispy, golden brown on the outside, chewy on the inside; served with your choice of ice cream, fruit, or breakfast meats (I went with turkey bacon this time – got to make the healthy choice sometimes, right?). This was a very satisfying waffle experience. Sure, the coffee was a little weak, but that just gave me reason to take full advantage of the unlimited refills. Another great morning decision made. – Sonia Rapaport

Kouros Bay Diner, 3861 Nostrand Avenue, (718) 743-5777.

The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ food column, where we’ll explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay and tell you what we’re eating. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fishmongers  or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

Andrew Gounardes (Photo by Carol Dronsfield)

The following is an opinion article submitted by Andrew Gounardes, a local attorney, vice president of the Bay Ridge Democrats and 2012 candidate for State Senate

Last week, the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption released a report detailing an enraging, though not surprising, level of corruption in our state government. The Commission’s report identified so many illegal activities, and incredulous abuses of legal activities, they can’t all be listed here. Here’s just a sampling of the worst offenses:

  • Pay-to-play politics – High-powered donors contribute to political campaigns in exchange for legislation that would reap a windfall on their business interests. One developer received a real estate tax credit worth $50 million last year just to build one luxury building in Manhattan.
  • Campaign finance loopholes – New York has some of the highest campaign contribution limits in the country, and yet many donors skirt those rules by donating through different corporate and LLC accounts. One donor was found to have used 25 different corporate accounts to make $3 million in contributions.
  • Misuse of campaign funds – There are no meaningful limits on what politicians can spend their campaign dollars on. Members of the legislature routinely use campaign funds to pay for personal expenses such as car leases and personal mortgages.

So what can we do to limit, if not outright stop, such blatant corruption? The answer is pretty simple and we already do it in New York City: public financing of elections.

Currently, the campaign finance system rewards big donors and the politicians they donate to. If we lower the amount of money someone can donate to a campaign, incentivize small-dollar donations through a public matching system, and limit how those campaign dollars are spent, we can break the corruption cycle of wealthy donors buying off politicians and politicians using campaign funds to pay for vacation homes and luxury cars.

Public financing will also make politicians more responsive to voters. Under New York City’s system, any contribution up to $175 gets matched by city dollars at a rate of 6:1; a $175 donation is really worth $1050. Under the current rules in New York State, one donor who contributes $1000 has more influence than five donors who each contribute $175. That’s ridiculous. If we replicated the New York City program at the state level, those five donors contributing $175 would outweigh the one donor contributing only $1000.

Opponents of campaign finance reform say that it costs too much money. They feign outrage at spending tax dollars on political campaigns and hope that if they scream loud enough, you won’t notice why the really oppose reform: because they benefit enormously from the status quo.

Here’s the truth: public financing of campaigns will cost approximately $41 million a year, or just $3.20 per taxpayer in New York per year. In other words, getting rid of corruption in New York State will cost $9 million LESS than the $50 million tax break that our politicians gave to that luxury building developer last year. Think about that: one fewer tax break to a wealthy donor can pay for a more honest government.

To me, the answer seems clear. Let’s start cleaning up Albany and start restoring faith in state government again by enacting true campaign finance reform.

Andrew Gounardes is an attorney, vice president of the Bay Ridge Democrats and 2012 candidate for State Senate

« PrevNext »