Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bonkers Greenpoint

As a reporter biking round the nabe, a cameraphone in my hip-pocket, I've captured a lot of random stuff that just doesn't fit into neat, clean news stories. As today is a slow-news Thursday, I thought I'd unload all this random awesomeness here. Enjoy! I hope to make this a regular GG feature.

A piano,
across from
the BQE.

A marching
band on
River Street
headed to
the Grand
Ferry Pier
on Tuesday's

A tiny
coffin at

A highway
poster on
Graham &
appears to
have crahsed
the frame.

--Adriane (more of my public photo albums are up here,
including photos of our Albany trip.)

Back in the archives

For some more history about the Kent Avenue bike lanes and the Greenway in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, check out this post from 11211. It's one of the most comprehensive takes on this issue.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu in Bushwick

If you live in Bushwick, be very careful: It looks like there have been some reported outbreaks in the nabe. Wash your hands and stay safe!

Parking to be restored on Kent Avenue!


According to Government Officials, DOT is currently working with local electeds and community members to come up with a plan for the oh-so-controversial Kent Avenue bike lanes that suits motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and businesses alike. Apparently, the two-way bike lane will stay put, while parking will, in fact, be restored. More details to come. The GOs say the plan isn't finalized yet. We should expect this to go public in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned.

Swine Flu Quarantined at Brooklyn Kitchen

Photo by Juliet Linderman
"The key to defeating swine flu zombies is by removing the head or destroying the brain."

From dissecting pigs with butcher blogger Tom Mylan (he butchers like an editor), to sorting out a hit and run homicide, to enjoying the Weezer-like sounds of the Blue Album Group ( in a concert raising money for NAG's North Brooklyn Story Project, it's just another day in Greenpoint. As NAG's Lacey Tauber said, 'They sound better than actual Weezer" before grooving along to 'Only in Dreams'. Everyone got nostalgic for high school and I've slowly begun to realize that the planning for my 10-year high school reunion is probably going to end up on my desk in the next couple of weeks. Thanks a lot E.O. Smith class of 1999.

The big developing story today is what's going on with the Kent Avenue bike lanes. Businesses are opposed to it but Congresswoman Velazquez is pushing it. We're trying to find out what's going on and dispel a lot of rumors about whether a lane will be stripped to provide for adequate parking for local businesses or if some other agreement has been worked out. Will post as soon as it is confirmed.

Steve Levin is feeling under the weather today. Don't worry, he definitely does not have swine flu. We checked. But please, somebody get him some chicken soup stat! Hey Tom Mylan, know any good chicken soup recipes?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sweet Dreams are Made of Thies

"Wait a minute. Guys, did we forget to call David Yassky?"

City Council candidate Evan Thies threw another fundraiser with Recession All-Star Norm Brodsky, his lovely wife Elaine, and about thirty local residents, Monday night, at CitiStorage (Kent and North 11th Street), which featured spectacular views of the Manhattan Skyline at dusk. The romantic mood kicked up a full notch as a DEP sludge tank slowly ambled by the Manhattan side of the East River.

I've known about this fundraiser for a while, but I still wanted to go to see Thies refine his evolving stump speech and see who else showed up. It was the usual crowd of community leaders like MetroEnergy's Paul Pullo, right, (who spontaneously combusted at the fundraiser), attorney and interfaith leader Adam Perlmutter, the irrepressible Community Board 1 member and historic preservationist Ward Dennis (follow him on twitter!), documentary filmmaker and CB1 member Dewey Thompson, and rock star mom Jane Pool. Jane had the only breaking news of the night. It involves Conan O'Brien. We can't talk about it. Jane also got in a fistfight with Henry Rollins of, yes, Black Flag, something like twenty years ago. Go ahead, ask him about it. He'll show you the scar.

Thies has been holding interviews with Working Families Party members and hopes to receive their endorsement in the coming weeks. He is also looking towards the support of other political clubs in Greenpoint and Williamsburg such as the Seneca Club, Smolenski Democratic Club, and New Kings Democrats, now that CBID endorsed Jo Anne Simon and IND will likely follow suit. Of course, the most important thing is adding more volunteers to the campaign and Thies is moving to do that as well. Most political observers believe it's critical for Thies to gain some momentum in the spring, before Mad Men calls him back for a new season. If you thought season two was intense, wait until season three!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Arrest Eyewitness Account

Dupont Street resident Rubin Yeppez heard the crash and ran out to make sure his mother, who was at a nearby laundromat, was ok. He saw one of the suspects get arrested. 

"I heard the crash and came outside a half a minute later. I saw the cops grabbing a guy and handcuffing him against the car. Everyone from the neighborhood was outside." 

Manhattan Avenue Police Chase Eyewitness Account

Michal Tylutki who works at a store on Manhattan Avenue and Calyer Street saw the white van flying down Manhattan Avenue followed by the silver undercover police car at what looked like 100 miles per hour. 

"My first reaction was that they guy was just speeding the undercover police was about a block behind him. His siren was pretty low so I didn't hear it until it got closer to my location they were about a block behind the van.  As soon as I realized what was happening I was in shock. It was around 1:30 and the streets were busy with mothers walking around with their kids you had elderly people. It was pretty busy for a monday afternoon. It was shocking to see that going down I felt like a lot of innocent people were put at risk because of this chase and unfortunatly it worst has happened a innocent person has died because of this. Right after they went by I seen a van for the 90th right behind pretty soon there were more cop cars converting on Manhattan Avenue soon after three emergency service units went by. The store is pretty far from where this ended so I didn't hear the impact. I heard from a few people that the white van did hit the woman and kept going until it hit the jeep and stopped. But that's only what I heard from a few diffrent people. I also heard that the van was stolen and that's the reason for the chase. But again that's what I heard from people and I don't know that for a fact. Later that afternoon two NYPD detectives came by the store asking if we had cameras outside or that point at the street. I guess they went to all businesses looking for a recording of this."

Murder, Followed by a Three-Car Pile-Up

A car thief fleeing undercover police officers, in a van stolen minutes earlier from Jackson Street, hit Huron Street resident Violetta Krzyzaka, 37, on Manhattan Avenue between India and Huron Street at 2:13 this afternoon. Efforts were made to revive her, but according to a report from the 90th precinct, a liutenant pronounced the woman dead at the scene. A few moments later, the suspect ran his white Dodge Caravan Minivan into a parked Jeep, pushing it on top of a green minivan, resulting in a three-car pile-up on Manhattan Avenue at Dupont Street. He was then arrested and taken to the hospital with a broken toe. According to an eyewitness, the owner of the Jeep parked it about 5 minutes before the accident occured.

A police officer sections off the crime scene

The victim's mangled glasses at the crime scene

Police gather around the car in which the undercover policeman pursued the criminals

Three-car pileup on Manhattan Avenue and Dupont

A local resident sent the Gazette an email saying that there was a shootout on Nassau Avenue earlier today.

I am still looking into it, as DCPI does not have the full details of the incident. If anyone has any information regarding any of these incidences please email me at

Khristina Narizhnaya

Blade Tour 2009

Spent the whole weekend skating around the ’hood, leaving my face redder than Vito Lopez’ after an Aaron Short blog post…

First stop Manhattan Special. Nothing better than hangin’ with Louis and the neighborhood’s best coffee (soda) klatch drinking Williamsburg’s iconic beverage and checking out the bella ragazzas on the Avenue. Brings me back to my youth, except I grew up in Queens. Maybe next week, I can get my car washed, if Mike gives up the hose.

Then a trip to PS 132’s annual Kite Festival at McCarren Park. Principal Beth Lubeck-Ceffalia and her team showed that they are the masters of Parks events! Special shout out to our friend Rebecca Ramirez from the Brooklyn Children’s Museum who brought her petting zoo to the park (shhh! No one tell Commissioner Spiegel). Got me an invite to read poetry to the kids at 132 for Poem in my Pocket Day, Thursday. Can’t wait.

Had breakfast with Assemblyman Joe Lentol , Martha Holstein, and Town Square’s Susan Anderson at Greenpoint Coffee House. Watch those sugar levels Joe! We need you around for another 37 years!

Visited CM Reyna’s community garden. The CM, joined by her father and son planted and watered and added to my budding Spanish vocabulary. I know, it’s “Trace Hen-ay-rass-ee-own-ess.” And roll the tongue on the “r”, Council Member. Went back to see the finished product the next day. What an amazing oasis on the corner of South 4th and Hewes!

Back to Punta Verde. Skated the Kent Avenue blading lane, which someone mis-labeled bike lane. Residents say the lanes cause major safety issues for kids going to the schools on the stretch and businesses claim damages because they can no longer receive shipments on Kent. Still, I LIKE THEM! A recent post says that Assemblyman Lopez is in the process of having the lanes removed. Hope that is not the case...I LIKE THEM.

Then back to McCarren where I walked around-to the delight of Greenpoint’s paparazzi-with OSA Administrator Stephanie Thayer. Steph had the unenviable task of keeping the illegal vendors out of the park. Having been on the other end of a Thayer tongue-lashing, once or twice, I kind of felt bad for the vendors, but to her credit, Stephanie offered everyone help navigating the permitting process, if they wanted to come back to the unbelievably crowded park.
Don’t forget to check out Lentol Garden. Garden Best Friend Jackie and the other Friends did an incredible job fixing up the space. Be sure to stop by to say hi every Sunday from 1-4.

Got the Evan Thies fundraiser Monday night, so if Evan’s your man, be sure to stop by CitiStorage HQ (5 N. 11th St) on Monday April 27that 6:30PM.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Assemblyman Lentol is a Rockefeller Drug Law Star

...A look into the week that was and what lies ahead.

Tasty bits of coverage on the 33rd District City Council race leads off The Short List this week, as the candidates snoozed their way through the CBID/ IND forum on Monday. Jo Anne Simon picked up the CBID endorsement (Josh Skaller from the 39 picked one up to) last night. We've got Brooklyn Heights Blog Sarah Portlock with the wrap, Gersh Kuntzman's Politicrasher with the Op-Ed take, Mole333's take from The Daily Gotham, and a video round up from the Politicker. Thies is holding a fundraiser Monday night and we hear he may finally get a body man. He could use one. Also Doug Biviano's family, above, reminds me of a real life version of The Incredibles.
"Of course I have a secret identity. I don't know a single superhero who doesn't. Who wants the pressure of being super all the time? "

Looks like Vito is weighing in on the Kent Avenue bike lanes issue. But then again maybe not. Of course its the Sabbath, so we won't know for sure for a couple of days. Tracking.

Earth Day, sponsored by Town Square, (Earth Day in McCarren Park that is) was a pretty interesting event last Sunday. Lots of local vendors, multiple candidates milling about and one band played for FOUR HOURS. For FREE. Plus, I ate an apple from MetroEnergy, which had a row of biofuel samples displayed on their table. One of them was definitely scotch.

The Greenpoint Gazette Staff won Greenpoint Trivia Night, sponsored by the Nassau Avenue Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Good job Linderman. This is the kind of event where "What is Teresa Toro?" is the answer to half the questions.

And finally, NAG's Affordable Housing Forum is all day tomorrow (Saturday) at Boricua College. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez is scheduled to speak at 11:30 AM. She's back from Mexico after spending Spring Break with the President. Looking good Nydia!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jo Anne Simon and Evan Thies make plans to grab tacos after the forum

Fascinatingly normal debate Monday night in the 33rd District, hosted by Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats and Independent Neighborhood Democrats. To update everyone, there are now seven candidates in the race, as environmental engineer and Brooklyn Heights resident Doug Biviano made his first public appearance in the campaign. The highlight may have been Biviano's adorable children swinging from their mom near the end of the debate or finally meeting Evan Thies' lovely wife for the first time. I embarassed myself in front of both of them. I will not elaborate. At least the Kens (Ken Diamondstone and Ken Baer) were in good spirits. They need a theme song.

(Edited: I forgot. The third highlight was Biviano's near-Yogi Berra collection of one-liners, my favorite of which addressed eminent domain, "You have to set the language, it’s all about the language, I want to be a leader in setting the language." There's also the statement about the community forum led by State Senator Daniel Squadron, "Dan really hit Democracy out of the park with that one." Maybe it's more of a half Yogi.)

Isaac Abraham, the Hasidic Al Sharpton figure in this race, tried desparately to make things interesting, but not even he could succeed in stirring a murmur through the polite crowd. Welcome to the BH, yo! That's how we do it in the BH! Listen politely! Not even a couple of Brooklyn Bridge Park or Atlantic Yards jabs could shake up this soporific crowd.

I'm being too harsh. Diamondstone tried to rustle a few feathers with a short diatribe against the Kings County Machine (which would be a great name for a band), while Evan Theis and Jo Anne Simon sharpened their responses and likely solidified support within their camps. An Independent Neighborhood Democrats member, this is Simon's home turf, and she mostly played it safe, shining in questions on educational and reform. Thies, the second youngest in the race, showed an impressive grasp of policy may have gained a few supporters, but he needs to build a volunteer base as friends of Simon, Baer, and Diamondstone handed out flyers at the begining of the debate. The one candidate with the most to gain, Steve Levin, skipped out on this one, attending two events in Park Slope and one in Greenpoint (that would be Gazette Publisher Jeff Mann's 40th birthday). Here's betting the next time one of these events occurs, it'll be a lot more entertaining. Allright. Off to bed.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Scrambled eggs, buttered toast and Weiner for breakfast

Hey hey Greenpoint-

Sorry for the lack of posts as of late, we're going to get right on that. I'll just use the rash of holidays as an excuse.

Anyway, some neighborhood updates are definitely in order. Last Friday, Aaron and I took a field trip down south--to Midwood, that is--to meet Congressman Weiner for a reporter round-table where we had the opportunity to pick his brain about all sorts of issues including his possible Mayoral campaign (he's going to make the announcement in May, repeating over and over that, if in fact he decides to run, he's confident that he will win), the MTA budget crisis, the stimulus bill and the possibility of Newtown Creek being added to the Federal Superfund List. Interesting stuff, Congressman. Thanks for having us. Bad news though: apparently things are going to get worse before they get better, economically speaking. Good thing it's almost summer, then it'll be too hot to worry about job security.

Speaking of the weather, the weekend was sunny and beautiful and the Gazette staff definitely spent some serious time in McCarren Park, where certain areas have been fenced off to allow for the grass to regrow--the main reason that the new Artists and Fleas outdoor flea market, slated to open up for the summer on May 2, will be set up on the concrete portion of the park surrounding the old field house.

As most of you may also know, Monday was our very own Publisher Jeff Mann's birthday (don't ask how old, he'll lie to you), so we went to the Mark Bar for some good old fashioned Greenpoint trivia. Do you know what McCarren Park was called before it was called McCarren Park? Oh, we do. Well, actually we didn't. But luckily Eric Peterson, the manager for CB1 parks, was on our team. I'm sure you all remember what the code words for cocaine were earlier this year. We definitely knew that one--the bust was right next door to our office. We also learned that Pat Benetar was born on Manhattan Avenue, the Pencil Factory invented erasor-topped pencils, Rite Aid used to be a roller rink and a bunch of other stuff. Thanks Greenpoint Library Friends Group, we had a total blast. And not only because we got first place.

In other news, this week is about to be bananas. Tonight we've got the OSA southside community meeting at El Puente, followed by an OSA talent show at Public Assembly, AND the Greenpoint Hospital meeting at Swingin' Sixties. Too bad it's impossible to be three places at once. We're going to try to do our best though.

Ok, that's all for now. Hope hump day is treating you well, see you in tomorrow in our weekly CB1 listserve email blast!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Issue Online!

New Issue of GG is online now, check it out! We wrote about some seriously exciting stuff this week, including holiday celebrations in the neighborhood (oooh!), libraries (aaah!), Williamsburg Walks (oh my!), Artists and Fleas outdoor market (goodness gracious!), Mathy Stanislaus' appointment to the EPA (congrats!) and so much more. Enjoy!

In other news, it seems that spring has sprung (for now), and that means there's a whole lot going on in Greenpoint, like Go Green! Greenpoint, coming up this Sunday, and Greenpoint-themed trivia at Mark Bar, put on by the Friends of the Greenpoint Library. That'll be on Monday. Show up and challenge the Gazette staff to Greenpoint-off. That is, if you're brave enough.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

New Issue, Online Now!

Good afternoon, Greenpoint!

Welcome to the latest edition of The Greenpoint Gazette, delivered right to your inbox! Check it out at:

This week we wrote about cyber crimes, city council campaign funding, the Kaiju Big Battel at the Warsaw, the FEAST arts fundraiser, the illusive Poster Boy's first solo show, charter school lotteries, the Rockefeller Drug Laws reform and much more. Enjoy the beautiful day and the hottest news in the nabe!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

...And we're back!

Well it's been quite a week here in the Greenpoint Gazette newsroom. We kind of can't believe it isn't Friday yet. We finally made our way back to Brooklyn late Tuesday night after a couple of eventful days up in Albany, and even managed to put together a brand new issue, hitting newstands tomorrow (it's online now). We didn't get to see the State budget get passed, but we did have a chance to do a bunch of other cool stuff in and around the Capitol. As far as the budget goes, it's anyone's guess what's going to happen next. Last we heard, Ruth Hassell-Thompson, a Democrat from Westchester and the Bronx who was diagnosed with walking pneumonia, was taken back to the hospital last night, again postponing the process. But it looks like the Assembly and the Senate are resuming their squabbles on the floor this afternoon. And here are a few pictures from our trip:

Gazette Staffers and Publisher Jeff Mann outside Dilan's Office

Budget Countdown outside the State Assembly...yeah, we're still waiting.

THE EGG!!!!!!

In 1996, this was Albany's Block of the Year!!!

In other news, Speaker Silver, Majority Leader Smith and Governor Paterson announced a few days ago that part of the State budget includes a renewed film tax credit, offering filmmakers $350 million, which is definitely a good thing for a movie and TV hot spot like Greenpoint/Williamsburg. Not everyone's completely convinced though: a few of our local elected officials feel more money is necessary, and that a one-year renewal plan just isn't enough.

Also: It's a beautiful day today Greenpoint, so if you are reading this you should probably step away from your computer and take a walk in McCarren Park as soon as possible. It looks like Spring, but knowing New York we could get a blizzard tomorrow so get it while it's hot!

One Night in Albany

Albany's Econo Lodge & Suites Downtown offers clean rooms with spacious beds, free wireless internet, a good-natured front desk clerk to cater to your every need, and a bizarre mind game to spice up an otherwise run-of-the-mill motel experience.

Since there are 5 of us, we got three rooms, a "Publisher's Room" for Jeff Mann, a "Boys Room" for Aaron Short, and a "Girls Room" for Adriane Quinlan, Juliet Linderman and me. The "Girls Room" only had 2 beds, and since there clearly were 3 girls, I asked the portly front desk clerk for a rollaway cot when Adriane and I got back from the Gazette Albany bar crawl early. His face lit up with an eager smile. I could almost see him rubbing his palms together under the desk. He asked for $11 and said he'll bring the cot to our room in about 5 minutes. 

We went to our suite and began to unpack. Five minutes went by, then ten, then I stopped counting. Suddenly, the phone rang, "Aha, the cot!" we thought. Adriane picked up the phone, but instead of the expected "I'm on my way," she heard nothing. "Hello? hello?" said Adriane, but the only response was a menacing silence. She hung up. As soon as she did, the phone rang again. "Hello?" Silence. "Hello?" Nothing. She hung up again. We stood there looking at the phone. The clock ticked as the seconds went by. It did not ring. 

Adriane, jaded by her frequent travels, didn't seem affected by the creepy phone calls. She gathered her toiletries and went in the shower. I told myself that a foreign correspondent should not be scared by such a trivial occurrence. I put on a brave smile, opened my laptop and tried to access the free wireless. 

The phone rang again. I slowly moved toward the night table as the phone kept ringing. "Hello" Nothing. "Hello?" I slammed down the phone and frantically looked around. The room was in a two story building all the way at the end of the lot, edged by a shrubbery and what looked like deep woods. It was midnight. Adriane was in the shower and the rest of the Gazetteers at a bar about 20 minutes from the motel. I began to bite my nails. 

The internet wouldn't work, so, glad to have an excuse to call the front desk, I dialed the number on my cell phone. The clerk picked up. He gave me the network name and the password again. "Ok, goodbye, have a...," he began to say. 

"And are you going to come by with the cot any time soon?" I asked.

"Ah, yes of course, the cot!" said the clerk. "I'll bring the cot in a minute." 

Adriane came out of the shower and got into one of the beds. I busied myself with checking emails. She was long asleep by the time I heard knocking on the door. It was the clerk, breathing hard and cotless. He pushed his way into the room and walked toward the tiny couch by the window that I've been sitting on the whole time. 

"The couch actually unfolds, and there is linen in the bottom drawer," said the clerk. 

He began to unfold the couch, except he wasn't having much luck since the folding bed, warped by frequent use, wouldn't fold out straight. Sweat began to pour down his meaty face. He breathed even harder, grunting and cursing at his fruitless efforts. 

"It's fine, I'll just sleep on one of the beds," I said. He didn't seem to hear me. "Ok, please just stop," I said louder. 

"No, no I can do it," he said as he grunted. "Just hold on a moment."

"No, seriously. STOP." 

He finally heard me. He folded the couch back, put the pillows on it, smiled sheepishly, apologized. 

"Oh, by the way there were some problems with your phone," he said. 

He walked over to the bedside table and began putzing around with the wires. Fixing the phone turned out much like unfolding the couch, and before he would start sweating and and grunting, I told him he can take care of it later and it's time for me to sleep. 

"We'll refund you the $11 tomorrow morning when you check out," were his parting words. 

"Thank you, have a good night," I said to the closing door as I corrected a verb tense in a police blotter entry where a man clubbed a random woman with his walking stick on a Brooklyn street. 

Adriane slept soundly through the incident, only waking up in the morning.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Joe is ordering a ShamWow! before the company goes out of business

After a grueling day of budget negotiations, codes hearings, and trying to find our way out of the brutalist concrete maze that is Empire Plaza, we’re back in Brooklyn typing away, trying to get a paper out. Well, Juliet is. I’m posting a blog entry. Despite visiting with only a few hours left of the state’s budget deadline (as of this morning, one of nine bills has passed and debate has resumed on the floor) , the Greenpoint Gazette staff managed to wrangle several interviews and even fit in a visit to some local art museums. We didn’t get to Troy, NY or to cast provisional ballots in a local congressional special election, but we did get to experience all that windy Albany had to offer. Jeff Mann wants to come back every weekend. Maybe if they open a restaurant or two for lunch.

Things we liked
-All-you-can-eat Raisin Bran at the EconoLodge in Rensselaer
-News about the ShamWow! guy breaking during the budget negotiations
-Free breakfast at the AFSCME buffet in the Empire Plaza convention hall. Union Yes!
-The pharmaceutical reps lobby day after party. Drug cocktails for everyone!
-$800 a month rent for a 2 Bedroom in a brownstone
-Martin Dilan’s Monday night 24 watching parties
-Vito being Vito
-Getting mad bowtie props from a staffer with Senator Pedro Espada
-Cathy Peake’s charming hospitality

Things we didn’t like
-Patti at the EconoLodge’s clean story about working for Eliot Spitzer
-The look on Brian Kavanagh’s face when legislators had to return for a vote on the budget after Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, diagnosed with walking pneumonia, was pulled out of the hospital by the leadership.
-Running into George Costanza while trying to find the car in the Empire Plaza parking garage.
-The United Auto Workers lobby day after party.
-The brownstone was in Albany
-Not being invited to Martin Dilan’s Monday night 24 watching parties
-Shelly being Shelly
-“You guys really picked the wrong week to visit here,” –various staffers
-Accidentally preventing Cathy Peake from casting the deciding vote in the 20th Congressional race. Sorry Cathy! (Editor's note: Cathy confirmed that she did vote in the election)