Monday, October 29, 2012

Manhattan Loses Power Below 39th Street in Hurricane Sandy. Con-Ed Explosion?

Photo: MK Metz
We just witnessed what looks like the entire East side of Manhattan a large chunk of Manhattan going completely dark. The above photo was shor from Downtown Brooklyn. The lights you see are in Brooklyn Heights and the Brooklyn Bridge. On the other side of the river in Manhattan, all is dark except for the Empire State Building to the north.

UPDATE: An explosion took place at the Con-Ed plant at 14th Street in Manhattan.

UPDATE 2: Mayor Bloomberg reported at 9:59 p.m. that all of Manhattan below 34th 39th street, from river to river, has lost power. Con Ed puts that as 144,000 customers. (A customer can be an entire building or a single house.)

On top of this, at least 21,000 130,000 households are without power in Brooklyn; 31,000 67,000 in Queens and 75,850 in Staten Island.

New York City is almost completely cut off from the world as the Lincoln Tunnel is the only way in or out of the city. All bridges are shut, all tunnels closed, FDR Drive and Major Deegan closed due to flooding.

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

NYC Hurricane Zone Map Is Back Up -- Update

New York City's Office of Emergency Management Zone Map locator has crashed (due to heavy traffic no doubt), just like it did during Hurricane Irene. is back online. All Zone A residents should evacuate to higher land immediately.

If the city's site crashes again, above is a copy of the city's hurricane zones. Areas colored dark orange are Zone A.

See here for links to evacuation centers.

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Mandatory Evacuation for New York City: Zone A Low-Lying Areas

Mayor Bloomberg ordered the mandatory evacuation of New Yorkers from low-lying areas Sunday morning as an enormous and potentially devastating Hurricane Sandy grinds its way towards landfall south of the city.

City parks close at 5 p.m. Sunday, and the city's subway system is shutting down starting 7 p.m. Sunday. All public schools will be closed on Monday, and private schools are expected to follow suit.

"This is a serious and dangerous storm," the Mayor warned.

Residents who live in ZONE A* are advised to pack their Go Bags and move in with friends or relatives who live further inland. (If your friends all live in low-lying areas, get together and split a hotel room.) Otherwise, go to an evacuation center in a city school.

In Brooklyn, Zone A includes most of Coney Island, Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, Bath Beach, parts of Red Hook and Gowanus, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Fulton Ferry, parts of DUMBO and Vinegar Hill, the Navy Yard, parts of Williamsburg, parts of Greenpoint, and Brighton Beach.

It also includes parts of Manhattan Beach, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach and most of the Rockaways. (If you live in Staten Island or the Battery in Manhattan we advise you to seek higher ground. Also if you live anywhere along the East River.)

type in your address here to find out if you are in an evacuation zone. (Ignore it if it says there is no evuation order in place -- the city hasn't updated their website yet.) Or, you can call 3-1-1.

Here's the link to  link to New York City's Hurricane Zone Map* (.pdf) and list of evacuation centers.

You must travel before the MTA starts shutting down subways starting at 7 p.m. tonight. Once you find someplace safe to stay . . . stay there. Depending on when the storm hits, the New York City subway system could be flooded.

*(UPDATE: As of 2 p.m. Sunday this website was down. Here's another page holding a map of Zone A.)

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Hurricane Sandy Could Cause Severe Storm Surge in Brooklyn, NYC and NJ

Abcgolocal's Hurricane Sandy Doppler tracking map.

The above map rendered late Saturday shows various models of Hurricane Sandy's projected path starting to converge along the heavier violet line, curving through Philadelphia. If the superstorm actually takes this tack, landfall will take place somewhere between Delaware and New York City.

Forecasters say this route (plus the full moon and high tide) will likely cause significant -- possibly record-breaking -- storm-surge for New York City.

Storm surge is water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of a strong storm or hurricane. This advancing surge combines with the normal tides to flood roads, homes and infrastructure. FEMA warns that the greatest potential for loss of life related to a hurricane is from storm surge.

In Brooklyn: Coney Island, Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, Bath Beach, parts of Red Hook and Gowanus, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Fulton Ferry, parts of DUMBO and Vinegar Hill, the Navy Yard, parts of Williamsburg, parts of Greenpoint, and Brighton Beach have a strong chance of high storm surge.

Manhattan Beach, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach and most of the Rockaways have a good chance of storm surge.

Other Boroughs: See maps below.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the areas shaded blue, above, have a 60 percent chance of exceeding 2 - 3 feet of surge. (Areas shaded light grey have a 60 percent chance of exceeding 0 - 2 feet of surge.)

Now, looking at a worst-case scenario, the areas shaded aqua blue (cyan) above have a 10 percent chance of exceeding 7 - 9 feet of storm surge!

The dark green areas have a 10 percent chance of exceeding 9 - 11 feet of surge. Dark grey: 5 - 7 feet; light blue: 3 - 5 feet; dark blue: 2 - 3 feet. (Let's hope we don't have the worst-case scenario.)

Residents in any of the waterfront areas mentioned above -- or who live in ZONE A  -- are advised to pack their Go Bags Sunday morning, call friends or relatives who live further inland and ask if you can crash for a day or two. (If your friends all live in low-lying areas, get together and split a hotel room further inland.) BTW, Staten Islanders should seriously consider getting off the island.

Here's the link to New York City's Hurricane Zone Map (.pdf) and list of evacuation centers. Even easier, you can type in your address here to find out if you are in an evacuation zone. (Each block is different) Or, you can call 3-1-1.

You must travel before the MTA starts shutting down subways, which could will start at 7 p.m. Sunday. Once you find someplace safe to stay . . . stay there. Depending on when the storm hits, the New York City subway system could be flooded.

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

BOO-HOO! All Sunday Halloween 2012 Events In Prospect Park, Brooklyn Are Cancelled

Captain Underpants is not happy about this. Photo: MK Metz
The ghosts are howling in Prospect Park:  All Halloween Weekend 2012 events for Sunday, October 28 in Prospect Park, Historic Lefferts House, Audubon Center and Nethermead are cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy.

The NYC Parks Department has announced that all NYC parks will close on Sunday, October 28 at 5 p.m. All events are cancelled after 2 p.m. on Sunday as well. Surfing is prohibited at all beaches throughout the course of the storm.

The Parks Department is urging people to stay out of parks and proceed with caution on tree-lined sidewalks in the event of falling trees or branches. To report downed trees or branches, please call 311. In case of emergency, call 911.

As of 5 p.m. Sunday, October 28: All city parks, playgrounds, beaches, recreation centers, nature centers and Greenmarkets are closed.

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Things You Need To Buy Before Hurricane Sandy Hits Brooklyn / New York City

Photo: Jeff Keen
Last year during a previous hurricane, McBrooklyn published this list of things you should have in your house or apartment to survive comfortably for a couple of days, even if the power goes out.

As Hurricane Sandy / the Frankenstorm approaches, we're reprinting it with some updates here. Make sure to check last year's comments for instructions on how to disinfect drinking water with bleach and other great advice.

(Note: This is NOT a "Go Bag." This is a stay at home shopping list. If you are in an evacuation zone, you had better get your Go Bag ready now.)

Hurricane Shopping List:

- Cash: Get enough cash for a few days' needs. Break it into smaller denominations. (Remember the last time the power went out none of the ATMs worked?)

- Basics electronics: Flashlight, transistor radio, batteries. Here in Brooklyn, many drug stores and major groceries have already sold out of several sizes of batteries -- go to little bodegas and oddball stores to find them.

- Duct tape. (To tape big "Xs" on your windows facing the wind so they won't shatter, and to tape plastic sheeting or hefty bags over the ones that break.) Don't do this. We still haven't gotten the tape residue off the windows -- a year after the hurricane.

- Water: Fill up jugs with water, or buy a 24-pack of Poland Springs drinking-size bottled water -- $9.99 $6.99 for now at Gristedes. Get some individual juices if you like them. (Fill up your bathtub for water to flush the toilet. You'll need a bucket or plastic garbage can for this.)

- Food*: Granola and protein bars, nuts, a box of crackers, cans of tuna fish or other protein (after your mayo goes bad pour in a little oil), fresh peaches and apples, dried fruit, single serving canned fruit. Want hot food? Buy a couple of cans of Sterno (you'll need matches!) and some canned food or dry packaged meals and soup. If you like cereal make sure to buy powered or canned milk or Parmalat. Get some cookies and snacks. Buy paper plates, cups and utensils (there may be no water to wash dishes).  Make sure you have a manual can opener.

*(You're going to eat this stuff after you have first eaten the food in your refrigerator that will spoil within a few hours. To keep items cooler longer, avoid opening the fridge unless absolutely necessary.)

- Pet food! Kitty litter!

- Important Meds: Aspirin, prescriptions and anti-diarrhea medicine. Hand sanitizer. Rubbing alcohol. Contact lens solution. Toilet paper, paper towels, tissues. Feminine supplies. Condoms. Baby wipes to wash up if the water stops.

- Baby Things: Diapers, baby meds and formula, baby food. (Again, baby wipes to keep them clean if no water is available for baths.)

- Communications: Charge your cell phone and other electronic gear. If circuits are busy send text messages, which will go through if any cell towers are working, even if voice doesn't. If the power is out altogether, standard landline phones, which run on the power running through the phone wires, usually work.

- Misc.: A book to read. An itty-bitty book light.

NOTE: Electric stoves won't work in a power failure. Gas stoves with a pilot light work even if the electricity goes out, but the newer gas stoves have an electric igniter and they won't work. You may be able to manually light them with a match, however. has much more information about preparing for a hurricane emergency.

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Some NYC Polling Places Have Changed. Here's How To Find Out Where to Vote

Photo: MK Metz
Craig Hammerman from Community Board 6 reminds us that due to the redistricting of certain electoral districts based on the last Census figures, some voters' polling places have changed for the upcoming General Election scheduled for Tuesday, November 6th.

To find out where to vote, New Yorkers may call the Board of Elections Offices at 212-VOTE-NYC (212-868-3692), or they can access the poll site locator online at (You can also see a sample ballot here.)

Here is the 2012 General Election Voter Guide.

(The patriotic cow above was grazing outside Flipsters in Park Slope, Brooklyn during the 2008 election season.)

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Hurricane Sandy = 'Frankenstorm' for Brooklyn?

The National Weather Service says it's looking more likely with every passing minute that Brooklyn, New York City and the surrounding area will feel the impacts of a dangerous coastal storm -- Hurricane Sandy possibly transformed into a "Frankenstorm" after hitting a cold front from the north -- late this weekend into early next week.

According to NOAA: Expect heavy rain and "significant" flooding, high winds causing widespread downing of trees and power lines, and significant shoreline flooding and erosion.

 The specific impacts will depend on the exact track and evolution of Hurricane Sandy as it interacts with a deepening low pressure system approaching the East Coast.

Even snow is not out of the question.

According to the New York Times, the collision of the hurricane and the winter blast could producing "what weather forecasters fear could create a historic and potentially devastating storm for a large swath of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic."

“If it actually hits at the kind of intensity it might across central to northern New Jersey, that would be a potential worst-case scenario for New York City,” meteorologist Paul Kocin told NYT. “That would maximize coastal flooding and winds for New York. The flooding could be of a level that would be rarely ever seen.”

Or . . . the storm could hit elsewhere on the coast, or turn out over the ocean. 

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that some residents should prepare to evacuate. 

Link: National Hurricane Center

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

FC Ratner to Reveal 'What's Next After Barclays?' at Future of Brooklyn Conference

Photo: Sam Howsit
Forest City Ratner’s Melissa Burch will discuss the firm’s plans in a presentation titled, “What’s Next After Barclays?” at Bisnow Events Media’s Future of Brooklyn conference on Friday, Nov. 2, at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn will be the keynote speaker. The Brooklyn Eagle has the long list of developers, financial companies, and business people speaking at the conference.

(We couldn't find the names of any medical technicians, poets, gardeners or special ed teachers on the list, but we're sure they will at some point be consulted on the Future of Brooklyn, one of these days.)

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Major Storm May Hit Brooklyn Sunday -- Tuesday, Oct. 28 - 30

Some news outlets are already calling it a "Halloween disaster." The National Weather Service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for Brooklyn, New York City and the surrounding area, warning that "there is a potential for a major coastal storm with heavy rainfall, high winds, coastal flooding and beach erosion" this upcoming Sunday, October 28, through Tuesday, October 30.

The storm "will ultimately depend of the eventual track and evolution" of Hurricane Sandy "as it interacts with a deepening low pressure system approaching the East Coast." Hurricane Sandy is presently near Jamaica.

It can go either way, NOAA says: "The storm may well move out to sea . . . and have little or any impact on our weather."

Or, it could be the end of our world as we know it.

The "chances are increasing for a major storm impacting the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast," according to an online forecast report by meteorologist James Cisco of the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, USA Today reports.

"Forecast confidence is low at this point," NOAA counters, "and potential impacts are still days away."

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the Southeastern Bahamas and the Florida East Coast.

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Shop at Barnes & Noble? Hackers May Have Stolen Your Credit Info

Photo: Dipfan
Hackers broke into keypads at 63 Barnes & Noble bookstores -- including one or more in New York City -- and made off with the credit and debit card information for customers who shopped at the stores as recently as last month, CNET reports.

Since discovering the breach, the company has removed all 7,000 keypads (the part where customers swipe their cards) from its hundreds of stores for examination. Online purchases were not affected.

According to the New York Times, affected customers have not been notified. It is unknown whether stores in Brooklyn are on the list. The company said it is advising all customers to change their personal identification numbers and monitor their credit card statements. (But they don't say when all this started. Last month? Last year?)

Barnes & Nobles suffered from massive Internet credit card fraud in 2008, as did several other chains.

- Why You May Not Want to Buy eBooks from Amazon

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Hipsters Are Taking Secret Photos of Everyone Walking on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg

Hipsters are now taking surreptitious photos of passers-by on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg and posting them to a fashion blog, where viewers can vote on residents' fashion hipness.

No, really. First brought to our attention by Gothamist, it's called Styleblaster. The site calls itself "Williamsburg's premier live fashion blog, documenting the style of today."

Also this: 
"It will quickly become a destination for New York City peacocks to traipse by and show off what makes the neighborhood hop. For the savvy, a place to be seen. For the flaneur, a bounty of style. At home or online, fashion has a new destination."

But most of the folks subjected to public scrutiny are workers after a hard day, school kids, people pulling shopping carts and the occasional photo of unsuspecting people scratching where it itches.

Like Gothamist, we see lawsuits here. (And we're staying the heck off Bedford.)

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

TSA Removes Some X-Ray Scanners from NYC Airports

Photo: TSA
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been quietly removing some X-ray body scanners from major airports over the last few weeks and replacing them with machines that radiation experts believe are safer, ProPublica reports. Kennedy International and Laguardia Airport are among those where machines are being replaced.

The TSA says it made the decision not because of safety concerns but to speed up checkpoints at busier airports. The X-ray scanners are being moved to smaller airports.

X-ray scanners emit a small dose of ionizing radiation, which at higher levels has been linked to cancer. Experts worry about the calibration of these machines and the many medical unknowns connected to their use.

In addition, the machines produce images of passengers' naked bodies. Each image must be reviewed by a TSA officer.

If passengers refuse to be X-rayed, they must submit to an invasive physical pat down -- called groping by many -- by a TSA officer of uncertain qualifications. (Luggage theft has drastically increased as the number of TSA agents examining suitcases has increased.)

The replacement machines, known as millimeter-wave scanners, rely on low-energy radio waves similar to those used in cell phones, according to ProPublica.

The X-ray scanner looks like two blue refrigerator-sized boxes. The millimeter-wave scanner looks like a round glass booth. More here.

- Full Body Scanners Rolling Out at LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark Airports
- Opt Out of Airport Scanners, TSA Groping
- TSA Airport Scanner Tests Show More Radiation than Expected

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Why You May Not Want to Buy eBooks from Amazon

Photo: Elvert Barnes
When the Kindle 2 came out in 2009 we were enthusiasts. Now we are reassessing.

An avid Amazon eBook buyer had her Kindle eReader totally wiped clean (remotely) by Amazon with no refunds for all of her purchases and no real explanation -- only a maddening automatic response by an Amazon bot, which reads in part:

"We have found your account is directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies. As such, your account has been closed and any open orders have been cancelled.

"Per our Conditions of Use which state in part: and its affiliates reserve the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders at their sole discretion. Please know that any attempt to open a new account will meet with the same action..."

No matter how many letters the customer writes asking about this "related" mysterious account, Amazon just keeps sending the same non-response.

Read more about this Kafkaesque nightmare here.

Were you considering a Kindle for Christmas? Perhaps you should look at paper alternatives . . .

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Long-time Fort Greene Locals Fret About Arrest of Beloved Bodega Owner; Hipsters Can't Wait for New Yoga Studio

Photo: Google Maps
Ralph Jawad’s bodega (officially named South Portland Market, with the old Meat Corp. sign, above) has been a reassuring presence on Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene for decades, the NY Times reports.

The shop, known locally as Ralph’s, is "the kind of place where local residents left an extra set of apartment keys, or could count on running a bit of credit." Mr. Jawad is called "Mayor of the Block." Fort Greene Patch describes how Mr. Jawad chased down a teen thief who stole a girl's iPhone last year. (He got the phone -- but the thief was just a kid so he gave him another chance.)

Now the neighborhood is electrified about the arrest of Mr. Jawad, after police said an undercover officer bought marijuana from him. They also said they found pills and at least one gun, and arrested two employees with him.

Recalling times when Jawad helped them out, neighbor after neighbor left messages of support for him on another Fort Greene Patch post.

"I could care less about selling weed out of the store, and the gun is typical for a bodega owner. What I do know is that he is one the nicest guys in Brooklyn. I'm happy to have known him," said one.

"It's almost as if someone with political clout was calling the shots on this one," said another. "This is after all a prime real estate corner."

"When I was mugged at gun point and by knives in the 90's Ralph fed me and loaned me money. I have known him for decades and WILL TELL YOU ALL he was the Mayor of Ft. Greene," said yet another. "He never denied food to a person who needed it and nor did he raise his prices for senior citizens. Coffee for them cost the same as it did 20 years ago...and he made a great cup of coffee."

"To imagine when no one cared about the neighborhood... He was there keeping it together. Now, when money is available to be stolen from it... He suddenly became a problem and is arrested," mused another neighbor.

Yet 20-somethings new to the neighborhood called the store "sketchy" and joked about the arrests, reports the Times. “No way that place is selling enough sandwiches to pay the rent,” said Lauren Wills, 26, an interior designer.

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Who Won the Third and Final Presidential Debate?

Did Romney scare voters with Iran and China? Did he convince voters our country's global influence is receding?

Did President Obama convince voters their money should go to schools and roads instead of Afghanistan? Did he mention enough examples of Romney changing his positions on important issues?

Who won the third and final Presidential debate?

Vote for the winner in the poll at the top of the column on the right. And then support the candidate of your choice with your vote in the real election.

(Cell phone users: use web browser version of the website, not mobile.)

McBrooklyn voters gave a slight edge to Mitt Romney in the second Presidential debate poll. (50% vs 46%, with 4% undecided.)

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Brooklyn D.A. Drops Charges Against Homeless Man Police Beat the Crap Out Of

Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes dropped all criminal charges against the young homeless man whose brutal beating by police inside a Jewish community center in Brooklyn was videotaped by security cameras, the NY Times reports.

Ehud Halevy had been charged with a felony count of assault on police officers, resisting arrest and criminal trespass.

The shocking video of the arrest showed two officers from the 71st Precinct repeatedly punching and striking the young man with a baton. Halevy did not strike the officers at any time.

Elected officials and the Orthodox Jewish community in Crown Heights held a press conference Monday to protest the beating.

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

'Red Skull' Bank Robber Busted in Borough Park

A weirdo robber dressed in a red skeleton mask and black gloves robbed several Brooklyn bank branches in Williamsburg and Fort Greene Tuesday and Wednesday last week, yelling, “Happy f--king Halloween!” and "Trick or treat, give up the cash or I will kill you, bitch motherf--ker," to the tellers.

Was he perhaps emulating Captain America's nemesis, the Red Skull? (If so, he should have read all the way to the end...)

Anyway, Red Skull guy was apprehended in Borough Park on Wednesday, not by Captain America, but by Jewish Shomrim volunteers, who surrounded and held him until the police arrived.

Under the red mask was Kevin Crawford, 20.

More at the Post.

Photo: The Red Skull wielding the Cosmic Cube: Tales of Suspense #80 (Aug. 1966). Cover art by Jack Kirby and Don Heck.

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'Spur of the Moment' Singer Wins Barbara Streisand Impersonator Contest in Brooklyn

On the spur of the moment, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens resident Felicia Watkis entered and won the recent Barbra Streisand Impersonators Contest, taking home a seat to Barbra’s Saturday night concert at Barclays Arena, the Brooklyn Eagle reported.

Watkis -- being black -- doesn't really look much like Streisand. But oh, what a voice!

More at the Eagle.

Photo by Solters and Sabinson PR

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Obama / Romney Final Debate Showdown and Fundraiser

Tonight (Monday, October 22, 2012) is the last of the three Presidential debates, and Franklin Park is throwing a debate night fundraiser and party.

$4 beers and well drinks (with a minimum $10 on-site donation towards Obama’s re-election. Online donations, checks and cash will be accepted.)

From: 9 - 11 pm at Franklin Park, 618 Saint Johns Place (@ Franklin Avenue.)
Hosts: Raquel Wexler & Franklin Park

100% of funds raised will be given to the Obama Victory Fund 2012. See more at I Love Franklin Ave.

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Voting Machines in Swing States Owned by Romney's Family and Biggest Campaign Donors -- Forum Monday

Mitt Romney
Bain Capital investors, via Mitt Romney's son Tagg, took over control of Hart Intercivic, the nation's third largest voting machine company, in 2011. (Official press release here.)

The name of the acquiring company is listed as H.I.G. Capital. H.I.G. Capital is one of one of the largest partners in a politically connected equity fund run by Tagg called Solamere. (Other investors in the fund include Mitt Romney, his wife and brother.)

The Hart Intercivic company supplies electronic voting machines and paper ballot tabulators that will be used to tally votes in the Presidential Election this year in many swing states: all or parts of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

No one is seriously claiming the GOP has anything illegal planned. (Even though GOP voter fraud is suspected in at least seven states.) It does smell funny, however, since investors in Solamere are among Romney's largest campaign donors, according to the New York Times.

An emergency forum, called to discuss this amazing coincidence, takes place tomorrow, Monday, October 22, in New York City from noon to 2pm at The Open Center, 22 East 30th Street, (betw. Madison and Fifth Avenues). More here.

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Some Brooklyn Neighborhoods Getting Really Pissed Off with All the Film Shoots

Filming a Lottery commercial in DUMBO. MK Metz
The city is going out of its way to encourage filming of movies, TV shows and commercials -- but local residents and business say they're bearing the brunt, the Brooklyn Eagle reports.

The streets of Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO are frequently clogged with film trucks on a regular basis and local businesses and residents are fuming.

“Filming is out of control,” said Andrea Demetropoulos, who owns the Rocco and Jezebel pet shop at 89 Pineapple Walk in Brooklyn Heights. Demetropoulos has started a petition at the shop.

“Please tell people to call the Mayor’s Office and tell them, ‘If you only knew how difficult it is to do our job with all this filming.”

Judy Stanton of the Brooklyn Heights Association told the Eagle, “More consideration needs to be given to little neighborhoods like this one. Multiple shots at one time is unfair."

More here.

(The Eagle asked McBrooklyn for permission to run one of our photos with their article.)

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

NYC Will Speed Up Replacing PCB-Contaminated Light Fixtures in 100 Schools

Light fixtures at P.S. 8 are contaminated with PCBs. MK Metz
The Brooklyn Eagle notes that a New York City plan to accelerate work on more than $1 billion of infrastructure projects includes removing old lighting fixtures contaminated with toxic PCBs from 100 city schools and libraries sooner than planned.

More than 700 schools across the city have PCB-containing lighting fixtures and caulk, and many are dripping the stuff. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) have been linked to cancer, respiratory, endocrine, reproductive and immune disorders.

No word on which 100 schools will be decontaminated on the accelerated schedule.

According to the Eagle, about half of the city's contaminated schools are in Brooklyn, including P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights; P.S. 9 in Prospect Heights; P.S. 15 in Red Hook; Arts & Letters in Fort Greene; P.S. 29 in Cobble Hill; I.S. 98 Bay Academy in Bay Ridge; M.S. 51 in Park Slope; Brooklyn Secondary School for Collaborative Studies; Khalil Gibran International Academy and hundreds more.

In June, the city said it would remove leaking fixtures from P.S. 146 Brooklyn New School and M.S. 448 Brooklyn Secondary School for Collaborative Studies (at 610 Henry Street). Parents had complained that the city was giving them the runaround.

And in August, a judge rejected New York City’s argument to dismiss a parent lawsuit demanding that the city quickly remove leaking lighting fixtures from classrooms.

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Big Companies Don't Have To Pay Their Parking Tickets in NYC. But You Do.

Photo: Alan Cleaver
City Comptroller John C. Liu said yesterday that an audit of the City Department of Finance’s collection of parking tickets discovered that the agency has failed to go after millions of dollars in fines owed by companies with delivery fleets.

On top of that, the DOF even gives these big companies discounts on their tickets -- something the city no longer does with individuals and small business owners.

Scofflaw corporations owe the city $9.3 million in tickets, according to Liu.

“It’s bad enough that people feel like they’re constantly blitzed with parking tickets,” he said in a statement. “It’s absolutely galling to now find that the City lets big companies off the hook on millions in parking tickets. At the minimum, the City should be as efficient collecting money from big companies as it is from residents and small business owners, who apparently never get a break.”

Fed-Ex, Verizon, Frito-Lay, and Anheuser-Bush were among the companies sited. Liu's audits are available here.

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Rolling Stones Concert Page Still Shows View from Brooklyn

New York City's Rolling Stones fans are still bummed about losing out on the Rolling Stones' 50th Anniversary concert in Brooklyn. (All signs pointed to a Barclays Center appearance, but the boys decided to schlep their stuff to Newark.)

Now, unfortunately, we have to listen to the hype -- the movie! the book! the exhibitions! -- the whole pre-concert build up.

Yesterday, Reuters reported that Mick Jagger said the Stones had rehearsed "around 70 songs" for the concerts, and guitarist Keith Richards assured fans the veteran British rockers would "deliver."

Meanwhile, the skyline graphic on the Rolling Stones' concert page still shows the Statue of Liberty -- as seen from Brooklyn.

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Moonalice Poster Exhibit and Concert at Brooklyn Bowl

Moonalice is a band that com­mis­sions a poster for every gig and gives them away for free.  Since the band’s for­ma­tion in 2007, Moon­al­ice has pro­duced almost 550 orig­i­nal gig posters with art­work from over 20 artists, including many of the leg­endary poster artists of the psy­che­delic 60′s as well as today’s top rock poster artists.

The full series of Moon­al­ice posters will be on dis­play and avail­able for pur­chase at the Brooklyn Bowl on October 28.  Many Moon­al­ice poster artists will be attend­ing in-person.

The poster show opens at noon, Moonalice’s con­cert will fol­low the poster show in the evening.

More information here.

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Third Annual Smith Street Soup Festival this Saturday, Oct. 20

Photo: MK Metz
South Brooklyn Local Development Corp. is once again holding a "soup crawl" -- also called the "Festival des Soupes" -- on Saturday October 20th, from 1-4 p.m. (with a raindate of Sunday, October 21).

The event is a blast and people pour onto Smith Street from all over the city, so come early.

The last time we went we sampled delicious pasta fagiole from Lunetta, spinach and lentil soup from Bar Tabac (shown above), mulligatawny from Raga, lobster bisque from Verde, a creamy vegetable soup from Athena and many more. All it cost was $5 for a little blue wristband.

About 25 restaurants participate.

SBLDC runs the event to support the Culinary Arts Program in the local public School For International Studies. Celebrity Judges decide the winners.

Tickets will be sold by the high school students from tables on the corners of Smith & President, Smith & Butler, and Smith & Bergen Streets.

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Bay Ridge Sinkhole Patched; Hackert0wn in Williamsburg; and More Brooklyn Briefs

American Apparel goes Trekie. Photo: MKMetz
- Residents of the Chocolate Factory apartments on Park Avenue are being terrorized by gunfire and knife fights from rowdy patrons of a neighboring nightclub. NY Times

- Giant Bay Ridge sinkhole from hell is finally fixed. Brooklyn Eagle

- Tech entrepreneurs in Williamsburg plan “Hackert0wn” — replete with sleeping pods and a hydroponic farm. TRD

- Chris Olechowski, backed by Assemblyman Vito Lopez, won the race for the Democratic district leader in Brooklyn’s 50th Assembly District. The incumbent, Lincoln Restler, lost by 19 votes. NY Times

- Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School cut the ribbon Tuesday afternoon on their brand new $3 million athletic field. Bensonhurst Bean

- The Landmarks Commission is issuing violations to the former Gage & Tolner on Fulton Street that may add up to $5,000 a day. WSJ

- DOT makes room for pedestrians on Flatbush Avenue. Streetsblog

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Carroll Gardens Petition Against Homeless Shelter

As of this writing, 577 residents of Carroll Gardens have signed a petition against a homeless shelter for single adults planned for their neighborhood.

At the same time, the Brooklyn Eagle reports, local officials have protested "the project’s lack of details and question possible conflict-of-interest in the murky dealings surrounding the rental of the building from owner Charles Wertman -- a board member of the company submitting the proposal, Housing Solutions USA."

Not surprisingly, Housing Solutions is headed by a former Bloomberg official, Robert Hess.

More here.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Verizon Is Selling 'Private' Information About Your Web Browsing

Photo: Idogcow
CNET reports that Verizon has just begun offering reports to marketers showing what their subscribers are doing on their phones and other mobile devices -- what websites they visit, what apps they use and their geographical location.

Verizon says it may link the data to third-party databases with information about customers' gender, age, and even details such as "sports enthusiast, frequent diner or pet owner."

"We're able to view just everything that they do," Bill Diggins, U.S. chief for the Verizon Wireless marketing initiative, told an industry conference. "And that's really where data is going today. Data is the new oil."

Read what information the company is selling about you, and how it probably violates federal wiretapping law, here.

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Brooklyn Biker Gangs Have Heavy Artillery; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- A raid on Brooklyn biker gangs Tuesday uncovered AK-47 assault rifles, homemade bombs, grenades -- and an actual cannon ready with .50-caliber rounds, aimed at the door. NY Times

- Lovers of Greek and Italian food in Bay Ridge and Bath Beach are mourning the loss of two popular restaurants. Brooklyn Eagle

- Teen auxiliary cop busted in underage alcohol sale frameup in Brooklyn. NY Daily News

- Charges dropped against alleged DUMBO 'upskirt' photographer/perv because victim won't testify. Gothamist

- Cobble Hill block will get makeover, following Landmarks approval of development plans. TRD

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Who Won Tuesday's Presidential Debate?

Did President Obama walk all over Mitt Romney? Did Romney convince the country that he's not the second coming of George Bush?

(And what did Mitt Romney do with his "binders full of women?!" And what does Ann think about that?)

Vote (at the top of the column to the right) for the winner of the second round between President Obama and Mitt Romney Tuesday night.

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Cripes, Black Friday 2012 is Almost Upon Us

Photo: Jbhthescots
Black Friday 2012 (November 23, 2012, the shopping day after Thanksgiving) is creeping up on us and the crazy rush of sales and hype will soon be here.

As part of the orchestrated Kabuki dance that accompanies the date, retailers "leak" "secret" Black Friday ads. According to i4U, that's called "taking control of your ads."

According to the cleverly-named, several retailers -- including Harbor Freight and Fred's Super Dollar -- have already given permission to websites to publish partial Black Friday ads that they leaked themselves.

Here's a real Black Friday deal, however: Engadget reports a Sprint Black Friday ad that reveals $50 Galaxy S III on November 23rd only.

Deal News offers their predictions for upcoming Black Friday deals. For example, look for notable discounts on the iPad2, they say; and start looking for computer game deals before Thanksgiving. (Recently-released, popular game titles for 50% off retail, or about $30.)

In terms of toys, Deal News says, "It's not unrealistic to predict that many popular toys in late September and early October could eventually be marked down up to 50% off during the last week of November." And if you're traveling, Virgin Atlantic and Jet Blue should be offering great deals on Black Friday. See Deal News for more Black Friday predictions.

BTW, they also report that some Walmart workers may walk off the job on November 23 to protest the store's unfair labor practices, including low worker pay. (Sounds like American workers are learning from Foxconn.)

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The Fastest Internet Zip Codes in Brooklyn -- and the Slowest

Photo: Mangrove Mike
The Communications Workers of America reports that the median Internet download speed for the nation is 3.0 megabits per second -- equivalent to 3, 072 kilobits per second.

Which led us to wonder about Internet speeds in Brooklyn. Do some zip codes have faster download  speeds than others? (Upload speeds are slower.)

There's a handy Internet Speed Report app at the union's website. We fed in Brooklyn zip codes and found the fastest and slowest download areas in Brooklyn.

It turns out that the fastest zip code in Brooklyn, 11204, is 5.7 times as fast as the slowest, 11209.

In other words, the average Internet user in the Bensonhurst / Bath Beach area can download a movie on Netflix 5.7 times faster than folks out in Bay Ridge and Fort Hamilton, who are frankly getting screwed, Internet-wise.

Students at Brooklyn College have an excuse for handing their homework in late as well. (And Coney Island's Internet moves at a snail's pace, but maybe everyone's having too much fun on the beach to mind.)

Here are the figures:

Fastest Internet Zip Codes in Brooklyn
11204 -- 21,004 kbps (Bensonhurst, Bath Bch)
11212 -- 19,849 kbps (Bushwick, Brownsville)
11218 -- 17,830 kbps (Kensington, Ditmas Pk)
11239 -- 16,388 kbps (Starrett City)
11236 -- 15,741 kbps (Canarsie, Jamaica Bay)
11213 -- 14,653 kbps (Crown Heights, Weeksville)
11211 -- 13,273 kbps (Williamsburg)
11219 -- 11,872 kbps (Borough Park)
11234 -- 11,042 kbps (Flatlands, Marine Pk, Mill Basin)
11208 -- 10,801 kbps (Cypress Hills)
11201 -- 10,432 kbps (Brooklyn Hts, Cobble Hill, D'twn, DUMBO)

Slowest Internet Zip Codes in Brooklyn
11224 -- 4,050 kbps (Sea Gate, Coney Island)
11210 -- 3,771 kbps (Brooklyn College, Flatbush)
11209 -- 3,659 kbps (Ft. Hamilton, Bay Ridge)

Other Brooklyn zip codes fall somewhere in the middle. Visit to look up your zip code's average speed.

BTW: The FCC's goal for the country is 51,200 kbps (50 mpbs) download by 2015.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Rolling Stones NOT Coming to Barclays Center

Brooklyn can't get no satisfaction -- the Rolling Stones will not be perfroming at Barclays Center on their 50th anniversary tour.

While the rumors have been coming fast and furious, with many people swearing it was definite, the venerable rock band will actually be coming to Newark, New Jersey's Prudential Center in December.

Tickets will be available on October 26th at noon (pre-sale on October 20th). The concerts are on December 13th and 15th. More at the Stones' site.

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New York Comic Con 2012 Packs In 115,000 Geeks

Comic Con 2012 by MK Metz
A clearly over-capacity crowd of geeks, cybergamers, zombies, superheros, cosplayers, Homestuck creatures, anime and comic fans packed the Jacob Javits Center this weekend (Thursday through Sunday) for New York Comic Con 2012.

Comic Con 2012 crowd by MK Metz
News sources and organizers are saying more than 115,000 attended the convention this year, up from 105,000 last year.  It was so packed there were times when no one could move, especially in the merchandise aisles.

Thousands of people who already had tickets were held outside the center for up to an hour on Saturday for reasons unexplained. (Luckily, they were surrounded by zombies from The Walking Dead.)

Comic Con 2012 _ Captain America - by MK Metz
Once in, however, one of the thrills of Comic Con is watching the costumed fans. There were many Captain Americas this year, along with Dr. Whos, Marios, Spidey, Cobra Commanders, Sailor Moons, Star Wars characters, Game of Thrones characters, Hunger Games characters, video game characters and Lolita types. And zombies.

Comic Con 2012 by MK Metz, 2 Captain Americas

Comic Con 2012 by MK Metz, Vikings
An assortment of raiders from various time periods.

Comic Con 2012 by MK Metz, Alt

Comic Con 2012 by MK Metz, Batman and friends
Many wore strange, blurry contact lenses this year, like the woman in the middle. (Click to enlarge.)

Kinda creepy.


Khal Drogo from 'Game of Thrones.'

One of the most stunning was the Engineer from Prometheus, played by Alex Fuller. The man is huge; those are real muscles, with white body makeup that takes hours to apply.

This girl had what looked like pieces of glass sticking out of her body.

It was a furry dragon and it moved.

People gathered around the Just Dance stage hoping to compete or at least get some swag.

When this guy danced no one wanted to get near his sword.

A guy made of Legos (or some other kind of blocks) takes a rest.

Retro games were big this year.


There were hundreds of panels, screenings and signings by people like Stan Lee, (creator of Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk, X-Men, etc.), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Adam West (the original Batman on TV), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), actor Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine in the Star Wars series), Elmo and countless others.

There was also a big computer game competition, shown above.

Scott Adsit from '30 Rock' looks at some comic art.

It was a great convention but the organizers have to do something about the overcrowding. The capacity of Javitz, according to the architects, is 85,000. More than 115,000 people attended the convention and many on both Saturday and Sunday. At times, it felt unsafe.

See more photos at Brooklyn Vegan.

Photos copyright MK Metz 2012

- NYC Comic Con 2011
- NYC Comic Con 2010

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