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War On Fun

Brooklyn Heights

Aggravating Assault: Graffiti Appears To Be Escalating In Brooklyn Heights

July 31, 2012

When well-traveled NYC graffiti “artist” Lewy BTM tagged the Brooklyn Bridge with his trademark squiggle design late last month, it was noted that the last time the national landmark was so adorned was during the Clinton era, in 1998. The same spot 199 feet above the East River was marred to great infamy in 1988 by brothers “Sane & Smith,” who scribbled 5-foot letters on the Manhattan tower of the iconic Bridge.

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn Heights, it appears graffiti vandalism is on the rise. BHB has reported on previous incidents, including April’s “NYPD Don’t Trust” spray painted on a Remsen Street sidewalk and along a Henry Street wall. Recent walks around the nabe are revealing more and more random sightings of defaced mailboxes, walls, light posts and commercial buildings. Are you seeing more graffiti in your area, as well? (See photos below the jump.)

For commercial properties, graffiti removal is the responsibility of the landlord; and for residential buildings, the owner or coop board—although says that New York’s Anti-Graffiti Task Force will remove the mess free of charge. In any case, there’s no good reason for the Heights to resemble the New York City of the 1970s again. Hopefully, we can keep it clean with tenacious calls to 311.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Brooklyn Heights, News

Brooklyn Borough Prez Markowitz Weighs In On Bloomberg’s Soda Ban Proposal

July 26, 2012

NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s intent to ban 16+-ounce sodas in movie theaters, sports arenas, food carts, restaurants and delis met with plenty of opposition at a NYC Board of Health hearing in Long Island City Tuesday, which drew such a crowd that an overflow room was needed. Among those testifying that the proposed policy is sour grapes was Brooklyn Borough president Marty Markowitz, who offered a dollop of humor, alongside a much-needed common sense message.

The hotly contested issue—which would be the first such ban in the nation—has fostered public rallies, petitions and an advocacy group, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, which relayed its message at the Brooklyn Heights Regal/United Artists movie theater earlier this month with a sign on the marquee proclaiming: “Say No to the NYC Ban.”

In his address at the hearing, Markowtiz said, “Despite the city’s many positive health programs, I do not support the proposed ban, because consumers should have the ultimate say. The way to approach obesity is through education, advocacy, counseling, group support and efforts to raise self-esteem—not a punitive policy that forcibly limits consumer choices.”

He added, “I’m overweight not because I drink Big Gulp sodas, but because I eat too much pasta, pastrami sandwiches, pizza, bagels with cream cheese and lox, red velvet cake and cheesecake, don’t exercise as much as I should, and my genes are working against me. Someone who exercises regularly, eats right and has the right DNA can drink an entire two liter bottle of soda and not gain a pound.

“When it comes to a personal decision like what I put on my dinner table, the government can educate, inform, advocate and inspire, but should not be the final decision maker when it comes down to what is best for me. Ultimately, it should be the consumer that decides,” Markowitz said.

Unfortunately, despite the best intentions of Brooklyn’s Borough Prez, his testimony will likely ring hollow with the NYC Board of Health. All 11 members were personally appointed by Nanny Bloomberg himself, all but insuring rubber stamp approval when the legislation goes up for a vote in September. Next up: Prohibition!

Markowitz’s full statement:

Although I am here in disagreement on this particular policy, I fully support and commend this administration’s commitment to improving the health of all New Yorkers.

From expanding smoke-free zones to healthier school meals, banning trans fats to increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and reducing sodium in foods to labeling calories at fast food chains, this administration’s health initiatives have proven to be enormously successful.

But despite the city’s many positive health programs, I do not support the proposed ban on sugary drinks—or what I used to know as soda—larger than 16 ounces because consumers should have the ultimate say.

The way to approach the obesity epidemic is through education, advocacy, counseling, group support, and I believe most importantly, efforts to raise self-esteem, not a punitive policy that forcibly limits consumer choices.

When it comes to what we eat or drink, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Someone who exercises regularly, eats right, and has the right DNA can drink an entire two liter bottle of soda and not gain a pound. But if someone like me did that—I would be twice the size I am now.

Let me be clear: I’m overweight not because I drink Big Gulp sodas, but frankly because I eat too much pasta, pastrami sandwiches, pizza, bagels with cream cheese and lox, red velvet cake and cheesecake, don’t exercise as much as I should, and my genes are working against me. I was an overweight kid and I’m an overweight adult.

There’s an absolute truth that I want to share with you. Nobody wants to be obese, but for whatever reason, whether it’s genetics—which plays a big part in this—overeating, or a lack of exercise, for many of us, what we eat really sticks to us.

Don’t get me wrong. For those with this problem, I know large sodas, fast food, fatty foods, too much sodium, and super-sized portions, as well as “white” products—breads, pasta, rice, and baked goods—are a direct cause of the obesity epidemic. But the key is limiting them from our diets, not banning them.

So to really tackle the obesity epidemic head on, I urge the Department of Health to launch a citywide campaign to promote group exercise in the neighborhoods with particularly high rates of obesity.

And let’s get the private sector involved. If the city is really serious about knocking pounds off the scale, we should create an “exercise stamp” program like “food stamps” that subsidizes the cost of gym membership, spin studios, or group exercise classes for the city’s youth and low-income families. After all, you’re more likely to get in shape and stay that way when you’re working out with others who are facing the same challenges.

With kids glued to their computer screens, iPhones, iPads, or other electronic devices all day, only their fingers are getting a workout and not their bodies. So getting kids to be active and in shape is more important than ever. Unfortunately, right now roughly 20 percent of high school students in New York City have no physical education classes in an average week and far too many don’t even have space to exercise.

That is unacceptable. When I was a kid, we had gym class every day. So let’s not combat obesity by banning large sodas; let’s do it with a policy that requires students to exercise every day in middle school and high school.

And in neighborhoods struggling with obesity, we should be setting up physical fitness programs and outdoor group exercise clinics led by physical trainers. In addition, we should be ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to fresh fruits and vegetables by providing incentives to developers to rent to full-service supermarkets rather than another bank or drug chain, and open up our schools so that they can educate not only children, but parents on how to cook healthier and smarter meals with an emphasis on smaller portions.

As one of the most diverse places in the world, we should be sharing the best practices from our many ethnic groups to educate residents on how to prepare tasty, exciting, and healthy dishes. For instance, Asian American cuisine is delicious and also emphasizes more vegetables, smaller portions of meat, and less starch.

And with the same gusto that the city has poured into its anti-smoking ads, let’s send a clear message that obesity leads to heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, other deadly health risks—and lowers the quality of life—but with the caveat that the goal is not to idolize being razor-thin. It’s about being fit and increasing self-esteem, because beauty comes in every size and shape. How sweet it is!

So when it comes to a personal decision like what I put on my dinner table, the government can educate, inform, advocate, and inspire, but should not be the final decision maker when it comes down to what is best for me. Ultimately, it should be the consumer that decides.

It’s as simple as this: the better you look, the better you feel. And the better you feel, the better you want to look and the more you’ll be conscious of what you eat and drink. I said it before and I’ll say it again: nobody willingly wants to be obese.

Photo via Brooklyn Borough President’s Facebook Page

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Brooklyn Heights

Macy’s Finally Sees The Light? ‘Considers’ Fireworks Return To East River

July 23, 2012

Apparently, Macy’s has finally realized that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. For much of the past year, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Brooklyn Heights state Sen. Daniel Squadron have been rallying for the annual 4th of July fireworks extravaganza to return to the East River, including public rallies, petitions and a non-stop tirade of phone calls.

Since 2009, Macy’s has hosted its annual holiday blowout from the Hudson River. The original move there four years ago was said to acknowledge the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s journey up the river. But the fireworks have remained there since, despite an onslaught of protests that aiming them toward New Jersey spites the spirit of the event, stealing views from residents of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan’s East Side, where they had been for 32 years previous.

Now, the New York Daily News reports that Macy’s is “considering a return” to the East River: “Bending to outer-borough pressure, Macy’s execs and top people in its fireworks operations have agreed to meet with pols to discuss” bringing the show home. A source told the Daily News, “Macy’s has expressed willingness to move to the East River. Macy’s has been receptive to sitting down and discussing solutions. We’re optimistic that soon there will be good news.”

The sit-down will be local elected officials first face-to-face discussion about the fireworks with Macy’s execs. De Blasio stressed, “The fireworks belong in the East River. Outer-borough New Yorkers deserve to be part of the city’s Fourth of July celebration too.” Squadron added that their return to the East River “would allow millions of New Yorkers to join the celebration and provide communities and businesses with the economic spark they need.”

City Councilman Steve Levin, who represents Brooklyn Heights and has also been a persistent advocate for the fireworks’ return home, said, “They couldn’t come back soon enough, and we will welcome them with open arms. I’m from New Jersey. I’ve got nothing but love for New Jersey, but the fact of the matter is there is nothing quite as spectacular as Fourth of July fireworks over New York Harbor.”

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is also invited to the imminent sit-down, where pols will present a petition that now has 3,100 signatures urging that the show return to its original locale.

All the same, Macy’s has not determined where the 2013 4th of July setting will be. Spokesman Orlando Veras repeated what he’s been saying for the past three years: “Macy’s fireworks will take place in and around all accessible New York City waterways and will not be a permanent fixture at any one location.”

(Photo: New York Daily News)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Brooklyn Heights

Forget Kustard King & Fresh Direct: How About A Raucous, Rumbling Stretch-Limo Bus?

July 14, 2012

Any Brooklyn Heights residents miffed by the buzzzz of the Kustard King ice cream truck parked along Pierrepont Street or the persistent rumbling of Fresh Direct freezer trucks at all hours might be interested to hear about the limousine-like bus parked along the entire Montague Street entrance to the Promenade Friday night.

The vehicle’s AC system was louder than a helicopter, while its posse of tourists found it apropos to treat their visit to the Heights like a Justin Bieber concert—whooping, hollering & laughing like hyenas into the night.

I tend to be a come-what-may New Yorker, and typically take pride in the fact that our nabe is a tourist magnet. But even I have limits. This bombastic lack of respect rattled me to the point of… daring to have an opinion on the Brooklyn Heights Blog. Mind you, I’ve learned that sharing such here is seldom prudent, given the response of knee-jerk anonymous posters. But this time, I’m willing to risk it.

Mind you, I’m anticipating that some dimwit will bring attention to the fact that this might have anything to do with the fact that the folks pictured are Black. I said noise… not race.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Brooklyn Heights, Food

Industry Group Takes Message To Streets To Oppose Bloomberg’s Proposed Sugar Soda Ban

July 7, 2012

A group created by the American soft drink industry is fighting back against NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s latest Nanny State mandate: to ban sugar sodas larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts. New Yorkers for Beverage Choices has been sending its message out across the city—including the local Regal/United Artists movie theater in Brooklyn Heights.

An article in The New York Times highlights efforts coordinated by the industry and several national movie theater chains in what is likely to be a major PR campaign against the ban’s insistence that adults cannot make their own decisions. On July 4th, an airborne banner flew along the Rockaways and Coney Island beaches, saying: “NO DRINK 4 U.” Likewise, at a Battery Park AMC movie theater, ushers, ticket-takers & concession workers wore T-shirts with the message, “I picked out my beverage all by myself.” And on the marquee outside the Regal Theater in Brooklyn Heights was a call to arms: “Say No to the NYC Ban.”

Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser insists the the city’s Board of Health “make(s) decisions about public health based on science.” That’s simply not true: All members of New York’s Board of Health are personally appointed by Mayor Bloomberg, insuring that the deck—and the vote—are stacked in his favor. Bloomberg’s latest war on fun looks to ban the sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces. The Board will vote on the mandate following a July 24 public hearing.

New Yorkers for Beverage Choices will continue its efforts, including high-flying airplane banners at area beaches again this weekend. And inside the Heights theater on Court Street, movie-goers can sign a petition against the mayor’s plan. Information cards and posters will also be displayed in United Artists and AMC venues. AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan notes, “We are bewildered by the proposal to choose an ineffective gimmick to address a critical health issue.”

(Photo: New York Times)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Heights Library KO’d By AC Outage

July 7, 2012

The summer 2012 reading list wasn’t supposed to be quite this steamy. An air conditioning outage at the Brooklyn Heights Library has closed the local branch at 280 Cadman Plaza West for much of the week. The shutdown began at 2 p.m. Tuesday, before the library—which also contains the Business and Careers Library—was officially closed for Independence Day Wednesday and Thursday. Patrons who then discovered that the branch would remain closed until Monday are hot under the collar, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

A volunteer with Friends of the Brooklyn Heights Library tells BHB, “The AC in the library is broken as it is wont to do every summer. Last Friday it was too hot for the ladies to work even though the library stayed open using fans.”

The cranky AC is hardly an unusual occurrence, according to Eagle reporter Don Evans, who says he’s written about the, uh, condition, many times: “The air conditioning broke down, they had a crew come in to make repairs, then it would happen all over again. On a warm day the staff wouldn’t work, so they closed it. People would go there and discover it was closed, with just a hand-written notice on the door.”

Councilman Steve Levin’s chief of staff Ashley Thompson said his office would be following up to see “how we can fix this. It’s not acceptable if the library closes every single hot day.”

(Photos: Library/Brooklyn Bridge Eagle; Sign/McBrooklyn)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Brooklyn Heights, Food, Health

B&B Empire Bagels Slapped With Health Violation—For Poppy Seeds On The Floor

July 2, 2012

Holy Sesame! A Health Department inspector has slapped B&B Empire Bagel Cafe in Brooklyn Heights with a $1,650 fine… because sesame and poppy seeds fell to the floor while bagels were being prepared during working hours. Owner Alex Gormakh appealed the decision and lost at two separate hearings.

“It is impossible to clean up after each and every bagel. A few seeds are always going to be dropped when you are dipping the bagel in the seeds. They don’t all stick like glue,” Gormakh told the New York Post. All of the code violations filed against the “Montreal style” bagel store at 200 Clinton Street were for such “incidental” grievances.

B&B uses a $60,000 wood-burning oven where bagels are baked smaller and chewier than New York-style goodies, then covered with poppy and sesame seeds. A Health Department spokeswoman told the NYP that the bagel shop was cited Oct. 23, 2011, for “a heavy accumulation of seeds in the same area that mouse droppings were found.” However, no mice were detected in an earlier inspection Aug. 1, 2011, and none in the latest inspection April 5, when B&B was awarded an “A” cleanliness grade.

Gormakh and his son, Max, have now invested close to $900,000 in larger stainless steel preparation tables in hopes of containing seed fallout, and an expensive water-filter vacuum to suck up seeds from the floor. “It is still not profitable, but it is close,” Gormakh said, who opened the store last June.

Gormakh tells the Post that he is now resigned to the higher cost of doing business in this city: “If you want to work you have to pay. In Russia, they call it corruption. Here they call it something else.”

(Photo: BHB)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Bang! Bang! Another Weekend Of Montague Street Mayhem

June 30, 2012

Last weekend, Montague was blocked as crews work on the street’s subterranean infrastructure. Ditto this weekend, as vehicles were re-routed from motoring down Montague between Hicks and Henry streets. The predominant construction is taking place in front of the Bossert Hotel at 97 Montague, where a peek inward reveals a cavalcade of wires, pipes and beams hearkening projects through the decades.

In addition, new sidewalks are being paved at Montague and Henry, in front of Corcoran Realty, while the opposite corner near City Chemist is being reshaped along the curb area. See photos below the jump.

(Photos: Chuck Taylor)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Brooklyn Heights, Events

Pols Pitch Petition To Bring Macy’s July 4th Fireworks Home To Brooklyn

June 28, 2012

They’re not giving up. At the beginning of April, State Senator Daniel Squadron and City Council Member Steve Levin led a rally to return the annual Macy’s 4th of July fireworks to the East River. Since 2009, the historic annual display has been based along the Hudson, stealing views from residents of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan’s East Side, instead aiming them toward New Jersey.

Now Squadron, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and BP Marty Markowitz have launched an online petition “urging Macy’s not to leave Brooklyn and Queens in the dark. Bring the fireworks back to the East River so everyone can enjoy the show.”

At a press conference Thursday, the pols declared that they are again trying to convince Macy’s to bring the fireworks home, where they were based for 32 years before moving four years ago. As BHB previously reported, Macy’s has maintained that the move was temporary to celebrate Henry Hudson’s voyage up the river. But this “temporary” is beginning to smell a lot more like “long term.”

Meanwhile, poor Hoboken, N.J., put a warning on its community webbie warning of potential gridlock as “tens of thousands” are expected to flood the locale. Apparently, the community doesn’t have the moxie of Brooklyn, eh?

NYC Mayor Bloomberg, meanwhile, was unusually demure when asked about the location of fireworks: “It’s up to Macy’s. They’re paying for it. You know, I’d love to see it move back and forth… but in the end, it’s their call.”

If you’re in favor of bringing one of the greatest free shows of the summer back to Brooklyn please sign that petition here.

(Photo: Squadron & de Blasio/Gothamist)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Brooklyn Heights, Food

Weeniegate Raises Question: Why Can’t We Have Nice Things?

June 28, 2012

The recent imbroglio over the Montague Terrace Hot Dog Dude (aka Weeniegate) has made the fact that it’s illegal for ANY mobile food vendor to set up shop on Montague Street from Court to the Promenade a hot topic.

While we’re sure the regulation was well-thought out by the “olds” backintheday, many things have changed in recent years. We hear that folks in other parts of Brooklyn and NYC get to enjoy something called “Food Trucks.” These vehicles serve up a wide variety of tasty eats. But they, like our Hot Dog Dude friend, are not permitted on Montague Street.

So the regulation not only bans one of the most beloved and delicious New York City traditions from our Main Street, but also denies us some of today’s most exciting lunch options. VOTE IN OUR POLL after the jump.

For those who believe that mobile vendors would hurt Montague’s brick & mortar restaurants, we say that it should make them want to RAISE THEIR GAME. One can only hope these mobile innovators will inspire some of the local eateries currently serving pre-fab dishes to fire up the grill and cook fresh and vibrant food.

Why not allow one food truck and one hot dog vendor on the strip each day between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.?

Check out what the main drag of Brooklyn Heights is missing right now:

Calexico: Yes you can get your fix on Pier 1 but who wants to walk that far?

Pizza Moto – Ok, the giant wood burning oven might be a little too much but…

Wafel and Dinges – Seriously superfantastic. AND WE CAN’T HAVE ANY!

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Truck – Yes you CAN have desert for lunch… unless you want to do that on Montague Street.

Any Red Hook Food Truck vendor – Anyone who has made the “trip” to Red Hook knows that everything there tops our local fare.

There are many more. What are your favorite food trucks?

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web