Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Short List: Little Dogs in Little Costumes edition

There are so many parties this Halloween weekend, I'm already feeling a little bit pooped (and please, no Dominic Carter jokes. I already heard them yesterday afternoon. Okay, here's one punch line. Inside City Jail...). I don't know where to begin really, but fortunately BushwickBK's Anna D'Agrossa has the ultimate Brooklyn roundup, highlighted by the Danger/3rd Ward Party and something called The Fort Gallery which sounds like a little bit of Oakland coming to Bushwick. Do you think Dominic is going to have Hiram Monserrate on as his next guest?

And in case you didn't know, there's a marathon running through the neighborhood on Sunday. Hey guys... no! Don't stop! You don't have to stop! You've got a race to run! Seriously... we're just a free weekly, it's not worth it... don't wreck your time.... arrrrrrrgh!

As for me, I'm off to District Dog, featuring little dogs and little costumes to see if the G-Train defends his title from last year. And yeah, I'll have a costume. No, it's not going to be Jo Anne Simon, as was rumored earlier, but it will be sensational. I promise. Stay tuned for Juniors! and a full list of political links to get you pumped up for the election. On Tuesday. Right.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Short List Detained Until Tomorrow

Due to two breaking news stories, The Short List has been temporarily detained until tomorrow morning, when we will bring you a full recap of political activity from the week before, a photo essay from Steve Cohn's Cheesecakefest 2009 at Junior's, and a special appearance by Teen Wolf Blitzer. Happy All Hallows Eve!

Halloween 2008. Let's just drop it right here.

Breaking News Part 2! Campaign Trickery

Campaign Tricks at Former Candidates' Home

Former City Council candidate Gerry Esposito may be the victim of campaign trickery, as his Williamsburg property was vandalized in the early hours of October 30.
Esposito, Community Board 1 District Manager, woke up on Friday morning to find several plant beds broken and garbage pails upended, leaving his front yard a mess.

The former candidate, who lost to Incumbent Councilmember and Democratic nominee Diana Reyna (D-34) in the Democratic primary, endorsed political rival Maritza Davila (D-Working Families), on October 22.
Esposito had attached several Davila posters on his fence, but the posters have been torn down and torn to shreds. Interwoven with the refuse were scores of Diana Reyna flyers strewn about the front yard.
Esposito declined to comment.
Antonio Reynoso, a spokesperson with the Reyna campaign, remarked that he did not think his volunteers were responsible for the vandalism and believes that the damage was an unfortunate coincidence. Reynoso said that the team that distributed flyers in Williamsburg near PS 132 finished their assignments at 9 PM October 29 and then went back to train stations at 7 AM on October 30.
“We definitely don’t encourage things like that. We don’t tear down posters. We just put posters next to other posters. I don’t even think my people know who Gerry is,” said Reynoso, who added if Reyna volunteers were responsible he would personally apologize to Esposito.
Police officers from the 94th Precinct were continuing to investigate the matter.

Breaking News Part 1! DiMarzio Robocalls

Williamsburg residents have been receiving a higher calling this week: an automated message from Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio urging voters to support Assemblymember and Kings County Democratic Chair Vito Lopez and his candidates in next Tuesday’s election.
The robocalls, composed by the Catholic Citizens Committee, a Dyker Heights-based nonprofit dedicated to “defending and protecting the Church from unjust, unwarranted, and unfair attacks in the public arena and preserving religious freedom for all Americans” were blasted out to registered voters in the 34th District (Williamsburg, Bushwick) on October 29.
The message does not mention any candidates by name, referring instead to Lopez’s record in the State Assembly supporting the Catholic Church’s policy agenda.

“Bishop DiMarzio did thank you calls on behalf of Vito Lopez, for all his support in the Assembly. No endorsements, just a thank you call,” said George Prezioso, Catholic Citizens Committee Chairman of the Board.
Calls to the Brooklyn/Queens Diocese for comment were not returned by press time. A volunteer at Lopez’s office said he did not know anything about DiMarzio’s message.
Lopez has backed Maritza Davila, a Democratic District leader in Bushwick who lost the Democratic primary to Incumbent Councilmember Diana Reyna (D-34) by a mere 251 votes.
Davila did not concede defeat, instead choosing to continue her campaign on the Working Families Party Line, setting the stage for a dramatic rematch on November 3.
Reyna supporter Rob Solano, Executive Director of Churches United for Fair Housing, and a longtime Catholic activist in Williamsburg, was informed about the robocall by a family friend.
“I’m saddened that my Bishop is taking time out of his day to support a local political agenda and not take time out of his day to take care of the housing crisis in this community,” said Solano.
Political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said that DiMarzio was likely acting as an independent individual. The calls were similar to the phone calls that black ministers have made for candidates in the past, though he noted that it was unusual that Catholic clergy were making robocalls.

“In the past, the Catholic Church’s approval or disapproval has resulted in victory or defeat,” said Sheinkopf. “This will be a test in this district whether the Church has the power to perform as an entity.”
Both Reyna and Davila have concentrated their efforts on securing Catholic voters by visiting multiple parishes in the district and distributing literature after mass commences. The candidates are expected to attend several mass services during the final weekend of the campaign.

Breaking News Coming soon

Stay tuned. We've got some hot election-related stories coming, plus photos from Juniors and a special Halloween-edition of The Short List!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tandem of Arts in Bushwick and New Kings

From BushwickBK...

If you were at Tandem last night, meeting friends for potato tortillas and PBR, you may have come across a campaign event with Diana Reyna and about forty Bushwick-based artists and political activists.
With the general election approaching on Tuesday, November 3,
the event was part of a flurry of appearances as churches, restaurants, and community organizations fill Reyna’s schedule.
Reyna came to Tandem after campaign staffers Antonio Reynoso and Will Florentino approached Arts in Bushwick’s Laura Braslow to set up an event in Bushwick for artists to meet the incumbent councilmember who is running for a third term (and a rematch with
Working Families Party candidate Maritza Davila who Reyna outlasted in the Democratic primary by 251 votes). Braslow, who has worked with Davila on the first-ever Summer Streets program in Bushwick, agreed to help facilitate the meeting, as long as she didn’t have to do or say anything on behalf of the campaign. However, Braslow attributed Reyna’s narrow victory in the primary to votes from the "arts-identified community" and hoped the event would remind Reyna to not forget about an overlooked constituency of artists and arts professionals with real issues and real problems.

Breakfast With Steve Cohn

Six nuns, a Yeshiva high school class from Midwood, and Bill De Blasio, Eric Adams, Nydia Velazquez, Joe Lentol, Jerrold Nadler, David Yassky, David Weprin, Bill Thompson, Rabbi David Niederman, Anthony Weiner, Marty Markowitz, Charles Hynes, and Ken Fisher walk into Juniors on Halloween.

In 2001, Democratic District Leader Steve Cohn was 2000 votes short of winning the 33rd District Council race in a rescheduled Democratic Primary, losing to current Councilmember David Yassky. With David on his way out in December and Steve Levin on his way in, we can wonder what might have been a little bit. Fortunately, Cohn isn't. He's throwing an annual fundraiser for the Seneca Club tomorrow morning at Juniors and everyone who's anyone is going.

I'd like to hear from Billy Thompson how the campaign is going (you know, beyond "It's great!", from David what his plans are, from Nydia what she thinks will happen in Williamsburg on Tuesday, from De Blasio how he plans to stave off an attempt to sack the Advocate's office, and from nominated councilmembers like Brad Lander or Jumaane Williams if they will make a move for a committee chair position. There's always lots of gossip at these events. Hopefully someone comes in costume (Anthony Weiner as Mayor Bloomberg perhaps? Or David Yassky as Harry Potter again?).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Re: Story of the Day

Lincoln, you're on double-secret probation.

Story of the Day

The New York Times wraps around stalled development projects throughout the city, including City Point, Willets Point/ Shea Stadium, Downtown Brooklyn, and the Williamsburg Waterfront. An excerpt:

Some urban policy experts say the city did not do enough to attract concessions from developers for things like enhancing the subway service to that section of Brooklyn, which was already overcrowded.
Now the administration, which rejects that view, is working to rescue struggling projects. The long-stalled City Point development is to get $20 million in recovery bonds.
In July, when scores of other new condominiums were not selling, and developers risked default, Mr. Bloomberg and the Council stepped in to announce a $20 million pilot program to buy the empty units and use them as affordable housing.
“Private developments that sit vacant or unfinished could have a destabilizing effect on our neighborhoods, but we’re not about to let that happen,” said Mr. Bloomberg.
Actually, Mr. Bloomberg most likely fostered some of the real estate speculation with policies that invited development. But even those who say the mayor’s development record is mixed credit him for taking a long view.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mayor Bloomberg at Yankee Stadium

Mayor Mike at the Yankee Stadium celebration kind of reminds me of the classic Montgomery Burns managerial episode. The only thing that was missing was Mayor Mike giving signs to the Yankees players.

Well, at least his predictions were slightly accurate.

Joy Division: Yankees Win Pennant.

Small ups to Prop Phil for dropping this video and larger Ups to City Room for getting the moment exactly right. They hit this one out of the park.

Toro blogs again!

Monday, October 26, 2009

How did I forget this one?

Big shoutout to CUNY's Joseph Walker for his first NYTimes story. It's on Hasidic landlords in BedStuy. Major ups, as they say.

Monday Links: Into the Woods

After taking a brief respite into the woods of Massachusetts this weekend, The Short List is back with a look at five important stories that people should be talking about this week.

Crime: New Daily News reporter Mike McLaughlin reports about how crime is down but burglaries are up in the 90th and 83rd Precincts (that's Williamsburg and Bushwick).

Politics: New New York Observer reporter Reid Pillifant notes how the Kings County Democratic Party leader is encouraging Democrats (and everyone else) to vote on the Working Families Party line (Row E not Row A).

Food: While that Fresh Foods zoning text amendment gets debated in a City Council hearing this morning, BushwickBK's Diego Cupolo takes you through a Supermarket Sweep of some grocery stores in Bushwick you should be visiting.

Environment: The New York Times magazine's Andrew Rice looks at the possibilities for development along the Gowanus Canal. I want to know more about how the market's downturn will impact some of these projects, so expect more news on this angle soon.

Movies: Former Mayor Ed Koch. Reviews a movie. That takes place in Hasidic Williamsburg.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Gone' Fishin'

The Short List is on temporary hiatus so that Mr. Short can look for that Great Connecticut Halloween Pumpkin. In the meantime, check out BushwickBK's weekend roundup for a serious listing of arts and music events including That Beat Is Sick in Bushwick from 6-10 PM on Saturday and Cooper Park's pumpkin patch parade earlier in the day on Saturday.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

UConn Football

As a Uconn football fan for the past ten years, it's very touching to see the campus come together like this:,0,6551491.story

Rest in Peace Jasper Howard.

The Bridge of Death

As of earlier this week, the Kosciuszko Bridge Project was humming along with little a care in the world, until Governor David Paterson dropped this message Tuesday afternoon...

Gov. Paterson Says State Can't Afford Kosciuszko Bridge Replacement Ch 2's Kate Sullivan reported at 5:36 am that plans to replace the Kosciuszko Bridge might be in trouble. Governor Paterson says there is not enough money to pay for it. He insists the State needs to bridge the budget gap first. The Department of Transportation says replacing the 70-year-old bridge with three parallel spans will cost $403 million. The Governor calls that unaffordable, but supporters of the project say it is too critical to be shrugged off because of its price tag.

There's a meeting in Long Island City tonight about the bridge design. I bet the agenda will shift somewhat. I wonder if they'll ask about those swallows.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mayoral Debate videos

These are flying around. Please view with caution

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Teddy Peck crashes and burns (but casserole remains in tact)

You can't win 'em all. Even Mariano Rivera has a hiccup or two. Still, Five-time cooking contest champion and perennial pork all-star Teddy Peck did not win Emily Farris' Casserole Crazy competition last night. For shame. Here are the winners...

First Place: A team with no name composed of Nick Suarez and Mark Kupasrimonkol for their duck confit combo made with “lots of duck fat” (pictured below)

Second Place:The Hambones: Lia Koo and Stephan Ziff for their “spicy dish with fresh salad in the middle”Third Place:Team “Close” whose sole member Randi Greenberg made a deliciously cheesy Haddash Haddock
Honorable Mention: Last year’s champion Theo Peck, along with teammate Ingrid Redman, returned to reclaim his title with an undeniably tasty Fried Chicken Dinner but didn’t place because the dish lacked a binding ingredient.
No binding ingredient? Yeesh. It still tasted pretty damn good, in this reporter's unbiased opinion. Peck's ERA? 0.87. Next time, buddy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

City Limits Comes to Bushwick

Yes, there is a big City Limits report that's just published. I'll be doing a review on it soon once I receive the hard copy. Here's their preview.

Casserole Crazy

It seems like there are cook off competitions or recession-themed dinner parties every other day in Brooklyn. An ambitious, hungry reporter could hit block after block going to these contests. Tonight, the original recession party, Casserole Crazy, is back in Brooklyn for an encore. Yeah there are two important meetings in the hood tonight, (OUTRAGE and Pulaski Bridge plans- actually this one got rescheduled to October 27th), but head on over to Brooklyn Label early to get a taste of the best economical baked dishes in Brooklyn.

Former Brooklyn resident and's Farris will be presiding, as always. She has moved to Kansas City, where she has lived for the past year, and this event is a bit of a homecoming. Still, hold off on the pompoms and just bring your best macaroni and cheese instead. Here's Farris on life in Kansas City compared to Brooklyn:

Living in Kansas City has certainly helped me break my habit of dating grumbly hipsters. And I probably get a little too excited about guys picking me up for dates in their cars. In New York, going out with a guy with a car was like winning the dating jackpot. In Kansas City, if a guy doesn't have a car he probably resides under a highway overpass.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Very Lentol Christmas

Got done interviewing Jane and Hugh Pool in their recording studio, Excello Recording, for a story, and we came up with a brilliant idea. Brace yourselves...
Joe Lentol...

Steve Levin... and...
Slash is on board. I think Steve would do it. We're still working on Lentol. He's holding out for a bigger contract.

Monday Links: Bring Out Your Dead!

It was a quiet, dreary, rainy miserable weekend, punctuated by Deputy Inspector Fulton getting stuck in a jungle gym, Schoolfest 2009 and the City Planning Commission hearing (they voted Yes on Kingsbridge Armory and The Broadway Triangle). At least Linderman had a good time. She interviewed Paul Auster, bottom right.

Speaking of which, Paul Auster is depressing. I just started reading In The Country of Last Things. That did not lift up my spirits this weekend.

"You drag yourself from sleep each morning to face something that is always worse than what you found the day before, but by talking of the world that existed before you went to sleep, you can delude yourself into thinking that the present day is simply an apparition, no more or less real than the memories of all the other days you carry around inside you.”

Yikes. Anybody know where I can pick up a copy of InStyle in the neighborhood? Reid, Hanlon, you guys read that magazine, right?

(The photo is a little blurry, but Fulton was in there a good twenty seconds)

Not that many links to check up on, except this one odd story about an NYU Journalism student and Williamsburg applying to be on food stamps. Moral of the story here. Go to Journalism school... end up on food stamps.

Happy Birthday Teresa Toro!

Hey... (snap)... Teresa! Over here!

Happy birthday!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Short List: Wild Rumpus Edition

Let the Wild Rumpus begin!

This weekend looks like a washout, so if you're not seeing the Wild Things movie or staying at home to make soup, you're having a better weekend than I am. I was going to see my beloved Penn Quakers engage in a classic fumblefest with your Columbia Lions, but alas... rain. And more rain. Actually, Lumenhouse has an exhibition and so does Chez Bushwick, so there's stuff going on. I just kind of want to sail away...

It was a fairly quiet week, save for the Custom Wine Bar skirmish which is on NBC New York for some unknown reason. The most important thing that happened in Williamsburg is the showdown between Brooklyn Corporation A and its parent company Legal Services New York, and that didn't even happen in Williamsburg. It was picked up in The Brooklyn Eagle, the Greenpoint Gazette, and New York 1 and you'll be hearing more about that soon.

Over at the Brooklyn Paper it's alllllllll real estate, as Will Yakowicz looks at the Brooklyn real estate bust, Ben Muessig has three city agencies getting sued by a DUMBO group over Two Trees' Dock Street building, and Gersh writes about oral arguments at the Court of Appeals involving Atlantic Yards.

And if it's real estate we're talking about, then the New York Observer's Eliot Brown is having a Hell of a week with Dock Street, Billy Thompson on real estate issues, the Atlantic Yards litigation, and a must-read interview with City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden. After that, wild thing, you can call it a weekend.

Bored to Death in the hood

I would be remiss in not mentioning that the latest Bored to Death episode took place in Greenpoint/ Williamsburg. I should really get a television that works.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

EPA Public Comment Period extended

Let's take a break from the Custom Winery madness to talk about something slightly more important.... Superfund.

The EPA is extending its public comment period to December 23. I've written about the local reaction from community leaders and from political officials. Jeremy Walsh has the view from Long Island City for the Queens Courier. Riverkeeper supports the recommendation, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle has a nice overview. Juliet Linderman visits the Newtown Creek digester eggs, The Daily News has its wrap, and finally, Mayor Bloomberg visits the Gowanus and he brings $150 million with him.

There are still lots of questions to answer, and I'd like to throw out an idea. Superfund... Happy Hour. We get a bar in Greenpoint, get a bunch of environmental experts and locals in the bar, and get some answers to some frequently asked questions about Newtown Creek and the EPA. Also, the bar should develop a special Superfund-themed drink, like a grasshopper, but... uh... muddier.

P.S. Shout out to CHEJ's Mike "Slim" Schade for angling into a photo with Nydia, above, during an EPA press conference. That photo came in handy last week.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Cause of... and solution to... all of life's problems

6:15 PM: I'm filing live tonight and already the room is packed. I gently ask Nancy Wechter (one of the opponents of the wine bar application) to move from Press Row and she and a small crowd move to the next table graciously. One guy stays. He's sitting next to me and he's glaring slightly. Will Florentino from Diana Reyna's office buzzes over to say hello and greets the guy next to me, saying "Hi Danny." Will is making his rounds. A string of people come by to ask if the seats are taken, including two women (regulars), and I explain that I'm holding two seats for soon-to-be-arriving reporters. They move. Danny's not happy about this.
"Can I ask you something? Why are you holding two seats from members of the community who want to sit here?"
I explain that two colleagues are arriving late and that we need table space to write our reports for the story."
Danny grimaces again and moves to the other side of the room. I swear I've seen him from somewhere before but I can't place it. Oh well.

This is a different crowd that we've seen here before, many of whom came to the CB 1 Public Safety committee meeting last Thursday. The conversation isn't exactly animated, but this looks like a talkative crowd. Cliques have formed based on whether people are for or against the Custom Wine Bar (644 Driggs Avenue), which is reapplying for a liquor license. There's a lot of lively tension in the room tonight. You know would help reduce that tension? A 2005 MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir, at $13 a bottle.

6:37 PM: CB1 Chairman Chris Olechowski calls the meeting to order. The first item of business, aka the BSA Special, involves 114 North 8th Street, aka The Finger Building. It was 16 stories. Now it's 14. Ward Dennis details how there has been an ownership change at the buildng, while opponents to the Custom Wine Bar quietly slip outside into the hallway to talk strategy. Construction is already underway and completion is expected by Summer 2010. A BSA public hearing should happen next week and a vote likely in November. Ward notes that the next ULURP meeting is on the 27th. In honor of the New York Jets' defensive meltdown in Miami on Monday, I would like to nominate a name change. From now on, I think everyone should refer to Ward Dennis as Wards Island. As in, let's take a trip to Wards Island. Any objections? Show of hands?

6:44 PM: Likely Incoming Councilmember Steve Levin slips in. The Democratic nomine has got what looks like Barbour jacket. On closer inspection, it's a Carhatt. And he's holding a medium coffee. Nice Steve. Meanwhile Teresa's Rolf hands out a flyer for an OUTRAGE community meeting on Tuesday, October 20 to promote a community truck traffic survey. I'd like to take this time to welcome two reporters, one returning, to press row. Will Yakowicz is reporting from the Brooklyn Paper and Jeff Harmatz is back, repping the Greenpoint Gazette (Linderman is at the Where The Wild Things Are premiere in midtown. Lucky Linderman.) Welcome back Harmatz.

6:52 PM: District Manager Gerry Esposito takes a roll call for the board meeting. 33 members answer call. That's a quorum. Chairman Chris moves the agenda around to move the 644 Driggs speakers ahead of committee reports. It’s a one-time deal. There are 29 speakers. This might take a while. Chairman Chris is pleading with people to be brief, and even consolidate their speaking times so that all the business doesn’t get drawn out.
“Chairman’s report….(long pause) Ahh.. that’s me. I haven’t been working long enough.”

7:04 PM: Gerry gives his District Manager's report. He notes a man who lived on Maspeth Avenue whose building was condemned who was about to be vacated. He’s going back home by Thanksgiving.
“These are the moments out of human history that make everything worthwhile,” says Chairman Chris.
Oh, and there’s another issue that we’d like to know more about, but we're moving right along.

7:07 PM: Chairman Chris reads off the speakers, starting with Marisa Cardinale (she’s in favor). Let's go to highlights...

Marisa Cardinale: I’m a 26 year property owner. When I heard about the opposition to a bar, I discovered that it was a restaurant. There are three restaurants on my block and I think they make excellent neighbors. There is no more noise from these restaurants than from the gallery across the street.

Stefan Mailvaganam owner of Custom Wine Bar: I and my partners are professional operators. The atmosphere will be low key, relaxed, and with background jazz. We have offered concessions, withdrawing outside seating and reducing hours.

I whisper to Steve Levin: Thank God this one’s not in your district.

Frederick Twomey, friend and business partner: If they called it Custom American Restaurant, I don’t think we would be having this kind of issue.

Danny Hoch.... wait a second... Danny... the guy sitting next to me that I probably pissed off was Danny Hoch. Yes that Danny Hoch. The hip hop performer. He held court at the 2008 Hip Hop Theater Festival, that culminated in his one-man show in Williamsburg at 850 Grand Street. My former colleague Greg Hanlon wrote a big preview about him for The Courier, and a number of NAG members went to the show, which one described as "provocative".
Here are some reviews:
New York Times, New York Press, New York Observer, New York Daily News, Brooklyn Rail, more New York Times, Village Voice, New York Magazine
and here's last year's press release:


Free neighborhood shows before Public Theater run get New Yorkers talking about gentrification

Beginning October 1, theater innovator and Williamsburg resident Danny Hoch (Jails, Hospitals & Hip Hop) is bringing his latest one-man show, Taking Over, to the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn as part of Taking Over: the All-City Tour, a series of FREE performances for neighborhood residents. Prior to the show's run at the Public Theater starting November 7, Hoch and local community partners are holding post-show conversations at each tour stop, engaging Taking Over's themes of gentrification and displacement. Taking Over: the All-City Tour is part of the 2008 NYC Hip-Hop Theater Festival.

Hoch describes Taking Over as a story "about how people take over neighborhoods and how absurdly funny and absurdly heartbreaking it is at the same time." He plays nine characters linked by the upheaval of Williamsburg's gentrification, from rapper Launch Missiles Critical to a real estate developer named Stuart. Originally produced at Berkeley Repertory Theatre to rave reviews, this comic journey through one block of gentrifying Brooklyn comes home to the city that gave birth to it.

And a video:

Damnit! Powder Keg. I can't copy everything he says down, but I'm trying...

Danny Hoch: Should we believe that you think it’s beneficial to us that we have another bar in our community? We need a library, we need a fish store, we need a dental clinic, we need a pharmacy…
Danny lists twenty bars that are in there area. He's just getting warmed up.
"They sing and laugh as young man takes his pants down, urinates on the streets. We've had problems with defecation in the street."
Are we invisible to you? What you are doing, saying to us is that our home is a playground for drunk people. But it’s ok because they’re white drunk people.
So which is it members of the board? Which is it?
Chairman Chris bristles: Are you finished?
Danny: Yeah, we’re finished. Thank you.

Now Chairman Chris is riled up. I'm not sure why. Usually you have to pay $10 to $20 to hear a Hoch monologue and we were getting it for free.
"The community board does not grant liquor licenses. The community board is advisory. We can vote to advise."
Danny doesn't let me take his photograph as I sheepishly wander over to his side of the room.
"Get that camera away from me!" says Danny. Sorry Danny.
I think the only way we're going to settle this neighborhood bar problem is to have Danny Hoch and Lemon Andersen throw down at a hip-hop gentrification-themed theater monologue-off. Held at El Puente. Luis Garden Acosta and Ben Brantley can moderate it. How much would you pay to go to that? $10? $25? $50? C'mon Luis, make it happen!

We mostly alternate between for and against now. Let's look at Ray Martin and Luis Santiago.
Ray Martin- I’m in support of 644 Driggs. They have an unmarked record. Their business plan is fine. They’ve made many concessions. I think you guys should consider them. They’re a better model than many of the businesses that are here now.
Luis Santiago- This isn’t personal to the establishment. I think we’ve gotten away from the families being raised in Williamsburg. I’m sure the intentions are all good, but when do we put a stop to these establishments serving alcohol I call the 90th precinct the 94th precinct regularly. It’s not easy dealing with this rowdiness on a daily basis.

7:49 PM: The speakers are done. We now make a return voyage to Ward’s Island for his committee report. “That’s it! See you on the 27th!” says Ward. See how great that nickname is?

7:50PM: Mieszko Kalita, CB 1 Public Safety Chair reads off a list of 12 other liquor licenses, including Pinkerton 263 North 6th Street, three blocks away from Custom.
What is missing is a place where you can come and here Tchaikovsky, Chopin, absolutely lyes of course. Have you ever gone to a bar that plays Tchaikovsky? Not really."
I'll say one thing. Mieszko didn't spend ten years studying counterintelligence a Warsaw KGB field office so that he could deliberate over wine bars in Williamsburg.

The Committee recommends to approve all the liquor licenses. The motion passes. After that, we get renewals. They pass too.Finally, 644 Driggs Avenue. A hush falls over the crowd. Miesko announces that there are letters from Diana Reyna and Nydia Velazquez and leaves it off at that. An unidentified board member raises a question.
“Are these letters for or against?”
“They’re letters from politicians… They wrote a letter,” says Miezko. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a CB1 MVP tonight! Congratulations Mieszko Kalita! All those years translating missile defense commands were worth it.

8:01 PM: Miezsko asks for a vote and Chairman Chris takes questions. Teresa Toro makes a motion to keep hours at 2 AM on weekdays and 3 AM on weekends, as a rider to the liquor license (sounds like a yes). She mentions The Gibson as a precedent for this action.
Peter Gillespie (of NAG): "The community who came here tonight was opposing the application with these conditions." (looks like he’s a no vote).
Julie Lawrence makes a time change request. 12 on weekdays and 2 AM on weekends.
Too bad Felice Kirby isn’t on this board. As a restaurant/ bar owner of a popular restaurant, Teddy's, I wonder what she thinks about this.

8:21 PM: The vote! And it's a close one. In Favor: 17 Against: 14 Abstention: 1. Motion passes.

8:32: Teresa Toro gives report while I go into the hallway to do some interviews. Mieszko briefs the owners about the next steps in dealing with the State Liquor Authority, which will probably hold a hearing since the bar is within 500 feet of several other bar/ restaurants. Nevertheless, Custom owners Stefan and Dan Lathoum are relieved, as are their friends. Dan said he had no idea that he would have the crowd of supporters at the meeting tonight.
"I'll be honest with you, I didn't even invite them."

Stefan spoke with Nancy and some other residents who live nearby about their concerns with noise, though I didn't get the gist of what they were saying. The opponents were mostly arguing that this bar would be a tipping point towards too much noise in the area, but did not argue well enough why this particular bar is not suitable for the proposed Driggs Avenue location, and that's likely why they lost. Also, the owners' spotless record, with regards to noise complaints, in Community Board 3 convinced a lot of board members that the business deserved a chance to operate. Mieszko said as much at the Public Safety meeting last week.

8:40 PM: Back inside, the board is recognizing two new committee chairs: Julie Lawrence (Environment and Sanitation) and Esteban Duran (Education and Youth). Julie's the new Evan!

8:52 PM: We're into public session.
*A South Side Williamsburg resident nearby complains about drugs and alcohol near her block. She expresses a desire to join the community board. Good for her!
*Another South Side resident who lives on South 1st Street. He’s repping 10 families in his building concerned about a bar/ restaurant in the bottom floor of his building.
“I need your help. I’m from England but I’ve lived here 17 years. The guy who owns the bar doesn’t live in the community and the people he serves doesn’t live in this community either.
*A resident of North 1st Street is talking about a common rent regulation problem where landlords may be removing buildings from rent regulation and kicking tenants. He should really be talking with NAG or St. Nicks. Actually Peter figures that out too, and immediately pulls him into the hallway.
*Veronica Fidler from the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault is talking about the scope of sexual violence in Williamsburg and preventing sexual violence. She mentions a recent study and is asking people to join. More on this later.
*Rami “Corrugated” Metal from David Yassky's, talks about those metal fences on the street ends on Noble and Java Streets and it looks like those gates may come down soon.
“The owners objected. They lost,” says Rami. “This community won.”

9:04 PM We’re done. I'm giving the last word to Father Joseph Calise of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church who voted "yes" for the restaurant bar and wanted to explain his vote. He also noted that an opera will be held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel on Novemeber 9.

Monsignor Calise: "To say that there is problem in the neighborhood is true, but that doesn’t mean that these guys, who for all appearances want to open a very respectable place, should pay the price for people’s mistakes. All the complaints being made were made for other establishments. They invited people to come to their other place, but nobody went.”

Custom Win Bar

Custom Wine Bar passed 17-14-1. More coming...

Custom Wine... Here We go Again (CB1 Preview)

Custom Wine Bar, the bar/restaurant that is applying for a liquor license in order to occupy the space at 644 Driggs Avenue, will be before Community Board 1 tonight, during the general board meeting. After a particularly explosive public safety meeting, the full board will now hear the applicant's request for a second time. It should be interesting.

I don't think the tone tonight will mirror the frustrations that both sides expressed last week, as captured by Will Yakowicz in the Brooklyn Paper, and then skewered by Gothamist, and then, most recently, Gawker. But before exploring why, let's tackle the gang issue first. Mr. Santiago, who is quoted in Will's piece, told me that he has been working closely with the 90th Precinct to curb gang activity in the neighborhood.
"Opening this bar would endanger the customers, intoxicated individuals woudl be targets for gang members to harrass and rob them," said Santiago.

So that's his issue. I'm checking with the 90th Precinct to find out some crime statistics for that one-two block radius around the site, as the issue whether crime has increased or decreased in that area was a significant dispute.

Another dispute among nearby residents is what categorizes a bar and what categorizes a restaurant. The Levee and Trash Bar are bars (and a particularly fun ones among the crowd that goes). They don't serve food, other than tater tots, and the occasional bar food. However, many of the bars listed by members of the opposition are bar/ restaurants, and that's a point that is being argued. Double however, they have liquor licenses, stay open past midnight, and crowds move from establishment to establishment at night, with little concern for the sleeping neighbors above them. If there's one thing everyone at the committee meeting agreed on was that everyone hates 23 year olds.

Will Custom Wine Bar contribute to the number of noise complaints along Metropolitan Avenue or will it be an oasis from the meat market, frat-boy hustle and bustle that has changed Williamsburg, many say for the worse? We will debate that tonight. Probably.

Up.. up.. up and away.. in Newtown Creek

This weekend, several New Yorkers (and a few journalists) went up into the digester eggs at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treament Plant for a tour led by Plant Superintendenet Jimmy Pynn, right. Here are a few accounts of that tour:

The Courier: Eggs over Easy
Brooklyn Eagle: Open House
New York Observer
Gothamist's OHNY Spotlight with pics

Ed Isaac almost gets detained at the Mayoral Debate

Yeesh. Ed's pretty harmless. He should have come to Fort Greene to chill with Tish James and Hakim Jeffries instead.