Sunday, November 30, 2008

NY Times Looks at Queens Blvd.

Thanks to our two-wheeling friends at Transportation Alternatives, the New York Times paid a visit to Queens Blvd in the Sunday edition.

Verdict: Be thankful for the metal cattle fences.

Nicole Garcia, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Department, said, “Safety is our top priority as we build on the safety enhancements we’ve made along Queens Boulevard and throughout the city, which have led to a dramatic decrease in accidents.” As for a bike lane on the boulevard, Ms. Garcia said, there are no current plans for one. The high number of pedestrians and the heavy traffic, she said, present challenges for building a bike lane there.

So, the traffic is so heavy in Manhattan that we have to charge people to enter it, but it also has most of the new bike lanes in NYC. And are there really more pedestrians on Queens Blvd than on Eighth Avenue (site of the newest protected bike lane)?

Enough excuses, make part of the service road a protected bike lane. Or better yet, toll it (NYC residents exempt) and use the funds to beautify it.

Tale of Two Deliveries

Michaelangelo's Pizza vs. A&J's Pizza.

Though I was excited to try Michaelangelo's as I've heard good things about it, it stunk. Thick chewy crust. Very sweet sauce. Goopy cheese. It was like 7-11 pizza. Misshapen due too poor delivery handling. Almost inedible. Over an hour delivery time to boot. Cost $17.50

A&J on the other hand was solid. Yes, it's taken a slight hit since Sal left, but still a top notch above average pizza pie. Sauce had a little spice, not too much cheese. Delivered in perfect shape and very hot in 37 minutes. Cost $21.50.

A&J's in a blowout. Bonus points for Michaelangelo's for having a great looking take out menu.

This Is Black Friday, Right?

Went to Atlas Park on Black Friday. Maybe it's not a Black Friday type place, but for the "Super Bowl of Shopping" it was pretty empty - at least at noon.

Some impressions:

Didn't like people walking around the green handing out fliers to their stores.

I see they're still pitching "Mr. Bemberlinx". Ditch the saccharine name - it hasn't caught on in three years. Call him King Damon.

You need that bridge store (Best Buy/H&M, etc) to bring the people out of the chain restaurants an into retail mode - but I'm sure you've known that since Atlas Park existed only on cocktail napkins.

The real problem is people around here aren't as affluent as the numbers indicate. They do make money - but the cost of living in Bloomberg's NYC is astronomical. NYC Personal Income Tax, NYS Income Tax, much higher real estate tax, parking tickets, insurance, day care. That median income of $90K or whatever, it's gone by the first of the month.

Good job lowering the height maximum of playing in the fountain to 36". Somedays, you'd see entire families in there with tricked out water guns running around like it's Jones Beach It's a place for toddlers to cool off and let their parents sit for a few minutes.

But I still maintain the biggest drawback is the circular parking lot. Once you park that car and walk through the Art World tunnel, you shouldn't have to worry about a car coming out of nowhere. If you want to really be like Clinton Crossing or that one in Monroe, ban all cars from pedestrian areas.

Sorry for all the Atlas posts, but I really do want this place to make it.

McScared

Here's a Forest Hills Ledger story on housing additions in the far northwest corner of Forest Hills. I've never been to much of a McMansion fighter. I think they're ugly, but my offer stands - if anyone wants to trade me their small Cord Meyer house for my co-op, just email me the contract. So far no takers. Cord Meyer used to be beautiful, and now it's tacky. But the houses are still worth 1.5 million and you can do a lot worse than live someone who wants to build a nice house.

But what struck me about this particular article was the clear tone of fright.

"None of the approximate 10 neighborhood residents who spoke with the TimesLedger would give their full names — or their names at all — and some said they were concerned physical harm could come to them if they spoke out against the occupants of the house in question."

Where are these people's elected representatives? Can you imagine being elected to serve people in America in 2008 and knowing they are terrified to talk to the press? It's f--ing depressing. Get over to 63rd Drive Assemblyman and Councilmember and arrange a sit down with all parties. Have them talk it out and I'm sure it will ease some of the tension. There is obviously a huge (and fixable) concern among your constituents and you're ignoring it. They need your help. You can get back to fundraising the next day.

http://foresthillsledger.com/articles/2008/11/28/forest_hills/forest_hills_ledger/news/forest_hills_ledger_newsuzwiuhf11262008.txt

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ribcage Crushing Specials


With not much Forest Hills news to report this weekend, my thoughts turn to Jdimytai Damour, 34, the Valley Stream Walmart worker who was trampled to death . Mr. Damour lives in Jamaica and his father lives in Fresh Meadows.

Walmart, who promotes these dangerous stampedes by only offering a few tv's at $99 and the rest at $600, has blood on its hands. Next time, it will know better and only hire zookeepers the day after Thanksgiving to control the animals.

I hope Mr. Damour's father hires a good lawyer and takes Walmart for everything. I also hope a surveillance tape emerges and whoever participated in this is exposed. Even if you can't throw them in jail, at least put them on trial and make them put what ever they saved towards legal fees 100 times over.


Besides Walmart and the 5am animals, some others to blame for this tragedy:

The news media for tirelessly talking up Black Friday as if it's some kind of cosmic event. It's people going shopping and using coupons - get your asses to Mumbai.

Every other store with "Door Buster Specials." (do a search, there are hundreds). Busting a door implies a 5am stampede. You might as well call it "Ribcage Crushing Specials"

The Nassau County Police. If an unruly mob of people are congregating, isn't it your duty to supersede the private company planning the event and provide some kind of control?

My heart goes out to Jdimytai Damour, a Haitian born nice man who was just trying to earn a few extra dollars for the holidays. Yes, it's pathetic that we have to pass a law to keep people from trampling each other to buy electronics, but call it Damour's Law and have the stores honor rain checks for all sale items and have them offered all day.



(screen shot of the above "While Supplies Last" items taken off Valley Stream Walmart website at 10:30pm, more than 12 hours after Damour's death).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Welcome Back Hooligans

College kids are getting back into town today, just in time to throw some laundry in and go out and get f'd up. For you guys and your extra 15 pounds, here are some new places that have sprouted up since last Thanksgiving.

Bonfire Grill: Good place for a small group, a little tight for a big one. (72-27 Austin St).

Tap House: Less crowded and a great place to meet up since there's a lot of space. Might be a little lifeless to spend the whole night there. (A few doors west of Bonfire).

Moca: All depends on what college you're going to. Northwestern? Keep moving. Hunter? Come on in. (Restaurant Row).

Old Standbys:

5 Burros: Pass. Too crowded, not worth the hassle. (Next to Tap House).

Irish Cottage: Not bad, but beware of some Glendale lifer telling you all night that you're being brainwashed by your liberal professors. He's right of course, but tonight's not the night. (72nd Ave between QB and Austin St.).

Dirty Pierre's; Small, but great if you decide to get on the LIRR into the city. (Station Square).

TGI Fridays/Pizzeria Uno's: Are you sure you're in college?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Atlas Park 360

The Daily News has not one, not two but three articles on Atlas Park today in their Queens News section. Unfortunately, only one is online (but it's the main one).

The articles cover everything from gripes tenants of the mall have to local residents and their feelings about it.

I haven't wavered in my support for Hemmerdinger's mall. I think what the guy has done with a decrepit industrial complex is amazing. And the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce could learn a lot from his constant events and aggressive marketing. That Frankie's Haircut/Toystore should be on Austin Street. As should White House/Black Market and a bunch of other Atlas Park stores.

But to be 100% honest, there are a lot of reasons not to go. Mainly, parking is a bitch where I live. On the off chance I've got a good space, I'm not losing it for a quick ride to Gymboree.

Other gripes:
  • Get rid of the circular parking. Either you're a green or a parking lot - you can't be both. Ban cars and expand the green to the stores.
  • I don't mind the $3 parking, but it should be validated with a $10 purchase.
  • Close the movie theater and make it a live venue. I know that one's a little radical, but movie theaters bring out too many scumbags, while Central Queens desperately needs a place to see a small concert/professional play.

Good luck Mr. Hemmerdinger. You've got my email address if you need any help.

L-Oko-ing for work?

Energetic Counter Person Wanted For New Dessert Store (Austin Street, Forest Hills)

Energetic, friendly, hard working Counter Person wanted for new, busy dessert store on Austin Street in Forest Hills. Come by in person and bring your resume on Tuesday or Wednesday, November 25th or 26th from 12 noon to 4 pm. Oko, Yummy Naturally, 71-50 Austin Street, Forest Hills. Experience preferred.

http://newyork.craigslist.org/que/fbh/933058799.html

Bring your resume? Experience preferred? Good. Better to err on the side of professionalism. Customer service stinks around here and in this economy, I'm not having it. The Key Food by Yellowstone and QB has downright mean people. Not disinterested - but actively mean. What kind of store has cashiers yelling at their customers? I know the elderly can be a pain in the ass, but deal with it.

Then you got Boston Market which is a nightmare. Buster Brown's is nice, but in kind of a condescending tone ('You're the customer and the customer is always right' - I know there's something behind that, but his shoes are great). Bagels Etc doesn't care about you and shows it. Natural Market is hit or miss as is AJ's.

Except my dry cleaner. He's great. No matter how tired he is or how many times I forget my ticket, that son-of-a-gun is always smiling. God bless him.

So my advice to Oko - don't worry too much about experience or resume. Hire the nicest person who walks through the door and you've got my business.

Trains Slow and Late This Week?

The MTA must be looking to raise the fare. Call me a consipiracy theorist, but like clockwork, train service gets abysmal whenever the MTA floats around a new fare hike. The thinking is that the complainers will wait around the platform and think "you know what, maybe they do need the money."

Ten or more minutes late on 3 of 5 LIRR trips into the city last week. Derailments, trains bumping into each other. I don't know if they choreographed that, but I wouldn't put it past them.

Like freaking clockwork.

Miranda and the City

I know I promised all Forest Hills posts until Christmas, but I had to comment on this.


Cynthia Nixon (aka Miranda from Sex and the City) has written an op-ed piece in the Daily News blasting the Department of Education for its plans to move her daughter's middle school out of the PS 199 building.

Why the move? In her words "The ostensible reason was to ease overcrowding created by Donald Trump and other developers who have aggressively built new residential towers in our neighborhood, but never the schools required to serve the increased population."

She then makes a Carrie Bradshaw-like pun about the school she's fighting to keep her daughter in "a predominantly white school with the percentage of black and Latino students trending down as the area's "Trumped-up" property values rise"

However, nowhere in the attack on The Donald and diversity are the words "Time Warner Center" mentioned - a 77 story condominium building built 10 blocks from PS 199 (though zoned for PS 111). For some reason Ms. Nixon doesn't go after the company who proudly fixes its name on one of the largest and most expensive residential buildings in New York City.

Does Cynthia have some kind of relationship with Time Warner?


Incidentally both 101 and 196 are way more overcrowded that 199 according to independent website insideschools.org.



Monday, November 24, 2008

Rack and Roll



Typical Forest Hills newbie - as soon as they move in, they have to renovate everything.

A few weeks after the new bike racks were installed on the Rite Aid side of the Forest Hills LIRR station, the DoT is upgrading the racks with a modern shelter as seen above - courtesy of Streetsblog.

No word on why the racks were installed first, then torn up to put in the shelter. Didn't have my camera on me, but the construction guys confirmed it would be a new bike shelter. It looked to be about finished this morning.

Riddle Me This Place


The joke's on us as the high profile corner of 72nd Ave and Austin Street has gone red. Really red. Dollar Chic, where umbrellas sit next to #1 Grandma mugs, with a little perfume soap in there for good random measure.

I know, you love Forest Hills but there's no place for locals to get a cheap ceramic golden retriever. Well, your dreams have become reality. And yes, you do dream in color.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

City Section - Forest Hills

In an effort to ease the weekly disappointment of not seeing a dispatch from Forest Hills in the NY Times City Section, come to this site where we will feature a new Times-style report every Sunday morning.




(bike rack in front of Rite Aid at LIRR Forest Hills station)

In an area where Mercedes comfortably share the road with red pullcarts, one mode of transport has emerged. The bicycle.

The Department of Transportation (DoT) has recently installed a series of bike racks along side 71st Avenue (known to locals as 'Continental Avenue') in an effort to both boost bike ridership and lessen congestion.

And they have proven as popular as a bagel and schmear at the Gotta Getta Bagel shoppe they are parked in front of.

In recent years, the DoT has installed hundreds of miles of bike lanes throughout New York City, but not a one in Forest Hills, where young people priced out of their obvious first choice of Manhattan have been forced to settle.

And though area bike enthusiasts hold out hope that Commissioner Sadik Khan has more transportation policy changes in store for the congested area than a couple of hunks of metal, Ms. Sadik Khan does not currently bike through Forest Hills to get to work so the lanes will have to wait.

But until then, there's always Gotta Getta Bagel on 71st, I'm sorry, Continental Avenue.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Forest Diner in 72 Words or Less



Wasn't optimistic but turned out to be a great diner. Everything lunch for two under $20 should be. Friendly waitstaff, good pickles, thick cut fries, as many napkins as you need.

Waiter brought the boy's food first as he knew he was hungry and was on the verge of being a pain in my ass. Asked for an extra pickle, waiter brought three. That's class.

Tough location, but worth a walk. Well decorated and terrific lighting (not that dreary florescent as in Austin House or UJ's). T-Bone, Austin House, even Just Like Mother's - take a trip to Forest Diner and bring a notepad.

63rd and 108th St on the weird shopping strip next to some pizza place. Three sneakers.

Is It Purim Already?

Or Sukkoth? Or something bigger like Yom Kippur. Because as empty as Austin Street was tonight at 6:30pm, it must have been some kind of holy day.

If this is what we can expect in this economy, there will be blood.

6:30pm on Austin Street on a Thursday approaching the holiday season felt like 11pm on a Monday in February. It wasn't the weather. It was empty. I'm talking parking spaces available. You could hear the few leaves left on the trees blowing. I almost longed for a gelled up zippahead blasting Pulse 87 in his Maxima on his way to Bartini's. Silence.

Empty, from the new Oko to the Tap House. Even the always packed 5 Burros had room at the bar - and Thursday ususally sees people spilling on the sidewalk there.

How the hell is anyone going to make their crazy rent? Sukkoth that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Inbox: Good Deeds Young and Old

  • Kidz Care Junior Civic Association is hosting their 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Feast for seniors on November 27nd at the American Legion Hall at 107-15 Metropolitan Ave in Forest Hills, New York. Dinner (which will be free) will be served at 12:00 noon. Free transportation is available R.S.V.P’s are a must!!!! Please call Kidz Care at 917-670-4914 to R.S.V.P. Kidz Care welcomes donations to offset the cost of the meals.

  • The Forest Hills Jewish Center Parents' Association is sponsoring a Book Fair on Sunday November 23 and Monday November 24, to be held at the Center. On Sunday, the book fair will go from 9 a.m. to 2 pm. - and will include fun events for the whole family, including a book signing by children's author Naomi Danis, who wrote Splish-Splash. On Monday, the book fair will start at 8 a.m. and go until noon. It's a great opportunity to do some early holiday shopping - and the selection of books and other items is going to be terrific for children and adults alike! For more information, call the Center at 718-261-7000.

I'm Oko, You're Oko



Well I guess now it can be revealed.

You know that new yogurt shop Oko which is having its grand opening today Wednesday November 19 at 71-50 Austin St? That's the location our friend the landlord was seeking advice on back in May.

Forest Hills will be its third location, joining Park Slope and the East Village.

Now pat yourselves on the back for brining it here. In the 80 comments that were left in reponse to the landlord's informal survey, "a yogurt place" and variations thereof (Pinkberry, etc) was by far the most popular pick (followed by hardware store).

I know the landlord read the comments - he told me he did. It's not a stretch to guess that he contacted yogurt places and pitched them on Forest Hills. He probably went to Pinkberry first since so many people said they wanted that. I've never heard of it.

Thank you to all those who chimed in. Now it's up to us to support it. And why wouldn't we? Oko features great desserts, fair trade coffee (which has got to be better than Trade Fair coffee), and of course fresh frozen yogurt.


Please make it out to Oko this week to show your support. You brought it here. Reward the landlord who showed an interest what you wanted and didn't just rent out to some fly-by-night crappy business with some shit inventory to unload.

You are the real estate agent, the Chamber of Commerce, the local politician. Yes, it's just a yogurt/coffee shop, but to me it represents some of the effort we've put into this. And they have free wi-fi so if it sucks, you can comment that you wanted the hardware store all along.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Oh, Just Close Already


Sushi Oh has had its gates down for about a week now, including all day Saturday (and I don't think it was for the sabbath).

Sushi Oh is no stranger to mysteriously closing for stretches at a time, and this inconsistency isn't going to help it back to the level of Forest Hills mainstays is used to be. Guess the 10% off with VIP membership program didn't turn things around.

I will miss that great little electric colorful sign in the window though.

72 words or less Restaurant Review - My Kitchen on Metropolitan.

Food is very good, but the service has problems. It was almost like our waitress didn't really work there. Water jug with no glasses, coffee with no spoons, wrong drinks. Seems small, but it adds up.


The owner seems more interested in greeting his friends than serving the customers (he left our table right in the middle of taking our order because someone he knew walked in).


It seems like Cafe Cami all over again, where the chef and food are great, but a staff that seems in training. Two out of four sneakers and here's hoping they invest in a general manager. Go if you're low maintenance and don't mind minor screw-ups.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Forest Hills 72 After Dark

Beginning midnight tonight and continuing every midnight through 2008, expect my music video pick of the new day. New, old, classic, lame, it's my way of saying thank you for reading - especially my fellow insomniacs.

The Midnight Special does not count against the 100 posts by Christmas guarantee. Requests can be sent to foresthillsblog@gmail.com - local bands given top priority.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Run Out

You know that dog run at Yellowstone Park (Yellowstone Blvd and 68th Ave.) we wrote about a few weeks ago? It's staying on the porch.

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=20197182&BRD=2731&PAG=461&dept_id=574907&rfi=6

Dorothy Lewandowski, the Queens commissioner for the city Department of Parks and Recreation, said it’s doubtful the park, on Yellowstone Boulevard, could accommodate a dog run. The department has the final say on whether to build such a facility.

I don't like dogs - I just can't get past the shitting on the sidewalk thing. However I understand people are freaking crazy about them and I applaud the community effort. I hope they get something out of it.

Training

Is all the work on the E/F tracks finally paying off? This train enthusiast has seen Bigfoot and lives to blog about it.

. . .at Kew Gardens/Union Tpke, when I noticed a strange reflection off the opposite side's window. I saw what seemed to be electronic LED lettering seemingly glistening from a train's display. I instantly remembered what Lost City said about seeing a new R160 train being tested on the F line, and turned around to peer into the station. Sure enough, there was a R160 on the Jamaica-bound tracks departing from the station. . .

http://ecstatice.blogspot.com/2008/11/r160-sighted-on-f-and-mtas-tech-at-use.html

R-160's are the new trains you've seen on the 1,2,3,4,5,6 and L lines.

Halloween Props

Though it's long overdue, some props go to Austin Street stores for being much more prepared for the kids this year.

You'll remember last year's disaster where "No Candy!" signs were posted at 4pm. This year, storekeepers were waving kids in, plenty of candy was available, and the houses around the area were fantastic.

100% improvement over last year. Maybe next year we'll have a Halloween parade. Personally, I'd sacrifice a street fair for that.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tragedy Strikes Forest Hills

Imonil Aminov, 55, was shot in the chest at point-blank range Monday moments after he delivered a meal of pasta and broccoli to an elderly Brownsville Houses tenant.

According to YidVid News, Mr. Aminov was a Bukarian Forest Hills resident. If nothing else, let's try to remember people like Mr. Aminov when we rail against McMansions. He was delivering food for the elderly in a Brownville Housing project - something you and I have never done. He will be missed.

What's the Matter With Kids Today?

http://www.nypost.com/seven/11142008/news/nypdblotter/nypdblotter.htm

A thug was arrested for stabbing, beating and robbing a man in Rego Park, authorities said yesterday.

Alexander Dediashvili, 16, and several cohorts allegedly attacked a 27-year-old man on Queens Boulevard near 67th Avenue at 10 p.m. Saturday.

One of the suspects threatened the man with a knife while the others punched and kicked the victim, knocking out some teeth.

Put him away before his parents punish him with a Mercedes.

Twin Donuts on Contintental

Give me a G. Give me an H. Give me an E. Give me a T. Give me another T. Give me an O.

What does that spell? Twin Donuts!

Long known for being the place to go when you get released from Riker's under the 59th St Bridge, Twin Donuts is coming to Contintental Avenue.

A lite lunch at Twin Donuts, some shopping at Value Depot. Maybe a special trip to Payless.
Congratulations newsstand guy - you're the class of the block.

Post #2.

100 Posts by Christmas

My Christmas gift to you. 100 posts all about Forest Hills. I'm creating a new site to deal with more city-wide issues which will get no traffic, but will allow me to vent. Forest Hills 72 will be only Forest Hills issues - at least for the next one hundred posts.

But Forest Hills 72 is back with 100 posts by Christmas starting. . .now.





Went into Nick's a few nights ago. The whole crowd consisted of four couples. Every single one was a white man and an Asian woman. Four for four. I waited there for fifteen minutes for a fifth couple to come in to get the royal flush.

Told my wife about it. Told her it was almost awkward like someone should have said something. There was an elephant in that room (and it thought the pizza was overrated, which it isn't). My wife thought it was a coincidence.

This was no coincidence. Not four for four. I mean, had there even been one Asian man with a white woman I would have let it go. I thought for a long time about the cause. Best I can figure, the white men are realizing that in this new economy, without any real skill - and only doctors and electricians have any real skill - they're going to need a really smart kid for retirement. They're playing the odds.

It's good to be back.

Post #1