Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Brownstoner on 360 Smith

A lively comment thread on the Scarano rendering for 360 Smith. Yours truly representing.

Long Overdue Bleecker - Broadway-Lafayette Connection Unveiled

Second Avenue Subway Sagas has renderings and information on this planned connection between two dysfunctionally-conjoined subway stations.

Needless to say, this project will greatly improve the utility of the F line. Investing in transit makes people's daily lives better. More like this, please.

Photo credit: Lee Harris Pomeroy /

360 Smith Street: Stop Scarano Project!

Alternative title, Gowanus Lounge: Now Multimedia!

Walking down Smith Street this morning, someone has put together a great protest display against the Scarano project for 360 Smith Street, proposed to straddle the Carroll Street subway entrance. Included in the display were printouts of a Gowanus Lounge blog post on the proposed project.

Important takeaways:

Community Board 6 meeting this Thursday, 5/31
This project is not listed on the calendar, but it never hurts to show up and make a statement.

Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association Meeting 6/11
Scotto's Funeral Home, 7:30pm

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

More Gore: Al in NYC over Memorial Day Weekend

Azi Paybarah at Politicker with transcript excerpts from Gore's interview with Charlie Rose before a live audience. Photo credit to Joyce Culver via 92Y Blog.

Gore is out pushing his new book, The Assault on Reason, which is on my wish list at the moment. What I've read already is a fantastic look at everything that's wrong with our current political discourse. And I especially love the title of Paybarah's post: Gore on the Cowardly, Vacuous, Catch-Penny Political Press.

Brooklyn Public Library Facade A Grand Complement To Plaza, Parks

From the Brooklyn Paper:

The Brooklyn Public Library threw open its front doors this week after almost two years of work on its front plaza.
We walked past this beautiful building two weeks ago, en route from the Botanical Gardens to Park Slope for a bit of lunch. It's a grand structure that nicely complements the park, the museum, the plaza and the Gardens. If you've got family in town or just a day to relax, you can make a great circuit of those sights. I'm looking forward to the day when Grand Army Plaza has been spruced up and made safer for pedestrians.

Photo cribbed from Brooklyn Paper.

NYMag: Renderings of Governor's Island Design Competition

Renderings and blurbs on 5 competing plans accompany the article. Interesting stuff.

My favorite so far.

The Gowanus Lounge: Upcoming Community Board 6 Meetings

The Gowanus Lounge: Upcoming Community Board 6 Meetings

Sigh. I always seem to have another commitment for the good meetings. The Gowanus rezoning is a big deal for the 'hood.

But I should be able to make the Public Forum on June 11th on same-sex marriage. It's ridiculous in this day and age that gays don't have equal marriage rights. Spitzer is doing the right thing:

June 11 Public Forum--On Gov. Eliot Spitzer's bill to amend the New York State domestic relations law in relation to the ability to marry, which would provide same-sex couples the same opportunity to enter into civil marriages as opposite-sex couples. CB6's Executive Committee will convene after the Public Hearing to formulate its recommendation. The meeting will take place at Park Slope United Methodist Church, which is located at 410 6th Avenue (between 7th/8th Streets). It starts at 6PM.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ahh, The Fruits of Rising Income Inequality

Meet Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, Andrew Rinaldi. I wonder if has hired Aleksey Vayner as his manservant.

Were you aware that the last time income inequality in the United States was this great was just before the stock market crash of 1929? I wonder what will be the modern day equivalent of "Let them eat cake".

A Scarano Building At Smith and 2nd Place?

Photo illustration borrowed from Curbed.

At the Carroll Garden Neighborhood Association (CGNA) meeting on May 14th, someone announced that a building was proposed to straddle the Carroll Street subway entrance at Smith and 2nd Place. Ominous statements were made that the developer was seeking a building out of scale with the height of surrounding structures, and worse, sought to build over the public space in front of the subway entrance. Even more ominously, the architect was none other than Scarano, of Gowanus Thumb and Gowanus Bunker infamy. An architect who is synonymous with abuse of self-certification.

The fenced parking lot behind the subway entrance is of course, perfect for residential development. And the proposed design for the site is perfectly awful. In a perfect world, a limestone and brick building with a concave, curving base and an improved plaza out front would be proposed for the site, with some ground floor retail (at least, space for the news stand) and a bicycle rack. I'd settle for a design that preserves the open plaza and fits in the scale and character of the neighborhood.

I expect neighborhood opposition to the current design to be high, and I don't think it has a prayer of an approval in its current form. Contact Community Board 6 and let them know what you think of this naked grab for the Carroll Street subway plaza.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

F'ed until 2012?!

Uh oh.

This is in response to your recent e-mail to MTA New York City Transit offering
transit-related suggestions regarding F and V service.We appreciate your
interest in improving mass transit, and thank you for your suggestion. We
have forwarded your e-mail to supervision in the appropriate operating
department for review. However, please note that express service on the F or V
line and extending V line service into Brooklyn will not be possible until
completion of the Culver Viaduct Rehabilitation project in 2012.
York City Transit intends to examine F express service and V line options for
possible implementation after the completion of the viaduct rehabilitation.If
you have any further transit-related questions, concerns or suggestions, please
contact Customer Services at (718) 330-3322, Monday through Friday, from 9:00
a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or write to Customer Services at 2 Broadway, Room A11.146,
New York, NY 10004.We take the concerns of our customers very seriously
and thank you for your interest in our transportation system

The F line has a Wikipedia entry that is informative. Apparently not only the rehabilitation project but also damage from a signal fire at Bergen Street are our obstacles to restoring express service.

KensingtonBrooklyn has posted extensively on the F line's shortcomings. I enjoyed the comment thread attached to this post.

Congestion Pricing Polls Out

Azi Paybarah has the latest congestion pricing poll results over at The Politicker.

Not surprisingly, the plan is much more popular in Manhattan than the outer boroughs, but taken as a whole, the city is split roughly evenly, 46-45 on the plan. This, for a plan that was considered laughable only months ago, is significant in my book.

Expect support to rise as specific service enhancements to the transit system are offered. (F line express, cough cough).

Scratch some of that. I don't know how to strikethrough yet or I would, but it seems current opinion is actually stacked more against the plan . . . the 46-45 split was over whether congestion was a serious problem. Streetsblog has a more in-depth treatment of the poll . . . and Streetsblog commenter Glenn has an excellent critique of the poll's many flaws.

Gore/Obama '08!

Jim Sleeper at TPM Cafe ponders a Gore-Obama ticket for the Dems in '08. As I've already stated, this is my dream ticket for the party next year.

Bond. Carroll and Bond.

Yesterday I took a walk from the Bergen Street 2 stop back to Brooklyn Streets HQ at 1st and Court. I was drawn over to Bond Street and Carroll to take a peek at two ongoing construction projects, this one and this one, documented on Brownstoner.

The second I was drawn to see, because it is so out of scale when looking from several vantage points that it sticks out like a sore thumb. Carroll Gardens answer to the Williamsburg Finger buildings: the Gowanus Thumb. At least from the street, where the original facade has been maintained, it doesn't look too bad from close up.

The first . . . I realized quickly that I had seen this . . . thing at the Gowanus Lounge. Up close, the "Gowanus Bunker" appears to be shoddily constructed. It resembles a nightmare Stalinist cinder block version of Broken Angel. To be fair, there is no facade up yet, so who knows what the finished product will look like. But under that eventual facade will be steel I-beams bashed through cinder block, weirdly uneven mortar work, and a structure that looks like it was thrown together piecemeal from whatever was on sale at Home Depot each week.

Now, I'm no building inspector, engineer, or architect, but that's what it looks like to the untrained eye. Needless to say, it is a Scarano building.

Glenn Greenwald Hammers Bearded Turd Flat

Nothing gets under my skin like bad journalism. I wrote a book's worth of angry crank letters to the NYT in the run-up to the Iraq war and thereafter, enraged by shoddy reporting by Judy Miller, Michael Gordon, and others (what are you looking at, Elisabeth Bumiller?).

In the beginning, there was no Greenwald. But a couple of years ago he appeared in the blogosphere, an almost overnight sensation. I could easily link to the guy every day, he's that good.

Back today for another stint as punching bag is Time magazine's execrable Joe Klein, fake liberal and serial Bush administration fellatrix.

Greenwald's main point, which is maddeningly ignored by the news media:
That was one of the principal though-still-unlearned lessons of the Judy Miller Saga: when a journalist does nothing but mindlessly repeat the claims of government sources which are completely consistent with -- or designed to bolster -- the claims being made by the administration itself out in the open, the journalist is doing nothing more than turning himself into a willing propaganda tool. Again, what conceivable journalistic justification is there for granting anonymity to government sources to recite the Government Line?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Assemblywoman Joan Millman on Congestion Pricing

Streetsblog has the text of a letter from Assemblywoman Millman in response to inquiries about her stance on congestion pricing. The full text is available here.

Some people view this as anti-congestion pricing. I disagree; I think it's perfectly reasonable to express some reservations about the plan's impacts.

Let me be clear: I support congestion pricing 100%. However, implementing the program is going to have impacts, and those impacts must be addressed. For our stretch of Brooklyn, which already has congestion at rush hour, we can expect significantly increased ridership on the F line due to the plan and to continued population growth.

The MTA can cheaply and quickly improve subway service for a wide swath of Brooklyn by reinstating express service on the F and extending the V into Brooklyn. If I were Joan Millman (a man can dream, can't he?) I would support the mayor's plan but demand that the F & V line improvements be made concurrently or before.

CB6 Purged!

Gowanus Lounge has the rundown on the CB6 purge.

Interestingly enough, Markowitz, Yassky and DeBlasio are all term-limited out after this term. I don't think any of them are retiring from politics . . . maybe building some new alliances in preparation for their next moves, respectively?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bush Authorizes Acts of War Against Iran

Via ThinkProgress (video included), Bush has signed off on a presidential finding
that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign
of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and
international financial transactions.
Will it never end? They're running our government like a criminal enterprise, and for whose benefit?

Makes one wonder whether the Iranian-American "spy" that Iran has detained is a spy after all. All the press reports I've read seem to treat it as a foregone conclusion that the woman in question, Haleh Esfandiari, has been wrongly accused.

But now we have this ABC report which sounds remarkably similar to what Esfandiari is charged with in Iran. And not two weeks, ago, we learned from the Federation of American Scientists (h/t ThinkProgress) that

U.S. intelligence recently undertook a "significant" covert action without
notifying Congress, as required by law, the House Intelligence Committee
disclosed in a new report on the 2008 intelligence authorization bill.

Something stinks.

Comprehensive Subway map

From Newsday via SecondAvenueSagas, we learn that the MTA is hiring someone to map out all the forgotten corners of the subway system, ostensibly for security purposes. What I wouldn't do to get that map on my office wall in blueprint size.

When I was about twelve or so, the X-Men introduced a storyline about a community of mutants living in an abandoned subway tunnel deep under Manhattan. Preposterous! I thought, as I suspended my disbelief for telekinesis and adamantium claws.

But damned if I wasn't shocked to learn, as a full grown man, that there's a lot of abandoned track down there, and some of it apparently unmapped. I hope this comprehensive map does not get locked down entirely, but is available to planning and transit groups. It would be a useful tool for identifying areas to reopen or extend the system, e.g. express service on the F in BKLN and of course, the 2nd Ave subway.

Fortress of Solitude

This is just damn cool.

The Duke-stir

Back in summer 2003, I was at the ACLU convention in DC. One of the big activities was for everyone to gather by state/district and go barnstorming your Representatives and Senators.
Being from New Jersey, it was a fun day. I took a picture with Corzine, and my Democratic Rep's Chief of Staff was very cordial to our group as well. It was a great day.

Getting back on the bus later, I ran into a 40-ish woman and a teenage boy from California, and asked, "How was your day?"

Terrible! Their Congressman, on hearing the word "ACLU" came charging out of his office, red-faced and screaming obscenities. After calling his constituents commies, traitors, etc. in far more colorful language, he kicked them out. Well, that man's name was Randy "Duke" Cunningham . . . this Duke Cunningham.

I was blown away at the difference in experience that we had with our elected officials . . . and that little tangential experience in my life multiplied the schadenfreude when the Duke went down in flames. Currently serving more than 8 years in the Federal pen . . . maybe he can turn one of thos eindustrial prison laundries into a new hot tub.

Karmic Joy, Craigslist Finds, and Co-op Hell

We recently moved within the neighborhood to a floorthrough apartment in an old brownstone. You'd never find a deal like this through a broker, but good karma comes back to you; friends tipped us that a tenant of 23 years was moving out of a neighboring house. [For the record, it's not rent stabilized; just a rare find on a gorgeous block.]

Unfortunately, moving out of a 400 sq. ft. crack den into the apartment of one's dreams has one teensy drawback: we don't have any furniture. Craigslist to the rescue - we have found great used furniture that we could not afford to buy new. With a little patience (and a car) you can get exactly what you want for less than half of what you'd pay for new stuff.

Our latest find is a gorgeous Pottery Barn bookshelf. The only problem? The seller's coop building prohibits moving anything after 5 or on the weekends. Now we've got to Mission:Impossible the thing out of there over the holiday weekend. I'm sure there will be more to this story.

Simpsons Still Subversive

Thinkprogress has a video clip of Kent Brockman (nee Kenny Brockelstein) from the Simpsosns 400th Episode slamming Fox News and the news media for their excrescence these past many years.

Simpsons movie due out July 27 . . . though I don't follow the show much any more, must see the movie for old time's sake.

My cat's breath smells like cat food!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Streetsblog: CB6 Committee Approves 9th Street Project

Good news today from Streetsblog (and from the CB6 transportation committee) on dangerous stretch of 9th Street.

Plan for traffic calming and bike lanes approved by the Transportation Committee last night. Nice.

Impeachment: Getting It Right

Looseheadprop over at FireDogLake has a great post up today on the congressional investigations and the pitfalls of jumping the gun on impeachment.

There's not a shred of doubt in mind that Bush and Cheney have committed high crimes and misdemeanors and should be impeached. After that, tried for their crimes. But first things first.

Congress has to establish a record of their malfeasance, which is a slow and laborious process. Waxman, Leahy, Conyers, Whitehouse, Feingold . . . even our own Chuck Schumer are building the case block by block with each deposition, hearing, and subpoena. The Democrats have had control of Congress for only 4 months, and look how far we've come already . . . with a squalling, stonewalling administration and it's bootlicking sycophants like Chris Cannon and Patrick McHenry.

I understand the longing for impeachment, and the impatience . . . I went to my first protest on February 15, 2003. But we've got to get it right the first time.

Which one of these is not like the others?

Via TPMMuckraker, which has owned the US Attorney purge story from the beginning, the Washington Post has a neat graphic with the series of lists of attorney's up for a-purgin'.

The thing that jumped out at me was the November 1, 2006 list composed by Michael Elston, chief of staff to the DAG. Not one of the names on Elston's list (1) was fired, (2) resigned, or (3) appeared on any of the other lists.

Also, while I can't speak for the the other names on the list, both Chris Christie and Mary Beth Buchanan have been loyal Bushies. Very curious . . . I suspect this was a CYA list created to muddy the waters of any potential outside review.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Assault On Reason

Al Gore has a new book coming out, The Assault on Reason, which is excerpted in Time. It's a compelling piece. At the heart of this problem is the runaway de-regulation of media companies, starting with the repeal of the fairness doctrine under Reagan.

Somewhere along the line, we've forgotten that all of the broadcast assets in this country are supposed to serve the public good. A good place to start fixing the problems Gore addresses would be re-instate limits on concentration of ownership (one of the very few things I've ever agreed with William Safire on). (In a later post, I'll address some of the changes we need to make to our campaign finance and election laws.)

While Gore says he isn't running again, after seeing An Inconvenient Truth and reading this piece, I truly hope he will. When I look back on the aftermath of 9/11, and all the disastrous policy decisions and downright criminal behavior by the Bush administration (torture, illegal wiretapping, Iraq, hamstringing the EPA, handing the keys to the Education Dept. to lenders, tax giveaways to oil and gas companies, etc. etc. etc.) . . .

Imagine if Gore had been President? A man who believes in public service, who believes that government can solve problems . . . a man with an actual brain in his head. I could almost weep for what might have been.

My dream ticket: Gore/Obama '08!

Bring back rational thought to the White House. Please.
H/t Atrios.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Via Game Revolution, the long awaited Halo 3 beta (sequel in immensely popular XBox series) is out, and temporarily featured an accolade called Cheneymania. Earn your Cheneymania badge by shooting ten old men in the face today!

Halo 3 Beta Chaos

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Improving Transit On the Cheap In South Brooklyn

I've long wondered why the express tracks on the F line are lying dormant in Brooklyn. Every time I use the F at Carroll or Bergen, and a packed F train rolls in, it drives me a little nuts that this infrastructure is just sitting there, fallow. Similar frustration when I'm working on the east side in the fifties, and take the V towards home, only to have it end at 2nd Ave. And what about those filthy, unused platforms at Hoyt-Schermerhorn?

Like Frank Constanza at Christmastime, I think to myself "There has to be a better way!"

Via KensingtonBrooklyn, I learned of this plan from Community Consulting dating back to 2003. There's a lot of terrific ideas there for improving transit in Brooklyn. See especially pages 11,14,21.

I love the idea of extending the V out to Brooklyn and running the F as an express. It seems like an egregious waste of resources to let these tracks sit empty, when we could cheaply improve service to thousands of people in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The V is currently a ghost train in Manhattan. Let's split the F train's burden more equitably with the V.

If we're serious about getting cars off the road, and congestion pricing in Manhattan, let's take the simple (and cheap!) measures available to us to make subway commuting a more attractive option for the outer boroughs. The better we make our transit systems, the more people will get out of their cars.

Frost/Nixon, ???/Bush

Saw Frost/Nixon last night, which was phenomenal. An overarching theme of the play is that Ford's pardon short-circuited the justice process, ensuring that Nixon would never be held to account for the crimes he committed in office. Could Frost nail down the wily Nixon?

The elephant in the theater, of course, is the Bush Administration, which has gone far beyond the crimes of the Nixon administration in it's abuse of power and institutionalized lawlessness. Thanks to a toadying Republican Congress and a shamefully compliant Washington press corps, these abuses still remain largely hidden.

Former DAG James Comey's startling testimony before the SJC yesterday provides a thread that Congress needs to keep pulling. Glenn Greenwald has a good rundown here.

It's long past time for a special prosecutor. The tainted legacy of Ford's pardon of Nixon has been played out to our country's (and the world) detriment repeatedly, from Iran/Contra to the NSA domestic spying, as President's have violated the law and the Constitution with impunity.. We need to remind ourselves that no man is above the law, not even the President.

The crimes of George W. Bush must be investigated and any candidate for President in 2008 must pledge: No pardons for the Bushies.