Thursday, August 23, 2007

Airport Village

Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, the 21st century Robert Moses, wants to create a mixed-used hub of economic activity and residential space near JFK Airport. This area, part of Jamaica, Queens, would be re-zoned so that the new buildings would remain "in character" with the area but would also provide it with new hotels, office space, retail stores, and six to seven floor apartment buildings. It will, the plan goes, revitalize this part of the city.

Mr NYC endorses this plan. While developers are no doubt licking their lips, this is a good plan because it does not contribute to over development. Quite the opposite - it develops an undeveloped part of this city. In some parts of this city (in Manhattan mostly, but also that looming boondoggle called Atlantic Yards), you see development on top of development - buildings that are way too big, commercial space people can't afford or use - and much of it changes the character of the neighborhoods. However, this plan re-vitalizes a much neglected part of the city and brings jobs and life to it.

Here's the really good thing about it: a lot of people live out in Queens and the new jobs this will create will mean new jobs for people closer to home. That would mean shorter commutes and more time that people could spend with their families. I've always thought that since 6 1/2 million live outside of Manhattan, it only makes sense that jobs come to the people in the outer boroughs instead of forcing them to come to Manhattan to the jobs. Not that there aren't lots of jobs in the outer boroughs but the more, the better.

Thanks Dan.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Believe the Hype

This very evening Senator Barack Obama arrived in NYC for his Presidential campaign. He was here for a variety of events, the big one being his early-evening rally at the Marriott in Brooklyn. Mr NYC was there - well, sort of. I was not there as a partisan but merely as an observer. Sadly, I was unable to get into the rally but I did see The Man himself. Allow me to explain.

There's a giant sign over Kosciuszko Bridge as you enter Brooklyn from Queens. It says "Welcome to Brooklyn: Believe the Hype." There has been, to put it mildly, much hype about the junior senator from Illinois. I heard that he draws huge crowds at whatever rallies or events he appears at, a rock-star politician if there ever was one. I was unsure how well he would play here in New York, particularly since this is Hillary-central. But when I got to the event, I had to get on line ... and it went on for blocks ... and blocks ... and blocks ... and blocks. The Man really does draw a crowd. The Marriott filled up quickly and then the overflow room filled up quickly. At one point he came out to greet those who couldn't get in and that's when I saw him. The crowd went wild and he politely and persuasively apologized. He really is a rock star, a powerful presence, and I was most impressed. Again, this is not a political blog and Mr NYC does not endorse anyone for dogcatcher let alone President. But Mr Obama really does fire up the people - in Brooklyn, in NYC, and America.

Believe the hype.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Moondance Diner Update

It's gone - literally.

If you go by 6th Avenue and Broome Street you'll see what you think is a construction site. But
if you go on the side street and look behind the gate you'll see a giant hole in the ground. They actually did it - ripped up the diner, put it on a truck and hauled it west.


New York landmark eatery arrives in Labarge

The East End of Long Island

Summer in New York is a fun, lively time. But it's also a hot, sweaty time and sometimes we need to get outta town, if only for a brief respite. May I suggest the East End of Long Island.

Now some of you may think - isn't that the Hamptons? Oh no! The East End is a distinct place, a beautifully preserved patch of rustic culture. If you have access to a car, it's about a two hour drive on the LIE (obviously it depends on the traffic, the weekend being more congested). But when you get there, the madness of traffic and the city melt away. Instead, you drive through breathless vista after breathless vista of farmland and vineyards and gorgeous, well preserved houses. One moment you think you're in the French country side, the next a New England college town. Oh, and there are beaches nearby.

Just taking in the scenery is enough but if you're with friends, I must suggest a trip to a vineyard. There you can enjoy a wine tasting (most run between $4 and $10) or you can get a bottle and sit outside amongst the vines. Afterwards, you can get a bite to eat at one of the many roadside restaurants.

Here is the vineyard and restaurant I visited and I give them my whole hearted endorsement.

Macari Vineyards

Lobster Roll Restaurants

All in all, the East End is a great day trip - affordable, beautiful, convenient, and relaxing.

Leona Helmsley, RIP

Perhaps it's quixotic to try to write something poignant about the "Queen of Mean", Ms Leona "only little people pay taxes" Helmsley. But I'll try. Why? Because no one else will. She was a mean, nasty woman who tortured everyone around her. She cheated on her taxes. She was a home-wrecker. She just wasn't very nice.

Yet she also cultivated a successful business career at a time when most women were encouraged not to work. She experienced the loss of a child, something no one should ever go through. And she was a human being - even if she forgot that herself sometimes.

But most of all, she was a colorful character, giving this town an endless supply of juicy gossip and tabloid fodder. She was a part of this city's crazy spirit, part of what made the expression "only in New York" so apt. She was an only in New York kinda gal. And we'll miss her for that.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

To get to La Guardia, take the M60 Bus

More public service announcements from your friend, Mr NYC.

Simply put, getting to either of this city's airports is a big expensive hassle, but if you have the time, you can get to La Guardia on the cheap.

The M60 bus starts at 106 street and Broadway in Manhattan and turns east at 125th (technically it turns at 119, but it quickly gets to 125 and stays there until it hits the Triborough bridge). It cuts through Queen and ends up at La Guardia, stopping at each terminal. Not only is it a big money saver, but the M60 also takes you directly to Harlem and Astoria.

Again, it's a bit of a time commitment since the bus only runs twice an hour and it crawls across Harlem but, still, a cab will set you back a lot plus the fair on the Triborough. The M60 is one of the few good deals left in this town.

But don't take my word for it, hear what these good folks have to stay:


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Want to know what's going on in NYC politics? Watch "Inside City Hall"

Again, this is not a paid advert, but Mr NYC likes to provide as much useful info to our readers as possible: if you're interested in NYC politics and how it relates to the rest of the state and country, your best resource is "Inside City Hall" on NY1. It's on every weeknight at 7 PM and is rebroadcast at 10 PM.

The show is very comprehensive and informative. There are lots of news making interviews and investigative stories and you learn a lot each night.

Biggest highlight: every Tuesday, Ed Koch, Al D'Amato, and Mark Green - three legendary New York politicians - dish and argue about the issues of the day. It's great TV.

Inside City Hall

Phil Rizzuto, RIP

Everything comes in twos. Another giant of NYC just died, Yankees shortstop Phil "Holy Cow!" Rizzuto. A Brooklyn boy, he played with the team from 1941 to 1956, during the Golden Age of New York City baseball. That's when the Yankees, Giants, and Dodgers ruled. He was one of the best bunters in the game, played alongside other legends like Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Yogi Berra, and was in 7 World Series.
After he retired from playing in 1956, he was a baseball announcer on Channel 11 for the next 40 years.
He was as New York as it got, and he will be missed.

Brooke Astor, RIP

She ruled New York high society for almost the entire 20th century and was a huge philanthropist as well.
She came from a time and place where manners, good taste, and character were important.
She was Brooke Astor, Lady Astor to some, and she lived to the amazing age of 105.
She was a one of a kind and we shall never see her likes again.

“As brass and bold as New York City itself”: Uncle Sam's Gift to the Big Apple

It looks like the Federal Government is getting behind the congestion pricing plan, giving the city $354 million for it. That's not as much as the $500+ million the city wanted but it's still a nice chunk o'change and it should go a long way to make this scheme a reality. Hopefully this will lead to reduced air pollution and asthma rates amongst New Yorkers.
Pla2030 seems to be, slowly but surely, becoming a reality. Mayor Bloomberg must be happy but, more importantly, this is good for the city. Thinking ahead is something so rare amongst today's political leaders.
The secretary of transportation, one Mary Peters, called the congestion pricing plan "as brass and bold as New York City itself." Well, ain't she sweet?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Interview: Zack Hample of "Watching Baseball Smarter"

If you're a serious baseball fan these days, then you know who Zack Hample is: he's the guy who's caught over 3000 major league baseballs and is the author of the new book "Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks." It's a great book that teaches you everything you didn't know about America's favorite pastime and it'll make you fall in love with the game all over again.

Zack has been featured on CNN, NPR's nationally syndicated "Fresh Air" and the CBS Evening News. In this exclusive interview with Mr NYC, Zack gives us his unique perspective on how to be a smart New York baseball fan:

Where do you prefer to catch baseballs: Yankee Stadium or Shea?

Both New York ballparks are really tough these days with roughly 50,000 fans attending every game, but I have to go with Shea. It opens for batting practice half an hour earlier, the rules aren't as strict, the prices aren't as high, the fans aren't as aggressive, and there's a great section for catching foul balls during the game.

How is catching baseballs in New York different than in other cities?

Both Shea and Yankee Stadiums are old and cramped. The concourses are narrow, as are the rows, aisles, ramps, and staircases, so it's hard to move from one spot to another in a short amount of time. Other cities have newer ballparks where mobility isn't nearly as much of an issue. Also, since the Mets and Yankees both draw extremely large crowds, there's much more competition than in most other places.

How are New York baseball fans the same or different than baseball fans in other cities?

New York fans are more passionate and, unfortunately, more hostile. There's a certain level of in-your-face entitlement and excitement among New York City fans that you just don't get from people anywhere else. That's not to say that other sold-out venues don't get crazy when the home team does something great, but there's nothing like a New York City baseball frenzy.

How many balls have you caught to date?

3,143, including batting practice. I've snagged 104 of those balls during games, including Barry Bonds' 724th career home run. All my baseballs are from major league stadiums. No Spring Training balls or Minor League balls in my collection. It's all about The Show.

Give us just one small piece of advice for watching baseball smarter (that we can easily remember):

There's so much stuff that I almost don't know where to begin. So...just to pick something random, one cool thing to look for is the relationship between the catcher and home plate umpire. For example, if the catcher gets hit by a foul tip, the ump might brush some non-existent dirt off the plate to give him a moment to recover. And if the ump gets nailed, the catcher will give him a breather by going out to talk to the pitcher even if he has nothing to say.

Thanks Zack!

Find "Watching Baseball Smarter" on

And don't forget to visit Zack's website at


Friday, August 10, 2007

Mr Big Returns

Magnolia cupcake eaters and Manolo-wearers rejoice! Chris Noth has agreed to appear as Mr Big in the upcoming "Sex and the City" movie.

New Yorkers everywhere breath a sigh of relief. American culture has been saved.

The Epitaph of Our Times

I recently saw George Will on TV say of the Bush Administration that "We didn't see it coming" would be its epitaph. I think, more accurately, it's the epitaph of our times. In the last five years I've heard politicians and public officials (basically) say ...

We didn't know the subways would flood in a huge downpour ... didn't see it coming.

We didn't know the levees in New Orleans would break ... didn't see it coming.

We had no idea that people would high jack planes and fly them into buildings ... didn't see it coming.

We had no idea that if we invaded an Arab country that there would be an insurgency ... didn't see it coming.

We had no idea that our veterans were being housed in terrible conditions at Walter Reade ... didn't see it coming.

We didn't realize that if we deregulated and had lax oversight of corporations that debacles like Enron and Wordcom would happen ... didn't see it coming.

"Didn't know, couldn't have guessed, didn't see it coming."

It's their job to see things like these coming! That's what we elect and pay them to do!
And just wait ... you'll hear something like that again soon from a public official. And I do see that coming.

The Subway floods ... and our public officials are surprised

"It's an outrage!"

That was probably Ed Koch's most famous catch line after "How'm I doin?" And after Wednesday's subway flooding disaster, it's never been more apt.
You've probably know about (and lived through) the torrential rainstorms that flooded the subways and roads and basically shut NYC down two days ago. Immediately folks like Bloomberg and the head of the MTA were on TV saying, "We didn't know ... We could never have predicted this ... We didn't see it coming."
That's funny, because I saw it coming. And I think most New Yorkers who aren't the Mayor and who don't work for the MTA could have guessed that heavy rainstorms would paralyze the subways and a disaster like this was waiting to happen. I cannot begin even to count the number of times that heavy rain has caused the subways to flood, causing delays or disruptions of service. This keeps happening again ... and again ... and again ... and again the MTA and the city do NOTHING to fix the problems! It appears not even to occur to the MTA to say "Hey, you know, when we get a lot of rain, the subways flood and everyone goes nuts. Let's do something to fix the infrastructure to prevent the flooding."
Now, and only now, after this latest disaster, is the MTA and the city willing to actually ... study the problem ... and make ... recommendations. Oh joy! Thankfully our free press is digging up stories and examples from the past where this flooding had gone on and they are showing the woeful lack of action by our public officials on this problem. I know most subway commuters aren't big campaign contributors but they work for the people who are, so don't you guys think that fixing the subways would be a good idea ... so they can keep going to work to make the money that the contributors then give politicians?
It's simply embarrassing that the transit system of the world's greatest city in the 21st century is so vulnerable. To water no less. This must end. Write you city council person, the Public Advocate, our State Assembly and Senate Members to demand that they push the city and MTA to act. You can find the links to the city and state governments on the right.
PS. And it's not only the subway. Walk the streets after a heavy rain and you'll see big puddle after big puddle. They almost always pop up in the same spots on the streets. Why can't these spots be fixed?
PPS. I wanted to blog about this earlier but Modem problems made this impossible. Unlike a public official, however, I take full responsibility.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

This is not a paid advertisement but there is an online service that New Yorkers can use if they ever need subway/bus directions combined with street directions. Called HopStop, it's sort of like a MapQuest for the urban traveler. You just plug where you're coming from and where you're going and voila ... your public transportation and walking options appear.

This service is also linked to the public transit systems of other big cities like Boston and Washington and Chicago.

Here at Mr NYC, we are dedicated to making life in NYC just a lil'bit easier. I hope in this case we've succeeded.


Saturday, August 4, 2007

Mayor Mike, the Subway/SUV Riding Mayor

Bombshell story in last week's New York Times: Mayor Mike rides an SUV to the subway each morning. Then he catches the express to City Hall. To this I say, Mr Mayor, why bother? We understand that you're busy so you don't have to pretend to ride the subway every morning. We New Yorkers really don't care if you get chauffeured around. We expect our Mayors to be efficient with their time. You were re-elected in landslide so, Mr Mayor, you can take it a little easier and just ride the SUV all the way to Lower Manhattan.


You may have noticed that I have augmented this blog to include more photos and features like polls and a weather ticker. I hope you like them! If not, please explain why.

A blog is a work in progress so Mr NYC will keep evolving and morphing to in order to deliver more features.

The scenic New York photos, btw, are courtesy of my brother, an excellent photographer and fine human being.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal

Oh good. Rupert Murdoch owns more stuff. And not just any stuff, but a second newspaper in NYC (after The New York Post). And not just any newspaper, but probably the most prestigious, The Wall Street Journal. The father of modern tabloid journalism, who puts naked women in his daily newspapers and gives us memorable headlines like "Wacko Jacko Backo", now owns the epitome of financial news and investigative reporting. The media will never be the same.

The Australian print baron promises that the Journal will remain the same - progressive reporting, regressive editorials. Old Rupe will not infuse this great publication founded by the Bancroft family with sex and sleazy politics - he leaves that to papers founded by Alexander Hamilton. But why shouldn't he change it? After all, he now owns the Journal and everyone knows tabloids are in his blood. So here are some suggestions for re-making The Wall Street Journal, the Rupert way:

1. Instead of Page Three girls, why not "Page Three Wall Street Girls"? Women like Maria Bartiromo and Erin Burnett and other "Money Honeys" could pose topless every day for the enjoyment of their business counterparts. This would help their careers since it would give them all kinds of ... exposure.

2. I'm sure Rupert would make sure the reporting would be fair and balanced - between the Right and the Far Right.

3. Think of the headlines! When the Dow goes up: "Holy Dow!" When it goes down: "Dow-n." The possibilities are endless. Perhaps the best was already used by the Post: when Ken Lay of Enron was convicted, the next day's headline was "Bad Lay."

4. Always make sure to call Republican presidents the "Commander in Chief" and other Republican politicians "God's Gift to Humanity." And make sure to remind people that the Clintons or other politicians like them are in the "Democrat" party.

5. Finally, make sure there are no stories about media concentration or the widening gap between rich and poor because, you know, who wants to read about that?

If You Can't Make It Here ... Move to LaBarge, Wyoming

The Moondance Diner on Grand Street and 6th Avenue closed a few weeks ago. It's always sad when little pieces of New York like this fade away. (Mr NYC will do a future post on great diners in NYC, past and present.) However, this little piece is getting a new life: some people from a tiny town called La Barge are going to literally dig it out of the ground, put it on a truck and haul the mother to Wyoming.

If you know your diner-speak, then you know that this particular diner is famous, not only for the yellow half crescent spinning on top, but also because 1) it was featured on "Sex and the City" and one of the Spiderman movies; 2) it's where "Rent" creator Jonathan Larson worked for nine years before his musical hit it big (and he sadly died). I've never gone to the Moondance and I'am sad that I won't ever get to (unless I find myself in Wyoming sometime). However, I'm thankful to these people from the country's least populated state that they, unlike so many of the developers and landlords and politicians in this town, are willing to keep a part of this city alive ... 2000 thousand miles away.

One question: will the people of this presumably conservative town want to frequent a formerly gay-friendly chow hall from Soho? One can only ponder.

Downtown Diner is Moving to Wyoming, Lock, Stock and Original Stools

Karyn Rocks!

Many thanks to Karyn from (the girl from a few years back who solicited online donations to pay off her debt) for linking to Mr NYC on her own blog, Pretty in the City. It's a great, fun, and informative blog and you should check it out. You can find a link under the other New York City blogs.