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The 32nd Annual Mermaid Parade is just around the corner, kicking off at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 21.

Antique automobiles, wacky floats and scantily clad mermaids and mermen will roll down Surf Avenue and the boardwalk in New York City’s largest public celebration of art, artists and counterculture. But some are grousing over this year’s choice of honorees as King Neptune and Queen Mermaid.

The event organizers, Coney Island USA, announced recently that the top slots, previously played by Lou Reed, David Byrne, Queen Latifah and other celebrated actors, musicians and notables, will be filled by New York City’s first kids, Dante and Chiara de Blasio.

The mayor’s offspring will be wheeled through the parade in an antique wicker Boardwalk Rolling Chair that dates back to 1923.

“We are extraordinarily honored to have the participation of New York City’s first family in the parade,” said Coney Island USA founder Dick Zigun, who is known as the Mayor of Coney Island. “King Neptune and Queen Mermaid represent the young adults of New York City who are the next generation of visitors to Coney Island and Coney Island USA.”

While many have hailed their selection, we’ve also seen a number of people taking to social media to decry the choice. Some say they’ll be skipping the parade this year because they disagree with the mayor’s politics. Others have argued that the two are hardly creative heroes or counterculture figures.

It’s unlikely the discontent will make much of a difference in attendance at the event, but we wanted to find out what locals think. Are Dante and Chaira de Blasio good choices to celebrate Coney Island’s quirks? Or is this selection just too political for you?

Assunta “Sue” Santa Maria, the beloved sister of community leader Carmine Santa Maria, passed away on June 4 at Maimonides Medical Center after a brief bout with pneumonia.

Santa Maria was a committed member of the community, arriving in Bensonhurst in the 1950s. She was a member of the Most Precious Blood Church rosary society. Her brother Carmine, the president of the Bensonhurst West End Community Council, sent in the following information about her life, passing and the services to be held.

Assunta Santa Maria is survived by her baby brother Carmine and “bride” Sharon, her sister Giovanina and Leo Vento, 6 nieces & nephews: Anthony & Donna Vento, Barbara & Billy Castellano, Carl & Lori Santa Maria, 4 great nieces and nephews, Anthony and Nicole, Michael Castellano, Jenna Castellano and two great, great nephews Joseph and Anthony Vento. Their Grandpa Anthony Vento (the first,) flying in from a Buenas Aires Business Trip Saturday afternoon.

As you know Aunt Sue, loved and adored by Jennie and my kids was childless, however, my nephew Anthony was more devoted than any son could ever be. He showed his love with daily trips to her whether she was in a hospital, nursing home, rehab center or our family Bay 41 Street home, sometimes 2-3 time a day, always checking in on Aunt Sue.

Aunt Sue’s wake will be held at Peter C. Labella Funeral Chapel, 2625 Harway Avenue at Bay 43 St. in Bensonhurst, on Saturday and Sunday June 7–8. (Chapel info & directions- 718 372 4242.)

On Monday June 9th, a 10.30 Mass will be celebrated at Most Precious Blood Church and she will be laid to rest at Staten Island’s Moravian Cemetery with her parents. Calogero and Grazia Santa Maria near her sister Carmela Millie Zazzali and Brother in-law Joe.

Rest in Peace Aunt Sue, your heavenly family awaits you; and we your loving family here, will always be thinking, remembering…missing you!

Bensonhurst Bean extends its sincere condolences to the Santa Maria family.

Source: dalioPhoto/Flickr

D LINE

There are no scheduled subway service adjustments this weekend.

N LINE

All times until October 2014: No trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late night N and weekend R trains are rerouted via the Manhattan Bridge. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

R LINE

All times until October 2014: No trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late night N and weekend R trains are rerouted via the Manhattan Bridge. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

F LINE

From 11:45 p.m. Friday to 10 p.m. Saturday, Coney Island-bound F trains skip Sutphin Blvd, Van Wyck Blvd, and 75 Av.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday to 8 p.m. Saturday, Manhattan-bound F trains run express from Avenue X to Jay St-MetroTech.

Source: Natalie Maynor / Flickr

Source: Natalie Maynor / Flickr

The Bensonhurst Greenmarket at Milestone Park will celebrate its seasonal grand opening this Sunday at 11:00 a.m.

The market kicked off its first year in 2012, brought in by Councilman Vincent Gentile and GrowNYC. This year, every Sunday from June 8 until November 23, they’ll be packing Milestone Park (18th Avenue between 81st Street and 82nd Street) with a slew of vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, honey and candles from farms located just miles outside of New York City (and one from inside of it!).

Here’s the full list of vendors setting up shop this year:

  • El Poblano Vegetables and specialized Mexican herbs and vegetables from one of the last remaining farms in the city of New York, in Richmond County.
  • Goodale Farms Vegetables and dairy from Suffolk County, NY.
  • Kernan Farms Vegetables from Cumberland County, NJ
  • Nature’s Way Farm Honey and candles from Chemung County, NY
  • Williams Fruit Farm Orchard fruit from Ulster County, NY

“I like to refer to the weekly greenmarkets as our very own town square. This is where long-time residents and people new to their neighborhoods come to shop, share recipes, catch up with their neighbors and meet new friends,” said Gentile in a press release. “There are many unofficial starts of the summer but, for me, the official unofficial start of summer is the exciting weekend when we kick off the popular Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst Greenmarkets.”

The market accepts WIC and FMNP checks, EBT, food stamps, debit and credit cards. The market is open every Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Bensonhurst Greenmarket previously won the seal of approval from Slow Food NYC for improving the sustainability and quality of the food supply in the area.

Aside from the food, there will also be weekly cooking demonstrations, seasonal celebrations and family-fun activities all season long.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

CompStat reports are produced by the New York Police Department on a weekly basis. We publish the week’s statistics for the 62nd Precinct reports every Friday. The 62nd Precinct is the police command responsible for Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.

Timpano in front of her home beneath the Thunderbolt.

Timpano in front of her home beneath the Thunderbolt.

Test cars have been running on the Thunderbolt ahead of its public opening sometime next week, and a new generation of riders are preparing themselves for the $10 thrill on the resurrected, reimagined ride. But how many of those riders will remember the original Thunderbolt? And how many of those will remember the home beneath the coaster?

That home, a modest looking shack wedged beneath the ride’s wood and steel beams, was made most famous by Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, where it was the childhood home of protagonist Alvy Singer. Many likely figured it was an artistic embellishment, that the actual building there was little more than a utility shack.

Timpano inside the home.

Timpano inside the home.

But locals knew better. The gritty looking home, surrounded by brush and a layer of paint that looked like it had been applied in Biblical times, was actually the home of Mae Timpano and Freddie Moran. While it wasn’t much to look at from the outside – except for its odd placement – many would be surprised to learn that it was well-kept on the inside, with six rooms and a grand piano, and a stock of Coney Island tea (a.k.a. beer).

The home and its two long-time residents became the subject of a short documentary, Under the Roller Coaster. Released in 2001, shortly after the coaster and home’s demolition, it  examined the home, and the couple’s, place in Coney Island history. Here’s a synopsis.

In 1946, while working as a waitress on Coney Island, Mae met Fred Moran, the owner and operator of the Thunderbolt roller coaster. They soon fell in love, and for forty years they lived together in Fred’s house — right under the Thunderbolt’s first turnaround.

Fred died in 1982, and the Thunderbolt carried its last thrill-seeker soon after. In 1988, Mae moved out, and the house was sold to a developer [Horace Bullard] who dreamed of building a new amusement park on the famed island. But the coaster was silent for twelve years, and in November 2000, with no warning, the city of New York bulldozed away one of its great urban treasures. Here, Mae tells the story of her years living in the house that the Thunderbolt rattled.

Timpano passed away in 2009.

When you ride the new Thunderbolt for the first time, make sure to take a moment to remember these two icons, and the long journey Coney Island has taken that the ride represents. And some wise words from the documentary:

“That’s the funny thing about Coney Island. It seems that once you get sand in your shoes, you never lose it.”

Here’s the full documentary:

Update: It looks like Curbed had a similar idea, and published a more in-depth piece about the coaster and home’s history.

grimm2

Grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm faces a 20-count indictment for tax evasion and illegal employment practices stemming from a restaurant he operated before running for Congress, charges he said are because the nation’s commander-and-chief wants to see him gone.

Grimm made the allegations against the Obama administration on Tuesday before a gathering of Republican supporters rallying for gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino. He also compared the United States to oppressive regimes in Iran and North Korea.

New York Observer reported on the statements:

“They change policy, they use regulation to legislate, they circumvent the Congress–this is now the norm for the Obama administration,” Mr. Grimm fumed at the Bay Ridge Manor in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

“And when you look and see why they come after me so hard, every day another negative story [against] the only Republican in New York City, it becomes obvious: they don’t want any opposition. This administration wants to do what it wants to do and they want you to forget about the America that you grew up in,” he said.

… “Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I’m not sure what country I’m living in,” he said. “Four Americans are killed and murdered in Benghazi–no one’s held accountable …. The IRS, arguably the most feared agency in our entire government targeting people because of their political views. Now this happens in Iran, this happens in North Korea, but this is the United States of America.”

The site reported that the statements “drew loud cheers.”

Grimm has long maintained that the investigation against him, which began as a probe into his 2010 campaign fundraising, was a “political witch hunt” by Democrats looking to see the city’s lone Republican congressman unseated. Prosecutors, however, have submitted paperwork to the court suggesting that Grimm’s own documents show he kept two sets of books and paid employees – some of which were undocumented immigrants – in cash to avoid taxes.

Grimm’s assertion that he is the subject of political retaliation has sparked snark from colleagues, including State Senator Diane Savino. The pol, whose district is largely within Grimm’s, let forth a tirade on Facebook about Grimm’s conspiracy theory back in April:

[G]et a grip folks, Mikey is not that important, he is no threat to the power structure, he is a slick talker with a nice resume who seems to be in trouble. he was not on track for greatness as a national leader, not on track to upset the national scene. Conspiracy, please….

Grimm pleaded not guilty to the charges.

All hail the return of local, do-it-yourself rock music for all ages!

The Brooklyn Vegan is reporting that a new group calling itself Frank’s Basement has popped up in Bensonhurst. The group will put on semi-regular concerts in one of the members’ basements, as well as shows at other venues like an upcoming production at the East Midwood Jewish Center.

The Facebook page for Frank’s Basement describes it this way:

We hold free all ages shows for any band or artist that wants to perform most of the shows take place in the basement but some at other venues

They already put on at least one show in May, and, in their hilarious video promo above, they claim to be shooting to have music and art shows every Sunday.

“All right so we’ve got free, all ages shows in Bensonhurst, you know? You come down, you and your friends, your friend’s band can play, you know, who cares? It doesn’t even matter. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of good music, it’s a lot of arteests that come by,” said the promo’s presenter, Fuzzy P.

Sure, the basement looks like a fire trap or murder pit, but, as they note, it’s all in the DIY spirit that launched bands like Nirvana. And it’s just a few blocks off from where the legendary L’Amour entertained metal heads.

Looking at what they’ve got out there so far, though, the group will be less like L’Amour, and more like another legendary music spot to kids who grew up locally in the late 90s and early 00s: The Punk Temple.

Located in the basement of a synagogue on Bay Parkway (the same synagogue where your editor was bar mitvah’d), the Punk Temple, gave kids a place to mosh to live punk, rock, metal and experimental music. It was the only all-ages place in the area, so it drew a huge crowd of teens and tweens. Aside from local bands, it drew some international talent as well, and had a heck of a reputation until its closing in 2003, when the synagogue was sold to developers.

The Temple’s “official” event photographer posted some photos from the final shows in a two part series. Coincidentally, many of the staple bands from the Temple are about to hold their fifth and final reunion at Coney Island’s Peggy O’Neills in August.

[07D+May+3+At+a+Loss+dive.jpg]

Some crowd surfing at a Temple show, in the same room where I occasionally learned some Hebrew and mostly got in trouble for stuff. (Source: Robert Barry Francos)

Photo courtesy of Butch Moran

Fireworks rang in the 2013 season. (Photo by Butch)

Coney Island’s traditional Friday night fireworks will kick off for the 2014 season on June 20, just hours before the first day of summer and the Mermaid Parade, Amusing the Zillion reports.

The fireworks, sponsored by the Alliance for Coney Island, are free to all, taking place on the beach near West 10th Street and West 12th Street.

Friday night fireworks are fired at 9:30 p.m.

Before that begins, however, there will be several displays of burning, colored gun powder in the sky over the neighborhood. The Brooklyn Cyclones at MCU Park put on their own shows, and the site reports that this year each show will have a musical theme. The Cyclones begin their display on opening day, Saturday, June 14, and host two more post-game shows that week on June 16 and June 17.

Check Amusing the Zillion for MCU’s full fireworks schedule, which includes several Saturdays and some weekdays.

July 4 falls on a Friday this year, but the People’s Playground might defer to the East River’s blasts. A NY1 report last month claimed that the city was withholding permits to the Alliance for Coney Island for their Independence Day display. Despite multiple attempts, we have not been able to confirm the report, and will update if we hear anything different.

Here’s a little video from last year’s opening night:

The cigarettes seized as part of the bust. (Source: Dept. of Taxation and Finance)

The cigarettes seized as part of the bust. (Source: Dept. of Taxation and Finance)

A Bath Beach man was one of two people arrested yesterday after authorities seized 3,236 cartons of contraband cigarettes from his home and a Borough Park stash house, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance announced yesterday.

Ji Long Chen, 37, was cuffed by the department’s Cigarette Strike Force and taken to the 62nd Precinct alongside alleged co-conspirator Mohamed Kassim, 27.

The department said they seized 3,236 cartons of cigarettes, 3,795 counterfeit tax stamps, and more than $130,000 in cash following a raid on two properties associated with Chen.

Chen has been charged with four felonies, including criminal tax fraud, and the possession and transport for sale of illegal cigarettes. Kassim, who lives near Eastern Parkway, was charged with possession or transport for sale of unstamped cigarettes.

According to authorities, department investigators raided a stash house at 940 43rd Street in Borough Park yesterday, where they seized nearly 800 Virginia-stamped cigarette cartons, and discovered the phony New York stamps. Kassim was at the stash house at the time of the raid, and was arrested there.

Meanwhile, investigators followed Chen to his Shore Parkway home near Bay 41st Street. There they found the rest of the cigarette cartons and $75,000 in cash. They executed a search warrant and searched two bank safe deposit boxes connected to the pair and seized additional cash they believe came from the sale of the illegal cigarettes, bringing the total to $131,763.

The two have been released on their own recognizance and a court appearance has not yet been set.