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Have your questions about your property taxes answered by Hon. Kirk P. Tzanides, commissioner of the New York City Tax Commission, during a presentation and Q&A sponsored by City Councilman Vincent J. Gentile.

“How To Appeal Your Property Taxes” will be held February 11, at 7:30 p.m. inside the Our Lady of Angels (OLA) auditorium, 7320 Fourth Avenue. Parking will be available in the OLA lot — you can enter the parking lot on 74th Street.

For more information, call Councilman Gentile’s office at (718) 748-5200 extension 203.

Source: BrokenSphere via WIkimedia Commons

Styrofoam is perhaps one of the most space-aged products mankind has ever invented. But, though the stuff is soft, lightweight and relatively durable, its also a dangerous environmental hazard. Because of this, the Sanitation Department is looking for a city-wide ban on the product, according to a report by DNA Info.

The legislation being proposed would place the focus of the ban on businesses and not consumers.

“This would not be something that the consumer would have to deal with,” said deputy commissioner for recycling and sustainability Ron Gonen, “From a pure dollars-and-cents standpoint, it costs us money to dispose of Styrofoam in a landfill. It’s also unhealthy for the environment. It doesn’t break down properly.”

Instead, the ban would fine or heavily tax businesses that continue to order and distribute Styrofoam in large quantities, forcing them to find more environmentally favorable alternatives.

“We’re either going to ban your product or packaging, or make you pay to have it sent to a landfill,” Gonen said.

Councilman Lew Fidler, who had expressed support for a ban in the past, reaffirmed his support for the new ban proposal.

“I would love to move this bill forward, as it would be a help to both our environment and to our businesses through tax incentives,” Fidler said in a released statement.

Legendary filmmaker Ralph Bakshi is out to create an incredible new collection of animated shorts and he needs our help. His project is titled The Last Days of Coney Island, and he is trying to finance the movie through Kickstarter.

Bakshi, who grew up in Brooklyn, was the mastermind behind some of the technically greatest 2D adult-oriented movies ever made. He gained notoriety for his X-Rated 1972 masterpiece Fritz the Cat, which according to Wikipedia, is the most successful independent animated feature of all time.

Bakshi was also the genius behind the cult classic Lord of the Rings animated feature, animated masterpiece American Pop and the oft-maligned Brad Pitt feature Cool World.

His latest feature is set to synthesize his classic styles in the strange and changing world of 1960s era Coney Island. Bakshi laid out his ambitions in his awesome Kickstarter video.

Last Days of Coney Island is about us. It’s about hairdressers, factory workers, rock and roll, the grassy knoll, mafia and Dick Tracy, Charlie Parker, Iraq, and Miss America.”

Filmmaking is an incredibly expensive medium to dabble in, and artists like Bakshi often have trouble not only acquiring the necessary funding needed to finance projects, but also gaining the full artistic control necessary to complete their vision. Bakshi made a sly comment about this reality in his Kickstarter plea.

“Help me do something for animation, that isn’t driven by making you happy and stupid.”

Bakshi has already collected nearly $33,000, about 20 percent of his goal of $165,000. If you love Bakshi’s movies, and want to see his epic Coney Island picture come to reality, you can donate to his Kickstarter campaign by clicking here.

Ugh. Just… ugh.

The MTA sent out a press release earlier this morning, boasting of an “interactive subway map for easier viewing of fine-grain details.”

Using the new map, “you can zoom in to enlarge any part of the map and expose details for easy viewing. Just scroll your mouse’s rollerball or click on the map’s zoom button. You can also click-and-hold your mouse button to drag the map with your mouse or click on pan buttons to change the section that’s visible.”

Gee whiz! I can just scroll my mouse’s rollerball and click on things? Golly, the future sure is groovy!

Unfortunately, the map still sucks.

Billed as a replacement for their infuriating previous option, a downloadable .pdf map that needed to be opened in another program, the latest feature isn’t really all that different. Sure, there’s no download required, but it’s essentially just dropped the .pdf map into an embedded .pdf viewer without adding any real interactivity or usability.

Embedded .pdf viewers like Scribd have been widely available to any schmuck with a keyboard for at least six years now.

And, of course, it’s no real improvement for users. We may get to skip the download, but for those looking to plot a trip through the city using unfamiliar routes, the MTA’s subway map is near useless without showing the entire street grid. There are no “fine-grain details” to zoom into with my “rollerball.”

For years now, most savvy users have turned to Google Maps or the alternatives to plan trips, especially since it has another great feature (beyond directions) that the MTA should adopt – maps that consider the entire transit environment, showing subway, bus and rail lines.

Unfortunately, Google Maps isn’t always on target when it comes to the MTA’s constant service disruptions, so planning a trip without referring back to the MTA’s website is still perilous.

So why am I writing about this? Because the MTA’s announcement is just galling. Don’t put out a press release touting “major improvements” that wouldn’t have been impressive even 10 years ago. Through rider fares and taxpayer subsidies, we put a lot of money into the system. Is it too much to ask to put a little bit of that money back into developing a map that will actually help riders in the 21st Century?

The next Community Education Council District 21 (CEC 21) meeting will be held February 6 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Intermediate School 96 (IS 96) – Seth Low, 99 Avenue P between West 11th Street and West 12th Street.

Public comment is encouraged at this meeting. The guest speaker will be the Office of Safety and Youth Development’s Brooklyn and Staten Island Borough Safety Director Frank Jordan, who will discuss “General Response Protocols and Building Response Teams.”

Entertainment will be provided by the students of IS 96. There will also be door prizes and light refreshments.

To learn more about CEC 21, call (718) 333-3885, email cec21@schools.nyc.gov, or visit CEC 21 on the web or on Facebook.

David G. Greenfield

Source: council.nyc.gov

Parking is never easy in New York City, even for those lucky enough to actually find a space.

Such is the case when the city enforces temporary, unannounced parking changes, especially when those changes result in motorists finding their cars towed. Councilman David Greenfield, who had his car towed in such a scenario, is looking to change the system and force the city to give drivers 24-hour notice of temporary parking changes, according to a report by the New York Daily News.

Greenfield ran into trouble when his car was towed after parking in front of City Hall, hours before city police placed no parking notices on the area. Currently, there is no law on the books that requires the city to notify drivers of parking changes brought on by special events or special security considerations.

“There’s no reason why the City of New York cannot provide a courtesy to drivers and put up a sign 24 hours in advance,” Greenfield told the Daily News.

 

Source: wallyg via flickr

Tolls for bridge crossings have long been the scourge of mankind ever since hideous trolls and ogres started collecting them in medieval times. Since heroic knights can’t protect us from the MTA, we have to rely on petitions like the one started by Dominic Cenatiempo.

Centaiempo, a resident of Staten Island, is hoping to rally 500,000 outraged motorists to join him in his full opposition to the proposed $2 hike on the Verrazano Bridge.

The $2 increase, set for March, would bring the total cost of crossing the bridge to $15, hammering commuters traversing from Staten Island into Brooklyn. Cenatiempo voiced his outrage on Change.org:

People are suffering financially especially everyday commuters who travel just to go to work. Small businesses are suffering financially from being crushed left and right. This had led them to enforce pay cuts, layoffs, and some to close their doors for good. We the people say “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH” we have had it up to here with the Bullshit !!!!!

Are you also incensed with the toll increases? Feel free to sign Cenatiempo’s petition, which is still about 498,000 short of its goal.

City Councilman Vincent Gentile’s District Office now has Saturday office hours. Source: Bing Maps

Good news for constituents in City Councilman Vincent Gentile’s 43rd Council District who don’t have the time to visit his community office during the week.

Located at 8703 Third Avenue, Gentile’s District Office will now be open every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., in addition to the regular office hours on Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“By opening my office on Saturdays, it is my hope to assist those whose work schedules or other commitments keep them from visiting my office during the work week,” said Gentile, who also keeps a satellite “office,” during the summer through fall, each Saturday at the Bay Ridge Greenmarket. “This option will make my office more accessible to everyone in my District.”

Photo courtesy of brooklyneagle.com via dead.net

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle remembers when The Grateful Dead, America’s consummate acid-jam band, rocked Bensonhurst over 40 years ago in a four-day-long concert.

The event was held at Universal Theater, located on 46th Street and New Utrecht Avenue, now a furniture store. The atmosphere described by those who somehow remember the show, was one filled with marijuana smoke and lasted until the sun rose the next morning. The scent of that most dangerous, cholesterol-packed drug known as bacon also permeated the air when Pigpen started cooking it right on the stage. Mmm… Grateful Bacon…

The Dead’s cool, but the real star here is the Universal Theater, which opened on October 9, 1927, and was pretty incredible for its time. Decked out with Greco-Roman furnishings designed to mimic an Italian garden, the theater also boasted a gorgeous cloud projected ceiling and intricately carved columns.

The theater hosted superstar acts ranging from Jerry Lee Lewis, The Byrds, Steely Dan and Gladys Knight and the Pips but was closed in 1973 because of community complaints over noise.

What cool concert experiences do you remember at the Universal Theater?

The former Universal Theater today, now a furniture store (Source: Bing Maps)

Single ladies of Brooklyn, now you too can experience the thrill of buying a local politician, as Representative Michael Grimm has put himself on the block for charity, according to a report by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

The charity auction, which is sponsored by the Bay Ridge-based Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation, is holding its Second Annual Bachelor Auction on Friday, February 8, at the Dyker Golf Course catering hall, Seventh Avenue and 86th Street, at 7 p.m.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if Grimm, a noted opponent of gay marriage, gets bid on by some gay-rights activists? If they make the winning bid, perhaps they could “pin him down” on the issue once and for all.  ::cough::

Also up for bidding, on the other side of the political spectrum, is Democrat Andrew Gounardes, who lost to Marty Golden in this past November’s State Senate election. I’m sure a little romance will go a long way to lift him out of his political blues.

If politicians aren’t your thing, you can also bid on a wide menagerie of firefighters, lawyers, teachers and cops. Those attending the event can expect your standard night of dinner, dancing, schmoozing and man-bidding.

Here are the relevant details:

All guests must be 21 years of age or older to attend the auction. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 each and must be purchased in advance. Tickets can be purchased online or by check via mail to: The Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 237, Brooklyn N.Y. 11227, Attn: Bachelor Committee.

The Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation as founded by sisters Camille Orrichio Loccisano and Lucy Bruno, in honor and memory of Camille’s teenage son, Frankie, who died of pediatric cancer in 2007 at the age of 17. The foundation offers financial support to children suffering from cancer and their families.

For more information, call 718-238-6001 or email info@FrankiesMission.org. The Francesco Loccisano Foundation is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501C3 non-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible.