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Brooklyn Paper clued us in to the new music video created by Bensonhurst’s “ice cream girl” Maria Campanella. The video, dubbed Yo Granny’s In My Garbage, paints a broad picture of a common New York phenomenon, that being the “bottle ladies” digging through garbage cans for discarded cans and bottles.

The song features a dancing woman (Tara Lopez) pretending to be Asian and tells the tale of a witless granny who goes about digging through trash cans and drinking discarded Red Bulls. It’s a pretty crass song and video that is kind of funny, but does it go too far? Brooklyn Paper asked local community leaders for their opinion.

“The way they present it is very disrespectful,” said Steve Chung, president of the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn and a member of Bensonhurst’s Community Board 11 — though he added that he didn’t believe Campanella’s intentions were necessarily bad. “I don’t think there’s any viciousness behind it, but I’m disappointed as a human being.”

In her defense, Campanella argued that she wasn’t singling out Chinese people, despite the clothes and makeup of the main character.

“If you go in any neighborhood, they got different people doing it, American-born people, Polish people, Asian people. It’s not racial profiling,” Campanella told Brooklyn Paper. “A hat doesn’t distinguish a culture. If it’s a sunny day, anybody can wear a hat like that.”

Victor Wong, a Community Board 11 member, wasn’t offended.

“It wasn’t meant to be a racial thing at all,” Wong told the Brooklyn Paper. “Someone who doesn’t know Maria well could potentially construe it as offensive, but that’s true with anything.”

What do you guys think? Does the video cross the line? Do you think its funny? Let us know.

The incineration plant and landfill dump at Gravesend Bay in 1973, now the site at the center of a major Bensonhurst environmental debate. (Source: Source: Arthur Tress via DailyDOCUMERICA)

Opponents of the proposed Gravesend Bay waste station had their cause buoyed by the discovery of potent toxins in the waters of the Bay, according to a report by the New York Daily News.

The tests, conducted by the Sanitation Department, found high concentrations of the pesticide chlordane and the insecticide mirex, substances both banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Mercury was also found with the other substances in the Bay’s sediment.

As we’ve previously reported, opposition to the proposed waste station has been fierce, garnering bipartisan support from local politicians along with 88-year-old cancer survivor, Dorothy Mortman.

Mortman believes that local pollution gave her cancer 15 years ago and she doesn’t want to see any other local residents become victims of cancer-causing pollutants.

“It’s too late for me because I’m an old woman, but we have young children here,” Mortman told the Daily News.

Assemblyman William Colton believes that the recent tests are more than enough proof to halt expansion of the waste transfer station.

“This report is the smoking gun,” said state Assemblyman William Colton (D-Bensonhurst), who thinks the toxins are left over from a city garbage incinerator that operated on the site for 30 years.

“We fear for beachgoers if dredging is done,” said Colton, who sent a letter with community groups and residents to Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty demanding planned construction at the Bay 41st St. site be stopped.

“This would contaminate the fish, the shellfish and the bird sanctuary at Drier Offerman Park.”

The new report is being used by Colton and other opponents of the waste transfer station in their Brooklyn Supreme Court case scheduled for next week.

Despite the outcry against the construction of the waste station, the Sanitation Department interpreted the results of their tests in a less harsh light.

“[Contamination levels] are consistent with levels in New York Harbor generally, and sediment quality will improve after dredging,” Sanitation spokeswoman Kathy Dawkins told the Daily News.

Is anybody put at ease by that quote which implies that your typical New York City waters are laced with dangerous pesticides, insecticides and mercury? Something to consider before sticking your toes into any New York coastline.

Photo by Caitlin Teal Price via

We came across this awesome collection of photographs consisting of Coney Island and Brighton Beach sand lovers luxuriating in the hot summer sun.

The pictures were shot by Washington, D.C.-based photographer Caitlin Teal Price and the collection features a wide variety of sun worshipers of all shapes and sizes enjoying some heavy duty doses of vitamin D.

Not all of Price’s models are as conventionally fetching as the Uma Thurman lookalike seen above, but I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

Caitlin Teal Price via


Caitlin Teal Price via

RIGHT??? Seriously – bold, Speedo guy… real bold.

Great stuff, Caitlin. To see the full gallery head over to her website.

Neighbors and school community members came together Sunday at New Utrecht High School (1601 80th Street) to celebrate the Asian Lunar New Year.

The school’s auditorium was filled to the max with people of all different age who came to support the performers and celebrate the holiday. The atmosphere was fun and lively, with food available.

Young children shared the stage with active adults, performing a blend of modern dances such as the Gangnam Style Dance and more traditional dances like the Xin Jaing Tambourine Dance.

State Senator Marty Golden hosted the event. Here are some more photos of the festivities:


While the city’s brick-and-mortar business owners continue to grouse over the mindboggling number of rules, regulations and requirements imposed by the city – and the fines they might incur – the city’s fleet of food trucks and army of street vendors can breath easier: the city has slashed in half the amount of fines that can be imposed on them.

The City Council passed a handful of new legislation last week aimed at making business easier for mobile vendors, including creating a $500 cap on the amount of fines a vendor can receive during inspections. Previous regulations capped it at $1,000.

And while street vendors and the bill’s supporters say the new laws will help spur business and employment, brick-and-mortar owners say they’re getting an raw deal, with higher fines on top of the already steep overhead of New York City rent and regulations.

Councilman Vincent Gentile is helping lead the charge against the bill, saying its passage creates a double standard.

“I hear what [business owners are] going through with city agencies trying to wring them dry with fines and they are not happy,” Gentile said in a press release.  “Why aren’t we lowering fines for the brick and mortar business owner who is already paying a premium to rent a storefront on a main commercial strip while covering business and property taxes, water bills and private sanitation?!”

According to the release, Gentile has been “banging the drum” on the issue since 2008 – though not with much success.

“The mobile food vendors of today should be held to the same standards as any brick and mortar restaurant,” he said.

Gentile is also in favor of legislation that would force food vendors to display letter grades from the Health Department, just as brick-and-mortar restaurants are required.

Source: Youngking11 via Wikimedia Commons

Here are your weekly D & N line subway service advisories… plus a little subway humor, because, well… why not?

Boy, the rats in this city are really huge.

Peanut Gallery: “Hoooow huuuuuge are they?”

They’re so huge that I stepped on one at Stillwell Avenue and it took me all the way to Union Square.


As always, if these changes affect your commute, remember to adjust your schedule accordingly — leave yourself plenty of extra time to get to where you are going.

N Train

From 11:45 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., Monday to Friday, March 4-8, Coney Island-bound N trains will be running express from 34th Street-Herald Square to Canal Street.

D Train

From 11:45 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., Tuesday to Friday, March 5-8, there will be no Coney Island-bound D trains at 7th Avenue, 47-50 streets, 42nd Street-Bryant Park, and 34th Street-Herald Square.

Downtown D trains are being rerouted via the C from 59th Street-Columbus Circle to West 4th Street. D train service will be operating in two sections:

  • Between 205th Street and the 2nd Avenue F station, the last stop, and
  • Between West 4th Street and Stillwell Avenue

To continue your trip, transfer at Broadway-Lafayette Street.

These service changes affect one or more ADA accessible stations. Please call 511 for help with planning your trip. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service provider or the free 711 relay. For more information, go to and read station signs.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The government giveth… crippling partisan bickering taketh away.

As across-the-board government cuts known as the “sequester” kick in this week, many New Yorkers are facing the reality that the aid sent to them in the form of the $60 billion Sandy package will be reduced by $3 billion, according to a report by Fox 5.

While it’s hard to tell exactly which parts of the Sandy aid package will get the ax, the changes will be felt in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the immediate impact of the sequester will be felt in the form of flight delays as thousands of TSA screeners and air traffic controllers will be furloughed – a temporary, unpaid leave – leading to slower and reduced service.

Councilman Domenic Recchia, chair of the powerful Finance Committee charged with developing the city’s budget, also weighed in on the negative effects the sequester will wreck on jobs and the unemployment rate in New York City in a press release:

Nationally, it’s been estimated that the sequestration could cost as many as 750,000 jobs and anywhere ranging from a .25 point increase to a 1.5 point increase in the national unemployment rate. Here, in New York City, a spike in unemployment is of significant concern because our rate of unemployment, at 8.8%, is already higher than the national average, 7.9%. For the past five years, we’ve fought hard to overcome a sluggish economy, and now this threat to economic growth is a devastating step in the wrong direction.

The longer the across the board cuts continue, what will be cut and how it will affect the recovery will become more clear.

The Checkmate, Cancer! team.

Karafin at the 2005 PCF Walkathon

Childhood cancer is the number one cause of non-accidental deaths among children, with 12,000 diagnoses each year. Elona Karafin, a 19-year-old Bensonhurst native, has started ”Checkmate, Cancer!”, a team participating in the annual Pediatric Cancer Foundation (PCF) walkathon, in the hopes of ending this deadly disease.

When Karafin was 10 years old, she was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of bone cancer. For two years, she suffered through chemotherapy and countless surgeries, but she refused to let the disease win. Since then she has been involved with various charities to help the cause.

“As a cancer survivor, I want to dedicate a portion of my life giving back to the people and institutions that save children’s lives every day,” said Karafin.

Karafin has participated on a number of PCF teams over the years, but decided to start her own, “Checkmate, Cancer!”

The team is mostly made up of college students working hard to reach their goal of at least $2,000 to donate to the PCF by late April, as well as raising awareness of the cause. So if people aren’t able to donate money then Karafin urges them to like and share their page on Facebook. It’s a small step that can make a big difference, Karafin said.

The Baruch College student is encouraging people to join her team to walk in the 19th annual Pediatric Center Foundation Walkathon, April 28 in Riverside Park. The event is a fun and healthy way to spend the day, with entertainment, food and lots more. Plus, it’s for a great cause to help sick kids.

The PCF is a non-profit charity with the goal to cure childhood cancer and raise money for research, equipment and patient care.

”The PCF walk made me realize how many people are out there to do good for others, not just by collecting money, but by really creating a comfortable and happy environment for young patients and their families. I may have been young, but I remember like it was yesterday how hard it was to feel comfortable in public being bald and stick thin.” Karafin said.

Karafin is also hosting a fundraising luncheon this April.

To learn more about ”Checkmate, Cancer!” and how to be a part of it click here.


We’ve kept you updated on the looming MTA fare hikes, and now they are a reality. Buses, subways and bridge tolls all cost more money courtesy of the friendly and responsible money managers at the MTA.

In case you’re late to the party and have no idea what I’m talking about, here is the breakdown of the latest hikes, guaranteed to finally balance the MTA’s budget forever, we’re certain of it.

The base fare for bus and subway rides will rise a quarter to $2.50. The cost for express bus rides will rise 50 cents to an even $6.

More details:

  • The seven day Express Bus Plus MetroCard will cost $55.
  • The seven-day regular unlimited MetroCard will rise to $30.
  • The 30-day regular unlimited MetroCard jumps to $112.
  • Single-ride tickets, only sold at vending machines, will cost $2.75.
  • A bonus of 5 percent is added to MetroCards with purchases of $5 or more.

There is a new fee of $1 for the purchase of MetroCards, but there are exceptions for cards purchased at out-of-system vendors and for seniors.

For the full list of wallet-squeezing price hikes, you can visit the MTA’s breakdown of the new charges by clicking here.


Last month we reported on the City Council’s passage of a bill aimed to end hiring discrimination of the unemployed. The bill, sponsored by Councilman Vincent Gentile, was vetoed by Mayor Bloomberg. Gentile expects the City Council to override the veto, according to a report by CBS NY.

In the recent economic downturn, many unemployed people are finding difficulty getting hired or even getting an interview. The bill would ensure that unemployed job seekers get a fair shake in getting interviewed and landing jobs.

“Employers are basically saying or employment agencies are saying those who are unemployed need not apply,” Gentile told CBS. “And that, again, is a Catch-22 that you need to have a job to get a job.”

Opponents of the bill, led by Bloomberg, argue that attempting to legislate hiring decisions made by businesses are too complicated and it opens businesses to a bevy of potentially frivolous lawsuits.

“Hiring decisions frequently involve the exercise of independent, subjective judgment about a prospective employee’s likely future performance, and the creation of this ambiguous legal standard will make it harder for employers to make decisions that will benefit their businesses,” Bloomberg said in a letter explaining his veto decision.

Opponents also argue that companies will begin to exclusively hire from within their ranks rather than risk the exposure of complaints from outside applicants.

Still, advocates of the bill like mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn believe that something has to be done to keep unemployed people from being shut out of the work world.

Applicants “are out there, doing what we tell them to do, pounding the pavement, putting out their resume, only to hear that the fact that they’re unemployed makes them ineligible for a job,” Quinn said Friday. “It’s the exact wrong message to people.”