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Costello as Abe Lincoln (Source: Friends of Historic New Utrecht) 

When he’s not making Oscar-nominated films or killing vampires, President Abraham Lincoln hangs out in Bensonhurst.

America’s 16th President is stopping by the Parish House of the New Utrecht Reformed Church at 18th Avenue and 84th Street on Tuesday, February 11, where he’ll share stories of his early life growing up on the frontier and discuss his views on slavery and the issues that led to the Civil War.

The president will be portrayed by Robert Costello, and, like all politicians, he’ll precede the appearance by hobnobbing with elementary-aged children during a meet-and-greet at New Utrecht High School.

“There is no greater reward than to see a look of wonder and astonishment in a child’s eyes upon meeting me or to hear from a student who at my urging has discovered enjoyment in reading,” Costello said.

Of course, Costello, as Lincoln, will fit right in as a piece of living history at New Utrecht Reformed Church. The church was founded in 1677, and the sanctuary building next to the Parish House was built in 1828. He’ll be accompanied by Civil War reenactors from the 14th Brooklyn Regiment, Company H.

More information on the February 12 evening program and on the historic, cultural and educational programs of the Friends of Historic New Utrecht is available at (718) 256-7173 and at


The late, great Maurice Sendak is receiving a rare honor in his home borough, as the Department of Education has approved plans to name a new school after the legendary illustrator and children’s author.

Unfortunately, the school will be in Park Slope, miles away from his childhood home in Gravesend.

P.S. 118, which will open this fall on Fourth Avenue and Eighth Street, will be called the Maurice Sendak Community School, reports DNAinfo.

[Presumed principal Elizabeth Garraway] said the author’s imaginative spirit fits in with what she hopes to accomplish at P.S. 118, which will have a multicultural curriculum.

“We want to be a place where kids are flexible thinkers and they step outside of the box, and Maurice Sendak was known for his creativity,” Garraway said.

… Sendak’s estate was “elated” by the honor, and the DOE approved the name quickly, she said.

Born in 1928, Sendak spent his early years in Gravesend, living at 1717 West 6th Street. He attended David A. Boody Junior High School at 228 Avenue S before heading to Lafayette High School.

Last spring, following his death in Connecticut, Bensonhurst Bean (with the help of our readers) discovered two of his earliest published illustrations – both from those schools’ yearbooks.

(First ever published Maurice Sendak illustration in Lafayette High School?)
(Nope, this one from Boody is older.)


There was a time when I enjoyed snow and snowy days. There used to be a thrill in getting off from school, or work, and then adventuring out into the fluffy white stuff and frolicking around.

Those days are gone for me. I hate the winter and its frozen air, shutting us in our homes and whipping our faces with cold when we try and walk around outside. Sadly, it looks like we are about to get a big dose of winter this weekend, as Nemo blows into town.

According to the Weather Channel, Nemo could be a storm of historic proportions. I think I speak for about eight million people when I say this city has had its fill of historic storms recently and the promise of a new one does nothing but fill me gloom.

On the bright side, barring a miscalculation from the weather experts, Nemo will hit hardest in New England, burying Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine with two to three feet of snow while New York will only be dealing with about a half a foot of snow; annoying, but manageable.

So, just in case we get a taste of what is expected to be dumped on New England, it might be a good time to stock on groceries, reassess any serious weekend traveling and prepare for potential power outages caused by high speed damaging winds.

Best of luck and stay safe.

The Department of Transportation is suspending alternate side parking this Friday, February 8, due to preparations for the predicted winter storm.

Payment at all parking meters will still be enforced citywide, so feed those machines.

Source: Facebook

Cha Cha’s Bar and Grill on Surf Avenue is closing its doors for good, according to a report from Amusing the Zillion.

Like practically every establishment on Coney Island, Superstorm Sandy ravaged the business, though no reason for the closure was given in the sad Twitter announcement.

Cha Cha’s relocated to Surf Avenue last spring when they lost their lease on their boardwalk spot. After Sandy knocked them out of business, plans were put into motion for a January reopening, but for whatever reason those plans have been axed.

Fare thee well, Cha Cha’s…

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, or visit CEC 21 on the web or on Facebook.