Subscribe for FREE with:

Giuseppe Maffei, owner of Gino’s Foccaceria.

The 18th Avenue Feast has been coming to town for close to three decades, bringing this Brooklyn neighborhood a sprinkle of culture, a pinch of cuisine, and a wrinkle straight into that summer lovin’ state of mind. While last year’s Festa di Santa Rosalia was canceled at the last minute, this August it’s back – and tomorrow it’s show time.

But while many natives are ready to indulge in some funnel cake and perhaps brave a ride on the rickety Zipper, some 18th Avenue business owners are a little less enthused about the return of the Feast.

Continue Reading »

The latest edition from JoAnn is chock of full salt of the earth advice on how to deal with your friend or partner’s bad habits. In true JoAnn fashion, her advice spares no feelings.

This video also contains the greatest paradox known to woman or man: toilet seat up or toilet seat down? See for yourself if JoAnn can finally provide the answer.

The following is an op-ed contributed by Abe George, candidate for the office of the Brooklyn District Attorney in 2013′s citywide elections.

What is a cybercrime lab? Well, you might have heard last week that prosecutors in Manhattan obtained one, at a cost of $4.2 million awarded from the city. It will be used to assist the already existing identity theft and cybercrime unit of the New York County District Attorney’s office, where a group of specialized prosecutors and forensic analysts investigate crimes of identity theft and credit card fraud.

Why should you care? Because the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office not only has no cybercrime lab, it has no dedicated identity theft unit at all.

While law enforcement officials and prosecutors around the country have been gearing up to battle the growing epidemic of identity theft-related crimes, I fear that Brooklyn is lagging behind, and here’s why.

Continue Reading »

Source: Adam E. Moreira via Wikimedia Commons

From the offices of Councilman David Greenfield:

Councilman David Greenfield introduced legislation during today’s Stated City Council meeting that would increase parking and reduce the number of tickets drivers receive by requiring the city to clearly delineate where each bus stop specifically begins and ends.

The proposed law was motivated by the stark need for additional parking spaces, especially in Greenfield’s Southern Brooklyn district, and the number of constituents who have reported receiving a parking ticket after unknowingly parking in bus stops – especially in cases when the bus stop extends all the way to the end of a block. The legislation is part of Greenfield’s continuing efforts to make owning a car a little easier and less frustrating by eliminating instances of unfair tickets and providing additional parking to drivers who are often forced to endlessly circle the block in search of a legal parking space.

“The city should make parking regulations as clear as possible to avoid tricking motorists into receiving tickets for violations they did not even realize they were committing. This common-sense legislation will help create additional parking spaces while making it clearer to drivers exactly where a bus stop begins and ends. This will in turn also increase the safety of those individuals who are taking mass transit on a regular basis,” explained Greenfield.

Currently, when only one sign is posted at a bus stop, the ‘no parking’ zone occupies the remainder of the block in the direction the arrow on the bus stop sign is pointing. Subsequently, because many drivers are not familiar with that law, motorists are frequently and unfairly issued tickets for unwittingly parking in extra-long bus zones. The legislation would require the city to install signs at the beginning and end of each bus stop in order to make ‘no parking’ and ‘no standing’ zones clear and to increase safety for bus drivers and passengers by preventing motorists from parking in or obstructing MTA bus stops.

Finally, this legislation will force the MTA to reevaluate whether it actually needs to take up as much space at each individual location that has a bus stop, especially those that use an entire block.

“The end result of this legislation will be more available parking for drivers, increased safety around bus stops and a reduction in the number of unfair tickets drivers receive. I will continue to seek new and creative ways to improve the quality of life for all of our residents,” concluded Greenfield.

The proposed legislation has been referred to the City Council’s Transportation Committee for hearings.

The site of the former bank.

On  August 22, 1972 the normally quiet strip on Avenue P between Ocean Parkway and McDonald Avenue took center stage in a hot summer drama that is still remembered today.

John Wojtowicz and Sal Naturile attempted to rob a Chase Manhattan Bank on the corner of East 3rd Street and Avenue P. The robbery led to a hostage situation, a 12-hour standoff with police, and a ride to the airport that ended in Naturile’s death.

This story has been made famous by the Sidney Lumet film Dog Day Afternoon starring Al Pacino. The original Time Magazine article about the robbery, “The Boys in the Bank,” was the basis for the screenplay and can be found here.

Former bank teller and Vietnam Veteran Wotjowicz, portrayed in the film by Pacino, was motivated to rob the bank because he needed money for Ernest Aron’s (his boyfriend) sex change operation. For the crime, he served 20 years in prison.

This may be the most dramatic incident to ever take place on this small stretch of the avenue.

The intersection on Avenue P and East 3rd Street is now a quiet hub in the Orthodox Jewish community. It is a predominantly Syrian Jewish neighborhood bordering Gravesend.  Today, the area feels calm and somewhat empty with most of the residents having gone to the shore during the summer months.

450 Avenue P was most recently a medical center but is currently vacant. The sides of the building are covered in graffiti and the parking lot is full of weeds. Neighboring the now vacant building is a kosher sushi restaurant, a florist that is closed for the summer and a Middle Eastern grocery.

One longtime resident of the area, Claire Lesser of 1500 Ocean Parkway, remembers returning from work 40 years ago and not being able to take her regular route home.

“I normally got off the train and walked down Avenue P,” recalled Lesser. “But they had closed off the streets because of the commotion so I had to go up East 2nd and walk down Avenue O.”

Directly across the street from the former bank is Edward’s Hair Salon located at 455 Avenue P. Edward’s now caters to immigrants of Russian and Israeli decent. One of the oldest barbers in Edward’s is Sal Cannarella.

Sal Cannarella

Cannarella started working at the barber shop three months after the attempted robbery. He heard many stories from his co-workers at what was then called Dino’s Barber Shop. The FBI used Dino’s to stage their negotiations until Dino’s was ready to close for the night, then the FBI had to move to a different barber shop on the corner.

Cannarella recalled when Wotjowicz was released from prison, “he came with a Canadian camera crew, and went in the bank and asked to be security there.”

“The gay was in the car too,” he added, referring to Elizabeth Eden, Aron’s post-op girlfriend’s name and the muse of the robbery.

The barbers at Dino’s also played a prank on the bank when after the incident they sent in their shoe shine wearing a ski mask. The bank staff pushed the panic button and police once again flooded the avenue.

Cannarella recalled that many of the businesses have changed since the robbery.

He said, “There used to be a luncheonette, a butcher shop, a bakery and a fish store on the block, but they are all gone.”

Cannarella also mentioned that Frank’s Pizza, further down the block at 424 Avenue P was the pizza place that served the robbers and the hostages during the standoff.

When asked about the events on the block 40 years ago, Vito Cusumano, the new owner of Frank’s Pizza, simply replied, “It was a long time ago.”

Source: @LevysUniqueNY

This photo comes by way of the Levy’s Unique NY, a tour guide group run by the Levy boys (dad and three sons).

The Levys grew up near Ditmas Park and now hold all types of quirky New York tours, with a special focus on Brooklyn. From their Edible Ethnic Eats tour to a 4-hour bike tour of Brooklyn’s former breweries, these guys are the authority on New York’s unique cultural history.

One of the Levys (was it Matt?) tweeted this photo of Bensonhurst row homes at dusk and titled it, “Bensonhurst Beauties.” I can’t help but agree, these are Bensonhurst beauties.

Thanks to the Levy family for noticing how cute our neighborhood is.

Source: Ariful Islam Mithu via Wikimedia Commons

For your daily, weekly or monthly dose of highbrow, check out a free Opera event happening tonight from 6:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Bensonhurst Park, located at Bay Parkway and Cropsey Avenue.

The NYC Parks Department with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Borough President Marty Markowitz, Senator Martin Golden, Assemblyman Peter Abbate and The Italian Opera Company present: The International Artists of the Italian Opera Company in “A Better World” featuring Broadway musicals and opera excerpts.

Trust me, your nonno and nonna do not want to miss this.

Call Nina DiGregorio at 718-232-8162 or the Parks Dept at 718-965-8913 for more information.

Photo courtesy of Eugene Komissarov

A short while ago, reader and concerned citizen Eugene Komissarov sent in an odd note. It detailed an incident that occurred at 67th Street and 18th Avenue.

His note read:

I’m at the scene of a strange and unusual incident. On 67th Street and 18th Avenue, there are two police vehicles and a medical examiner. My close friend lives in the building where the incident occurred.

A dead body was found in the bath tub of a 3 family house. My friend lives in the 2nd floor of the house. A family of three live on the third floor where the smell of a decomposing body was in the air.

The neighbors called police and they immediately arrived at the scene, then entered the apartment to discover an 86 year-old’s body.

The family that lived in that home stated that they were trying to contact police for the past month but do not have a telephone. The body of the elderly woman was found in the bath tub. She passed away the 13th of July. Ever since, the body has been laying in their bathtub in their home.

The two residents of the apartment say that they did not know what to do when she passed away. Such a strange story.

After several phone calls, the medical examiner was able to confirm that a body had been found at the location. However, no one was willing to comment on or confirm any of the details surrounding the death.

Our thoughts are with the friends or family of the deceased. Strange indeed that a body remain decomposing for over a month and no one knows what to do about it.

Source: Nigel Cox via Wikimedia Commons

From the offices of Councilman David Greenfield:

Councilman David G. Greenfield is working closely with the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) to make sure that a number of street resurfacing projects underway across the district are completed in a timely manner with as few disruptions to the community as possible. This is part of Greenfield’s focus on ensuring that the 44th Council district, which includes Boro Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst, receives the government funding, services and resources its residents deserve.

Repaving work is being completed this week along 46th Street between 8th Avenue and 18th Avenue in Boro Park, where crews have been working to resurface this important stretch of road – one of the bumpiest in the entire neighborhood. In addition, work has been completed or is planned for along 43rd Street from 14th Avenue to McDonald Avenue, 56th Street from 16th Avenue to Dahill Road, 58th Street from 18th Avenue to the dead end abutting Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School and 59th Street from 16th Avenue to 23rd Avenue. The end result will be smooth, newly-resurfaced streets that are safer and easier to navigate for all residents, especially drivers, cyclists, and bus riders.  As work progresses, signs will be posted alerting residents of any temporary parking restrictions on their block. Anyone who does receive a ticket after their vehicle has been relocated by DOT crews to another block should contact Greenfield’s office for help fighting it.

“I am proud to have worked with the DOT to identify our worst streets and schedule them for summer repair in order to minimize the impact it has on residents and businesses. It is important that the city continues to invest in our infrastructure including local streets to protect our quality of life and make sure the neighborhood is well maintained,” said Greenfield.

The New York City budget includes $125.2 million for street repaving in Fiscal Year 2013, which began on June 30. In addition, the Brooklyn Borough President contributed $2.2 million for street repaving in Fiscal Year 2013, an increase of about $600,000 from the prior year. As co-chair of the Council’s Brooklyn Delegation, Greenfield worked closely with Borough President Marty Markowitz to make sure that street resurfacing was adequately funded in the budget, and that streets in poor condition in Boro Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst are included in the repaving schedule for the upcoming year.

The current projects come on the heels of the completion of two major local resurfacings: 50th Street, which was long known as the worst stretch of road in Boro Park, and Avenue P, which had been the source of many complaints from Midwood residents. These two important projects were included in the DOT’s spring resurfacing program earlier this year after Greenfield personally questioned DOT officials about the condition of streets in his district and urged them to be fixed immediately. While there is generally a backlog of streets around the city that are awaiting repairs, Greenfield encourages any resident with suggestions for road repairs to contact his office at (718) 853-2704, especially if the poor street conditions are creating a safety hazard.

“It is an ongoing battle to keep our streets smooth and safe, and I will continue to fight so that we receive our share of city resources. My thanks to the DOT for its hard work, both this summer and throughout the year. We are making real progress on our goal of improving the condition of our local streets,” added Greenfield.

Every summer, neighbors come together and plan block parties. It gives them a chance to hang out, form a camaraderie and celebrate the summer by truly owning the block.

Sunday, August 19, on West Street between Avenue U and Avenue V, the orange cones prevented any cars from going down the road. The kids danced and twirled their neon light necklaces and toys while the DJ played Michael Jackson. Their parents relaxed on folding chairs, knocking back cans of Coors Light.

From block to block, block party to block party, it doesn’t seem like there are many differences between the parties of now and 10 years ago. Well, that’s not exactly true.

“Don’t even get me started on the curfew,” said one of the moms in attendance. She is referring to the 9 p.m. mandatory shutdown time. In previous years, the curfew was later. No one recalled the exact time, but they all said it must have been around midnight.

The other issues that got people talking were the few cars that somehow managed to drive past the barricades and make it down the street filled with kids playing.

And finally, the biggest gripe was with neighbors who did not participate in the event. Whether it was because of financial concerns or otherwise, no one knew. However, most agreed that it dampened the efforts of the others.

“I just wish everyone acted like neighbors, not just people living near each other,” said another mom, before she dashed after her son.