Fertility Flight? NY Times, really?

The NY Times had an article, Birth Certificate, Brooklyn Address,  about how hospitals in Park Slope, Fort Greene and Cobble Hill have lost patients from who live in these neighborhoods, while four Manhattan hospitals’ birth rates have gone up 31% Manhattan. In truth, births have gone up in Brooklyn and Manhattan. But because a large potion of the Brooklyn births are coming from “non-affluent” neighborhoods, apparently they don’t count.

“Hospitals in or close to the affluent Brooklyn neighborhoods are not necessarily hurting. Births at New York Methodist Hospital, in the heart of Park Slope, soared by 40 percent in the 10-year period.”

“Yet, the numbers of births at Methodist to mothers from Park Slope, Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens dropped over that time as more chose Manhattan; the hospital’s growth came from the black, West Indian and Lubavitcher neighborhoods in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights; Latino and Satmar neighborhoods in Greenpoint and Williamsburg; and the West Indian, Haitian and blacks neighborhoods in East New York, Flatbush and East Flatbush.”

Putting aside the waft of racism (blacks, Latinos and orthodox Jews can’t be “affluent?), but the article doesn’t mention that women may choose OBs who are near their work (most likely Manhattan), and in its statistics from Methodist, it uses just the 11215 zip code (and not the surrounding zip codes 11217 and 11232) or the fact that they compare Methodist’s number of births with a the combined number of births of 4 Manhattan hospitals.

For what its worth, my son was delivered at Methodist, and the staff and facilities were excellent. But the reason we chose it was because my wife’s OB worked there. If she had privileges at NYU, our son would have been born there. It had nothing to do with borough loyalty.

I’m not sure what point they are trying to make other than to create some sort of animosity between Brooklyn (particularly “gentrified” Brooklyn) and Manhattan.  I expect this from Gothamist and Gawker, but from The Gray Lady?

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Park Slope Chicken

I saw this chicken walking on the sidewalk  near 6th Ave and 1 St.  Being the city-boy that I am, I was a little taken aback.  Then I heard a few more clucks, and I looked over a the fence into the nearby back patio and saw a few more chicken happily pecking away.

I know it looks like a big pigeon, but trust me, it was a big gray chicken!

My question is, what’s the etiquette? If it were a cat, I would have ignored it.  A dog, maybe knock on the door.  But a chicken?Should I let them know their bird flew the coop?  Or is it just an urban free range chicken?

Are you even allowed to have a chicken in New York City? Apparently hens are (but not roosters, because I guess roosters crowing at the rising sun would be more annoying than the garbage trucks, whinos, or car alarms that usually wake me at dawn.)

Just another reason I wish I had some outdoor space with our apartment, forget bar-b-cue or dining al fresco, FRESH EGGS! (although I’m not sure I’d want the eggs from a hen pasture raised in 1st St and 6th Ave. sidewalk.)

Father’s Day Cognative Dissonance

Tomorrow is my first Father’s Day that I’ll celebrate  just as a father, and not for my father, and I’m finding it very sad.

It makes me sad to receive thanks for something I asked to do. “Father” is a moniker I asked for.  It can be incredibly difficult, but so emotionally rewarding, that getting thanked for doing it seems hypocritical.

It makes me sad, because I can and should  be a better father. I make mistakes every day, I can be a terrible role model, I am often a lazy and inattentive dad, yet my son just adores me regardless.  It kills me.

A year ago we took my father out to Fish Camp for Father’s Day, it was the last time I went out with him to a restaurant.  He was a deeply flawed man, and made mistakes as a father everyday and when I was young, I adored him, and even after I’m old enough know that he should have and could have been a better father, I still adore him…and miss him.

My father loved that Father’s Day dinner, he loved to adored.  Although he would never admit it, he loved to be appreciated, to be the center of attention, I think he got something out of Father’s Day.

I don’t.

Not yet, anyway. Maybe, if after years of being under appreciated, I’ll learn to enjoy the attention of Father’s Day, even if I’m still a far from perfect father.  Something to look forward to I guess.


The Best Playground in NYC: Pier 6

You think this is dangerous...

Pier 6 at the Brooklyn Bridge Park is probably the best playground in New York City, and is the best city project since the High Line!

We finally visited the playground this past weekend. I was reluctant to buy into the hype, as I was sorely disappointed by the playground at Pier 1 (aka the scalding spheres of doom!) But I was blown away by the scale and design of the Pier 6 playground. Nate made a beeline to “slide mountain” and the giant Tee-Pee slide, which reminded me of the rocket jungle gym I used to play at as a kid, (it was later deemed a huge risk to children.) The biggest problem I see with it is kids climbing up, and then afraid to go down the slide, and it is tight quarters for an adult to rescue a tyke. Nate scrambled up to the top like sherpa and after a little trepidation went down the slide, and loved it. It was only after I saw the sign “ages 5-9.” Nate will be 3 in August. There is also a long mountain slide and a crazy rope jungle gym.

now THIS was a dangerous slide from MY childhood!

The”The Water Lab” was next, which is a boulder strewn winding stream with sprinklers, sluice, and an Archimedes’ screw. It really is a small water park with a Myst-like quality. Really beautiful with lots of things for kids to play with, and lots of spots for parent to sit just far enough away not to get wet.

We hit “Sandbox Village” next, which claims “may well be the largest park sandbox in Brooklyn, if not New York City.” I might not be the biggest anymore, as we took a lot of the sand home with us sticking to Nate (I don’t recommend going to the sandbox after the water lab.) We were a little tired to take advantage of “Swing Valley” but it looked awesome as well, (although the name sounds a little too much like a sitcom about ’70’s wifeswapping.)

The response to the Pier 6 PG has been overwhelmingly positive, but that didn’t stop some people from complaining. Some object that the playground is for children only, while New York State Assembly candidate Doug Biviano thinks the playground is dangerous, and wants to round all the corners and edges (but probably just wants any attention for his campaign.)

My Tips:

Go early, as this place gets packed by noon on weekends

Watch the street crossing at Atlantic and the BQE (that crossing can be pretty hairy)

Bring swimwear for the kids (if you don’t let them in the water park they will go ballistic)

Don’t be paranoid about your DS or DD hurting themselves.  A child could just as easily get a skinned knee on the sidewalk running to get in the park as they could on one of the Biv’s ominous boulders.

This playground really is incredible, and with the current economy, I don’t think we’ll see anything like it for years. So enjoy now before they run out of money to keep it up, or some over-protective nervous nellies ruin it.

New York Times Discovers Babies in Brooklyn!

NEWS FLASH! "Families are moving to Brooklyn!"

How is this a story in the “paper of record”?

The NY Times article “An Apartment Building Where Babies Reign” talks about a building in Brooklyn where four of the six new buyers had babies when they closed on their apartments.   I assumed there would be some interesting sub-context or a twist in the article. Maybe the area has great public elementary school (it has two, PS 146 and PS 129) or that the neighborhood, along with Park Slope,  has grown into a magnet for families in recent years (it has), or at least say that the building owner had a fetish for pregnant ladies or something (I can’t confirm that one).  But no, the best we get from nearly a thousand words in the New York Times is, that’s a lot of diapers. Couldn’t they have at least said that the building was built on the remains of an ancient Indian playground?  Throw me a friggin’ bone here, other than stating the obvious, there are a lot of babies in Brooklyn!

News flash, a lot of new parents are moving to the 718! In other news “Traffic Terrible at Rush Hour” and “New Study Finds People Think Weekends Go By Too Fast.”  This is not a news story.

(Hat-tip to Juliet.)

I Won’t Miss the Double D Pool

UPDATE 8/9/2010:
Since the pool was “saved” we were able to take a dip this past weekend.  It is a nice pool, and it is not too crowded, but my initial assessment still stands, it is a dicey area.  We go there 20 minutes before the pool opens at 11AM, so we decided to kill some time at the playground next door.  There were no children at the playground but there were two gentlemen sleeping on benches, and a third standing nervously in the corner.  I couldn’t determine if he was waiting for his “business” day to start or end. And this was all in a PLAYGROUND!

None-the-less, nice pool, crummy neighborhood.

(ORIGINAL POST 6/10/2010)

Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I’m not so upset about the Douglas and DeGraw pool in Gowanus closing. My wife loves the pool, as it has a 1′ deep wading pool that the nearby Red Hook pool does not. And a lot of locals were bummed when the city said it would not re-open the pool this summer due to budget concerns. A number of people have even started campaigning to keep the pool open. But I’ve never been the NIMBY sort, and if a pool has to go, I really think it should be the D & D.

I don’t object to the Draconian measures required to enter the pool (must have swimsuit, towel, nothing else is permitted) or the fact that there is not a lick of shade or that it is located 300 feet from one of the most polluted and contaminated waterways on the eastern seaboard.

I’ll be honest, going to the pool with my wife and son, we walked by a prostitute on the corner of Douglas and Nevins.  Perhaps, she was actually a lovely lady, who just happened to be dressed… how can I put this as politely as possible…skankily, and she was merely looking for pleasant conversation with gentlemen in their cars.  But I stand by my initial prostitute assessment.

Granted, I have not seen any tricking in subsequent visits, but it always left me a little uneasy.  It is a nice pool, but the industrial neighborhood west of the pool does have an unsavory under-belly.  I did not get this impression from some of the other city pools I’ve been to.  Red Hook is usually crowded, but very wholesome, and the Astoria Pool is really breathtaking, and if you haven’t seen the mini Vesuvio Playground pool on Thompson Street in Manhattan, check it out, its adorable.

I wish the city didn’t have to close any pools (or firehouses or libraries.) But one of the main draws of the Double D is that it isn’t as crowded as other pools, and maybe there is a reason for that.

Prospect Park West Bike Lane Underway (and Why the Opponents of It are Wrong!)

Hooray! They are finally building the bike lane on Prospect Park West.  I’m not sure why  something that will make streets safer, and reduce pollution is controversial, but apparently the Brooklyn Paper and Marty Markowitz are doing their best to make it appear controversial.

The dedicated bike lane will take away one lane of traffic from Prospect Park West. This will slow down speeding traffic and give bike riders a safe place to ride on a major road.

The opponents have a few misguided arguments:

“It will slow down traffic!”
They are correct, taking out a lane will slow down traffic, but that’s the point! Traffic needs to slow down.  PPW is like a drag race! Try taking a dawdling 2 year old across PPW, hoping you’ll make it across in time before the cars speeding from the Grand Army Plaza starting line make it to your light.

“There’s already a bike lane in the park!”
There is a meandering road in the park (filled cars at rush hour.) It is great for a nice scenic ride, but terrible for commuting.

“We will lose parking spaces!”
True, a few parking spots will be taken by the bike path entrance ramps, but the coincidental elimination of the B69 bus will make up most of those lost spots.

When I wrote Marty Markowitz about this issue, and his resistance to the PPW bike lane, he did respond promptly, but he really doesn’t get it. Here is what he said:

“Like our DOT Commissioner, whose professionalism I respect, I too support cycling in this city and have not only supported bike lanes like the ones on 9th Street in Park Slope and Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, but have also been a major proponent of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, a 14-mile on-and-off street bike lane that connects Greenpoint to Sunset Park. Without my office’s support and advocacy the Greenway would not be happening. What I am opposed to is bike lanes on Prospect Park West, which will both take away needed parking for residents and park-goers and interrupt access of pedestrians to the park during peak usage in summer and on weekends. There are better options to explore that would meet everyone’s needs—such as adding traffic lights to calm traffic, and adding another bike lane to the park itself. By the way, as borough president I advocate for bikers, and also for those who do not live near public transportation, those who cannot bike for various reasons, and yes, those families and residents who chose to own a car in this borough.”

Like a true politician, Marty practically breaks his arm patting himself on the back regarding Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. (And I’m not even going to mention how crazy it sounds when tries to make car owners seem like an oppressed minority?!?) Although the real disconnect is that Marty and other opponents think the bike lanes are for recreational cyclists. But the new push for bike lanes like the one on PPW is that they are not being made for cyclists on their weekend tool around the park.  They are creating an environment for bicycle commuting and transportation. These bike lanes are trying to get New Yorkers to use alternatives to cars to get around, like they seem to ba able to do it in the rest of the world.

Take a look at the rush hour commute in Utrecht Holland-