First they came for the Hipsters…

1-glasses51UnFjVbedL._SL1500_The New Yorker had a satirical piece, “MISSED CONNECTIONS FOR A-HOLES.”  It was a parody of Craigslist’s Missed Connections, but instead of saying how charming they found a stranger,  they say how annoying they found them.My problem was I couldn’t tell if the piece was making fun of the annoying people, or the people complaining about them?There seems to be a lot of anger and bitterness these days about anyone who seems deliberately esoteric  or different.  Or don’t follow some unwritten cultural rule.  And this is usually regardless of whether it harm or inconveniences anyone, its almost alway a matter of principle.

That is usually when someone throws out the no pejorative “hipster.” Apparently anyone doing anything you dislike is a “hipster.”

When you write about how you want to punch a hipster with his ironic facial-hair or expensive bicycle, doesn’t make you an everyman hero, it makes you an intolerant self-righteous jackass.

And guess what, no matter who you are, someone thinks you’re a hipster.

“Who does that guy think he is ordering pasta?  Pasta? They’re called noodles, hipster!”

I’m not saying other humans aren’t annoying, but wishing physical violence on someone because they are annoying and different doesn’t make you Rosa parks.

The rampant  bitterness over such trivial things as someone’s clothes, mode of transit or facial hair is almost enough to turn me off of the Internet, but until the library periodical section gets a better selection of pictures of cute animas of different species cuddling, I’m here to stay, with my crusade of promoting a scrap of decency toward your fellow man.

Queens Ruins: Revovate or Wrecking Ball

The NY Times just did a piece on fate of the 1964 Worlds Fair grounds. With the fair’s anniversary approaching, the city is deciding what to do with the site, particularly the Pavillion and former Tent of Tomorrow.  It basically comes down three options, $14 million  to demolish the site,  $43 million to stabilize the Pavilion as a eyesore/oddity, or $52  to restore to some of its former glory.

Surprisingly there seems to be a majority of people who want to rehabilitate the space regardless of cost, even getting an architectural firm to work on it pro bono.

That said, be careful what you wish for.  I am probably one of the few people who wouldn’t object to keeping the Pavillion as a ruin.  Having visited the grounds and watch it degrade over 40 years, seeing structures that were so new and inspiring rust and decay, that is where I see the beauty and sadness in the Pavillion, that is why it has its power. Which it would lose if it were renovated and a Shake Shack moved it.  Although, I’d take that over tearing it down, I do love me a good Salted Caramel Concrete shake.

But I don’t live in Flushing or even near Queens, so I don’t even claim to have much of a vote, I just wanted to write about it as an excuse to post photos I’ve take of the Pavillion.

Best Way to Go Down the Subway Stairs with Stroller

stairsstollerWhat is the best way to go down the subway stairs with a child and a stroller?

This is one of those questions that people without kids think is idiotic, “these crazy parents over-think everything.”

But parents think it’s a great question and invariably have the answer and a few tips.
I recently was taking my two-year-old daughter into Manhattan; she’s a good walker but walking several blocks necessitated the stroller.
When we got to the F train stairs, here were my options:
The Slow Roll 
With my daughter’s hand in my right hand and the stroller in my left, walk down the stairs step-by-step. Of course, if it is busy and you are taking up two-thirds of the staircase as you amble down the stairs, you will need to dodge the daggers coming from the eyes of busy commuters because your little brat added a few more seconds to their commute.
The Loaf of Bread
Grab your kid under one arm, stroller in the other, and hurry down the stairs. This is dangerous, as a flailing child could send you off-balance and tumbling down the stairs, and even if you do get down safely you’ll need to dodge the daggers coming from the eyes of busy commuters angry at someone who’d carry this darling angel like a loaf of bread.
The Bounce
Pop a wheelie, and bounce on the back wheels down the steps one-by-one. Note: Depending on the weight of you child and the amount of junk you keep underneath (I usually pack like I’m loaded for bear), this method may render the stroller inoperable; since the SoHo Maclaren mechanic went out of business, you’ll need to buy a new stroller.
The Muscle
Just grab the left and right sides of the stroller with your child strapped in, yank it up (thanks to the awkward position you end up lifting entirely with your back), and muscle her down the stairs. Make sure your chiropractor has a tenth-visit-free option if this is your lifting choice.
The Damsel in Distress
Stand at the top of the stairs looking helpless until someone helps you portage the loaded strolled down. Note: This does not work with men.
I opted for “The Muscle” ….then a cab home.
How do you get down the subway stairs?

I am a Patient Boy, I Wait, I Wait, I Wait, I Wait.

bouncy-line1The New York Times had a piece about New York City parents having to go on waiting lists for schools, camps, classes, and day cares. It was spot on, but I can think of a few waits they missed. (Granted, these are #parkslopeproblems, but #parkslopeproblems are my problems):

  • Swings at the playground – Does that 8 year old kid really need to drape himself over the swing and dangle for 23 minutes?
  • Frozen yogurt – People, figure out your toppings before you get on line…and yes, those white things are mochi.
  • Brunch – I know, everyone has this problem, but I thought going to brunch at 10:30 AM was supposed to eliminate this wait, but apparently every other parent with a ticking time bomb child has the same idea. And whatever puritanical A.H. who said you cannot get bloody mary before noon on Sundays never had kids.
  • Haircut – If I don’t want my kid to get a fireman’s cut, I need to make an appointment a week in advance?
  • Santa – I would rather be on a wait list than go on that interminable line again. At least if we were wait listed, we could just go to our safety holiday character at Pratt.
  • The street fair bouncy castle – You try telling a 5 year old juiced on cotton candy that a 30 minute wait for 3 minutes of jumping isn’t worth it.
  • ANYTHING interactive at a museum

That’s When I Reached for My Revolver

pistolsAfter the horrible events in Newtown, CT, something occurred to me that caused a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, and that feeling emanated  from a small box on the high shelf in my closet.

I am not much of a liberal prosthelytizer, but my heart bleeds, more often then I’d like. Children, the environment,  equal rights, seniors, dead pigeons, you name it, I bleed for it.  In an odd paradox, I am also a gun owner. I have 2 single shot nickel plated dueling pistols.  They were a wedding gift for my parents 50 years ago, then they were a wedding gift to me.  My parents were not gun “enthusiasts,” but they both grew up in the midwest, and had some familiarity with hunting, so owning a guns seemed very normal to them. The wedding gift was meant as a joke- dueling pistols for the newlyweds. Ha.  When I was a kid on vacation in Virginia we’d shoot cans with the pistols, or more aptly, we shoot at cans. These guns were remarkable hard to shoot straight.  But I admit, they were fun.

The pistols went with the other unused wedding gifts (a bread maker, a crystal caviar dish) sat in my closet for years. I never gave them a second thought, until the tragic events at Newtown. Hearing about Sandy Hook Elementary made my heart bleed again, but then it nearly stopped.  In the home of my 5 year old son, and my 2 year old daughter were 2 lethal pistols.  No they weren’t loaded, there was no ammunition in the house. Nonetheless it terrified me.  I did not want guns in my house.

I thought about just throwing them out or selling them.  But I did not want someone else to use them to harm others or themselves. I thought about tossing them in the Gowanus canal (the only body of water in the world that is 90 percent guns.)  But I’m not a criminal, I shouldn’t have to “dispose” of the evidence.  Someone suggested taking them to the police.  Maybe that was the best idea, but it seems like an invitation for an interrogation. I looked for gun buy backs (which aren’t nearly as common as one would think) but even the thought of carrying the guns in public was unsettling. I ended up taking them apart, taking out the hammer assembly entirely, rendering them no more lethal than the crystal caviar dish.

NY Times on Babies in Bars, (co-written by Yelp)

There must be some stat sent to all publications that says if you create a conflict between parents and non-parents, readership goes up. Because there can be no other reason for the New York Times piece “A Child-Friendly Beer Garden Doesn’t Seem So Friendly to Some Adults.” The premise is this, the new Park Slope beer garden, Greenwood Park, welcomes parents to bring their children to the open-air spacious garden bar, but the childless patrons think the children are running amok, and there is a deep tension between adult drinkers and the self-involved parents.

It’s an overused interesting meme story, expect that all the “complaints” about children in the bar come from Yelp. The Times does quote a couple of parents at the bar who are glad there is a place they can relax with their children, but all the vitriol comes from quoting a website whose main purpose is to vent and spew vitriol.

This storty had two reporters, yet the Gray Lady really couldn’t find one real person to go on record? I doubt even the snarky (yet often hilarious) Brooklyn blog Fucked in Park Slope, would call this “reporting.”

I’m sure I could find Yelp reviews on a bar that has too many “frat-boys” and an equal number who love the bar, but I would hardly consider a made up feud worthy enough to get over one thousand words in the New York Times.

But if they are using Yelp as a source, the the Times should definitely send over Frank Bruni to this place.

“House that Whimsy Built” Over $60,000 in Fines Since 2010

I am fed up with the “House that Whimsy Built” at 501 2nd St, on the corner of 7th Avenue and 2nd St.   They now have signs saying they have “commercial space for rent.”  The hand painted garish banners are hung on the dilapidated scaffolding, at least on the parts of the structure that havent fallen off.  (Two large pieces of rotting plywood fell from the scaffolding in the last few months.)

I’m not sure what I find more galling, the complete insanity that the owner Dorothy Nash think anyone will rent in a building that is in such disrepair, or that the city has let it get to such a state. There is a “Stop Work Order” on the building because:
“SHED DOES NOT MEET CODE SPECS,ONE POST LEANING TOWARDS ST. & ANOTHER SITTING ON TOP OF METAL GRATE IN DISREPAIR,NO PERMIT”

This is from January of 2010, since then the building had racked up over $60,000 in fines, yet nothing has changed.

Last week a rotting roll-up up gate fell from a store front on 5th Avenue in Park Slope, breaking a two year old’s leg in three places and giving his babysitter a sever head injury.   I don’t even want to consider what injuries would happen if the house of whimsy’s rotting scaffolding collapses. It is across the street from an elementary school and hundreds fo children walk under it every day.

I love the varying nature of the city landscape, from block to block, building to building, an expensive modern glass condo next to sunbleached green aluminum sided townhouse with lawn chairs in front.  It’s what makes Brooklyn Brooklyn.

But we should not call 501 2nd street whimsical. The pink brownstone on Garfield Place is whimsical, the building at the corner of 2nd St. and 7th Ave. is a disaster waiting to happen.