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

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.

Chutes and Toddlers

A least a half dozen friends forwarded me the the New York Times article about injuries toddlers receive when going down the slide with their parent. It seems counterintuitive, but when a child goes down a slide with an adult, they are more at risk of being injured if their hand or foot gets caught on the slide.  The additional weight of the parent can break a toddler’s arm or leg, and apparently this is a common injury in ERs.

I have always been advocate of letting my children go solo at the playground. (Although have been spotted on a few slides, it was more for my own enjoyment than helicopter parenting.) That said, it’s not always easy getting a child to take the plunge for the first time, so I certainly cannot begrudge any parent doubling as a toboggan.

And be aware, a hands off PG approach has its downside. My 4 year old son has broken his arm twice due to his adventurous spirit that his dad encouraged.

But I always tell him, broken bones heal, chicks dig scars, and Park Slope has the highest toddler-to-pediatrician ratio on the country.

What’s so Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Organic Arugula?

The Park Slope Food Co-op has been a lightning rod for criticism for years, from people complaining about the co-op banning bottled water,  nannies covering members the mandatory work shifts, and most recently, the meeting to decide whether to decide if they should boycott Israeli products.  Because the Israel boycott flap got so much attention, Reuters Chadwick Matlin decided to “live-tweet” the most recent Food Co-op general meeting (which had nothing to do with banning Israeli products.)

Oh how the hilarity ensued. And all the blogs laughed and laughed.  Oh those silly, stupid co-op members/Park Slope residents/Brooklyn resident/Liberals/Democrats etc. (the derision broadened as the comments went on.)

But why is a business that is truly democratic, and gives everyone a chance to speak, including the kooks, subject to such ridicule? (Full disclosure, I was briefly a co-op member, so I am familiar with the fringe element of a number of the members…let’s face it, some of them are genuine squirrel-bait.)

But rather than just take pot shots,  the Atlantic puts it in perspective with the article The More Things Change the More Food Co-ops Stay Mockable, “The temptation to mock is irresistible. We love to laugh at the Park Slope Food Co-op as the ne plus ultra of overwrought political correctness and smug social consciousness. We need that in our disgruntled, cynical lives.”

Maybe the Park Slope Food Co-op is a naive cockeyed optimist who thinks they can change the world, and that might make them seem a little batty.  But I’m sure if someone live tweeted a Reuters board meeting, you’d hear a few things a little more scandalous than people concerned about plastic bags. Chadwick Matlin, are you willing to direct your clever smarm on David Thomson and James Smith?

What the New Whole Foods Won’t Have

I am thrilled that Whole Foods is FINALLY going to open in Gowanus. Regardless of what you think of of Whole Foods, it is a well run business. It’s clean,  they have excellent products, and the employees are friendly, professional, and efficient.

Always the sentimentalist, here are some of the things I will miss by not shopping at some of the other local grocery stores:

Key Food
I’ll miss your produce pre-wrapped in plastic and packed in threes.

Trader Joe’s
I’m not sure what I’ll do without your overly-OVERLY-friendly cashiers.

Fairway
Who wouldn’t miss the byzantine cobble-stoned route that one must drive to get to Fairway.

Met Food
I will miss your friendly cats (but the bugs in the pasta, not so much.)

The Park Slope Food Co-op
I think I’ll miss you most of all, where will I get the over inflated sense of self regard that comes with shopping at the co-op.

What will you miss while shopping at Whole Foods?

Happy Presidents’ Day- How Lincoln Place Got Its Name

There are a number of presidential associations in Park Slope. In 1883  Macomb Place was renamed Garfield Place after the assignation of President James Garfield (who interestingly enough also shared an affinity for lasagna with the cat of the same name), in 1892 President Grover Cleveland, the Justin Bieber of presidents, was besieged by admirers at the Montauk Club and of course there is President Street, the laziest street name ever.

But the most curious presidential connection in Park Slope is Lincoln Place. Lincoln Place seems innocuous enough, what town doesn’t have a street named after one of our greatest and most popular presidents?  The interesting part is why that street’s name was changed.

Degraw Street runs from Red Hook through Cobble Hill and Gowanus and into Park Slope, where at 5th Street it suddenly changes its name to Lincoln Place.  It was renamed in 1873 shortly after Kate Stoddard shot her lover, Charles Goodrich, 3 times in the head in his home at 731 Degraw Street (right across the street from where the Lincoln Playground is now.)  The murder was a tabloid sensation and property owners thought the macabre association would bring down property values and petitioned the name to be changed to Lincoln Place.

To me, t really amazing part about it was the murder took place on March 21, 1873 and the street was renamed by April 15th 1873, only 25 days later! Apparently the city bureaucracy was a bit faster back then.

Grass fed beef patties, wasabi sauce, kale, soy cheese, pickled onions on a gluten-free bun: Pick Your Park Slope Burger

I thought the Park Slope BBQ renaissance was going to stop the burger trend, but now two new burger joints are opening in the Slope, Chez Bibis and Burger Bistro. This brings the grand total of burger-centric restaurants in Park Slope to 11. (And that’s not including restaurants that make great burgers like Dram, Bonnie’s, or Johnny Macks.)

I know the “common wisdom” is that burgers are a child’s favorite food, and Park Slope is the playground mecca of the east coast. But I still don’t see how this neighborhood can support this dizzying array of artery clogging dining establishments. So here are the pros and cons of each burger palace:

Burger Bistro
Pro-The Bay Ridge location is very popular
Con- While both are part of Brooklyn, to much of Park Slope, Bay Ridge may as well be Dubuque, and I’m not talking about the burger restaurant of that name in Carroll Gardens.

Chez Bibis
Pro- Their burger and beer concept will go well with the young urbanites.
Con- Parents might get upset in wrongly assuming it’s a french baby store.

Bare Burger
Pro- Organic beef + PS 321 next door =line out the door
Con- No one goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.

5 Guys 7th Ave
Pro- Across the street from Methodist Hospital/Free Peanuts
Con- 5 Guys now seem like Old Guys/Peanut allergies are a big concern with the Park Slope parent set

5 Guys Flatbush
Pro- New arena may bring more traffic to the area
Con- New arena traffic may keep locals away from the area

Cheeburger Cheeburger
Pro- Very kid friendly/Name is fun to say
Con- Not even an ironic nod to the health conscious/And does anyone under 40 even get the SNL reference?

67 Burger
Pro-People go eager to try their beer milkshake
Con-People never come back after trying their beer milkshake

Corner Burger
Pro-Middle school only 2 blocks north
Con-McDonalds only 2 blocks south

Brooklyn Flipsters
Pro-A great location
Con-Maybe a not so great location,this place has been at least 5 different restaurants in 7 years

McDonalds
Pro- McDonalds restaurants never go out of business
Con- McDonalds restaurants never go out of business

Maybe the Slope can support all these burger joints, at least until an I-N-Out Burger or Talde opens a burger restaurant and runs them all out of business.

Stop the Half-Spot Hoarder Tyanny!

Forget Babyccinos and bike lanes.  In today’s Brooklyn Paper I finally found a Park Slope controversy I can really sink my teeth into- The Montgomery Place Half-Spot Hoarders!

We’ve all been there, driving in concentric circles, looking for a spot. Up ahead you see what looks like a spot, but like a mirage it disappears as you get closer.  It’s the dreaded half-spot, not big-enough for a car, but an incredible waste of parking real estate.

Apparently at the doormen at 27 Prospect Park West, who park the cars for its tenants, intentionally create un-parkable “half spaces” on Montgomery Place to save spots.  So when a resident drives up, move one car forward and one care backward, and viola, a space appears out of thin air.

As someone who takes his parking very seriously, this kind of behavior infuriates me.  Technically it’s not illegal, but it should be, and a felony at that! Trust me if Dante had a car in Park Slope, he would have reserved a special circle in hell for the half-spot hoarder, right between the blasphemers and the sodomites.

After finding out about this parking fraud, I swallowed my bile in my throat, calmed down and decided to see if it was true.  A quick look at street view on Google maps showed an extraordinarily large amount of “half-spots.”

I urge everyone with SmartCars, Minis, scooters, rickshaws and any vehicle small enough for a half-spot, and park on Montgomery Place. This spot tyranny will not stand. It’s time to take back our spots!