A few Sundays ago I stopped @ the 773 on Coney Island Avenue and had some drinks. While I was there, I saw a guy with his sweet dog. At one point the light hit him just right and I asked him if I could take his photo. He kindly said yes. It's not easy to take a photo of a man in dark bar, and spritely dog after a few vodka and tonics. But this one came out pretty well. (with the help of PhotoShop)
For years I have blogged about the infamous Poetoaster, the mysterious stranger who would leave roses and cognac on the poet's grave every January 19th. According to Wikipedia, this tradition began back in the late thirties. (Although there are rumors that this is exaggerated.) It's believed that the tradition was passed down at least once. In 1993 a note was left stating "The torch will be passed". Whoever it was, they either died or just decided to stop. The last visit was in 2009.
Last night he was a no show again.
But according to posts on the Edgar Allan Poe's House & Museum's Facebook page, there are imposters:
Four Poe Toasters this morning! One almost was impaled climbing over a fence. Two others were trapped for a while. One almost bumped into another Poe Toaster when he was trying to leave and the other was entering! What a circus! Jess and I were highly amused.
There are several events today to commemorate his birthday.
Poe's 204th Birthday Bash
On Monday night while taking the Express home after 10pm, the bus driver refused to drop me off at my requested stop.
The MTA offers a program called "Request a Stop". After 10pm you can request the bus driver to make a specific stop and they will accomodate as long as the stop is on the route. I saw Anna Karenina on Monday night, (Beautiful production) and the film got out at 9:30pm. I waited over a half an hour for the bus home. Late nights it's best to take the BM3 because it drops me off closer to my apartment, but after waiting a half an hour the BM1 showed up. Now the first stop the BM1 makes in Kensington is Cortelyou Road, but since it was after 10pm, I asked the bus driver to please drop me off at the stop on Beverly Road and Coney Island Avenue. I didn't think it would be an issue because it's an actual bus stop, it's on the route, and since it was after 10pm the "Request a Stop" was in effect.
The bus driver refused. She insisted that she couldn't make the stop. I tried to remind her that she could because it was after 10pm, but she still refused. I asked the bus driver for her name or ID and the name of her direct supervisor. She refused to give me that information, but I got the bus number.
At nearly 11pm she passed my stop at Beverly Road and Coney Island Avenue and dropped me off on a deserted Cortelyou Road at nearly 11pm forcing me to walk an extra five blocks through some deserted streets. I know this neighborhood is pretty safe, but I like to be extra cautious late at night.
I called the MTA to lodge a complaint and I'm waiting for an update. I spoke with a "Mr. Hoffman" who asked me if I would be willing to testify against this driver. I told him I would. I am pursuing this because it's a safety issue. Over all I was okay getting home. But the next person might not be.
It started innocently enough. I went into the kitchen and noticed the floor needed to be swept. So I got out the broom and dust pan and while I was sweeping I thought "might as well mop it". So I got out a bucket, lysol and a mop. Then I figured that since I had the mop and bucket out I might as well do the bathroom floors too. Then I was on my hands and knees and figured I might as well clean the toilet. Then I looked at the moldings and decided to give them a wipe down as well..... and what started out as a quiet Saturday night turned into a cleaning fest.
At least I didn't get too carried away and drag some carpets out on Ocean Parkway to be aired out. Not sure if these carpets where laid out for a cleaning, or they are free for the taking:
I am enjoying a three day weekend. I have no plans other than to do whatever I feel like doing. I did have one errand to run today. I had to pick up a book that was on hold for me at the library. But when I got up it was pouring rain. At first I thought stay home.. you don't want to go out in this, but then I remembered I had no food in the house and I was sick of eating chinese food.
There is nice little grocery store on Ditmas Avenue that I like. I don't shop there very often because it's kind of far, but if I happen to be in the neighborhood I will often stop by and pick things up. It's also open 24 hours so if I ever have a hankering for nectarines at two in the morning, I will know where to go.
While I was shopping the rain got heavier. But that didn't seem to stop others from buying their plums.
Yesterday I found out, that a former acting coach of mine had died suddenly about eight years ago.
He was somewhat famous and out of respect to his family, I'm not going to mention his name here. Officially, his death is listed as a heart attack, but there are rumors on websites and on message boards on the IMDB that he actually committed suicide.
The class was held at an acting studio here in NYC. I remember I had to audition for the class. I took the class in part because I was familiar with his work and had respected it. I'm sorry to say the class was a dissapointment. Overall he was profesional. He always showed up on time, and was very organized. Unfortunately, there was a strong under current of bitterness that came through in his teaching.
His career was not stellar but far better than most actors I know. He had a major role on a few soap operas, appeared on television shows and did a lot of national television commercials. (Had even won an Emmy at one point) But I suppose he wasn't happy or satisfied with his acting career as it stood. He frequently commented that his old friends from the show he worked on back in the 80's no longer called him. It seemed like in every class he would remind us how cold and uncaring the acting world could be.
It was because of this negativity that I never took another class with him. I would sometimes see him on television shows for a year or two after. I realized a few days ago that I hadn't seen him in anything lately, and looked him up on the IMDB and learned of his death. I haven't been able to get him out of my mind for the last twenty-four hours.
I hope the suicide rumors are just that, rumors. In spite of the gloom in his attitude, I could tell that there was a light inside him. If he could just tap into that light he would be a happier man. If only he didn't measure his self worth by how much employment he could get as an actor. I know that he was a good man. A beautiful man with a lot to live for and a lot to give.
Right before I was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer in 2007, in the midst of doctors appointments and scans to just confirm what we all knew was the truth, I remember sitting on the subway platform at Sheepshead Bay waiting for the B train, I looked up to the sky and watched the wind blow through the trees, and felt the warm breeze. It's a simple pleasure, and sounds very corny as I type it out (I almost deleted it). I remember thinking that such simple pleasures are taken for granted. I remember thinking at the time "enjoy this now" and "why have you not appreciated this simple pleasure before". But at the time, I didn't think I would be around for much longer.
I'm still here, and I try to remember to go outside and look at the sky, smell the breeze and appreciate the little things. I try to remind myself that it doesn't matter that I'm not where I wanted to be in my life at this moment, it's good to be alive. Now that I've gotten back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it's easy to forget.
It seems that my acting coach forgot this back in 2004. I am so sorry to hear that. May he rest in peace.
This suppressing heat has made me a bit of a shut in. All I can really do is sit in my bedroom sandwhiched between the fan and the air conditioner (and thank God I have an air conditioner). By Sunday I was going a little stir crazy and decided to check out Lark - a new coffee shop in Ditmas Park that's all the buzz.
It's located on Church Avenue just a few blocks off of Coney Island Avenue, right next door from a Thai place. I managed to get there before the crowds. The storefront it sits in is shallow (I think it was two placed) with wooden bench seats, and a window counter that faces a school. I was greeted warmly by a young woman covered with tattoos. I ordered a black coffee (no sugar). I didn't feel like a pastry so I got a bagel with cream cheese. The bagel was very fresh.
The best part is the "play room" complete with floor mats and pillows were kids are free to play and cavort while the other patrons can stay in the main part of the coffee shop to enjoy their brew and read without a screaming child. It's not that I don't like children, but it's hard to read and enjoy your coffee while someone's toddler is bouncing around.
Rent stabilized tenants in a Ditmas Park building are facing a huge increase in rent and it's causing a bit of an uproar. The landlord of 596 East 22nd street has stated that in order to cover the cost of major repairs such as a new boiler and a new roof, they would have to instill an MCI increase (Major Capital Improvement) to recoup the cost. For some tenants, this could mean an increase in rent of $100 - $300 per month.
This is how an MCI increase works: the landlord can take the cost of a major capital improvement, (for example, a new boiler) and collect it from their tenants per room. So if one rents a three rooom apartment and the MCI is $80 per room, that would be an increase in rent of $240 per month. These increases continue even after the landlord has recouped his or her costs. In short, it's a way for landlords to present a whooping rent increase for rent stabilized apartments.
The tenants in this building have argued, that their landlord has not kept this building in good repair, thus creating the need for a new roof, new boiler etc. This may be true, although all buildings would need these replaced eventually no matter how well it's maintained.
This caught my attention because I will be facing an MCI increase sometime in the future. The building I live in is undergoing extensive improvements. They just fixed the terraces, and they are getting ready to restore the lobby. (it's a mess now). So once these repairs are complete, I will most likely have an MCI increase. What really sucks is that I will have to pay for the improvement on the terraces, even though my apartment has no terrace.
Is this really fair? I understand that landlords need to cover their costs, and that extensive improvements can be difficult to make when the majority of your tenants are paying well below the market value. But what about someone like me who is paying close to the market rent for my apartment anyway even though my apartment is rent stabilized? What about the tenant on the fixed income? An increase of $240 is huge and may actually be cost prohibitive. Aren't landlords obligated to maintain the building?
I don't know when I will be facing my MCI increase, or how much it will be. I'm confident I would be able to find another apartment in this hood for about the same price I'm paying now. But, I would most likely need to give up a lot amenities. This apartment is large, I have plenty of space. I have a dishwasher. There is a doorman and although the hours are very limited I do have access to a pool in the summer. It would be a challenge to find another apartment around here with all those attributes, but probably not impossible.
Only time will tell. In the meantime my heart does go out to these tenants who are facing these huge increases. I know there are a lot of haters out there who would comment that someone paying just $800 a month for a one bedroom apartment shouldn't complain. But that doesn't change the fact that $800 a month is hard to come up with when you only make about 24K a year. Everyone deserves a comfortable safe place to live.
While I do think it's possible that the owners of 596 East 22nd street need to make repairs, I do have to wonder if this is just another attempt of gentrification.
I certainly know what it's like to be priced out of this neighborhood.
This morning I was heading to the grocery store when I ran into neighbors in the lobby. It seems that a group of people are starting a petition to get the management to open the pool on Saturdays. There was a major heat wave on Saturday and it would have been nice to take a dip in the pool. It does seem ridiculous that we cannot enjoy the pool on Saturdays, especially since we have to pay for it.
The note from the angry tenant was of course removed from the elevators the very next morning, but my blog post was picked up by Gothamist and the Windsor Terrace/Kensington Patch where one commenter thought that the story was fake. I assure you the story is true. You can read the posting of the pool rules here.
I know this is totally unrelated but whenever I go to the grocery story, this little clip from Sesame Street runs through my head.
My building has a pool. This is a rare luxury for Brooklyn apartment buildings. When I moved into this building in 2009 I was happy that it had a pool but it was not the reason I took the apartment.
I live in a rent stabilized building. When it was built in 1961 it would have been considered a luxury building. (pool, doorman, laundry) Most buildings like this have since been converted to co-ops but this one hasn't. I'm happy with the apartment, but the lobby is desolate due to a pipe blowing out at least a decade ago. They just recently took down scaffolding that had been up for at least four years. But the apartment is large, with a dishwasher (also unusual for NYC apartments), a doorman, laundry on the premises and yes - for two months out of the year - a swimming pool.
Unfortunately there are some issues with the pool.
1) The Hours: The pool is only open Monday - Friday from 1:30 - 5:30 and on Sunday 11:00 - 3:30 and closed on Saturdays. Let me repeat that. CLOSED ON SATURDAYS. So basically if you have a job the pool isn't really for you. There is no possible way I could get home in time to swim during the week which only leaves a few hours on Sunday to enjoy the pool.
2) Can't bring friends or guests: I do kind of understand this one. It is a large building, and if everyone brought a guest it could be crowded. But it does kind of stink that if I have overnight guests I can't bring someone out to the pool for the few hours that it is open.
3) There is a $50 fee for the summer: Now I know that $50 doesn't sound like a lot of money to have use of a pool for the summer but consider the hours it's open. I would gladly pay this if the pool was open on Saturdays and until 8-9pm at least two days a week.
Ironically the fee for the pool is actually illegal. The pool is an amenity of the building, and it's against the law for theme to charge us for it. Just like the doorman and the laundry room, these amenities are covered in the rent. Furthermore the owners of the building would love to close the pool, but they can't because if they closed the pool, it would be a reduction of service and therefore, the tenants would be entitled to a rent reduction.
There are tenants in this building who rented through brokers, and the brokers all used the pool as a "selling point". They were disenchanted when they learned of the "fee" and the limited hours. So some tenants were disappointed. But one disgruntled tenant decided to make their sentiments very clear by posting this sign on the elevator.
I would love to join in this protest, but they didn't put a date and time for the meeting. I have a feeling that this sign will be taken down by morning. I love this sign!!!
As for me, I went ahead and paid the $50, but I'm going to make darn sure I'm poolside every Sunday this summer. I figured it will cost me $6.25 for each swim. More if one of those days has thunder and lightening.
This morning I got a phone call confirming my space on the TNR workshop. (Trap Netuer Return) For the past few weeks, I have been feeding a feral three legged kitten who is living behind my building. I'm guessing he/she is about twelve weeks old. I can't be sure because I can't get anywhere near it.
I first noticed the kitten when I would hear it's mother crying. There is also a mamma cat who lives back there too. I know momma had some kitten back in September, and I'm pretty sure this black kitten is hers, and last time I saw momma, climbing on the garage roof, she looked pregnant to me.
Here is a picture I took of her with one of her kittens back in August of last year. She seems to either just have one kitten, or just one kitten in her litters survive.
I would like to try to trap her and have her fixed, and hopefully rescue her new kittens. I don't think there is any chance that she could be adopted. She is pretty feral, but she is smart. She manages to survive.
Today, as I was coming home from work I almost walked right passed my building because I did not recognize it. Since I moved in to this building in 2009 there has been scaffolding. (the urban umbrella). I've always wondered why this building has not been converted to co-ops. Most buildings around this area have been. I presume it's because of the work that needs to be done. They were re-doing the decks and doing some other stuff. When I filled in the application to move in here, the building manager told me that this was all just temporary. Well that was nearly three years ago and today - they took the scaffolding down while I was at work. The building looks naked without it.
There is still a lot of work to be done. The lobby looks terrible, and my doorman is an old guy who sleeps in an office chair. I'm rent stablized, but that does not mean cheap rent. It just means stable. Management is required by law to offer me a lease renewal, and there is a limit to what the landlord can raise the rent too. When all this work is complete, it is likely that I will be hit with a MCI (Major Capital Improvement Increase). Not sure I'm going to want to pay that. I am paying close to market rent for this apartment now, and would probably have no trouble finding another place in this neighborhood for the same price. But then, moving is a hassle, and it is not likely I would find anything as large.
School is out. I am not taking any summer classes, but I am taking some English classes next semester. I already have the reading list for one of them (19th Cent. British Novels) so I can get the jump on reading. I am sad to report that I did kind of phone it in last semester. I have a lot on my mind, and have been rather tired. But even so, I was able to earn a B, which is pretty darn good for "phoning it in".
Whenever a semester wraps up, I feel as though I am on vacation. I still need to go to work, but I have no projects or tests looming over my head. Since starting school I have neglected my photography, and this really bugs me. Photography is an important outlet for me. I have invested a lot into it both financially and emotionally. I shouldn't let this slip.
I went out to Coney Island today and got some photos of the interior of Playland. Playland was an arcade that closed around 1982 and has been boarded up every since. Over the last few years, the "Playland" letters have been dropping off. I've always been fascinated by what was behind the sealed doors and someone got access to it about a year ago when the wind blew down one of the doors.
Today I noticed that the side doors have been torn down so I was able to get a quick look and snap some photos. These photos had to be taken rather quickly because I was pretty sure I wasn't supposed to be there. I also wasn't able to walk into the structure because it definately was not safe. When I first arrived I startled a cat who bolted accross the place.
Some old murals..
There was a forgotten mirror ball..