Friday, December 28, 2007

NYU Pays $9.4 Million for 25 Roosevelt Island Condos

The New York Observer reports today that:

New York University has paid $9.4 million for a bloc of 25 condos in Riverwalk Landing on Roosevelt Island--the fourth and most recently completed building in the luxury residential complex being developed through a joint venture of Hudson Properties and the Related Companies
Image is from NY Times.

UPDATE: 12/30- According to David Kramer, a principal of the Hudson Companies, the developer together with Related Company of the Riverwalk condos , the New York Observer report is incorrect in respect to the number of condo units sold in this block. The correct number of units sold is 14 not 25.

Next Year Holiday or Christmas Tree for Roosevelt Island?

Has a tiny little corner of the Cultural Divide concerning Christmas and the other winter seasonal holidays reared it's controversial head here on Roosevelt Island? Is Bill O'Reilly about to champion the cause of re-naming the Roosevelt Island Holiday Tree to Christmas Tree?

I ask these questions because a recent letter writer to the Main Street WIRE (PDF file) described being unhappy and "pained" that the signs for a "Holiday Tree" on Roosevelt Island disrespected "sacred" symbols such as the "Christmas Tree, lights and carols...". According to the letter writer:
What is a “holiday tree?” Do you mean Christmas tree?

It is very painful to see the “holiday tree” signs all over the Island. As an Islander for over 15 years (more than half my life), I am truly disappointed over the path RIOC is taking regarding Christmas. Is the term “Christmas tree” offensive to some? If so, why should their feeelings be respected while the traditions and beliefs of thousands of Christian Roosevelt Islanders are stepped on and violated? Cultural diversity should not mean putting down certain people in order to please others.

Roosevelt Island has always been a place where diversity is respected and celebrated. RIOC needs to understand that Christmas trees, lights, and carols are sacred to Christians. Do not disrespect us by not calling them by their historical names! Christmas is one of the most sacred times of the year RIOC, please be considerate!...
I hesitated to post on this topic because there are few if any subjects more divisive than religion in the public square, particularly this time of year, with well meaning and respectful individuals on either side as well as others, unfortunately, who seek to inflame the controversy. I did not see anything positive coming from a post on this subject.

However, on December 21, the Wall Street Journal published this commentary by the historian John Steele Gordon titled, A Brief History of Christmas, that I thought was instructive and made a positive contribution to the issue. According to Gordon:
Christmas famously "comes but once a year." In fact, however, it comes twice. The Christmas of the Nativity, the manger and Christ child, the wise men and the star of Bethlehem, "Silent Night" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" is one holiday. The Christmas of parties, Santa Claus, evergreens, presents, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Jingle Bells" is quite another.

But because both celebrations fall on Dec. 25, the two are constantly confused. Religious Christians condemn taking "the Christ out of Christmas," while First Amendment absolutists see a threat to the separation of church and state in every poinsettia on public property and school dramatization of "A Christmas Carol."

A little history can clear things up.

The Christmas of parties and presents is far older than the Nativity. Most ancient cultures celebrated the winter solstice, when the sun reaches its lowest point and begins to climb once more in the sky. In ancient Rome, this festival was called the Saturnalia and ran from Dec. 17 to Dec. 24.
So what is the answer? After a brief summary of the antecedents of the Christmas Nativity holiday Gordon concludes:
So for those worried about the First Amendment, there's a very easy way to distinguish between the two Christmases. If it isn't mentioned in the Gospels of Luke and Mark, then it is not part of the Christian holiday. Or we could just change the name of the secular holiday back to what it was 2000 years ago.

Merry Saturnalia, everyone!
Some food for thought. Beliefnet, an excellent religion and spiritual web site, has a modest proposal by a catholic priest to move the religious Nativity Christmas to June and let the retailers and consumers have December 25.

Via Queens Crap, a Daily News article by the very same John Steele Gordon on How New York Invented Christmas.
... the Puritans outlawed Christmas altogether. When it was revived in 1660, it was a calmer affair, and still celebrated on a community basis. It was New York City that changed all that, pioneering the family — and very child-centered — holiday that has since spread around the world. This is not surprising, perhaps, seeing that Santa Claus is New York's patron saint.
No, really. The Dutch ship that brought the first settlers to Manhattan was named for St. Nicholas, the patron saint of old Amsterdam as well as children.
It was long a Dutch tradition for children to get presents on St. Nicholas Day, Dec. 6, often put in their shoes or stockings for them to find in the morning. The children of non-Dutch families, noticing how well the Dutch children were making out on Dec. 6, were soon successfully lobbying their parents to give them presents as well. Often these presents came on Christmas instead of St. Nicholas Day.
One other point on this topic. I wish people would stop using the word "War" on Christmas. Their is no "War" on Christmas in America. There is a disagreement and dispute over the proper role of the State in celebrating the holiday but there is no war. To use the "War" analogy makes a mockery of the sacrifices made by the service men and women of the United States Military who are fighting and dying in a real global war.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Roosevelt Island Constituent Services from State Senator Jose Serrano

State Senator Jose Serrano will be holding constituent office hours on Roosevelt Island the first Tuesday of every month beginning on January 8, 2008. Below is Senator Serrano's announcement regarding Roosevelt Island office hours.

Serrano Constituent Hours

On Roosevelt Island
Hosted by
Senator Jose M. Serrano

Who: Everyone is Welcome
No Appointments Necessary

When: First Tuesday of Every Month *

Time: 3 to 7 p.m.

Where: RIOC Offices
591 Main Street
Ground Floor

* New Years Day is the first Tuesday in January. As a result, constituent hours will be held Tuesday, January 8th.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the
Serrano district office at (212) 828-5829.

We look forward to seeing you!

Note: Please bring a photocopy of any paperwork you may have
related to the situation or issue you wish to discuss so that we may
better serve you.

Also, save this date. Senator Serrano will be holding an Eastwood housing forum on Feb. 7 in conjunction with Eviction Intervention Services and Eastwood Residents Association.

Image is a map of the 28th New York State Senate District which includes Roosevelt Island, Yorkville, East Harlem and the South Bronx.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Airstream Trailer Light Show

Via The Presufer, an Airstream Trailer light show that would fit in very well with Brooklyn's Dyker Heights Christmas extravaganza or the Roosevelt Island Holiday Tree.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All

Merry Christmas!
Here's the Christmas Song sung by the fabulous Nat King Cole. Enjoy!

And the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights as fantastic as ever from Gowanus Lounge.

Nat King Cole You Tube video link here.

Chinese Food on Christmas

And something for those who eat Chinese food on Christmas and go to the movie theater too. A funny satirical video.

For everybody, in this Holiday Season, let us remember these immortal words from Elvis Costello:

What's so funny about Peace, Love and Understanding?

Chinese Food on Christmas You Tube video link is here.
Elvis Costello You tube video link here.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Roosevelt Island

Santa Claus has been spotted near the 59th Street Bridge by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band.
Have you all been good this year? Well, according to the Big Man, Clarence and Santa:

you've better been good for goodness sakes!!

You Tube video taken from London concert on December 19, 2007.

Here is Classic Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band from 1978 at the Capital Theater in Passaic, New Jersey doing Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

You Tube video is here.

I remember driving through a blizzard in 1980 to see Bruce in Hartford, CT the night before an important exam. Don't remember much about the exam, but the concert was fantastic. He is simply the BEST live performer in the history of Rock.

Image of Roosevelt Island Tram being pulled by reindeer is from a card created by local resident who sells them at the Motorgate Atrium. I'm not sure if they are still available but if anyone is still interested in buying a set for this year or next, let me know and I will put you in touch with the seller.