Friday, November 28, 2008

Things To Do This Weekend In New York City and Roosevelt Island - Christmas Chorus Tree Lighting, Rock & Roll Annex, Winter Stargazing and RI Tour

You Tube Video of Ramones Rock'n Roll High School

Hopefully everyone has started to recover from their Thanksgiving festivities and now you may be looking for fun things to do on Roosevelt Island or in some other part of New York City this weekend? Here are some suggestions.

Tonight is the lighting of the South Street Seaport Christmas Chorus Tree & Holiday Happenings. According to Mommy Poppins:
The South Street Seaport Christmas Tree stands over 50 feet high and will be lit the Friday after Thanksgiving: Friday, November 28th, at 6 PM. The event will be kicked off by carol singing by The Big Apple Chorus and, of course, an appearance from Santa. The tree stands on Old Fulton Street amongst the quaint historic district of the Seaport and it's the perfect setting to get into the Christmas spirit.
Mommy Poppins also lists other Christmas Tree and Hanukkah Menorah Lighting venues as well as a New York City Holiday activity guide.

On Saturday, visit the newly opened Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum New York City Annex. The NY Times describes what you will find at the Rock & Roll Annex and so does Time Out New York :
New York City is steeped in rock history: the Velvet Underground, CBGB, the birth of hip-hop, Bob Dylan—we could go on. And yet there’s no single repository devoted to the history of rock. (That old crust-punk who hung 24/7 at Max’s Kansas City doesn’t count.)

But now there’s the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC, an offshoot of the Cleveland original. It traces the history of the genre through artifacts, video installations and special exhibits (the first, on the Clash, opens Monday 1; see our story on the right).

“We thought it would be a good place to do a smaller version, given New York City’s central place in the history of rock & roll,” says Jim Henke, vice-president of exhibitions and curatorial affairs. And it shows: One whole gallery is devoted to all things NYC; artifacts include the awning from CBGB and David Byrne’s big suit from the film Stop Making Sense. “Everyone has a different definition of rock & roll,” says Henke. “We try to define it very broadly, so there’s something for everyone.”

On Sunday, try some Winter Stargazing at Central Park's Belvedere Castle. Join the NYC Parks Department and:
Celebrate the season with the Central Park Conservancy! This year, we're kicking off our Winter Holiday Programs by partnering with the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York and the Urban Park Rangers to present a special astronomy event for families. Enjoy an educational lecture and a spectacular view of the night's sky far away from the city lights at the highest point in Central Park, Belvedere Castle.

First we'll delve into the wonders of winter astronomy, in a lecture with the Amateur Astronomers Association inside Belvedere Castle. As the sky gets darker, we'll head out onto the plaza for some naked-eye observation. Once you've got the hang of it, you'll have the chance to use our binoculars and telescopes for an even greater view! If we're lucky, we'll see the Andromeda Galazy, the Ring Nebula, the Pleiades star cluster, Hyades, the Alpha Persei clusters, and the Orion Nebula.

On Roosevelt Island this weekend, the Farmers Market will be open on Saturday as is Gallery RIVAA, the Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association. Also, RIOC has produced a great self guided tour map (PDF File) of Roosevelt Island for any visitor or resident looking to stroll the Island and learn something more about it.

Good weekend transportation news. The MTA is reporting normal Roosevelt Island F Train subway service in both directions and RIOC is not reporting any Tram disruptions but:
On Sunday, November 30th, from 1PM to 4PM, a film crew will be utilizing the Tram and surrounding areas.

This WILL NOT interfere with normal Tram operations.
Check out some other ideas on what to do in New York City this weekend from the NY Times Urban Eye, NY Post Weekend Calendar and Newyorkology.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giant Turkey at Rockefeller Center - Happy Thanksgving From Roosevelt Island - Meet You At Alice's Restaurant!

Image of Rockefeller Center Turkey from The Onion

I was walking through Rockefeller Center the other day expecting to see the great Christmas Tree when instead there was a humongous TURKEY about to be stuffed with all the fixins right above the skating rink. Could it be possible? I was very hungry at the time and may have been focusing a bit too much on dinner but this was ridiculous. What did others think?
"I knew the crowds were going to be huge, but I wanted my son to be here on the day all the stuffing went in," said Cleveland resident Dean Carlson, who was visiting New York with his family. "You should have seen the look on his face when they peeled back the skin with that giant skidder. This is something he'll remember for the rest of his life."
Just kidding, getting ready for the holiday and thought I would have some fun. The Rockefeller Center Turkey image and quote are from the funny folks at The Onion.

I hope everybody has a Happy Thanksgiving. RI 360 posted about the first Roosevelt Island Thanksgiving in 1975. Take a look.

Here's my Thanksgiving Post from last year. Arlo Gurthrie's Alice's Restaurant has always been a part of Thanksgiving for me so I am repeating the post.

In addition to family, great food, the Macy's Parade, Miracle on 34th Street, March of the Wooden Soldiers and football, listening to Arlo Guthrie's rendition of Alice's Restaurant on WNEW-FM was, for me, a wonderful Thanksgiving tradition. A former DJ from the station remembers Thanksgiving and Arlo Guthrie this way on the blog All Mixed Up Radio.
Every year a couple of days before Thanksgiving, it starts. It's slow at first, and then turns into a non-stop avalanche of phone calls. And no matter how many times a station runs promo announcements telling people exactly when it will be played, the calls still come.

"What time are you playing 'Alice's Restaurant?'"
Some of the lyrics:
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant

Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on - two years ago on
Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the
restaurant, but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the
church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower, with her husband Ray and
Fasha the dog. And livin' in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of
room downstairs where the pews used to be in. Havin' all that room,
seein' as how they took out all the pews, they decided that they didn't
have to take out their garbage for a long time.
You Tube link to short 2 minute video version above is here.
For those of you who want to go back in time and see the full 18 minute version of Alice's Restaurant, You Tube link is here.


RIOC Signed Contract With POMA For Roosevelt Island Tram Modernization - Shutdown Scheduled For July 6, 2009

Alternative Roosevelt Island Tram Cabin Images from RIOC

The controversy regarding the Roosevelt Island Tram Modernization is finally over. Whether the Tram needs to be replaced in the first place, or if it does, what type of replacement is necessary is now part of Roosevelt Island history. RIOC President Steve Shane reports that:
The Contract with POMA was signed and delivered today. After the delay occasioned by needing Governor's Office approval, the closure date was very close to July 4, so we decided to move the schedule to have closure Monday, July 6, 2009 to reopen not later than January 8, 2010, with one side to open by Christmas. This will permit the July 4 celebration event to take place as usual and should also be better for finishing the school year for the kids needing tram transportation through the end of the school year.
Here is RIOC's tentative Red Bus schedule to Queens Subway and Manhattan during the period of time when the Tram is out of service.

There is still time to take RIOC's online poll to express your preference for one of the four possible Roosevelt Island Tram Cabins pictured above. So far, the Carvatech is the favorite.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No Water For Roosevelt Island's Manhattan Park On Day After Thanksgiving - Prepare Yourself

Image of Time To Drink Toilet Water from Slate

Imagine it's Friday, the day after gorging on Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, cranberries, family, friends, football and all the other extras that accompany the holiday. All you want to do is relax, recover and not be bothered by anything.

If you live in Roosevelt Island's Manhattan Park complex that may be difficult to accomplish because you will not have any water for the entire day. RIOC President Steve Shane sends the following message regarding water being shut off at Manhattan Park.
On Friday, November 28, 2008 RIOC is scheduling DEP for the water main shut down and repair, in front of 40 River Road on Main Street. DEP has informed us to notify all building managers that the water will be off for 24 hrs, even though the job may only take 8 hrs it is better to inform all residents of Manhattan Park as well as the Post Office and Gristede's Supermarket that it may take up to 24 hrs.

The buildings and area's that will be effected are, all of Manhattan Park, the Public School PS/IS217, Post Office, Motorgate building and Gristede's.

Please post signs of the water shut down in your buildings and also inform me of your fire protection, reserves of water for fire suppression systems.
Despite it being the Thanksgiving weekend Mr. Shane advises that this is:
Best to be done when school is not in session.
Although I hope we never need it here on Roosevelt Island, the astronauts orbiting the earth in the Space Station are experimenting with ways to make up for the lack of drinking water. From the AP:
After several days without luck, astronauts finally ran a successful test on equipment that turns urine into drinking water — a necessity for supporting the international space station's crew, which will soon double.

"Not to spoil anything, but I think up here the appropriate words are 'Yippee!'" space station commander Mike Fincke told Mission Control early Tuesday morning, shortly before bedtime....

Manhattan Park residents - Be Prepared!

UPDATE - 6:50 PM - Mr. Shane provides the following information regarding schedule change of Manhattan Park water shutdown:
See revised e mail below changing scheduled water shut off. Note shut off will now be either Tuesday or Wednesday night, depending on what is found as a result of the excavation to begin Monday. Apologies to all for inconvenience, but weather is a problem.

"Preparations for the water main shutdown, affecting: Manhattan Park, Gristedes, Motorgate, RIOC Transportation Garage, the US Post Office and PS/IS 217, have been delayed by the inclement weather. DEP and RIOC are forced to postpone the shutdown and repair until next week.

Excavation for the repair will resume Monday morning Dec. 1st.

Depending on the conditions encountered, DEP is tentatively scheduling an evening shutdown for either Tuesday 12/2 or Wednesday 12/3.

The shutdown would occur between 6 :00 PM and 6:30 PM, with an estimated duration of 8 hours. Because of possible repair complications, DEP urges residents to be prepared for a duration of up to 24 hours....
BTW, you can inform your anonymous commenter that the reason it's best to have a water shut down when school is not in session is that the regulations require the school be closed when the water is off for fire safety reasons.
The Friday after Thanksgiving can now be a relaxing day for Manhattan Park residents.

Orphans International Fundraiser at Kurve On December 1

Jim Luce of Roosevelt Island based Orphans International sends the following invitation.
Please join Orphans International on Monday, December 1, 2008 for a private evening at KURVE, 6:00-10:00pm. The evening includes cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres, silent auction and a special performance of Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary. KURVE: 87 Second Avenue @ Fifth Street, New York City.

Mixologist Sasha Petraske is tending the bar (Milk and Honey, Little Branch, White Star, the East Side Company Bar).


Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions. We look forward to welcoming you to our final Orphans International Benefit of 2008.
Learn more about the organization's philosophy of embracing family care for orphans.

Here is a NY Times restaurant review for Kurve from last week.

CORRECTION - 6:20 PM - I have removed a portion of this post regarding the event. It will be revised shortly. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Roosevelt Island Red Bus Schedule To Queens Subway and Manhattan During June - December 2009 Tram Shutdown

Image of Roosevelt Island Red Bus from RIOC

Access RI, the Hunter College team of students studying Roosevelt Island transportation issues, reports on the November 11 Transportation Committee meeting of Community Planning Board 8 concerning the Roosevelt Island Tram Modernization Project. According to RI Access:
...The tram will be out of service from June 22, 2009 to mid-December 2009.
During the tram closure, RIOC will be running Red Buses during the morning rush hour to Queensboro Plaza. Also Red Buses will be running service to/from Manhattan between 10 am to 4 pm and 7 pm to Midnight.
I asked RIOC President Steve Shane to confirm and if there would be Red Bus service to F Train station at 21st Street in Queens. He replied:
All true with minor clarification. No F train stop at 21st Street. Weekday service into Manhattan starts at 10AM, hourly, from front of Gristedes, returning on the half hour. Last bus to Manhattan in the weekday afternoon is at 3:00PM, returning at 3:30PM. Weekend service hourly on the hour from the loop in front of Gristede's. All pick up on the half hour in Manhattan across from the Tram on the east side of 2nd ave, north side of 6oth street.
As to weekend hours for the Red Bus, Mr Shane answers:
Probably 8AM RI to Manhattan to 12:30AM last to RI from Manhattan weekends. As ridership warrants.

Present plan is June 22, 2009 until December 19, 2009, with one side opening December 5, 2009.
Note that one Tram side will be in operation before the other.

UPDATE - 9:45 PM - More information on Roosevelt Island Red Bus schedule during Tram outage from Mr. Shane:
Our present thinking is:
Weekdays: 6AM to 9:30AM half hourly to Queens Plaza. 10AM to 3PM hourly to Manhattan, returning on the 1/2 hour, resuming 7PM until 11PM.

Weekends: 8AM to 12PM to Manhattan, departing on the hour, returning on half hour, last from Manhattan at 12:30 AM Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

All depart Gristedes loop, return from 2nd & 60th.

Roosevelt Island Electricity Bills - Submetering at Eastwood Fears and Manhattan Park Complaints

Understanding Your Con Ed Electricity Bill Image From NY Times

With winter coming, keeping warm means increased energy usage together with higher Con Ed electricity charges. Assembly Member Micah Kellner reports in his newsletter on the situation confronting residents of Eastwood, now known as Roosevelt Landings:
Recently, residents of the Eastwood complex on Roosevelt Island were informed by their management company, Urban American, that the building would be converting to sub-metered electricity. This means that tenants would be billed individually for their household’s electricity usage. Urban American intends for this transition to take place early next year.

I have serious concerns about this process, and how it will affect tenants.
On October 16th, I participated in a town hall meeting, along with Eastwood tenants, at the Good Shepherd Community Center. The meeting was an opportunity to ask building management questions about the sub-metering proposal, as well as to hear from the state agencies involved. As a result of this meeting, and the numerous comments I have heard from residents there, I do not believe that the building is ready to go forward with sub-metering.

Too many tenants still have energy-inefficient appliances and faulty electric heaters, these are not personal items, rather these are items that come with the apartment and the management company is responsible for them. Urban American has promised to replace inefficient appliances and to fix heaters and thermostats for any residents who make a request to them. If you are an Eastwood tenant and you have made a request like this to management but they have not responded, please call me.

It is imperative that we have a clear picture of overall energy use in the building. The building’s heat is electric, so it is essential to ensure that tenants do not face unreasonably high utility bills just to stay warm in the winter. It concerns me that so many apartments are poorly insulated and Urban American needs to address this. I have asked the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to conduct a full survey of energy use and efficiency in Eastwood, so that residents are not penalized by faulty design or maintenance.

I am also concerned that we do not have a real sense about how billing will work under this new system, given the complicated system of affordable housing programs that are integrated into the Mitchell-Lama’s accounting already. Will the utility allowance calculated by state and federal agencies be enough to compensate tenants for a reasonable amount of electricity usage? I have asked New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson as well as the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal to work with Urban American to ensure that residents are protected.
Saving Mitchell-Lama explains how submetering impacts residents in Mitchell-Lama housing:
... Your rent is reduced by a fixed amount established by the State's Division of Housing and Community Renewal. (Click on the blue lettering to see DHCR's fact sheet and the exact rent reduction numbers.)

The landlord buys electricity at the bulk (cheaper) rate from the provider (like Con Ed or some other Energy Service Company provider - or "ESCO"), and then is supposed to charge the tenants the same rate plus a $4 administrative fee -- but there is currently no way to check how much the landlord actually paid. The landlord is allowed to charge up to the amount you could be charged if you were billed directly by Con Edison at the full residential rate. (If the landlord buys electricity from two or more providers, there may be two or more bills for him to pass along to you.)

The amount you spend each month on electricity is listed as a separate part of your rent bill, and you pay it with your rent. In some cases, you get a bill directly from the company administering the submetering bill, and you would pay that company directly....
Residents of Manhattan Park have some complaints about their electric bills too and The NY Times explains how to read your Con Ed electricity bill

UPDATE:12/1 - Assembly Member Kellner, State Senator Serrano, Congresswoman Maloney and Council Member Lappin sent this letter to Urban America's CEO Phillip Eisenberg expressing concern regarding the electrical submetering at Eastwook (Roosevelt Landings).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Barack Obama's Weekly Address - Economic Recovery Plan of Public Works and Long Term Investment

You Tube Video of Barack Obama' s economic recovery speech from

Below is the text of President-elect Obama's economic recovery speech given on Saturday November 22:
Good morning.

The news this week has only reinforced the fact that we are facing an economic crisis of historic proportions. Financial markets faced more turmoil. New home purchases in October were the lowest in half a century. Five-hundred-forty-thousand more jobless claims were filed last week, the highest in 18 years. And we now risk falling into a deflationary spiral that could increase our massive debt even further.

While I’m pleased that Congress passed a long-overdue extension of unemployment benefits this week, we must do more to put people back to work and get our economy moving again. We have now lost 1.2 million jobs this year, and if we don’t act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year.

There are no quick or easy fixes to this crisis, which has been many years in the making, and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. But January 20th is our chance to begin anew — with a new direction, new ideas, and new reforms that will create jobs and fuel long-term economic growth.

I have already directed my economic team to come up with an Economic Recovery Plan that will mean 2.5 million more jobs by January of 2011 — a plan big enough to meet the challenges we face that I intend to sign soon after taking office. We’ll be working out the details in the weeks ahead, but it will be a two-year, nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy. We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels; fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead.

These aren’t just steps to pull ourselves out of this immediate crisis; these are the long-term investments in our economic future that have been ignored for far too long. And they represent an early down payment on the type of reform my administration will bring to Washington — a government that spends wisely, focuses on what works, and puts the public interest ahead of the same special interests that have come to dominate our politics.

I know that passing this plan won’t be easy. I will need and seek support from Republicans and Democrats, and I’ll be welcome to ideas and suggestions from both sides of the aisle.

But what is not negotiable is the need for immediate action. Right now, there are millions of mothers and fathers who are lying awake at night wondering if next week’s paycheck will cover next month’s bills. There are Americans showing up to work in the morning only to have cleared out their desks by the afternoon. Retirees are watching their life savings disappear and students are seeing their college dreams deferred. These Americans need help, and they need it now.

The survival of the American Dream for over two centuries is not only a testament to its enduring power, but to the great effort, sacrifice, and courage of the American people. It has thrived because in our darkest hours, we have risen above the smallness of our divisions to forge a path towards a new and brighter day. We have acted boldly, bravely, and above all, together. That is the chance our new beginning now offers us, and that is the challenge we must rise to in the days to come. It is time to act. As the next president of the United States, I will. Thank you.
Go to for more information about the Presidential transition and agenda for the new Obama administration.

UPDATE: 1:45 PM - Tom Friedman's column in today's NY Times warns of the extreme seriousness of the current economic crisis:
So, I have a confession and a suggestion. The confession: I go into restaurants these days, look around at the tables often still crowded with young people, and I have this urge to go from table to table and say: “You don’t know me, but I have to tell you that you shouldn’t be here. You should be saving your money. You should be home eating tuna fish. This financial crisis is so far from over. We are just at the end of the beginning. Please, wrap up that steak in a doggy bag and go home.”...
What to do? Again, according to Friedman:
... As a result, Barack Obama is possibly going to have to make the biggest call of his presidency — before it even starts.

“A great judgment has to be made now as to just how big and bad the situation is,” says Jeffrey Garten, the Yale School of Management professor of international finance. “This is a crucial judgment. Do we think that a couple of hundred billion more and couple of bad quarters will take care of this problem, or do we think that despite everything that we have done so far — despite the $700 billion fund to rescue banks, the lowering of interest rates and the way the Fed has stepped in directly to shore up certain markets — the bottom is nowhere in sight and we are staring at a deep hole that the entire world could fall into?”

If it’s the latter, then we need a huge catalyst of confidence and capital to turn this thing around. Only the new president and his team, synchronizing with the world’s other big economies, can provide it.

“The biggest mistake Obama could make,” added Garten, “is thinking this problem is smaller than it is. On the other hand, there is far less danger in overestimating what will be necessary to solve it.”...
Read the whole column, We Found the WMD, and reader comments.