Thursday, December 6, 2007

Evil O’Malley is in the Hall

By Matthew Lysiak
The Brooklyn Paper

They’re putting the biggest bum of ’em all in the Hall. On Monday, Major League Baseball’s Veterans Committee elected Walter O’Malley, whose name will live on in villainy forever thanks to his decision to move the Dodgers to Los Angeles, to the Hall of Fame.

It’s safe to say that very few votes came from this borough.

“The man was a traitor who only cared about making as much money as he could,” said Ridge teacher and lifelong Brooklyn Dodgers fan Richard Montalbano. “Hall of Shame, yes, but Hall of Fame, no. The guy is a bum and he’ll always be a bum.

“I’ll never visit the Hall of Fame so long as I live,” added Montalbano.

Another longtime resident did plan on visiting the Hall, albeit as something a notch above a spectator.

“I plan to be at the ceremony next July just to yell out, ‘Rot in hell, O’Malley,’ at the most opportune times,” posted Rabbitman on

O’Malley moved the team after the 1957 season. The residents of Bay Ridge were hit especially hard because a number of players lived in Bay Ridge during the season, including Pee Wee Reese, who lived on Barwell Terrace and 97th Street; Duke Snider, who lived on Marine Avenue between 97th and 98th streets; Carl Erskine, who lived on Lafayette Walk and 94th Street; Roger Craig, who lived on Colonial Road between 68th and 69th streets; Danny McDevitt, who lived on Colonial Road between 70th and 71st streets.

In addition, Carl Spooner worked in the off season at Marathon Motors on the corner of 69th Street and Fourth Avenue and Rube Walker lived on 76th Street between Colonial Road and Ridge Boulevard.

There are even rumors that real-estate brokers refused to show Jackie Robinson houses in Bay Ridge.

No wonder how easy it was to hate O’Malley. From the 1930s until the late 1950s, living in Bay Ridge meant always having the possibility of running into Pee Wee Reese getting a cup of coffee or Carl Erskine shoveling show.

And one man took it all away from you. No wonder people still tell the old joke, “If Stalin, Hitler and O’Malley are in a room and you only have two bullets, who do you kill? Answer: You shoot O’Malley twice, just to make sure he’s dead!”

“There was blood on the streets,” said Jerry Polizzi, whose art supply store bearing his name is located on 7813 Third Ave. “They cursed him up and down.”

To locals, O’Malley chose money over memories when he moved the Bums to L.A. after he couldn’t squeeze the city for a new stadium. The hatred runs deep, so deep in fact, that it spans generations.

Bob Nevin worked as a young ticket taker at Ebbets Field for 50 cents a day. His family was torn at O’Malley’s cold-hearted move, but his experience also shows that the oft-repeated adage that O’Malley drained all of the borough’s joy isn’t exactly true.

“My father, my mother, my brother, my sister, they were all in tears,” said Nevin from his bar seat at O’Sullivan’s Bar on Third Avenue. “All but me — I’m a Yankees fan so I couldn’t stop laughing.”

Matthew Lysiak is a writer who lives in Bay Ridge.

The Kitchen Sink
On Dec. 22, the Canny Brothers, a Dyker Heights musical band of brothers, will be hosting their last gig of the year at Bally Bunion at 9510 Third Ave. The band is fast becoming a frequent staple at Irish pubs and local radio stations across the city. Better catch them before they aren’t so local. …

Another local musician, Frankie Marra, has launched a Web site ( Marra used to work for Bruce Springsteen. …

“The Winds of Change,” which is the newsletter of the Brooklyn Democrats for Change, is chock full of interesting liberal thoughts, including a restaurant review of our French bistro, Petit Oven, located on 267 Bay Ridge Ave. Reviewer Patrick Daniel Gatti gave it four and a half stars. …

DEP’s fresh idea stinks up Ridge

By Matthew Lysiak
The Brooklyn Paper

The Brooklyn Paper / Jeff Bachner
Residents demonstrate how they feel about the odor along Fort Hamilton Parkway.

Move over Dior, Chanel, and Ellen Tracy, the Department of Environmental Protection has unleashed a new perfume just in time for the holiday season and residents are giving it a big “thumbs up” — up their noses to plug up the stench.

Since last summer, that unmistakable odor of sewage has been creeping out of catch basins along Fort Hamilton Parkway between Marine Avenue and 99th Street. After residents complained, DEP odor experts last week dropped nylon socks filled with pine deodorizer.

But it hasn’t helped!

“The stench is absolutely repugnant,” said odor weary resident Fred Birkenfelv, who attends the senior center at St. John’s Church on the street of the offending scent. “I’ve been dealing with this smell for over a year, and let me tell you it is quite potent.” In fact, locals now say that the fresh scent of pine has made the raw sewage smell even worse.

“I think adding the pine made the existing smell even more potent,” said Aaron Green who lives in an apartment building near the offending odor.

“The minute I walk out of my car it hits me,” added Arlene Ross, who lives a few sniffs away. “Whatever they put down there didn’t make it better.”

But Santa won’t be the only one filling up stockings this December. DEP intends to put more pine-filled socks in the sewers, said agency spokeswoman Mercedes Padilla.

“We are aware of the odor and we are monitoring the situation closely,” Padilla said. “We will also be dropping in more pine deodorant socks within the next few weeks.”

If that doesn’t work, how about some chestnuts roasting on an open fire?

New Esprit grows up with customers

Esprit hopes to recapture the American retail scene after it sold its interests to foreign investors in 1989. (Handout / December 5, 2007)

By Matthew Lysiak | Special to amNewYork
December 5, 2007

If it can happen to Transformers, Cherry Coke and the Boston Celtics, then why not that floral crop jean jacket? Children of the '80s say hello to a familiar face -- Esprit. The iconic clothing line of the Reagan era is vying for a sequel.

After opening three Manhattan stores since 2004, the once-vintage-now-modern retailer has returned to reclaim its place in the American market with a bold move to the city's busiest stretch on Fifth Avenue's Rockefeller Center between 48th and 49th streets.

"Esprit's first three Manhattan stores have been so well received that it seemed natural to open our next store in this famous New York landmark location," said Jerome Griffith, president of Esprit North America.

Natural or not, following nearly a decade of absence from the American fashion scene, the company, which has storefronts in the Flatiron District, Time Warner Center and SoHo, isn't trying to play to teen girls in the mall anymore.

"Our customer has grown up, she used to be 14 and she is now 34," said an Esprit spokeswoman. "We have grown up with her."

That means the line now has a more mature target and is branching out by unveiling twelve clothing lines annually in a combination of style and marketing reminiscent of H&M meets Gap.

The Esprit concept of youthful, affordable luxury wear was founded in 1968 by a young "hippie" couple Susie Russell and Douglas Tompkins and later spearheaded into the dominant clothing line of the '80s. The couple divorced in 1989 as the company's American presence went the way of the Berlin Wall, and interests were bought by foreign investors. But the store didn't fizzle off like New Coke, instead it relocated ala David Hasselholf -- which is to say it repackaged its concept in Europe.

Now, after opening 640 retail stores in more than 40 countries, they are now getting serious about re-conquering the US market.

"It is an interesting move and a real good location," said Leslie Price, editor of "What they are offering now is safe, fairly affordable quality clothing and where better to set up then in Midtown, where everyone already dresses that way?"

Monday, December 3, 2007

DEP dumps pine deodorizer to cover smell from Brooklyn pipe project


Monday, December 3rd 2007, 4:00 AM

Egan-Chin for News

DEP solution for sewer smells in Bay Ridge? Socks full of air freshener in drains, residents complain.
It's the bureaucratic equivalent of trying to cover up bad body odor with Chanel No. 5.

For more than a year, residents of one Brooklyn neighborhood have been complaining about a stomach-churning smell wafting from the site of a former sewer pipe project.

The city's response? Tossing nylon socks filled with pine deodorizer into the catch basins.

That hasn't stanched the stench. In fact, locals say the scent of raw sewage is even more noticeable now.

"I think that adding the pine made the existing smell even more potent," said Aaron Green, 27, one of the Bay Ridge residents who is sick of the stink.

The stink has been hovering over a stretch of Fort Hamilton Parkway between Marine Ave. and 99th St.

The odor cropped up in the summer of 2006 after the completion of a $6.9 million project to combine the underground sewer pipes there, residents say.

As complaints mounted, the community board notified the city Department of Environmental Protection, which began dumping piney perfume onto the site.

"It seems to have improved the situation," said Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann.

Not everyone agrees.

"The minute I walk out of my car it hits me," said Arlene Ross, who lives a few sniffs away. "Whatever they put down there didn't make it better."

DEP spokeswoman Mercedes Padilla adamantly refused to say what is causing the smell or how the agency plans to stop it.

Told of the neighborhood complaints, she said more pine socks would be put in the catch basins over the next few weeks.

Pressed further, she said the DEP would eventually install filters.

"We are aware of the odor and we are monitoring the situation closely," Padilla said.

Not close enough for John Lynch, who has lived on the block for the past year.

"I walk outside and I smell raw sewage almost every day," he said. "This stench offends everyone around here."

Fred Birkenfelv, 73, who attends the senior center at St. John's Church on the street, said he worries the odor could be unhealthy.

"The smell is worse than nauseating," the retired Texaco driver said.

"We walk by and it may just make us gag, but there are mothers pushing baby carriages. If a little one gets a whiff of that, who knows what damage it could do?"

Coney Island Polar Bears greet snow with (what else?) Atlantic Ocean dip


Monday, December 3rd 2007, 4:00 AM

Not everyone was as plucky as the Polar Bears of Coney Island.
The weather outside was frightful but the Polar Bears found it delightful.

On the first snowfall of the season - a little more than an inch fell in Central Park - 60 members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club trudged down the icy Boardwalk to take the plunge into the chilly waters off Eighth St.

"I immediately lost feeling in my hands and feet, but then it felt amazing," said Polar Bear Vice President Eric Weiss, 33, who works in advertising and is in his fifth season with the 100-member club.

"I don't swim much in the summer because I don't like crowds, but today was nice - no wind, calm water and parking was a breeze," Weiss added.

"I used to question my sanity, but after the initial shock, you begin to see the joy and realize Polar Bears aren't that crazy," said Capri Djatiasmoro, the 37-year-old club secretary, who also works in advertising.

With the water temperature reaching an "invigorating" 48 degrees, Djatiasmoro even said, "It was a little warm for my taste."

Eli Cohen, a Polar Bear for 13 years, said he and other "old-timers" are sure the water is not as cold as it used to be - and blame global warming.

They say they want to invite former Vice President Al Gore, who won the Nobel Prize for his efforts highlighting climate change, to make their case.

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Welcome to Lysiak's Resource Guide!
Lysiak exposing the lack of security at the Towers pipeline