Friday, June 30, 2006

Sonja's Pocket Eats Guide

Here tis. Way too much time spent on this labor of love, lemme tell ya. At long last, here is a two page pocket guide of the best and most lauded cheap eats in the City, organized by borough and neighborhood. It's got a handy tri-fold so it'll fit into your back pocket, ready to get grease-stained and worn. Click on each page to enlarge & print it (remember to print or photocopy it double-sided).

Reviews and an interactive map for each borough:
The interactive map is searchable by restaurant name or your location, and includes many great places that don't fit on my two-page pocket guide.
The Bronx: reviews :: map
Manhattan: reviews :: map
Brooklyn: reviews :: map
Queens: reviews :: map
Staten Island: reviews :: map
Jersey: reviews :: map

Two Page Pocket Eats Guide:
I'm working on getting this higher quality (anyone know how to upload pdfs or docs to blogger?). Until then, if you want a better copy, email me at

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Happy 4th of July

D&D Salvage
D&D Salvage, originally uploaded by Shield.

Here's hoping you all have a four day weekend
and can spend it barbequing like a crazed American.

GORGE: Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest
Tue July 4 at Nathan's Famous: 1310 Surf Ave, at Stillwell, Coney Island. Eating begins at 12:40pm
WEEKEND PLANNER: Brooklyn Record; FreeNYC; NewYorkology. Highlights: TV on the Radio at Prospect Park tonight; Joan Didion at Summerstage tonight; Rooftop Films Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday; Graffiti at Brooklyn Museum's First Saturday
HOW TO: Photojojo’s 11 Tips for Sparkling Fireworks Photos
VIDEO: What happens when a fireworks factory explodes?
THERE'S STILL HOPE AFTER ALL: President Bush bitch-slapped by the Supreme Court

Dumb Flickr Users Get Punk'd

Mario's Bike
Mario's Bike, originally uploaded by André Rabelo.
This classic Cartier-Bresson photo was submitted to flickr's deleteme pool without any indication that the photo was by a world famous photographer. The deleteme pool is intended to be (and notorious for) no-holds-barred critique. Unfortunately, that too often means idiotic comments by entirely uninformed people.

The comments made me scream with laughter, and made me feel a whole lot better about some of the insistently out-of-it comments that I've gotten. Some highlights:
  • What's his subject, the in-focus stair case or the blurry biker?
  • When everything is blurred you cannot convey the motion of the bicyclist. On the other hand, if the bicyclist is not the subject-- what was? -voted as "deleteme"
  • hard to tell at this size but is everything meant to be moving in this shot, all seems blurred -voted as "deleteme2"
  • Why is the staircase so "soft"? Camera shake? Like the angle though. -voted as "deleteme3"
  • so small, so blurry, to better show a sense of movement SOMETHING has to be in sharp focus -voted as "deleteme4"
  • Nicely composed, but blurry -voted as "deleteme5"
  • This looks contrived, which is not a bad thing. If this is a planned shot, it just didn't come out right. If you can round up Mario, I would do it again. This time put the camera on a tripod and use the smallest aperture possible to get the best DoF. What I would hope for is that the railings are sharp and that mario on the bike shows a blur. Must have the foreground sharp, though. Without that, the image will never fly. -voted as "deleteme6"
  • yeah and? grey, blurry, small, odd crop -voted as "deleteme7
  • I very much like the crop and all the wierd angles in this, the patchwork of textures in the street is great, I like the grey grainey look it has but I'd like to see it much bigger
  • Fantastic composition, but the tones and the graininess keep the photo from being great. -voted as "deleteme8"
Some people understood the reference. Others defended the all-American right to say anything stupid at any time.
  • our master is "shaking in the grave". so shame on you 'deleteme ppl'..
  • please don't post to this pool if you can't deal with criticism. read the front page of this pool. duh
  • oh, hang on now I get it, it's not a problem with the shot, it's our opinions which are lacking, this photo is of such an intrinsically high quality that there could be no other explanation. Dalbegaria - you seem very attached to this photo or poster, but when it is submitted to a public group for criticism, then, well you get what you pay for. None of us claims to be an expert but our opinions are valid here, feel free to post a comment detailing why you like this shot...
  • Nice form, AR. You have fished out all the reasons I dont come around hyeres any more. How could I not save this!?! I claim masterpiece! -voted as "saveme4"
  • this is the day deleteme has entered the history of photography as the worst (not in terms of being mean, but in terms of being mis-informed, mis-educated, un-cultured, and all other things that can be summarized by the word STUPID) critics this art form has ever seen. you guys have just proved that all your votes aren't worth the least of all considerations. thinking that deleteme criticism will improve the way we photograph is BULLSHIT. it'll just turn us into advertising/stock photographer wannabes, gadget show-offs that only care for the technicalities. you guys are full of yourselves (in other words, full of shit!).
  • thanks for all this fun, andré! i'd thought about doing something like this before, but didn't want to go through the hassle. it was definetely worth it! made our monday a lot more fun!
And some interesting food for thought to finish us off:
  • André Rabelo, I want to point out that you're not the first "clever" person to add one of the master's photos here. In fact, Chalkstar used to add HCB photos as well. Just to play devil's advocate though, what was a masterpiece 20 years ago might be considered shite today. Quality and art is (and is rightfully so) judged through the lens of time. If "Citizen Kane" came to the theatres today it wouldnt be nearly as special a film as it is - because it would have no new ground to break -- nothing new to offer. Likewise, if you were to duplicate this shot exactly today, it would likely never get published or considered to be a good (much less great) shot. Thats just the way it is - its been done, redone and improved since the time HCB did it. That said, I think this group often excludes great shots merely because of some minor nitpick. A perfect photo doesnt need to be technically perfect. It doesn't *need* to be - but it should help.
  • if that guy had a seagull flying into his head, and there were neon blurry lights all over the place, with no sense of style or composition at all - it would be 10 straight saves (check the safe ...) this really shows how skill at composition is easily overlooked and irrelevant "technical" factors can over ride appreciation of true art

DO IT. Thursday To Do List.

Free events going on today

Sitelines: Multiple Undo & Other Distortions
“If dancing is a tying together of moves, what is it to undo them? If dancing is a merging of body & space, can we disconnect them?” Douglas Dunn, Elke Rindfleisch and dancers answer these questions, and others, with a somewhat disjointed movement style of twists, torques, and overextended limbs.
12:30PM, Elevated Acre at 55 Water Street

Dream Land Coney Island 1905-1925 Art Exhibition
Original drawings, blueprints, and vintage photographs of New York City’s favorite amusement park, Coney Island. Highlights include the original drawings for the Dreamland amusement park, blueprints of the W.F. Mangells carousel, and colorful renderings of the shooting gallery amusements. Never before has the collection exhibited publicly.
Reception 6-8pm, Ricco/Maresca Gallery, 529 W 20 street, 3rd floor.

Time's Up! & Transportation Alternatives Cyclist Memorial Ride
Three cyclists have died in crashes in three weeks. Honor them and call on the City to enforce dangerous driver behavior and design safe streets for cycling.
6:30 pm at Hudson River Greenway at 46th Street (in front of the Intrepid)
6:40 at 38th Street and the Greenway
7:30 at LaGuardia Place and Houston Street

Rumble on the River
Hudson River Park's boxing series. Amateur boxers from all walks of life duke it out to see who is the best. Tonight: NYC vs. Boston.
7:00pm, Pier 54 (14th St and Hudson River)

5th Ave Ethnography

Timboo's, on 5th Ave & 11th Street in Park Slope, is one of the few old (and we mean old) bars remaining from before the present hipsters were even a glimmer in their daddies' eyes. It's a few doors down from the OTB, so you can always count on finding dudes there spending the last dollar they managed to not lose on the horses.

Alexis over at the Brooklyn Record has been hanging out at Timboo's. Unlike the drunken conversations that some of the rest of us have and are barely able to remember the next morning, Alexis did some damn fine photo essay ethnography talking to oldtimer Tony at Timboo's. Here's an excerpt - but I strongly recommend clicking through to see the whole thing.

He smokes in the small courtyard in the back, hardly adorned — just a few plastic tables and chairs. No frills. A lot of ash.

He wants to talk.

"This is a Met's bar. But some of those guys like the Yankees. Makes for good entertainment, I guess. But it's not like baseball used to be – when games were affordable and you could bring the whole family. Now it's just about money. The players change teams so often you can’t even keep track anymore."

On the day-glow erase board above the bar, a name is written along with his local number. His memorial is next Sunday.

"The yuppies are driving us out. This used to be an ironworkers bar. Still is. But there aren’t as many of us left."

His words may seem bitter, but his tone was not. He was relaxed and looking for an ear away from the din of the Springsteen jukebox and baseball barbs.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

MY Brooklyn Photo Contest Winners Announced

Today the Brooklyn Public Library announced the winners of their My Brooklyn photo contest: six people younger than 12; five young adults 13-19; and six adults. Congratulations to all of the winners!

One of the winners is our very own Gowanus with his photo Panes, a beautiful shot of images through a four-paned factory window in Red Hook. From his essay that accompanies his photo:
Beard Street, only a few blocks long, is paved in rough cobblestones so uneven that the constant flow of heavy orange school busses bounce almost out of control. Beard Street can feel like the edge of the world, a series of empty lots and building waiting for something to come along. But beneath the surface solitude, there is a secret vibrancy to the street. Anything can happen here. Along Beard Street I have been confronted by a pack of wild dogs and met the Queen of Rockabilly. Every week a new wave of street art and stencils cover the walls of the civil-war era shipping warehouses, delicate depictions of moths and birds flying from red brick confines; solitary life-size paper figures trudging along wooden walls. Anything might appear on the street -- one day a smoldering burnt out car arrives, destroyed for some sordid purpose, soon vanishing. Another day a pink toilet sits in the snow near hundreds of losing lottery tickets.

Further along the street, an abandoned sugar refinery is slowly falling into gray water. Nearby, the sunken mast of an old boat protrudes from the swells. Some of the old buildings are filled with massive graffiti pieces, illuminated by raw lights streaming through window frames without glass. Other buildings, like those on the Beard Street Pier are filled with artists, glassblowers. At night a nondescript metal shutter raises to reveal Lillie's Bar -- the last business on the street -- and the cobblestones bark with drunken footsteps.
Read his full essay here.

Places to Eat - Queens

Philoxenia (Village Voice) - 26-18 23rd Ave between 26th & 27th St. Greek. Possibly still closed.
*Koliba (Chowhound) - 31-11 23rd Ave. Czech-expat bar w/food.

Zlata Praha (Village Voice, Chowhound) - 28-48 31st St between Newtown & 30th Aves. Touristy Czech.
*Cevabdzinica Sarajevo (TwentyADay)- 37-18 34th Ave @ 38th St. Bosnian
Papa's Empanadas (Village Voice) - 25-51 Steinway St. between 25th & 28th Ave. Columbian.

Sabry's (Village Voice) - 24-25 Steinway St. Alexandrian seafood emporium.
Zenon (Chowhound) - 34-10 31 Ave, between 34 and 35 streets. Cypriot.
Istrian Sport Club (Newsday, Chowhound, TONY) - 28-09 Astoria Blvd between 28th and 29th Sts, Astoria. Italian & Eastern European comfort f
Eastern Nights (Village Voice) - 35-25 Steinway St. between 35th & 36th Ave. Egyptian.
Kabab Café (Village Voice) - 25-12 Steinway St between 25th & 28th Ave. Kabobs.
Stamatis (Village Voice) - 31-14 Broadway @ Steinway St. Greek.
*Muncan (Chowhound) - 43-09 Broadway @ 43rd St. Albanian.

Crispino's Famous Italian Ices (NY Daily News)- 203-20 35th Ave @ 203rd St. Italian.
Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden (Village Voice, New Yorker, Chowhound) - 29-19 24th Ave @ 29th St. Czech beer garden.
Hidalgo Mexican Food Products (NY Times) - 30-11 29th St @ 30th Ave, Astoria. Mexican grocery
Cafe Kolonaki (NY Times) - 33-02 Broadway @ 33rd St, Astoria. Frappés.
General Astoria recommendations: see this Chowhound thread

Padaria Pao Nosso (Village Voice) - 37-03 31st Ave @ 37 St. Brazilian bakery.
Five Star Punjabi (Hungry Cabbie) - 315 43rd Ave btween 21st St & 13th St. Punjabi, Sikh cabbie haunt.
Tournesol (Village Voice) - 50-12 Vernon Blvd @ 50th Ave. New American.

Easy Street Lounge & Bar (NY Metro) - 36-18 Greenpoint Ave. Dive bar, cavernous ex-auto-repair shop.
Manducatis (NY Times, NY Bits, James Beard, NY Metro, RealEats) - 13-27 Jackson Ave between 47th Ave & 47th Rd. Classic Italian.

El Sitio De Astoria (NY Times) - 35-55 31st St between 35th & 36th Aves, Long Island City. Batidos.

Ko Hang Soft Tofu (Village Voice) - 137-40 Northern Boulevard between College Pt & Parson Blvd. Tofu parlor.
Sichuan Dynasty (Village Voice, NY Mag, TONY)- 135-32 40th Rd between Main & Prince Sts. Sichuan.
Spicy & Tasty (Village Voice) - 37-09 Prince St between College Pt & Main St. Sichuan. Closed?
*Sentosa (Village Voice) - 39-07 Prince St @ 39th. "The city's premier Malaysian," says Sietsema.
Happy Family (Village Voice) - 36-35 Main St @ Northern Boulevard. Northern Chinese.
El Vincentino (Village Voice) - 43-37 162nd St between 43rd & 45th Ave. Salvadoran.
Everbest (Village Voice) - 41-01 Kissena Blvd between Roosevelt & 41st Ave, Flushing. South Chinese
and Malaysian.
Dumpling Stall (Village Voice) - 40-52 Main St between Roosevelt & 41st Ave. Dumplings.
Afghan Kabab Palace (Village Voice) - 75-07 Parsons Blvd @ 75 Ave. Afghan.

Malagueta (Village Voice) - 25-35 36th Ave @ 28th St. Brazilian.
San Hai Jin Mi (Hungry Cabbie) - 36-24 Union St. Korean bbq, bulgogi.

Pollos a La Brasa Mario (Village Voice) - 81-01 Roosevelt Ave @ 81 St.; 86-13 Roosevelt Ave.; 83-02 37th Ave. Colombian rotisseries.
Himalayan Yak (Village Voice) - 72-20 Roosevelt Ave between 72th & Broadway. Tibetan.

Tawa Deli (Village Voice) - 37-38 72nd St. Just Indian breads - paratha.
Karihan Ni Tata Bino (Village Voice) - 71-34 Roosevelt between 72nd St & Broadway. Filipino.
*Arunee Thai (Village Voice) - 37-68 79th St between 37th & Roosevelt. Thai.
El Chivito D'oro (TONY, OpenList) - 84-02 37 Ave @ 84 St. Uruguayan parrillada.
Zabb (Village Voice) - 71-28 Roosevelt Ave between 72nd & Broadway. Isaan Thai.

Indian Taj (Village Voice) - 37-25 74th St. All-you-can-eat buffet.
*La Portena (Village Voice, NY Metro) - 74-25 37th Ave between 74th & 75th St. Argentine grill.
*The Arepa Lady (New Yorker, Cheapo New York, Chowhound) - NW corner, Roosevelt Ave & 79th St. Columbian.

Los Chuzos y Algo Más (NY Times) - 79-01 Roosevelt Ave, Jackson Heights. Batidos.
Ranger Texas Barbeque (TONY) - 71-04 35th Ave btwn 71st and 72nd Sts, Jackson Heights. Barbeque.

*Sripraphai (Village Voice)- 64-13 39th Ave. Thai.
Ihawan (Village Voice) - 40-06 70th St @ Roosevelt Ave. Filipino barbecue joint.
Izalco (Village Voice) - 64-05 Roosevelt Ave @ 64th St & 39th Ave. Salvadoran.
Mi Bolivia (Village Voice) - 44-10 48th Ave between 44th & 45th St. Bolivian.

Minangasli (Village Voice) - 86-10 Whitney Ave @ Broadway. Indonesian.
Mie Jakarta (Village Voice) - 86-20 Whitney Ave. Indonesian.
Mum Mam 1 Thai Cuisine (Chowhound) - 77-05 Woodside Ave @ 77th St. Thai.
Upi Jaya (Village Voice) - 76-04 Woodside Ave @ 76th St. Sumatran Indonesian.
Samwongahk (Village Voice) - 82-53 Broadway @ Elmhurst. Korean-Chinese café.
Warteg Fortuna (Village Voice) - 51-24 Roosevelt Ave between 43rd Ave & Queens Blvd. Working-class Indonesian.
*La Fusta (Village Voice) - 82-32 Baxter Ave, near Elmhurst hospital. Argentine grill.
Laura's Bakery (NY Times) - 90-18 Corona Ave, Elmhurst. Avena, champu.
Mazorca (Village Voice) - 83-17 Northern Boulevard, East Elmhurst. Columbian snacks.

Mangal (Village Voice) - 46-20 Queens Blvd & 47 St. Turkish lunch counter.
Romanian Garden (NYFood, TONY) - 46-04 Skillman Ave between 46th & 47th St. Romanian.

REGO PARK (The New York Times on Rego Park's Bukharian community)
*Cheburechnaya (Village Voice, Bridge & Tunnel Club) - 92-09 63rd Dr @ Austin, Rego Park. Uzbek kebab.
Shalom Restaurant (Village Voice, Bridge & Tunnel Club) 64-47 108th St between 64th Rd & 65th Ave, Rego Park. Central Asian Jewish - Bukharan.
Ben's Best (NY Times) - 96-40 Queens Blvd @ 63rd Drive, Rego Park. Incredible pastrami.
Cafe Arzu (Chowhound) - Queens Blvd near 67th Ave. Central Asian.

Salut (Village Voice, NY Mag, NY Metro, the Sterns, Jewish Forward) - 63-42 108th St between 63 Rd & 63 Dr, Forest Hills. Kosher Uzbeki.
Mickey's Place (Village Voice, Chowhound) - 101-16 Queens Blvd @ 67 Rd, Forest Hills. Neighborhood Japanese.
Eddie's (NY Times) - 105-29 Metropolitan Ave @ 72nd Ave, Forest Hills. Old-fashioned ice cream parlor.
*Uzbekistan Tandoori Bread (Bukharian Jews, Village Voice) - 120-35 83rd Ave @ Lefferts Blvd, Kew Gardens. Uzbekistani.
Jahn's (NY Times) - 117-03 Hillside Ave, Richmond Hill. Ice cream parlor.
Singh's Roti Shop #3 (Village Voice) - 118-06 Liberty Ave @ Lefferts, Richmond Hill. Guyanese and Trinidadian.

Corona Heights Pork Store (NY Times) - 107-04 Corona Ave, Corona Heights, Queens. Hot heros.
Leo's Latticini (NY Times) - 46-02 104th St, Corona, Queens. Hot heros, homemade mozzarella.
*Lemon Ice King of Corona (, photo)- 52-02 108th St., Corona, Queens. Italian ices.
La Vega (NY Times) - 103-07 Roosevelt Ave, Corona, Queens. Mexican grocery / restaurant.

Pique y Pase (Village Voice) - 110-04 Lefferts Ave @ 109th Ave, Fresh Meadows, Queens. Ecuadoran.
Sol Bawoo (Village Voice) - 41-10 149th Place, Murray Hill, 41 Ave/Barclay, Fresh Meadows, Queens. Korean BBQ.
Indian Oasis (Village Voice) - 184-22 Horace Harding Expressway, Fresh Meadows, Queens, nr Kissena. Chinese/Indian.
La Xelaju (Queens Press, Chowhound)- 87-52 168 St near Hillside Avenue, Jamaica, Queens. Guatemalan.
Book Kyung Won (Village Voice) - 253-22 Northern Boulevard, Little Neck, Queens. Korean.
Fiza Diner (Village Voice) - 259-07 Hillside Avenue, Floral Park. Tandoori.
Taste of Portugal (NY Times, Chowhound) - 1075 Portion Rd, Farmingville. Portuguese.
Divers Cove (NY Metro) - 29-01 Francis Lewis Blvd, Bayside. Bona fide neighborhood tavern.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Telephone - Brooklyn's New Technology

Lest we celebrate the telephone too much today, let’s remember that the telephone was greeted in some quarters with just as much grumbling and dismay as each new technology has been since - for example, answering machines and cell phones - with the same simultaneous bemoaning of how the new technology threatens quality of life, along with complains about the glacial pace of the telephone company's response to service requests. "We are the martyrs of the most abominable telephone slavery in the world... ever after, his spare time goes to the winds, his temper follows suit, and his life becomes a burden to himself and his friends." Do the words of this 1902 Brooklynite, in a Brooklyn Eagle letter to the editor, sound familiar?

Operator, get me PEnnsylvania 6-5000

If you’ve heard the old Glen Miller song, you know that if you dial PEnnsylvania 6-5000, you’ll reach New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania. From December 1930 until the mid 1960s, all telephone numbers in New York consisted of two letters and five numbers (known as 2L-5N numbering). Prior to 1930, New York had a 3L-4N numbering system.

What do the letters mean? The initial letters were often named after the street where the local central office was located, explains a write to one website focusing on old exchange names. AT&T tried to standardize the words used for initial letters to decrease confusion, and published a list of officially recommended EXchange names. Starting in 1961, New York Telephone introduced "selected-letter" exchanges, in which the two letters did not mark the start of any particular name, says Wikipedia. By 1965, any new phone numbers were only numbers.

Pre-existing numbers continued to be displayed the old way in many places well into the 1970s. Amazingly, the transition to "all-number calling" (ANC) in the U. S. took almost thirty years, up to around 1980 depending on the region, says Ted Byfield, author of DNS: A Short History and a Short Future. He explains that "just as certain telecom-underserved areas are now installing pure digital infrastructures while heavily developed urban areas face complex digital-analog integration problems, phone-saturated urban areas such as New York were among the last to complete the conversion to ANC."

Remnants of the old numbering system are still here, in the form of storefronts in many neighborhoods. From the dates that this numbering system were used, we can surmise that these storefronts date to between 1930 and 1961. Here are some I've found in Borough Park, Kensington, and Midwood.

5812 New Utrecht Ave, between 58th & 59th Sts in Borough Park
Although the sign says Prime Meat Market, this store is now G & N Meat MKT Incorporated. The building was built in 1931. The GE may have stood for either GEneral or GEneva, according to AT&T's list of recommended names for dialable/quotable telephone EXchange names. I didn't have any luck finding likely streets in the neighborhood that the exchange may have been named after, since most of the streets are numbered (ie, 14th Ave, 56th St).
(By the way,
back when Brooklyn was made up of many small towns, the town of New Utrecht was known as the "town of steady habits," according to a 1900 article published in the Brooklyn Eagle. It was also a popular summer destination for visitors from "the city.")

6215 14th Avenue between 62nd & 63rd Sts in Brooklyn
Built in 1931, this office furniture store is BOB Service & Supply. The CH probably stands for Church Avenue, which runs diagonally through Brooklyn and becomes 14th Avenue shortly after crossing McDonald Avenue. Another possibility is Chester Ave, which is a short street running between McDonald Ave and 36th Street.

Joseph Roofing, 4604 New Utrecht Ave, between 46th & 47th Sts. This whole block was built as a unit in 1922. UL may stand for ULrick, ULster, or ULysses.

Philip Marra & Sons, Wholesale Produce, Fruits & Vegetables, at 2419 E Fourth St (on McDonald Ave).

328 18th Ave by McDonald Ave
This store has been owned by the Pietro family for a long time - perhaps as long as the building has existed, which was built in 1933. Now known as Scollo Pietro Italian Custom Tailor, you can see where the letters spelling out Pietro have fallen off, leaving only Europea[n] Custom Tailors. Similarly, you can see where the two letters in the phone number were taken down and replaced with the numbers 8 and 5.

On the east side of McDonald Ave between Foster & Parkville Aves.
This was a sign for Molloy Bros. Moving & Storage (see billboard in the top left corner of the photo), a business which is still in operation, although not at this location.
This sign is visible from the F train. GE might have stood for GEneral or GEneva. Kevin over at Forgotten NY has a photo of Molloy's Lounge at 5th Avenue and 62nd Street in Sunset Park. Probably no relationship but who knows.

GCS Transmissions, 1227 McDonald Ave @ Ave. J. This sign is visible from the F train. CL may have stood for Clara Street, which runs between McDonald Ave and 36th Street.

Decorative Dinette Bedding Incorporated, 512 Kings Hwy @ E. 2nd St., Midwood. This building was built in 1929. Presumably the Decora sign used to say Decorative. The NI may have stood for Niagara.