Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Founder of Brooklyn Bike Patrol Jay “Rocket” Ruiz Protects Brooklyn’s Women

Brooklyn Bike Patrol
Jay Ruiz was watching the news with his wife on September 13th, 2011 when suddenly video footage of a woman being attacked in Park Slope came on the air. Ruiz was shocked by the violent assault, her terrifying screams, and most disturbingly, the lack of anyone coming to her aid.

Not the type to take such an event in stride, Ruiz was inspired to do something about it.

“What if every woman was safely escorted home?” he said to his wife in their Prospect Heights home.

The next night that is exactly what Ruiz did: he jumped on his bike and pedaled over to the subway station at Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street with a friend and held up a sign saying: Brooklyn Bike Patrol, including his name, phone number and e-mail address.

“At first people thought we were crazy and didn’t know if we were good guys or bad guys up to no good,” said Ruiz a ten year veteran of the bike messenger business.

As luck would have it, a News 12 van drove up and interviewed Ruiz about the Brooklyn Bike Patrol. Then only a few minutes later a reporter for the New York Daily News exited the train. She took a picture of Ruiz and wrote and accompanying story.

Since then the BBP has become a reliable service, helping women to be and feel safe as they walk in their neighborhoods at night. The service began with 11 volunteers at 11 subway stations, but now they have enough bikers to cover 35 locations is many Brooklyn neighborhoods, including:  Bed-Stuy, Carroll Gardens, Clinton Hill, Cobble Hill, Fort Greene, Kensington, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Sunset Park, and Windsor Terrace. As of January 30th BBP added Borough Park to their area of coverage, including five of the stations along the D train line.

If you or someone you know would like to coordinate a safe and secure walk home at night you can call: Tel: 718-744-7592; e-mail: brooklynbikepatrol@gmail.com; go to Facebook: facebook.com/BROOKLYNBIKEPATROL; Twitter: @BKbikepatrol
Volunteers to ride with the BBP can also get in touch. The hours of service are: Sunday through Thursday, 8 p.m. to midnight. Friday through Saturday, 8 p.m. to 3:30 a.m.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In Search of Captain: Lost Parrot Inspires Play in Brooklyn

Allen Kirson with Captain
Since last Thanksgiving Allen Kirson, resident of Kensington has been desperately searching for his pet parrot, Captain. His beloved pet for six years, Captain was no ordinary parrot. Known far and wide for her ability to sing arias as well as folk songs, Captain’s lose has inspired Kirson on a true mission of love.

Kirson has searched all over South Brooklyn, plastering neighborhoods with fliers offering a $1,000 reward for Captain’s return. (Non-musical Amazonian parrots are valued at between $500 and $1200.) Last weekend Kirson followed a lead from an animal rescuer that a green-and-yellow parrot matching Captain’s description was spotted high up in a tree in Owls Head Park in Bay Ridge. Unfortunately as soon as Kirson placed a ladder against the tree to get the bird, it flew off. Kirson says that the bird in the tree was not Captain anyway.

His search has led Kirson to consult with Rabbis and even animal astrologers, but so far nothing has helped.

“I’m still shocked she left me,” Kirson said, recalling his green-and-yellow comrade. “We had real conversations. Most pet owners have psychic connections with their pets [and] she was my companion for six years.”

“I feel in my gut that [Captain] is in somebody’s house in the area,” added Kirson.

In an added effort to find his long lost bird Kirson has written a play about his search, called “The Moveable Feast:Searching for Yehuda Bird.”

The play is “60 percent scripted and 40 percent improvised,” says Kirson, who will stage previews of the play on Thursdays at 8 and 10pm at Congregation Sheves Achim on Avenue H in Midwood beginning now until the end of February.

“You lose a pet, you suffer for at least a year,” Kirson said. “I’m going to keep looking for a year. If by next Thanksgiving I haven’t found the parrot, then I’m going to give up.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Antique Row Pride of Kensington

Picture Credit 
If you live in Kensington then you know how proud the residents are of Antique Row, a stretch of shops along Howard Avenue which specialize in antique furniture, rugs, vintage toys, used books and other nostalgic objects from days gone by.

In one of those shops, The Antique Market, at 3776 Howard Avenue you can find a really fun collectible from baseball history. Wouldn’t you love to have a cover from the magazine ‘Our World’ featuring a photograph of the first African-American major league baseball player in American history, Jackie Robinson. In 1947 Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, and one year later Roy Campenella became the second black man to play for the Dodgers. The magazine cover was shot in 1948 with Robinson, Campenella, and Dodger’s manager Leo Durocher standing between them.

The cover is for sale for $185. If you would like to make inquiries about the cover, or anything else having to do with The Antique Market, call Judy Sanders at 301-942-4440.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Facebook Styled Website Matches Sabbath Guests with Hosts

Looking for a nice place to have a meal on the Jewish Sabbath? Try Shabbat.com, which has a user base of about 25,000 members, 6,000 of whom are ready to play the host to strangers whose acquaintance they have only just met on the internet.

Benzion Klatzko is the founder of Shabbat.com.

“Why not show the world that we are a welcoming people? “I want to highlight the openness that we have,” he states.

Although the guests can range in religious observance from completely non-observent to “very orthodox,” there is a careful screening process which takes place before anyone is allowed to join the website.

Klatzko and a group of volunteers searches the for the prospective member on Facebook and Google before allowing anyone to join, and if everything checks out, that person can become a member, either as a host or as a guest, or even as both.

The majority of members come from Brooklyn, a city with a large concentration of Jews among its residents. Flatbush, Midwood, Kensington and other Brooklyn neighborhoods are the most popular destinations for sharing Sabbath meals.

“It’s made life a lot more interesting,” said Rabbi Yaakov Goldstein, who, with his wife Feige, have served dozens of strangers during the past year in his home in Kensington.

 “Our kids started moving out; the house was getting emptier and emptier. Shabbos is supposed to be fun. We started looking around for people,” said Goldstein, who has shared his Sabbath table with visitors from as far away as France.

Some hosts prefer to only have fellow Jews for guests, but there are people from other religions also on the site.
Klatzko said that there are even Catholic priests and other non-Jews who are religion-friendly on the site.

“Our site is open to every denomination: religious, not religious, single, not single,” Klatzko said.

Recently married Mordy and Zina Genut owe their marriage to Shabbat.com. Both were recently divorced, and each one had two small children. One Sabbath they were both just looking for a meal and not necessarily a new spouse. But they met at the Sabbath meal that they both found through Sabbath.com, and were engaged two months later. They now live in Marine Park.

This is a great social scene,” said Mordy Genut, 28. “People give you food. A complete stranger. You don’t see that in the world. Most people say, ‘Get out of my house. Or I will shoot you.’ ”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Disguised Thieves Rob Elderly Women in their Homes in Brooklyn

Pretending to be utility workers, two thieves were able to gain entrance into an elderly woman’s Borough Park home, stealing jewelry and cash.

Joe Rushford is the son of 90 year-old Gloria, who was at work on Tuesday while he mother was at home by herself.

“I’d like to wring their neck. I’d like to invite them out in the street here, me and them. Have some fun. You know you pick on a 90-year-old lady,” he told CBS 2′s Kristin Thorne.

“They watch the house and they prey on elderly people and it’s not going to happen again,” he added.
Robbery Suspect /Photo Credit NYPD

The police said that surveillance cameras captured a video of a man in uniform coming up to the Rushford home, with a woman joining him several minutes later. They were able to enter her house by claiming that they were there to carry out some work, but once inside they robbed her of cash, jewelry and some sensitive documents.

The pair of thieves then went to another home of 89-year-old Rose in Kensington.

Rose says that she was sitting on her front porch when what she thought was a worker for Con Edison came up to her. The man told Gloria that he was there to do some work in her house. Soon after a woman joined them; and while the woman distracted Rose, the man entered her house and robbed her.

“Oh God, I can’t take this. I didn’t sleep all night. I’m afraid,” she said. “They took all my money, took all my jewelry. Everything.”

The police have reason to believe that the suspects escaped in a four-door sedan, color green. The female suspect is about five-foot-five and weighs about 140 pounds and she has dark brown hair. The man is estimated to be about six-feet tall and has blue eyes and light brown hair.

Anyone with information should call police or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Kensington Recording Studio Systems Two

Surprisingly, Systems Two does not have a web site, but apparently there seems to be no need. This Kensington, Brooklyn based recording studio has been doing just fine without the luxury of a presence on the internet. Founder and engineer Joe Marciano puts it this way: “We’ve been blessed, literally from the first day that we opened. We just haven’t had a second to even think about putting a website together.”
Systems Two Live Room

Systems Two began 37 years ago as small room in Sheepshead Bay. From those humble beginnings as an 8-track studio the operation expanded through two recessions until it reached its present state: a giant, three-room space in the heart of Kensington, and as many argue, one of the best places for jazz recording in all of the US.

“Maybe half the people who call us want to see a website,” says Joe Marciano. System Two’s studio manager is Joe’s wife, Nancy, and according to Joe, she is “very old school.”

“She wants to get people down here: To smell this place, to see it, and to get into the vibe of it. That’s the big attraction point. As soon as we get them in here, that’s it, they’ve found a home sold.”

“Then there’s the other half of people who say ‘Hey man, you don’t have a website? That’s so hip. I had to find you. I had to look at records and ask around’.”

Marciano laughs. “Well, I don’t know if it’s hip or not, but between repeat clients and our relationships with the labels, we’ve been so fortunate and so swamped that we just never needed to build one. I mean, I’m still working with people that I first worked with 35 years ago.”

For more information Contact: systemstwo@gmail.com | (718) 851-1010

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Furry Fireman’s Friend Featured as February Pin-Up

Nikki Poses For The February Pin-Up
Not many in Park Slope can brag about being featured as the February pin-up in a calendar for the New Year, but Nikki sure can.

Park Slope firehouse mascot, Nikki, is a friendly, furry chow mix beauty, always ready to pose for a photo op, or just roll over and go to sleep. Nikki loves to impress the kids in the neighborhood with her specialty, stop-drop-and-roll; but her own personal favorite is riding in the fire truck, head out the window, wind blowing in her face, as she heads out to daytime calls.

“She doesn’t go when it’s late at night. She likes to sleep,” said retired Capt. Jim Wallace of the Engine Co. 220/Ladder Co. 122 house on 11th Street.

And now Nikki is going to be famous. She appears as Miss February for the 2012 Silver Shield Foundation charity calendar, which also includes three other darling doggies.

The firemen who adopted the pooch in 2006 are thrilled with Nikki’s sudden claim to fame.

“We all got a kick out of it,” Wallace said.

The calendars help to support the Silver Shield Foundation, an organization which provides for children of firefighters and police officers who are killed in the line of duty. Calendars can be purchased for $25 each from the foundation.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Its official; seventeen year veteran Yankee catcher Jorge Posada is to retire from baseball this year. Although the 40 year old Posada will be sorely missed, many believe it is the right decision for him:

“It’s upsetting but he’s a lifetime Yankee,” said Boris Fridkin, 29, an accountant from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

“It’s the best decision he could have made.”
Jorge Posada

Another fan, Humberto Perea, said that Posada was probably “One of the top catchers of all time.”

“I’m going to miss him,” said Perea, a purchasing agent from Borough Park. “Now we have to worry about who’s next. We’ve never had to worry about who’s playing catcher.”

Posada was never anything but a Yankee, which also makes a lot of fans feel nostalgic for him already.

“I’m so happy he retired as a Yankee. I couldn’t picture him playing for another team,” said Lorraine Orlando, a 43-year-old administrative assistant from Kensington, Brooklyn.

“He’s such a part of the Yankees, not seeing him in the lineup or hearing his name announced in the starting lineup is going to be weird.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Kensington Composting and Native Plants Garden Transforms Vacant Lot

When Louise Bruce moved into Kensington last spring, she saw an ugly vacant lot strewn with garbage at the corner of East 8th Street and Newkirk Avenue. Not one to let things lie, Bruce asked permission to develop the lot, which ultimately proved to be a wonderful way to help her neighbors and herself.

Today the lot has been transformed into an oasis of beauty and environmental awareness as a home to a garden of native plants and a compost center.
Brooklyn Native Plant Garden

Composting is a wonderful way to reduce trash output, but also to create a highly usable soil-like substance which is like a magic fertilizer for plants. People in the neighborhood bring their organic trash, like banana peels, coffee grounds and  potato skins, to a pile in the lot. There the trash is transformed through natural processes into "compost" to be used to grow plants.

"In essence, it becomes really rich plant food," said garden volunteer Kate Grace-Mitchell. "New York City pays something like one million dollars a day to truck out garbage, a large percentage of which can be composted right here in our backyards."

Grace-Mitchell explained the importance of having a garden with native plants.

"If we don't have native plant gardens providing habitats for native insects, which pollinate our plants, our food gardens are useless. We'd love to educate the community about the importance of these less obvious things," said Grace-Mitchell. "And of course, create a nice aesthetic too."

Compost can be brought to the garden on Sundays and Thrusdays from 3pm to 6pm, and the residents are thrilled to have it.

"I've been looking for a place to compost forever," said resident Laura Helton, beaming as she dumped three large freezer bags full of compost material into a large, not-too-smelly bin. "I've been dragging my frozen kitchen scraps to Union Square for three years now."

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Visit the Living Torah Museum in Kensington

Terracotta Incense Burner
For those who are steeped in the study of the Bible (Torah) the Living Torah Museum brings to life objects which are mentioned but are often difficult to imagine due to the immense amount of time which has elapsed since the events described in the Bible took place.

On exhibit are many authentic ancient artifacts from the Biblical period; there are also items which are mentioned in later works from Jewish history, such as the Mishnah and the Talmud. There is also a display of the 39 special categories of activities which are prohibited on the Sabbath, illustrated in a way to make them easier to understand, with an explanation of how they were performed in ancient Israel at the time of the wandering in the desert of Sinai and the conquest of the land of Israel.

An additional exhibit depicts several of the leaders throughout Jewish history who have made an impact on the Jewish people felt even to the present day.

Located at 1601 41st street in the heart of Borough Park, Brooklyn.
For more information call (718) 851-3215 ‎