The New York Observer

A 68-Year-Old Woman Attempts to Set a World Record Playing Solitaire

photo1-2It was lunch hour on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 47th and the intersection was teeming with people. A Prêt-A-Manger employee proffered brownie samples to passersby on a silver tray. A family of five, laden with backpacks and rolling suitcases, searched for a cab. A man in a suit peeled a banana. A panhandler begged for money. A knock-off purse salesman set up shop. And Kathleen Henkel, a 68-year-old retiree from Oakland, New Jersey, played another round of solitaire.

“This game is great,” said Ms. Henkel, a sprightly red-head wearing a patterned shirt and skirt outfit that she bought in West Africa and a beaded ankle bracelet. “It’s addicting.”

She was sitting in front of laptop computer in a white corner room penned in by two walls of floor-to-ceiling windows facing out to the street. Cameramen and videographers crowded around her, snapping pictures and rolling film. Curious pedestrians, passing by, paused to peer in. Models—Dan Metz, Brandon Collins, Jay Parks, and Georgie Badel— and minor celebrities—Kenley Collins, Chelsea Krost, and Lady Jenn Bocian—ostensibly there for the publicity—“What is this for again?” said Ms. Collins—preened in the background. (Click here to read more)

Down & Derby, A Pop-Up Roller-Skating Dance Party

A few weeks ago, Vince Masi’s website,, crashed due to a virus. 20120615_rollerdisco-1-2It has since been cleaned, resuscitated and put back online, but Mr. Masi has yet to recover. “It was a nightmare,” he said. “I think that was probably, like, the most despair I’ve had to deal with.”

It wasn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened to him—a few years ago he had to shack up with his mom when a business plan fell through and once he irreparably damaged his car by loading it with too much stuff—but it was one of the first things he couldn’t fix on his own. Why? Because he doesn’t speak that language, he said.  “I don’t speak nerd code.”

So, he’s not tech savvy. But he is the king of retro, the sultan of skating, the heart and soul behind an ingenious event: Down and Derby, a roller-skating dance party held once a month at Dekalb Market in Brooklyn. (Click here to read more)

Hooray for Hip Helmets: Seven Sleek Options If the City Council Makes Bike Helmets Mandatory

May 31, 2012

In leu of the fact that all bicyclists, regardless of age, might have to start strapping on helmets, the Observer thought we’d get a head start (pun intended) on searching for the most stylish helmets available. As for what to do about the “helmet hair” that we’re sure to get after wearing one, we’re still working on that.

For the WWI history buff: Limar’s X-Urban Matt Green helmet

 Hooray for Hip Helmets: Seven Sleek Options If the City Council Makes Bike Helmets Mandatory

(Click here to read more)

Happy Hurricane Week! City Shores Up Against Tempestuous Winds

May 30, 2012

hurricane, hurricane week, hurricane sandy, hurricane irene, new york, new york city, east coast,It’s wet, starts with an ‘H’ and lasts for six months.

Yes, hurricane season in the Atlantic starts Friday and both the local and national governments are already making a big hoot about it.

The New York City Office of Emergency Management has put out a free downloadable brochure called Ready New York: Hurricanes and New York City, available in 11 different languages (making sure no one in the city is mac-less come the rains). As for the National Hurricane Center, not only have they put out a number of You Tube videos and audio recordings preaching hurricane preparedness, but they have also announced that it’s National Hurricane Preparedness Week.

(Click here to read more)

IHOP Opening Third Manhattan Location in Heart of West Village, Effectively Stabbing Village in Heart

May 31, 2012

ihop, pancakes,

There’s one in Harlem and one on East 14th Street, and soon there will be one in the West Village, too, at 80 Carmine Street. The International House of Pancakes has hit the Big Apple, folks, and it looks like it’s here to stay.Last week, Trihop LLC—the tri-state area owner of the pancake house franchise—signed a 49-year lease for the restaurant’s latest location, partner Kevin Salmon of the brokerage firm Salmon and Marshall Real Estate Investments to The Real Deal. The restaurant will be Budakkan big, covering 10,500 square feet: a 3,500 square-foot ground level area, a 1,000 square-foot covered outdoor space, and a 6,000 square-foot lower level. It’s located—surprise—in a new 10-story condo building. (Click here to read more)

Just How Suburban Is Manhattan These Days?

June 1, 2012


Is New York City becoming more suburban? Or is that just what The New York Times wants you to think?

The Times was chock full of ‘burb-centric articles this past Thursday, but the two that stood out the most were Jesse McKinley’s swan song to urban Manhattan and Bob Tedeschi’s 1,272-word tale about resurfacing his wooden deck.

(Click here to read more)

Harlem Is Skeptical—Thinks Yet Another 125th Ave Development Will Fail

June 4, 2012

Donna Summer Remembered At The Apollo Theater

Promises: they’re easy to make, but hard to keep. Just ask the residents and landowners of West Harlem.

For the last five years, a number of developments have been proposed along 125th Street, but most have fallen through. Take, for instance, Vornado Realty Trust’s ambitious plans for a 600,000-square-foot office building on the corner of Park Avenue that would have housed Major League Baseball’s new television network. That building never materialized, nor did a later development, planned on the same site, for a high-rise that included a Marriott hotel.

(Click here to read more)

The Manhattanization of The Brooklyn Brownstone Means Red Hook is Hotter Than Ever

June 4, 2012


Christabel Gough, the secretary for the Society for the Architecture of the City and a resident of the Greenwich Village Historic District, has a simple, to the point message for New Yorkers: Beware. Manhattanization, she warns, is growing, encroaching on historical neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. It is the real estate equivalent of kudzu and Brooklyn, Ms. Gough says, is the next victim. Yet unlike it’s leafy cousin, Manhattanization cannot be eradicated with sheep.

(Click here to read more)

Pols and Patrons Plead: Don’t Cut the Parks Department

June 5, 2012

New York City Hit By Hurricane Irene

Early this morning, a handful of city park advocates, a trio of council members, and a smattering of curious onlookers gathered on the steps of City Hall to talk parks, budget cuts and leafy green things.

“Funding for our parks must be restored,” cried City Councilmember Brad Lander, who was joined at the rally by park-loving compatriots Melissa Mark-Viverito and James Oddo.

The last few years have not been kind to the Department of Parks and Recreation, which has been the victim of a number of heavy-handed budget cuts since 2008. This year, the Parks Department faces a proposed budget cut of $33.4 million that, if approved, would lead to a cumulative loss of $62 million in funding—or 17 percent—over the last five years.

(Click here to read more)

Goodbye Parking Garages: Proposal Aims To Reduce Off-Street Parking Requirements in Downtown Brooklyn

downtownbrooklyn-300x278There’s a reason why public transportation exists: so that people don’t have to use cars. Downtown Brooklyn residents have long accepted this reality of urban living and it appears that the Department of City Planning has too.

At Monday’s  City Planning Commission meeting, DCP unveiled their latest proposal: a plan to reform Downtown Brooklyn’s off-street parking requirements. The oh-so-creatively titled Downtown Brooklyn Off-Street Parking plan would reduce the current zoning requirements for parking in new developments from availability for 40 percent of residential units to 20 percent.

(Click here to read more)

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