Monday, March 29, 2010

Open Letter To Twitter: Kill The Hardcore Smut!

I have been on Twitter for several months and have accumulated over 1600 followers which ranks me in the top couple hundred in NYC. I have continually searched for new ways to make the most of the utility of Twitter with mixed results. The best use I have found is for searching for info on trending topics. If there is a rally in Iran, or a tragedy like the incidents in Moscow this morning, I find Twitter a valuable resource. It was on one of those searches this morning that I was utterly shocked!
Searching "Moscow" this morning, I found that out of the 20 most recent posts, on average 3 had profile pictures that were hardcore pornographic in nature as well as links to what I would assume is more hardcore content. But it didn't stop there, and here is what really scared me. Checking the top 10 trending topics, I found tween sensation Justin Bieber, number 8. Surely, it is all kids that are on Twitter that are driving his numbers up. A simple click, and I found that anywhere between 10% to 20% of all recent tweets for Bieber contained pornographic profile pictures and links. What percentage of parents do you think realize this? Yes, parents have a duty to protect their children, but so does Twitter. Twitter is largely know as a trendy and immensely popular website that most parents would assume is innocuous. This is not the case, not the case at all.
So, I plead with Twitter, please clean up your act! You have a responsibility and you must take it seriously. Failure to act will decrease your appeal and utility (as it already has), and in the long run lead to your extinction.
Update: Checking same searches now and I see less smut. My numbers are not scientific, but even if this is just a random spam blast, these spammers must be stopped. It only takes one incident with your child to ruin Twitter forever. Given what I saw this morning, I wouldn't let my kids anywhere near it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


You can never get enough of this building! The angles and reflections are limitless. Will update with more pics when back in front of a computer. Still no coyotes!
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It Ain't All Boutiques On Gansevoort Street

Yes, the meatpacking district is all shi-shi nowadays, but that doesn't mean that you can't find a little grit here and there, even today. Someone found and interesting place to dispose of a toilet in the shadow of the High Line on Gansevoort Street just east of the highway. Perched next to it, a 40 ounce bottle of "Steel Reserve". I wonder if the 2 artifacts are somehow related? Still no coyote ftr!
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Wanted: Manhattan's Wile E. Coyote

Video Courtesy WABC TV.
For the fourth time this year, a coyote has been spotted in Manhattan. After sightings around Columbia, Central Park, and near the Chelsea Piers, this time a coyote (not sure if there is more than one) was spotted last night coming out of the Holland Tunnel and strutting down Broadway, before being cornered near Church St and Thomas Street. The coyote was apparently cornered by 20 police and animal control officers, but managed to elude the pursuers yet again by squeezing under a fence. The coyote was last seen heading south on Church Street. So, is it time for a blogger to go on a coyote hunt? Could be. I have to head out for some blog material, so I might as well give it a shot. Where would it be? I think a coyote would be most comfortable in a park like setting and if he made it to Battery Park or The Battery he would have been found by now. So, chances are, if it hasn't found another tunnel, it is probably on the river somewhere. Given previous sightings along the West Side, and the fact that coyotes prefer trails and have better observational learning skills than dogs, the area from Tribeca to 34th Street is my best bet. Next report from the field...
Update: The coyote has been captured! I had the right idea going over to Gansevoort and the West Side highway, but missed him by a mile! Too bad my twitter on blackberry was disfunctional, otherwise I would have been there. Bummer!
Tribeca Coyote Captured (CityRoom)

Friday, March 19, 2010

20,000 Cups Of Starbucks Fill Madison Square

Just west of Madison Square in the pedestrian mall between 5th and Broadway (23rd/24th). Full cups of Starbucks coffee in various shades from white to dark brown cover the plaza the length of a city block. 20,000 cups of coffee to be close to exact. The display is part of a Starbucks awareness promotion to alert us caffeine junkies of how much waste we are producing and to encourage the use of travel mugs. Employees from around the city collected the cups over the past few days, many in exchange for a reusable tumbler. The final pattern of the display will resemble a redwood tree, and be featured in a pre-Earth Day commercial. A Starbucks rep on site says when the installation is broken down the cups will be recycled "guaranteed".
While this may be a compelling PR stunt, it begs the question of is Starbucks really committed to the environment or just trying to sell plastic mugs? While my favorite local java shop "Think Coffee" uses compost ready cups, sleeves, napkins and utensils, I haven't even seen a recycling bin at Starbucks. Perhaps this installation can serve to shine a light on how the world's largest java merchant can make itself more eco-friendly.
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Fairway Market Coming To East 86th Street!

(Photo Courtesy Jackie, Picassa)

It's been a big 9 months for East 86th Street. We've had the Barnes and Noble superstore open, the Sephora, H&M, plans for a Shake Shack announced, and now according to sources over at DNA info (that attended the community board meeting on Wednesday night), a Fairway Market is coming to East 86th Street! 240 East 86th Street to be exact, the former home of the 2 level Barnes and Noble (before consolidating into the superstore under The Lucida). It will be a welcome addition.
Confirmed: Fairway market Coming To Upper East Side; CEO Says 2010 Opening (DNAinfo)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cheapest Retail Space On Upper East Side- Food Trucks Paying $1.50/Hour

I really see these as a scourge and an affront to basic fairness. While legit retailers are paying up to $450 per square foot, a bunch of food trucks have found a cheaper way- just find a parking spot, pump $1.50 into the meter every hour and they are in business! This is a recent trend on Lexington Avenue between 86th and 87th and I see several reasons why this is a disturbing trend.
On an average afternoon as many as 4 trucks park on the block and that number is up from one or two a year ago. For one, they take up several hard to find parking spots which further impacts rent paying retailers in the area. Then you have food retailers competing with trucks with far lower overhead which will inevitably cost the area more permanent food establishments and jobs. You could also argue that tax revenue is being lost because the food truck food is cheaper and they might not be quite as accountable with their cash. Yet another problem is that they are all parked steps from one of the city's most traveled subway stations. Burrito and falafel seekers line up and clog already congested streets. Finally, having hundreds of people eating on the street inevitably produces excess waste, overflowing garbage cans, garbage on the street, and dropped food can create a vermin issue if it hasn't already. Oh yeah, they don't look good either.
The rash of non-tax paying, non-rent paying street vendors is bad enough, we don't need a dozen food trucks on top of it. So, I can only hope that by exposing this current scourge, someone notices and does something about it, otherwise, the progress on East 86th Street will be easily undone.

Mini Update On 10-17 Jackson And 200 West 72nd

10-17 Jackson: I have been in regular contact with ownership and sales team over the past few weeks. The decision has been made to handle the marketing in house and they are working to quickly get the website up and marketing material together. Opening has been pushed back to the beginning of May. The pricing is still being tweaked and is not final, but in my view, seems like they are taking a reasonable approach and not getting carried away. Feel free to shoot me an email if you want to keep updated on the project (

200 West 72nd Street: The building is open and I had a nice preview on Tuesday. The finishes are sharp (although I thought the appliances could be nicer for the price), the light and views are very good, and the building is stylish. The pricing to me was a bit of a shocker: 1 beds w/ home office from $5400, 2 beds from $7800, convert 3's from $15,500, and 3 beds from $17,800 (give a take a few bucks-these numbers from recollection). I guess it takes Green to live Green!

Action At McSam's Union Square

We reported a week or so back that after month of inactivity, McSam's future hotel at 132 Fourth Avenue had workers clanking away. Now they are not only clanking, but walling up the place! Waterproof sheathing has suddenly filled floors 3-5, and apparently some looks to be installed at the very top. I cannot see any changes in recent permits and the partial stop work order is still active, so I would assume that this is permitted. Must be, the serial 311 caller hasn't complained in 9 days, a modern day record!
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ace Hotel Lobby Now Home To Corporate Squatters

(Image credit, NY Times)

A funny bit in today's Huffington Post by Matt McCue. Apparently the Ace Hotel has become so hip and comforting that quasi-corporate types can't resist the urge to set up shop there. At first, hotel management tried to discourage them with placards, but eventually gave in. So we now have management peacefully co-existing with both the old tenants of The Breslin, hotel guests, and corporate squatters. Maybe we should call Alex Calderwood in to see if he can work some magic in the Middle East?
Manhattan's Newest "Office" Sits In Hotel Lobby In No Mans Land (Huffington Post)

Vegans Protest For Vegan Donuts At Dunkin Donuts

Shot at East 14th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Vegans offering vegan donuts samples outside of Dunkin Donuts decry the use of factory farmed eggs in DD products. They had some gruesome caged chicken lit to go with. When asked if DD would change to a cage free supplier who used humane practices, one protester said "that would be an improvement, but that would never happen for such a large chain". It was pretty clear that I wasn't going to sell the vegan on eggs in any way. Wondering if she was offended by my leather shoes? Probably. In any case, I refused the sample as I try to avoid donuts altogether, vegan or not.
(Third item posted from my blackberry. I think blogger has worked out the kinks for mobile blogging, so look for more of it).
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Happy St. Patrick's Day

Image idea courtesy of Ayesha Fine.
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Water Tank On West 71st

Rental Market Tightens

An article in today's New York Daily News reports what we were reporting last month, that the rental market continues to tighten, and that vacancy rates have dropped this winter, contrary to typical seasonal increase, to 1.54%. Chances are that incentives will dry up and prices will creep up. The big test though is if the market can handle the surge of inventory that typically happens in the spring and summer months. As mentioned before, more landlords are skewing lease end dates to the busier summer months.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Introducing The 24 Hour Open House!

In a move that will either revolutionize the way real estate is sold in Manhattan, or just aggravate brokers who refuse to go the extra mile, A. Fine Company, Inc. is proud to introduce the 24 hour open house! Why? Because we want to move this apartment and move it now, that's why! And what better way to sell this apartment that offer the greatest access in shortest period of time. Here is how it will work. Since no building in their right mind would allow me to have an open house in the middle of the night, we will be holding the open house from 10am-5pm this Friday (3/12), Saturday(3/13), and Sunday(3/14) and during three hours on Monday to be determined. A grand total of 24 hours. "I've never seen anything like this before", commented Khan Belmond, the associate broker who is tasked with covering the open house with A. Fine Company founder, yours truly. With a 3 day run in the NY Times real estate classifieds, a Marketplace ad, and listed in just about every form of internet marketing possible, it will now be seen if we are busy or just lounging on the owners' couch watching Sportscenter. As with anything new, anything can happen. If 10 or 12 people show up for your average 2 hour open house, will we just get the same numbers but spread over a much longer time frame? Or, will we get much better numbers? We'll see. One thing for sure, it is a great listing and a very nice place to spend an extended period of time.
440 East 57th Street #2D, 1100Sf 1 bed, 1.5 baths, magazine quality finishes. $785,000.

LIC: East Of East Condo, Inside And Out

renderings courtesy of RSVP Studio

There is a new condo coming around the corner in LIC, East of East. Located fairly East on Jackson Avenue and 47th Road, the location splits the difference between Hunters Point and Court Square. The thing that sets East of East apart is that it will be a boutique condo with far larger layouts than are the norm these days. Of the 13 units, 10 are half floor, 2 bedroom lofts, 1300sf and 1100sf on each floor. To add to the loft cache' you will enter your apartment through your private keyed elevator. Other highlights include Bosch and LG appliances in the kitchen, 3/4 inch thick white oak floors (on top of 3/4 plywood and moisture barrier), 9' ceiling height, private terraces as well as common roof deck and barbecue area. Most of the apartments have a pretty nice sight line with downtown and midtown Manhattan views. The building has a 15 year tax abatement and FHA approval is expected. The 2 bedrooms are expected to start around $730,000 (1 beds from $525,00) and the current guess is that the AG should approve the schedule A offering within 30 days.
As for the exterior, the idea was to fit in with local industrial and artistic roots. The corrugated steel wrap, is a much better effort than L Haus's take on fitting in with the community by opting for odd green siding. And talk about hot renderings! I think the female ghost in the bathroom shot is feeling a chill!
More action on Jackson coming soon. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

30 Great Java Places Courtesy Of NY Times

Ah, java, one of my obsessions! Tipster Kim Sandler pointed me to a New York Times article in today's dining section that points out some of NY's best. Happily, they included 3 of my faves, but missed one as well. The three they mentioned:

Stumptown Coffee (29th off Bway at The Ace Hotel). This Portland import makes a solid, full bodied and tasty americano and has a pretty good cup of joe as well.

Joe, The Art Of Coffee (9 East 13th Street). Not only one of the best cups of coffee in town, but also exceptional lemonade and Arnold Palmers in season.

Gimme! Coffee (228 Mott Street). If you are looking for a cap or an espresso to absolutely blast you to the moon, this is the place. Strongest Americano in town!

Now, the missing coffee shop, Think Coffee (123 Fourth Avenue). In case you haven't guessed I love my coffee and I drink it all black; espressos and americanos are my thing. Think, in my humble opinion makes the smoothest, tastiest, americano in town. No question, haven't had better in the city. Feel free to throw in your two cents, Coffee makes for great debate.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Actual Work Spotted At McSam's 132 Fourth, Despite Continuing Complaints

Yep, for the first time in months there was plenty of clanking going on at Sam Chang's stalled hotel on the corner of 13th and Fourth Avenue. And with the clanking comes another series of complaints for the DOB to attend to. During the first nine days of this month there have already been 6 complaints and 4 visits to the property by the DOB. There remains a partial stop work order on the property thanks to an unresolved complaint to the DOB regarding the height of the building that dates back to June of 09. While the caller may be a bit overzealous, McSam was nailed back in January for working contrary to the order, which prohibits work above 75'. The workers that I spotted today were on the 5th floor, but I'd still be willing to bet that the complaints will continue to pile up. At this rate, the DOB might as well save the transportation expense and set up a field office there. And, gotta wonder, who might this person be that continues to file complaints, he/she would certainly be a hero to the last couple floors of lot-liners that are losing their windows.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A. Fine Blog's Chuck E Cheese Story Makes It All The Way To Weekend Update On SNL

I can't believe that I passed out right before seeing this! The never-ending Chuck E Cheese story, published by A. Fine Blog one week ago and picked up (I use that term loosely) by The New York Post (without credit), made it all the way up the ladder to SNL's weekend update with Seth Meyers. Not bad for 5 days! Good one liner to boot. Just check the last story on the video. I have to assume that using the video, thanks NBC, is above board since they give instructions to embed it.
Thanks also to the numerous websites that highlighted the Chuck E Cheese story and the story of how The Post seemed to borrow it without credit to A. Fine Blog:
NY Post Steals Yet Another Story From Blogger (Queens Crap)
Murdoch's NY Post Continues To Source Articles From Bloggers Without Credit (Techdirt)
Here We Go Again (New York Shitty)
Chuck E Cheese Bans "Gangsta" Things From It's Harlem Location (Guyism)
Wenn Zietungen von Blogartikeln "Inspiriert" Werned (Gulli)
Gangs Not Invited To Harlem Chuck E Cheese (Gothamist)

Pathetic Preservation Of Provincetown Playhouse Another NYU Whopper!

I was walking around the Village this morning to come across this pathetic site. At first, not noting which street I was on, I thought, what is this spec of a brick building being swallowed up by new construction. It only took a moment to gather my thoughts and remember that this was the site of the historic Provincetown Playhouse, ya know, where the likes of Eugene O'Neil an Bette Davis got their starts? It was a pretty building, and I could go on and on about historic figures like Upton Sinclair and Margaret Sanger who shared ideas in the "Liberal Club" that adjoined the playhouse, but, what is the sense? All that is left now is a measly 12' tall by 15' wide piece (and the 3 walls inside supposedly) engulfed by the larger building. What is left is but a spec of what was originally there. This is not preservation. This is an insult. What's a few historic personalities though, when NYU is happy to trash God (as evidenced by the St. Ann's Church desecration). Yet, somehow, despite even the wrath of God, the NYU juggernaut keeps swallowing property after property and the historic character that goes with it. Apparently they cannot be stopped! We might as well get it over with, zone Houston to 15th from Bowery to Sixth as the NYU kingdom and let them do whatever they want- it seems they will anyhow.

Friday, March 5, 2010

New York Post Article On Chuck E Cheese Gang Policy Sounds Familiar, Real Familiar!

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That theory is being put to the test.

As many of you know, I wrote an article on the seemingly ridiculous "rules of conduct" sign at the Harlem branch of Chuck E Cheese this past Monday. The article detailed how various gang clothing, conduct, and weapons were banned from Chuck E. Cheese and questioned whether the sign was motivated by the area's racial or socioeconomic make-up. The article was well received and went a little viral with,, Eater,'s food section picking it up, as well as it being re-tweeted hundreds of times. The thing that all of these outlets had in common is that every single one credited the story to A. Fine Blog. That was until this morning.

At 4:30 or so this morning I woke up for a moment, the TV was on and tuned to Ch.4. I was in a blur and just drifting back to sleep and then I heard in the background something to the effect 'I can't believe that story on Chuck E. Cheese'. Huh? Whaaa? I woke up and pushed rewind on the dvr. Sure enough, they were talking about the same story that I wrote about, but it was on page 11 of today's NY Post. I later heard that the article was highlighted on the "in the papers segment" on NY1 as well. So, after being unable to find the article online that early I went back to sleep. First thing I did later when I woke up was to go to the newsstand and buy The Post . Oh yeah, a 3/4 page story with the same story line, same graphic of the "rules of conduct" sign, and even the same conclusion that the sign made you feel as if you were entering a prison rather than a pizza arcade. EXCEPT, in this article, no credit was attributed to A. Fine Blog as the genesis for the story, and it came off as if they had just come up with this organically on their own.

Needless to say, I think there are some journalistic ethics that have been twisted here and I shot off an email to the Metro Editor of The Post to make her aware of the grift and to see what she can do to rectify it. I have long complained that the media has lost it's originality and would rather just repeat stories than actually do some real work. I think this situation exemplifies that point.

A. Fine Blog, March 1st: "Harlem Chuck E. Cheese Experience Starts With Ominous Warning"
NY Post, March 5th: ""Chuck E. Squeeze On Thugs, Harlem Branch's Gangsta Ban"
Queens Crap, March 5th: "NY Post Steals Yet Another Story From A Blogger"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

LIC: Two Gotham Center Topped!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Harlem Chuck E Cheese Experience Starts With Ominous Warning

Welcome to Chuck E Cheese's in Harlem! The welcome starts with an ominous set of rules posted inside the front door. Among them, #1, no gang style apparel (including hats, buckles, bandanas, etc....). Um, okay, didn't know that a kids pizza arcade, attracted such an element. Number 2, "no gang style conduct or behavior, including verbal slogans, greetings, hand signs.....".Wow, this place must just be a mecca for gangsters! I can just now see them doing battle over the 4' diameter miniature carousel. Then #3, "no weapons or tools whatsoever, including knives, chains, screwdrivers, glass cutters, scribes....". Holy crap, you'd think you were walking into a prison or something. I had to look up "scribe", which with the help of a friend on Facebook, I found was not a blogger or author, but an etching device, which in Chuckee's gang land could be equally useful as a shank.
My experience at Chuckee's was nice. My daughter wanted to have her 6th birthday party there, and the only one on the island of Manhattan is at 124th and St. Nick. Sure, it was chaos, but it was kiddie chaos, just like you would have whenever you put a few hundred kids together with each other, arcade games, and sugar. Parents watching after, supervising, and sharing in their kids' joy is just that whether in Harlem or Tribeca, or Minnesota. What strikes me is that I'd be willing to bet that they don't have these signs in Minnesota and they wouldn't have them if there was a Chuckee's in Tribeca (correct me if I am wrong). I wonder who up the corporate chain, sitting behind a desk decided that a Chuck E's in Harlem was a gang risk? Is this racial or socioeconomic profiling? Straight racism? Have they had a big gang issue there that we haven't heard about? I'm not sure, but maybe someone should keep an eye on Chuck E Cheese himself, after all, he has an over sized baseball cap with a big "C" on it, and keeps hand signaling with his thumb.