New York Shitty Cares: The No Toilet Left Behind Project

Or: When I learned complaining is futile and did it my damned self.

To Preface: I had initially planned presenting this project after the last of my toilet trifecta was deployed (preferably at a Parks & Waterfront Committee Meeting). But given recent events, this being having it made quite clear to me that our Community Board General Manager and Parks & Waterfront Chair do not give a shit (pun completely intended) I have come to conclusion this is the time. I do give a shit. And what’s more, I want to help my fellow citizens take one. That means YOU. So, here it is.

I am content with being a “Greenpoint blogger”. The perquisites (there are some), respect (next to none); and working conditions (best imaginable— I make my own hours, there is no dress code and sexual harassment is a given) which come with said sinecure reach my level of expectations. However low they may be. A very wise man once wrote:

I’ll remain below and from below I’ll spit on their social ladder. Right, spit on every rung of it. In order to climb it, it’s necessary to be forged steel-assed from head to toe. And this I am not.

As a result yours truly has become quite the connoisseur of crappers in north Brooklyn. Under my rather gruff, steely (if colorful) exterior resides an incredibly soft place: my ass. And it, I personally assure you, is not made of steel. So I pick my privies wisely. This is why I will, for example, avoid McCarren and McGolrick Park. These “comfort stations” are generally repulsive. Cooper Park, on the other hand, is generally well-maintained and clean. My only caveat is the toilet seat in the womens’ lavatory at this location is made of metal and in cooler weather the experience can be quite, well, “bracing”. However, in summer this can be can be quite refreshing.

If I, the self-elected queen of crappers, had to tender a (very general) summary of the state of women’s lavatories within the confines Community Board 1 Brooklyn it would be this: those located in the 34th City Council District are generally nicer than those located in the 33rd City Council District. I will leave it to you, gentle readers, to ponder why this is the so and test my hypothesis for yourselves. At your own risk.

Hence why I made this crapper— located in the 34th City Council District— my “pit-stop”of choice during my peregrinations. Until that fateful day.

This was what awaited my delectation on August 17th. The toilet paper strewn upon the floor is nasty to be certain, but what really bothered me was the absence of a toilet seat. This may seem trivial (and all things considered, it is) but this is a playground. Playgrounds are generally inhabited by children. And despite this being the 21st century most of the caretakers of children— be they mothers or nannies— are (still) women.

As chance would have it, Open Space Alliance (which is headed by the very same person who is also the Parks Supervisor for north Brooklyn) was conducting a “town hall meeting” that very evening. The ostensible purpose of this meeting was to ascertain what we, the people, wanted to see happen with our open spaces. Not since kindergarten (and the iron curtain fell) have I beheld such a bureaucratic attempt at crowd/mind control. Upon entering we had to sign in. Upon signing in, he/she was given a pamphlet documenting OSA’s achievements and member organizations (some of which were highly questionable) and assigned a number. This number dictated at which table said person sat (so as to facilitate “small discussion groups”). Thus family members and concerned citizens were separated.

Did I get a number? No. I exercised my right as a “Greenpoint blogger”. I sat where I damned well pleased.

First we had to sit through a presentation extolling upon the manifold benefits this, our, private/public partnership has bestowed upon my community. Speeches from our local elected officials followed. Then, with the assistance of a minder from OSA, each discussion group was assigned to make a list of ten things we would like to see happen with our parks. After these findings were announced by our respective groups— and noted on poster-board— we were each given three green stickers. These three green stickers constituted our vote towards any given project/idea we fancied and were to be applied accordingly.

ASIDE: The first memory I have of a sticker-based economy is a getting gold star for simply telling my Kindergarten teacher I brushed my teeth on any given morning. I didn’t fancy such micro-management then and I certainly didn’t like it three decades later.

If I am going to be treated like a child,

I thought to myself

I might as well have the pleasure of acting like one.

So I brought the missing toilet seat matter to everyone’s attention. A chap named Joe Garber—  a man, I will add, who is renowned in the Community Board 1 circle — backed me up.

Is a toilet seat too much to ask?
I made the call for a toilet seat. Was it heard? Absolutely. Did it get any “stickers”? No. Should such a modest request— one a reasonable person would presume to be a matter of routine maintenance— require a sticker? No.

Yet, over a month later (and despite our Parks Supervisor informing me after the aforementioned convocation that they had fixed the roof in said crapper and to wit I replied “Yes, and now it needs a toilet seat.”) nothing was done. That’s when I crossed the Rubicon and became an outlaw. You read me right O-U-T-L-A-W.

Fuck this shit!

I grumbled. I noted the make and model number of said crapper…

and proceeded to the closest hardware store without delay.

At Crest Hardware I purchased a top-of-the-line toilet seat— but I did not stop there. I wanted this bequest to be <em><strong>special</strong></em>. I wanted it to be something its patrons would enjoy. I am of the firm belief (as a former and current child) that little things matter. On one fateful evening while strolling along Manhattan Avenue inspiration finally struck:</p> <p><a href=” http:=”” www.newyorkshitty.com=”” wp-content=”” uploads=”” 2011=”” 10=”” biedronka.jpg”=””>

LADYBUGS!

They’re cute, easy to render and are shaped like toilet seats! Who doesn’t like ladybugs? Really?

A “ladybug” I did make. I took the added measure of preserving my “artistry” with coat of plastic resin (which also makes it easy to clean).

This lass’s installation, however, proved to be problematic. I, an aspiring good Samaritan, unwittingly breached said playground’s etiquette. I left the gate open instead of securing shut with a bike lock. For this offense I was questioned:

You have children, yes?

My lady Inquisitor inquired.

No.

I answered. I was then advised that I, a child-free woman, was technically violating the rules of this playground by simply being there. But she added I’d “probably” be okay. Nonetheless, the bathroom was locked and I had to go back to Greenpoint. With my ladybug. On the way I stopped by McCarren Park’s lavatory (so as to relieve myself):

Only to discover it too was lacking a toilet seat!*

So many toilet seats, so little time.

I thought to myself. Long story made a mite bit shorter…

The “ladybug” was installed October 13th. As of the writing of this post (okay, Monday afternoon), I have no idea whether she is still there or not.** This is because the lavatory in question was locked.

My educated guess is the ladies, delightful women both, who staff(ed) this playground were laid off “for the season”. This is a shame as they kept the premises and my “donation” quite tidy (the first photo being the exception to the rule). Conversely, I gave McCarren— our Parks Supervisor’s “Flagship Park”— a heaping helping of love.

By “love” I mean glitter, rhinestones and a melancholic expression. Would YOU want to be a McCarren Park toilet seat?

I didn’t think so.

Deployment Date: October 23, 2011. I am pleased to report that as of December 5th, she’s still there!

A reasonable person would presume the amount of time and effort Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn— a “parks conservancy group” which has boasted their concerts (that ostensibly benefit our community’s open spaces) have grossed $250,000 could see fit to allocate funds/manpower for something as simple as a toilet seat. But alas, our Parks “Advocate(s)” (and Parks Supervisor) are not reasonable people.

This is why we have a “pop-up park” on my fair burgh’s waterfront which— while purported to have been “ready” in June (per the Deputy Director of OSA) and available to Nuit Blanche/East River Ferry patrons in October— is still closed to the general public.***

And I had to resort to a life of crime.

In closing:

Usually I’d take someone shitting on my “work” as the ultimate insult. But in these unusual circumstances (and I suspect my college professors will back me up on this) “context is everything” and as such I interpret the above-depicted scat as high praise. It is prima facie evidence my humble creation is actually being used! The same cannot be said about aforementioned “pop-up park” or the benches— city/tax payer property all— contained therein.

If any of you toilet goers (and you know who you are) know of a womens’ “comfort station” lacking a toilet seat within the confines of Community Board 1 Brooklyn please shoot me an email at missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot) com. I have a very special treat in store for you(r ass).

A seriously customized/blinged-out Magnolia** “Progressions” juvenile/adult toilet seat with patented “Gent’l Close” technology.**** (READ: it has dual seats for little ones and adults and cannot be slammed shut.)

This hippo’s getting very hungry. Let’s feed her, north Brooklyn!

*This photo was taken by a concerned toilet-goer October 1, 2011.
**It is!
***Which was mysteriously, inexplicably, open to the public the day after this post was published!
****Made in the good ol’ U.S.A. What’s more, they have the prestigious honor of being  “the official bathroom seat manufacturer for the NASA Space Shuttle”!

New York Shitty Day Ender: Waiting

November 6, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Today was the third time yours truly rode the Ferry since the benches have been relocated. And with it came the third time someone complained to me about the disappearance of said benches and the third time I explained, albeit briefly, what happened to them. E.g.; they were lent to the pier by the Parks Department and have since been moved to an adjacent pop-up park which has yet to become open to the public. On that note, I am going to let Julia Morrow of Open Space Alliance (who was kind enough to tender the following explanation via the North Brooklyn Community Group’s Facebook page) clarify further:

Stephanie Thayer at OSA asked that I post this since OSA nor herself can post on this group: Thanks for reaching out to me about the India Street Pier. The India Street Pier is privately developed and privately owned. The pier has not been deeded over to New York City for maintenance and operations. Benches on this pier are the responsibility of the pier’s owner, the owner/developer of the adjacent property.

In June, OSA was ready to open a small waterfront park on Java Street end, with funding secured by a local community group. At the same time, the Ferry was about to start service. The developer borrowed the benches for the start of the Ferry service and opening of the pier. The developer confirmed that they are now ordering their own benches for the pier (emphasis mine — Ed. Note) so that OSA may open the long awaited Java Street waterfront for public use.

And here’s what her boss, Stephanie Thayer, had to say on the matter to a concerned citizen who emailed her:

Orchestrated responses aside, I find the placement of public property (park benches from our Parks Department) on private property— be it a pier or a pop-up park— a mite bit questionable. At least on the pier— which is open 24/7/365 they were being used. Nonetheless, the loaning said benches to this pier when the pop-up park was purportedly ready in June is rather odd.

(Here’s your “long awaited park”, Greenpoint!)

I am of the distinct impression that folks are more apt to enjoy our waterfront— albeit even via a “park” which gives Enver Hoxha a run for his money in terms of outstanding use of concrete— in spring and summer as opposed to (what I surmise will be) winter. This is common sense. But I have long since grown to accept that concepts such as “common sense” and “logic” do not prevail in north Brooklyn. This is doubly the case when our government and public/private partnerships are involved.

Instead, I am simply content the developer has heard our complaints and replacement benches are on the way. Hallelujah!

New York Shitty Day Ender: A Halloween Dog Parade & Adoption Event Reminder

October 28, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Contrary to what what our fair city’s Park’s web site states (as seen above), this event was in no way organized by Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn. The organizers of this event, that being the awesome folks at District Dog, have assured me of this. In writing.

District Dog’s Halloween Parade & Adoption Day
October 30, 2011 starting at 2:00 p.m.
McGolrick Park
Brooklyn, New York 11222

 

TOMORROW: OSA Town Hall Meeting

October 19, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11211, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

Although I have made mention of this already, I want to remind everyone— be they “pro-concert” series or otherwise— that tomorrow is the much-anticipated town hall meeting regarding the relocation of the Open Space Alliance concert series to 50 Kent Avenue (as seen above). Show up and speak your mind, Greenburgers!

OSA Town Hall Meeting Regarding “The Concerts”
October 20th starting at 6:30 p.m.
Swinging Sixties Seniors Center
211 Ainslie Street
Brooklyn, New York 11211

From The New York Shitty Inbox: The East River State Park Lights

October 7, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11211, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

This item comes courtesy of a very nice lady named Jackie. The residents around East River State Park have a problem; very simply put, it is the solar lighting which was installed at said park to keep it lit at night. To this end they have been remarkably effective! In fact, they have been described to yours truly as “lighting up East River State Park like Yankee Field”. Hence why an online petition has been created requesting a more sensible solution be put in place. Here’s what Jackie has to say:

I am told the State used the $200,000 OSA donation towards the solar lights.The state was addressing community chatter  a few years ago about wanting more access to the Park, longer days, and for that the State requires lighting. But there was no public forum that I know of. If the state had spoken to the community they would have realized that in the summer the park closes at sunset which is around 9pm, but all folks really wanted was to be able to stay in the park and watch the sun set, instead of being asked to leave 10 minutes prior. There is sufficient light during dusk to allow this. In the winter when the sun sets early, the Park is usually very cold, extremely windy and sparsely attended, so night access is not a big issue. In addition, the city installed a soccer field adjacent to the East River State Park, with large stadium style soccer lights that also light up the entire State Park and beyond and bounce off of THE EDGE building, causing a lot of light pollution. These lights are suppose to be turned off at 10:15PM. It seems the State and City do not work in concert so this was not factored in. In addition, the stadium lights stay on well past the 10:15PM time frame, as the timer is not reset to adjust to the shorter days and often is on until midnight or all night. These are electric lights that cost taxpayers dollars, that are on during snowstorms when there is no use of the soccer fields. These lights blare into bedrooms and also ruin the evening city skyscapes. But I digress.

Now these towering industrial solar poles in the park close off what was OPEN SPACE. Frisbee anyone? Williamsburg is a central hub of print and film shoots and a popular place for the industry to film. Yea, you can retouch out a pole or two in print, but not in film. “They ruined it”, said a location scout. The sun panels on top of these poles have a mirror quality and on sunny days it throw 50 rays of molten light into people’s homes. One sun is enough, thank you. Visually,  the amount and placement makes the park look like a DOT parking lot, or some have described it as a UFO center. Many were placed next to trees that will overshadow the solars and render them useless.

There are many solutions to this problem, and the petition is meant to be a calling card so that the community can get a meaningful dialog going with the State.

Those of you who are interested can add your signature to this petition by clicking here.

PHOTO CREDITS: the solar panel photo comes courtesy of Blue4Rose.

New York Shitty Day Ender: Live From Community Board 1

All in all it was a pretty dull evening at the Swinging 60’s Senior’s Center tonight. However, I did film OSA’s announcement regarding the concerts. Simply put, moving forward these will be located at 50 Kent Avenue (which is city-owned property) and they have scheduled a “town hall” meeting where concerned neighbors can voice their concerns; offer criticism (be it constructive or otherwise) and advice. Watch for yourself!

Nonetheless, very salient concerns were raised at the end of the meeting during the “public speaking” session:

New York Shitty analysis:

  1. On the surface 50 Kent Avenue may prove— at least financially— to be a better venue for the Open Space Alliance to conduct these concerts. It is city-owned property and as such they do not have to split the profits with East River State Park.
  2. This year’s concerts, per Ms. Thayer, netted an estimated $250,000. Mind you, this is before costs have been factored in and without taking into account that East River State Park gets half the take. So let’s say, optimistically, $250,000 was raised and there are no costs. This only leaves $125,000— a pittance as far as institutional funds are concerned— to ostensibly improve parks in the entirety of Community Board 1. What’s the point?
  3. Unless better crowd control and sensitivity to/coordination with public transportation— namely service suspensions by the MTA and perhaps special ferry service to and from Manhattan— are explored by OSA I honestly do not see things changing other than who will be doing the complaining. The “problem” has simply been moved.
  4. Does filming the aftermath of OSA’s “Widespread Panic” concert merit death threats? Really?

OSA Town Hall Meeting Regarding “The Concerts”
October 20th starting at 6:30 p.m.
Swinging Sixties Seniors Center
211 Ainslie Street
Brooklyn, New York 11211

TOMORROW: Community Board 1 Combined Public Hearing & Board Meeting

Among the manifold number of provocative items on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting is a presentation by the Open Space Alliance’s Executive Director (and New York City Parks Czar Supervisor for all parks located in Community Board 1— don’t forget that our tax dollars are largely footing the bill for her salary, folks!*): Stephanie Thayer. Which hat will she wear tomorrow? Why not show up and find out! My advice is as follows: B.Y.O.N.O. Bring Your Own Nitrous Oxide!

Community Board 1 Combined Public Hearing & Board Meeting
October 5, 2011 starting at 6:30 p.m.
NOTE: You must sign-up to speak by 6:15 p.m.!
Swinging 60’s Seniors Center
211 Ainslie Street
Brooklyn, New York 11211

*Here’s the arrangement per an anonymous tipster:

hmmm…not that i really care, but that’s not entirely accurate.  she is paid 50% directly by the city, then OSA sends 50% to the city out of their operating funds and the city pays her with that money.  OSA does not get any city money.  Annual Report is coming out Oct 10th so you can check it all out there.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: A Plea From The McCarren Dog Run

The headmistress of the McCarren Park Dog Run, Christine, writes:

Good afternoon Heather,

I can’t tell what a soul crushing pain in ass this project has been … This week we got the news that we need another $4k for it.   After months of asking our contractor to include every cost into their budget and such, we found out the they didn’t include excavating the dog run of nearly a foot of chips and such from the whole dog run before they could start.    It is gonna cost another $4k … not being one to give up BUT feeling pretty defeated and actually having some very dark thoughts … I reached out to the dog run community … Can you help spread the word?  …We are in a challenge grant period right now raise a $1k get $1k from Must Luv Dogs.  We have got 36 hours to do it.   Must Luv Dogs is the latest of supportive pet stores to help.  Others who have helped are PS9 and NYC Pets.  These 3 stores have shown a level of generosity that is amazing.

Here’s the deal (once again), folks: this project, which has all the necessary permits in place, can either break ground this month or be postponed due to a lack of funds. As Christine has made clear, a few local businesses have stepped up to the plate to help make this (much overdue) project happen. One such establishment is Must Love Dogs and to this end they are offering a matching grant of $1,000.

The deadline is midnight, October 2nd— that’s tomorrow, so time is of the essence! You can tender your donation(s) via the McCarren Dog Run’s ChipIn widget on their web site or via PayPal at:

brooklynassociationfordogs@gmail.com

Let’s make this happen, Greenburg dog lovers!

Photo Credits: billy l.

 

 

From The New York Shitty Inbox: Saturday Night

September 19, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11211, Criminal Activity, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

A woman (who shot the above footage) we’ll call “S” writes:

This is just a heads up to you guys because I am going to write a full report on the lawless nightmare that erupted on my street after Saturday night’s OSA concert. I am going to cc everyone from our community meetings, all of OSA, Lentol’s office, to Schumer’s office, the mayor’s office, the police community affairs officers, and the media. I am going to blast OSA for creating this situation which represents only a fraction of what we have been going through for the last 3 years. So keep your eyes open later for my full email.

There was not ONE SINGLE COP to be seen anywhere. Before I picked up my camera I called 911 but no one came. I had to run in my socks down to the lone cop who was directing the chaotic traffic to please send help because a huge mob had grown around the nitrous oxide balloon sellers. It was total mayhem. Inexplicably firemen were sent to clear the mob. It was a horror show and I was afraid for my safety while filming…

All I can say is… WOW! When I get a full account of what happened I will add it here. Incredible… Here you go!

Post-East River concert drug nightmare erupts on North 7th Street, 9/17/11

This is an open letter to the Open Space Alliance, the residents of Williamsburg, our elected officials and the press.

On Saturday night, September 17, 2011 between approximately 9:40 PM and 10:20 PM the following events took place on North 7th Street off the corner of Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn after the crowds let out of the concert produced by the Open Space Alliance / OSA, which was held in the East River State Park.

A lawless drug nightmare erupted on my street after Saturday night’s OSA concert featuring the band called ‘Widespread Panic.’

At about 9:40 PM the noise from the concert in the East River State Park had finally ended.  So I was about to try to get some video editing work done on my computer when my attention was drawn to loud popping sounds, sounds of gas rushing and the roar of large crowd outside on the street.  When I looked out my front window I was horrified to see a huge mob collecting.  A group of nitrous oxide balloon sellers had assembled next to a dumpster across the street.  Hundreds of people, if not more, were gathering up and down the block buying balloons filled with the gas and inhaling them.  Concert-goers already drunk from the East River State Park were becoming even more highly intoxicated from the nitrous oxide.  They were wandering around like zombies holding fists full of balloons.

There was not ONE SINGLE COP to be seen anywhere.  I called 911 and explained what was taking place.  The 911 operator was having difficulty understand the situation so I gave him the location and pleaded, ‘Just send the police now.  We need help here!’, and hung up.  Then I grabbed my camera and stepped out on my stoop.  It was a horror show.  Afraid for my safety while filming on my stoop, I used my heel to keep the door open behind me just in case I had to escape.  In one of the last clips you can see a couple of men coming toward me in a menacing way.

I shot the first video of the scene unfolding on my street– seen here.

At the end of that clip I kept rolling as I headed down to the corner to try to find a cop.

There are nine videos which can be seen here.

Desperate to find help, I ran without shoes down to the lone cop who was directing the very chaotic street and pedestrian traffic on Kent Avenue and N. 7th Street.  I pleaded with him to send help because a huge mob had grown around the nitrous oxide balloon sellers.  He had no idea what was going on.  It was dark he couldn’t see up the block, it was noisy and he clearly had too much to deal with on his own.  After pleading further, he finally seemed to get that I was serious.  He said that he would and gave me the impression that he would call for help.  But no one came.  The mayhem went on unabated for nearly half an hour.  No police came.  Not one.  Inexplicably, after about 20 minutes firemen were sent to clear the mob.

Many concerned members of the community have attended months of tedious and fruitless community meetings with Stephanie Thayer, Executive Director of the Open Space Alliance and other people from that organization. They claim they want to try to fix the problems with these concerts.  Time after time they offer the most minor of concessions and it never makes a difference.  But, there is no ‘fix’.  The truth is that OSA’s concerts do not belong here and they have abused us long enough.  These concerts have proven to be completely unmanageable in terms of community quality of life impact—the noise, disturbance, crowds, garbage, crime and so on.  I speak for many when I say that we are sick and tired of our legitimate concerns constantly being downplayed and marginalized again and again.  OSA is completely responsible for this horror show.  But now they can no longer sweep it under the rug.  These videos represent only a fraction of what we have been going through for the last 3 years.  No one petitioned OSA to bring stadium-sized outdoor events to our area.  All of this is forced upon us.

I have lived in NYC my entire life in some of the worst drug neighborhoods; the Lower East Side in the 60s, Spanish Harlem in the 70s and the Southside of Williamsburg in the 80s and I have never seen anything like this before.   And that is saying a lot.

Worse still, is the fact that the band playing that night, ‘Widespread Panic,’ is known for its followers who are heavily into nitrous oxide. So much so that their official website’s FAQ section contains a specific warning about nitrous oxide.  Seen here.

I invite and encourage you all to please look carefully at each and every one of the videos to see for yourselves what happened.  And remember, it was 100 times worse to experience in person.

Thank you for your time.


UPDATE, September 20, 2011:
Apparently the band featured on the evening in question was (amusingly enough)  “Widespread Panic”. Curiously enough, it would appear that the sale/use of nitrous oxide at Widespread Panic’s concerts has been an issue before. Why else— may I ask— would they have a caveat about this on their website’s FAQ page?

Quicklink: Today In The New York Times

May 29, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11211, Culture War, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

I knew this story was in the works for some time but as of this morning it is online! My favorite sound bite:

You can’t hear yourself think. Not only do they come feeling good, they leave feeling better…

Read it for yourself. Closing on a related note, I am pleased to announce a new “friends of” group has been established for East River State Park! Here’s the announcement I received from a very nice lady named Julie Lawrence.

Friends of East River State Park Inaugural Meeting
Thursday, June 2, 2011 starting at 7:00 p.m.
110 Kent Avenue, second floor
Brooklyn, New York 11211

Miss Heather

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