1999-09-18 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

I was glad to hear the choppers spraying the neighborhood last Sunday night, although I’ll never understand why they had to spray the beachfront. In any case, it should have put an end to the "killer mosquito scare" around the peninsula. The question now arises as to why the city can spray a toxic chemical around in a time of "danger," but not simply because people’s quality of life was being destroyed. For years, Arverne, Edgemere and Bayswater residents have been screaming that they could not enjoy the outdoors in last spring and summer because of the mosquito problem. The city basically blew them off, telling the residents that spraying was out of the question because the chemical would harm other animals and birds. Now we know that it was a lie all along. It was a lie that mosquitoes are not dangerous and it was a lie that spraying was out of the question. That bodes well for next year. The city should spray all of Rockaway in June to keep the mosquito population down and then spray again during the summer to keep the people who live on our small but wet peninsula safe from harm. I’m sure that Bernie Blum and Steve Wohl will have something to say about this, but what’s good for people is right.

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Speaking of Bernie Blum, his appearances on the QUICS Cable TV show honchoed by John Baxter are an embarrassment for all of those who live on the peninsula. When people throughout Queens see the programs featuring Blum and his envir-onmental rhetoric, they must laugh at Rockaway and vow never to set foot on the place. Watch for a while. It is not even what the duo has to say, although that is often laughable in itself. The worst is when Blum gets up from the table (it looks like a table that one would store in a closet and take out for special occasions), walks around the table towards the static camera ands hold a paper up in front of the camera for all to read. Nobody can read the paper, because the focus of the camera remains on the table. It is the best comedy on television, but Rockaway residents should not be laughing. Take some lessons, Bernie, or give it up. You are not doing anybody, including yourself and your cause, any good by foisting this comedy routine on unsuspecting viewers.

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For years, the old and rotting bungalows from Beach 20 street to Beach 27 street were a magnet of drug dealers and squatters. One small oasis of sanity remained in all of that disorder and those were the bungalows owned by Richard George and the members of his Beach and Bungalow Association. Anyone who listened to a police scanner in those days knows that their were constant calls to the bungalow colony and many arrests were made there. Several years ago, the rotting bungalows were torn down. George and his group said that they were torn down illegally, and perhaps they were. It put an end to the endless calls and crimes. Now, Oceanview Associates wants to build 122 units of affordable housing on the site. The plan was designed to fill a need for "veterans, senior citizens, single mothers and working families," the developer says. Richard George should be glad to be getting such good neighbors, but he is not. The fact is that the new six-story buildings will sit directly between his bungalows and the beachfront, blocking his view and forcing him and others who live there to take the long way around to get to the beach. "It will block our air, block our easement, block our views and block access," George says. He might be right, but I think that the project should still be built. Those bungalows are among the last left in Rockaway, but they are far from having historical note. They have been modified and winterized and resemble little the originals that once lined the beachfront from the Beach 20 street area all the way to Beach 108 street. The new homes are necessary in a peninsula that has little decent and affordable housing stock for the target population outside of the city housing projects. Let the project begin!

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Got a cute E-mail prayer from Rabbi Jacob Pressman for the Jewish New Year. It is long, but it begins: "May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastro-enterologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist, your plumber and the IRS. May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your abs and your stock not fall, and may your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol, hour white blood count and your mortgage rate not rise. May you find a way to travel from anywhere to anywhere in the rush hour in less than an hour and when you get there, may you find a parking space." If that is not all all-purpose, New York City prayer, I don’t know what is.

* * * * *

I don’t often give ink to warnings coming over the Internet, but this one is from Microsoft via the Compaq Computer company, and sounds like it is for real. There is a new virus called AIDS, and it will destroy everything you have worked to build since you got your computer, including your hard drive, keyboard and mouse. It will come to you as E-mail in two ways. One is slugged "Open: Very Cool!" You should delete this message without opening it. Similarly, if you get an E-mail message that says, "Win A Holiday," delete without opening. The computer you save may be your own.

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Forget about Hillary Clinton. She lost me with all of that FALN hogwash. When she announced that she changed her mind and was now in favor of the parole because she had not checked with Hispanic politicians before she opposed her husband’s move, she lost me for good. Anybody who needs to check with Hispanic politicians (or any other kind, for that matter) before making a value judgment should remain at home. The problem is, I cannot vote for Giuliani either because he has gone a long way to destroy what is left of the schools system. Can’t somebody find a person who would make a viable candidate for mainstream New Yorkers? Perhaps I’ll skip the election completely. If I do, it will be the first major election I skip since I turned 21 in the year JFK was first elected.

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According to the latest polls (for what they are worth), Giuliani has moved ahead of Clinton by a narrow margin. The poll has the Mayor leading 47.8 percent to 43.5 percent, with a plus-minus of 3.8 percent. That means Clinton might be as high as 47.2 percent and the Mayor might be as low as 44 percent. Or, maybe not. What is interesting is that only 6.1 percent of those polled said that they had yet to make up their mind. That is a very low percentage with such a long time to go until Election Day.

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One more Hillary story: Now that the FALN terrorists (that is what they are despite the attempt of Hispanic politicians to make them into heroes) are out of jail and meeting, possibly to plot more bombings to "free" an island nation that voted not to be free, Hillary Clinton will soon face another controversy. Many Jewish leaders want her husband to free Jonathon Pollard, the Jew who spied for Israel. We have dealt with this controversy in this space on a number of occasions and do not have to go through it one more time. Suffice it to say that many in the Jewish community feel the same way about Pollard as the Hispanic community feels about the freed FALN terrorists. They say that if the terrorists deserve clemency, then Pollard does as well. Clinton clearly needs the large Jewish block vote in the upcoming election. How will she handle this one after getting burned on the FALN? We will have to wait and see. So far, she is not talking.

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Some West End locals have told me that they have had little or no luck in getting street lights fixed recently. Two lights in particular have been reported a number of times to no avail. One is on the west side of Beach 122 street about half way down the block between RBB and the Boards. The other is on Ocean Promenade (a ritzy name for the Boardwalk) between Beach 122 and Beach 123 streets. C’mon, guys, let’s get them fixed.

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Websites of the Week: First, some sites for prospective brides. These sites claim to offer everything needed for the wedding with the exception of the groom. First, hit The Knot at www.theknot.com. This site is the one that everybody reportedly checks first. Then, as a second opinion and for fun, go to www.wedding-channel.com and to www.ivillage.com. Try them and you’ll like them. As a minor historian, I have been trying to find my "roots" for years. I use Family Tree Maker for my basic record keeping and use their site (www.familytreemaker.com) for new information. In fact, you can find my family tree in one of their World Family Tree directories. There are other sites as well, however. www.geniology.com has message boards with 16,000 forums detailing specific surnames, nations, etc. The other good site can be found at www.rootsweb.com. This site has a number of good databases and hyperlinks. There are 10,000 subscribers to talk with. At www.fgs.org, you can access the database of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. That will give you access to more than 500 local groups around the nation. Finally, there is www.cyndilist.com, the home of Cyndi Howell’s home page construction kit as well as thousands of hyperlinks to other sites. One last site. If you want to drive a stock car on the Pocono speedway at 175 MPH, then log in at www.srexp.com to find out how to do it. That’s it for this week. Remember to send your comments and complaints to me at Newsie42 @aol.com or hschwach@hotmail.com. Have a good week and safe home.

 

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