The Fuzzy Nutter


Posted by MSeech on December 10, 2008

Have any comments, suggestions, or feedback about All Eyes on Red Hook? Post them here!


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Those Rock’em, Sock’em Derby Girls

Posted by MSeech on May 19, 2008



Roller derby is back, and it’s on the rise. Over the past seven years, female skaters all over the country dusted off their quad skates and hit the nearest roller derby rink. The Garden State RollerGirls, a northern New Jersey league, is part of this revival.

Although the RollerGirls wasn’t full-on competitive league, they formed in 2006 and soon became a way for “strong women to come together and do something positive.”

According to Jessica Olejar, roller derby has become more than just the flamboyant sport known throughout the 60s and 70s. “When people think of roller derby they think of what it was like 30 years ago,” Olejar said. “Roller derby now is totally real. Nothing is staged. When we fall down we get hurt. That wasn’t planned.”

But roller derby isn’t played to hurt your opponents. Jammers – person who scores – must cleanly pass the other plays in order to win points. Getting hurt, however, is inevitable. Skaters have broken their ankles, undergone surgery and months of rehabilitation, Olejar said.

“One girl did get a concussion at one of our games earlier this season,” said Olejar, “but we’ve been pretty lucky because we do train, so we can do things like fall down safely and not get hurt. But sometimes things happen.”


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LeFrak’s Crazy Bridge Guy

Posted by MSeech on May 13, 2008


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A City of Faith

Posted by MSeech on May 12, 2008

by Mellissa Seecharan and Joshua Cinelli

On a recent Friday evening as the sun began its descent, Manash Shimonov greeted the elderly men who came to celebrate Shabbat. As the men made their way into the prayer room for the patriarchs, Shimonov busied himself with final preparations. For eight years he has volunteered at LeFrak City’s Jewish Center, and is known to all.

Everyone who came to the service, first stopped by Shimonov’s office. They touched the Mezuzah on the door frame before warmly greeting their fellow Uzbeki. Most of the men wore suits and fedoras, and spoke in Russian.

“Very difficult. Very difficult for us,” Shimonov said nodding his head. “That’s why we come here and to Israel.”

It pains Shimonov to talk about the town he left behind, but he understands it will always be a part of him. Fortunately for him and several hundred other Bukharian families living in LeFrak City, they are able to make a transition with help from the congregation – a congregation that shares the same past – at the Jewish Center.

The LeFrak City Jewish Center, located on the northern-side of the Long Island Expressway, occupies one of the 18 apartment towers within LeFrak City. After the construction of LeFrak City in 1966, thousands of working class families could afford housing. However, the buildings were soon overrun by gang violence and drugs throughout the 80s. As times changed, the area saw a revival in the mid-90s after a large number of immigrants – mainly Russians – moved into the apartments. With this Jewish resurgence, a synagogue was later built in 1996.

Today, Russians, West Africans and working-class families make up LeFrak’s population.

For Shimonov, life as a Bukharian Jew in Uzbekistan was indeed difficult. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Islamic fundamentalists took control of Uzbekistan, which resulted in a mass emigration of Jews to Israel and the United States.

After 70 years in his homeland, Shimonov left behind the oasis city of Kokand, and his job as an engineering professor, to seek religious freedom for his family. He and his family opted for Queens because he believes Israel is not his country. “People from Israel are patriots,” he said. His daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren moved to Israel in 1991. Shimonov’s eldest grandson currently serves in the Israeli army. He worries for his family’s safety.

“We had a difficult life in Uzbekistan and now Israel too,” he said.

While the practice of Judaism and other religions is legally permitted – as long as the government is not criticized – young Jewish men were frequently harassed as they walked to temple. And amid this increasingly volatile environment, Shimonov and his family immigrated to Queens, NY in 1999.

At the time his family left their home near the Fergana Valley, people attended service once a week.

“We have religious freedom here,” Shimonov said. “Every day we have people who come to synagogue.”

But Shimonov wasn’t the only Bukharian Jew to resettle in Queens.

According to US Department of State statistics, 70,000 Bukharian Jews left their homeland of Uzbekistan. More than 40,000 relocated to the Queens neighborhoods of Forest Hills, Rego Park and LeFrak City. In 2003, fewer than 30,000 Jews remained in the country. Recently, Shimonov learned from a friend in Kokand that only twenty-six Jews currently live in his hometown.

On this Friday night, Shimonov checked on the younger men as they slowly filed into a separate prayer room. Much like the youth, women must pray in a separate room, but only attend service on Saturdays. Friday nights are spent preparing Shabbat dinner.

The youth are less connected with religion than their elders, Shimonov explained. They now have more opportunities and freedoms than their fathers, mothers or grandparents were given.

Nearly an hour after the older men had begun their service, fifteen young men dressed all in suits began slowly trickling into the synagogue. They sat around tables in a room adjacent to where the old men could be heard praying.

After everyone had arrived and service began, Shimonov joined his peers with his prayer book in hand. Traditional hymns and chants filled the room – all spoken in Hebrew or Russian – as the group of elders sang with much feeling and great passion. At times the sang together, and other times prayed individually creating a cacophony of heartfelt expression.

Shimonov still misses his village, and as he reflects on his long exile he wonders if he will ever return. But he has other things to do. With the service over, he will spend the next week organizing a party for Jewish World War II veterans.

“This is what I want to do,” he said. “I serve the community.”


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Big Ballin’ at the Expense of Staten Island

Posted by MSeech on March 4, 2008

“You can’t always get what you want/But if you try sometime/You get what you need.” If Mick Jagger only knew what Staten Islanders are currently facing, those lyrics would be a lot different . . . maybe not.
Residents of the always “forgotten” fifth borough didn’t want fish tanks installed in the St. George Ferry Terminal. But they got it at a cost of $750,000. They’re opposed to a prospective vineyard, which is priced at $1.2 million. According to SI Borough President James Molinaro it’s what Staten Island needs. They will “culturally enhance” the island. But does Molinaro really know what Staten Island needs, or is he just wasting money?
Visitors to have voiced their anger and concern over what they consider to be a deteriorating borough at the hands of Molinaro, but that’s just the half of it. This week the MTA and Port Authority raised the toll on all four of the Island’s bridges, while additional money is wasted on pigeon-control in the ferry terminal.
It’s no wonder Staten Islanders are wary of the borough’s future. Then again, the Island could always use that NASCAR track . . .

(Click here to view slideshow)

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Posted by MSeech on November 28, 2007

The results are out and of the 29,600 people who took the FDNY’s exam this year 21,183 passed. But there’s more. It turns out that 38 percent of the test-takers were minorities which is up 17 percent from the last test given in 2002.

Here’s a statistical breakdown of this year’s test.

– Number of top scorers: 4,000

-Top scorers who are minorities: 18 percent Hispanic, 12 percent black, 3 percent Asian.

– Forty percent of the 29,600 applicants were minorities.

Breakdown of minorities currently in the 11,600 member FDNY:

– 665 are Hispanic

– 340 are black

– 31 are female

– 75 are Asians

The FDNY could not break out the minority figures by borough, but according to estimates from the Vulcan Society,  there is likely only one black firefighter assigned to Staten Island.

Before becoming firefighters, potential hires must pass a Candidate Physical Ability Test in the spring, then complete training at the Fire Academy on Randall’s Island.

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No Reservations

Posted by MSeech on November 20, 2007

Sunday’s Washington Post featured a great Q&A with the ever-charming Anthony Bourdain.

You’ve created a mini genre. Now there’s Andrew Zimmern (“Bizarre Foods”) on your channel. And the Food Network finally jumped in (“Have Fork, Will Travel”).

Oh, God. They hired a comedian [Zane Lamprey] to go around the world making fun of people’s accents. I caught 15 minutes of the show. He described bouillabaisse as “really fishy fish.” It’s like hiring Roberto Benigni, very slapstick. How many cultures can you offend in one series? It’s unspeakably awful.

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Food and Self-Loathing: It’s Good to be Fat, Now Put Down the Bacon

Posted by MSeech on November 18, 2007

A study linking the inceased risk of cancer to excess body fat came out in late October. But the anti-bacon report was followed a few days later by another study claiming that a little extra flab might help people live longer.

Michael Thun, head of epidemiological research for the American Cancer Society, says, “People are not paying nearly enough attention to the relationship between obesity and increased cancer risk.” The report also found:

•Every 1.7 ounces of processed meat consumed a day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 21%.

“This is a wake-up call for people who eat hot dogs or pepperoni pizza regularly,” Collins says. “They need to be looking for other alternatives. But you can still occasionally have a hot dog.”

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NE Patriots Win at Life

Posted by MSeech on November 5, 2007

It was a battle between the only undefeated teams in the NFL, but 3 hours later the New England Patriots were left standing. Cue Highlander theme . . .

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It’s a Bono, Bloomberg Lovefest.

Posted by MSeech on November 2, 2007

Irish rocker and U2 frontman Bono paid NYC’s City Hall a visit today, praising the Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropic efforts.

”What I’m interested in is not just his cash, but his intellect, and how his business acumen could be used to work for the world’s poor,” Bono said.

According to the Associated Press, Bono was invited to meet with the mayor, who wanted to know what the singer had been working on with his philanthropic projects.

Just a perk to being Mayor of NYC and a billionaire.

Bono rocked his trademark wraparound sunglasses as he and the mayor chatted.
“He’s a great and gifted manager and I think he could do an awful lot of good inside or outside the White House,” Bono said.

Could Bono words foreshadow what’s ahead for the mayor?

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