Facades of Democracy–With or Without The Graffiti

     The November election feels close now.  Lawn signs for Republican candidates are proliferating like dandelions all over the west end.  I even saw two bright green Audrey Pheffer campaign signs in the window of Elegante Pizza in Rockaway Beach.  Still looking for those Anthony Weiner signs!
     The campaign ads on television are becoming more and more annoying.  Even if you flip from channel to channel you cannot escape.  I caught Guardian Angels’ founder (now radio personality) Curtis Sliwa appearing on a news program via Skype, wearing a Carl Paladino mask.  Actually, I thought the bit was pretty funny.  We’ll have to ask Sliwa to bring the mask for his appearance this Wednesday evening (October 13) starting at 7 p.m., at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club.  The “meet and greet” fundraiser sponsored by the Rockaway Republicans will feature the party’s candidates for U.S. Congress (Bob Turner) and New York State Assembly, Dr. Harold Paez.  Donation of $55 is being requested.  With Sliwa present, the event could turn into a lively fun-fest, but I wouldn’t expect too much—it is after all, a Republican event!  Democrats always seem to sponsor more lively parties and fundraisers, in my opinion. 
     If you really feel like being civically involved on Wednesday evening, but can’t afford the Meet and Greet, you could head over to the wildlife refuge visitor center in Broad Channel for the 6:30 p.m. Jamaica Bay Task Force meeting, which is free of charge and open to the public.

Geese Cross the Path at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge-Copyright 2008 Vivian R. Carter

If you live on the peninsula and want to attend a meeting this week without paying an admission or bridge toll, head for the regular session of Community Board 14 on Tuesday, October 12, 7:30 p.m.,  Knights of Columbus, 333 Beach 90 Street.  No charge for two hours of democracy in action.       

Home-cooked, family-style meal at First Congregational, Rockaway Beach--Copyright 2008 Robert F. Carter

But before heading into this week of dry political meetings, you might consider steeling yourself by first partaking of a home-cooked meal with your neighbors.  The late novelist J.D. Salinger was a fan of the Congregational Church dinners in his New England hometown.   They say he used to arrive early with his writer’s journal to do some jotting and “people watching.”  We are fortunate that we can experience this “retro cool” type of event here on the Rock.  Bring some friends and check out the Harvest Festival at First Congregational Church of Rockaway Beach, 320 Beach 94 Street, on Sunday afternoon (Oct. 10) at 1 p.m.  For a donation of $12, enjoy home-cooked sauerbraten, red cabbage, boiled potatoes, green beans, rye bread, apple cider and all the home-baked cake you can eat.  It’s so—well, wholesome!  You can buy tickets for the Chinese auction of chachkas donated by local merchants, as well.  It’s all light-hearted fun to benefit the great community cause of maintaining the buildings and grounds of one of the few elegant pre-war structures in Rockaway Beach.  Oh, wait–it’s just about the ONLY elegant pre-war structure in Rock Beach, besides St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church. The courthouse doesn’t count, since it’s mainly occupied by birds and is swathed in scaffolding at present.     

If that suggestion is too “churchy” for you, and the bridge toll doesn’t put you off, another great pick for weekend lunch is the NEW, all-you-can eat, tapas-style buffet at Saffron Restaurant on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach, for $14.95 per person, on Saturdays and Sundays.  There’s seafood paella and other great authentic choices on the table, plus nachos, which are sure to please the younger set. Chef Herbert is putting out a great spread for a reasonable price.
  

Chubby Camarones at Saffron Restaurant

Now, on to some talk about the elections.  On Thursday, October 14, My Rock Park (formerly the Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents), is hosting a candidate forum (again, at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club), starting at 7:30 p.m.  This looks to be THE event of the campaign season, so far.  It’s definitely the pick of the week for political types–like me!  Candidates for U.S. Congress (Weiner and Turner) and New York State Assembly (Pheffer and Paez) will be appearing.  I am always impressed by how comfortable Weiner is when he’s working a crowd, but am looking forward to hearing his responses to Turner’s Republican campaign pitch. And here’s an impertinent (though somewhat oblique) question–how did a yacht club named “Belle Harbor” end up in Rockaway Park?  Just wondering… 

Learn to Swim--10 months ago!

The question I may decide to ask is: why does Pheffer still have TWO flyers hanging in the window of her Beach 91st Street office, announcing a January 2010 launch of swimming classes in the Far Rockaway High School pool?   What a testament to the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of Pheffer and her communications and housekeeping staff.      

Facade of Assemblywoman Pheffer's Office

More importantly, we all know that Pheffer makes sure to look directly into the camera at all times, and probably never gazes up any higher than that.  Someone should tell Pheffer and Vince Castellano, the owner of the Rockaway Beach office building where she rents space, that the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit sponsors the Graffiti-Free NYC Program.  Just head on down to CB 14’s office on Mott Avenue and pick up a brochure about the program.  Castellano should know where that is, since he’s the former chair of CB 14!  Oh, I’ll help them out and list the email address:  www.nycedc.com/graffiti.  So tax dollars are already allocated to take care of that ugly black spray paint tag on the second story of your building.  The neighbors in the area think it looks kinda’ untidy, Audrey and Vince.

Graffiti removal is also in order on the only public structures in Belle Harbor besides the two schools—the U.S. postal mailboxes.   My children and a friend of theirs adopted the mailboxes and re-painted them to cover magic marker scrawlings about 6 years ago.  Time for another neighbor to step up.  We still have the can of official U.S. Post Office, dark blue mailbox paint for anyone who wants to volunteer.  Just place a comment on my blog, and I’ll get back to you.  It’s a whole lot easier than getting the paint from the U.S. Postal Service–trust me.

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About rockviv

You've entered the cyber-locale of Vivian Rattay Carter. I blog with the username "rockviv," short for Rockaway Vivian, which locates me in the place where I live, work and write, one of New York City's most fascinating neighborhoods. With degrees from Northwestern (journalism), Brooklyn College (elementary education), and Fordham Law, I find I have a lot to say about Rockaway and this great planet we share. I am proud to have served, for several years, as a board member of Rockaway Civic Association (formerly Rockaway Park Homeowners' and Residents) and a lay leader of First Congregational Church of Rockaway Beach, United Church of Christ. I'm a member and supporter of many New York cultural, educational, and ecology groups.. Although I have produced written work for publication in multiple genres, beginning with poetry in the early 1970's, my first non-fiction book, Images of America: Rockaway Beach, was published by Arcadia in June, 2012. My monthly opinion column, Rock Solid, appeared in The Wave, Rockaway's weekly community newspaper, from April 2009 through October, 2012, and I contributed numerous other articles and photos from 1999-2012. From the home page, click on the "Publications/Press-Links" tab for links to these articles The views expressed here are my own, and do not necessarily coincide with the views of any of the organizations that publish my work, or the groups I assist and support. Here's to independent voices!
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