Living Fossils Among Us

Dr. Hal Paez of Rockaway Civic Association with gingko trees.

Here’s a cool story:  I helped find good homes for 30 living fossils in April.  Really, I did. The Rockaway Civic Association gave away 100 free trees donated by the New York Restoration Project and Million Trees NYC.  About a third of them were 10-foot high gingkoes, called “living fossils” because they date back to the age of the dinosaurs, and have survived virtually unchanged since that time, to grace the streets and parks of New York City.  Working hard each day to absorb rainwater through their roots, filter pollutants from the air, and reduce the temperatures of our sidewalks and homes.  How much we take them for granted. Around Jamaica Bay, we have other living remnants of prehistoric times.   The horseshoe crab is another magnificent example.  Every year at this time (during the full and new moons in May and June), they bob on up to the shorelines in their persistent quest to reproduce, as they have done for almost 350 million years.  The smaller males attach to the back and sides of one large female, either alone or in a group of up to a dozen satellite males around the female.  After she burrows into the sand to lay a cluster of about 4,000 small, grayish-green eggs, the males release sperm to fertilize the cluster.

A cluster of horseshoe crab eggs.

One female horseshoe crab lays about 25 such clusters annually, for a total of about 100,000 eggs a year. Out of one million eggs, only about 30 larvae survive through the first year after hatching, and they don’t grow that quickly.  A year-old juvenile still fits on the tip of your finger. There is an extremely low hatching rate for larvae, in part, because at least 11 species of shorebirds rely on horseshoe crabs eggs as their primary food supply during their annual northward coastal migration.

Shorebirds hover on the morning after the May new moon, waiting to feast on the horseshoe crab eggs. Chunks of asphalt dumped illegally on the shoreline can be seen.

For further information on this species of arthropod and to support conservation efforts on its behalf, visit the website of the Ecological Research & Development Group, For the best local, in-person introduction to the horseshoe crab, sign up for a program conducted by Mickey Cohen or Don Riepe of the Northeast Chapter of the American Littoral Society.  Riepe chairs the chapter and Cohen was a founding faculty member of the top-flight oceanography department at Beach Channel High School in its heyday, where he supervised student research projects on these organisms.

Mickey Cohen of American Littoral Society leads a talk on horseshoe crabs at the Broad Channel American Ballfield park.

Aside from their critical contribution to the food chain of coastal areas, three major medical advances have been made as a result of scientific studies of the horseshoe crab:

(1) Scientists studying the optical nerve of the horseshoe crab were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1967, as the research was deemed a critical contribution to an understanding of how the human eye functions;

(2) It was learned that a substance from the organism’s shell, called chitin, can be used to coat surgical sutures and wound dressings used on burn victims, to speed healing rates by 35-50%;

(3) Finally, this living fossil’s most valuable contribution to the human race was made when scientists realized that, lacking an immune system, the creature uses endotoxins as an effective defense against infection. Endotoxins can withstand steam sterilization, so it is critical to test for them when injectable medications are being produced by the pharmaceutical industry.  It was found that a highly reliable endotoxin test could be created by producing a reagent from an extract of the crab’s blue, copper-based blood cells. This reagent is called LAL (“limulus amobocyte lysate”).  Here on the northeast coast of the U.S., horseshoe crabs are regularly gathered by the pharmaceutical industry so their blood can be harvested in laboratories, and then they are later released, all under strict government controls.

Horseshoe crab eggs exposed on the shoreline.

There are major threats to these useful creatures, and their populations are on the decline.  I heard from one source recently that the numbers may have dropped by over 80%. This is due to two major causes:  Habitat alteration (or complete destruction) has occurred in some places.  Even changes to the slope of a beach can affect their chances for survival.  This occurred at Plumb Beach, a major spawning area south of the Belt Parkway between Sheepshead Bay and Flatbush Avenue.  Another spawning location is in a tiny marsh near the Broad Channel ballfields due west of the Cross Bay Bridge.  A load of enormous asphalt chunks dumped illegally on that shoreline many years ago creates a serious obstruction to spawning.  When the crabs have to crawl over and around these chunks of man-made material, there is a risk that they will flip over and get stuck upside down.  This can cause their gills to dry out, making them vulnerable to predatory shorebirds that will eat them alive. Also, horseshoe crabs are collected in large numbers by commercial fishermen and cut up as bait for use in eel traps.  This practice is now illegal in some, though not all, coastline states, but it still has been known to occur here on Jamaica Bay.

Swirling trails in the sand like these have existed on Earth for 350 million years.

I am in awe of these amazing living fossils—the gingko and the horseshoe crab.  Our tenure on the planet has been short, in comparison to theirs.  Best guess–they probably will outlive us all.

Text and photos copyright Vivian R. Carter 2012.

Posted in Creatures of the Planet (Non-Human), Horseshoe crabs | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Happy Earth Day, Jamaica Bay!

If you didn't see the Marine Parkway Bridge in the background, you'd never believe this is a shoreline within protected federal parkland.

It’s more than just a body of water or a marsh ecosystem–Jamaica Bay is an integral part of the environment in the Rockaways.  No matter how you enter or leave the peninsula, or spend your days here, you see the bay or you smell it.  Some even perform religious rituals near it.

Sunset on a Fall Holy Day, Beach 127 and Beach Channel Drive.

Many are lucky to actually feel the water, while in a kayak, a fishing boat, or at one of the few bayfront swimming beaches.  Federal regulations today prohibit swimming in the bay, due to high fecal coliform levels.  If the quality of the water improves, perhaps we could swim in it again.  Historically speaking, swimming was banned in Queens County waters due to pollution as early as 1916.  It is said that the only prudent place to swim in the bay today is near the shores west of the Marine Parkway bridge, where the strong current and tidal action flushes impurities away.

Intense interest in Jamaica Bay has developed in the past few years, ever since the term “reach” entered our vocabularies, and the city’s waterfront planning efforts have accelerated.  The New York Times has given the bay lots of ink (even a full page with color photos in fall, 2011), and documentary filmmakers are floating about in various craft, shooting footage of the bay’s natural features and its restoration.

Jamaica Bay Guardian Don Riepe at Beach 88 Street Bayside Park Cleanup with Teachers and Students of Channel View School for Research, Fall 2011

Dan Hendrick’s 2006 book, Images of America: Jamaica Bay, available from Arcadia Publishing,, is a good introduction (at just 128 pages) for anyone with a desire to learn more about the bay’s fascinating history.   Hendrick is presently working on a documentary with the working title, Jamaica Bay Lives! If you feel philanthropically motivated for Earth Day (or just have a tax refund burning in your pocket), Hendrick is  raising funds online to help pay for production of the film.  Or, you could make a contribution to the efforts of our Jamaica Bay Guardian, Don Riepe, who spent the entire weekend (yes, even in the pouring rain) supervising two huge cleanups around the Bay.

Recovery of the marsh islands has been a long saga, with efforts ongoing since 2006.  Persistence is the key element required to achieve anything, given the various layers of agencies in charge of the bay.  At times, it seems a small miracle that this ecosystem carries on at all.

Algae growth and corrosion show that this "lovely" has been gracing the shore at the cove for a long while.

The agencies with roles around the bay include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, New York City Parks Department, the National Park Service of the U.S. Interior Department, the EPA, the DEP, the DEC and the EDC (just scramble the letters and you get new permutations).  I’m probably forgetting some.

The transportation agencies try to keep the boats, trains, people and cars moving.   In an endless cycle, soil washes off the land into the water during storms, and silt eventually clogs harbors and shipping channels.  We lose the sand on our beaches in Rockaway, as well.  The U.S. Army Corps is the collector.  Scoop it up, lay it back on the land.

Aerial shot of Elder's Island Marsh Restoration, courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Over the past several years, major efforts have been undertaken to use the dredged materials to provide a substrate for new marsh grass plantings on various Jamaica Bay islands.  In fall 2010 and 2011, Colonel John Boule of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hosted boat cruises to show off his agency’s work to community activists.  In 2011, we were able to actually debark from the boat and see the work at the grassroots level.  Next year, I’m going to ask the Colonel to make a stop at Riis Landing to pick up the Rockawayites, so we don’t have to spend half the day traveling back and forth to lower Manhattan in order to join in.

Some of the Jamaica Bay marsh islands were created from landfill decades ago, like Canarsie Pol, which began life as a spot of dry land at high tide and is now enormous.  This is also true of Barren Island, which could be reached by wagon at low tide during the mid-1800s, and was later expanded to become the out-sized Floyd Bennett Field when a municipal airport was needed.

Other areas in the bay experienced the reverse–they were formerly huge expanses of marsh grass that shrank over the years.  These areas were literally drowned by massive amounts of excess water too rich in nitrogen to support a balanced ecosystem.  Man’s waste changes the water, so it only seems right to constantly adjust the imbalance.

Maura McCarthy of Department of Transportation (left) and Greg Clancy of EDC (right) listen during a Spring, 2011 discussion preceding the bay wall construction project.

We traverse the bay on bicycles, and in trains, boats and cars. Since the automobile came to reign supreme in the 1940s, the texture of life on the peninsula has not improved.  Beach Channel Drive is fortunately being saved from possible collapse through the efforts of various agencies who are rebuilding the bay wall structure that supports it.  Greg Clancy of the EDC, who is supervising that project, has pointed out that repair of the things we cannot see are often just as  important (or more critical) than the cosmetic repairs that are often given the lion’s share of media attention.

It’s a constant struggle to counter the “out of sight, out of mind” notion. We finally seem to be correcting the type of short-sighted thinking expressed in the 1880s, when developers bragged that the grand Rockaway Beach Hotel could accommodate 7,500  guests, while “all the refuse matter is discharged through massive iron pipes at a point distant four miles from the hotel, and is carried by direct currents into Jamaica Bay, without the possibility of a reflux to any portion of these shores.”  Those “distant” points were, at one time, the richest oyster beds imaginable.  Within two generations, they were polluted beyond repair.  In 1921, the shellfish beds were declared off-limits by health officials, after typhoid outbreaks in 1904 and 1915.

Marsh grass is grown where trash isn't thrown.

If she could ask for an Earth Day present, Jamaica Bay would probably cry out for a chance to repair herself.  Why not give her a rest?  While we spend millions reseeding marsh grass and planting a million trees, we also crow victoriously about adding thousands of housing units on the peninsula.   More housing, more people, more toilets, more showers, more dishwashers and washing machines. The treatment plants must work at full tilt to process it all.

Jamaica Bay Inspection Cruise Aboard M.V. Hayward, Fall, 2010, courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s informative pamphlet available online, called “Where Does All the Dirty Water Go?” is highly relevant advice for those of us who care about the health of our waterways.  It urges homeowners to avoid flushing or placing certain products into household drains OR street drains.  These substances should be captured in containers and disposed of in the garbage can (for indoor-type household products) or, in the case of chemicals and other noxious substances, at a hazardous waste facility (locations can be found online).  Products in this category include chemicals, motor oil and other auto fluids, lawn care products, paint and grease, beauty products such as hair dyes and straighteners, diapers, condoms and feminine hygiene products, and even shortening, butter and other cooking oils.  And of course, don’t dump your doggie waste in the street drains.

In the 1960’s, some U. S. waterways were so polluted that they spontaneously combusted, on occasion. When I was growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, they used to say that you could practically walk across Lake Erie due to all of the garbage in it.  We managed to bring our lakes, rivers and streams back from the brink via prudent government regulation, specifically, through passage and enforcement of the Clean Water Act of 1972.  Enforcement of this law is just as important today as it was in the 1970s.

Humans can survive for weeks without food, but only a few days without water.  Clean water is essential to life, on Earth Day, and every day.

Photos copyright Vivian R. Carter 2011, or used with permission of the owners. Text copyright Vivian R. Carter 2012.

Posted in New York City Government, The Land We Share, U.S. Government, Water and waterways | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Wisdom and Folly in Action

James A. Garfield, who served as U.S. President for six months in 1881, once said: “all free governments are managed by the combined wisdom and folly of the people.”  This week’s vote on Participatory Budgeting projects in the 32nd Council District should be a good illustration of wisdom and folly in action.  Voters are being offered the choice to vote for up to five proposals to be funded with tax money, all of which were put through a rigorous vetting process by five committees of budget delegates.  As of Thursday evening, March 29, 2012, 1100 residents had voted so far–out of about 40,000 adults over the age of 18 in the eligible portion of the 32nd district that is participating.

Hundreds of proposals were researched and priced. The 16 that made it through the process are numbered on the ballot, a copy of which appeared on page 24 of The Wave a week ago, on Friday, March 23, 2012.  I am lobbying strongly for two that I feel are very appropriate and effective uses of tax money:  #3–Peninsula Library upgrade ($500,000), and #16–Year-Round Bathroom and Changing Station at Beach 86 Street ($160,000).

I attended the initial Participatory Budgeting organizational meeting last summer, went to neighborhood assemblies to offer suggestions, and served as a budget delegate.  Going into the process in Fall, 2011, I was convinced that the most pressing concrete problem for residents of the district is transportation.  The need to improve the Beach 116 business district and the general business climate is also very important, in my view, as is the need to protect the health of Jamaica Bay.  Sadly, few proposals emerged from the process to address any of those pressing problems, due to the $1 million cap for projects.  One of the ideas I championed from the beginning did get through the process and onto the ballot–expansion of the Peninsula Branch Library.

Voting for libraries should not be controversial.  Founding father James Madison counseled us back in the early 1800’s that : “the diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.” Libraries have supplemented the public schools for generations, to provide adult education, summer reading programs, and after-school homework help.  The compelling rationale to expend $500,000 on the Peninsula Branch Library is three-fold:  (1) Funds to build the branch were allocated by Mayor Wagner back in the 1960’s, and the amount was cut by Mayor Lindsay in 1971 when the library was finally built.  It was one of several branch libraries jokingly called “Lindsay Boxes” at the time because it was so small.  Time to make up for slights of the past.   (2) Our community is remote and we should not be forced to travel two hours or more, round-trip, to the Jamaica,  Queens business district for job workshops, to do historical research, or use a computer to research available grants.  All of these resources should be available to us, here on the peninsula, but our libraries are simply too small.  The Far Rockaway branch library is receiving a huge renovation, and Broad Channel and Seaside both got facelifts recently.  Peninsula Branch is way overdue.  VOTE FOR #3!

There is one parks committee proposal that I like a lot: the year-round heated bathroom and changing station at Beach 86 Street, with a price tag of $160,000 (#16).  It seems like a very good idea for several reasons:  (1) Year-round residents will have a bathroom to use when they visit the beach or boardwalk on mild winter days.  (2) This would be a renovation of the building housing our hard-working Rockaway Parks Administrator, Jill Weber, and her staff.  I think we should treat them well.  (3) Surfing has unquestionably brought rejuvenation to the area’s businesses and housing stock, and this will support more of that type of positive activity at the beaches. So, VOTE FOR #16!

The rest of the park-related projects, #1, and #11-15, are GROSSLY OVERPRICED.  That includes gazebos and other shade structures, trash cans, playground resurfacing, and other parks improvements.  Many residents will vote for them, anyway, and particularly as to the parks with substantial corps of volunteers, like the Rockaway Freeway Dog Park, it’s great to see people put their care and attention into creating something to meet a community need.  It would, however,  be better if the Parks Department were more willing to partner with talented and creative people in the community to accomplish projects in a less costly way.

You could see from the beginning of the process that the parents, teachers and administrators of the local schools came out to seek funding, and they wisely put together a reasonably priced, compelling technology package serving schools in all neighborhoods (#5). They ran a full page ad in the Wave in support, the local homeowners’ group has lobbied online for it, and the campaign had great, short sound bites, which are always very persuasive.  No doubt that one will probably get enough votes to be funded.  I voted for it, but am not lobbying for the proposal—with their very savvy campaign for a worthy cause, they surely don’t need my help!

Proposals to purchase Argus cameras and all-terrain vehicles for the police seemed flawed to me.  The ATVs were overpriced, and are only valuable if they come with an assurance that police cars will never be deployed on the boardwalk except in an extreme emergency.  That assurance will never be made by the powers that be.  Argus cameras are useful in one location, in my opinion—at the crime hot spot near Hammels Houses where street gangs are active.  That funding was allocated years ago, and has not materialized, for some unknown reason.  Deploying cameras elsewhere seems a waste of resources, to me. I learned over the past several months that the individuals responsible for many of the burglaries and car break-ins occurring in the west end are home-grown “bad boys” who continually cycle hopelessly through the courts, being released to commit new crimes in our midst.  We are fortunate that there are no street gangs west of Rockaway Beach proper.  So I will not be voting for the Argus cameras or ATVs.

Although I understand the importance of the requests by volunteer fire departments, they serve only a miniscule portion of the population living in mostly well-off enclaves, so I will not vote for them, either.

As to transportation, little can be done within the $1 million price cap of this process, so there were no transportation proposals on the ballot.  The federal government has recently awarded a sum far larger than that to the NYC Department of Transportation to devise safety measures for pedestrians and bike riders near the two bridges, which we will look forward to seeing.

Article copyright 2012 Vivian R. Carter.  Photos copyright 2010 and 2011, Vivian R. Carter.

Posted in Local Government-Rockaway Peninsula & Broad Channel, New York City Government | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Inspired at the Laundromat

There they go again!  The unsung elves of our cherished local Rockaway Artists’Alliance have toiled to create inspiring public art in some of the most unexpected places.  Colorful laundry bags like beach balls on the shore.Discovering this kind of public art adds to the offbeat joy of living on the peninsula.

It's high Tide!Recently, I left a civic meeting at 9 p.m.  On the way home, possessed by a hankering for mint chocolate chip ice cream, I decided to stop at Carvel on Beach 116 Street.  I rarely visit the commercial strip at night, when most of the stores on the beach block are closed, and hence, dark.  So, on this visit, a storefront on the beach block that was open and illuminated came brightly into view—Four Sisters Laundromat (formerly known as ‘Rockawash’). I never do my laundry there, so I’ve passed by thousands of times during the day without ever looking inside.  What I saw on the walls drew me inside, and filled me with awe and amazement that it could exist in such a place—a beautifully detailed mural of the beach and bay front of the peninsula, created by local painter Geoff Rawling, stretches from end to end of the laundromat’s walls. The mural towers high above the washers and dryers, with bags and baskets of laundry and bottles of Laundromat signs float above beach volleyball scene.Tide strewn below, like so many colorful beach balls.  Thanks to my son, Robert, for snapping the cool panoramic image of the mural in the header photo.  The scene is so detailed that it even depicts the Doppler radar tower at Floyd Bennett Field, beach volleyball games in action, and the iconic floating artwork, The Dragonfly’s Banquet.  Only in Rockaway!

Geoff is a local treasure.  His art seems to be created out of an intense experience of observing people, places and events.  Many of his smaller, portable paintings are on display (and for sale) at Thai Rock Restaurant and Music House at Beach 92 Street and Beach Channel Drive.  Geoff has painted other murals in the Beach 116 business district, including one at Ciro’s Pizza and another at The Wharf Restaurant.  I’m sure there are others—feel free to conduct your own search.  Geoff’s website lists some of them, at

View of a jettyI never take for granted the fact that the proprietors on Beach 116 Street are a microcosm of many of the ethnic groups present in the borough of Queens. Every time I hear someone mention the words “mall” and “Rockaway” in the same sentence, I cringe.  We’d all like to see fewer underutilized or vacant buildings in the business district, but there is much unique vibrancy that should be preserved. Here’s a possible slogan for the Chamber of Commerce—“although our shopping area is small, there’s no ‘mall’ in it!”  In my view, that’s a good thing, but I know there are many who would disagree.  Some people just won’t be happy until every community in America has a Starbucks and a Gamestop to anchor the downtown business district.

Beautiful objects abound at The Beach GalleryIf you live in this area and snobbishness does not become you, there is much to like in and about Beach 116 Street.  Here’s a list of almost a dozen places I gravitate to. Although I used to work as an advertising representative for the local newspaper, ceaselessly promoting my local business customers, many of those mentioned below were never on my list of accounts.  I’m just passing on good tips, from one neighbor to another.  If you do confess to having a somewhat pretentious side, you could start from the bottom and work your way up—I’ve grouped the list in order from the casual to the elegant:

Delectable chicken dish presented elegantly at Fast Break.Real Irish bars, like Rogers Pub, west side of Beach 116, just north of Rockaway Beach Boulevard (it’s NOT TGI Fridays, thank you!);

Pizza at Ciro’s Restaurant on the west side of the beach block (the Italian language is actually spoken here);

Lublin Deli is one of the few places on the peninsula where you can get a box of great imported baking cocoa, or an authentic European-style cold cut, when you crave a departure from Boar’s Head.  Or buy a Polish newspaper, just for grins. I look at the pictures of New York City news events and have fun trying to guess what the captions say.  It’s always an adventure. The grill kielbasa is rumored to be even better than what you can get in Greenpoint.

Summer's coming--The Wharf's Friday happy hour with acoustic music and Chicken Francese.The little diner that packs a punch, with great breakfast and Sunday dinner specials—Last Stop Diner (next to the train station);

A friendly welcome from Mike, and home-made foods, particularly those with Middle-Eastern influences, at Fast Break Gourmet (across from the train station);

From the water, the Wharf doesn't look like much...Incomparable views at the newly renovated Wharf Restaurant (bay-side end of Beach 116 Street, behind the gas station);

The food, service, and yummy bread basket selections at Belle Harbor Steak House (across from the firehouse), which is a great place for dishes with European flair;

That never-ending zest for all things beautiful and beachy, including Rockaway, displayed by Jeanne and Liz and their staff at the Blue Bungalow Gift Shop (west side, beach block);

The cute decor at Mrs. Elaine's School of Dance.Tastefully designed dance and exercise spaces at Anita’s ‘Hot Yoga’ and Mrs. Elaine’s Dance Studio (west side, beach block), are a beauty to behold. It’s also fun to experience the camaraderie the proprietors have created among their students;

A work by Rockaway's stained glass master, Patrick ClarkI’ve always enjoyed visiting Sunlites Stained Glass and the Beach Gallery, located in the former Palm Gardens Pub (north side of Rockaway Beach Blvd., between Beach 114 & Beach 115 Streets).  This collection of art works, both sacred and secular, could only have been created by the eclectic Patrick Clark, another true Rockaway gem.

Be sure to stop for a while to drink in the peaceful atmosphere at Tribute Park (bay-side end of Beach 116 Street), created as a labor of love by local residents, in the aftermath of 9/11.  Incidentally, the amount spent to create this park was a fraction of the cost Tenth Anniversary at Tribute Park, September 2011expended on similar New York City parks.  Now THAT is also something to celebrate…

Header photo copyright 2012 Robert F. Carter, crystal oyster photo copyright 2010 Robert F. Carter, article and remaining Rawling mural photos copyright 2012, Vivian R. Carter, remaining photos copyright 2011, Vivian R. Carter.

Posted in Business and Economics, The Arts and Entertainment, The Built World, The World of Human Beings | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

In Praise of WFUV

A fiddler enjoys sunrise along the Hudson River at Clearwater 2011.

One of my favorite cause buttons carries a simple message:  “The best things in life aren’t things.”  A fixture of my life these days is non-commercial radio and television, where I now get much of my news, entertainment and creative inspiration.  My apologies to the Daily News, the Times and CNN.  I still scan the metro dailies and a progressive online newsletter frequently, but there is so much junk to wade through.  When I want a high-quality media product, I find myself turning, more and more, to National Public Radio, PBS, and, most of all, to the superb non-commercial “rock and roots” radio station at Fordham, the Jesuit University in New York, which broadcasts on the 90.7 FM frequency.

Since I moved to the city a little over 30 years ago, the station has been in and out of my life.  When I was a Fordham law student living in Astoria in the early 1980’s, the signal (broadcast from the Rose Hill campus of Fordham in the Bronx) came in loud and clear, so I started listening then.  When I moved to Brooklyn and later, into Manhattan, it was not so easy to get the transmission, so at some point, I gave up.

Father's Day 2011--Chris Smither's simple acoustic tune "I Don't Know" ponders the mysteries of fatherhood.

The next time I remember tuning in regularly was in the late 1990’s,  when I had moved to Belle Harbor, and local fans of traditional Irish music (a WFUV weekend feature) told me the signal was now reaching the peninsula much better.  Streaming of radio transmissions over the web had started by then, and I could also get the signal for a portion of my auto commute to Suffolk County.  I recall becoming a Lucy Kaplansky fan in 2002, and being moved by her poignant song “Land of the Living,” written in the aftermath of the events of 9/11/01.

The beautiful and talented Lucy Kaplansky with John Gorka at Clearwater 2011.

But as I got busier with my children’s active lives, volunteer community activities, commuting to part-time jobs by subway, and later teaching in the city schools, WFUV dropped out of my life again.  In 2009 and 2010, the station came back within earshot, when I was regularly visiting Patrick Clark’s Sunlites Stained Glass studio in Rockaway Park.  I had read in The Wave that longtime WFUV disc jockey Pete Fornatale lives in Belle Harbor, and he came to the Rockaway Artists’ Alliance gallery to do a presentation in 2010.  Pete even makes occasional shout-outs on his show to people and businesses in Rockaway.

I made an even stronger connection with WFUV after I attended the Clearwater Festival for the first time in 2010.  Hearing and seeing many of the artists up close, in person, made me care even more about their music.  I’m featuring photos of several long-time WFUV-featured artists taken at the 2011 festival here in this post.

Lately, I have become repulsed by the excessive advertisements that dominate commercial radio and television stations.  These stations have become more and more formulaic, to the point that they repeat the music of about 50 artists so persistently that I can’t bear to hear music that I used to love.  In my opinion, classic rock has been way oversold to the Guitar Hero generation.  Non-commercial stations like WFUV have given a start to numerous talented performers like the now-famous Adele, who could not get onto the airwaves a few years ago.  She was gracious enough to thank her friends in public radio when she took home a boatload of Grammy Awards this past Sunday.

James McMurtry, called the truest, fiercest songwriter of his generation, by Entertainment Weekly.

The lyrics of the artists featured on WFUV are touching and intelligent, and the arrangements are not electronically over-produced.  If you are sick of what’s out there in the mainstream, you might give WFUV a try.  I’m an early riser, so I love to listen to Mountain Stage on Sunday morning from 6-8 a.m., followed by the Sunday Breakfast with Jon Platt (photo of Platt introducing the legendary Janis Ian at the Clearwater Festival is in the header for this post.)  I often tune in to Mixed Bag with Pete Fornatale on Saturday evening from 4-8 p.m.  Pete’s show on Saturday, December 24, 2011 included such an awesome selection of music that I almost skipped going to Christmas Eve service.   It was that good.  Claudia Marshall, Corny O’Connell, you name the DJ, and they really know how to choose great music.

Country blues artist Thomasina Winslow on the Hudson Stage June 2011

WFUV is member-supported, just like PBS Station Channel 13. Unfortunately, Channel 13 has given fundraising for non-commercial broadcasting a bad name, at times, with pestering repetitive phone calls and lavish, highly-public, expenditures on overhead. Sometimes, PBS can be a bit preachy, but their educational and cultural programs are clearly the only game in town, as far as I’m concerned.

WFUV strikes me as a much more modest operation that deserves the support of music fans.  If you like what they do, they have great membership benefits to offer, as well. You can check out their schedule online at, or tune in anytime to 90.7 FM.  You may not like everything you hear, but you can be assured of hearing something that isn’t played anywhere else on the dial.

Article copyright 2012, photos copyright 2011, Vivian R. Carter.

Posted in Meet Your Fellow Man, The Arts and Entertainment, The World of Human Beings | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Finding Fannie Holland

I’ve received the good news that Images of America: Rockaway Beach will be published on June 4, 2012.  I’m planning two upcoming slide show events in Belle Harbor to preview some photos from the book, one which will feature coffee and pastry on a Sunday afternoon at Ciro’s Bakery, and another tidbit party on a Tuesday evening at Rockaway Seafood (RSC) Restaurant.  Both establishments are located on Beach 129 Street.  If you’d like to learn more about the publisher, visit:

My book tells the stories of several Rockaway families, including Dr. William Werner, star physician, lifeguard and basketball player, who practiced obstetrics at the Rockaway Beach Hospital and Dispensary.  William Auer’s Seaside tent colonies, bungalows, and amusements are also featured.  The many business and civic ventures of John Jamieson, devoted lay leader of First Congregational Church, are also highlighted in sepia.  A peep into the history of Rockaway Beach surfing is included, and the St. Camillus Marching Band was a late but prominent addition, after I received several fascinating vintage photos of the unit.

I’ve been wondering what it would have been like to live in America during the pre-bureaucratic era, when holiday parades were the pop culture equivalent of The Super Bowl, all firefighters were volunteers, and the largest employer in the United States was NOT the U.S. Postal Service. In those days, when you received a package, the postmaster  printed your name in the newspaper as notice to come in and pick it up.  Now THAT gave you a reason to buy the paper!

Over the past three years of research, however, one subject eluded me–Fannie Holland.   I looked high and low for anything, but the determined widow who made sure Rockaway Beach became a civilized place, remained a tantalizing mystery.  Once, I thought I had found an image of her online, but the young lady in the straw boater and ruffled shirt turned out to be her granddaughter, Fannie Rilla Holland Bamman, who lived a colorful life at Beach 130 and Beach Channel Drive, until her death in 1961.

I may not have found a photo of the woman I call the “Mother of Rockaway Beach,” but I did find some other interesting items.

A tour guide to 1880’s Rockaway Beach described the Holland Hotel, with 25 rooms for rent, as “strictly a family hotel, of the quietest, neatest, most comfortable character…Mrs. Holland, the matronly owner, manages everything personally, and every guest receives particular attention and good care.”  Too bad hoteliers like Fannie are in short supply today.  Instead, we have the infamous Jay Deutchman of Scarsdale and his ilk.

No, I never found a photo of the Holland family matriarch.  I ended up finding something better.  I actually found Fannie.  That is, I found the site of her remains.

I had parked my car in a York College lot one day last April, and walked off in the direction of the Jamaica branch of the Queens Borough Public Library.  I had been digging through their historical collection, trying to locate a photograph of Fannie Holland, her obituary, or even a single news article.   I had come up empty, time after time.   I don’t know why, but as I left the parking lot, I paused to look through a nearby fence at what seemed to be a disheveled clump of weeds.

What I saw took my breath away.  My search for Fannie Holland was at an end.  There, surrounded by chain link fence, festooned with weeds and vines, and littered with a discarded office chair and items of filthy clothing, were the headstones of Fannie and Michael Holland, and several of their children.  This serendipitous discovery stopped me in my tracks.

The Methodist Cemetery at Jamaica, Copyright 2011 Vivian R. Carter

What was most shocking was my later discovery that the graveyard had truly been abandoned.  Someone had apparently locked it and discarded the key!  Nobody in the buildings and grounds department at York College had the slightest clue about the cemetery; the First Methodist Church of Jamaica, which had moved to Hillside Avenue at the turn of the century, absolutely denied having any connection to the plots.

Thanks to Quaker Josephine C. Frost, who transcribed each of the tombstones in August 1911, we can confirm the names of all 91 who are buried there.  Yet, none of the appropriate state, city, or nonprofit agencies appears to have any clue about the plot at Liberty Avenue and Guy R. Brewer Boulevard. This amazes me, since burial places are still considered important to people of most cultures and religious traditions.

My find on that cold spring day evolved into a dedicated pursuit of remembrance.  I began networking with Cate Ludlam, who had spearheaded restoration of nearby Prospect Cemetery.  Each time I went to the library, I would stop at the Holland gravesite for a few moments.  Now that my book is done, I’d like to be sure that the remains of the Holland family are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Key settlers of Rockaway Beach, they saw to it that the new village had a school, a church, a post office, a grocery store, and a nice family hotel.  Too bad that the guys who wielded power in twentieth century New York City messed it all up, in short order.

Fannie Holland’s contributions may have been overlooked by prior generations simply because she was a woman.  We should not do the same. Perhaps by the time the crocuses end their winter hibernation, something can be accomplished.  A group of church members, school children, and Scouts wielding rakes and trash bags would be a good start.  How about the first nice weekend in March?   Please send an email to, if you would like to help in this endeavor.

Photo of Fannie Holland Bamman, Courtesy of Marie Velardi.  Text and header photo of Prospect Cemetery’s Chapel of the Sisters, Copyright 2012 Vivian R. Carter.

Posted in Philosophy, Religion and Philanthropy, The Arts and Entertainment, The Land We Share, The World of Human Beings | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Inspired by “The Search for Harmony Bay”

Beach Channel High School and "The Search for Harmony Bay"

I submitted the final content for my upcoming book to Arcadia Publishing on the second day of 2012, and it was quite a relief!  Time to post an entry on Oy Vey Rockaway.  The outstanding visual artists of Rockaway never fail to inspire my own creativity.  The artist

The bus shelters resemble breaking waves.

of the moment is Esther A. Grillo of Rockaway Park, who probably has as much outdoor art on display here on the Peninsula as anyone, including her four mural installations on the wave-shaped bus shelters along Shore Front Parkway, completed from 1997-2003.

Geoff Rawling, who recently stepped down as President of Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA), has created, or supervised the creation of many local outdoor murals, as well, including the Rockaway Park bay wall project, completed this past summer and fall.

Detail of the mythical sea creatures clasping hands

Esther’s painted concrete bas relief sculpture, In Search of Harmony Bay, depicts a dark violet seascape inhabited by a community of ancient mythical sea creatures rendered in shades of lavender.  The work was originally displayed at the Howard Beach MTA Station from 1992 until 2001. Esther has refurbished the piece, and in December, it was re-installed on the front wall of Beach Channel High School, at Beach 100 Street and Beach

Plaque Commemorating the Work

Channel Drive, through the support of Patricia Tubridy, Principal of Channel View School for Research.  Channel View is located in the east wing of BCHS, where the sculpture now hangs.

At the opening of RAA’s newest exhibit of abstract art this past Sunday afternoon at their RoCA gallery in Ft.Tilden, Esther told me that she created In Search of Harmony Bay as a reaction to the terrible incident of racially motivated violence that thrust Howard Beach infamously into the national spotlight in 1986.  The artwork was originally funded by the MTA Arts for Transit/Creative Stations Grant, a project of the New York City Arts Teachers’ Association and the United Federation of Teachers.  As the plaque identifying the work states, it is “an allegorical piece representing the search for peaceful coexistence.”

A Shore Front Parkway Bus Shelter Mural by Grillo, created in 1997.

Another rendering of the Harmony Bay sea creatures, completed in 1997, can be seen on one of the Shore Front Parkway bus shelters.

Monarch Landscape

My favorite of the bus shelter murals, Monarch Landscape, was completed in 2003.

There is another mural depicting surfers, created in 1999.

"The Deep," painted in 2000, is the fourth mural.

It’s not hard to find these Esther A. Grillo art works. Just take a walk, a drive, or a bicycle ride along Shorefront Parkway, from Beach 74 to Beach 106 Streets.  Rockaway takes great pride in its local artists.

Text and photos copyright 2012 Vivian R. Carter.

Posted in The Arts and Entertainment, The World of Human Beings | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Drum Roll, Please…

Cover Mock-up Courtesy Arcadia Publishing, photo of lifeguards courtesy of The Wave.

After three years of thinking about it, and six months after contracting to produce it, I am close to finished with writing Images of America: Rockaway Beach, to be published by Arcadia Publishing Company in June, 2012.  The cover mock-up has been approved (see above), all 200 or so photos are now recorded on a spreadsheet by date and subject, and I have assembled the images and captions into four chapters covering the years 1850-1917; 1918-1945; 1946-1960; and 1961-today.  If you’d like to read the back cover text, just click on the image above, once or twice, to enlarge it to the desired size.  I’m very pleased to report that Arcadia Publishing will be printing this book here in the United States.

I sponsored a ‘History Happy Hour’ on Friday, November 25, at Thai Rock Restaurant and Music House, and the attendees got a preview of some of the photos.  I plan to host another one in January, 2012.

As you have probably noticed, I have not been updating Oy Vey Rockaway as regularly over the past three months, but I’ll start posting weekly again, once the book has been sent to the publisher in December. I have been trying to update the ‘notable local events’ tab as often as possible, so be sure to check that out.  There are so many important things occurring in the community, and as a result of researching this book, I now have more historical perspective on all of it.  Thanks to my loyal readers for understanding.

Hope to see many of you at the Rockaway Business District Holiday Party this Wednesday, December 14, from 6-9 p.m., at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club, Beach Channel Drive at Beach 126 Street.  The party is being sponsored by Rockaway Civic Association, The Graybeards, the Yacht Club, and their house caterer, Ludwig’s. Visit to make a reservation and purchase tickets as soon as possible.  The Artificial Band is a really hot, 90’s tribute band new to the peninsula; the event should be great fun! $30 includes live music, 3-hr. open bar, holiday meal with trimmings, and the great companionship of neighbors and folks who work in our local businesses.  Don’t miss it!

Text copyright 2011 Vivian R. Carter.  Header photo courtesy Marie Velardi.  Cover mock-up courtesy Arcadia Publishing, photo of lifeguards courtesy of The Wave.

Posted in The Arts and Entertainment, The World of Human Beings | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Tourists in Our Own Town

That's supposed to be a Japanese schoolgirl--not a Stella Maris 11th Grader!

At first, it looks like two ordinary teen-agers--then you notice the ears and tail!

You’re almost at your destination when you see the first person walking down the block sporting a long, furry tail.  You are within walking distance of a ‘comic-con,’ those wildly popular, so-called ‘geek conventions’ dedicated to comics, graphic novels, anime, manga, video games, toys, movies and television. New York City hosts more than a few each year.  This weekend, from October 14-16, 2011, it’s the New York Comic Con at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.  Not to be confused with the Big Apple Comic-Con, or the long-running, non-profit, San Diego Comic-Con.  Other recurring metro-area venues include Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, and the New Jersey Convention Center, out in the distant suburbs, where the photos featured in this piece were taken, this past spring.

Maybe Mom or Dad was in the cast of "Cats" on Broadway!

The point is to celebrate a peculiarly American form of entertainment—the world of comics and animation.  For those who love dressing up in disguises (‘cos play’ is the new term for this in the anime world) it’s sort of like enjoying Halloween several times a year.  I heard on the radio that 100,000 are attending the NYC event, which runs for three days. That’s the capacity of the Javits Center!  I can only imagine what it sounds like in that place during the comic-con.

I’m the parent of two avid comic-con fans, one of whom is a budding entrepreneur with sufficient artistic talent to have paid her admission by doing sketch commissions on at least one occasion. The total family financial contribution toward the cause over the past three years is a figure shrouded in mystery.  There are lots of saved and advanced allowances being squirreled away for these much-anticipated outings.  We haven’t tried to calculate the overall cost of transportation or time and effort involved in the preparations.  Two times, we financed travel to events in other cities.  OK, so paying for a Mega Bus fare is not exactly stimulating the economy–much.

The Fez is a recurring prop in cartoons--and a 'must have' for the Dr. Who fan in my house!

I have been told that admission is about $50 for one day, and I’ve also heard that the chicken nuggets inside the hall go for $8.  So my teens and their friends try to be frugal, which translates into spending all their money on those unusual, quirky, must-have posters, magazines, movies, video games or costume items, and skipping the food and drink.  They run all day on adrenaline, and leave 8-10 hours later, ravenously hungry and thirsty. I remember having the same kind of schedule when I was a teacher in the New York City schools several years ago.

As a parent, I haven’t opposed participation, since the comic-con encourages creativity, fun, and entrepreneurial spirit.  However, like most risky ventures, there can be a big cost.  My daughter has a stack of some bookmarks she tried to sell without success (the print shop bill for color copies came to over $100, and I think she made about $20 of it back).  There are mysterious bags of clothing and props in her closet (and since it’s a big closet, I think she’s been storing some items for friends, as well).  I’m going to start charging, or force her and her friends to rent a Pod!

Memories of Pokemon are vivid--perhaps too vivid for some parents!

It’s sort of comforting to me that this weekend’s event is being run by Reed Elsevier Group, PLC, which calls itself “the world’s leading publisher and information provider.”  Back at the turn of the 1990’s, when I worked as a publishing lawyer at Times Mirror, Reed Elsevier was our major competition in the genre of trade magazines.  Their titles range widely, from Variety to New Scientist, Farmers’ Weekly and Poultry World.  I know from personal experience that their in-house lawyers toiled long and hard to be sure the event is safe and fully insured.  But transportation to and from the venue is another story, hence the title of this piece—Tourists in Our Own Town.

Something you might think of wearing for Halloween...

So you live in the outer boroughs and you decide that three 16-year olds shouldn’t be taking the A-train all the way in and out of Manhattan at dawn or in darkness, given the interminable weekend service disruptions that are a part of life in the Rockaways.  What are the alternatives?  Encourage them to start their own local event?  I tried that. It does seem ridiculously unlikely to succeed.  Try the Queens version, which just got off the ground in Astoria this year?  Also not likely.  The photo of the ‘cos play’ that appeared in the Queens Chronicle looked like a group of six-year olds trick-or-treating in Superman outfits purchased at Party City.

So, I planned to get the crowd up early in the morning in exchange for a free ride.  How hard could driving be?  I was about to find out.


You'd need all the nail parlors in Rockaway, working full tilt, to take care of this set!

It wasn’t that tough getting in by car from Rockaway.  An hour’s trip if you spring for the Battery Tunnel. But getting out of Manhattan was no picnic, what with the ongoing ‘Occupy Wall Street’ efforts backing things up.  So, I decided I’d avoid the trouble on the evening’s return trip.

Don't know what this green thingie is!

When my daughter called me at about 7 p.m., I urged them to take the E train to Forest Hills, where I would pick them up.  Well, it was a little stronger than “urged.”  In the first of a string of text messages, I conveyed what I had just heard on the radio traffic report—don’t even think of driving to Midtown!  Through the wonders of a ‘Notify NYC’ message sent to my cell phone shortly after I left the house, I learned that “due to law enforcement activity in the vicinity of Times Square, southbound 7th Avenue between West 57th and West 46th streets is closed. Expect traffic delays and changing traffic patterns in the area.”   Satisfied that my instincts not to drive into Manhattan had been confirmed, I continued along Woodhaven Boulevard, planning that I would enjoy this outing to an area where it’s still possible to park your car and walk around for pleasant window-shopping on a cool fall evening.  And it’s only about a half-hour’s drive from the Rock.

Doesn't the natural backdrop seem incongruous?

I had found out late in the afternoon that ‘Occupy Wall Street’ was on the move to Times Square, but I was not aware that THERE WAS NO E TRAIN SERVICE from the Javits Center, due to construction.  What were they thinking?  The stock phrase “use mass transit to avoid delays” was about to be turned on its head.

The Eyes Have it...

Because of the chaos of re-routed trains, my dear daughter and her friends ended up almost visiting the Bronx while I paced the sidewalks of Forest Hills in anticipation of their arrival.  I think my kid will do well on the writing portion of the SAT, because her text missive at 9:03 p.m. was quite clear and succinct—“We had some trouble with the E.  We’re still in Manhattan. The E line wasn’t running and we have to transfer several times to actually get to it.”  There was no desperation, but the look on their faces at 10:15 p.m., when they finally came climbing up out of the hole in front of the Chase Bank branch in Forest Hills, said it all.  Their vagabond shoes were no longer longing to stray.  They wanted to share some nice comfort food and head home.  So we stopped into a local chain eatery, where they shared two chicken pot pies and creamed spinach, plus a long drink of cold water with their food.

Time to go--put the pink hair away for another couple of months!

In the five-and-a-half hours of travel to get to and from this splendid event, we could have driven to Philadelphia, Atlantic City, or Albany.

If we can make it here, we’re gonna’ make it anywhere…

Text and photos copyright 2011 Vivian R. Carter

Posted in Business and Economics, Meet Your Fellow Man, The Arts and Entertainment, The World of Human Beings | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

H2O, Gerrymandering and Socialists in Archie Bunker Land

It's Only 8 Feet Above Sea Level Out Here! Rockaway Park's Bay Wall Protects our Homes from Rising Water

I’ll never forget the words of the engineer who inspected the Belle Harbor home our family was about to buy, in the spring of 1994.

“The number one enemy of your home is water,” he said.  Do everything you can to keep water from coming in, and you will be fine.

I thought of his words again when Tropical Storm Irene paid a visit to the Rock last week.   My generation and our offspring got a rare chance to see the ocean meet the bay.  The You Tube videos and television news footage will document that many thought of it as just another cool tourist attraction. A 1960 film clip that was blasted around cyberspace right before the storm, showed locals frolicking in waist-high water on Beach 116 Street during Hurricane Donna.  This artifact provoked differing reactions, depending on your temperament.  One person seeing the video would say, “Oh, my, I’ve got to get out of here.”  That was me.

Others seeing the video said, “Boy, I can’t miss this!”  My 18-year old son stayed on the peninsula with his Dad and waited sleeplessly for the arrival of high tide, as if it were Christmas Eve. He was rewarded with an “experience tourism” event unlike any other, in his own front yard.  And not a drop of water came into the basement.

March 2011--Former Congressman Anthony Weiner Discusses Condition of Bay Wall with Gateway N.R.A., City Officials, and Civics

I saw a property for sale recently, near the bay on Beach 92 Street, with a home in front and a bungalow behind. The homes there used to sit on stilts over the bay, until someone decided it was a great idea to “reclaim” the land to build Beach Channel Drive.

The home in front was still occupied, but there was black mold creeping up the walls in the finished basement. The bungalow behind it was worse.  There were these bright orange “mushrooms” growing everywhere.  Not just in the basement, but right through the floorboards on the first floor, growing out of the radiators all along the living room wall.  It was such an amazing sight, I should have photographed it in case someone tried to discredit my memory.

Advocacy on Rye, New York's Sewage Controversy

Water is definitely the enemy of dwelling places.  Maybe we shouldn’t be filling in our waterways to build things like condos and airport runways, unless someone’s got unlimited funds to pay out on all these insurance and re-insurance claims.

It’s ironic that water also sustains human life. You can survive for weeks without food, but only a day or two without water.

You want power to the people?  Look at thousands of years of human history.  He who controls the water has the power.  Nature usually trumps our feeble efforts, but man has proven to be ingenious.  Water gives us power to nourish crops that feed people.  Clean water can prevent dysentery and stem insect-borne illnesses.  Harnessing its tidal flow can generate even more power.  Water can also put out fires, if the hoses are long enough to reach the Windows on the World, or other mountain peaks.  So we clever creatures spray toxic chemicals, instead.  It’s a dangerous game to play with nature.

DEP's Sludge Ship, The North River, at Beach 108 Street Dock in Rock Park

We urbanites take this life essential for granted.  Millions reside in concrete structures and travel through tunnels to get to their jobs in distant buildings.  We race under or over the water in cars or trains, often oblivious to the grass, trees, rivers and inlets, and the submerged infrastructure that removes the dirty water and brings in the clean.

The vast majority of New Yorkers will never have more than a passing connection with the upstate places where their drinking water originates, or the river or bay front plants where their waste products end up.  Yet, our city could be reduced to the value of its scrap materials if there were no clean drinking water or proper sewage disposal.

23rd Assembly District is Marked in Pink; Map from State Assembly Webpage

Important environmental concerns are at stake in the special election on Tuesday, September 13, when voters in the west end (and those in numerous pockets of the east end, like Bayswater), will be voting for new representatives in the New York State Assembly (23rd District) and U.S. Congress (9th District).

Crowd at the Rockaway Civic Candidate Forum

There are four mainstream candidates, plus a Socialist, Christopher Hoeppner, who tapped over 7,000 signatures of outer-borough working class frustration, and will also be on the ballot. The questions I am asking include: (1) How do we protect our homes and our quality of life here on this narrow barrier peninsula from neglect and short-sighted over-development? and (2) How do you prevent private interests allied with politicians, bureaucrats and local power brokers from hijacking the commons for their own personal benefit?

Congressional Candidates David Weprin (left), Bob Turner (center), and Christopher Hoeppner (right).

We waste fossil fuels with abandon.  We all know it. Disregard those feel-good BP commercials with sunny waterfront restaurants along the Gulf Coast serving beautiful, succulent shrimp.  All the economies of the countries on Earth are over-fishing the oceans, and destroying the food chain.  We are also greedily sucking oil and natural gas from under the sea, and under the ground, to feed our addiction to energy-hogging consumer products like computers, air conditioners, and cars.

I don’t agree with Republican Congressional candidate Bob Turner that high-volume hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and undersea drilling can, or will, be done safely or responsibly.  In our society today, greed prevails, and the rules are bent every day.  That’s how we got the mess in the Gulf, and the next disaster could contaminate the drinking water supply for millions of New Yorkers.  Just this week, after receipt of 13,000 public comments, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued a report on the fracking controversy, which can be viewed at

Poster Shows Basic Hydraulic Fracturing Operation Design

If elected, Turner could become the new darling of the conservative wing of the Republican Party, and he has vowed to dismantle all federal environmental protections.  Proposals to exploit the oil, natural gas, and wind resources of our coast were considered over the past decade, and we were fortunate that the Governors of New York and New Jersey were moderates who saw the wisdom of protecting our coastal areas.

Assembly Candidates Jane Deacy and Philip Goldfeder at Candidate Forum

A second issue of concern to me is gerrymandering, an unconstitutional affront to people of every race, religion, and ethnic origin.  It allows politicians to play cynical games that divide and dilute the power of a local community.  Being on a physically isolated peninsula surrounded by water unites all residents of Rockaway. Yet the State Assembly says we are to be divided.  In response to reform proposals, Governor Cuomo seeks an independent redistricting commission.  Nobody can quite figure out how to break the power of the State Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver of Manhattan.  I don’t have the answer, but the independent commission is a good start.

The 9th Congressional District, from U.S. Geological Survey Webpage

So after you cast your votes in the special election, sit down and send a letter or email to the new State Assembly Member to oppose how our peninsula has been gerrymandered, and express your views on fracking.  Send a copy to the Governor.

Smiles from Congressional Candidates After Conclusion of Sept. 8 Candidate Forum Sponsored by Rockaway Civic Association

A vote for either of the two Democratic candidates is a vote for the status quo.  If you go to the polls and make that choice, be aware of the fact that change will have to occur, or there will be social dislocation.

After all, has a Socialist ever gotten on the ballot in Archie Bunker Land before?

Text copyright 2011 Vivian R. Carter. Photos copyright 2011 Vivian R. Carter or public domain sources.

Posted in Business and Economics, New York State Government, The Built World, The Land We Share, U.S. Government, Water and waterways | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment