Pretty Peninsula: Summer 2014 images

Whit's End Pizza
Whit’s End Pizza


Beach 96 and SF PKWY. July 2012
Beach 96 and SF PKWY. July 2012


Rockaway Beach Surf Club
Rockaway Beach Surf Club



Shore Front Parkway. And my dog.

Shore Front Parkway. And my dog.


Which way is which. Beach 89th.
Which way? Beach 89th.


Pico. Beach 129th
Pico. Beach 129th


SF Pkwy/B. 94
SF Pkwy/B. 94


Remnants of '76. B. 88/BCD
Remnants of ’76. B. 88/BCD


Beer House.
Beer House.



Lessons from Hurricane Sandy #3: Ten reasons why I love e-books

Narrowback Slacker From STICKY COMICS: I am totally ordering this t-shirt.

My husband loves to buy books. He really, really, really loves them. He can read circles around me and almost anyone I know. And he was immensely attached to all the books he’d collected (when he moved to NY from CA in 1997, he arrived with one bag of clothes, and about 18 boxes of books). I had naggedforced inspired him to weed his books periodically over the years, and he hadn’t bought many paper books since we’d invested in the e-reader when the Kindle was first launched, but in the summer of 2012 there were still a shit-ton in the house. When he wanted to upgrade his reader to the Paperwhite (we have a checks-and-balances policy on expenditures over $100), I told him I would only approve the expenditure if he agreed to weed out most of the books. My final, winning argument…

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Lesson from Hurricane Sandy #2: Everyone should own a radio.

Narrowback Slacker

I should have known better: We’d lost power on our block for a week after Hurricane Irene the year before. But the neighbors were kind enough to let us piggy back on their generator, so we could charge our phones there, and it was of fun “roughing it” for that warm week in August. I mean, we just ate out a lot, since all the stores were open. The kids hung out outside, or played cards in the evening.

But after Sandy, we woke up to not just a physical disaster, but a complete communications void. No power, sure. But also no cell phone service. You couldn’t even get a text through. The last Facebook post I’d seen before I lost my cell coverage was from a friend who lived a couple of miles east, in Belle Harbor. It read:

Rockaway is burning. Please help.

And there we were, without a radio. The one…

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Lessons from Hurricane Sandy (#1): It’s all just stuff, and we have too much of it.

Narrowback Slacker

Here in Rockaway Beach, NY, there are two sorts of people (well two sorts of homeowners, at least): Those who lost their homes on October 29, 2012, and those who just lost the basement. I am grateful to be in the latter camp. The Atlantic rolled up our street and quickly filled it up, meeting with Jamaica Bay at the end of the block. By the time we hit high tide, the water had crested the top step of my front stoop outside, and filled the basement to the ceiling; but just as tide clocks predicted, the water then leveled off and started to recede, having gone just two inches into the joists of our first floor. We lost our cars, all of our utilities, tools, appliances, and everything we had stored in the basement, but our main living space was dry. We know we were very lucky. Many of our friends, family…

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Rockaway Beach Reads: Jill Eisenstadt’s 1987 novel “From Rockaway”

Narrowback Slacker

A few months back, I stumbled upon a review of Justin Hocking’s The Great Floodgates of the Wonder World  in The New York Times Book Review. It’s a memoir by a Colorado skater and writer who moved to New York City and I guess wound up discovering himself by surfing in Rockaway. That, on the heels of Rockaway, Tara Ison’s 2013 novel about an artist who retreats to the peninsula in 2001 in search of inspiration for her work.**


It is striking that both of these writers cast Rockaway as a destination, a place where one chooses to go, indeed, chooses to be, to stay. For most of my life, this was a place you talked about escaping from, but never really did. Yet here it is, presented as an artist’s escape, a young hipster’s salvation. I suppose that shift is a microcosm of the changes that have affected all of New York City over the…

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Hostile Hostel: Nice Idea, Poor Choice of Words


Photo courtesy of ElephiPelephi

As a lifelong local, I’m thrilled to see a set of bungalows returned to their proper use as summer residences. Giving DFDs (that’s Rockaway speak for folks from the inner boroughs who come “Down For the Day” in the summertime) an opportunity to be DFNs (as in “Down for the Night”) is a great way to get fresh blood and hipster dollars onto the peninsula. So, in the broad sense, I welcome the parade of young and stylish twentysomethings that I saw heading trailing into the Hostile Hostel on Beach 88th last weekend.

But I was a fair bit skeeved when I saw our fearless entrepreneur’s theme for the joint. From DNAinfo:

Offering beds named for Chris Brown, Ike Turner and Mel Gibson, the hostel had a shared kitchen space called the “Domestic Violence Bungalow,” which advised guests to “get yo spatulas out.”

The name of the space was changed on the hostel’s website on Wednesday to the “Wife Beater Bungalow” and later to simply “The Kitchen….”

Guests can still book beds named after Tony Montana, Tony Soprano or Fat Tony from Springfield at what was known as the “Gang Violence Bungalow,” now known simply as “The Living Room.”

Naming rooms/beds/anything after notorious bullies and drug dealers (real or imagined)  is in poor taste in any circumstance. When you do it in a location that has seen its fair share of domestic disturbances and other problems, it is particularly insensitive and kind of obnoxious. I’ve lived near that particular bungalow court most of my life. Let’s just say it’s kept the 100th Precinct busy.

I know the kids today like to be “ironic.” But this feels more like “moronic.”

I am glad to see that the owner has responded by changing some of the names. And sincerely (and I have to say that, as I suffer from a sarcasm disorder: that was a sincere “sincerely’): I do wish her the best of luck. I think her little project will be great for the community: It provides the youngsters with fun opportunity  to come check out the edge of the city, and will bring money into our restaurants, pubs, and shops. Just recognize that Rockaway Beach is actually a neighborhood, with real people in it, from all walks of life. We hear real actual gunshots at night; police are often called into real homes where real live women are being abused. It’s really no joke.

Check out Katie Honan on DNAinfo for the full story:

Who doesn’t want to go to Irishtown?

Who doesn’t want to go to Irishtown?, via NarrowbackSlacker

I’ve been a fan of the Bowery Boys podcast ever since I first stumbled across their charming investigation into Rockaway Beach back in 2012. Having grown up here, and listened to every old timer’s take on what happened, how, and why, it was refreshing to listen to two outsiders’ impressions of our little peninsula and its unique history. They do their homework, combing through books and newspaper archives, and they talk about the place with the unabashed enthusiasm of people discovering it for the first time (there are people in this city who’ve never heard of Irishtown!). After that podcast, I was hooked, and so was my son. We always download an episode or two when we’re heading out for a car trip, and learn a little something about NYC history, legend, and lore along the way.  Check out their blog for primary sources, photos, and more.

For RBNY locals, the Rockaway Beach (episode 140)  and the Robert Moses (100) episodes are  must-listens. The latter, in particular, left me pondering whether what Rockaway needs now is a  Moses-esque dictator to reign in the bureaucracy and get the boardwalk replaced already. Moses’ legacy is complex, to say the least: he built a lot of stuff, and destroyed a lot in the process. But going into our second summer without a boardwalk, it’s worth considering that maybe getting something built that doesn’t quite please everyone is better than getting nothing built at all.