Oktoberfest Comes to New York in September

oktoberfest-927666_960_720Oktoberfest has become one of New York’s premier fall festivals, celebrating great food, fall foliage, and of course amazing beer.

Oktoberfest began in Germany. In 1810, from October 12-17 the celebration was held to honor the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. But why should such a fun tradition be relegated to one small country? The festival quickly spread across Europe and then the world, and has been changing the face of fall in New York in a big way.
This year the festival will take place beginning September 17, and ending on October 3. It was moved up from the original October date to the third week in September due to the weather, which turns cold and stormy in October.

There will be Oktoberfest celebrations in every New York borough so there is no excuse not to join in.

The largest events will be in Central Park on September 17, Munich on the East River on September 23, and Watermark’s Oktoberfest, September 17.

Grab Your Kids and Go to NYC!

Yankee Stadium. Courtesy of Groupe Canam
Yankee Stadium. Courtesy of Groupe Canam

Taking your kids on a trip to New York City is one of the most fun things you can not only do for them, but for yourselves as well. There is a seemingly endless array of choices for kid-friendly activities that are exciting and enjoyable for the entire spectrum of tastes and abilities. Here is a brief review of the possibilities for what could be the best vacation you have ever had.

  • New York is world renown for “Broadway,” so take them to a show which could not even be on Broadway unless it was fantastically entertaining. Go see a classic like The Lion King or Annie, or even head to an off-Broadway performance for a little cultural challenge.
  • Ah, the mother of all parks: Central Park. This place is awesome. There are miles of country lanes for meandering strolls. A lake for boating, fishing and other activities. Concerts, both free and not free. Biking, baseball, soccer, volleyball, chess and heaven knows what else is available in the park, like a zoo and 21 playgrounds.
  • OMG you haven’t been to the American Museum of Natural History? And even if you have, the displays never get old, especially when there are new exhibits constantly organized to view side by side with the incredible dinosaurs and giant whale which just make that museum like a home to anyone who grew up in the city.
  • Take the kids to a baseball game. There are two great places to go: Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. The pace and feel of a baseball game is a great way to enjoy your family in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, and get some hot dogs for lunch while your there, too.

Some other ideas include a visit to the Statue of Liberty, FAO Schwartz, the New York Aquarium, the New York Hall of Science, the Bronx Zoo, and of course the Empire State Building. You are going to have a blast, and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Stonewall Inn Becoming Stonewall National Monument

Stonewall Inn, June 25, 2016. Photo by Rhododendrites
Stonewall Inn, June 25, 2016. Photo by Rhododendrites

June 28, 1969 is the date when the LGBT rose up as a group to fight for their rights. On this date a riot broke out at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Universally considered the birthplace and time of the modern Gay Rights movement, US President Barack Obama has set aside 7.7 acres in the Village as the country’s first monument to this phenomenon.

To be called the Stonewall National Monument, it is the newest addition to the National Park System. This year marks 100 years since the first National Park was established.

The announcement was made during the annual Pride celebration that took place in New York City from June 19th to 26th. It is hoped that the monument will be ready by the time the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riot comes around, in June 2019.

Watch Out for Tupac: Jeff Bowler & Bret Saxon

Sometimes good things are worth the wait – we just have to hope that this one comes to fruition. Many New Yorkers may not know this, but Tupac wrote the script to a movie called “Live 2 Tell” before he was murdered. Co-producers are the movie are Jeff Bowler and Bret Saxon. Certainly, those who know about this hidden gem have been waiting for a long time for it to come to the big screen.

As Jeff Bowler has explained when looking for the right actors, “I received over 50 e-mails from actors, aspiring rappers, Broadway actors, from across the world wanting to send their music and head shot to me because Tupac had such an influence on their lives. It’s crazy how big Pac’s legacy lives on today.”

Jeff Bowler was first introduced to this scrip through video director Gobi. It was supposed to be part of a three-picture deal that the rapper signed shortly before he was murdered in 1996. Gobi and Tupac’s mom, Afeni Shakur, have held the script close to the chest since then.

As Jeff Bowler said, “[Afeni Shakur] is very protective of the creative control area because she doesn’t want this great urban crime saga — with a hardened redemption — turned into a comedy or anything foolish. But creatively, we’re all right on point with each other’s thoughts on the story and we can’t wait to get going.”

Bowler was amazed, when he first saw the script, but how well-written it is. As he said, “You could shoot the script as is right now and you’d have a fantastic movie. We’ll probably have to have it trimmed up a little bit, but not doctored really in any way storywise at all. Seeing Tupac’s words on paper — right from him, untouched — is pretty exciting.”

The producers are honored to have this opportunity. As Bowler said, “We’re absolutely honored. I’m in my 30s, so I grew up listening to Tupac — I grew up on a farm in New England and his music transcended all the way out to there. So it’s definitely global.”

Now, we just need the movie to get made.

Great Ways to Save on Your Tax Bill from Anchin, Block & Anchin

6793826885_6fdd19b3c4_oThe CPAs at Anchin, Block & Anchin,  a New York-based accounting firm, have some great advice for ordinary tax payers who may be missing out on some great deductions simply because they do not realize they exist.

One such deduction, says Richard Baum of Anchin, is for moving to a new home after getting a new job. All that is required is that the job took you at least 50 miles away from your old home for a person to be eligible to deduct the moving expenses. This applies even to a first job at the beginning of someone’s career.

“Moving expenses for someone’s first job are deductible,” says Anchin CPA and partner Baum.

Anchin experts also suggest that self-employed people take their health insurance premiums as an “above-the-line” deduction. Those types of deductions lower your taxable income even if you do not itemize your deductions and just take the standard deduction.

In the same category is half of your self-employment tax. All taxpayers, not just the self-employed, can take long-term care insurance as a medical expense and are tax-deductible.

As Baby Boomers Age They Make Demands on Healthcare Sector

US Birth Rates
US Birth Rates

Baby Boomers, that is, people born about one year after World War II until about 1964, are aging in record numbers. The oldest among them have already turned 70, while their youngest cohorts are about 18 years younger. As this population continues to age, the services they require will increase in demand.

There were about 76 million boomers still alive in 2005. This group is making demands on the economy in many ways, and one of the main ways is in health care. One innovation that boomers will demand more of is a new way to treat cataracts and other vision problems, intra-ocular lenses. Alcon Laboratories developed a lens called ReSTOR which most likely will be highly desired by people who would like to improve their vision without using eyeglasses, contact lenses, or laser surgery.

One other innovation which is getting some interest by boomers is something called balloon kyphoplasty. This surgical procedure is designed to alleviate pain and correct spinal fractures resulting from osteoporosis and/or cancer. Since 199 over 115,000 spinal fractures have been treated with balloon kyphoplasty.

“We’ve been impressed at how, in a relatively short time, balloon kyphoplasty has been so widely accepted by orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons,” said one observer.

Baby boomers will also be choosing nursing homes and assisted living arrangements as they age. Recently Dry Harbor Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center has enlarged its team and improved its cardio-pulmonary center just in time to accommodate the expected increase in demand. Located in Middle Harbor, Queens, Dry Harbor Nursing Home has a 360-bed facility and boasts one of the largest and most comprehensive rehab teams in the borough.

Just as the boomers made their impact on pop culture, politics and much else in the American cultural scene when they were younger, they are changing the field of healthcare as they age.

Residents Want Say in Triangle Fire Memorial

age of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25 - 1911
age of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25 – 1911

In 2013 an international competition was held to find a design with which the tragic events of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire would be memorialized. Greenwich Village residents are now upset that the winning design was picked by “a renowned panel of jurists” but without any input from residents.

In 1911 146 employees, most of them young immigrant women, were killed in a ferocious fire at the factory of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company. The high death toll was caused, to a great extent, because the factory’s doors were locked from the outside, leaving no proper means of escape to those inside once the blaze began. Young women were forced to jump from high stories to their deaths, rather than burn in the fire itself.

The competition for the memorial received over 170 submissions from 30 countries. Joel Sosinsky, a member of the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, the organization that spearheaded the memorial idea beginning many years ago, said:

“Frances Perkins, the first female Cabinet member under FDR, who witnessed the fire, basically said that the New Deal started at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire,” Sosinsky said. “People walk past that building every day and have no idea.”

District Leader Terri Cude, of the 66th Assembly District Part B, agrees that a memorial at the site of the tragedy is appropriate. She is just frustrated that the selection of the final design was not made in consultation with the residents of the neighborhood who will have to live with the memorial.

The main worry seems to be that the 8-story-high mirrored piece could reflect light right into the windows of the homes of the residents.

“Basically we’re going to try to start a conversation in the ‘better late than never’ thought that perhaps some of the community’s concerns can be expressed to the coalition, who then maybe can modify the design,” Cude said at a recent meeting of Community Board 2’s executive leadership.
Sosinsky said that the designers will have to have the last word on the ultimate design of the memorial, who are planning on attending the meeting.

Flipped Village Apartment Largest Sale of Week

Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Photo by MBisanz
Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Photo by MBisanz

In December 2013 Robert Kaliner of Ascend Builders partnered with Jeffrey Davidson of West Orange, New Jersey to purchase a vacant apartment building on Waverly Place for $10.2 million. Last week, after an additional $6.5 million was spent for major renovations, the Greek Revival, 1905 brick building, now private residence, sold for over $23 million.

The residence, located at 146 Waverly, was gutted and rebuilt, with the addition of a below-ground floor.

“It was demoed and built from the ground up — the only thing left were the front and side walls,” Mr. Kaliner said, adding, “It wasn’t architecturally beautiful. It was a pretty crummy rental building.”

Their first attempt at selling the property was as a “customizable townhouse” for $22 million. Several months went by when the partners took the house off the market, realizing that no one wanted to get involved in all the dirty work of construction and renovation.

The partners decided instead to create an original interior design for the 7,600-square-foot building. Utilizing the expertise of architect Wayne Turett and Kaliner’s Ascend Builders contracting business, the pair was able to create a wonderful, light-filled house with high ceilings, high-end finishes, floor to ceiling windows and brand new mechanical systems everywhere in the building.

“Our vision was to build something that was classic with a contemporary feel to it,” Mr. Kaliner said. “It’s hard when you’re building a house on spec to pick something that everyone loves. We made sure this house was built the way it should be built.”

Man Stalks Young Girl Walking Home from Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park Photo by Urban~commonswiki

A 12-year-old girl’s afternoon was distressingly disrupted when she was followed home by a stalking stranger.

The girl was first confronted by the man as she was walking home at 12:30pm from Washington Square Park. In the park he walked up to her and attempted to begin a conversation. The girl left the park in tears, and walked directly to her home.

As she walked into the elevator to take her to the safety of her home, the stranger managed to slip into the building and then followed her into the elevator. The man then told the girl he had just been released from prison, and asked her to hide him in her apartment.

The girl fled the elevator screaming, and the man beat a path out of there. The girl’s mother called the police at once.

Based on the girl’s identification of the man from the back of the police car the police were able to arrest 39-year-old Carl Catapano. He was nabbed on 10th Street and Broadway, just a few blocks away.

Catapano is now held on a $15,000 bond or $5,000 cash bail. He is charged with disorderly conduct, stalking, acting in a manner injurious to a child and criminal trespass.

Play Ball at Bergino Clubhouse

Jackie Robinson, 1954

Are you crazy for baseball? Do you know anyone who is? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then head on over to a remarkable shop that takes the art of baseball collectibles to a whole new level.

Bergino Baseball Clubhouse has everything you can imagine if you adore America’s favorite game, and a more than a few things you probably can’t imagine. Handmade Bergino baseballs are affordable at only $25 each. The Americana selection pay homage to themes such as ‘Peace,’ Jackie Robinson, and the Star Spangled Banner. City map baseballs honor Los Angeles, Boston, and Jerusalem, which as far as I know, does not even have a baseball team. Go figure.

There are artworks for sale from artists such as Lou Grant and Roger Patrick. A Yankee Stadium musical snow globe is on sale. You can find coasters made of Astro Turf, baseball styled bag tags, and of course autographed books. Clubhouse gift items include a Bergino Baseball Clubhouse hat; cuff links, wallets and a money clip all made from authentic used baseballs; and even a stool made from a real base. It goes without saying this is just the “tip of the ballpark.”

All your gifts are taken care of already? Bergino also sponsors events. On Wednesday, December 16, fans can come here Derek Jeter speak at 7pm. The clubhouse website also has podcasts for its fans listening pleasure.

The clubhouse is located at 67 East 11th Street in Greenwich Village. Call for more information: 212-226-7150.