Draft vs. Baby Bottle: The Beer Garden Debate

Narcissistic parents who let their can-do-no-wrong offspring run rampant in bars. Children-hating philistines who cannot wrap their heads around the time-honored European institution of a child-friendly beer garden. Horrendous role models. Pandering bar owners. Crybaby hipsters. Moms and dads who refuse to grow up. Filthy, smelly children.

It seemed there was something or someone to hate for every reader in this week’s article about Greenwood Park, a new beer hall on the fringes of Park Slope, Brooklyn, that has rolled out the welcome mat to families — spurring a decidedly mixed reception. Here, excerpted in some cases, are a few of the more than 250 comments we received:

I recently visited my sister in Park Slope on a beautiful weekend and stopped by this “beer garden” for what was advertised. After half an hour watching crying kids in strollers with parents (guardians?) too self-absorbed to notice, we left. My sister apologized, saying: “This used to be a neighborhood for adults. Now, nothing’s safe.”
— Greg Pitts, Boston

The same twentysomethings that complain about kids now will soon be pushing $1,500 strollers and giving dirty looks to anyone who doesn’t get out of their way fast enough as they come barreling down the sidewalk on their phone, Starbucks in hand, en route to their mommy-and-baby yoga class.
— J-rock, Toronto

Some people find toddlers on scooters annoying. Other people feel the same way about sloshed bachelorettes, skeevy guys hitting on women half their age, Wall Streeters in suits or bad karaoke singers. (I happen to be one of the latter.) Find a bar or venue that has the kind of people you like and doesn’t have the kind of people you are hoping to avoid.
— Rachel M, Brooklyn

This arrangement is perfectly normal in much of the world – Sunday lunch in a British pub? Summers in German beer gardens? Cafes in piazzas and plazas in Italy and Spain? Only here is everyone so fixated on walling off children from adult behavior and vice versa.

Parents, don’t let your kids run around screaming like banshees, and go to the bathroom to change their diapers, and don’t complain about adults using adult language in adult conversations. Adults sans kids, don’t snarl at the mere thought of having a kid in your line of sight while downing a pint.

Let everyone enjoy some multigenerational time that does not relegate parents to the netherworld of play groups and sanitized children’s spaces, and does not cocoon children off or shield their eyes from the genuine behavior and life of the rest of the real world.

— dr.reba, Gainesville, FL

The owner of this business decided to make his business friendly and welcoming to a major market segment in a nearby neighborhood. That is entirely his choice, and it sounds like it’s working well for him. Those who don’t like it should vote with your feet and wallets and go elsewhere.

This is nothing more than a business owner making a smart business decision. He saw a gap in the market — bars that were overtly friendly to parents (not just grudgingly tolerant) — and exploited it.

— Gary, New York NY

Drinking in front of your children at such an early age is completely irresponsible. Exposing them to the vulgar language and obscene gestures that come from alcohol-serving environments is equally irresponsible. If you didn’t want to give up your vices, then you were not ready to have kids.

— roy, new york ny

Take pity on the parents that they have so few options for going out to bars and restaurants. I’m also not sure what is so awful about having children around when you are drinking, especially at such a large place. People should mind their own business. If you feel uncomfortable having a beer with children around, maybe you have guilt issues with your own alcohol consumption.

— AlexB, Astoria, NY

When did it become acceptable to bring children into a bar? Can’t these people afford sitters for an hour or two?

— Brooklyn Democrat, NY

It’s hard to say which group is more obnoxious: the overentitled stroller terrorists or the whiny singles who can’t abide seeing a diaper changed.

— Bob, Munich, Germany

If you can’t deal with the playground, stay out of the schoolyard.

— StatenManhattan, SI-10001

Sixty years ago, my parents, my much older half siblings and my aunt and uncle spent a great deal of time in bars. Since they enjoyed each other’s company so much, we children were always there. I remember one joint had a Christmas party for kids in the back room. These bars became a big part of our lives. You know, I could go on and on, but the bottom line is I ended up an alcoholic.

— Tom Franzson, Brevard, NC

If I lived in Park Slope, I would want to drink. A lot. To escape kids, and their parents (among other things).

— LN, Los Angeles

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Urologist Charged With Shooting Video Up Skirt in Subway

A urologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center was arraigned Thursday on charges of taking videos up the skirt of a woman at the Union Square subway station during the evening rush hour on Wednesday, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.

The doctor, Adam W. Levinson, an expert in robotics and minimally invasive surgery, was observed by a transit police officer at 5:15 p.m. holding a newspaper under the woman’s skirt with a pen containing a tiny video camera clipped onto the newspaper, according to a criminal complaint. The officer seized the device and found “numerous clips in which the defendant recorded underneath said female’s skirt,” the complaint states.

Dr. Levinson, 39, is an assistant professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, has written book chapters and serves on the editorial boards of several journals, according to Mount Sinai’s Web site. He is highly rated by patients on several doctor-rating sites.

He was charged with unlawful surveillance in the second degree, a felony carrying a sentence of up to four years.

Dr. Levinson has been suspended pending the outcome of the case, Mount Sinai said. “This is a police matter and Mount Sinai is cooperating fully with the authorities,” the medical center said in a statement. Dr. Levinson’s lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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Answers to Questions About Boating, Part II

Roland Lewis, the president and chief executive of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, is answering City Room readers’ questions about boating in New York waterways. The first set of answers can be found here and the second set appears below. We are no longer accepting questions.

I’ve noticed very few small sailboats in the rivers, even as I have seen an increase in the number of kayaks. Is it safe to take out a small boat like a Sunfish or a Laser, or do the tides and traffic make it a bad idea?
— Posted by Ben, Brooklyn

Dear Ben,
You ask about the safety of sailing in small craft such as a Sunfish or Laser around Manhattan. Here I will defer to experienced harbor boater and author Bill Kornblum, who chronicled his love of sailing in and around NY in “At Sea in the City” (an excellent read by the way). Bill says “boating in the waters around Manhattan should be done under controlled conditions, that is, in a group or with a program that closely monitors the conditions. This may not apply to very experienced kayakers, but everyone in small craft needs to be aware that the waters around Manhattan Island can be dangerous.” Wise words. Get lessons and get involved with the many human-powered and sailing organizations. Many are listed on the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance Web site. Get on the water, but be sure to do it safely.

Are there any plans to put in a city marina, or at least mooring balls anywhere on the East River … or anywhere along the Brooklyn waterfront?
— Posted by Gerriet, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Dear Gerriet,
There are plans for mooring fields and marinas on the East River, but for the time being they are only plans. The beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park will one day have a marina – hopefully that day is soon. And equally promising on the East River and elsewhere is the city’s new multiberth request for proposals, which may allow for mooring sites on the East River and elsewhere.

Adding to the question on the wakes from ferry traffic, a friend used to keep his 24-foot sailboat on a mooring in the Hudson in Lower Manhattan, but the moment you stepped onto the boat the ferry wakes were so violent that you had to cast off and sail away immediately to avoid becoming seasick. (He moved his boat away after one season.) Has any research been done, nationally perhaps, on ferry hull design which could reduce the size of their wakes? Has there been any interest in developing standards for this? They are not only dangerous and unpleasant but speed the degrading of shoreside park facilities — piers, ramps, docks, etc. The city is spending a lot to improve our waterfront — why can’t ferry operators be held responsible for the destruction they cause to our waterfront infrastructure? Thank you!
— Posted by Btoan, New York, N.Y.

Dear Btoan and others concerned with wake issues,
Our 21st-century harbor with increased boat traffic, especially fast-moving ferries, brings the problem of wakes. Wakes inhibit marina development and harm existing waterside development. Boats create the wakes but man-made structures on the shore exacerbate them. Hard shorelines with concrete bulkheads create a “bathtub effect,” bouncing water from shore to shore. Also, for such an important problem there is surprisingly little official regulation. Currently, the only wakes regulation in New York Harbor is within 200 feet of the pier heads in New Jersey and 100 feet from the pier heads in New York. There are two “no wake zones” in the Harlem River. All other no or low wake zones in the area are voluntary and self-enforced, if at all. The M.W.A. brought together wake experts at its recent conference for a panel titled “Busy Harbor Rough Waters: What to Do About Wakes.” Also, the Harbor Ops Small Passenger Vessels Subcommittee formed the Wakes Working Group to address the problem. I am not an expert, but hull design, speed, routes and the bathtub effect all contribute to the problem and all will be part of the solution. The Web site for I Boat NY Harbor provides excellent wake information for recreational boaters.

One sees many private boats out on the water in the East River, the Hudson River and in the harbor generally. Sailboats and motorboats, about 20 feet or greater. It seems like most of them must be traveling through, though, because I haven’t been able to find any good places to stop. I am aware of places in N.J. and the outer boroughs, but are there any places within the center city where a boat can dock? Specifically, anywhere in Manhattan to dock for a while or pick up/drop off friends south of the 79th Street Boat Basin on the west and Hell Gate on the east? What about just pulling up to a bulkhead or a waterfront park?
— Posted by Cul, Brooklyn

Dear Cul and others who want more waterfront access,
The resurgence in recreational boating on our harbor is increasing the call for more access for all kinds of boats. New Yorkers and New Jerseyans have beautiful new waterfront parks where they can be near the water but what they are increasingly demanding is the opportunity to be in the water. Creating increased access is a worthy investment, but it is an investment. The City of New York has certainly invested in the harbor, improving water quality and creating magnificent parks. Where we as an important water body have fallen short is with federal investment to improve our estuary, including increasing public access. A group of civic organizations have joined together to encourage our bistate bipartisan bicameral Congressional delegation to do a better job and get the resources that other water bodies such as Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound have received. This campaign (M.W.A. is part of it) is called the Harbor Coalition.

Where does a novice rent a small motorboat in the city and what are the best waterways to explore?
— Posted by Sssur, N.Y.C.

Dear Sssur,
For a motorboat on New York Harbor I would recommend that you go through a charter boat company that would provide a staffed boat (i.e., a boat captain) for trips. The New York City parks department provides a database of city charter boats, including passenger limits.

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A Subway Platform Pastoral

Dear Diary:

On a recent Saturday night, nee, Sunday morning, after a night of waiting tables in Times Square, I descended into the Times Square subway station to find a suspiciously packed platform, and, having just reached the end, heard the dreaded announcement that the 1 train was delayed because of a faulty uptown switch.

Desperate to catch the 1:30 Staten Island Ferry home, I took action and weaved my way back through the crowd, to the N/R line.  Standing on the foreign platform, wiping the sweat from my brow, I checked my watch, again and again, until zero hour had passed, and I knew my fate rested in the hands of a 2:30 boat.

Spirits deflated, consumed with exhaustion, I noticed the dripping tar on the platform surface in front of me: a sunflower!

Read all recent entries and our updated submissions guidelines. Reach us via e-mail: [email protected] or telephone: (212) 556-1333. Follow @NYTMetro on Twitter using the hashtag #MetDiary.

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50 Years Ago, Sharply Dressed Protesters Stood Up for a Train Station They Revered

The architects Peter Samton and Diana Goldstein can tell you exactly where they were a half century ago, at 5 p.m. on Aug. 2, 1962: out on Seventh Avenue, tilting at windmills.

Building Blocks

How the city looks and feels — and why it got that way.

Pennsylvania Station, the McKim, Mead & White masterpiece, was doomed. They knew it. But they weren’t going to let it go down undefended. With Norval White, Jordan Gruzen, Elliott Willensky and others, they assembled an impromptu resistance brigade known as Agbany, for Action Group for Better Architecture in New York.

On that 86-degree summer evening 50 years ago, commuters were greeted by the sight of more than 100 buttoned-down and white-gloved protesters marching around the colossal colonnade at the station’s entrance.

“Save Penn Station,” their signs said, in nicely formed letters. (Architects. Of course.) “Don’t Sell Our City Short.” “Save Our Heritage.” “Action Not Apathy.”

Philip Johnson was impeccably present, in the company of the peerless Elizabeth Bliss Parkinson, a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art, who would soon be its president. There was Aline B. Saarinen, the widow of Eero Saarinen, who had been until 1959 an associate art critic at The New York Times. Agbany counted Eleanor Roosevelt, Stewart Alsop, Jane Jacobs and Norman Mailer among its supporters, along with many of the most respected names in architecture and architectural criticism.

Also on the protest line were Ms. Goldstein’s friends, ex-husband and a few old boyfriends, whom she had dragooned into picketing duty. “I said to someone, ‘This is like my life passing before my eyes — all these guys walking round and round,’” she recalled in a telephone interview on Tuesday from San Francisco. She was then 30 years old and known as Diana Kirsch.

Mr. Samton, who was 27, recalled being deputized to get Mr. Johnson down to Penn Station that day. “He said, ‘I have a meeting with Mrs. Parkinson; I can’t come.’ We said, ‘Well, bring her along and you can have your meeting while you parade.’”

“The fact that he came meant that we got publicity,” Mr. Samton said the other day, after spreading out Agbany memorabilia in the comfortably modernist living and working space he created on the parlor floor of an Upper West Side brownstone.

Mr. Samton’s Penn Station files bear more than spiritual scars. A number of pages were singed on Sept. 11, 2001, when the offices of his firm, Gruzen Samton, two blocks south of the World Trade Center, were set ablaze by flaming debris. These include a newspaper ad, reproduced below, that heralded the Aug. 2 rally.

More than a year before the protesters assembled, it had been known that the developer Irving Mitchell Felt and the Pennsylvania Railroad had every intention of tearing Penn Station down to street level and replacing it with a new Madison Square Garden on Eighth Avenue, and an office tower and hotel tower on Seventh Avenue.

Mr. Samton attributed some of the early inertia among opponents to sheer disbelief. “It was impossible to think that this monumental building was going to be demolished to make way for something that would make more money for the landowners,” he said.

As the threat loomed early in 1962, Ms. Goldstein was invited to attend a luncheon meeting of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter by her boss, Herbert Oppenheimer. Raised in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) and educated in South Africa, Ms. Goldstein had grown up unafraid to speak her mind. She asked at the lunch about the pink granite elephant in the room. She recalled being told that construction unions strongly favored the project and that the chapter considered it a done deal.

As she, Mr. Samton and Mr. Gruzen walked out of the meeting, she said, “Why do we need them? We can just do it ourselves.”

Mr. White, already an imposing figure in the field, long before he achieved renown with Mr. Willensky as an author of the AIA Guide to New York City, was recruited to head the fledgling Action Group for Better Architecture in New York. The protest won front-page coverage in The Times. A month later, the group met with Mayor Robert F. Wagner.

That turned out to be nothing but a palliative, however. Demolition began on Penn Station a year later and was completed in 1966, by which time the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission — a purely advisory body in 1962 — had been given regulatory muscle.

“I really believe Grand Central Terminal was saved because of what happened at Penn Station,” Mr. Samton said. The experience propelled him into a career of civic service paralleling his architectural practice, including the presidency of the City Club of New York.

Ms. Goldstein, who loves railroads and industrial architecture, spent much of her career designing and planning schools, housing developments and building systems. Her last project was a hospice. Now an artist, she said she still regards the demolition as a “moral outrage.”

Then she added, “We knew we wouldn’t win, but we did hope to change the climate.”

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3 Sue Over Pepper-Spraying by Police at Fall Occupy Wall St. Protest

Three people who said they were pepper-sprayed by police officers during an Occupy Wall Street demonstration in September filed lawsuits on Tuesday against the City of New York, the Police Department and several officers.

The plaintiffs, Kelly Hanlin, Damien Crisp and Julie Lawler, said that they were assaulted and that their constitutional rights were violated when they were sprayed with chemicals after a few hundred people participated in a raucous march from Zuccotti Park to Union Square on Sept. 24.

None of the plaintiffs were arrested.

Mr. Crisp and Ms. Lawler said they were on a sidewalk on East 12th Street, corralled by officers holding a length of orange netting, when Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna aimed the spray in their direction from three to five feet away.

“Inspector Bologna’s pepper spray went directly into Mr. Crisp’s right eye,” Mr. Crisp’s lawsuit said. “The pepper spray went into Mr. Crisp’s lungs and burned the skin on his face, arms and hands.”

Mr. Crisp had an abnormal heartbeat and difficulty breathing, the suit said, and his eyes burned and were swollen for an hour.

The suit said that he had difficulty focusing his vision and suffered from an inflamed sty for about two weeks and missed three days of work while receiving steroid treatment at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary.

“Ms. Lawler felt a searing, burning sensation in and around her eyes and face, like a hot iron, causing her to drop to the ground,” her suit said, adding that she was blinded for several minutes, with the effects of the spray exacerbated by the fact that she was wearing contact lenses.

Several videos on YouTube that showed Inspector Bologna directing a stream of chemicals at those on the sidewalk, then walking away, went viral within hours of the event, drawing additional attention to the protest movement and generating strong criticism of the police response.

About a month later, Inspector Bologna was disciplined with the loss of 10 vacation days after investigators determined that he had violated rules for the use of the spray.
Department policy states that pepper spray is intended to help officers subdue someone who is resisting arrest, fleeing or behaving in a way that could harm others.

In addition to monetary damages, the lawsuits seek an order that the city establish and maintain a policy regarding the use of force during demonstrations and conforming with federal standards.

A spokesman for the city’s Law Department said the lawsuits would be reviewed once they were received.

Mr. Hanlin, his lawsuit said, was not trapped behind orange netting but was nearby on East 12th Street when he saw what he thought was an excessively rough arrest. He reached for a cellphone and raised it to document what was happening, the suit said, when an officer turned without warning and pepper-sprayed him in the face.

The suit said the pepper spraying was “in both direct retaliation for his participation in Occupy Wall Street and for videotaping unlawful police conduct occurring in public.”

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