Police Search for Teenage Suspects in Nunchucks Attack

Detectives on Thursday pressed their search for three teenage suspects, one wielding a pair of nunchucks, in a brutal beating of a 25-year-old man during an attempted robbery earlier this month in a Washington Heights subway station.

The attack, captured on a subway surveillance camera, occurred in the 157th Street station of the No. 1 train around 4 a.m. on Jan. 6, the police said.

The suspects, all between the ages of 17 and 19, approached the man near the station’s turnstiles and told him that they liked the jacket that he was wearing and wanted it, the police said. The man refused to give it up, and the three teenagers then set upon him, punching and kicking the man.

One of the teenagers, wearing a red baseball cap with a white brim, then pulled out a pair of nunchucks – illegal to carry in New York State – and began beating the man as he fled through the turnstiles.

The man, who was not identified by police, was treated for lacerations to the head at nearby NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and was released, the police said.

The video shows at least six hard strikes with the unconventional martial-arts weapon, also known as nunchakus or chuka sticks, which consists of two sticks held together with a chain or rope.

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100 Years Later, a Railroad Landmark Is Revived

You already know. A notable New York City train station — ornamented with a handsome figure of the god Mercury, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, once daunted by bad fortune but handsomely renovated not long ago — has reached its centenary.

Building Blocks

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

What you may not know is that the centenary was last year.

Because this isn’t a post about Grand Central Terminal. It’s about the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Administration Building at East 180th Street and Morris Park Avenue in the Bronx, built in 1912. The railroad went out of business in 1937, but its distinctive home serves as the entrance to the East 180th Street station for No. 2 and No. 5 trains.

And it received a kind of 100th birthday gift last year: a $66.6 million renovation by New York City Transit.

“It’s not often that we get the opportunity to do work at a facility that has the historical and architectural significance of the East 180th Street station,” said Thomas F. Prendergast, the president of New York City Transit, the arm of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that is in charge of the city’s subways and buses. “There was a collective effort to achieve the objective, to restore it to historical significance.”

The collective effort was led by Lee Harris Pomeroy Architects, which designed the renovation in association with Weidlinger Associates. “We thought of the restoration of this major historic landmark as a significant gesture of respect to the Bronx,” he said. “It is the only New York City subway station that is entered through a formal, landscaped plaza and free-standing National Register building.”

Such a building posed many challenges, Mr. Prendergast said, including finding workers skilled enough to restore stucco walls and clay roof tiles, the kind of workers who predominated when private railroads had the money and incentive to build public spaces well.

Money was indeed abundant on the New York, Westchester & Boston, which was controlled by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, which was effectively controlled by J. P. Morgan. The Westchester had a Y-shaped route system. Its west fork ran as far as White Plains, its east fork as far as Port Chester. (Despite the name, it never went close to Boston.) The main stem was in the Bronx, terminating at East 132nd Street, with a connection to the Third Avenue el.

Extravagant sums were spent on construction: about $36 million for a 20-mile line. The idea was to carry commuters in almost deluxe comfort aboard all-electric coaches traveling on carpet-smooth track beds, with no grade crossings, as far as the Bronx, where they would then pay only a nickel to complete their journey to work on the el. Underscoring its commitment to quality, the railroad hired Alfred T. Fellheimer, an architect who also worked on Grand Central Terminal as a partner in Reed & Stem, to design its four-story administration building. It resembles an Italian villa.

“Given a choice between Grand Central and a higher fare or the Bronx terminal and a lower fare, passengers by the thousands were expected to switch to the Westchester,” Stan Fischler wrote in “Uptown, Downtown: A Trip Through Time on New York’s Subways” (1976). It was also expected that the seemingly inexorable uptown march of commerce would reach the Bronx, placing the railroad’s handsome administration building near the heart of the city, rather than on the outskirts.

Neither vision materialized. The Westchester, which began running in 1912, never turned a profit. It was one of the first holdings to be liquidated when the New Haven filed for bankruptcy in 1935. Service on the line ended two years later.

But the ghosts of the Westchester endure, most prominently in the administration building and in the 4.25-mile right-of-way from East 180th Street to Dyre Avenue in the Bronx, which was acquired by the city in 1940 to serve as the Dyre Avenue line.

The building’s old upstairs offices are still used for railroad purposes, now by employees of the transit agency’s rapid transit operations, signals and structures divisions. Two attractive retail spaces with plate-glass fronts flank the ground-floor lobby. One is to be occupied this year. The transportation authority will issue a request for proposals for the other space.

The general contractor for the renovation was Citnalta Construction Corporation. The plaza was redesigned by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects. The Arts for Transit program commissioned work by Luisa Caldwell.

The project included rehabilitation of the existing building, reconfiguring the plaza to include a ramp, installing an elevator, improving pedestrian circulation and reconstructing a dank passageway between the administration building and the passenger platforms into an inviting, light-filled corridor.

What the project did not include — at first —  was a clock under the figure of Mercury, where one had once been. No money was budgeted for this extra touch. But then Michael Gargiulo, the president of Citnalta, visited the site. “He didn’t think it looked right without a clock,” said Matthew Blitch, the vice president of the company.

The contractors learned that they could buy a 45-inch diameter clock with Roman numerals from the Electric Time Company of Medfield, Mass., for $8,000. That cost, and the labor to install it, were Citnalta’s extra contribution to the project. “It adds so much to the facade of the building,” Mr. Blitch said. Whether it adds to or subtracts from straphangers’ anxiety is another matter entirely.

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The Lady, the Dog and the Deli Sandwich Order

The call crackled over police radios in the First Precinct just after 2 p.m. on Wednesday: a dispute at a deli in TriBeCa – dog involved.

A squad car responded to the location, the Tribeca Deli on Greenwich Street, witnesses said, as did a smaller single-person police vehicle and an ambulance, possibly because there had been a report that a blind woman was involved.

Outside the deli, officers spoke with a woman, who stood with her dog. She wanted to get a turkey sandwich with mustard on whole wheat. And she wanted to take the dog inside with her.

“It was busy time,” said one worker, Jose Santos, who staffed the sandwich stand in back of the deli with two other workers.

Mr. Santos did not see the woman or her dog, he said, but he registered a commotion in the front of the store. He said choice words could be heard, though he declined to elaborate on which ones.

Up front, the cashiers were mum. “No comment,” one said.

“I just get here; I don’t know what happened,” said another, but noted the rule: “No dog. No dog in the store.”

Mr. Santos said the cashiers up front had asked the woman to wait outside with her dog as the men in back made her sandwich. That was apparently not a good solution. The police were summoned.

A Police Department spokesman said there was no record of any incident at that location, adding that police officers talk to people on the street all day long and do not record every interaction.

Yet 30 minutes after the radio call, a wolf pack of reporters arrived, chasing a story of a service dog and a blind woman denied entry to a deli in one of the tonier sections downtown.

Inside the deli, a picture of a St. Bernard — a beverage bottle in place of a barrel around its neck – greeted entering customers.

But the woman and her dog had already left, as had the police.

Carlos Gutierrez, a chauffeur to a Hollywood celebrity, said he saw the commotion from his black Cadillac Escalade parked across the street. “She didn’t seem like she was blind,” he said. “It was just one lady talking to three cops.”

Service animals — anything from a dog to a hedgehog — assist owners with a variety of disabilities besides blindness and are permitted to enter stores that sell food, per the city health department [pdf]. Such “food service operators” may not demand to see proof of an owner’s disability or identification for the animal.

One door down from the deli, at a Duane Reade drugstore, a cashier said people regularly try to bring their dogs inside. “If it’s a small dog, I tell them to carry it; if it’s a big dog, I tell them to leave it outside,” he said. “Because customers complain when they sniff the candy.”

An assistant manager chimed in: “In Manhattan, some people treat their dogs like kids.” Both employees declined to give their names, not wanting to be drawn into any fluffy kerfuffle.

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After Heart Attack, Ship Engineer Is Rescued by Helicopter

The New York police staged a nighttime helicopter rescue mission in New York Harbor on Tuesday, saving the life of the ship’s 60-year-old chief engineer, who had a heart attack while the 360-foot cargo vessel was anchored far from shore.

The police received a distress call at 9:45 p.m. about the stricken engineer aboard the Grey Shark.

The ship, which is based in Brooklyn and brings cars and trucks to St. Marc, Haiti, was anchored off Staten Island between the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the ferry terminal, waiting out a patch of bad weather, said an official of Devon Shipping, Inc, which owns the vessel. The Police Department’s harbor unit ferried Detective Robert Brager, a tactical medic with the Emergency Services Unit, to the ship.

Once on board, Detective Brager treated the engineer, Aly Akl, but decided that “the safest, and quickest, way to get the patient off the ship to a hospital would be to airlift him off,” the police said.

A Bell 412 police helicopter was already on its way to the location and once it arrived, rescue workers lowered a basket to the ship’s deck and Mr. Akl was lifted onto the helicopter.

Detective Brager was also hoisted up to the helicopter, where he continued to monitor the patient on the flight to Staten Island University North Hospital.

On Wednesday, Mr. Akl was in stable condition, the police said.

Andy Newman contributed reporting.

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Give Us Your Best Honking Haiku

So the city is taking down all those “No Honking” signs, as The New York Times reported Tuesday, having concluded that their efficacy is, at best, uncertain.

But honku will endure forever — perhaps even drawing strength from this act of bureaucratic capitulation to the forces of noise pollution.

Honku, huh? you ask. Why, haiku about honking, a form invented in 2001 by a Brooklyn-based Web producer named Aaron Naparstek, who with his neighbors distilled their annoyance with neighborhood motorists into keenly observed three-line missives of five, seven and five syllables, like:

When the light turns green
like a leaf on a spring wind
the horn blows quickly.


Gruesome hit and run
fatalities up ahead
how awful — I’m late.

The little poems caught on, spinning off a Web site, a book and, incidentally, a career for Mr. Naparstek as a clean-transportation advocate.

Mr. Naparstek, who worked for Transportation Alternatives and founded Streetsblog, is in Massachusetts this school year teaching in M.I.T.’s urban planning department. Reached by phone on Tuesday, he said he had dimly heard about the city’s move.

“I’m just assuming that the signs are coming down because the honking problem must have been solved, am I not correct?” he asked. “I’m sorry not to be in New York City to experience the victory and the sweet sound of silence. But I’m happy for the people in New York.”

Perhaps Mr. Naparstek is not kidding as much as he thinks he is, and the fanfare-played-upon-the-steering-wheel is gradually fading from the city soundscape. Perhaps the music of the automotive horn is here to stay.

Either way, won’t you share your own honku with us in the comments?

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Good for One Fare

Dear Diary:

Two beat-up New York City subway tokens sit on my windowsill in western Colorado between a euro coin from a Mediterranean vacation and a tube of Blistex for chapped lips.

My old worn coins, roughly the size of a nickel, no longer have a purpose since MetroCards replaced tokens about 10 years ago. But I don’t consider them worthless. Far from it. They will not get me from Brooklyn, where I once lived, to Grand Central, which was once my daily destination when I worked as a back-order clerk on the ninth floor of Brooks Brothers.

These tokens will take me back, way back, to 1973. Nixon was still holed up in the White House, the Mets were playing in the World Series, and I was fresh out of college ready to become the next Jimmy Breslin.

Life is full of surprises.

Oakland beat the Mets. Nixon and I both resigned, though for different reasons. I fell in love with a woman in Ohio, and she had no immediate plans to move to New York. We’ve been married for almost 40 years. I worked at newspapers in many states, though nobody ever confused me with Jimmy Breslin.

Still, I keep these subway tokens as a reminder that it’s a long way from Brooklyn to wherever. It’s been a good ride.

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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A Jazz Reunion at the ‘Fame’ School

This is about jazz, so we’ll improvise, starting with Jimmy Owens, the renowned trumpeter, composer and bandleader. In cool threads (red jacket and green scarf), he’s remembering back more than 50 years to his days at the city’s High School of Music & Art, before it merged with the High School of Performing Arts — the “Fame” school — and before they moved together to Lincoln Center — before there really was a Lincoln Center.

“If I got caught playing jazz in the practice room, I got sent down to the dean’s office,” he recalls with a chuckle. He got caught doing that a lot, so, he says, “I had a permanent seat outside Dean Kane’s office.” Many others, like Freddy Lipsius, later of Blood Sweat and Tears, sat with him.

Jazz hadn’t yet come up the river — the Hudson River — to public schools anywhere in the nation, and youth rebelliousness was widely viewed with suspicion, even at the progressive Music & Art, founded in 1936 by Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, who called it “the most hopeful accomplishment of my administration.”

But in 1971, a drummer who had played in the Marine band at President Kennedy’s funeral was recruited to the faculty with the radical mission of turning the dance and stage bands into a jazz ensemble.

“I had no idea what the hell I was talking about,” recalled the percussionist, Justin DiCioccio.

There was a lot of remembering like this going on Monday night as the school, now the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts on Amsterdam Avenue at 65th Street, brought together 37 celebrated jazz alumni and friends for a reunion/benefit concert and jam session to honor Mr. DiCioccio, who went on to lead the jazz program at the school for the next two decades.

He instructed, among others, the drummer Kenny Washington, the clarinetist Don Byron, the guitarist Bobby Broom, the bassist Marcus Miller and the vibraphonist Mark Sherman, all of whom, with several dozen others, flocked in from around the country to play for their former teacher.

The guitarist John Pizzarelli, who has a daughter at the school, joined the jam fest, along with the pianist Arturo O’Farrill, also a parent of a Music & Art student, and the Cuban-born, nine-Grammy-winning, alto saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera.

Mingling with fellow musicians at a preconcert dinner of kale, chicken and pasta salad in the school cafeteria, Mr. Washington (class of 1976) recalled the day at school that he faced a sheet of music and quailed. “I took my sticks out and saw bars of 4/4 to 3/4 to 5/8 to 3/16 and I looked at that and my eyes bugged out,” he said. “I put my sticks away,” he told Mr. DiCioccio. “I can’t play this.”

“He says: ‘You can learn how to play this. If you couldn’t play it, you wouldn’t be here.’” The next day, Mr. Washington said, Mr. DiCioccio (pronounced de-CHO-chee-oh) dropped a book on his desk, Charley Wilcoxon’s “Modern Rudimental Swing Solos” for drums. “Don’t worry,” Mr. DiCioccio told him. “I’ll teach you.” It changed his life, he said.

From the stage, the bassist Mr. Miller, in a black gaucho hat, also hailed Mr. DiCioccio as someone who saved lives as surely as any pediatric surgeon. “He would change trajectories,” he said. “ ‘Stead of being here,” — he held a hand waist-high — “you’d be here,” moving his hand above his head.

The man who brought Mr. DiCioccio to Music & Art was also there, Gabriel Kosakoff, 86, the former head of the instrumental music department.

Mr. DiCioccio came to the school as a part-time percussion teacher in 1971. He had grown up in Buffalo, attended the Eastman School of Music and, to escape the Vietnam draft — “I didn’t want to kill people” — signed up for an opening on the White House Marine band, The President’s Own.

He ended up in the Kennedy funeral cortege in 1963. “In the pictures with the riderless horse, the first snare drummer, that’s me,” he said. He stayed to play for President Lyndon B. Johnson and then made his way to New York to play jazz.

When Mr. Kosakoff sought to hire him full time, he balked. “I’m a player, not a teacher,” he said. What would it take to change his mind? “Off the top of my head, I said, ‘Let’s start a jazz band,’” Mr. DiCioccio recalled. Mr. Kosakoff was taken aback. “It’s not a college,” he said.

The upstart would not be put off. “I thought you said this was a specialized high school for special students,” Mr. DeCioccio replied. “You should do something special.”

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Ex-Janitor Convicted of Raping Girl in School Basement Repeatedly

A former Brooklyn middle-school janitor was convicted Tuesday of repeatedly raping and sexually abusing an eighth-grade girl, the district attorney’s office said.

The man, Ambiorix Rodriguez, 34, had been accused of sexually attacking the girl over the course of five months in 2010 and 2011 in the basement of the Middle School for Marketing and Legal Studies in East Flatbush, where he was the head custodian until his arrest in April 2011.

In the first episode, Mr. Rodriguez inappropriately touched the girl, who was then 12, prosecutors said. The next day, he repeated the offense, and over the next months he continued to grope and force sexual relations on the girl, often on a couch in the basement, as often as several times a week, according to prosecutors.

Mr. Rodriguez, who remains in custody, was convicted of four counts of predatory sexual assault against a child, two counts of second-degree rape and six counts of second-degree sexual abuse.

He is to be sentenced Feb. 20. He has no prior record but faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

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At a Library, an Outpouring of Support, and New Dolls

Thea Taube, the children's librarian at the Ottendorfer branch in the East Village, has received several donated American Girl dolls since an article appeared last week about the American Girl doll that library allows children to borrow. Ruth Fremson/The New York Times Thea Taube, the children’s librarian at the Ottendorfer branch in the East Village, has received several donated American Girl dolls since an article appeared last week about the American Girl doll that library allows children to borrow.

Thea Taube — much like the Ottendorfer library’s suddenly famous doll mascot — has been inundated with such an outpouring of love and appreciation lately that she is nearly coming apart at the seams.

“It has been quite a week,” said a harried Ms. Taube, the children’s librarian at the Ottendorfer branch of the New York Public Library, in the East Village.

Readers of an article in The New York Times last week will recognize Ms. Taube as the resourceful children’s librarian who, after she was hired in 2004, rescued an American Girl doll named Kirsten Larson from a storage shelf and began lending it out to girls, elevating Kirsten to mascot status at the branch.

The article described Kirsten’s journeys to the homes of a diverse group of girls who use the branch and the recent send-off party as a worn-out Kirsten was packed up for shipping to the American Girl’s doll hospital in Middleton, Wis.

News of the doll available for loan was referenced on the Weekend Update segment on “Saturday Night Live,” as the host Seth Meyers joked sarcastically that the doll was being lent out “because some people haven’t gotten the flu yet.”

Kirsten’s story elicited many offers to donate dolls or money to libraries, in New York and elsewhere. American Girl dolls retail for $110.

But officials at the New York Public Library’s main press office said they could not accept doll donations. They released a statement from Anne Coriston, vice president of the system’s public programs and manager of the 87 branch libraries.

“The incredible outpouring of support we have received in response to Kirsten’s story, both from N.Y.P.L. patrons and others across the country, has been heartwarming and inspiring,” the statement read. “Due to the overwhelming number of offers we’ve received in the past two days, the library is simply not able to manage such a great number of donations and therefore, we kindly ask those who have generously offered their dolls to consider donating them to their local child welfare organization.”

This policy presented a problem for Ms. Taube, who was flooded with e-mails and phone calls from people offering to send her branch new and used American Girl dolls.

“I had to tell them I couldn’t accept them,” she said of the dozens of offers she received. She was, however, allowed to accept money donated to the branch, including a $1,000 check for the branch in a letter that arrived by mail on Monday.

There were those – bless them — who simply sent dolls without asking. So far, five new dolls have arrived in packages addressed to the library: three for the branch and two addressed by name to girls mentioned in the article whose parents were unable or unwilling to splurge for a doll.

Ms. Taube plans on loaning out a roster of dolls, including a rehabilitated Kirsten and the three new dolls: Rebecca, Saige and Kit. She plans on putting each doll in a backpack with the corresponding books that provide their biography, and a diary to accommodate each girl’s description of the visit. Ms. Taube then plans on running monthly discussions for the children who borrow the dolls.

The other offers Ms. Taube has received included one from a teenage girl from the Upper East Side who offered to take a group of friends to the branch to volunteer. A professor of American studies at Yale said he would travel from Connecticut and run a junior writers group. A literary agent suggested Ms. Taube write a children’s book about Kirsten, and Ms. Taube was to appear on Tuesday on the daytime talk show, “Live From the Couch.”

“What am I going to wear?” she said, looking down at her usual outfit of a sweater and jeans and sneakers, in the branch on Monday afternoon. “My wardrobe consists of three pairs of jeans.”

Ms. Taube had just run a toddlers group, and a woman walked up and thanked her for making Kirsten available for lending.

“You are appreciated, and not just by mothers of daughters who borrow the doll,” said the woman, Beth Weiner, who lives in the neighborhood.

Ms. Taube said she had also played the role of therapist to callers who wanted to relate their poignant doll stories, including tearful reminiscences of daughters who have outgrown the dolls

“I’ve gotten calls from across the country — California, North Carolina, the Midwest, down the street, Long Island,” she said. “It’s just been so moving.”

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