Saturday, August 26, 2017

206 Island Hopping

Yes, I HAVE been thinking about the events in Charlottesville, VA , on Fifth Avenue,  on Pennsylvania Avenue, and in Texas(Thoughts and prayers go out to everybody in HOU.) and I have a real hot-rockin' flame-throwin' booty-kickin' blog kicking around the old noggin, but for NOW, since it's still summer,  at least for a few more weeks, and there are people coming to New York City who, hard as it may be to believe, don't give two shirts (Unlike our barely tolerated president, I don't want to offend anybody!) about El Jefe and what he has to say about anything and just want to do some sightseeing, sooooo, ladies and germs, I give you A TALE OF TWO ISLANDS! (With one thing in common: They're connected by the F subway line.)

CONEY ISLAND, Brooklyn, New York

Get on the Sixth Avenue D or F from Queens or Manhattan, the Broadway N from Queens or  Manhattan or the Second Avenue Q from Manhattan,(and enjoy the view as your train crosses the Manhattan Bridge into downtown Brooklyn. Brooklyn Bridge Park, and DUMBO, the area Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, are great destinations for a future visit.) and ride all the way from the subway platform to the El(evated) at the Stillwell Avenue-Coney Island stop. As soon as the recorded voice of New York radio personality Charlie Pellett urges, "Everybody please leave the train," walk down the ramp (or take the escalator) and you'll find a VERY mini-version of Grand Central with its own newsstand, Subway and Checkers restaurants, newsstand, ATM, and one-stop store for all your beach needs. Exit the station on the Boardwalk, and you'll see a row of shops including a team store for Brooklyn's first major league team since the 50's, the (formerly New Jersey) Nets and one of two current Wahlburgers restaurants in the New York City area. (An Upper East Side store is already open and a Times Square store is on the way.) Luna Park is back and open from Spring to Fall, and the house that Nathan and Ida Handwerker built, I refer, of course, to Nathan's Famous, is open 24/7/365 serving their world famous hot dogs to locals and tourists alike. (Also of note, Applebee's, Rita's, and Gargiulo's Restaurant, a Coney Island institution for more than a century right across the street from MCU Park.)Walk down Surf Avenue to W 15th Street and see MCU Park, the home of the New York Mets' short season New York-Penn League affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones. (The name seems a natural, since the Park directly faces its world famous namesake, the legendary 90-year-old wooden roller coaster ready to entertain and thrill those hardy enough to take it on, but it's actually the result of a contest sponsored by the Mets and the Daily News. Brooklyn SWEATHOGS? Up YOUR nose with a rubber hose! Brooklyn HONEYMOONERS? Hardy-har-har! Any OTHER name than Brooklyn CYCLONES? Fuhgeddaboudit!) You CAN,and SHOULD, root root root for the home team, but it doesn't REALLY matter if they win or lose, it's how much fun you have watching the game. King Henry, a rotund gentleman from Send In The Clowns Entertainment, a proud Mets sponsor, is your happy host, the Beach Bums dance team is there to pump up the crowd, (When the Clones are away, the third iteration of the legendary New York Cosmos will play North American Soccer League sides from Puerto Rico, Indianapolis, and the Carolinas, among others.) and Sandy and Pee Wee, two VERY Brooklyn seagulls, are there to bring smiles to fans of all ages. Before the game, stop over at the Coney Island Museum (1208 Surf Avenue, visit for complete scheduling information) and relive the glory days of what comic writers Len Wein and Marv Wolfman erroneously described as "Brooklyn's halfhearted version of Disneyland", checking out funhouse mirrors, artifacts, even meeting descendants of the original sideshow oddities. If you want to relive those days in a more relaxed atmosphere, go up West 19th Street to Mermaid Avenue and visit the Coney Island Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, where, with proper ID, you can log on to your own computer and search newsreels of Coney's glory days on YouTube, or check out (If you want to LITERALLY check 'em out, you have to sign up for a library card.) books on everything Brooklyn from Coney to the Dodgers (Even current LA fans are welcome!) to Spike Lee to the Revolutionary War Battle Of Brooklyn. If you got kids, the Coney Island Library also has its own play area and a full selection of kids and Young Adult books (including the classics) and graphic novels including favorites such as Brooklyn's most super powerful resident, the one and only Captain America. You might also want to check out the beaches, and the Ford Coney Island Ampitheatre on West 23rd Street and Surf Avenue,especially with HOT 97's "On Da Reggae and Soca Tip" coming on September 1,The Second Avenue Coney Island Freestyle Funhouse on September 2, and El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico on September 3. Coney Island, the subject of everything from romcoms to a musical number on the original Mickey Mouse Club to a GEICO commercial for the New York market, also hosts its own film festival from September 8 to 17. Advance tickets are now available at   Just TRY to visit Coney Island and be bored!
(Also visit,, , httpa://, and and .) BTW, the New York Aquarium on West 8th Street is undergoing extensive renovations and is only PARTIALLY open.It has its own stop on the F line.


If you have time during the day after your visit to Coney Island, get on the F and take it to Roosevelt Island. On your way, look at the station signs and listen for the names "Washington Square," "Bryant Park," and "Rockefeller Center," all also great ideas for future visits. Unfortunately, if you're expecting a small town railway station like the ones on the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Rail
Road (serving Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Kings' Counties  and Connecticut) or the Staten Island Railway, prepare for a disappointment: It's a near-carbon-copy of the Lexington Avenue-63rd Street Station (the last one in Manhattan proper) and, unlike the Coney Island Station, boasts no amenities. (Steer clear of the village idiot when you leave the station.) Walk straight to the center of Main Street(On your way, you can find the Riverwalk Bar and Grill,Nonno's Foccaceria,the Fuji East Restaurant,Pier NYC, Starbucks, and a Duane Reade There IS a Nathan's, but it's only a food truck..)  and, as you stand right under the Edward I. Koch Queensboro Bridge, (celebrated in Simon and Garfunkel's "59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)" ), you can see the Roosevelt Island Tram Station and Visitor Center. Islanders point proudly to the Tramway,which takes you to 59th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan and back again with spectacular views of the East River, Midtown and Queens at no extra charge. It will only cost you $2.75 per ride, the current price of a NYC Subway or bus, which, of course, is subject to change) as the better ride over the subway, although the Citywide Ferry Service is slated to add the Island to its route. The Visitor Center,located right next to the Tram Station and operated under the auspices of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, is your one stop center for everything related to the Island and its history, including a classic Spider-Man cover pitting the Wall-Crawler against the Punisher with the Tram in the background which is sold as a poster. Continue to the right and you
will see reminders of Roosevelt Island's history as Minnehonock, a province of the Lenape Indians, Hog Island under the Dutch,a British colony originally under the name Manning's Island and subsequently under the name Blackwell's Island, after the then-owner Robert Blackwell, whose grandson Jacob constructed the Blackwell House, the oldest surviving structure on the Island,and the sixth oldest structure in New York City. The City purchased the Island for $32,000 ($700,000 in today's money), and structures that have survived since then include the Octagon Tower, now a residential building,the Church of the Good Shepherd,and the Blackwell Island Light. While Coney Island has always been a popular travel destination, Roosevelt Island, or Welfare Island as it was known for a while, wasn't so much. Charles Dickens wrote a series of essays criticizing the conditions at the Octagon in his 1842 book "American Notes,"crusading journalist Nellie Bly went undercover at the Women's Lunatic Asylum and published her findings in her 1887 book "Ten Days In A Mad House,"and the 1939 John Garfield movie "Blackwell's Island" concerns corruption in the prison. You can also see the Delacorte Fountain, facing the United Nations, which opened in 1968. The fountain began the renaissance of what was officially renamed Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Island in 1971. While Coney Island is a  neighborhood in the borough of Brooklyn under the jursidiction of the Brooklyn Borough President and the Mayor of New York City, Roosevelt Island is owned by the City and leased to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation of the State of New York. To return to our walking tour, continue along Riverwalk to the crown jewel of the island,  Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, located adjacent to Smallpox Hospital on the southernmost tip. This park is both a tribute to FDR's State of the Union address celebrating America's Four Freedoms and a place for relaxation and quiet reflection, although there are parties every Friday night. ,
If you exit the subway station on the left, you will enter Northtown, consisting of the WIRE buildings (Westview, Island House, Rivercross, and Eastwood.) Rivercross is the only co-op of the otherwise rental buildings. Continue to the Roosevelt Island Library, originally a community room before moving to 524 Main Street in 1979. It has been part of the New York Public Library since 1998, and, like the Coney Island Library, you need a card to borrow one of the books and examine  Roosevelt Island history (visit for THAT).Ask the staff for "The Dead House" by Linda Fairstein,"Code Orange" by Caroline Cooney, or "City of Bones" by Cassandra Clare. The closest the recently concluded Roosevelt Island Summer Movie Series has come to a movie that truly speaks to the residents has been Eddie Murphy's "Coming To America" wherein our hero, an African prince who must find a wife, proclaims, "I'm going to Queens!" (As mentioned later, the Island is connected by its own bridge to Long Island City in the borough of Queens, whose history and modern buildings, including the Citi Tower on Court Square, are topics for another day.) Despite the Tram's appearances in the Billy Crystal-Meg Ryan classic "When Harry Met Sally," and a Coca-Cola commercial, it hasn't always been treated kindly by Hollywood. Some cases in point:The Foot Clan's hideout in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is located on the Renwick Ruins on the Island, the Green Goblin blows up the Tram Station in the first Spider-Man movie, and in an early episode of the 1950's procedural NAKED CITY,Detective Halloran (James Franciscus) posed as a mental patient on the Island to uncover a murder.
As you continue along Main Street, you might see one of many bus stops for the RIOC Red Bus, a free shuttle service which begins at the Tramway Station and terminates at the Octagon Apartments at 868 Main Street, and the MTA Q102, which begins at Coler-Goldwater Hospital, continues on the Roosevelt Island Bridge, a vertical lift bridge crossing the East River, and terminates in Astoria, Queens.(It ain't the Cyclone, but a trip on the 102 to Queens via the RI Bridge is a pretty cool ride!) The Island IS protected by the NYPD, but in what we hope is the unlikely event there's something strange in the neighborhood, who do you call? The RIOC Public Safety Department, which has its own storefront office which is also on Main Street, as are an art gallery,a Subway restaurant, and,soon,Lord willing and the creek don't rise, a bubble tea place where millenials can get their fix.  As explained earlier, Queens itself has a rich history and is worth a visit for another day.
Unfortunately, Roosevelt Island has no sports tradition unlike Brooklyn or its next door neighbor, Queens, but it DOES have a gym called Sportspark at 250 Main Street and baseball and softball fields (Permit required!) for Little League teams or corporate softball games. Ultimately, (and this is no knock on Roosevelt Island, although Coney Island, though no Magic Kingdom, still has its own unique charm.) the highlight of a Roosevelt Island visit is taking the tram back over the East River to Manhattan. (Check out the Island's news site of record, The Main Street WIRE at .)

In short, there's not a lot of summer left, but we still have TWO great islands where you can forget about the ills of the world, at least for a little while.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

205 OOPS!

When I said that GLOBAL FORCE WRESTLING is better than RING OF HONOR and mentioned its minor league baseball connections, I should have explained ROH has wrestled at MCU Park, the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, the minor league New York Mets team, and neither the Clones or the Mutts have been doing so well lately, which is not such a good reflection on ROH, which IS being aired on NESN these days. My apologies to ROH, NESN, and all ROH, Sox and Bruins fans! (No apologies to Mets fans, I'm just telling it like it is.)

Almost nobody has heard of a brilliant musician named Franklin Enea , (Visit him on or follow him @FrankEneaBand), but that could very well change as a result of a four-part mini series on Cartoon Network starring the Teen Titans (in their mostly comic TEEN TITANS GO! iteration) called "The Night Begins To Shine." It concerns a song written by Frank and his partners Carl Burnett and William J. Reidy (collectively known as BER and NOT pronounced Bear) which was originally used in a segment of the show with the aforementioned title. This time, the song is the focal point of a story about a dragon who controls a fantasy world and holds the half-human-half-machine member of the group, Cyborg, hostage, until he hands the song over. (You gotta see it to believe it, and even still, you won't believe it!) Great animation, a rockin' 80's-style title song, graphics influenced by anime,classic album covers, and artists such as Mobeius, Jack Kirby, Frank Frazetta and Charles Vess, and guest voices from Cee-Lo (AMERICAN IDOL, "Crazy,", "Forget You") and the group Fall Out Boy (Fall Out Boy was originally the name of the sidekick of Bart Simpson's favorite super hero, Radioactive Man, the leader of the Teen Titans, Robin, is Batman's sidekick, you call THAT a coincidence!?!?), along with a lesson on the power of music and the power of friendship. For information on re-airings, go to or order it on demand from your cable or satellite provider. Not only can BER make your night shine, but they can possibly make the rest of your summer, or, possibly your life,shine.(Fans of CN's edgier AdultSwim shows will also dig this one!)

Remember, Welcome to Steve Country is coming back soon with a special tribute to Glen Campbell, so...

Stay tuned, Buckaroos!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

204 Talking Basebrawl


We are sorry to report the untimely passing of country crossover superstar Glen Campbell. Details to come on the all-new, all-different WELCOME TO STEVE COUNTRY.

Any NBA fan may remember that bizarre night in 2004 when a group of rowdy Indiana Pacers fans heckled the Detroit Pistons. You'd expect the boys from the Motor City to ignore those hayseeds and keep playing like the pros they are, right? WRONG! They were so riled up that they walked right into the stands and started beating up poor, defenseless fans whose only crime was investing their hard-earned money in a game allegedly played by people who know how to conduct themselves in a professional manner.

Say what you will about professional wrestlers, but they care too much about their fans to run into the stands and start attacking them like a pack of wild dogs. (Sure, the heels, which is what they call the bad guys, may insult the fans who love to cheer the hero and hiss the villain, but that's part of their character. They know the fans know they're not seeing them as they really are, but, as Stone Cold Steve Austin once said, them "with the volume turned up." On August 5, I had the pleasure to be part of the immersive entertainment experience called professional wrestling when Global Force Wrestling invaded the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George, the home of the Staten Island Yankees. While this company is based in Nashville, TN, don't expect to hear any Garth Brooks or Florida-Georgia Line when their grapplers rush into the ring, because the action is more heavy metal than hillbilly, and the fans are TOTALLY involved, whether buying their favorite babyface (good guy) or heel (T-shirt) getting an autograph, or (unless they have to catch the Staten Island Ferry home like yours truly) getting into the Octagon and taking a picture with their favorite superstars. Among the talent that got to play while the Baby Bombers were away were Andrew Everett, Sonjay Dutt, (X Division Champion who had to literally fight to get his stolen belt back), two-time Grand Champion Moose, and, Impact's own powerful women of wrestling, including rising young superstar Allie, who may enter the ring wearing a tiara and a bunny outfit but can kick your butt eleven different ways into next Tuesday if you cross her. The difference between Global Force, formerly known as Impact and now a part of Nashville-based Anthem Sports and Entertainment, and the WWE is that GFW doesn't take itself as seriously as the WWE has been known to. IMHO, GFW made the right choice when it chose to hook up with the minor league affiliate of the currently red hot Yankees. Its closest non-WWE competitor, Ring Of Honor, may have awakened some fan interest as a result of the Mickey Rourke movie THE WRESTLER, but when one of your biggest major market affiliates (NESN, owned by the Red Sox and Bruins) dumps you, that doesn't look too good on your permanent record.

For info on future Impact/GFW cards, follow them @IMPACTWRESTLING or  @GFWWrestling. For info on weekly telecasts on CBS-Lionsgate-owned POP TV, log on to and enter your ZIP Code in the window.

To paraphrase the aforementioned Stone Cold, "The bottom line is...." Not being attacked by angry athletes while you're trying to enjoy a sporting event, good. Enjoying the best in sports entertainment, meeting some great people, and being part of the action without enduring physical injury, even better.

DING! There's the bell! See ya at the matches! (IN THE RING WITH STEVE fans, we haven't forgotten about you either. THAT is also coming soon to a device near you!)