Animals rights activists have cried fowl at kapparot (also called kaporos), a 2,000-year-old Orthodox Jewish tradition involving ritual chicken slaughter. In preparation for Yom Kippur, practitioners — including thousands of members of Brooklyn’s Orthodox community — hold a chicken by its wings and swing it over their head three times while praying. Then the chicken is killed with a knife.

Adherents say it’s an act of atonement and purification. Activists say it’s animal torture. But what do you think?


Preservationists have long lobbied for landmarks protections not only to preserve the city’s culture and architecture, but also its affordable housing. They argue that without landmarks, many rent-stabilized buildings would be torn down for market rate developments.

But the Real Estate Board of New York — a real estate industry trade association — released a report on Monday that says landmarked neighborhoods in the city lost rent-regulated apartments at four times the rate of non-landmarked neighborhoods. REBNY argues that landmarking an area makes it the opposite of affordable.

Already taking sides? Check out the details for yourself.


The clock is ticking for more than one proposed landmark. A bill setting time limits on how long the Landmarks Preservations Commission can take to consider landmarking a proposed site is coming up for a City Council vote Wednesday, September 9.

The American Institute of Architects, New York Landmarks Conservancy, Municipal Art Society, Historic Districts Council and more than 60 preservation groups recently voiced their opposition to the bill, known as Intro. 775, with memos and letters addressed to the City Council. And today the Times had a story looking at various sides of the issue.

What the Bill’s Backers Want

The review period for a proposed individual landmark could not exceed 360 days. A hearing would be required within 180 days. Historic districts — much more complex — would require a hearing within a year and a decision within two years.


New York is in a housing crisis, for both affordable and market rate units. So de Blasio’s plan to lease NYCHA land to developers in exchange for cash and more affordable and market rate apartments should appease everyone, right?

Nope. Opponents argue that leasing public land to private developers short-changes the community. But with rising rates of homelessness and growing demand for more units, do the wants of the greater good outweigh the current use of public property?


Left to right: Panelists Fedak, Powell Harris, Lodhi and Brady

Is historic preservation elitist? It depends who you ask. Six experts and a very well informed audience — many of them professional or grassroots preservationists — convened Monday night at the Museum of the City of New York to ponder the question. Here are the answers:

Sometimes. But the bigger problem is it doesn’t help housing.
Even the two pro-development speakers didn’t exactly argue that preservation is elitist. Nikolai Fedak, founder of pro-development website New York YIMBY (it stands for “yes in my backyard”), blamed zoning restrictions for the affordable housing crisis.

The nut of his argument is that if restrictions were eased, and developers could build higher and more densely throughout New York City, we would have enough units to meet demand, and prices would fall.

Nope. But it should be used sparingly.
Real estate trade association Real Estate Board of New York favors landmarking but in moderation. Only worthy buildings should be designated, said REBNY Vice President for Urban Planning Paimaan Lodhi, who was previously a district manager for a community board in Manhattan.

Irresponsible landmarking — such as of empty lots and gas stations — restricts development, he said. (REBNY has supported recent designations, including Chester Court in Prospect Lefferts Gardens.)


Welcome to the first Brownstoner Controversy: a quick guide to the latest and greatest kerfuffle inside and outside of Brooklyn.

Uber’s having a rough week. Not only are their French execs facing charges, but a proposed City Council bill threatens to dramatically limit the number of new cars Uber can add to their NYC fleet.

The bill is co-sponsored by Steve Levin, Councilman of District 33 in northwest Brooklyn. Levin says that capping Uber’s growth is necessary to prevent congestion and pollution. Uber says that the proposed bill looks ahellava lot like one the taxi industry proposed in March.

Already taking sides? Just wait.


Image source: Curbed – supposedly not the MLS stadium to come

A number of news outlets – from Curbed to Yahoo! – have reported on the recent release of assumed renderings by SHoP of the new Major League Soccer (MLS) Stadium for Flushing Meadows Corona Park. There are voices that contradict each other out there right now about the legitimacy of the images – here are the two main relevant quotes we’ve come across:

SHoP principal Gregg Pasquarelli, during a recent presentation earlier at Columbia University, showing images a project that shows details from Flushing Meadows Corona Park (see Curbed‘s image): “The project I’m not supposed to show (you) so I am not going to tell you where it is or what it is but it’s a new stadium that should be announced in the next couple of months.” – via Curbed and Empire of Soccer


The Stran(drama) Smokehouse

We’ve heard mixed reviews about the food at newly opened The Strand Smokehouse in Astoria – glowing (“tender and juicy” regarding the roast beef, and “some of the most delicious in the city” regarding the biscuits as part of brunch) to more critical (“coagulated fat and tough skin” and “pulled pork and ribs — both were dry and not much flavor,” two reviews on Yelp). We’ve also heard about the neighbors who are frustrated by the noise and smoke coming from this establishment. The management has made some changes but will that be enough? You be the judge and check out what everyone has to say about it all.

Sandy Can’t Get Me Down

It was great to read about this LIC teacher who has decided to write a children’s book about Superstorm Sandy. It will be called Sandy Can’t Get me Down, and will be self-published later this month. The teacher, Marie Barret, who teaches at Public School 111, has been “collecting the stories of brave children on the Rockaway peninsula and weaving them into a book of hope.” Barret was inspired by their survival stories.

She previously wrote a book about hurricanes right after Hurricane Irene, called Ms. Irene is So Demanding. About the new book, she says, “The goal is to take away the fear of hurricanes. The book will allow children to talk about things that have happened during the storm they might not have been able to talk about before. The message is you can survive anything no matter how sad it is.”

Halletts Point development – what’s up with that?

We put together an overview of the Halletts Point development, which will bring 2,200 new apartments in 7 buildings to the Hallets Point peninsula that sticks out into the East River just south of Astoria Park. The area is far from the subway, there are few services like retail, but perhaps the new development will solve some of these challenges. The developers could theoretically break ground later this year. We’ve also included a lot of photos of the area to give you an idea of what’s there.

A Steinway-SingleCut pairing?!?

Looks like SingleCut is getting a piano! Rulpsen Singlecutbeer proclaims on Facebook, “We are currently receiving a ‘housewarming’ gift from our awesome neighbors down the street…” with this photo attached:

Image source: Rulpsen Singlecutbeer

That’s pretty cool! SingleCut is hosting live music, so this is a terrific match. Steinway pianos are some of the very best in the world (you can even take a tour of the Steinway factory, just up the street from the brewery).

Wildlife in Queens? Indeed!

This morning we asked our readers if they’ve spied any wildlife (not pigeons or squirrels, which are ubiquitous), and here are some of the answers we got on twitter and Facebook:

SangriaWhisperr: @QueensNYCity On my block in Astoria (38th St btwn Broadway & 34th) I’ve seen raccoons eating leftover halal and possums eating Mexican!

nyc8675309: @QueensNYCity did you see the hawk eating rat video from Flushing a few weeks back?

sacsplace: @QueensNYCity Some people on the N train qualify as wildlife.

Voelker Orth Museum, Bird Sanctuary and Victorian Garden: Does “real deal” wildlife include cardinals, mockingbirds, and sparrows? We see many of these wild birds in our garden. They aren’t hawks, but they’re a little rarer than squirrels, pigeons, and feral cats!