Archive for the ‘Enjoy It’ Category

Three’s Company

March 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Law-Abiding: Chrissy, Jack, and Janet

Well now I’ve heard it all. I mean, I’ve always known that oral sex was illegal in several states, and I was not surprised when the Texas Board of Education erased Thomas Jefferson from their textbooks, but this morning  I learned that in New York City it is illegal for more than three unrelated people to live together in an apartment or a house! Don’t believe me?  Here’s this morning’s NY Times article:

In New York, Breaking a Law on Roommates


Who You Know Votes Where

October 18, 2008 Leave a comment

Skeleton of nonpareils by artist, Heather Cox

Today I took a break from work to pop into one of the artist studios participating in A.G.A.S.T., Annual Gowanus Artists Studio Tour. It’s great, it’s one of a kind, and I highly recommend it over a Fox NFL Sunday. Hurry up though, it’s only a two day festival and tomorrow’s the last day. The tour encompasses 28 different studios in the Gowanus Canal area. My friends Mical Moser and Heather Cox can be found at 295 Douglas St, between 3rd and 4th Avenues. I may be biased, but I think you should visit them  first.
 Author's cousins in Vermont

Mical Moser’s Map of Who You Know Votes Where



Annual Gowanus Artists Studio Tour

Oct 18 & 19, 1PM-6PM

Categories: Enjoy It Tags: , ,

Fighting for the Right to Drink Beer on His Stoop

September 9, 2008 Leave a comment

Next time you are sitting on your stoop enjoying a cold one, think of this story:

Fighting for the Right to Drink Beer on His Stoop
By Manny Fernandez, The New York Times (September 8, 2008)

Kimber VanRy was sitting on his stoop in the Prospect Heights section
of Brooklyn, drinking a beer and sending e-mail messages on his
BlackBerry, when a police car slowed to a stop on the street in front of

It had been a pleasant evening for Mr. VanRy, 39, who lives in a
four-story, 20-unit co-op building with his wife and two children.  He
had watched Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s speech at the Democratic
convention on television, helped put his sons to bed and washed the

The time was 11:52 p.m., the date was Aug. 27, and the beer, for the
record, was a 12-ounce bottle of Sierra Nevada.

The police officer in the driver’s seat said something to Mr. VanRy.
He left the stoop, walked to the car and, several minutes later, was
handed a small pink slip–a $25 summons for drinking in public.

Mr. VanRy, who is the president of his building’s co-op board and whose
last brush with the law was about 12 years ago, when he got a speeding
ticket in Pennsylvania, was shocked to learn that drinking a beer on his
stoop was unlawful.  He said that he and his neighbors in the building
have for years gathered on the short stoop, talking and drinking,
without officers from the 77th Precinct ever showing up.

“I think this is a real gray area,” said Mr. VanRy, an international
sales manager for a supplier of stock film footage, video and music.  “I
don’t think I was doing anything wrong.”

In Brooklyn, the borough of the brownstone, few spaces are more sacred
than the stoop, the place where the city goes to watch the city go by.
Mr. VanRy’s summons, news of which has spread on Brooklyn blogs, message
boards and in a community newspaper, The Brooklyn Paper, has stirred
debate about the legal status of stoops and stoop drinkers.

New Yorkers who enjoy drinking wine or beer on their stoops are indeed
violating the law, according to the police.

The city’s open-container law prohibits anyone from drinking an
alcoholic beverage, or possessing and intending to drink from an open
container containing an alcoholic beverage, “in any public place.”  The
law defines a public place as one “to which the public or a substantial
group of persons has access, including, but not limited to,” a sidewalk,
street or park.

Exceptions include drinking at a block party or “similar function for
which a permit has been obtained” as well as premises licensed for the
sale and consumption of alcohol.  The punishment for violations is a
fine of no more than $25 or imprisonment of up to five days, or both.

Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said in
statement about Mr. VanRy’s summons: “The officer observed a violation.
The subject has a right to dispute it.”

Mr. VanRy will contest the summons at a court appearance in November by
pleading not guilty.  He questioned the notion that his stoop is
considered a “public place” as defined by the law.  Besides, he pointed
out, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was photographed by The New York Post in
May sipping a glass of wine at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

“It’s one of those laws that a lot of people know it’s there, but how
heavily it should be enforced is a question,” Mr. VanRy said.

Steve Wasserman, a lawyer with the criminal practice of the Legal Aid
Society, questioned the wording of the law, adding that legal arguments
could be made that a stoop is not a place that a “substantial group of
persons” can gain access to.

“This is an open question,” he said of the law.  “There’s also a larger
constitutional question, if a piece of your private property were being
treated as if it were a public place.  You couldn’t get arrested for
drinking that beer in your kitchen.  Now you’re sitting on your stoop.
The stoop may be more like your kitchen than your sidewalk.”

Richard Briffault, a professor at Columbia University Law School and an
expert in property and local government law, said Mr. VanRy’s summons
illustrated the thin line between private and public property.  “It’s
quite possible to be on private property and in public at the same
time,” he said.

Indeed, last year, a State Supreme Court justice in the Bronx ruled
that an apartment building lobby qualified as a “public place” in
relation to the open-container law.  A police officer had confronted a
man who was drinking a beer in the lobby of a building on the Grand
Concourse, and Justice Joseph J. Dawson ruled that the officer had
probable cause to arrest him.

The details of Mr. VanRy’s tale have fascinated his friends, neighbors,
the four lawyers who sent e-mail messages offering advice and
Brooklynites who read about the incident on local blogs.  The officer
who gave Mr. VanRy the summons asked him, for example, what brand of
beer he was drinking.  “I thought it was strange why it mattered,” Mr.
VanRy said.

Mr. VanRy’s stoop does not have a gate and is set back from the
sidewalk by a few feet, and the officer told him that if he were behind
a gate on his stoop, he would not have received a ticket.  In Mr.
VanRy’s posting that night to a message board at, he
made a point of mentioning the other officer in the police car, who, Mr.
VanRy wrote, “was playing Tetris on his iPod the whole time.”

Mr. VanRy’s building on Sterling Place is in a gritty but gentrifying
part of Prospect Heights, and Mr. VanRy knows neighborhood residents who
have been mugged.  “The question that sort of lingers in my mind is,
given all the other kinds of things that are constantly going on and how
little I see of police in the neighborhood, that this was the best use
of their 20 minutes of time?” he said of the two officers.

He has already made up his mind about whether to risk drinking on his
stoop again.  “Absolutely,” he said.

E. 17th Street

August 21, 2008 1 comment

A nice house in Ditmas Park Brooklyn

Click for Google Map of E. 17th Street in Ditmas Park BrooklynYesterday, I arrived early for an appointment and so decided to take a stroll down E. 17th Street. This neighborhood was once known as Flatbush and is now called Ditmas Park. It was such a nice walk that I had to share it with all of you. This block is full of detached Victorian style homes, all in pristine condition and most with front porches.  The sidewalks are pleasantly lined with oak, maple, and various fruit trees. I understand that many of you are familiar with this area, but believe me, even by Ditmas standards, this block is something special.

When you have a moment and before the summer is over, please take in E. 17th Street, between Newkirk and Dorchester…and if you have another moment, let me know how it went. Thanks for reading.

Take Five

April 6, 2008 1 comment
Thinking about real estate in Park Slope Brooklyn

The author demonstrates the Take Five method

People often solicit my opinion about a given neighborhood. “Is it safe?”,they ask. “How is the area? What are the locals like?”, etcetera, etcetera,… I flat out try to evade these questions and I have my reasons. For one, I’m very fond of the neighborhoods I work in and don’t feel capable of answering objectively (It would be like bad-mouthing a family member to an outsider). For two, other than the number of times I’ve been fleeced by the Department of Finance (see How to Park It), I don’t worry all that much about crime in my neck of the woods. And three, the locals question? I don’t even want to know what people are getting at there. So I don’t answer any of these questions. But this is what I do say. I say, “because everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to these things, you need to explore the neighborhood yourself. That means more than just a cursory look. You need to take five extra minutes with some of the residents and get to know them. Doesn’t matter how you do it, but you need to engage a few locals. Ask for directions or the best place to get coffee. Say good morning or good afternoon. Whatever it is, just talk to people. If you do this, I guarantee, that if you really do this, you will see the neighborhood and you will see the entire city of NY in a very different light.”

I can hear the collective moan coming over the big T1 line in the blogosphere. You are out of your mind Jim. This is New York City! You can’t just talk to people on the street. You’ll scare them, or they’ll be suspicious, or they’ll get mad. My experience has taught me otherwise. When I first started exploring Crown Heights, I would stop random people on the street and ask them what they were paying for rent. If anyone asked why, I would simply say that I was thinking of buying a three family building in the neighborhood and wanted to know what I could lease the apartments for. And you know what? People talked to me. They were friendly. They were nice. They were very helpful. I even got invited into someone’s apartment to have a look. I couldn’t believe it either, but I learned a valuable lesson about my city. Nowadays, I almost always say hello, good morning, and good afternoon and my neighbors usually say it back.

So you want to know about a neighborhood? Take five extra minutes and get to know its residents. Thanks for reading, Jim.

I’ve been away

February 3, 2008 3 comments

Hi. I have neglected this site for some time now.  At the risk of sounding a bit sentimental I want to say I have a good excuse. My wife Julia and I had a son and we couldn’t be happier.


YawnCorrectedNathan J.P. Winters (aka Nathan Detroit) was born Dec. 18th 2007.  He’s fantastic, we are all doing great, and every good thing you’ve ever heard about being a new parent is true.

…and now back to work.

Categories: Enjoy It

Brooklyn- My Home

February 1, 2008 Leave a comment

Coops, condos, coops, condos, a house
A one family, a two family, a penthouse
A ranch, a Victorian, an old brownstone
All I wish for, is an abode of my very own

A five hundred plus foot square by square
A cozy little den with a big comfy armchair
A fistful of blue sky and a patch of leafy green
All will give life to my dreams n a lovely sheen

Prospect Park West, Park Slope and Kensington
Windsor Terrace and Carroll Gardens, all beckon
Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Sunset Park, Clinton Hill,
All these hoods are quite savory and give me a thrill

New York, city of dreams, five suburbs, a wonderful skyline
Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island are fine
But my heart is set on one, only one corner and that beckons
Of all the five boros that make New York, and that is Brooklyn!

Prospect Park, Public Library, Museum, Botanical Gardens
Academy of Music, Grand Army Plaza, and lovely Fountains
Food Coop, shops, restaurants, churches, schools with griffin
All have a distinct flavor and I wish with all my heart to fit in

Coops, condos, coops, condos, a house I need
A fistful of blue sky, a patch of verdant green
An abode of my own is my wish that is quite ardent
And now I will achieve this through a competent agent!!!

“We shape our dwellings, and afterwards, our dwellings shape us”
Author: Winston churchill,, 1874- 1965, Bristish Statesman, Prime Minister

Bina Gupta is an Indian American poet. You can read more poems by Bina at

Categories: Enjoy It