January 2009 Archives

At The Coliseum: "Notorious"

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notorious.jpgIt may have been well below freezing last night, but that didn't stop teenagers and young adults from packing the Coliseum's sold-out 10:15pm showing of George Tillman Jr.'s Notorious, starring Jamal Woolard as Christopher Wallace a.k.a. Biggie Smalls. The show was so full that people were sitting on steps in the theater.

In the mid 1990s Biggie's music could be heard up and down the streets of northern Manhattan, and most of New York City for that matter, with people blasting his hits from their car stereos and boom boxes. The guy was the King of New York, after all. Though as the crowd settled in, I wondered how many of these kids were actually fans of the late Frank White? How many really knew and remembered his music, his life and its end?

For most of the film, it was crystal clear to me who was who and what was happening, but it felt like the movie was working its hardest to let you know that "this guy was Tupac," and "that girl is Lil' Kim." And I see why they did it. With the 90s now fading away, how could many of these kids be expected to remember who was in Junior Mafia or that Lil' Cease was sitting right behind Biggie when he was murdered?

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The film takes you through the ups and downs of Christopher Wallace's career and personal life and gives you a sense of how his music evolved. The concerts featured in the film bring many of the rapper's performances back to life, and some people got right into it and were clearly fans. Those in the audience rapping along with Big to "Party & Bullshit," "Juicy," "Sky Is The Limit," and "Hypnotize" were in the minority, however. I got the feeling that had it been a Jay-Z or Lil' Wayne biopic there would have been many more pumped up by their knowledge of the music in the film, simply because they were too young to be fans of Frank White. Having said that, when "Juicy" was playing many knew and shouted out the infamous line (that is now often edited out of the song) "Time to get paid, blow up like the World Trade!" (referring to the bombing in the early 90s). It was nice to see that the film left the line in, considering the popularity of the song at the time and through the years.

Notorious does a great job of taking you right back to that period, and gives fans of the rapper a chance to learn a bit more about him and get a sense of what kind of person he was in his private life. Even though some parts of the film are clearly exaggerated and fictionalized, the movie is a nice ride back through the 90s with one of hip hop's greatest. 

Not a Notorious B.I.G. fan? Then listen to his music and become one. And then watch this movie.

Three Luxury Townhouses To Be Built On Cabrini

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18628-0-3.jpgWhy spend millions on an existing townhouse in northern Manhattan, when you can have one built for you? Three new four-story townhouses are coming to 186th street and Cabrini Boulevard. For a cool $3 mil (well, $2.95 mil) you can not only secure one, but also design the interior of your palatial pad.

The three town houses being sold by Nest Seekers International are set for construction in what is currently a vacant lot sandwiched next to Hudson View Gardens. The listing says that the townhouses will each have six bedrooms, three bathrooms, a two-car garage, roof terrace, private elevator and a garden/patio. It is not immediately clear if any of the units have sold. 

I think the last thing I had built for me was the cubano I ate for lunch on Thursday, but if I had the extra cash I suppose I could go for one of these.

NOTE: We have posted an update on the townhouses. 

Flight 1549 Flew Directly Over Inwood And Washington Heights

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The George Washington Bridge was as close a witness as any to yesterday's miracle on the Hudson. Early reports suggested that US Airways Flight 1549's Hudson River decent began just north of the bridge and cleared it by roughly 900 feet. The bridge itself is about 600 feet tall, meaning the plane would have passed over the bridge at an altitude just higher than the total height of the Empire State Building. 

It appears that reports of it passing directly over the bridge, however, are wrong. CNN's flight path video shows the plane cutting across Inwood and Washington Heights.


The only local eyewitness report I've read comes from a commenter on the New York Times City Room Blog:

"I work in Washington Heights and I saw the plane go by. I knew something was wrong because it sounded like it was going down not up. I'm pretty sure I saw flames coming out of the port engine."

In another account an Inwood resident, presumably referring to the geese in Inwood Hill Park, said:

"I may not feed the geese here in Inwood anymore. Then again, if we feed them enough, they can't get into the air. It is hard to settle on the right strategy."

And for good measure I took a screen shot from Google Earth of the flight path over Inwood/Washington Heights:

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It'd be great to see some pictures of the miracle jet passing over northern Manhattan. Or at least get some more eyewitness accounts from people uptown. I talked to one person who claims to have heard a plane slowing down, but I want proof! Show me pics!

Audio Tour Application For iPhone Free This Weekend

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hear_planet_02.jpgEver walk through Fort Tryon Park and wonder about it's history? Now you can instantly listen to information about the park and other local points of interest from your iPhone. HearPlanet is a mobile application that lets iPhone 3G owners instantly receive "audio guides" for locations near them. The application uses the phone's GPS to locate wikipedia articles for nearby attractions and points of interests and then reads the article to the listener, saving people the hassle of having to stop and read the whole article as they walk around.

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The app is a nice idea, and I suggest downloading HearPlanet while it's free, through the weekend. There are a few problems, however, like not being able to scrub through the audio, and the fundamental problem of only one person being able to hear the audio guide at once. The application works best if you are touring an area like Washington Heights or Inwood alone. A group of two or more may find the application a bit cumbersome because they won't be able to use headphones to listen to the articles.

There are several sights in Washington Heights and Inwood featured in the app, and if you don't know the neighborhood well it's worth a try if you'll be out alone touring the area with your iPhone 3G. Local residents who are familiar with the ins and outs of northern Manhattan may want to save this one for a trip outside of the area.

Free Inwood Coffee Tasting Tomorrow (January 8th)

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indian_road_cafe_logo.jpgTomorrow the Indian Road Café will be holding a coffee tasting event hosted by Counter Culture Coffee. The tasting begins at 4pm and is aimed at getting the community's opinions in selecting new brews. The café is located on 218th street and Indian Road.

For more information visit the Indian Road Café's website.
fort_washington_inwood_hill_park_renovation.jpgThe New York City Parks Department held a presentation about the planned renovation of Fort Washington Park and a portion of Inwood Hill Park at tonight's Community Board 12 Parks and Cultural Affairs committee meeting. Fort Washington Park is the park along the Hudson River that extends into Riverside Park to the south, and Inwood Hill Park to the north. It is also home to The Little Red Lighthouse.

Phase One of the reconstruction would begin towards the end of this year, as early as October, and has a price tag of about $35 million. The entire renovation project will cost about $160 million.

Plans for Phase One include new and improved playing fields and courts, improved pathways, scenic lookouts, a 1700 foot long bark chip trail, a "rustic" trail and expanded greenway paths.

In addition there are plans to make the Daughters of the American Revolution monument (erected in 1910) recognizing the Battle of Fort Washington more accessible. This could include unearthing the remains of a redoubt used during the battle of Fort Washington in 1776, which still exists, according to a 1936 survey. This site would be the only one from the battle currently above ground, and access to the redoubt would reinforce the park's name further communicating its historical importance.

The Master Plan for the park, among many other things, also includes a skateboard/bmx course added near the George Washington Bridge. This would be a popular move among local skateboard and bmx enthusiasts, who currently use the one-block service road under the bus terminal along Fort Washington Avenue as a recreational area.

Details of an earlier version of the plan can be viewed here.

The Beginning Of The End (Of A-Train Disruptions)

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shuttle_bus.jpgA-train service north of 168th street will be disrupted for nearly every weekend during the next three months. At the moment there are ten more weekends with disrupted service planned through March, ending the nearly two years of weekend repairs for the A line north of 168th street. This weekend saw the beginning of the end of the interruptions, which tend to be accompanied with free shuttle bus service on Broadway and Fort Washington Avenue north of 168th street.

At assemblyman Herman D. Farrell's town hall meeting in November MTA President Howard Roberts was very forthcoming about plans for all MTA services in northern Manhattan which you can read more about in this issue of the Manhattan Times (page 3).

Democratic District Leader Mark Levine was at the November meeting and raised concern about the lack of a shuttle bus stop at 187th street and Fort Washington Avenue. Riders who wish to ride the shuttle bus from this location are forced to walk to 185th street and Fort Washington Avenue, and people who don't realize they can't get off there are often surprised when the bus takes them all the way up to Margaret Corbin Circle, the next stop on the shuttle bus. This issue has not been addressed as of this past weekend, the first of the final eleven planned for 2009.

The MTA has been very forthcoming about their schedule of repairs, and northern Manhattan riders of the A-train can expect things to return to "normal" by the end of March.

What's Going On With The Crossing Signals?

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A mysterious malfunction has been randomly affecting crossing signals across northern Manhattan for at least a month, and the problem seems to be occurring with increasing frequency. It happens while the white walking signal is lit, with both lights turning on for that portion of the crossing cycle.

Luckily most pedestrians in New York ignore crossing signals altogether. So there's no real danger from the mixed signals, unless, of course, you're color blind or have just arrived in New York from Cameroon.

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The City Room Blog posted about this last month, but offered no real solution or explanation for the problem. Clearly this issue is much larger than individual malfunctions. Instead it seems to be a system-wide problem that randomly shows up every week or so, affecting hundreds of pedestrian-crossing signals. As suggested by the Times, you may want to consider calling 311 and reporting any suspicious signaling.

So, is this happening in your area of northern Manhattan? And is there anyone with an answer as to why this is happening?

Steve Winwood Heading To The Palace

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Rock legend Steve Winwood will be visiting the neighborhood this month with two performances at The United Palace Theatre on 175th street and Broadway. The shows are on January 15th and 16th. Tickets are available now via TicketMaster.

Here’s a taste of what to expect at the concert:

Happy New Year

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We here at The Uptown Current would like to wish you all a happy and healthy 2009! To help start the year off, we are going to give you the ability to comment on our posts. If you've wanted to say something about a topic you've read here, now you can. We look forward to hearing what you have to say.