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  • Photo: Lisérgico, via flickr

East Side Observer


Cell-evator madness — Saturday mid-morning, crowded elevator UES condo, eight riders. Cellphones to ear. All in use. First stop, missed. “Why didn’t anybody say something?” said the man who forgot to get off. “We’re all on the phone, that’s why. Look out for yourself, or you’ll never get out,” advised another. Wisdom comes, wisdom goes. Practical stays.

Bike protection — Southeast corner of 23rd and 6th, M23 crosstown bus stop. The bus shelter intended for seats so bus riders may sit while waiting for the bus is now occupied by bike racks. No seats for users of bus transportation. Nice and cozy that the poor bikes enjoy the warmth and comfort of an enclosed space. But what about the seats for which the shelter was intended? Who decided to use it for bikes? Who is paying for them? NY is now a bike city — think bike racks, bike lanes, biker rights — but there are other modes of public transportation used by locals and others.

Movie houses make are coming back! — One of the highlights of the week was seeing “Marshall” at the new Landmark movie theater, which opened in September. Took the 57th Street crosstown (M57) to 12th Avenue opposite the river. There’s no marquee leading the way into the theater. Marquees and times that the movies are playing are no longer part of movie-house offerings. And figuring out how to get into the theater can be a little dicey figuring out since the Landmark is an all — or almost all — glass edifice on the ground floor of what looks like a combination of residential and commercial building. But a nice staffer was on hand to let us know we were in the right place and to show us which door would lead to the theater. The seats were the now de rigueur cushy loungers where you push a side button and elevate your feet. Just loved that they weren’t those oversized seats where there’s just too much room. “Marshall” is compelling story, with a brilliant cast, of the journey of the legendary Thurgood Marshall who ascended to the United States Supreme Court after years of representing clients on behalf of the NAACP. Especially poignant was the last scene, when the eponymous Thurgood arrives at the train station in Mississippi (where he was sent by the NAACP to represent a wrongly accused black man) and was met at the train station by the young man’s parents. The mother was portrayed by Sybrina Fulton who is the real life mother of Trayvon Martin, the young black man killed in Florida by the notorious George Zimmerman. Central casting 101.

A sign of the times — Since my recent observation of the “For Rent” sign splashed across the window of the check cashing store on 90th Street and First Avenue, I’ve been noticing that other businesses are experiencing the same fate. Fika’s window facing Lexington Ave between 88th and 89th was also the bearer of an oversized “For Rent” sign. Checked it out and was told that Fika was still in business but there was a dispute with the landlord. I get it. The landlord wants to be paid. But putting a “For Rent” sign in the window that makes it look like the place is going out of business (when it’s not) or is having a moving sale (which it’s not) is not in anybody’s interest. The Fika store is in the commercial space of block-long co-op or condominium residential building. There’s a FedEx store on one corner and a florist shop that’s been there forever on the other corner. For some reason, however, the mid-block stores are usually empty or have frequent turnover. The block is dreary. In the last year or so the entrance to the residential portion of the building was moved to 88th Street. Maybe to have more commercial space. If that’s the case, then maybe the co-op or condo owners may want to rethink their strategy or leasing practices. Empty stores and blazing “For Rent” signs are hardly an inducement for new businesses or customers and sure don’t make for good neighborhood karma.

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