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east side observer

by Arlene Kayatt

Art’s a-popping — As pop-up shops take up the slack of empty storefronts, new names and businesses are appearing around town. Like Anton Russev. He’s got paintings — don’t know if he’s the artist or the gallerist — on display in the corner storefront at the bus stop at Second and 78th once occupied by at least two Japanese restaurants at different times. And another storefront on Third between 91st and 92nd, once home to Effy’s Kitchen (now on Lexington in the 90s) and before that to Connecticut Muffin (never seen again in these parts). This storefront seems to be readying for a new tenant. Not so the 78th Street location, which remains dark and dirty-looking. Anton’s artists, passers-by and the neighborhood deserve better. Unfortunately, though, since the block (except for Shaaray Tefila, the synagogue on the uptown corner) is being readied for razing, Anton’s corner art store will continue to be — if not unappreciated — an eyesore.

Calling Gridlock Sam — The city streets need a guru. And I’m suggesting the traffic expert Gridlock Sam. His columns about traffic patterns across the city appear in several publications, including the Daily News, informing about events that affect traffic. Maybe his mastery of traffic can be used in advising city dwellers on how to navigate the city’s sidewalks, which are getting more and more crowded and inaccessible day by day. Think bike racks, bus shelters, vendor carts, MTA fare ware, and now metal seating on many blocks (a great amenity but a taker-upper of sidewalk space) to say nothing of sidewalk use by pedestrians and skateboarders.

Fare game — The MTA is shameless in its waste of resources. Truly. At 3 o’clock on a Friday afternoon in June. It’s a holiday so school’s out and the 86th Street crosstown buses — east to west — have few riders at that hour. A no-brainer as to what the financial result will be as far as fare revenue goes. You don’t need an auditor or a traffic maven for that one. But that didn’t deter the MTA from having at least eight uniformed officer enforcers waiting at the Columbus and 86th Street bus stop to ticket anyone who didn’t show a receipt that they’d paid the fare. Four officers were stationed at each of the two exit/entrance doors denying access to and exit from the buses at the 3 p.m. hour when were maybe 10 passengers either getting on or off the bus. Even if none had paid their fare — or had a receipt to show for it — the $100 fines for each fare-beater would have totaled a $1,000. Hardly worth the thousands of dollars in salary that the enforcers would be paid. It boggles the mind to think of the decision-making process on this one. The MTA needs to rethink their priorities. Yes, fares have to be paid. But from experience and observation, the MTA’s problems are well beyond fare enforcement at the 86th Street crosstown particularly on a school holiday in June.

This and that — Maison Kayser shop on Lexington and 39th in their take-out fridge: egg salad sandwich with “cage-free” mayo. Hadn’t expected or seen that before. Subway store on Second Ave in the 80s now serving coffee, and it’s as good as Dunkin’s and better than Starbucks. Pens made from recycled paper (says so on the pen) being used at Yotel hotel on 42nd Street. And that bus dispatcher who sat in the storefront at Fika’s at the 42nd and Lexington Avenue bus stop had to relocate to Duane Reade’s next door because Fika’s closed. Now that IHOP’s become IHOB, pancakes are being served as a side with burgers. Question — can wee pancakes as burger buns be far behind? Something to think about? Maybe not.





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