Monday Bulletin: Garbage Story, Nerd from the Neighborhood, Trader Joe’s Meltdown

The line at Zabar’s was longer than ever as people stocked up for break-the-fast this year. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see just how long. Photos by Stephen Harmon.

September 28, 2020 Weather: Mostly sunny, with a high of 76 degrees.

Our calendar is full of local events, including free talks with filmmakers at the New York Film Festival.

Help scientists: “Are you 55+ and open to sharing your experience living through COVID-19 and extreme heat events? A team of University of Kansas and Weill Cornell Medicine researchers are seeking New York City residents who are in possession of smartphones and willing to participate in a short phone interview/ surveys this October. The study will not be a time-heavy commitment, will be conducted safely distanced from home, and is a wonderful way for you to contribute to research that hopes to inform policy and improve societal wellbeing. For more information or any questions, please contact So Min Cheong (”

Trash produced on the Upper West Side was down by 500 tons — or 6.5% — this August as compared to last August, according to an interactive map in a story by THE CITY, which delves into the trash situation in New York City. “As THE CITY reported this spring, numerous Manhattan neighborhoods saw trash tons picked up decline in March and April, a sign many residents had fled the borough. That drop continues.” In other parts of the city, trash loads are higher even as sanitation staff has declined.

A “nerd” from the neighborhood is in charge of the election decision desk at Fox News, and will have some power over when to call states for one candidate or another, the Times reports. “‘There will be no one putting their finger on the scale in either direction,’ he told me with matter-of-fact confidence in an interview on Friday from his Upper West Side home.”

The owner of The Lucerne went through “corrupt donors” to reach out to the mayor year ago, the Daily News reports. “The owner of an Upper West Side hotel sought access to City Hall through a pair of notorious government insiders six years before inking a deal with Mayor de Blasio to house homeless people during the pandemic, infuriating Upper West Side residents, documents obtained by the Daily News show.”

Homelessness is what the Hotel Belleclaire is known for nowadays, but for the past 40 years, Alice Eve Cohen has called it home. She describes the experience of having it converted to a homeless shelter in the Daily News, as “chaotic” at first. Since then, she says “My family has found the building to be a safe, comfortable place to live. That is, until Upper West Siders for Safer Streets (UWSSS) entered the picture. In July, two more Upper West Side hotels became temporary homeless shelters. UWSSS has demanded that the homeless residents be kicked out of the neighborhood, citing safety concerns, which seem to be unsubstantiated rumors driven by thinly veiled racism. I live in the eye of the storm, as it were, and I haven’t experienced any increased safety issues in the neighborhood. But posts on the UWSSS Facebook group scapegoat mentally ill and homeless people, inciting fear and hostility, and suggesting violence.”

A survivor of sexual assault as a child, Fariha Róisín, a poet and writer raised in Australia and Canada by Bangladeshi parents, has written a novel about a young girl with the same heritage and experience, raised on the Upper West Side. The New York Times reviewed it. “After Taylia is sexually assaulted, her family disowns her, and she is left to find her own way, emotionally, physically and financially. Guided by the spirit of her grandmother, and with the help of new friends and lovers, she gradually comes to terms with what she has experienced and what it means to heal. Róisín dedicated the book to survivors.”

An FDNY member was charged with assault for allegedly choking his ex-girlfriend, the Daily News reported. “An off-duty city firefighter was arrested Sunday after allegedly grabbing an ex-girlfriend by the neck and then tossing her out the door of his Upper West Side apartment, authorities said. FDNY member Abraham Kasner, 32, was charged with criminal obstruction of breathing/assault at 1 p.m., police said.”

The Trader Joe’s on Broadway and West 72nd Street features prominently in a new podcast from comedian Gary Gulman.  “Gary Gulman’s Trader Joe’s” is about a “meltdown” he had there. It’s funny and revealing, with characters you’ll recognize. According to the episode notes, “The joke is about an experience Gary had at Trader Joe’s, but it’s way, waaaaaaaay bigger than that. Gary takes his audience through TJ’s snack selection and into Narnia, making companions of old women on the Upper West Side, finally culminating in a rumination on the nature of New Yorkers and taking a stand when injustice rears its ugly head.”

May the pandemic go the way of the Jewish year 5780. Onward to ‘81!

NEWS | 24 comments | permalink
    1. Bruce Bernstein says:

      Arnon Mishkin, the Fox News “nerd”, is actually not a nerd at all. He’s a long time West Sider and a great guy, and you can rely on total honesty at that end of “counting the vote” with Arnon. (The voting process can be influenced at other points before it gets to Arnon.)

    2. Bruce E. Bernstein says:

      I hope everyone reads the item by longtime Hotel Belleclaire resident Alice Eve Cohen above.

    3. Keith says:

      The trash may be down 6.5%, but the streets are 100% filthier.

      • J. L. Rivers says:

        Yes, it’s called revenue crunch. Hopefully some lifeline gets thrown to the state and city budgets to ameliorate the situation.

      • Josh P. says:

        De Blasio cancelled twice weekly alternate side parking, so now our streets don’t get cleaned nearly as often. What did he expect would happen?

    4. Ahambone says:

      Gee Alice, glad your experience has been so positive. Mine hasn’t. I was there when the resident OD’d a the Duane Reade. It was my front door on Broadway that the guy tried to kick in when harassing my friends and it was one of your lovely suite mates who attempted to assault two of my guests who were leaving my home. Just because they aren’t annoying you on your floor doesn’t mean it is all roses.

    5. denton says:

      Well, if the trash is down 6.5% here, but up in other nabes, looks like UWS folks moved to ‘cooler’ places, like Bushwick. Not the Hamptons.

    6. Black from Brooklyn says:

      You UWSers whine so much, what are the babies going to do… Sheesh

    7. Michael P Muscaro says:

      There are 2 UWS’s. The “Original” one with a mix of races and cultures, and economic diversity, and the “New” one where the UWS was a “Neighborhood” with all of the amenities of Suburbia at their doorsteps. The new folks never signed up for diversity, economic or otherwise. The Veterans of the neighborhood know better.

      • lynn says:

        If you don’t mind me asking, what exactly are the ‘amenities of suburbia’ in relation to the UWS?

      • Kindly Dr Dave says:


      • Frank says:

        Everyone likes to argue but the real reason so many of us left is far less sinister… we just need more space if we are going to work from home. Add to that the fact that so many stores and restaurants are closed and who wouldn’t leave?

        And yeah the pandemic probably won’t last forever but empty store fronts were a BIG problem before COVID. NY just isn’t cool or fun enough anymore to justify the high rent/mortgage for tiny space.

      • Carmen says:

        Amen, brother.

      • Ethan says:

        So true, Michael P Muscaro. The “new” UWS folks seem to recall a recent past where the neighborhood was all white picket fences and daisies and butterflies. I’ve been here for half a century; I don’t recall that UWS. It was always gritty, a little dirty, a little dangerous, with all sorts of people of all backgrounds and classes intermingling all the time. The bucolic UWS these new arrivals long for is a fiction. Reminds me of “MAGA.”

        • KewlDood says:

          Kewl story, bro.

        • Frank says:

          Sadly this is also part of why I left (see previous comment above). longtime residents in UWS seem to resent anyone that hasn’t lived there for more than 20 years. But then you complain when we leave. Also the way you fight with each other over literally every single issue. Wow no thanks. Living in midtown was way better than UWS to be honest.

    8. matthew graffeo says:

      So one lady’s story is dogma and the thousands of residents who were against the Lucerne are all racists? Pretty extreme if u ask me. I’ve seen stuff go down in this neighborhood over the last few months that I haven’t seen in 15 years. If that makes me a racist then I guess I should shut my eyes and mouth and just do what I’m told.

    9. VOTE HIM OUT! says:

      Re: “May the pandemic go the way of the Jewish year 5780. Onward to ‘81!”
      YES, definitely!
      AND may ALL Americans decide that 4 years is ENOUGH and return our country to the GREATNESS that has ALWAYS BEEN HERE by electing Biden/Harris to lead us into the 20’s/80’s.

    10. cma says:

      I wish people responding here would be more thoughtful and not so “reactive” in their comments. Picking up on one thing in someone’s comment and targeting it with anger doesn’t really contribute to diversity of CONVERSATION that is really needed between all points of view. May we all put our energies towards a better more inclusive UWS and country!