Monday Bulletin: Sorrow and Security at Columbia; Omicron Talk; Schmear Shortage

The lights go up outside the Beacon. Photo by Amy.

December 6, 2021 Weather: Cloudy, with a high of 60 degrees.

Our calendar has lots of local events!

Concerned about the Omicron variant? Council member (and incoming borough president) Mark Levine is hosting a Zoom at 5 p.m. Monday with Dr. Syra Madad, Senior Director of the System-wide Special Pathogens Program Office in NYC’s public hospitals, about Omicron. Sign up here.

Last week’s deadly attacks near Columbia have shocked the community. “Two thousand people attended a memorial service at the heart of the Columbia University campus Friday evening for Davide Giri, a Ph.D candidate fatally stabbed just outside the campus gates the night before as he headed home from soccer practice,” reports the Daily News. “’I can’t comprehend this news,’ tweeted teammate Corentin Claisse. ‘Played with him at practice and we were doing so great. RIP man, I miss you.’” A second man from Italy was also stabbed, allegedly by the same suspect, shortly after Giri, only blocks away. “Roberto Malaspina, was hospitalized but is expected to survive,” according to the New York Post. “He had only been in New York for 24 hours when he was knifed.” Security will be increased in the area of the stabbings, Gothamist reported. “The NYPD is posting an increased presence after 7 p.m. in Morningside Park and the Parks Department is deploying more enforcement officers there every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Additionally, the university was adding more foot patrols along parts of Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, and dedicating more vehicle patrols to Morningside Drive and the perimeter of Morningside Park.”

New York municipal elections have become known for paltry voter turnout, but the latest election was low even by those standards. In fact, New Yorkers broke a new record for no-shows at the voting booth, according to Gothamist. “A smaller percentage of New York City voters turned out in the November 2021 general election than in any other mayoral election in nearly seven decades.” Guess which borough had the highest turnout.

It’s one thing for Riverside Park to compete with Central Park, but Chapultepec Park in Mexico City? An Australian TikToker had the temerity to call Central Park “a lame version of Chapultepec…then complained that the only food she found there was pretzels, which she said were ‘the driest thing in the world, more like cardboard than food,'” the Mexico News Daily reported. (The pretzels have been disappointing.)

Upper West Sider Tony Kushner, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Angels in America,” wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, opening Friday, December 10th. “Spielberg first proposed the project to Kushner over breakfast in 2014 at Cafe Luxembourg, a stalwart bistro on West 70th Street,” wrote The New York Times. “‘I went home and said to [my husband], You’re not going to believe this. He’s lost his mind. He wants to do ‘West Side Story,” Kushner recalls.

A young couple candidly admits the Upper West Side is a transitional stop on their way from Gramercy to New Jersey, but they’re loving the neighborhood while they’re here, they told Brick Underground. But 51 stories at $5,000 a month? “It’s worth it,” they say. “We love going to Lincoln Center and enjoy being near Columbus Circle, which has great stores.” Wonder where they’re living?

Finally, the latest supply-chain shortage to hit the city is a stunner: “the schmear,” The New York Times reported, or, more precisely, the cream cheese base bagel shops use to make their unique version of the essential spread. “All over New York City, bagel makers say, a schmear shortage is threatening one of the most treasured local delicacies: a fresh bagel with cream cheese….Scott Goldshine, the general manager at Zabar’s, estimated on Friday that he had enough to last 10 days….Absolute Bagels has enough cream cheese to last until Thursday….”


COLUMNS, NEWS | 21 comments | permalink
    1. Mark Moore says:

      Clearly this calls for more whitefish salad.

      • Dani says:

        whitefish salad indeed!!!

      • SadforUWS says:

        I love whitefish salad. Best I’ve ever had (yes, it beats Zabar’s), is from Eataly on 23rd st.

      • Carlos says:

        I’m assuming the NYT article about cream cheese set off a panic attack among many people and there was a huge rush on it – there is likely nothing left.

        Other than little old ladies who insist they must get a lot to get their money’s worth, I know very few people who actually want a real “schmear” – it is usually way too much cream cheese and a waste. But no one wants to incur the wrath of the yentas of the UWS.

        • JS says:

          Hi Carlos
          I’d actually doubt the “little old lady” demographic is complaining about schmears.
          More likely the “young suburban transplant” complaining on Yelp .

    2. Frank Grimes says:

      “At Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, the Black and Latinx Student Caucus wrote an open letter, endorsed by more than 20 other organizations, calling for the school to end contracts with the New York Police Department, among other demands such as donations to bail funds, curricular changes and an increase in the number of black faculty members.

      “Racism and police brutality are prominent public health issues, and together we can take important steps towards health equity,” the letter read. ”

      This is an excerpt from an article written on June 5,2020. I find it ironic that now they are increasing police presence around Columbia. Let this tragedy serve a microcosm of just how poorly thought out and irresponsible many were with villainizing those who are hired to protect us, and how it is affecting the very communities that called for it…..

      • UWSMom says:

        You’re not worried about the police: Great for you! I’m not either, because I’m a white woman who’s had nothing but great interactions with them over the years.

        But some of our neighbors ARE worried, and they have taken the time to try to explain it to us. I’m not sure ridiculing minorities after a tragedy is a response to be proud of.

      • Honest Abe says:

        The police can never fail, they can only be failed.

    3. jhminnyc says:

      $5000.00 a month for their apartment? How could that be worth it? I have a bridge for sale that many have admired if they are interested.

      • Eric says:

        jhminnyc says: “$5000.00 a month for their apartment? How could that be worth it?”

        I think you may need to recalibrate your sense of what a market-rate apartment costs on the UWS.

        In 2000, we moved into a rent-stabilized 2-bedroom apartment – in a pre-war building on 110th St and Broadway – that was $3,840/month. It is not surprising at all that 20 years later someone would pay $5,000/month in a high-rise building offering a sun deck, lounge, gym, and parking garage.

        While such rent may only be affordable to well-paid couples, make no mistake … like it or not … this IS part of the Upper West Side of today.

      • Josh P. says:

        There’s a housing shortage. That’s what happens when you make it illegal to redevelop huge portions of the neighborhood. Young people today are starting out burdened by high rents and small apartments that make it difficult to start a family.

    4. Allison says:

      When will Columbia students be taught not to go near Morningside Park and Central Park after dark?

      • UWSiacp says:

        The professor a few years ago was murdered at a Citibank ATM on Broadway and 96th in broad daylight on a Sunday. Should we be taught not to use ATMs in the middle of the day too?

    5. NotImpressed says:

      People who don’t vote need to shut up when they’re unhappy with our elected representatives.

    6. “All over New York City, bagel makers say, a schmear shortage is threatening…”

      Please G-D, let this be the biggest problem we face on a go forward basis… or, maybe, the issue of the decline in quality of pretzels in Central Park would work equally well for me… I eat neither.

      That Columbia student’s death is terrible and the other fellow is in NYC only 24 hours, fresh from Italy and already stabbed?

      PS- There’s no point going to any meetings on omicron at this time; if you do you’re likely to hear several hundred variations on this theme: “We don’t know yet- it’s way too early”

      If you do listen in, it’ll sound like a meeting of those 2 popular societies: The Amalgamated Oh No The Sky Is Falling!!! Group and that venerable grande dame of UWS groups: The Society For The Very Extremely Worried.

    7. S. Becker says:

      I wonder how they calculate the non-voting population? I was registered to vote in NYC when I first moved there. A number of years later, I changed my registration to the town upstate where we have a weekend home once I found that I could legally do that. (My vote matters up there significantly more than it does in the city.) But I STILL get reminders to vote in NYC every election. I assume, therefore, that I am a “no-show” voter in the city, even though I vote in every election at my new location. I’m sure with the exodus from the city due to COVID, others have also decided to reregister where their votes have more impact.

    8. John Lipman says:

      What cream cheese shortage is that? NYT should go to Fairway and get some of Ben’s CC or try Morton Williams if you’re after Philly or Temptee or Tofu CC. I read the WSR and the Times I often wonder what NYC the Times’ writers live in.

    9. Juan says:

      Turnout for the general election is low because the outcome is determined in the primary. How many elections are even close in the general? I still feel strongly that everyone should turn out but I understand why many do not.

      With a lot of potential candidates, next year’s governor’s race will likely depend heavily on turnout. I wish it would have ranked choice because if everyone stays in the race it could end up being a real mess.

    10. UWS Craig says:

      I recommend that independents and Republicans be permitted to vote in the Democratic primary, which essentially chooses the next mayor. It is scandalous that the 25% of New York City that are not registered Democrats are disenfranchised.

    11. Josh P. says:

      I jogged through Morningside Park early this morning and was pleasantly surprised by the changes that have been made. I was specifically on the look out for burned out street lights and I did not see a single one. In fact there were at least two mobile light units set up to provide additional illumination. I didn’t count exactly but I probably saw at least two or three NYPD cars with lights on drive by on Morningside Avenue in the time I was there. Despite the recent tragedy, I felt safe in the park. Thank you to the people who made that possible.