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Archive for "Jun 17 2004"

The Saga of Stapleton Studios

Another “Screw Staten Island” Moment

First, a little history:
Back when President Reagan was tossing the gauntlet at the Soviet bear’s feet and beefing up America’s military, part of that included expanding the Navy’s compliment of ships. Instead of basing the bulk of these forces at mega-bases, like those in Norfolk or San Diego, the plan included creating smaller naval stations around the country. We got one here on Staten Island because Team Molinari recognized bacon when it showed its snout. It drove almost every other elected official insane when it was first proposed. But later, when the Navy decided to mothball it, they tried, unsuccessfully, to keep it open.

It’s pretty much lain fallow since then, with the city spending over a decade trying to figure out what to do with the place, which commands spectacular, unobstructed views of lower NY Harbor from the Hudson River to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge and beyond. The infrastructure the Navy left behind slowly eroded from neglect, except for a couple of small buildings used as a court annex and a place to park various city vehicles. Oh, and for a brief, silly period, a bagel factory.

Enter Danny Aiello & friends
Actor, singer, native NY son, Aiello was the public face and member of a group of investors proposing to house an enterprise called Stapleton Studios, a movie studio/entertainment complex, at the Homeport. Their plan was to build a large, state-of-the-art film studio, to bring the movie production business back to NYC, which had pretty much been relegated to a place for grabbing exterior shots, and then producers fled north to Canada for the production work. Included in the deal would be support facilities for the Hollywoodies, a hotel (keep your enemies closer, but keep your film crew at the set!), restaurants and a marina. With no better idea before them, and Aiello’s group in possession of the closest thing anyone had ever presented as a business plan to revive the 36 acre site, the city agreed and signed a deal in January, 2002. Within a short while, in inexplicably calloused fashion, the city decided to kill their asses.

Well, not really inexplicable. This is Staten Island, after all.
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One Death, Four Stories

A guy got stabbed to death last night on Staten Island (about a quarter mile or so from my front door).
How it plays in today’s papers:

Newsday: Bare-boned facts of the matter (it’s a Long Island paper…they don’t really give a damn);

NY Daily News: Along same line as Newsday but screws up relationship between victim and accused, mentions “local gang” involvement possible (the neighborhood is a notorious Gansta town);

Staten Island Advance: More details (it did happen in their back yard, after all), including an attempt to attached some blame for the brawl on the 911 system. Nobody is doubting whether this is “gang-related,” but the local rag doesn’t deem it newsworthy to mention this place is one of the highest gang-crime corners of Staten Island…might piss off local “community” honchos;


The area in West Brighton has a longtime reputation as a focal point for crack distribution. In February, 30 members of the local “Deuce Mob” and “Mob-Up” gangs were charged with conspiring to distribute crack.

“Everybody is quiet here,” said one neighbor. “We’re frightened. We don’t want to talk about it. It’s too dangerous.”

Oh, Hell

Johnny Ramone Losing to Cancer

I didn’t, didn’t, didn’t need to see this today…. When Johnny is gone, my ‘youth‘ is officially kaput. The drummers were interchangeable; it was always about the three up-front.

We’re not musicians. We’re the Ramones.”

Other Stuff


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