Five Boroughs

From Pay Phone to a Wi-Fi Spot?

Pay PhoneEverything that use to be ‘the way of life’ is slowly becoming digital. There is less mail with paperless bills, there are reminders via a text message, being able to buy groceries online, and remember those phones that you use to put a quarter in and dial a number? Yes, the pay phones will soon cease to exist because they will be turning into Wi-Fi spots.

Currently, proposals are being made as to how the pay phone could be made into a Wi-Fi spot. Some features at minimum would include them being offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week use and be able to make free 911 and 311 phone calls.

The process for the Wi-Fi spots would extend throughout the five boroughs over the next 4 years and be overseen by the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

One interesting question that has not been resolved yet is what to the with the existing pay phone system? There are so many generations who are just use to the classic phones that it may be tough to get rid of them. Think about it. How do you get someone who has a flip phone, for example, to use a more upgraded phone with email, Internet and other advanced features?

The proposals would have to include this information as well. Yet, with this advancing technological world, it is certain, that someone will come up with a solution. We will have to see in the years to come what will happen.

EVENT: Author Michele Carlo Hosts Reading Event @ East Harlem Cafe

Acclaimed author/storyteller Michele Carlo will bring noted Latina performers, including actress Jenny L. Saldaña (Ultimate Latina Theatre Festival), actress / Bronxnet  TV host Rhina (“La Reina”)  Valentin and actress Dacyl Acevedo (Shakespeare Theatre Company) together for a special FREE reading event celebrating Carlo’s recently published memoir “Fish Out Of Agua: My Life On Neither Side Of The (Subway) Tracks,” (Citadel/Kensington) at the East Harlem Café in  Spanish Harlem, on Wednesday, April 13th beginning at 6:30pm.

Carlo, a red-headed, freckle-faced Nuyorican, has lived in four of the city’s five boroughs is a fixture in the city’s storytelling community. East Harlem Café is located at 1651 Lexington Avenue (East 104th Street), in El Barrio,  Manhattan. Subway: #6 to 103rd Street. For more information on the  Café, contact  (212) 996-2080 /  http://www.eastharlemcafe.com.
For Michele Carlo information, go to: www.michelecarlo.com

LatinTRENDS Exclusive: Yellow Taxis to Hit the Five Boroughs

by: John Rodriguez

f you’re a New Yorker or if you’re visiting the Big Apple, one of the city’s recognizable features is being able to hail one of the many yellow cabs that speckle the city streets like ants with the simple extension of your arm. The city’s cab service is so renowned that it comes in fourth place as this country’s largest transit system after the MTA, LA Transit, and Chicago Transit since these yellow vehicles carry and move an estimated 1.2 million people daily throughout the city. Well, not throughout the entire city of New York only in Manhattan.

In the boroughs outside of Manhattan you many not see a yellow cab in service since they are not permitted to service the greater New York City. You may get a glance of them coming from or going to the airports, but that’s as far as you’ll get to riding or being near a yellow cab. But these rare sightings within Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island are about to change thanks to a recent proposal made by Mayor Bloomberg. We won’t be getting yellow cabs per say but the service of them.

In Mayor Bloomberg’s “Five Borough Plan” will enable the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) to establish new branches of cab services to make on-street pickups outside of Manhattan like the yellow cabs do. The Five Borough Plan would provide New Yorkers with another safe and reliable way of getting around the city without the use of the so-called gypsy-cabs seen within the boroughs outside of Manhattan as the yellow cabs replacement.

Do you know what a gypsy cab is? Well, gypsy cabs are slightly similar to yellow cabs but are vastly different when you look closer and pass the obvious distinction in appearance. Gypsy cabs are a mixture of licensed livery cars, the one where you are supposed to call-ahead for, and unlicensed cars that go around picking on-street passengers throughout the outer boroughs of Manhattan. Viewed as a service in the underground market, the service is generally viewed as third-rate due to the lack of insurance, licenses, and the lack of unavailability of a meter.

Gypsy cab riders often describe their experience within these cars as sketchy and unsafe. And they are generally right to say so. Riding in a gypsy cab is typically more dangerous than a yellow cab because a majority of these drivers aren’t licensed and lack the proper training and experience to drive. Aside from being unsafe, they are unsafe to your pocket since there is no meters present in these cars to monitor travel cost rates passengers find themselves having to negotiate a fare for their ride. And if you have no clue what the going rate is in the particular area you are traveling in, you can find yourself being ripped off. And under Bloomberg’s Five Borough Plan, the nuisance of gypsy cabs would be replaced with the service the yellow cabs provide Manhattan with.

Under the plan, the service provided by the yellow feet will be hitting the streets of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island when Bloomberg changes the law to allow on-street pickups in these areas under the creation of Borough Taxis. The Borough Taxis will provide the same service and fare as the yellow taxis in Manhattan. To be distinguishable from the other boroughs, the taxis will be painted a uniform color to their own borough (yellow is out) and will have a “roof light” to signal availability with a meter and credit card reader within the cabs itself.

The Five Borough Plan will enabled New Yorkers with reliable service throughout the city, and the yellow taxi fleet owners themselves. When the proposed plan was announced back in February, yellow taxi owners tried to block the plan claiming the plan would cause their medallions to lose value from their estimated 13, 237. Although 97% of the yellow taxi trips are in Manhattan and at the airports, the plan would service a new and different market and will not affect the value of their medallion but could actually benefit it.

So if you’re in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, or Staten Island and you’re too far from home with loads of shopping bags with no train station or bus stop near, the taxi would provide ample service to get you home possibly faster and less crowded than a bus or subway cart. The proposal has been created as a means to serve the public and their interest, which basically allows us to get around this large city in a hurried and safe pace.

LatinTRENDS Exclusive: Wal-Mart: Yay or Nay?

Starting as a chain of discount stores through out America in 1962, Sam Walton’s Wal-Mart has become the mega-god of all discount stores ever witnessed in America. While supporters find the chain to be a haven for low-income households due to the affordability of their low priced deals, opponents find the chain giant to be a continued nuisance on the United States by depressing domestic wages and exporting manufacturing jobs to foreign countries.

For supporters Wal-Mart is a necessary presence within the country. Wal-Mart supporters back the stores due to all the good the chain stores does for American citizens by creating jobs within its stores and catering to the growth of the surrounding community. However, opponents disagree finding the store does more harm than good for the country and the unfortunate community they settle down within. Recently, Wal-Mart has been trying its excessive campaign to open stores within New York City and has received backing by some New Yorkers and Unions within the city to make it happen. However, there are those who wish to see the discount store entity with the Big Apple.

Representing Wal-Mart as a needed source to improve the city of New York, director of community affairs for Wal-Mart, Steve Restivo promises that a Wal-Mart within New York City would be a much needed cure for the city’s most, “underserved areas in terms of jobs and access to affordable food,” and although he has not listed the areas that would benefit from Wal-Mart’s presence he did mention Wal-Mart will help encourage the growth of low-income areas.

If Wal-Mart is to open in one of the five boroughs, Restivo discusses a agreement Wal-Mart and construction unions have agreed on entitled, The Five-Year Principal Agreement, which will guarantee, “that union workers will construct or renovate any stores that the retailer opens, including both owned and leased property.” Restivo also acknowledges that the company in partnership with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York will start, “apprenticeship and work-force development programs,” in order to ensure that these areas in New York will in fact grow into a stabilize community. And these proposed promises may be coming true, since Wal-Mart has eyes for setting ground in Brooklyn. However, if opponents against Wal-Mart are successful it will never happen.

Known for its questionable labor practices where there have been claims made by former-employees who stated that they were forced to work unpaid overtime and claims of professional managers being discriminatory to both minorities and women, Wal-Mart has a long history of negative representation within the media and as a result may have cause some of its negative response by New Yorkers. Fearing that Wal-Mart would end their businesses, small business owners have religious claimed that the retailer would put them out of business due to the impossibility of keeping up with the store in competitive prices.

Joining business owners, New York City Politicians have also protested against the chain’s appearance with the city. Council speaker Christine Quinn has said that no matter what Wal-Mart claims to offer, “they are not a company that is good for New York City,” and has cited to claims that Wal-Mart refuses to accept food stamps, are discriminatory towards women, and will in the end hurt a majority of NYC small businesses. Advocate Bill de Blasio also holds the same vision of the future when he agrees with Quinn that the, “history of the last decade tells us that Wal-Mart stands to be our city’s Trojan horse. Wal-Mart’s record of driving small businesses out of town and paying below-poverty-line wages to its employees will only exacerbate the current decline of New York City’s middle class,” discrediting any claims that Wal-Mart would benefit a community. And so far, the community in question is Brooklyn which holds a shopping center that Wal-Mart would like to set shop in.

Opponents against Wal-Mart opening up in Brooklyn claim that if the discount retailer did open in the area, East New York would become flooded with shoppers which allegedly not a good thing. The proposed site, the Gateway II shopping center, would draw an estimated 10,692 cars every weekday which is far more than the mall’s developers predicted and would mean a 32% jump in traffic, according to a study by traffic engineer, Brian Ketcham. The study was paid for by an organization against Wal-Mart moving into NYC called, Wal-Mart Free NYC backs Quinn’s claim. Spokeswoman of Wal-Mart Free NYC, Stephanie Yazgi states that, “A Wal-Mart here would kill jobs and small businesses, and drastically increase traffic.”

In a city where large retail stores like Target, Home Depot, Sears, Payless, and the list goes on already exists, why is Wal-Mart singled out? Mainly, it isn’t truly the store itself that is up for debate but the policies and the inter-handling of the discount giant that makes Wal-Mart an unsavory sight within NYC. Despite opponents preaching how New Yorkers don’t want a Wal-Mart in their city and claims from Wal-Mart itself that some New Yorkers do, in the end the decision should be left to who: New Yorkers. We are known for being loud-talkers, so let those who want it and does who do talk. And if talking to every New Yorker doesn’t seem probable, then how but a special election on the issue, isn’t that what democracy is all about?

Like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has said about the issue of Wal-Mart, “You should let the marketplace decide. Anybody who has tried to manage the marketplace, it has not turned out very well. I think the Soviet Union is as good an example as you’d ever need of that.”

Fashion’s Night Out: The 411

by: LeAura Luciano

Writer, LatinTRENDS.com

New York City’s Fashion’s Night Out was created by Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the City of New York and NYC & Company to promote retail, restore consumer confidence, and celebrate fashion in NYC. Fashion’s Night Out, affectionately known as #FNO, now in its sophomore year has grown tremendously. What that means for fashionistas and fashionista spectators is even more stores and more fabulous events. Here is are some of the best bets for tonight.

BEST CHANCE OF GETTING PHOTO’D WITH A FASHION DESIGNER: PAYLESS

The Payless program will include late-night shopping events, from 8-10 p.m., hosted by Payless Guest Designers Christian Siriano, Lela Rose and Patricia Field at three New York City stores: 716 Lexington Ave., 437 Fifth Ave. and 513 Broadway in Soho, respectively. The events are unique to each store and each designer. As part of Fashion’s Night Out, on September 10 various retailers throughout the five boroughs will stay open until 11 p.m. including these three Payless stores.

Payless is also proud to support The National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center with a charity tote that sports the official cityscape graphic originally created for the Fashion’s Night Out T-Shirts. The limited-edition Payless Fashion’s Night Out Totes will be sold for $10 in about 50 stores throughout the city, while supplies last, beginning September 10 with $5 per tote sold donated to The National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center.

Additionally, Payless is supporting the evening as the exclusive sponsor of the Official Ride of Fashion’s Night Out — four Gray Line double-decker buses that will provide free shuttle service for shoppers to travel to the range of retail events in various neighborhoods in Manhattan. The buses will pick-up and drop-off at key shopping locations throughout the city including in front of the three Payless stores offering the late-night events.

BEST FOR TV JUNKIES: BLOOMINGDALE’S 59TH STREET

To celebrate NYC’s Fashion’s Night Out, the 20’s inspired fall men’s collection, and the premiere
of “Boardwalk Empire,” HBO has partnered with Bloomingdale’s bring a taste of 1920’s Atlantic City to the streets of New York City at the iconic department store’s FNO event.

HBO and Bloomingdale’s will unveil a series of ornate Prohibition-themed window scenes, inspired by Boardwalk Empire and featuring performances by live actors. Actors will be styled by makeup artists Giulia Heiman, Liam Carey, Sara Glick and Jeff Chastain. Functioning as the centerpiece of the experience, an authentic 115ft. “boardwalk” will span the length of the sidewalk on 3rd Ave at the 59th St flagship store.

During the FNO event, the Men’s Store will be transformed into a “Boardwalk Empire” inspired shopping
experience. Guests, including cast members, will be entertained in a festive atmosphere with 20’s
inspired activities including gaming tables (provided by Caesars Atlantic City), whisky tasting (provided by Canadian Club), and cigar rolling presented in a 20’s speakeasy environment.
Boardwalk Empire premieres Sunday, September 19th at 9PM ET on HBO. Best Guy Friendly

BEST LIVE PERFORMANCES: LEVI’S

The Original Denim Brand Celebrates the Evening with Special Events Citywide. The blue-jean inventing leader also unveils limited edition collections with Billy Reid and Opening Ceremony to coincide with the night’s festivities.

The Levi’s Store SOHO, 536  Broadway (between Prince & Spring Streets), invites you to enjoy food and drink while exploring our new fit system, Levi’s® Curve ID for women and the Fall Workwear collection for men.  Receive a complimentary exclusive, tote bag with each purchase of $100.00 or more (while supplies last). Indie songster, Sondre Lerche will mark the occasion with a special performance at the store!

The Levi’s® Store TIMES SQUARE, 1501 Broadway (at the corner of 44th Street), asks you to join the cast members from Broadway’s ‘American Idiot’ and celebrate the night with an in-store special appearance!

MOST COMMUTER FRIENDLY: FASHION CENTRAL

Fashion Central is designed as a Pop-Up environment in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal in New York City.  The Hall will be transformed into “Fashion Central”, an interactive environment where consumers can experience the excitement of fashion week without an invitation!

Brands like Conair, Match.com, Amrita Singh and Silhouette Eyewear will be promoting their latest products and features and offering exciting promotional opportunities.  The Accessories Council will host a variety of accessory brands including Clare Handbags, Ice-Watch, Cinzia Designs, Vanessa Montiel jewelry and eenamaria Handbags.  Consumers will receive complimentary makeovers and beauty touch ups, mingle with VIP guests making special appearances including; America’s Next Top Model’s Nole` Marin, receive product samples and enter to win fabulous gift bags and prizes.

BEST FOR THE FRANCOPHILE: REALM BOUTIQUE

Realm Boutique, 98 Greene St btwn Prince & Spring, the new luxury specialty shop in Soho, cordially invites guests to celebrate Fashion’s Night Out with a Parisian-inspired evening with special guest, French designer Alexis Mabille. Shoppers are invited to preview the boutique and meet Alexis, who will be on hand to discuss his newest collection, exclusive in New York to Realm Boutique, and to sign the official FNO collection t-shirts for consumers who purchase them that evening. Additionally, guests will enjoy a live DJ, champagne, pastries and a cake designed in the form of the Eiffel Tower.

BEST FOR ACCESSORY LOVERS: CIRCLE OF STYLE LOUNGE

Fashion’s Night Out, meet Vanessa Lee, Fashion Director at montmartre. Vanessa will kick off the Circle of Style Lounge with an introduction to her exclusive Lionette accessory line and a roundup of fall fashion trends and tips. For more on Lionette, visit www.lionetteny.com