‘Believe the Hype’ Column by Christine Stoddard: Standout Asian Cuisine & Migration of Two Kinds

By Christine Stoddard | [email protected]

The best meal I had on the go this week–and, yes, I am so often on the go–was the Braised Chicken Congee Bowl at Maya Congee Café. Though I have passed the Fulton St. location in Clinton Hill on many occasions, this was my first visit. Decked out in red and gold, the quaint spot, which houses a small market, cheerfully reminded me that it was Lunar New Year. We are in the Year of the Dragon, which happens to be my Chinese Zodiac sign. How fortuitous.

View of Maya Congee Café front door. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Chino Grande

Now, my best sit-down meal of the week goes to Chino Grande, owned by Josh Ku of Win Son fame. Nestled on Grand St. in South Williamsburg, the Asian/Latin fusion restaurant even boasts regular karaoke. While I did not stay to sing my heart out, I have no regrets. The chic Mid-century design immediately pulled me in, setting a tone of relaxed sophistication. The green booths felt serene and the friendly staff contributed to the comfy atmosphere. My date and I delighted in the Chips (plantain, taro, and sweet potato) with the Sauce Caddy (Green Sauce, Ketchupmayo, Spicy Duck Sauce). We also shared the Crab Rangoon Toast and Pilón Smashed Cucumbers, and each ordered a Chorizo Egg Roll. For large dishes, I was very pleased with the presentation of the Twice Cooked Chicharrón de Cerdo (leeks, shishitos, fermented chili paste) and the lightness of the Salchicha Arroz Chaufa (longaniza, lap cheong, chorizo, red peppers, peas), which was the most guilt-free fried rice I can remember tasting. For a cocktail, I opted for the popular Chiquita Chinita (Mezcal, Red Bull Pepper, Toasted Rice), while my partner ordered the Ni Haody! (Rye, Jujube, Black Walnut, Sweet Vermouth). We finished with the tantalizing Ice Cream Sandwich (Maria cookies, guava, and cheese), which just so happened to combine some of my childhood favorites.

Chips and sauce caddy at Chino Grande. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Hardware & Discount Store

My biggest shock in the local business community this week was seeing that Fulton Home Center and Hardware Corporation is moving. You, like me, may better know this neighborhood shop simply as “Hardware & Discount Store,” as that is what’s printed on its awning. It is, or shall I say was, located near the Nostrand Ave. stop on the A/C. Now it is moving to 1507 Fulton St., by Kingston and Fulton. According to hand-written signs taped to the windows, the shop lost its lease after 40 years. I popped my head inside as movers cleared decades of inventory, and briefly spoke to the understandably frazzled owner, who took my business card and then had to get back to work. Any tips are appreciated.

Sign taped to the window of Hardware & Discount Store on Fulton St. in Bed-Stuy. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Floyd Bennett Field Migrant Shelter Bus Service

Family tent shelter at Floyd Bennett Field. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Ever since I heard about the migrant family shelter opening at Floyd Bennett Field, I have had concerns. The park is a known flood plain; on virtually any visit after a rainstorm, I have noticed soggy ground and huge puddles. In January, a rainstorm sent the city scrambling to relocate 2,000 parents and children from the tent shelter to James Madison High School in Midwood. Some Madison parents protested and there were complaints about how much sense the last-minute, poorly planned move made for a one-night respite.

Ever since I heard about the migrant family shelter opening at Floyd Bennett Field, I have had concerns. The park is a known flood plain; on virtually any visit after a rainstorm, I have noticed soggy ground and huge puddles. In January, a rainstorm sent the city scrambling to relocate 2,000 parents and children from the tent shelter to James Madison High School in Midwood. Some Madison parents protested and there were complaints about how much sense the last-minute, poorly planned move made for a one-night respite.

Q35 bus stop outside of Floyd Bennett Field. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Apart from the flood plain issue, I have wondered about public transportation there. I have only ever driven to Floyd Bennett Field, located on the tailend of Flatbush Ave., going toward the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. There is a no-man’s-land quality to the park, which is littered with abandoned buildings and empty lots. The Q35 bus stop, which you will find just outside of the park, is a solid 5-7-minute walk from where the shelter tents are stationed. Make it 10 for the parents walking with younger children and strollers. In the nearly two hours I observed there on a windy Friday afternoon (after-school hours), the bus came three times. Many migrants waiting for the bus did not have proper winter coats. Their situation is dire.

Large empty lots stand in the way between the family shelter and the Q35 stop at Floyd Bennett Field. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Tribute to Kellogg’s Diner

By Madeline Edalow | [email protected]

A view of Kellogg’s Diner from December 2023. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

New York City is ever-changing and long time residents grow accustomed to iconic establishments disappearing.

I am a life-long New Yorker. Within my lifetime, the gentrification of Northern Brooklyn has progressed at lightening speed. The luxury establishments that continue to open often feel inaccessible to me. I often feel like a tourist in the city I grew up in, not recognizing neighborhoods where I used to spend a lot of time.

As the area surrounding the Lorimer L train in Williamsburg Brooklyn felt the impact of trendy hipsterdom, one spot felt accessible to a wide range of people. I am speaking of Kellogg’s Diner.

Kellogg’s Diner has been open for nearly a century and will be opening with new ownership this year after renovations are complete. The original owners of the restaurant gave up after a long period of financial hardship. Irene Siderakis, the most recent owner, struggled to keep the doors open after the tragic passing  of her husband, who previously ran the restaurant. The new management plans to make changes to the establishment, so that it is more appealing to neighborhood patrons. It is still uncertain whether the new restaurant will hold up to what Kellogg’s represented.

Kellogg’s, in its way, was a universal meeting space. I don’t think I’ve eaten there once without seeing someone else I knew. The 24-hour schedule caused every person who partied nearby until the early hours of the morning to commune at the diner. The schedule also motivated some people to travel from distant neighborhoods to eat and drink.

I remember performing at an open mic on the Lower East Side and heading to Kellogg’s with a comedian friend after the end of the mic. I ordered the most enormous mozzarella sticks I’ve ever had. I was extremely intoxicated, but I remember that night well because I ran into an old friend I’d known through high school friends. I had entered with a friend I knew through mostly transplant-filled art scenes when I ran into this friend from the past. As a lifelong Brooklynite, it is always comforting to run into people associated with my upbringing, especially as it gets rarer and rarer.  Like I said, Kellogg’s served as a universal meeting space, where old New York meets new New York.

The plans to redevelop the diner include reinstating the 24-hour schedule and a new Tex-Mex menu. The new owner and management have a history of running other successful trendy establishments. The restaurant will also have a new cocktail bar.

I imagine the new direction for the famed diner location will be a success as the new influx of Brooklyn residents can’t seem to get enough of establishments that sell fancy cocktails.

I wish the new ownership well and hope they are able to keep their doors open for another century, even with the changes. The building staying a somewhat similar business is comforting to me and likely others who struggle to recognize their home city. I am hopeful that the menu will be affordable to the average New Yorker and not just the progressively wealthier residents of Williamsburg.

In this ever-changing city, it is harder and harder for classic spots, like neighborhood diners, to keep their doors open as they don’t provide for the modern tastes that have become popular in Brooklyn. I hope that even with the differences, there will still be places where new New York can meet with old New York. We will have to wait and see if the new management of Kellogg’s can provide for a wide community. I certainly hope so.

Madeline Edalow is an artist of many mediums and writer raised in Brooklyn. She is a graduate of City As School, the oldest alternative public high school in New York City. For work, she face paints at events of all kinds and is also a teaching artist at schools all over the city. She is a current student studying Public Administration at Medgar Evers College. She is deeply inspired by her upbringing in this wonderful city full of people from all over the world.

Bill to Expedite New Bike Lanes Passed

By Oona Milliken | [email protected]

Bikers can pedal easier knowing that new bike lanes are coming to the city faster than before. On Dec. 6th, Councilmember Lincoln Restler, alongside Borough President Antonio Reynoso, passed legislation that would eliminate the three month waiting period before bike lanes can be put in. The legislation, Intro 417, cuts that waiting period down to 14 days instead of 90. 

Aside from the 90 day waiting period, the Department of Transportation also had to wait 20-15 days for approval from Major Transportation Projects before beginning construction of bike lanes. Now, that waiting time is also repealed. In a statement from Restler, the Councilmember said that the new legislation would go toward building infrastructure for protected bike lanes, reduce cars on the road and aid in preventing the climate crisis. 

“Every day, New Yorkers make more than 550,000 bike trips,” Restler said in a press release. “Each trip helps us reduce the number of cars on the road and combat the climate crisis. The best way to encourage more biking is to make it safer by building a truly protected network of bike lanes.” 

Jon Orcutt, Director of Advocacy for Bike New York, an organization that seeks to empower New Yorkers through bicycling, said the bill removes an extra burden on creating new bike networks throughout the city. Orcutt said the 90-day waiting period was initially put in place in 2011 during a period bicycle activists call the “Bike Lash,” when community members were reacting to the Bloomberg administration implementing a lot of protected bike lanes at a fast pace. The 2011 legislation, Intro 412, required the DOT to give due notice to community boards when any bike lanes were constructed or removed. 

“They tried to slow bike lane development down with this additional set of rules for notifying community boards about the project,” Orcutt said. “The legislation that Councilmember Restler put together basically repealed that and so now bike lanes are treated like any other change in street configuration.” 

Though Orcutt said the bill was a win for bike advocates across the city, he said the current mayoral administration has been opposed to creation of new bike infrastructure in places like Grenpoint, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights. 

“The most bittersweet part of it is that now that we sort of have this streamlined bike lane production in terms of the procedural part, we have an administration who’s been intervening in bike lane development in a bad way,” Orcutt said. “It’s fantastic that Lincoln was able to push this through. But, now it’s sort of back in the city administration’s court to use this new procedure to get more done.” 

Elizabeth Adams, Deputy Executive Director for Public Affairs at Transportation Alternatives, also gave her support for the bill. Transportation Alternatives is a New York based organization that seeks to prioritize walking, biking and public transportation for the city, rather than relying on cars. In a press release, Adams said that the bill would go towards helping bikers stay safe in New York. 

“To combat the rising levels of bike riders killed in traffic crashes, achieve the legal mandates of the NYC Streets Plan, and meet our climate goals, New York City needs to build more protected bike lanes. Yet, current law makes it harder to build a protected bike lane than other street safety projects. New Yorkers cannot afford delays,” Adams said. “We applaud Council Member Restler and the City Council for passing Intro 417 so bike lane projects are no longer singled out with arbitrary delays and waiting periods that other street projects don’t face.” 

Inside Greenpoint YMCA’s Spirit of Community Awards

Honorees include Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Greenpointers and Apple Bank

By Oona Milliken

[email protected]

The Greenpoint YMCA held its sixth annual Spirit of Community service awards dinner and auction at Giando on the Water on Wednesday Oct. 4 to celebrate important community leaders within the neighborhood. The honorees at the event included Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Apple Bank’s Maureen Douglas, Executive Vice President, Debbie Hootam, Vice President, Business Relationship Manager and Monika Nowicka, Assistant Vice President, Branch Manager as well as those of the Greenpointers blog, Julia Moak and her team.

Poster honoring Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. Photo credit: Oona Milliken

Tatiana Terzouli, Regional Director for Communications, Marketing and Fund Development at the Greenpoint YMCA, said the event was a chance to highlight another year of the YMCA’s goal of making a difference in the community.

“I thought this year’s Greenpoint Y’s ‘Spirit of Community’ Service Awards Dinner was another success, providing us with a great opportunity to come together, connect with old and new friends, celebrate, and fortify our commitment to another year of making a positive impact on the community we love. The event was filled with camaraderie, inspiration, and a shared sense of purpose as we gear up for another year of giving back,” Terzouli said in an email.

La-Asia Hundley, the co-master of ceremonies, said the honorees were exceptional, not only in their fields of work and passion but also in their commitment to providing for their communities.

View from Giando on the Water. Photo credit: Oona Milliken

“These honorees are not just exceptional leaders, and I will say they are exceptional in their own right, in their own fields, but they are role models for the young people at the Y. Their everyday actions aligned with the core values of the Y: respect, honesty, responsibility and caring. They are driven by a deep passion for serving others,” Hundley said.

Elaine Brodsky, the former co-founder of Citistorage, a Brooklyn-based archival storage and records-management company, the chair of the North Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and keynote speaker at the event, said the YMCA was an important part of her upbringing and wanted to give back to the organization.

“I was a little girl when I learned how to swim at the YMCA upstate in Elmira, New York. The was a central location for all activities back in the day, much as it is in Greenpoint now. We are so fortunate to have such a strong culture of diversity, acceptance, and solidarity in our neighborhood,” Brodsky said.

Elaine Brodsky speaking at the event. Photo credit: Oona Milliken

Terzuoli said it was important to hold community events in order to both recognize community members, bring people in the community together as well and inspire others to dedicate some of their time to service and helping others.

“First, it makes people feel valued and appreciated for the good things they do in our community. Recognizing and celebrating influential individuals acknowledges their efforts and motivates them to continue their support and involvement,” Terzouli said in an email. “Additionally, recognizing influential community members at these events can serve as an inspiration to others. When people see others getting involved with organizations like the YMCA, it encourages them to become actively engaged, volunteer, and contribute to causes they are passionate about, not just the Y. This means more support for essential community programs and services.”

Disclaimer: Walter Sanchez is a board member of the Greenpoint YMCA

On the Record: Halil Kaya

By Oona Milliken | [email protected]

Despite the gray weather in Downtown Brooklyn, Halil Kaya was smiling inside the ice cream truck parked outside Albee Square. After selling five strawberry smoothies to a large family and one rainbow sprinkled cone to a mother-daughter duo, Kaya stopped serving and said he loves selling ice cream because of how happy it makes people. 

“I just love to make people happy, you know? To see the kids happy. That’s the best job I want to do,” Kaya said. 

Kaya, whose favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate vanilla twist, said it can sometimes be hard to stay positive in such a hectic area. According to Kaya, Albee Square is bustling with people from all over Brooklyn, and people can be rude and abrasive when he’s working the window. 

“Sometimes people like to give you a hard time about the ice cream, or the prices, but otherwise I like it,” Kaya said. 

Because of this, Kaya said he wanted people to spread positivity, and remind people to stay polite during ice cream rush hours. 

“Just be polite to others with whatever you do. You should just try to make people happy everyday. Yeah, just be polite,” Kaya said. “Share the happiness.”

Bike Mechanic Training Program Helps Formerly Incarcerated Find Stable Jobs

A group of around 20 people poses for a group photo during the graduation ceremony. Many of them hold white certificates in thin black frames.
A group of around 20 people poses for a group photo during the graduation ceremony. Many of them hold white certificates in thin black frames.
The graduates of the program during the ceremony.

By Carmo Moniz | [email protected]

A program that helps connect justice-involved people with stable jobs welcomed its most recent graduating class, which will work to maintain the Citi Bike fleet all across New York City, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Friday.

The program, called Bike Path, teaches participants how to maintain bikes and become certified bike mechanics in just five weeks, providing them with a direct path to employment afterward.

“This is a lifeline for me, personally,” David Bonet, one of the recent graduates, said. “I’ve been going through a lot of health issues and I’ve been out of work for some time. My daughter passed away in 2019 so I haven’t been fully there, but I’ve been looking to go back to the workforce for some time and this is allowing me to do so.”

The group of 18 graduates began working at their new jobs on Monday, according to Bike New York community outreach manager Jeremy Lockett. Lockett said that graduates spend four days per week learning in the five-week course, and that the positions they are going into are union jobs that pay weekly.

“This can be one of the best workforce development programs for those that are coming back from primarily being formerly incarcerated, and it’s been a success so far,” Lockett said. “It’s an incredible program, and we just want to expand it.”

The Bike Path program came from a 2019 partnership between One Community, an organization working against inequality in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, and Bike New York, which looks to increase access to biking and ridership across New York City. The two groups created an intensive bike mechanic training program which would help formerly incarcerated people find stable employment.

Justin Vega, another graduate of the program, said he found out about it through a friend of his, and that he enjoyed learning about the importance of different bike parts and getting to know the others in his class.

“I can’t wait to get started on this,” Vega said. “I see where I can do good as much as the next person, just like fixing an apartment, fixing a bike — everybody uses a bike everyday. For me to fix something and be proud of knowing that I fixed that, and somebody is going to ride it safely, that’s my biggest goal.”

More recently, Bike Path has educated participants on how to repair and maintain the Citi Bike fleet in the city. The program partnered with the organization that oversees the maintenance of these bikes — Motivate — to allow participants to work on the Citi Bike maintenance team once they graduate.

Ben Goodman, an instructor in the program, said that this is his favorite group of students in his 15 years of teaching people how to fix bikes.

“This is the first program I’ve ever taught that is directly related to an employment program,” Goodman said. “I’ve done a lot of teaching for high school students and some adult programming, but it’s just a thing they do in the summer, just for the fun of learning. This is great because there’s an end goal that’s more than just the education, its actual opportunities for them. That’s the best.”

In their new jobs, graduates start with pay at $23.25 per hour, and are eligible to work full time and overtime, and they are eligible to become union members after 30 days, Lockett said in an email. Lockett also said that there are roughly 600 bike mechanics employed at Motivate, which is the largest bikeshare company in the United States. He added that there have been around 200 graduates of the program since 2020, and of the 55 that graduated this year, 46 are hired.

The union representing Citi Bike mechanics, Transportation Workers Union Local 100, negotiated the first union contract in the country for bikeshare workers in 2015, securing wage increases and paid parental leave, vacation time and holidays for union members.

Graduate Rasheem Benjamin said he is looking forward to working for Motivate, and also hopes to learn more about the inner workings of electric bikes in the future. He said that most of the graduates in his class will be on the same work shift, so they’ll continue to see each other in their jobs.

“Day by day I’ve learned something new, and by now I feel like I can make an entire bike with my eyes closed,” Benjamin said. “I very much would like to put other people on, try to let them know about this program. In five weeks you can literally learn a skill, something that you can utilize anywhere, not in just New York City. You can go somewhere else and fix your child’s bike. That feeling, to be able to use my hands and craft something, is something great — it’s powerful.”

What is the LLC Transparency Act?

Assemblymember Gallagher stands in a neutral-toned room, wearing a blue blazer over a white shirt.
Assemblymember Gallagher stands in a neutral-toned room, wearing a blue blazer over a white shirt.
Emily Gallagher is one of the sponsors of the LLC Transparency Act (Credit: NY State Assembly)

By Carmo Moniz | [email protected]

The New York legislature recently passed an act that would require those operating or profiting from limited liability companies, a type of business that shields the owner from personal consequences over debts and other liabilities, to disclose their names, addresses and other information, some of which would be included in a public database.

The new legislation, called the LLC Transparency Act, is meant to target money laundering and other financial crimes by publicly identifying beneficial owners of LLCs. The act was co-authored by Greenpoint Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher and State Senator Brad Hoylman.

“LLCs are used in a variety of ways, and because of their anonymity, they’ve really opened up the door to people not taking responsibility for certain things that their business does, as well as using LLCs as a mask to do illegal activities,” Gallagher said in a recent phone interview. “That’s pretty wide ranging, everything from wage theft, to tenant problems to drug trafficking.”

The act, which Governor Kathy Hochul is expected to sign into law, is similar to the federal Corporate Transparency Act that will go into effect this coming January. Unlike the CTA, however, which requires all corporations to disclose beneficial owner information to a confidential database, the LLC transparency Act would create a database searchable by the public, with the names and business addresses of beneficial owners.

The public database is likely to be beneficial for tenants, many of whom do not currently know their landlords’ identities if the owner of their building is filed under an LLC. Anonymous LLCs can also be used by landlords to evade code inspections, according to Gallagher’s legislative director.

“It’s insane that we bestow that legal privilege upon people anonymously, but that’s been the norm thus far,” the director said. “We have to adjust expectations of what should be expected of corporations doing business in New York, and I think it was a public policy mistake to let corporations do business in New York with only a P.O. box.”

The legislation would make it easier for tenants to take legal action against their landlords in the case of negligence, according to Yana Kucheva, an associate professor of sociology at the City College of New York and an expert in housing policy. Kucheva said that the act would also allow tenants with negligent landlords to find other buildings owned by their landlord and organize with tenants across properties.

“If something bad is happening to you, chances are that your landlord, if they own another building somewhere else, they might be neglecting that building as well,” Kucheva said. “This type of law would shift the balance in who might have the upper hand in a court if you can actually find your landlord more easily.”

Roberto Rodriguez, a tenant in Williamsburg, said he thinks the act will make it easier for tenants to resolve issues with their landlords and that it is a necessity that tenants know who their landlord is.

“It gives tenants that piece of leverage because now you know exactly who to go after in the courts,” Rodriguez said. “Right now there’s nothing we can do in the court system to protect ourselves, and knowing who owns the building is great.”

The act would also help create better housing legislation, according to Gallagher, as it would give lawmakers a better idea of how many buildings people own on average.

LLCs are relatively new in the United States, with the first one having been established in the late 1970s. Gallagher said that these kinds of corporations have been badly abused, and are currently easier to get than a library card.

“This is not something that is baked into the origins of American business,” Gallagher said. “Transparency is a really good thing that we should be seeking and protecting, and it’s terrible that folks who are cheating, either consumers or other businesses, have had such an advantage for so long.”

Under the act, beneficial owners of LLCs would also be required to disclose their date of birth and a unique identification number, such as from a passport or driver’s license, to the government. A beneficial owner is a person who controls or profits from an LLC, with some exceptions listed in the act. The 23 exceptions to the definition, which are the same as those in the CTA definition of a beneficial owner, include minors, banks, credit unions and governmental authorities.

Many countries outside the United States have long had corporate transparency laws like the CTA and LLC Transparency Act in place. In 2014, the European Union established a transparency rule similar to the CTA, and in 2016 the United Kingdom created a public register for beneficial owners of corporations.

Samantha Sheeber, a real estate attorney at Starr Associates LLP, said that she doesn’t see the act discouraging property ownership under LLCs, but that she thinks it is not clear enough what would count as having a significant privacy interest, which would allow a beneficial owner’s information to remain confidential. She also said she thinks the goals of the act could be accomplished without a public database.

“What they were trying to accomplish here, really could have been accomplished by having this same database, the same requirements, but not on a public scale,” Sheeber said. “They could have done all the enforcement, they could have had all the registration requirements done in a capacity that law enforcement or regulatory enforcement could have been enforced, but it wouldn’t be on a public open domain.”

Gallagher’s legislative director said that the legislation is less specific because the details of what counts as a significant privacy interest are being put under the responsibility of the department of state, and that there will be a period for comment before the agency implements regulations.

The director also said that there are many benefits to the database of beneficial owners being public, including that it would allow the public to flag illegal behavior by beneficial owners and help lawmakers make more informed public policy decisions.

“Among the motivations of the bill is the fact that the benefits that beneficial ownership transparency can bring to the public, to government and to civil society and to the business industry, are dependent upon that information being public,” the director said. “This bill creating a public database is the main motivation, the federal government’s already going to be collecting this information, but it does a disservice to the public to have it be private.”

James Vacca, a former New York City Councilmember and a distinguished lecturer at Queens College, said that he had pushed for LLC transparency during his time in office, but that he was unable to pass anything because LLCs are state entities and were therefore outside of his jurisdiction.

“They’ve been used to circumvent transparency and accountability, so anything that sheds light, anything that gives citizens information and gives sunlight to where there was none before, I think is a step in the right direction,” Vacca said. “The transparency that a law like this provides is invaluable.”

Greenpoint filmmakers premiere ‘Skye Hoshi: Anime Girl’

Live Action Anime Film to premiere April 21

By Stephanie Meditz

[email protected]

Greenpoint-based film studio Pure Magic Pictures’ newest movie, “Skye Hoshi: Anime Girl,” will soon fall out of posters and into reality. 

On April 21, the film will have a digital premiere on Pure Magic Pictures’ streaming platform. 

Skye Hoshi: Anime Girl follows the laser-gun happy anime character Skye Hoshi as she falls out of her poster, comes to life and tries to return home before her anime is destroyed. 

“It is a super fun, fantasy film with lots of comedy and a lot of heart,” writer and director Kalani Hubbard said.“One of the main themes is just finding the beauty in the mundane, finding the beauty in your everyday life and making those parts of your life magical,” he said. 

Olivia Roldan will play the titular character, and Hunter Kohl will play Atom, the lackadaisical comic store employee whose help she enlists. 

The film was shot in various locations in Brooklyn, as well as Everyone Comics x Collectibles in Long Island City and the Javits Center during the Anime NYC convention. 

As a writer and director, Hubbard draws inspiration from the ‘80s and ‘90s classics that he grew up with, such as “Back to the Future” and the Indiana Jones franchise. 

“Those movies gave me the feeling of magic that I always want to give people when I make movies,” he said. “And so anytime I make something, I try to distill that feeling that I always got watching these movies and infuse that into the movies that I create.” 


Pure Magic Pictures co-owner and Skye Hoshi: Anime Girl producer Stefanie Hubbard was involved with every aspect of the film’s production.

It was precisely this feeling of magic that inspired both the idea and the title of Pure Magic Pictures. 

After Kalani and Stefanie Hubbard got married, they started a video production company and learned the ins and outs of filming, editing, producing, audio and visual effects and the like. 

They started to make original films in 2019, and they have made three movies and several different TV shows since then. 

They come out with new releases on the Pure Magic Pictures streaming platform almost every week. 

Pure Magic Pictures is both an independent, mom-and-pop film studio and a streaming service to which fans can subscribe. 

“The inspiration behind that name is that feeling that you get when you watch a movie that just gives you that feeling of pure magic when you watch it. But it’s also the experience that we have when we’re on set making the movies. It’s a really magical experience for us, the process all along the way,” Stefanie said. 

Originally from the Bay Area in California, the Hubbards have lived in Greenpoint for eight years, and they have become well-acquainted with the Brooklyn film community. 

“[Brooklyn] just feels completely like home to us. We absolutely love living here. And we have met so many amazing people along the way,” Stefanie said. “I really do feel like the people we work with are also very passionate artists who are here for the love of it, and so when we all get together and make things to

Skye Hoshi: Anime Girl is a live action fantasy movie written and directed by Kalani Hubbard.

Brooklyn Bakes First Three Legal Cannabis Licenses

Brooklyn Bakes First Three Legal Cannabis Licenses

Gabriel Poblete, The City

Logo for THE CITYThis article was originally published on by THE CITY

An example of the sign that will display on licensed cannabis shops in New York.
An example of the sign that will display on licensed cannabis shops in New York. | New York State Office of Cannabis Management

New York’s cannabis regulators issued a flurry of new dispensary licenses Monday, including the first three to individuals who will operate in Brooklyn, after a federal court lifted an injunction that had blocked licenses for the borough.

The Cannabis Control Board of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) met Monday at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights to issue 99 new licenses statewide, with 53 going to New York City applicants. In total, the state has issued 155 of the 300 Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) business licenses, which are for people who have been impacted by cannabis-related convictions. Ten other licenses have gone to nonprofits.

“We’re absolutely thrilled that we’re able to expand the rollout of legalized cannabis across almost every region of this state, and that New Yorkers in these regions will soon have access to locally grown and tested, safe cannabis,” said Tremaine Wright, the board’s chair. 

The OCM was barred by a November injunction from issuing licenses in Brooklyn and four other regions elsewhere in the state due to a lawsuit by cannabis company Variscite NY One. The suit by majority owner Kenneth Gay, of Michigan, charged that the eligibility criteria is unconstitutional because it favors New York residents over out-of-state residents.

Initially applicants had ranked their top five regions — with each borough a region — when submitting their requests for licenses. After receiving over 900 applications, however, the Office of Cannabis Management stated the applicants would only be considered for their first choice.

Last week, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan lifted the injunction for Brooklyn and three other regions (though not yet for the Finger Lakes region, Variscite NY One’s top pick).

Misha Morse-Buch, one of the new Brooklyn licensees, was buzzing at the meeting. It wasn’t until Tuesday last week that he learned of the injunction being lifted, after expecting that the case could drag on through the year or longer. Two days later, he learned he would be receiving a CAURD license. 

Now, he was one of dozens in a second-floor room at Medgar Evers, celebrating another round of CAURD licenses. To add to the surrealness of the occasion, Morse-Buch’s company I Love My Pet Food and Supplies, which he’s been running for eight years, is located on Nostrand Avenue two blocks from the college, and he is a graduate of another CUNY school, Brooklyn College. 

“It almost feels not real, I still can’t almost comprehend that it’s happened the way that it’s happened,” he said. “Literally went from the people trying to lock me in a little box to here’s a life possibly.”

Few New Stores

Other Brooklyn applicants walked away disappointed, because other regions got far more licenses than the state’s most populous county, with more than 2.5 million residents. Manhattan got 21 new licenses, Queens 17 and Long Island 24 in the newest round. 

OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander told THE CITY that the reason his agency presented just three Brooklyn licenses to the board for a vote was because that’s where the agency was in the process of reviewing applications before the injunction. 

“We got a lot to do in terms of catching Brooklyn up, so we’re going to get on it,” Alexander said. “Hopefully by the May meeting we get a bunch more ready.”

Jessica Naissant, 29, confirmed to THE CITY via text that she was not one of three licensees. She has been hoping to open a dispensary in her native Brooklyn regardless.

“God forbid I don’t receive a CAURD license, I’m going to enter the market some way somehow,” Naissant said to THE CITY last week after the injunction was lifted but before Monday’s announcement.

Naissant said with the injunction forcing her to wait on the sidelines, she took the time to participate in cannabis incubator and mentorship programs. She previously operated a CBD store called Wake & Bake Cafe for four and a half years in Valley Stream in Nassau County, but she closed the store shortly after the village voted against allowing cannabis dispensaries in its jurisdiction. 

Even though the state has already issued dozens of licenses, stores have been slow to open. The OCM lists just seven legal recreational dispensaries on its website: three of which are in Manhattan, another in Queens, which had opened earlier this week, and the others upstate. 

Meanwhile, the illicit cannabis retail market has eclipsed the legal one, with city officials estimating 1,500 illegal cannabis stores are operating in the city. While enforcement agencies have had little recourse to rein in the stores, Gov. Kathy Hochul has introduced legislation that would allow for stricter financial and tax penalties. 

Only one legal store opened last year, and it is operated by nonprofit Housing Works, located in Greenwich Village. The first store to open that’s owned by an individual with a cannabis-related conviction was Smacked, also in the Village, which opened back in January. 

The Smacked store is supported by The Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund, a joint venture between a subsidiary of the state’s Dormitory Authority and private partner Social Equity Impact Ventures LLC, which counts former basketball player Chris Webber, entrepreneur Lavetta Willis and former city Comptroller William Thompson among its leaders. The fund is meant to secure retail spaces and build out dispensaries for the licensees, who will then pay back the loans.  

However, Social Equity Impact Ventures has yet to announce whether it’s generated any of the $150 million that it’s supposed to raise from the private sector. THE CITY reported the fund’s competitive practices to secure retail spots have thwarted efforts for license-holders who are seeking their own retail locations. 

The Variscite lawsuit isn’t the only one threatening the CAURD program. A group that includes medical cannabis companies sued the state earlier this month in the Albany County Supreme Court to force the state to open up retail dispensary licensing to all, which would effectively derail the CAURD program’s goal of putting those negatively affected by cannabis prohibition first in line for the state’s growing legal cannabis retail industry.

THE CITY is an independent, nonprofit news outlet dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York.

New Brooklyn oncology center

By Brooklyn Star Staff

[email protected]

A new oncology center has opened up in Flatbush Brooklyn.

The nearly 39,000 square foot facility, located at 2236 Nostrand Avenue,  opened its door to patients on January 2, 2023. The new facility will be operated in conjunction with the New York Cancer and Blood Specialists and Memorial Medical Care, a practice of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center physicians, according to a release. 

“Our innovative collaboration will give area residents the best of both worlds — world-class cancer care overseen by some of the best cancer centers in the country, all available closer tohome in a comfortable setting,” Jeff Vacirca CEO of New York Cancer and Blood Specialists, said in a statement. “We are excited to open our doors in this community which has such great culture and diversity, as well as opportunities to make a positive impact.”

Patients who have more complex cancer care, including surgery, will have access to Memorial Sloan Ketterings various outpatient programs across New York City. In King County, there is a Memorial Sloan Kettering Brooklyn Infusion Center located at 557 Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn. There are over a dozen different locations throughout New York City that potential patients could utilize.