Posts by Josh

Is Cobble Hill Super Service the Biggest Scam in the Neighborhood?

By , 5 August, 2010, 3 Comments

image courtesy Cobble Hill Blog

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It’s often fun to debate the pros and cons of local establishments — for example: What’s the best pizzeria? That’s a good one. Or, Where do you go for sushi? Or, Where, if forced, does one go to get edible Chinese food? (Seriously, where?) But our friends at Cobble Hill Blog bring up a place we all know that is never, ever, fun to debate.

Because we have never, ever, heard a kind word said about Cobble Hill Super Service.

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We didn’t start this blog to defame local businesspeople. But when it comes to this place, all signs point to crook. I myself gave this guy over a grand for repairs I seriously doubt were necessary. I won’t go into all the details, but here’s an unforgettable exchange from my first encounter:

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TONY: Your car failed inspection. It’s going to be $800.
ME: Ok, for what?
TONY: Gotta replace the brakes and two front axles.
ME: Needs new brakes? Darn. But what is this about two front axles?
TONY: It’s a real pain to fix, most guys won’t even check for it. But they’re broken.
ME: How did I drive the car there this morning if both front axles were broken?
TONY: They’re broken and the car isn’t safe. I can’t let you drive it unless they’re fixed. Now I need a credit card number.


Recounting getting ripped off is painful — because there is always that moment where you clearly should have done something different. “Most guys won’t even check for it” …? This was a state inspection, there is a checklist provided by the state. But I paid the $800 (or was it $1,500; this was four years ago and I’ve tried to forget the exact number) so Tony could “fix” the brakes and the thing I had never heard of anyone having to fix before. My story is about par for the course, see also reviews at:

Brooklyn Heights Blog

Some time later, I spoke with a tow truck driver who had once worked for Cobble Hill Super Service. He said that he hated working for them because they routinely ripped people off. If called for a jump, standard procedure was to detach the wires from the battery, pretend to try to jump it, then tell the customer the jump wasn’t working and there must be a problem with the alternator or starter. Once the car has been towed to the shop they can make up any story they want about necessary repairs. This tow truck driver also said that Tony employs several lawyers as he is constantly fighting multiple lawsuits brought by ripped-off customers. It’s hearsay from a former employee, sure — but it pretty much lines up with what customers say.

If I could give all neighborhood newbies one piece of advice, it would be to avoid this unfortunately convenient repair shop. Since quitting Tony and Cobble Hill Super Service I’ve been taking my car to J & E (Gulf) Service Station at Hicks and Rapelye, (718) 625-3848. I’m certainly no expert on cars, and an easy target for scammers, but the guys at J & E have never given me a bill that was unreasonably high or told me my healthy-seeming car was in need of massive repairs.

Anyone know of a local business with a — deservedly — worse track record than Cobble Hill Super Service?

On Sunday, Get Your Arts Over to Invisible Dog

By , 23 July, 2010, No Comment

The Invisible Dog art center (Bergen St. between Smith and Boerum Place) is throwing an epic end-of-season party, and we’re all invited. This Sunday, from 11 AM to 7 PM, the center will be open and anyone is welcome to come hang out. Musicians and singers are welcome. Got meat? Bring it and grill it. Wine will be provided at an extremely laissez-faire and low-key event that might just end up being a great party. It has that “It’s kinda crazy, but it just might work” ring to it, and even if it doesn’t amount to much it will still be at least as good as whatever you were planning on doing with your Sunday afternoon. Learn more about the party and upcoming ID stuff at

Did we mention they’re providing wine? Ok, just double-checking.

New York is Stupid, New York is Brilliant

By , 22 July, 2010, No Comment

Two posts at BrickUnderground had me thinking of the things I hate about this city and the things I love. First, the hatin’ —

Co-op boards that interview dogs. It’s not really surprising to me that certain co-op boards would want to interview (“meet” is a nicer word) the dog of a prospective buyer. Where there are co-op board dog interviews, there are co-op board dog interview strategies. And where there are co-op board dog interview strategies, there are co-op board dog interview consultants. BrickUnderground found Elena Gretch, who “spends about 6 sessions ($175/hour) administering an individualized canine cram course on co-op etiquette.” (“How to Get Your Dog Past a Co-op Board”)

And now — I love this: Passive aggressive wi-fi network SSIDs. You know how when you search for wireless networks you see a bunch of names, nicknames or router defaults, i.e. “smith_residence,” “johno48,” “belkin” etc. What if you saw a gentle request or criticism posted by someone within range? “PleaseNoMoreSpringsteen” or “WhatIsThatSmell” or “YourDogPoopedOnMyStoop” or “YouShouldDrawYourCurtains.” Some people do it habitually. (“A NYC pocket guide to passive aggressive wifi”)

N.B I love it the latter because it’s a clever use of technology by people living in tight spaces. I would probably hate it the moment I read one of these notes addressed to me.

The Sandwich Wars

By , 21 July, 2010, No Comment

courtesy the Brooklyn Paper

We have Henry Street, and we have Henry Street Wines & Liquors and Henry Street Pilates, and a little ways north we have the Henry Street Ale House and Henry’s End — but we do not have Henry’s. For Vietnamese sandwiches and bubble tea we have only the original Hanco’s, on Bergen Street between Smith and Hoyt. Park Slope got a Hanco’s in 2009, then got Henry’s, which looked an awful damn lot like Hanco’s. Henry’s was opened by former Hanco staff, and its menu was, perhaps literally, a carbon copy of Hanco’s. This story has been floating around for awhile, and last week got the full treatment as the opening segment of This American Life. I don’t know what to make of all of it — I recall the words of Vince Vaughn’s character in Swingers: “Everybody steals from everybody, that’s Hollywood.” The same could be said of the restaurant business. On the other hand, using the exact same menu smacks of laziness — steal if you want, but don’t look like you’re stealing. All I know for sure is that I will be going to Hanco’s for a Vietnamese sandwich today.

Fix the Ditch, phase 2

By , 20 July, 2010, 1 Comment

The BQE Enhancement Project is seeking to improve the pedestrian conditions along the BQE between Hamilton and Atlantic Avenues — to “Fix the Ditch” as the Cobble Hill Association puts it. Tonight’s workshop ought to be interesting — first time around, back in May, designers collected ideas and tried to sketch out the general goals of the project. Now we’ll get to see the fruits of their expertise — they’re presenting actual preliminary designs and seeking comments from the public. What will we see — verdant public parks over the BQE? Then they’ll go back to the lab to rework and fine-tune; final designs are to be presented in the fall. If you’d like to attend, organizers request that you RSVP to

When: Tuesday, July 20th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Long Island College Hospital (LICH), Avram Conference Center, Rooms
A & B, 339 Hicks Street, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201

Biggest Bastille Day Ever

By , 16 July, 2010, No Comment

We all know Les Bleus were le flop at the World Cup — but don’t give up on French sport altogether. There’s still something ever so rewarding about the chunk of a pétanque ball landing in sand, the crack of boule knocking boule out of the way. There will be plenty this Sunday, when Smith Street again hosts the largest Bastille Day celebration in the United States. From 11 AM to 10 PM, Smith between Bergen and Pacific (and a great deal of Dean Street as well) will be closed to traffic and upwards of 80 teams will participate in the monster pétanque tournament that is by now an institution. More to know, from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

* Smith Street bistros Bar Tabac and Robin des Bois are the primary hosts, but you can expect all nearby Smith Street restaurants to get into the spirit as well.

* The event is also sponsored by French liqueurs Ricard and Lillet. Ricard is a pastis, which the French dilute with cold water for a refreshing aperitif on a warm day. Like sambuca or ouzo, pastis is anise-flavored, which many Americans find particularly un-refreshing. If that’s you, opt for Lillet, which is a blend of white wine and citrus.

* An estimated 12,000 people attended last year; this year may draw more.

* Borough President Marty Markowitz, French Consul General M. Philippe Lalliot, and Jean-Jacques Bernat (owner of the Provence en Boite bistro) will perform an opening ceremony sometime after 1:30 PM.

* Further up Smith Street, Homage skate shop will host the third edition of its increasingly popular annual skateboarding contest. The entire DC Pro skateboarding team will be on hand to sign autographs and give out freebies.

Why Did This Happen on Fourth Avenue Today?

By , 14 July, 2010, No Comment

from Root Hill Cafe's Facebook page

The corner of Fourth Avenue and Carroll looked mighty lake-like today, for reasons not totally known. Residents say this happens periodically. What’s to blame — Gowanus overflow? Inadequate storm sewers? The Clean Water Act? Global warming? Readers at Brownstoner are trying to hash it out in a very confusing but entertaining comment thread. Photo from Root Hill Cafe on Facebook.

Tragedy in Fort Greene Hits Cobble Hill As Well

By , 13 July, 2010, 2 Comments

On July 8, Aileen McKay-Dalton was riding her Vespa when she was struck and killed by an SUV at the corner of DeKalb and Clinton Avenues in Fort Greene. Many in our neighborhood knew her, or knew of her, as a mother of three children at Brooklyn Heights Montessori. We at BococaLand join the Montessori and Fort Greene communities in mourning her passing and send our condolences to her husband and children. There will be a candlelight vigil for Aileen this evening (Wednesday) at the intersection where the accident occurred.

Fatal Car Accident Yesterday Afternoon []

“Amazing” Wife and Mother Will be Missed []

Heartbreak for Brooklyn neighborhood after Aileen McKay-Dalton crashes Vespa into SUV [Daily News]

Mr. Gorbachev, cut a hole in this wall…

By , 9 July, 2010, No Comment

coutesy the Brooklyn Paper

This again? The Brooklyn Paper reports that neighborhood preservationists in Cobble Hill are concerned new homeowners will try to “pull a Norah” and put windows on the side of their houses. And again we get this sort of reasoning:

Sloane and others in the neighborhood believe that windows on the side of residences in Cobble Hill contradict the 19th-century Greek Revival style, which dominates the neighborhood.

“It’s a very egalitarian style — [original residents] tried not to overawe their neighbors,” said Sloane. “This low-key character affords privacy. [It’s] the same character that makes people want to move to Cobble Hill in the first place!”

I would be interested to hear from someone with a better grasp of the history of residential architecture — because it seems so obvious to me. These are row houses we are talking about. The reason they don’t have windows on their sides has nothing to do with Greek Revival style or low-key character. It’s because there was another freakin’ house there!

I’m not trying to pick a fight with preservationists — preservationism can be a good thing. I just don’t like nonsense reasons repeated as if they were fact. They’re not dummies over at the Brooklyn Paper, but they’ve failed to catch this twice now.

Somebody tell me I’m wrong…

Annie Hall kicks off Movies With a View tonight

By , 8 July, 2010, No Comment

In just over an hour, DJ Ursula 1000 will spin tracks for moviegoers at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and sometime after dusk the show will start: The short “Abbie Canceled by Dumb Bunny” followed by the quintessential Woody Allen film, Annie Hall. ( says the sun will set at 8:29 and by 9 PM the temperature will be a chilly 83 degrees.) Commenters at Brooklyn Heights Blog point out that two Allen movies feature scenes filmed nearby — Manhattan on Cranberry Street and Bananas on the Promenade.

For the full schedule, visit

(Fun with IMDB: In Germany and Austria, Annie Hall was shown under the title Der Stadtneurotiker, or “Neurotic City.” Isn’t that a little like calling Citizen Kane “The Old Man and His Sled”?)