Ash Wednesday fasting means no more ‘paczki’ for Polish New Yorkers who enjoyed treat on Fat Tuesday

While Fat Tuesday was an excuse for many New Yorkers to indulge their sweet tooth, in Brooklyn's predominantly Polish Greenpoint neighborhood it was the last chance to pack on some paczki pounds before Lent. Pronounced "punch-key," paczki are essentially jelly donuts - and they are a no-no for Catholic Polish immigrants during the fasting season that starts tomorrow on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter. "I love paczki very much," said a smiling 73-year-old Eugenia Wdowkowska. "I can't eat too many. But I'm eating two. They're the best." The paczki pounding began last week on what Poles call "Fat Thursday." "We sell them every day, but come Fat Thursday we go from selling 60 paczki to 1,000," said Karolina Zalewska, 35, who works at Old Poland Bakery. "It's a big tradition." For 27-year-old Marta Goclan, it's not just about satisfying a craving. "I still enjoy eating them because they remind me of Poland," she said. The tradition of eating paczki goes back to the Middle Ages when bakers would use up the sugar, butter and eggs that might go to waste during Lent. Classic Polish paczki have raspberry, custard or prune fillings, although strawberry and lemon varieties are also available in some bakery shops. They sell from 75 cents to $1 each. "Paczki are better than donuts," Zalewska said.   Join the Conversation: Continue Reading


OAKLAND - John Calipari's mouth was moving faster than his players' legs, an achievement that seems impossible to anyone who doesn't know Calipari. At his core, Calipari is still a smooth Yankee, inherently incapable of fully adopting a genteel Southern demeanor. He couldn't slow down if he were swimming in a pool of molasses. Even when Memphis started forcing Bradley into hurried turnovers, even when it was becoming clear the No. 1 seed had superior talent over this Missouri Valley team, Calipari could not rest. He was perfectly sedate when his young Tigers were allowing Bradley to run the floor with them, to push the ball and drive to the basket and go toe-to-toe for nearly an entire half. But when Memphis began to break away from this Sweet 16 matchup, Calipari went on the prowl, pacing, screaming, acting like he was in a hurry to reach a place he hasn't seen in a very long time. This is what happens when a coach and his team go from receiving no NCAA Tournament invites to a No. 1 seed in the blink of a season. From the NIT to the Elite Eight, and possibly beyond. Mimicking Calipari's haste and stealing a piece of his restless heart, the Tigers knocked the slippers off Bradley last night, restoring a semblance of order in a tournament that heretofore had been delightfully out of whack. Bradley, a No. 13 seed from a little mid-major conference that caused jaws to drop and words to be eaten, must live off the memory of its jubilation in Auburn Hills last weekend after knocking off Pitt to reach the Sweet 16. The Braves vowed they'd treat Memphis the same way they treated Pitt, and Kansas before that, and they did for nearly 20 minutes, equaling the Tigers' athleticism with a breathless pace out of the backcourt. It was Bradley's pride vs. Memphis' talent and defense, and the final score - 80-64, Memphis - suggests pride took a beating. "The stars were stars today. Rodney Carney was a star. Darius Washington was a star," Calipari said on the court, after Continue Reading

RUN AND DONE. Fast pace quick to turn on Knicks

IT WAS VINTAGE Stephon Marbury - or as he likes to call it, Starbury. The temperamental point guard attacked, scored, set up teammates. And his team lost. As well as Marbury played offensively, he and the Knicks never will be regarded as strong defenders, meaning they never will become consistent winners. "Maybe we don't have a good defensive scheme," Larry Brown said following the Knicks' 108-96 loss to the Nuggets last night at the Garden that included more chants of "Fire Isiah." "Maybe we don't have great defensive players. Maybe we don't have a defensive mind-set. "I'd love to see us run up and down the court, but I think somewhere along the line we're going to have to figure it out. It's like playing Jack Nicklaus in golf when he was in his prime. I'd rather play him one hole than 18." The Nuggets suckered the Knicks into a quick pace and ended up controlling the game for the last three quarters. With Marbury and surprise starter Jerome James each scoring 11 first-quarter points, the Knicks raced out to a 28-21 lead. But Denver scored 13 unanswered points and never trailed again. "You can't have everybody on your team want to score," Brown said. "You've got to have guys that don't command the ball, that do all the little things to help you win games. "I think Malik (Rose) is trying to do that. I think David (Lee) is trying to do that. I think Jerome got a little carried away after he had such a great start." The Jerome James season highlight reel lasted the opening four minutes. Starting in place of Eddy Curry, who was home with a stomach virus, James scored a quick 11 points and had the crowd into the game. The winded center was asking to come out of the game a minute later, but Brown waved him off. James set the tone for an entertaining game that featured yet another spectacular performance from a Syracuse player. Just as Gerry McNamara dominated the Big East tournament last week, Carmelo Anthony was on a different level, at least Continue Reading

Newser’s Day 3 of the Food Stamp Challenge: rationed portions mean just enough daily calories

In the first three days of my Food Stamp Challenge, friends, family, neighbors and co-workers have all wanted to know one thing: are you hungry? I'm fast approaching the middle mark for my one-week living on $29 worth of food. And so far, my body feels pretty good. I've worked, exercised and gone about my daily routine without noticeable change. Here's what I ate on Day 3: 8:30 a.m.: Two cups of shredded wheat with one cup of almond milk On the first day I divvied out what I could eat for the entire week. 1 p.m.: One apple and two tablespoons of peanut butter 2:30 p.m.: One baked chicken breast 7 p.m.: Three cups of popcorn and nine baby carrots 9:15 p.m.: Two red potatoes and two whole eggs, sunnyside up According to my calculations, that is about 1,366 calories. On average, I eat between 1,200 and 1,500 calories a day, so this is within my normal range. Where I'm really feeling the difference is in the rationing. Maybe that's where "Iron Man" actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who didn't last the week when she took the challenge, went wrong. On the first day I divvied out what I could eat for the entire week. Take, for example, the 12 eggs I purchased. One dozen means two eggs a day, leaving one day egg-free. The 5-pound bag of red potatoes yielded 15 potatoes in total, or about two a day with one to spare. A $2.89 bag of Granny Smith apples shook out to exactly one apple every afternoon. Relying on food stamps requires planning. Terry, a senior citizen from California, told me she makes a vat of soup one day, eats some, and freezes the rest for later. Kate, who receives $84 a month in SNAP aid, reminded me to measure out my cereal so as not to overpour in one go. Without thinking ahead, she said, the food will surely run out. And that's something many of us rarely consider. We order in and eat on Continue Reading

Tiger Woods making changes to swing with U.S. Open fast approaching

Tiger Woods was only kidding - half-kidding anyway - but he says he's been looking at his son Charley's swing with a bit of envy. "He's got some parts in his swing that I'm trying to do," Woods said Wednesday of his precocious six-year-old. "It's a little frustrating at times." RELATED: TIGER WOODS PENS HEARTFELT LETTER TO BULLIED DELAWARE TEEN It's been a little frustrating for Woods all year long. He tees it up at this week's Memorial - an event he's won five times - still looking for his first official victory of the season after four official starts. This will be his final tuneup before the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, the unusual course that he spent two days studying earlier this week. He said the same optimistic things about his game at Wednesday's press conference in Dublin, Ohio, that he's been saying all year long without the results to back it up. Yet golf fans keep hoping that everything will click in at any time. "I feel very good, very good about the changes we've made," he said of his work with swing consultant Chris Como. "And we've just implemented a couple new things. It's still evolving but it's getting better. It's nice to see." Woods admitted he really didn't work much on his game immediately after the Players Championship where he tied for 69th at 3-over par. He was mostly watching Charley and daughter Samantha play soccer. "I tried to eat a lot and get my weight back up. And then we started some pretty good practice," he said. At Chambers Bay, Woods was following the advice of USGA executive director Mike Davis, who warned players that anyone who doesn't do his homework in advance will not win the tournament. "When Mike says something like that, you got to pay attention to it," Woods said. And we got out there and it was it was like, 'oh, my God, there are so many different options here.' You have to know. "There's so many different landing areas and aggressive or passive lines, Continue Reading

A crooked path to fairer pay: Gov. Cuomo’s wage board gambit for fast-food workers

Remember back in 2011, in the heyday of Occupy Wall Street, when the question echoing across America was “what do they want?” POL DONATES 30K FROM OCCUPY WALL STREET ARREST SETTLEMENT I flashed back to that looking out the seventh-floor window from the state Labor Department office at Varick St., at the vacant plot where the occupiers made a last stand after their rough eviction from Zuccotti Park . A handful of diehards scaled the walls into the arms of the police. One answer to that question, clearer in hindsight: They are organized labor. They want better pay for workers at the bottom. DE BLASIO SAYS NYC, LIKE L.A., NEEDS TO RAISE MINIMUM WAGE  That’s good, and overdue. But as Gov. Cuomo proceeds willy-nilly, watch out for unintended consequences . I was at Varick St. for the first meeting of Cuomo’s wage board, which he’s about to use to unilaterally hike the pay of fast-food workers. As the board slogged through boilerplate (the real theater will be at four public input sessions) , activists sat around the table quietly holding signs they’d snuck in. Outside, more boilerplate — chants, drums and signs at a set place and for a set time — brought together some usual suspects from Occupy: Michael Kink of the Strong Economy For All Coalition, whom I last saw in person at Zuccotti ; Make the Road NYC; New York Communities for Change; and the SEIU, along with a handful of actual fast-food workers. Collectively, they managed enough presence and noise to be a decent backdrop for TV reporters. “I am ashamed to tell you what I make,” one of those workers, Wilton Major, told me. The 43-year-old Guyanese-born American citizen, who’s been at KFC since 1991, eventually said he’s made minimum wage (now $8.75 in New York) that whole time. The group was there to keep the pressure on Cuomo, now that he’s committed to raising Continue Reading

College students to rally for minimum wage fast food workers across New York City

College students, many of them former minimum wage workers, joined the growing campaign to hike fast food workers’ pay to $15. Students from six city schools plan to protest at fast food spots near their campuses Wednesday. Columbia University student Lamar Richardson, 22 is planning to rally outside a Harlem McDonald's. “My first job was at McDonald's,” said Columbia University student Lamar Richardson, 22, who plans to rally outside a Harlem McDonald’s to rally for higher pay. “I used to make minimum wage back in high school.” “I can’t imagine making minimum wage as an adult and living in New York City,” added Richardson, a senior from North Carolina. He is one of about 20 in a group called “Columbia Fight for 15,” part of the nationwide, union-backed Fight for 15 campaign, on his campus. Students at other schools, including The New School, NYU, The City College of New York, New York City College of Technology and Brooklyn College, have formed similar groups. Richardson said he joined at the beginning of this semester partly because he is worried about getting a job that pays enough after graduation. “We’re inheriting this economy,” said Richardson. The student protests are one of several events leading up to an April 15 nation-wide rally for low wage workers across different industries that organizers say will draw 60,000 in 200 cities. Fast food companies say pay hikes would hurt the small and medium sized business owners who run their franchises — and would mean higher menu prices. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Fast-food workers protest low wages at Midtown McDonald’s: ‘We need change and I don’t mean pennies’

More than 50 fast-food workers fed up over paltry wages stormed a Midtown McDonald’s Thursday chanting “shut it down!” Two cops eventually chased the demonstrators out of the Fifth Ave. fast-food joint after the raucous 11 a.m. protest. There were no arrests . The eatery invasion came a day after McDonald’s announced it will give 10% raises to all 90,000 workers employed at company-owned restaurants. The pay bump drew only muted cheers because it doesn’t apply to the vast majority of the 660,000 employees working at privately owned McDonald’s. "Some of us have to live in (homeless) shelters to make ends meet," said Jorel Ware, 33, who makes $8.75 at a Manhattan McDonald’s. "I have to borrow my sister's MetroCard to get around. My rent is $200 a week. I make $210 a week. That leaves me $10 for all my other expenses." "We need change and I don't mean pennies," Ware added. Thousands of fast-food workers nationwide have been protesting for months as part of a campaign to boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The minimum wage in New York went up last year from $8 to $8.75 — and will be hiked to $9 an hour on Dec. 31. Frances Ventura, 18, said his $8.75 salary doesn't allow him to see his family in the Dominican Republic. "I can't afford to travel. I want to see my family. Hug my father," he said. Organizers said thousands will join a nationwide march on April 15. "If they don't give this (raise), we are not going to stop," said McDonald’s worker Katherine Cruz, 18. ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH THE VIDEO HERE. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Vin Diesel confirms ‘Fast and Furious 8’ due out in April 2017

The "Fast and Furious" saga is revving up for another ride. Vin Diesel announced on Thursday that there will be an eight installment of the muscle car franchise released on April 14, 2017. "We're going to make the best movie you've ever seen," the actor said at Universal's CinemaCon presentation in Las Vegas on Thursday, The news shouldn't come as a shock to anyone, as "Furious 7" has remained the reigning box office king since its debut earlier this month, raking in more than $1.1 billion worldwide. During the presentation, Diesel became emotional while talking about late pal Paul Walker, who died in an accident off set while "Furious 7" was filming. "The last time I was on this stage I was with my brother Pablo," Diesel said. "It's hard for me to even watch that clip and then come out here without being emotional. But most importantly, I mean it from the bottom of my heart, that you guys, you help us make this special." With News Wire Services Continue Reading

Readers sound of on fast food pay, the Puerto Rican parade and Trump

What $15/hour means for mom Buffalo: When New York City cooks and cashiers walked off their jobs at McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King 21/2 years ago, it felt like the first time people’s eyes were really opened to what it’s like living on a fast-food wage. With each new strike, workers in more cities joined in. I was one of them. I think the Fight for $15 spread as much as it did because so many people are so desperate. I owe an impossible amount of money to National Fuel, due any day. I’m constantly worried my 11-month-old daughter and I are going to wind up on the street. I have no choice but to rely on food stamps and the Home Energy Assistance Program. I don’t want to get public assistance, but the alternative would be not eating or living in my car. It’s a pretty messed-up system that lets companies the size of McDonald’s get away with paying their employees so little that they live in poverty, and regular people have to make up for it in taxes. I’m glad it’s starting to change. Companies like IKEA, Gap and Walmart have all started paying more. And cities as big as Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles all have a $15 minimum wage. I’m most excited about what’s happening here in New York. Gov. Cuomo appointed a fast-food wage board that can raise our pay to $15, and last week I told them what that would mean in my life. Now, I take home $278 a week. I have to pay for rent, utilities and a phone bill. Those add up to $1,004 a month. There is nothing left for food, car payments or clothes for my little girl, who gets bigger daily. With a $15-an-hour wage, all of that would change. I’m not talking about lobster dinners, but at least we wouldn’t need food stamps. I’d actually have money in my pocket to spend on things like decent food and some new clothes. So instead of taking from the economy, I’d finally be contributing. And I wouldn’t feel so desperate. Continue Reading