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Morning Spew

The Riis Beach Goldfish Have Actually Been Rehomed

And more fishy links for your Friday.

8:45 AM EDT on March 17, 2023

Rehomed! (Hell Gate)

Last year, Hell Gate broke the story on the existence of a school of fish that lived inside the flooded basement of Riis Beach's Neponsit Beach Hospital. 

As part of the process of demolishing the hospital, City officials assured us that the fish (presumed to be goldfish, according to experts we consulted) would be "rehomed." We were hopeful, yet skeptical—would the City actually devote any time or its allegedly scarce resources to saving a bunch of goldfish? 

But here's some good news, for once—according to the New York Times, the duo that runs the group NYC Fish Rescue, a real group that exists that I must now join, came to the literal rescue of the hundreds of goldfish swimming in the guts of the abandoned hospital. We salute you, Brenda Prohaska and Laboy Wiggins!

The 51-year-old Prohaska is described as the "city's on-call fish rescuer." Here's how she came to save the Riis Beach fish, via the Times: 

When the hospital’s destruction was announced, activists associated with the abutting beach, Bay 1 of Jacob Riis Park, a longtime refuge for L.G.B.T.Q. and other marginalized people, began a grass-roots effort to save the fish.

Beachgoers scooped out as many fish as they could and demanded that demolition wait until the whole goldfish school could be spared. In response, New York City Health and Hospitals, which owns the Rockaway property and oversaw the demolition, contacted the fish rescue.

Ms. Prohaska arrived in Rockaway with nets, but the subbasement was too deep to reach the goldfish, she said. She set traps loaded with Italian bread and caught more than 100; large ones went to a private pond in Mount Vernon, and 50 or so fry went to a woman in Scarsdale, who declined to give her name. (“I would like to be the gold fish fairy,” she said, in a text message to Ms. Prohaska.)

The mission continued. Since September a contractor working on the site has methodically fished them out with baited traps, according to New York City Health and Hospitals. It will end when the final fish are delivered to Mr. Wiggins in the next week. They will live in a pond outside a nearby Catholic church, he said — the ones he can bear to part with.

While I would have personally preferred that the fish not find their final home next to a Catholic church, given that their previous living quarters were in a sort of monument to queer life in the city, at least they're alive. 

As for the future of Riis's Queer Beach—now that demolition of the hospital is underway, it's still uncertain. If you care about its future, there's a meeting you can attend this Sunday.

And more fishy links for your Friday:

  • Eric Adams, man of the cloth: "Our challenge is not economics, our challenge is not finance, our challenge is faith—people have lost their faith," Adams told religious leaders on Thursday. "I'm baffled. I'm baffled that we don't understand the importance of it." He added, "If this was a home of God, we would not be asking the question, what are we going to do with our asylum seekers." 
  • Also…????
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