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Banned Version of Four Loko Still Sold

FourLoko_cansChelsia Rose Marcius An image of a store shelf at the Houston Village Farm on the corner of First Avenue and Fourth Street featuring the banned version of the caffeinated alcoholic beverage Four Loko.

Along the left-side wall of a bodega on Avenue B stands a row of glass door refrigerators, stocked with an assortment of alcoholic beverages from bottles of Budweiser to cans of Coors Light.

Three shelves down in the first fridge, there’s also another beer-like brew — Four Loko, the caffeinated alcoholic beverage that created a buzz before it was banned last year in several states, including New York.

The manager of this minimart — who spoke only on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job — said he knows it’s “illegal” to sell this version of the drink, an alcohol and caffeine combo that was manufactured by Phusion Projects last year before the company reformulated the product to eliminate caffeine. Yet more than seven months after the December 2010 ban took effect, several East Village establishments continue to sell the old Four Loko, a top selling brand name that brings some small businesses big bucks.

The Local visited 39 East Village establishments along Broadway, Third Avenue, Second Avenue, First Avenue, Avenue A, Avenue B, Avenue C and Avenue D. Of these, 26 sold the new, non-caffeinated Four Loko.

However, five stores — Le Basket, 683 Broadway; Houston Village Farm, 61 First Avenue; 1st Ave Village Farm & Grocery, 113 First Avenue; Village Magazine, Cigar & Gourmet Food, 102 Second Avenue; and 21 Produce Corp., 21 Avenue B. — were still selling the banned product, as of Thursday.
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Map Your Gripes

I recently attended a Community Board meeting where a representative from the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DOITT) shared one of the newest updates to the 311 Online Services. An online service map, updated daily, shows residents the total amount of complaints made to 311 in any given area. In addition to being able to click on the complaint marked on the map by a yellow circle (relative in size to the amount of complaints per area), you can receive the status of the request.

Using this map, you can search by address, intersection, community board, city council district, or zip code. You may also narrow down the categories by using a pull-down menu to search for topics such as ‘sanitation’ or ‘public safety’. The map keeps information for up to 3 months, or using the advanced settings, data is stored for up to one year.

What’s the difference between a “call” and a “complaint?” Nick Sbordone of the DOITT explained that with a call, there is usually no follow-up required by the city. A complaint usually involves a service request, where the caller’s information and complaint is recorded and an action by one of the City’s Departments will follow.

It may be useful, or at least interesting, to track your own requests, those of your neighbors, or just to remain informed about any particular area’s happenings. Follow this link to search for the East Village’s Community Board 3 district, type in your own address or any intersection, and stay updated with what’s up in your area!