Small Wonder is a Small Wonder

April 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

It has been interesting to observe my 22-year-old son Henry since January 20th when he released Wendy, his album of seven songs loosely based on Peter Pan. My son, whose solo musical project goes by the name of Small Wonder, seems to be walking with a spring in his step these days. He has a newfound confidence born of completion and validation. Within hours of Wendy’s release on Band Camp, a digital music site, he was “discovered” by Gold Flake Paint, an influential blogger in England. Without reading it first, he read the following review aloud to us in the living room:

“I don’t really know anything about Small Wonder. There was another full-length back in 2011 but nothing since. “Small Wonder is henry crawford and vice versa.” is all that the album bio tells us and while it’s not much to go on, I don’t need any more than that. All I need to know is laid out across a record that just hit me, instantly. It makes me want to sob. It makes me want to hug everyone I’ve ever loved and apologise to all of those that I’ve let down. It makes me want to crawl in to the one I love now and hold her for longer than I ever have before. I feel connected to it. I feel like I grew up with it; like it knows all of my secrets and fears and hidden memories. I feel like it was made only for me. I feel like maybe it was made by me.

And this is where my new-found problems come in, because I’ve yet to tell you anything about Wendy. You don’t know what it sounds like, which genre it falls in to, which of the seven tracks is the most catchy, where the hidden secrets are to be found – but you know what? I’m ok with that. There are times when I don’t want to pull a record apart in that way, to deconstruct it to its roots. Sometimes I just want it to be there and to exist and hope that when someone reads the way it affects me, as a person rather than a magazine, they’ll take a chance on it anyway.”

In a stunned silence, we took in what we’d just heard. Then my husband spoke in characteristic understatement.

“I think that was a good review,” he said.

After that astonishing rave, there were more reviews of my son’s gorgeous song cycle about the difficulties of growing up. There were reviews from music bloggers in Greece and Italy. A French blogger compared Wendy to the films of Spike Jonze.  Leor Galil in the Chicago Reader wrote: “Small Wonder main man Henry Crawford calls his music “agnostic gospel,” and that tag well fits his band’s new album Wendy; the kitchen-sink indie-rock songs have nothing to do with religion (or gospel music for that matter), but they’ve got an otherworldly spiritual energy that’s got me hooked.” In NME, a British music weekly, the reviewer wrote: “Small Wonder is anything but inconsequential. Henry Crawford’s project is grand and intricate.” Just yesterday Wendy was mentioned in Stereogum: ”Album highlight “Clearly Again” frames those concerns in a fragile yet expansive indie-rock ballad.”

Within a day of its release, the album was picked up by a distributor called Father and Daughter Records. The album is available on iTunes and can be purchased as a tape cassette or LP. Don’t look for a CD, CD’s are, not surprisingly, done for.

Which isn’t to say that I needed a bunch of music bloggers,  reviewers or an influential indie distributor to tell me that my son had created something special.  I’ve listened to the album almost daily since January 20th because I am fascinated by its lyricism, its slow building musical epiphanies, and its searing instrospection. The album is intricately based on the imagery of Peter Pan. In songs with names like Ball Lighning, Clearly Again, Patron Saint of Pretty Faces and Lost at Highway, Small Wonder describes the inner landscape of a young man transitioning from adolescence to young adulthood with a hyper-vigilant sense of awe and apprehension.

I am so proud of my son because he has not only created something complex and beautiful but he finished it, named it and put it out there for the world to hear. That is brave and strong. For someone who writes about his fears of growing up, I can’t imagine a better example of it.

A word about the drawing of Henry on the cover (and on this post). It’s by the extremely talented Susannah Cutler.

 

The Soul of the World: An Exhibit of Photography by Tom Martinez

April 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

In his dual career as a minister and photographer, Reverend Tom Martinez is drawn to images that reflect New York’s interfaith diversity, its unexpected natural habitats, and the spirit of protest and volunteerism that’s all around. He also documents art on the ever-changing canvas of the City’s streets and walls.

The Soul of the World is an exhibition of his photography at the James Memorial Chapel at Union Theological Seminary, 3041 Broadway at 121st Street, and it will run through May 5, 2014.

Tom is no stranger to readers of Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn. Since 2007, I have been proud to publish his work on this blog. His photographs of Brooklyn after Hurricane Sandy, are especially powerful, as are his shots of Occupy Wall Street, Coney Island, Red Hook, his Kensington neighborhood and the Children of Abraham March, an annual  interfaith walk for peace in Brooklyn.

At the core of his work is a deep sense of humanity and an appreciation for those who seek to fix what is broken in the world. The photograph above was taken in the weeks after Sandy, when Occupy Sandy was running a relief center in  The Church of St. Matthew, St. Luke’s, an Episcopal church in Bed Stuy. About those weeks after Sandy, Martinez writes,

“Shooting its aftermath reminded me of being in New Orleans after Katrina. It was also a reminder of the powerful resilience of the human spirit, evidenced in the way the Occupy Wall Street movement morphed into Occupy Sandy.  Having successfully survived “off the grid” during the Wall Street protest—bringing in food and generating energy—after the hurricane, Occupy activists seamlessly re-directed the flow of resources outward to those most in need, setting up distribution hubs wherever they could.”

Martinez’s photographs of nature, particularly his virtuosic shots of hawks flying over Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park, convey an innate comfort and connection to the natural world and a true sense of wonder.

In 2003 Martinez became minister of All Souls Bethlehem Church in Brooklyn’s Kensington neighborhood, an unusual house church with a diverse congregation. Tom graduated from Union Theological Seminary in 2000 and subsequently completed a three-year stint at Christ Church in Summit, NJ. With the Christian Peacemaker Teams, he spent two weeks in Baghdad in an effort to promote a human connection with the Iraqi people and alternatives to war. He is the author of the book, Confessions of a Seminarian: Searching for Soul in the Shadow of Empire.  He is the co-founder of Switch to Manual, which offers camera workshops and photo walks. His photographs have been published in the Staten Island Advance, the Brooklyn Paper, Tikkun, and, of course on this blog.

The Soul of the World: Photographs by Rev. Tom Martinez

Union Theological Seminary

3041 Broadway at 121st Street

NY NY 10027

The show will be up through May 5th.

No Words Daily Pix by Hugh Crawford

April 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

Rabbi Andy Bachman’s Decision to Leave Park Slope Pulpit

March 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

 

On Wednesday my sister called to say that Rabbi Andy Bachman would be resigning his post at Congregation Beth Elohim in 2015. As a member of the synagogue, she’d received an email from the President of the congregation. I told her to send me the email. Then I realized that in this day and age, the information would be on Facebook.

And there it was. Rabbi Bachman posted his letter to the congregation on Facebook and comments were coming in fast. I also checked Rabbi Bachman’s blog Water Over Rocks and saw that his letter was posted there, too.

Which brings me to how I first became aware of Rabbi Bachman: I discovered his blog. I loved the idea that a rabbi had a blog. This was back in 2005 when I was an insanely enthusiastic hyper-local blogger and he was the leader of a group called Brooklyn Jews. Blogging was not the ubiquitous activity it is today so I felt he was a kindred spirit in the art and soul of the blog. In fact, I was so impressed with his thoughtful meditations on religion and community,  I invited him to be one of the speakers at the Second Annual Brooklyn Blogfest in 2006 (along with author Steven Berlin Johnson, the late Robert Guskind of Gowanus Lounge, and Brownstoner’s Jonathan Butler).

That night, a huge crowd gathered at the Old Stone House. We had to turn many away. I waited for Rabbi Bachman to show up because he was listed as the first speaker. Unfortunately, he had to attend to a rabbinical emergency, a hospital visit I think. The Reverend Daniel Meeter of Park Slope’s Old First Dutch Reformed Church, also an early blogger, graciously spoke to the audience and said a prayer. In Dutch.

A year later, I reported on Reverend Meeter’s passionate and soul-baring post on his blog about three homeless men who slept on the steps of his church and his frustration with them. Reverend Meeter had tried help these men, tried to get them jobs, apartments and health services. But they continued to live on the church’s steps. When the men urinated on the steps, Meeter lost it. He grappled with what to do about it on his blog:

“Their names are Robert Royster, Will Franklin, and Frank. They cause me a great deal of trouble, and lots of anger from our neighbors, and I do wish they would go away, but, whatever else, they remain human beings, images of God, and they need to be treated with respect.”

Soon after, the Reverend and the Rabbi united to form the Park Slope Coalition for the Homeless. This group was created after a meeting with the city’s Department of Homeless Services. Bachman posted the group’s goals on his blog: “Acknowledge with dignity those who are homeless. … Work for their dignity and safety. Connect them to the variety of homeless services in the city. Support the provision of services to these people.”

That was not the last time that the Reverend and the Rabbi united to do service for their community. Together they added an ecumenical note to Park Slope, when they borrowed each other’s sanctuaries, when building troubles prevented them from using their own. Spending Yom Kippur with Rabbi Bachman in Old First Church is a memory I will forever cherish.

As to his community work, Congregation Beth Elohim seemed the perfect platform from which to address that which is broken in the world. I figured he’d be a rabbi forever.

Apparently, he saw it differently. After turning 50 and after seeing the devastation of Sandy and what it revealed about underserved and impoverished comminities like Red Hook and Coney Island not far from Park Slope, Rabbi Bachman decided to focus on homelessness, hunger, violence and poverty in New York City—not just Jewish service.

 ”Last year, the combination of watching our community’s response to Hurricane Sandy as well as the fortuitous and inevitable rite of passage of turning 50, I began to explore the idea of moving beyond strictly Jewish service and contemplate seriously the idea of serving disadvantaged communities broadly throughout New York City.  The issues of poverty, hunger, homelessness, education, and violence remain central to my own concerns as a citizen of New York.”

I will admit that my initial reaction was sadness.

Sadness for the Jewish ritual that lies ahead that won’t involve Rabbi Andy Bachman. He presided over my father’s funeral service in 2008. And he did so beautifully. Later he wrote about the service on his blog:

“A beloved man died at age 79 and the structure of mourning and remembrace that was so carefully set in place by his daughters was so perfectly attuned to his wishes and to his abiding influence on them as a parent so that even as they were choosing on their accord how to remember and honor him, his touch and voice could still be heard.”

In February, he led the funeral service of Edith Jacobson, my sister’s mother-in-law. Again, we witnessed Bachman’s special way of meeting death and helping a family through it with Jewish ritual and carefully chosen words and prayers. My sister especially appreciated his presence at the cemetery and how he instructed the mourners to stop seven times on their way to the grave as he recited a Psalm.

It is always bold and inspiring when someone makes a huge change in their lives. It can also be unsettling, not unlike what happens when people decide to divorce. We accept the labels that people adhere to themselves. When changes like this are announced it can feel like a landmark is falling or an institution is crumbling (to paraphrase the song Will You Still Be Mine).  It also forces us to rethink what we are doing. And maybe that is the spiritual “take-a-way.” Rabbi Bachman is not only changing his life, but in the process forcing others to rethink their own.

 

NOTE: The photograph of of Andy Bachman was taken just days before the first anniversary of the Newtown school shooting, when a group of clergy including Rabbi Bachman and Minister Donna Schaper of Judson Memorial Church, took part in a solemn vigil outside Cerberus, an investment firm that profits from the sale of military style assault weapons including the one used in the Newtown shootings. Photo by Tom Martinez.

The photo of Reverend Meeter and Rabbi Bachman is from the Brooklyn Paper.

 

The 2013 Park Slope 100

December 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture, Civics and Urban Life 

Here it is: The 2013 Park Slope 100, the  seventh annual alphabetical list of 100 people, places and things that make Park Slope a special place to live. 100 Stories, 100 ways of looking at the world.

This year we had help from OTBKB readers, Facebook friends, and our colleagues at Park Slope Stoop, who will be running this list simultaneously. Much gratitude to Liena Zegare and Mary Bakija. 

For me, it’s about the people around here who contribute in some way large or small or even teeny tiny to the greater good. Who made you feel good this year? Who did something kind, something smart, something creative, something interesting?

Something inspiring?

A few things on this list divert from that but for the most part that’s what it’s about.

Please send your comments, your typo and bad link discoveries, your fact checks and your comments to louisecrawford@gmail.com.

Wow, seven years of the Park Slope 100. If you combine them, that’s 700 people, places and things to know about, think about, be inspired by.

Here goes…

His Honor the Mayor of NYC Bill De Blasio: Park Slope’s mayor. Now and forever.

 Lawrence Abdullah, the good Samaritan who helped police catch an alleged groper; as Council Member Brad Laner said, “he’s a “model citizen hleping to ensure the safety of his neighbors here in Park Slope.

Swati Argade for bringing ethical, yet still fashionable, clothing, jewelry, and more to her new shop, Bhoomki.

Jennifer Jones Austin, named co-chair of Bill de Blasio’s transition team, she has an impressive resume filled with public service, but that’s not all. A few years back, she had leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. It was difficult to find a donor but she did it. Her energy amazes…

Barclays Center. Love it or hate it: it’s here with Jay Z, Beyonce, Streisand, Bieber, Rihanna, Miley, McCartney, Billy Joel, Bruno Mars, Cold Play, Depeche Mode, Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews, Leonard Cohen, Alicia Keys, and the Video Music Awards. Oh yeah, and the Nets!

The BEAT Festival with its immersive art all over Brooklyn, including Dispatches from Sandy, reflections from relief volunteers at the front lines of Hurricane Sandy.

The Benches that have appeared throughout Park Slope, courtesy of the Department of Transportation as requested by diligent members of the Park Slope Civic Council.

Bklynr, Props to Raphael Pope-Sussman and Thomas Rhiel who produce journalism about all of Brooklyn. Twice a month, BKLYNR publishes stories that cover the political, economic, and cultural life of the borough. Each issue contains three pieces, which is designed to look beautiful on your computer, tablet, or phone. Subscribe.

Sarah Brasky, who runs Foster Dogs NYC — she lives in the neighborhood, and has not just placed a lot of dogs not just with foster families (many in the Slope), but has found lots of them forever homes. Plus she organized a great scavenger hunt over the summer!

Bogata Latin Bistro for the food, the service and the atmosphere. I always feel welcome, well taken care of and well-fed there. Gracias.

Brave New World Repertory because of their site-specific performance of “Street Scene,” a 1929 Elmer Rice play, using real residential buildings as an interactive set on a Park Slope Street.

Breaking Bad at the Gate. Again. Another summer with Walt, Jesse and the BB gang plus great bartenders, and a hushed crowd at Fifth Avenue’s best dive bar.

Brownstone Dreams, Kevin McPartland’s gripping novel about growing up on the mean streets of Park Slope in the early 1960s. It took five years to write, ten years to publish and a lifetime to live it.

Ann Cantrell of Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store, for bringing a sense of fun for both kids and grown-ups to 5th Avenue. We could stop in every day for a piece of candy, alone.

Dr. Cao at South Slope Pediatrics for creating such a warm and loving practice. They totally succeed in making their patients feel more like extended family members than names on a chart.

Ken Carlton for his self-published novel Food for Marriage. The Big Chill meets delicious food and juicy secrets and lies.

John Ciferni longtime owner of Tarzian Hardware, where we go when we need anything.

Citibike because biking is an awesome way to get around this city.

Sammy Cohen-Epstein: “Sammy was a remarkable kid. We heard heart-wrenching, beautiful stories at the funeral, and from kids and adults all around the neighborhood, about his young wisdom (some in his class called him “the philosopher”), his compassion and his smile, his skills as a soccer and trumpet player, and the rock-solid support he gave as a sibling and friend. His bar mitzvah was going to be November 16th,” wrote City Councilman Brad Lander in remembrance of this son of Park Slope who died. RIP.

Jill Cornell because she used her corporate and theater background, street smarts and network of friends to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.”

Dante!

The Dolphin that found its way into the Gowanus. The borough watched as this seven foot long mammal turned up in the filthy headwaters of the Superfund canal, more than a mile from the harbor, and struggled for a day before he died. RIP.

Chiara De Blasio because she bravely shared her story about depression and substance abuse. It can’t be easy to be in the spotlight. Bravo.

EidolonPark Slope’s original indie design boutique since 1999 is closing. A fifth Avenue treasure for 14 years, Eidolon  was a cooperative venture with Andrea’s clothing designs, Yukie’s handbags, Mimi’s jewelry and Amara Felice’s own variety of clothing and accessories plus all of the designers who have consigned their goods to the store. Big closing sale in January.

Lucy Farrow, the South Slope 3-year-old who is showing cystic fibrosis who’s boss.

Marc Russ Federman, author of the marvelously entertaining and appetite inducing book “Russ and Daughters”.

The 5th Brooklyn Scouts at the Brooklyn Pride Parade. The group is committed to providing an appropriate alternative and community-oriented Scouting experience. They welcome everyone and provide a positive learning environment within the context of democratic participation, social justice, mutual respect and cooperation. Photo by  Tom Martinez. 

Forever Brooklyn, a short film by Francesco Paciocco 

Martha Foley, archivist at Congregation Beth Elohim, who is uncovering and preserving CBE’s rich history and the history of the people and families, many of them Park Slope residents, who have been part of that vital community

Fourth Avenue. Block by block. Rising to it’s potential.

Friends of Park Slope Library, a wonderful community of neighbors created to support the Ninth Street and Sixth Avenue branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

Gail Ghezzi for her blog and exhibition at Jalopy  Birth, Death, Repeat, an art/writing project featuring the shadow boxes of the Brooklyn designer Gail Ghezzi. Ghezzi’s shadow boxes are meditations on mortality that use antique artifacts and found objects she acquires at antique fairs, online and on her sidewalk. Each box imagines the final moments of a fictional character, and then surrounds that character with the detritus of a life.

Good Byes: Mindy Goldstein and Charlie Libin, longtime Park Slopers who are leaving for greener pastures in Greenpoint; Sweet Melissa decided to call it a day. And what a loss to  someone who loves fine baking and Saturday morning coffees with her sister (who could that be?). Two Boots: Where do we begin?

Katie Goodman for Sh*t Park Slope Parents Say (and continuing to be funny after that).

Martha and Gary Goff for their work on climate issues and with Brooklyn for Peace.

The Greed and Avarice that exists among commercial building owners and landlords on 7th Ave…leaving storefronts vacant for years at a time. Shame.

Chris Hennessy has Multiple Sclerosis but that doesn’t stop him from being a serious athlete and fundraiser for the disease.

Jennifer Kahrs, who co-founded Project Amelia to help friend and neighbor Ameilia Coffaro after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Reverend Cheri Kroon for her work organizing fast food workers and her ministry at Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church.

Caroline Hitshew and Tali Biale, of the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket and Barclays Center Greenmarket, respectively, for organizing great food events and finding creative ways to get us to taste new fruits and veggies every week.

Pam Katz because as co-screenwriter of Hannah Arendt (directed by Margarethe Von Trotta), she was nominated for a Lola, the German Academy Award. The film was selected as one of the top ten movies of 2013 by AO Scott in the New York Times: “Those who complain that movies can’t think don’t really know how to think about movies. This one, focusing on the controversy surrounding its subject’s 1963 book “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” brilliantly dramatizes the imperative at the center of her life as a writer and philosopher, which was to compel the world to yield to the force of the mind.” 

Madelyn Kent and Peggy Stafford for their Sense Writing Workshops that enables those who wish to write to let go of their inhibitions and writer’s block and write.

The LeFrak Center at Lakeside, Prospect Park’s new skating center!

Dr. Larissa Litinova, compassionate, kind MD with a holistic approach.

The Mayoral Forums in Park Slope. Lively.

The Maurice Sendak School (PS 118) at 4th Ave and 8th Street). Love the name. Love the school.

Chirlane McCraine, because she will always be OUR first lady. 

Kimberly McCreight for her excellent debut novel Reconstructing Amelia. 

Steve McGill for documenting the city in photographs — especially the birds in Prospect Park.

Kevin McPartland, author of Brownstone Dreams, a gripping coming of age tale about growing up on the mean and violent streets of Park Slope in the 1960s. It took 5 years to write, ten years to publish and a lifetime to live.

Josh Miele, as reported by the New York Times. forty years after an acid attack by a neighbor in Park Slope, he is productive, forgiving and inspiring.

Miss America is a Park Sloper. Mallory Hytes: You go girl!

Naidre’s for creating the best breakfast taco known to man.

Nemo Hits Brooklyn: Snowy Backyards in Park Slope (Photo by Sophia Romero).

New BBQ restaurants (Dinosaur, Morgans. YUM.)

Connie Nogren, long time incredible teacher at P.S. 321, volunteer at P.S. 10 and peace activist. Pictured above right. Photo supplied by Renee Dinnerstein (pictured above left).

Major Owens (RIP) Member of US House of Representatives from 1983-2007, representing Park Slope

 The continued expansion of the Park Slope Historic District, the largest historic district in New York City, containing the most significant contiguous swath of protected buildings in the entire city.

Park Slope Street Safety Partnership for getting neighbors started with actions to help make our streets safer for everyone.

Park Slope Veterinary Center for working so hard to find families for the neighborhood’s homeless dogs and cats.

Prospect Park, the book about Olmstead & Vaux’s Brooklyn masterpiece by David P. Colley with photographs by Elizabeth Keegin Colley out from Princeton Architecture Press. Available at the Community Bookstore. 

Lou Reed (RIP) born in Brooklyn…

Frank Renda at Superior Auto Care for keeping local cars running (and dogs fed with treats) for more than 20 years.

Sale of a certain building on Seventh Avenue (and the potential for it’s renovation). Mazel Tov!

Krista Saunders and Jill Benson for opening Ground Floor Gallery, bringing so much great art, fun events, and opportunities for local artists already in its first year.

Chris Schneider and Ryan Powers for putting on such a badass holiday light show every year.

Dree Schultz, the talented local drummer who spearedheaded Back to Class, a collaborative album to benfit the music programs of the Detroit Public Schools.

Shavuot Across Brooklyn: A consortium of Brooklyn’s minyanim and synagogues, who  came together for an all-night celebration for the holiday of Shavuot commemorating the giving of the Ten Commandments. It started at 8PM with services and cheesecake and ended with a sunrise service at 5AM. They are surely gonna do it again and you can come for all or part of the night and enjoy a program of learning, singing, and dancing as some of Brooklyn’s finest teachers gather.

Bruce Shearhouse of American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) because not only he is one of the soccer guys but he collects equipment and school supplies for poor kids

Josh Shneider Love Speaks Orchestra. New LP, lots of airplay. A 19-piece big band for god’s sakes. And the music makes you feel glorious.

Sock Monkey Press, started by Scott Adkins and Erin Courtney, publishes strong literary works that have a visual focus, using e-platforms for distribution in addition to printed books.  Recent publications include Terence Degnan’s The Small Plot Beside the Ventriloquist’s Grave, Martin Kleinman’s Home Front, and  My Apocalypse, an anthology. Coming soon: Nicole Callihan’s debut book of poetry SUPERLOOP, Hardcover with fabric case binding.

South Slope Flea, finding a new home after losing their home of 27-years at PS 321. One might say they were kicked out to make room for the Brooklyn Flea. Check it out on 20th Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues.

Patrick Stewart and… 

The Patrick Stewart Tumblr.

Paula Tarzian just because.

Matthew Taub,  lawyer, OTBKB contributor and now Local Write Up, his new venture. 

Teddy Bears on Prospect Park West put up by 13-year-old Alison Collard de Beaufort after she found out that Sammy Cohen-Eckstein, one of her classmates at MS 51,  had been hit by a car and killed in October.

Terrace Books for taking over Babbo Books and keeping a bookish presence in Windsor Terrace.

Two Boots: Goodbye with love.

After 24 years, Two Boots Brooklyn is coming to a close; our last day will be November 10.

It’s been our very great pleasure to have been a part of your lives, and to have had you in ours.

Piper & Andy Wandzilak, the current operators, will be continuing on in this space as their partner, John Touhey, Two Boots co-founder, retires.

Piper & Andy will be renovating and making big changes over the next two months and are hoping to re-open sometime mid-winter.

They plan on having the same warm welcome and relaxed party atmosphere, with much of our same happy staff and management.

We all thank you for your loyalty and support all these years.

For us, this place has been like a second family and a home away from home, and we know it’s been the same for many of you.

We’re heartbroken to be saying goodbye, but we hope to see you again for our re-birth!

Most sincerely and gratefully,

Piper & Andy & John

Jeanne Theoharis for her book The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks published this year and just nominated for an NAACP Image Award in Biography/Autobiography.

Ugly Duckling Presse located in the American Can Factory building on Third Street for its support and publication of POETRY, experimental and otherwise.

Unparallel Way, Emily Weiskopf’s bright yellow median scupture on 4th Avenue between 3rd and 5th Streets.

Andrew Violette, former PS 321 teacher, Hillard-trained composer and pianist, organist and music director at St. Augustien Church.

Ned Vizzini, a precocious son of Park Slope, he was writing for the New York Press and New York Times while still a teenager. He is the author of four books for young adults including It’s Kind of a Funny Story, which NPR named #56 of the “100 Best-Ever Teen Novels” of all time. It was made into a film. RIP.

War/Photography Exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath” continues through Feb. 2, 2014. Image by Ron Haviv.

Marlene Weisman for her feminist/surrealist collage series, While I Was Stuck in the Supermarket displayed at Powerhouse on 8th in Park Slope. A graphic designer, Marlene created graphics, sketch titles, visuals, and props at Saturday Night Live from 1988-1995.

 

What My Daughter Wore, a blog you’ve just got to see for its artistry and casual hipness.And I love that blogger Jenny Williams uses Blogspot, my beloved first blogging platform.

Whole Foods! Yes.

Miles Wickam, graffiti artist, teacher and person who inspires.  From an interview with Creative Times: “First, I believe we all have creative abilities, and we need to discover and refine them. Some of us grew up without the proper support to know this about ourselves. Remember that graffiti, like all other skills, take LOTS of experience, lots of hours of practice, to refine to a level to where you know you are good. There can and probably will be LOTS of frustration and disappointment on the path. Don’t give up on yourself.”

William Butler School, PS 133, brand new school at corner of 4th and Baltic. Beautiful school.

Avra Wing, author of a wonderful young adult novel called After Isaac

The Wooden House Project, where Elizabeth Finkelstein provides some much-deserved attention for the neighborhood’s wooden houses.

Candace Woodward, promoter and advocate of all good things in Park Slope.

 

 

Accepting Park Slope 100 Nominations: NOW

December 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture, Civics and Urban Life 

I am now compiling the seventh 2013 Park Slope  100, 100 people, places and things that make Park Slope a special place to live. 100 Stories, 100 ways of looking at the world.

Have a look at the 2012 Park Slope 100 for an idea of what we’re looking for. Think of people you love in Park Slope who contribute in some way large or small or even teeny tiny to the greater good. Who made you feel good this year? Who did something kind, something smart, something creative, something interesting.

Help me make this a great and inclusive list. Email me: louisecrawford@gmail.com and THANKS. The deadline is TODAY. I know that’s no notice at all…

Local Clergy Demand that Cerberus Divest from Gun Manufacturer

December 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

Just days before the first anniversary of the Newtown school shooting on December 14th, a group of clergy including  Rabbi Andy Bachman of Congregation Beth Elohim (pictured above) and Minister Donna Schaper of Judson Memorial Church, took part in a solemn vigil outside Cerberus, an investment firm that profits from the sale of military style assault weapons including the one used in the Newtown shootings.

Organized by The Campaign to Unload and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, the group entered the Lexington Avenue office building where Cerberus is located, and delivered a letter demanding that the CEO live up to an earlier promise he made just after the Newtown shooting, that he would divest from the arms manufacturing companies they were profiting from.

The company, which owns the Freedom Group, the gun manufacturer whose Bushmaster rifle was used by Adam Lanza to kill 20 first graders, six adults and then himself on Dec. 14, 2012, owns $900 million worth of gun manufacturers in the United States.

All photos by Tom Martinez

Feast: Writers on Food on December 12 at 8PM

November 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

BRING SOMETHING TO READ, BRING AN APPETITE TO FEAST

On December 12, 2013 at 8PM, Brooklyn Reading Works at The Old Stone House in Park Slope presents Feast: Writers on Food (as subject matter, as metaphor) presented by Ame GIlbert, founder of The Poetry Soup Salon, a monthly reading and dinner series.

Soup will be served.

Feast’s curator Ame Gilbert invites anyone who wants to read a poem, a short story or a non-fiction piece about food to read at the FEAST open-mic (8-minute time limit).

Ken Carlton, author of The Hunger (included in Best Food Writing of 2009) will open the event with a short reading from his new novel Food for Marriage.

Feast is a fundraiser for a local food pantry. Give generously ($10 is suggested donation). Soup, bread and dessert will be served. Plus wine. Readings are limited to 8-minutes.

When: December 12, 2013 at 8PM
What: Feast: Writers on Food Open Mic
Where: The Old Stone House, 336 Third Street between 4th and 5th Avenues. F train to Fourth Avenue. R train to Union Street. For info: 718-288-4290
What else: $10 donation includes wine, soup, bread and dessert

Dec 7: Brooklyn Holiday Book Fair with Paul Auster Reading “Auggie Wren”

November 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

Some of you may remember the inaugural Brooklyn Holiday Book Fair last year at The Old Stone House (organized by Honey & Wax Booksellers). In the afternoon, Pete Hamill read the great O’Henry story “The Gift of the Magi” and one  of his own from “A Christmas in Brooklyn.”

On December 7th from 11AM until 5PM,  independent Brooklyn bookshops and antiquarian booksellers will fill Park Slope’s Old Stone House with rare, vintage, and out-of-print books in a celebration of the borough’s rich history of printing, reading, and writing.

Building on the success of last December’s inaugural fair featuring Pete Hamill, this year’s event includes an expanded range of local booksellers, from general-interest open shops to specialized private dealers, and will conclude with a public reading by Paul Auster of his Brooklyn holiday classic, “Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story.” He will be reading at 4PM. The organizers are expecting a big crowd, so arrive early to shop and see Auster.

That’s right. Paul Auster will be reading his classic story. I’m excited. Super. Here’s a list of the booksellers included in this wonderful fair—just in time for Christmas. You know, books are so easy to wrap.

2013 participants include:

Brooklyn Books

Enchanted Books

Freebird Books

Honey & Wax Booksellers

Joe Maynard, Bookseller

Open Air Modern

P.S. Bookshop

Singularity & Co.

Terrace Books

Tom Davidson, Bookseller

Unnameable Books

Full Disclosure: Honey & Wax Booksellers is a client of my company Brooklyn Social Media. But I’d be excited about this anyway. Very.

Help Purple Yam Help the Victims of the Typhoon

November 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

Help Dalaga Help the Phillipines

November 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

I received this note from the owners of Dalaga, a lovely shop in Greenpoint owned by two Filipino sisters. There is an event at Jeepny tonight. But Dalaga will be accepting donations in the coming days. Dalaga: 150 Franklin St, Brooklyn, NY 11222, (718) 389-4049

Dearest Dalagas,

As some of you know, my sister and I are Filipino and this weekend a devastating typhoon hit the country. Typhoon Haiyan resembled a tsunami, leveling houses and drowning hundreds of people in one of the worst disasters to hit Southeast Asia. Thankfully our family’s area was not badly hit, but 480,000 others are displaced and 4 million more are affected by the typhoon across 36 provinces. They are expecting another storm to hit them tomorrow morning. Relief agencies are immediately calling for canned food, water, medicines and tents for the homeless.

For anyone who lives in the New York metro area, Jeepny is hosting a Typhon Haiyan Fundraiser TONIGHT, 6pm to 9pm. They are accepting canned food and monetary donations for the Philippine Red Cross. If you cannot make it to the Jeepny event tonight and wish to donate, we will accept donations starting today. We will be making regular drops to The Philippine Red Cross. Please see the list of donations we will be accepting.

Canned/ packaged ready to eat food (sardines, instant noodles, shelf stable milk, rice, etc.)

Water purifier tablets

Water containers

Tents and other temporary shelters

Freshly laundered and clean blankets, pillows, sheets, towels, etc

Flashlights and batteries

Hygiene kits with personal care items-soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, sanitary napkins

Baby diapers, wipes, bottles, baby formula

Cooking apparatus-pots and utensils

General medical supplies and over the counter medications at least one year from expiration

Mosquito repellant

At this time, we cannot accept clothing. We appreciate any support you can give and hope you’ll help to spread the word.

Thank you.

Michelle & Mary Mangiliman

Owners

DALAGA

Thursday at 8PM: Writing War: Fiction and Memoir by Vets

November 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

This Thursday (November 14) at 8PM: Brooklyn Reading Works presents: WRITING WAR: Fiction and Memoir by Veterans curated by Peter Catapano with Phil Klay, Kevin R. McPartland, Maurice Emerson Decaul, and Lynn Hill.The Old Stone House in Park Slope 336 Third Street between Fifth and Fourth Avenues. R train to Union Street or F train to Fourth Avenue. A $5 donation includes wine and snacks.

Lynn Hill is a United States Air Force veteran, performer and poet. She is a graduate of Columbia University and served as an intelligence analyst and worked with bomber, Red Flag simulated war games and Predator drones. In 2012 and 2013 she appeared in the multimedia show “Holding It Down” with Vijay Iyer and Mike Ladd. Her next project, “Lioness,” with Maurice Decaul, will debut at the Atlas INTERSECTIONS Festival in 2014.

Maurice Emerson Decaul served in the United States Marine Corps in the Iraq War. He is an essayist and librettist whose work has been featured in the New York Times, The Daily Beast, Sierra Magazine, Barely South Review, Epiphany and others. He is a graduate of Columbia University and is working towards his M.F.A. at New York University. In 2012 and 2013 he appeared in the multimedia show “Holding It Down” with Vijay Iyer and Mike Ladd. His next project, “Lioness,” with Lynn Hill, will debut at the Atlas INTERSECTIONS Festival in 2014.

Kevin R. McPartland is the author of “Brownstone Dreams” (Boann Books and Media), a tale of love and death in 1960s Brooklyn. A native Brooklynite, novelist and short story writer, his work has appeared in AIM Magazine, Grit Mag and in “Adventures in Hell,” an anthology of short stories by Vietnam veterans. Follow Kevin on Facebook.

Phil Klay served in the United States Marine Corps from 2005 to 2009, and was deployed to Iraq in 2007-8. He is the author of the forthcoming short story collection, “Redeployment,” and is a contributor to the collection “Fire and Forget: Short Stories From the Long War.” His work has appeared in The New York Times, Granta, Tin House and elsewhere.

Matthew Mellina served in the US Army from 2002-2007, deploying to Iraq in 2006 with the 4th ID. He is working on his first novel and has had pieces featured in The New York Times, Newsweek, and Slate.

Peter Catapano (curator) is the editor of Happy Days, Home Fires, and other opinion sections at the New York Times Web site. He lives in Brooklyn.

Happy Birthday Joni Mitchell: A Woman of Heart and Mind

November 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

Happy Birthday to Joni Mitchell who turned 70 yesterday. She was my songwriting guru back in the seventies when I played her record Blue until it got scratched and cackly and wrote songs about my own life and loves with weird guitar tunings.

What a kaleidoscopic artist. A Canadian art school folkie, she moved to Laurel Canyon and defined the Los Angeles songwriting scene at its best (she was, after all, a lady of the canyon). She painted Van Gogh-esque portraits of herself. By the age of 30, she’d written such iconic songs as “Both Sides Now,”  ”Chelsea Morning,” “The Circle Game” and ”Woodstock.” But it was albums like Blue, Court and Spark and Hejira that established her as a musical and poetic force and an artist of the highest degree. Later, smitten by the work of jazz bassist Charles Mingus, she brought the idiom of jazz into her work with serious attention to jazz modes and melodies. Herbie Hancock dedicated an album to her songs called River: The Joni Letters. 

Oh we love Joni for her strength of character, her refusal to be marginalized as “just another girl singer,” her determination  to be recognized as a major 20th century musical innovator, even her exasperating quotes and grandiosity. She IS “a woman of heart and mind” and a powerful influence on American popular music.

Poet Patricia Spears Jones writes: “You want vivid details in your poems, study the lyrics of Joni Mitchell—she can go from yearning to seduction and dejection in like a nano second. Happy birthday to the great pop music contrarian.”

In honor of Joni Mitchell, I am producing Court and Spark Turns 40 on January 16, 2014 at 8PM at The Old Stone House in Park Slope, a concert performance of the entire album with many performers. Sheila Weller, author of Girls Like Us will be there and will share her thoughts on Joni Mitchell and the making of that particular album.

Click on the link below for more information about this incredible event: https://www.facebook.com/events/536216586463886/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar

Dear Investors Bank: Turn Down the Lights!

November 7, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

 

Dear Investors Bank,

When you move into a new neighborhood it’s nice to be respectful of the people who’ve been there for a long time. We hope that you will look around you and notice that a big, bright, inappropriate lighting scheme doesn’t really fit into a historic neighborhood like Carroll Gardens.

For goodness sake, your bright lights are keeping people awake.

We know you don’t want to make bad with the neighbors. You’re new and probably want to make a nice first impression. That said, you really don’t need to show off with all your big, bright light. Trust me, we’ll notice you without it.

Truth is, we’d like to bring the welcome wagon by but its hard to do that when we feel like you’re not respecting what we’re about—visually, culturally, community-wise and even historically.

Take a look around and TURN DOWN THE LIGHTS.

Sincerely,

Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Below is the petition. To sign it get in touch with lkentgen(at)gmail(dot)com

Carroll Gardens residents are concerned by the amount of light pollution coming from the new store front, Investors Bank, on Court Street between 3rd and 4th Place. There is also opposition to the bright awning that extends into the street. The new business has not used nearby financial businesses and banks as a model for its design. The other businesses do not disrupt the residential atmosphere that is highly valued here.

We, the signed residents of Carroll Gardens and its Brooklyn neighbors, are requesting that Investors Bank:

1) remove its awning

2) Dim its lights.

We are requesting this in the spirit of Investors Bank’s willingness to become a part of the neighborhood instead of standing out in a way that is unattractive and disruptive to the neighbors.

Obviously, Investors Bank, a New Jersey-based financial institution, has little sensibility for our brownstone neighborhood. Let’s hope that they wise up quickly and realize that this sign and the bright lights are not appropriate for Brownstone Brooklyn.

Sincerely,

Your Neighbor

 

 

No Words, Daily Pix by Hugh Crawford: Two Boots Panorama

November 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

Matthew Mellina Added to “Writing War” Program at The Old Stone House

November 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

Brooklyn Reading Works is pleased to announce that Matthew Mellina, who served in the US Army from 2002-2007, deploying to Iraq in 2006 with the 4th ID, will be joining a terrific roster of writers at Writing War: Fiction and Memoir by Veterans on November 14th at 8PM at The Old Stone House in Park Slope (336 Third Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues).

The reading is curated by Peter Catapano and will feature writers Phil Klay, Kevin R. McPartland, Mauric Decaul, and Lynn Hill. Mellina is working on his first novel and has had pieces featured in The New York TimesNewsweek, and Slate.

The City Votes

November 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

Today I will vote for Bill de Blasio for mayor of the city of my birth. He resides with his family just a few blocks from where I live, and we share many of the same values. I know this is a tough city to govern but I have high hopes that he will hold fast to his vision, and do the right thing.

Can he manage this city? Can he stay on track and not succumb to its political forces with the same discipline he brought to the campaign? That will be the true test of his character and his leadership abilities. We have learned that it takes a tough and determined mayor to get things done. Bloomberg was a mixed bag but he achieved much of his agenda and much was brilliant: 311, bike lanes, smoking bans, restaurant grading, traffic slowing, waterfront development, a long-term plan to protect against effects of climate change, Brooklyn Bridge Park, green infrastructure plans and more.

I am fascinated and delighted by De Blasio’s rise from underdog in the mayor’s race to number one. He ran a brilliant campaign, while the other candidates floundered and in some cases flailed. He found his message and stuck to it. A tale of  two cities, end stop and frisk, affordable housing for all, universal pre-K by taxing the wealthiest, education. He was disciplined, focused and smart.

And it seems that some of what he had to say struck a chord, as he is set to win by a landslide. His tale of two cities resonated on many levels. It is felt in every neighborhood, by many different kinds of people. New York has become a city of the rich and it has become harder and harder to rise up in it.

I think this city needs a humane mayor who understands that if the most in need are  provided for, the rest of this city will flourish. He understands that New York City must not just be a city of the wealthy  because all of its character will be siphoned away. He understands that New York City gathers  its strength and distinction from its artists, its activists, its outsiders and its subway population, not just from those who ride in limousines.

Today I vote for Bill de Blasio, who at one time represented my neighborhood in the New York City Council. I have seen him more times than I can count at local civic gatherings, school events. I believe he has the capacity to be a great mayor if he can guarantee that the under-served, the undervalued, the underachieving and the underemployed will have an advocate at City Hall. That is my hope anyway.

Back in July, De Blasio answered questions for OTBKB. Here’s his answer to one:

The idea that every kind of person can make a life for themselves and their family is supposed to define New York. But over the past 12 years of Bloomberg, we have seen New York become a tale of two cities. We’re living in a reality where the focus of the city’s resources and development has turned disproportionally to lower Manhattan. My experiences in Brooklyn as a resident, a City Council Member and Public Advocate have shaped my vision for what kind of mayor this city needs. As mayor, I’ll spend every waking moment fighting to bring opportunity to every New Yorker, whether that be through expanded affordable housing, police reform, or an economic strategy that brings jobs to all five boroughs.

Outrageously Bright Investors Bank Sign Must Go: Sign the Petition

November 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

A friend writes that an outrageous and inappropriately bright sign and awning for the Investors Bank that took over the old Italian grocery store space at 81 Court Street is causing consternation among Carroll Gardens residents.

As you can see from the picture, the wattage coming out of their signage is like something that belongs in Times Square. My friend is hoping to gather 100 signatures requesting that the bank show regard for the other signage of the neighborhood, take down the awning, and turn down the lights in the evening.

You in? Email lkentgen(at)gmail(dot)com to sign the petition and for more information.

A Trip Through Time at Two Boots in Park Slope

November 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Food and Drink 

This was originally published in the Brooklyn Paper in 2007:

Saturday night, Smartmom, Hepcat, and OSFO found themselves at Two Boots, Park Slope’s beloved Cajun pizzeria known for its tolerance of unruly children.

For a frigid January night, the restaurant was moderately crowded and the maitre d’ told them it would be three minutes until their table was ready.

“This is way more than three minutes,” OSFO whined as her parents sat at the bar drinking Turbo Dogs for 15 minutes.

Finally, the maitre d’ gathered up menus and took them to their seats.

“I’m very sorry,” she said. “I had a bunch of tables that looked like they were ready to leave…” Like most of the staff at Two Boots, she was charming and full of spunk (you have to be to work in a restaurant where the children run wild with small balls of dough while their parents zone out on peach Margaritas).

As they walked toward the pizza window, Smartmom noticed a long table of teenagers eating an interesting assortment of appetizers. At another table, a kid blew straw paper

“Oh sh—,” Smartmom said aloud. The maitre d’ was making a beeline for the table near the pizza window — aka the Second-Most-Dangerous Table in the restaurant. It’s the same table where a dough ball once landed in Smartmom’s Margarita, tossed by an unrepentant 4-year-old.

The most dangerous Table, of course, is the one next to the pizza window. When there are too many kids at the pizza window, they use that booth as a kind of off-ramp. At one dinner, Groovy Grandpa got many an Elephantan shoe on his thigh.

As Smartmom perused the familiar menu, she found herself overwhelmed with remembrances of things past. She was unable to imagine ordering anything other than what they’d ordered so many times before.

Pizza face for OSFO; goat cheese and andouille pizza for the grown ups; a small house salad and an order of calamari for the table.

And with each menu item, she saw a picture of herself and her children at various stages of their lives.

On a cold January night in 1989, Hepcat proposed to Smartmom in the East Village Two Boots, which was their favorite restaurant back then. They’d usually eat after 10 pm and were barely aware of the restaurant’s status as child-friendly. As far as they were concerned, it was hipster cool.

“Will you marry me?” Hepcat purred as he offered an empty white porcelain coffee cup as an engagement ring.

You know the answer to that question (even though a busboy whisked the “ring” away with the other dirty dishes).

Fried calamari from Two Boots was baby Teen Spirit’s first solid food. Or so they like to say. He was a regular at the restaurant by the time he was 2.

OSFO’s first meal at Two Boots was in a Baby Bjorn. Smartmom splayed the napkin over her infant’s head and gorged on pizza as the tot slept. As she grew, it became a family tradition to celebrate her birthday there.

Despite these crusts of memory, Smartmom longed for something new. “How about the Sophia, the special pizza of the day,” she blurted out. Red pepper, spicy Italian sausage, Vidalia onion, and fresh mozzarella.

Sound good?

Hepcat made a face. A creature of habit, he had his heart set on the usual. But with that passive-aggressive flair, he left it up to Smartmom.

“We’ll still have the house salad and the calamari,” she offered. He forced his lips into a smile. Smartmom hoped the Sophia pizza would make him forget this change in the routine.

The teenagers at the table nearby looked like they were having fun. They looked so comfortable in their seats — like they’d been there a million times before. And they probably had.

In different incarnations of themselves, of course.

Once upon a time, they were carried in by Bjorn. Or wheeled in by single or double Maclaren.

Later, they were one of the doughboys and girls at the pizza window. Perhaps they were one of the runners, a kid who nearly trips a good-natured waiter, holding a tray full of Sangrias.

Smartmom wondered how they perceived the place. Was Two Boots the fuddy-duddy place their parents always took them to? Or the childhood restaurant they remembered most fondly?

Would this be like the restaurant on Fire Island that sent plates from the kitchen by electric train that Smartmom never forgot? Or was it like the Great Shanghai, the cavernous Chinese restaurant on West 102nd Street that she was dragged to every Sunday night for years?

Smartmom watched as Hepcat bit into her steaming hot Sophia pizza slice. “How do you like it?” she asked hopefully, her mouth full of savory, succulent pizza.

“It’s OK.” Hepcat is known for his pathological understatement. “OK” is actually a compliment in his lexicon.

But then he made a face. “I don’t like this sausage as much as the andouille. And the fresh mozzarella — it just doesn’t compare to the goat cheese.”

You just can’t win. Still Smartmom enjoyed her Sophia pizza and OSFO, after she removed the olive eyes, the broccoli nose, and the tomato slice smile, was thrilled with her Pizza Face.

“Why do they put all this stuff on it that kids don’t eat?” OSFO yelped.

This is Park Slope. Kids DO eat vegetables here. And they love it.

At that moment, a waitress bolted out of the kitchen with a slice of cake with a single birthday candle. The kids at the teenager’s table sang “Happy Birthday” to a very embarrassed birthday girl.

Soon the entire restaurant was singing along. Out of the muck of discordant voices came a gorgeous operatic soprano, from a cheerful woman sitting at the Most-Dangerous Table.

Her soaring voice rose above all the rest. It was clear as a bell, deep and full of ebullient feeling. Her son hid under his shirt clearly embarrassed by his mother’s artistry.

The crowd applauded. Smartmom shouted, “Bravo.”

As the Park Slope diva exited the restaurant, customers thanked her and shook her hand. She stopped at the teenager’s table and wished the birthday girl a happy day. Smartmom overheard that she was chorus singer at the Metropolitan Opera.

Done with her food, Smartmom asked the busgirl she’s known for more than 10 years to pack up the remnants of the Sophia pizza.

It may not be as memory full as the goat cheese and andouille, but it would certainly taste great for breakfast tomorrow morning.

For research purposes, Smartmom asked the waitress what the most popular topping is: “Hmmm,” she thought for a moment. “Andouille. With goat cheese,” she said assuredly.

Hepcat smiled. Vindicated at last.

 

Two Boots Brooklyn is Closing Only to be Re-Born

November 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

I’ve had this story, in rumor form, since Saturday. But I couldn’t bear to share it until I’d confirmed it. I guess I felt sad, disappointed, and angry that a true Park Slope institution was moving on.

And I dragged my feet confirming it, I hoped to get to it today. To ask my friend Pastor Daniel Meeter of Old First Dutch Reformed Church, what he knew. I knew he’d know something. But I didn’t get around to it.

And now it is confirmed. Effed in Park Slope has word that it is true. Indeed, Two Boots is closing. One of the original owners, John Touhey is moving on. So Andy and Piper Wandzilak will stay in the space and try something new: a new concept, different food, a wholly different approach? We shall see.

It’s actually a much better story than I imagined. The space will be renovated and they plan to keep much of the staff on. Will it still be child friendly? Well, that’s a very good question. I’m guessing it will still have the same great bar up front.

Here’s the note on Andy’s Facebook page.

After 24 years, Two Boots Brooklyn is coming to a close; our last day will be November 10.
It’s been our very great pleasure to have been a part of your lives, and to have had you in ours.

Piper & Andy Wandzilak, the current operators, will be continuing on in this space as their partner, John Touhey, Two Boots co-founder, retires.

Piper & Andy will be renovating and making big changes over the next two months and are hoping to re-open sometime mid-winter.

They plan on having the same warm welcome and relaxed party atmosphere, with much of our same happy staff and management.

We all thank you for your loyalty and support all these years.

For us, this place has been like a second family and a home away from home, and we know it’s been the same for many of you.

We’re heartbroken to be saying goodbye, but we hope to see you again for our re-birth!

Most sincerely and gratefully,
Piper & Andy & John

Nicole Krauss, Author of Great House and The End of Love, Moving from Park Slope

November 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture, Civics and Urban Life 

Nicole Krauss, the author of Great House and The End of Love, two novels that I adore, is moving away from Park Slope She and her husband Jonathan Safran Foer are selling their great Park Slope house and heading to points unknown.

I remember seeing her read and discuss Great House at Congregation Beth Elohim quite a few years back. I admired her intelligence, her quiet strength and her grace. She said that a desk that came with their Second Street house inspired the novel.

That house must be very inspiring because it inspired a brilliant tale about (and I quote from her website here because the book, something of a long shaggy dog tale, isn’t that easy to describe, “a reclusive American novelist, who has been writing at the desk she inherited from a young Chilean poet who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet’s secret police; one day a girl claiming to be the poet’s daughter arrives to take it away, sending the writer’s life reeling.”

This is indeed a loss to Park Slope as it was wonderful to have two such fine writers among the many writers in this neighborhood. They made us proud, they illuminated us (pardon the pun), they were among our literary stars. I wish them the very best and much great writing in the future.

Here’s a quote from Great House, which is well worth a read.

Ten days together in this house, and the most we’ve done is stake out our territories and inaugurate a set of rituals. To give us a foothold. To give us direction, like the illuminated strips in the aisles of emergency-stricken planes. Every night I turn in before you, and every morning, no matter how early I rise, you are awake before me. I see your long gray form bent over the newspaper. I cough before entering the kitchen, so as not to surprise you. You boil the water, setting out two cups. We read, grunt, belch. I ask if you want toast. You refuse me. You are above even food now. Or is it the blackened crusts you object to? Toasting was always your mother’s job. With my mouth full, I talk about the news. Silently, you wipe the sputtered crumbs and continue to read. My words, to you, are atmospheric at most: they come through vaguely, like the twitter of birds and the creak of the old trees, and, as far as I can tell, like these things they require no response from you.

 

Anne-Katrin Titze: Interview with Barbara Kopple about Running From Crazy

November 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

 

Anne-Katrin Titze writes about film for Eye For Film. She also writes about Prospect Park and is a passionate Park watchdog. Gothamist called her a “wildlife rehabilitator” and had this to say: “If you read about a dead animal discovered in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, see a photo of an injured swan caught on fishing line, or hear commentary on the mass Canada goose slaughters in the area… it’s most likely coming from Anne-Katrin Titze.”

This week she did an interview with the great documentarian Barbara Kopple (pictured above), who won an academy award for her acclaimed documentary Harlan County USA. Her new film, Running from Crazy, is about  Mariel Hemingway and the other Hemingway women.

“Running From Crazy, Barbara Kopple’s intimate and revealing portrait of the Hemingway women – Ernest’s granddaughters and great-granddaughters, and the men in their lives – is a documentary on American royalty. The uniqueness of the film consists in the combination of frank interviews with Mariel Hemingway, who has been running from the crazy stigma all her life, and never before seen footage presented by her sister Margaux, who committed suicide in 1996.

“When I arrived at Kopple’s office in New York City to discuss her film, the news had just broken about shootings at LAX airport. Barbara left a message for Mariel inquiring if everything was okay at her end and we spoke about Julian Schnabel’s dream. The name Hemingway, like Kennedy, triggers immediate emotions. Running From Crazy is less interested in the myth than the traumas, fears and internal demons that haunt the clan.”

You can read Titze’s interview here:  http://www.eyeforfilm.co.uk/feature/2013-11-02-interview-with-barbara-kopple-about-running-from-crazy-feature-story-by-anne-katrin-titze

 

The Cohen Eckstein Family at City Council Hearing

November 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

I am so moved by the fact that the parents and sister of Sammy Cohen Eckstein, the 12-year old boy killed by a van on Prospect Park West, testified at a City Council hearing yesterday in support of a bill reducing speed limits in residential areas to 20 mph. From all reports there was not a dry eye in the house. Here is a quote from Sammy’s mother Amy Cohen Eckstein:

“Our family has suffered an unspeakable loss. Every day is filled with pain so deep we are not sure we can bear it. But the world too has suffered a great loss, for Sammy could have really made a difference. He would even have been an excellent Council member had he had the chance.”

Happy Day After Halloween

November 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

Goodbye to Park Slope’s Sweet Melissa: So Sorry to See You Go

November 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Food and Drink 

I am so sad about the closing of Sweet Melissa. Where oh where will my sister, her daughter and I meet every Saturday morning at 10AM? That’s been our routine for years now. We love it. They let us sit there as long as we want. We order coffees, oatmeal, waffles, toast. And we talk.

And talk.

This is where we catch up on the events of the week and welcome the weekend. The staff is wonderful. They know us and treat us so well.

Yesterday, there was a handwritten note on the door of Sweet Melissa, written by Melissa, who has to be one of the best bakers in New York. She said that shop has been struggling for quite some time, since the economic downturn. All of their shops are now closed and they are rethinking things. They may reopen in New York City or in New Jersey where they live now.

What a loss to Park Slope. What a loss to me. Those Saturday morning with my sister mean a lot. Such special times.

And it’s not just the restaurant that we’re losing, we are losing a WORLD CLASS PATISSERIE with sublime offerings: bread pudding, glorious cakes, beautifully decorated cakes, cup cakes, cookies, patisserie items, special items for the Jewish holidays. Below is the post I wrote in 2006 about Sweet Melissa when it was brand new:

Sweet Melissa, nice to have you on Seventh Avenue. Everyone is buzzing about you. You’re the talk of Seventh Avenue as in “Hey, the New York Times had something about them yesterday” or “It’s very pretty.” “It’s really big.”

I’ve been and I like it. Actually, it’s my new hang — no, I’m not abandoning my seat at Conn Muff. Diaper Diva, OSFO and I just like to try new things from time to time.

It’s a bit more serious than Conn Muff. You need a little bit more time for the waiter service. It’s not your quick let’s meet for a latte kind of place. It’s a more formal: “We need to talk. Do you want to meet at Sweet Melissa?”

It’s a perfect place to have a elegant treat with a good friend on her birthday.

Tea with one’s mother, sister, or friend is a must. It’s a bit pricey. But we really needed a place for high tea.

I plan on visiting Sweet Melissa with a notebook or writing paper. It looks like the place to go for writing letters or thank you notes. Good for writing poetry, or notes for my Smartmom column.

I predict it will be the cafe of choice for those serious friend-to-friend chats (“You’ve been acting weird. What’s going on?”). The tables are close, though. It’s not ideal for telling a friend you’re cheating on your husband or something equally confidential.

I can confirm that Sweet Melissa truly was my “go-to” place. There were years when I felt like I was there every day of the week: meeting with friends, meeting for work, meeting for interviews, meeting about the PS 321 Yearbook, meeting with PS 321 moms and later meeting nostalgically to catch up with PS 321 moms…there was no end to the coffees I had at Sweet Melissa. And the conversations.

No wonder I felt maudlin yesterday after seeing the note in the window of Sweet Melissa. It was Halloween, which always makes me feel nostalgic for all the Halloweens with my son, now 22, and my daughter, now 16. And I felt sad about a favorite place closing.

Thank you Sweet Melissa for being our favorite place to sit, to sip, to eat and to talk. And talk we did. End of an era, I guess. Best of luck to you.

 

Nov 14: Writing War, Fiction and Memoir by Veterans at The Old Stone House

October 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

 

Brooklyn Reading Works presents WRITING WAR: Fiction and Memoir by Veterans curated by Peter Catapano of the The New York Times with Phil Klay, Kevin R. McPartland, Maurice Emerson Decaul and Lynn Hill. This is the third time we are presenting this event and we always get a huge crowd. As always, it will be at The Old Stone House, 336 Third Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues. A $5 donation includes wine and snacks.

The drawing is by Jess Ruliffson, who wrote about last year’s WRITING WAR event on her blog Calling the Dog: 

 ”I had the pleasure and good fortune to meet Peter Catapano at the Joe Bonham Project exhibition reception this past weekend and he told me about a reading he was co-hosting at The Old Stone House. Presented by Brooklyn Reading Works, the reading showcased the incredible writing talents of several young writers who are recent alumni of the NYU Veterans Writing Workshop and have been using their war experiences to inform their creative writing. It was an incredible evening and I am looking forward to hearing more from this group of great writers.”

Mike Sorgatz; One of a Kind (and Affordable) Monster Prints

October 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

Mike Sorgatz, artist and founder of the websites Art in Brooklyn and Art in New York City is selling these wonderful prints of Frankenstein and other monsters.

Of the print above, Mike writes: “He’s simply called “The Monster” in Mary Shelley’s classic horror novel Frankenstein, but you can call him Frank. Wanted by angry villagers everywhere, this adorable face can now be hanging on your own wall. Printed with a ghoulish green on a pumpkin orange background.”

Mike started Art in Brooklyn in 2008 as a way to make art more accessible to the public. As an extension of this mission, he’s been creating a series of handmade prints at extremely affordable price.

All of the works are made from original drawings and printed individually from blocks carved by hand. Each piece has unique characteristics created during the printing process – no two are exactly the same.

Works are printed on high quality, acid free paper and signed by the artist. More designs will be added to the collection over time.

Mike lives in Brooklyn with his wonderful wife Eleanor (who runs a blog called Creative Times). He works at an art studio in Red Hook. His paintings, which I love, can be seen at www.MikeSorgatz.com.

Park Slope Author Cliff Thompson Wins Whiting Award

October 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

I’ve been a fan for quite some time. I loved Cliff Thompson’s novel Signifying Nothing, which he read at the Brooklyn Reading Works event called Young, Gifted and Black Men curated by Martha Southgate a few years back. And when Love for Sale, his award-winning collection of essays from Autumn House Press came out I was over the moon.

I guess you could say I feel good about the Whiting Award coming Cliff Thompson’s way.

The Whiting Writers’ Awards is given annually to 10 writers who have “exceptional talent and promise in early career.” The awards were announced Monday. Each writer receives $50,000 from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, established in 1963 by Flora E. Whiting. The awards honor fiction, nonfiction, poetry and plays and are intended to identify writers, the foundation says, “who have yet to make their mark on the literary culture.” The 2013 winners are Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams (“The Man Who Danced With Dolls”), Amanda Coplin (“The Orchardist”), Jennifer duBois (“Cartwheel”), Virginia Grise (“Making Myth”), Ishion Hutchinson (“Far District: Poems”), Morgan Meis (“Ruins”), C. E. Morgan (“All the Living”), Rowan Ricardo Phillips (“The Ground”), Clifford Thompson (“Signifying Nothing”) and Stephanie Powell Watts (“We Are Taking Only What We Need”).

Yay.

 

Oct 30 at 9:30: Zipper at Nitehawk (Buy Tickets Now)

October 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

One night only. On October 30th at 9:30 catch Zipper at Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg.

Zipper, directed by Amy Nicholson,  is a tale of Coney Island told through the story of a small-time ride operator Eddie Miranda who operates a  carnival contraption called the Zipper in the heart of Coney Island’s gritty amusement district.

When his rented lot is snatched up by a real estate mogul, Eddie and his ride become casualties of a power struggle between the developer and the City of New York over the future of the world-famous destination.

Be it an affront to history or simply the path of progress, the spirit of Coney Island is at stake. In an increasingly corporate landscape, where authenticity is often sacrificed for economic growth, the Zipper may be just the beginning of what is lost.

See more at: http://www.nitehawkcinema.com/movie/zipper/#sthash.W3sG2nn7.dpuf

Red Bows for the Teddy Bears on Prospect Park West

October 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

I  didn’t know where they came from: the identical teddy bears that appeared on lamp posts on Prospect Park West after the death of Sammy Cohen-Eckstein, the 12-year old boy who was run over by a van a few weeks ago.

I’d seen the make-shift memorial for Sammy. Flowers, notes, stuffed animals at the entrance to Prospect Park on Third Street. Heartbreaking.

Then I heard that it was a student at Park Slope’s MS 51, an eighth grader like Sammy, who put up the bears. Alison Collard de Beaufort bought forty of them to put up as a way to remind drivers to slow down. She also wanted to remind people about the senseless loss of her friend and fellow classmate.

On Saturday, a friend of mine decided that the teddy bears needed bows. Red bows. She asked my sister and her 9-year-old daughter to help her place handmade ribbon bows on twenty of the bears on Prospect Park West. I thought it was a beautiful gesture, one that perfectly compliments the initial gesture by Alison, as it honors Sammy with love, beauty and a message to us all to slow down.

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