You know I enjoy the work of James Braly. You’ve almost certainly read about him here before. He’s a laugh-out-loud kind of guy who was part of a great panel we did at Brooklyn Reading Works called The Truth and the Ghost Writer.
Today’s the news is that he’s just published his first book, a laugh-out-loud memoir based on his hit Off-Broadway Show Life in a Marital Institution. You don’t need me to tell you that James has a lot going on:
–He is a contributor to This American Life
–He is a frequent performer on The Moth, and its first two-time GrandSlam winner
–His hit Off-Broadway show has been optioned for television by Meredith Vieira Productions and received fantastic reviews from The New York Times, Variety and others.
From what I’ve read (and I’ve read a few hilarious chapters), Braly’s memoir is a brilliant expansion of his show, and a hilarious treatise on the endless battle of the sexes.
Here’s the quick synop: James and Jane are a 21st century Lucy and Desi: It’s a classic love story– a relatively conservative man marries an increasingly progressive woman with whom he tries (and frequently fails) to find middle ground. Eating placentas? Check. “Post-betrayal sex?” Check. Breastfeeding past the 1st, 2nd, 3rd… birthday? Check.
The culture is ready to be examined– and Braly’s memoir examines the clash, from a male perspective, between the old world and the new in the context of modern romance and timeless male/female dynamics and differences.
Sound like your cup of tea?
In my mind’s eye, I can see us in the big living room of the house on Mendelsohn Street in Binghamton listening to another favorite Persuasions album called Street Corner Symphony with songs like People Get Ready.
That’s why I am so excited to see that they’re coming to Park Slope where they’re going to raise the roof—literally and figuratively—of Old First Dutch Reformed Church.
On April 26 at 7PM come on out for Raise the Roof with A Cappella, a benefit concert featuring Brooklyn’s own, The Persuasions, the sophisticated harmonies of VOX BOP(including our own Jennifer Nelson), Old First’s in house ADOLESAINTS, PolyPrep’s UNACCOMPANIED MINORS, and musical interludes provided by the fiery fiddling of PITNACREE. Tickets:$30 adults, $25 children(12 and under), $35 at the door. Purchase at bpt.me/357326
All proceeds will be donated to the Ceiling Restoration Fund
Venue: Old First Lower Hall
On April 16th at 7PM at Word in Greenpoint, two literary Joshs read and discuss their latest fiction: Rolnick’s Pulp and Paper and Henkin’s The World Without You (just released in paperback). They’ll be exploring the tragedies and mini-triumphs of the modern American family.
JOSHUA HENKIN is the author of the novels Swimming Across the Hudson (a Los Angeles Times Notable Book) and Matrimony (a New York Times Notable Book). His stories have been published widely, cited for distinction in Best American Short Stories and broadcast on NPR’s Selected Shorts. He directs the MFA Program in Fiction Writing at Brooklyn College.
JOSH ROLNICK’s short stories have won the Arts & Letters Fiction Prize and the Florida Review Editor’s Choice Prize. They have also been published in Harvard Review, Western Humanities Review, Bellingham Review, and Gulf Coast, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best New American Voices. A reporter, editor, and journal publisher, he grew up in New Jersey, spent summers camping his way through Upstate New York, and has lived in Jerusalem, London, Philadelphia, Iowa City, Washington, D.C., and Menlo Park, California. He currently lives with his wife and three sons in Akron, Ohio.
Katz co-wrote the screenplay with renowned director Margarethe Von Trotta. The film’s star, Barbara Sukowa, who also lives in Brooklyn, was nominated for her incredible turn as the German philosopher. Six nominations in all, the film was cited for Best Film, Best Direction, Best Screenwriting, Best Actress, Best Costume and Best Make-up.
The film, which is a huge hit in Germany, will open at the Film Forum in Manhattan on May 29 ,2013. It explores a turbulent four-year period in the life of the great philosopher and writer, Hannah Arendt. Beginning in New York at The New School, where Arendt taught after having escaped from a French detention camp, the film moves to Jerusalem, where she covered the trial of Adolf Eichmann for The New Yorker and coined the phrase “the banality of evil” in her article (and later book) Eichmann in Jerusalem.
Von Trotta and Katz make thrilling drama of the backlash against Arendt’s writing about the trial and her “banality of evil” theory. Co-starring Janet McTeer as author and Arendt confident Mary McCarthy.
Can men really be trusted? This classic question is the subject of the opening dialogue in director Margarethe von Trotta’s new film “Hannah Arendt,” which got its official release in Germany this week after screening at the Toronto International Film Festival and revolves around a less classic question: Was Adolf Eichmann, the organizer of the “final solution of the Jewish question,” a monster or an efficient bureaucrat, a pathological creature or the embodiment of the banality of evil? Her theory of the “banality of evil” turned Arendt, a German Jew who became a college professor and distinguished author of philosophical works in the United States, into a controversial international figure in the early 1960s, more ostracized and hated than revered.
Next year in Jerusalem? Nah. I say next year at the Second Night of Passover at the James Beard House. Really. As soon as tickets go on sale next year make a point of being there.
I went last night and I am still reliving it in my head and my taste buds. Where to begin?
First, you must understand that the James Beard House was at one time James Beard’s home on West 12th Street in Greenwich Village (across the street from St. Vincent’s Hospital). A cookbook author and teacher, James Beard was a champion of American cuisine who helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts.
I know the name very well because I grew up with the James Beard Cookbook. It was in regular use in our house. I think I brought it with me to my first college apartment in Binghamton, New York. I remember looking up steamed brocolli.
The Beard Foundation offers a variety of events and programs designed to educate, inspire, entertain, and foster a deeper understanding of our culinary culture. There are cooking events there just about every night of the week. Their programs include educational initiatives, food industry awards, and an annual national food conference. They also maintain the historic James Beard House as a “performance space” for visiting chefs.
The house itself is a narrow, brick 4-story building with a huge kitchen, an indoor/outdoor patio and a parlor floor large enough to feed 85 people. Crowdedly. But that’s half the charm as are the green walls and the huge portrait of James Beard over the mantle.
For starters, guests walked through the narrow kitchen, a chance to see all the rock star chefs at work. Yes, through the kitchen to get to the patio where we were treated to “nosherei” from Mile End Deli and The Gefilteria, including an alcoholic drink made of beet kvass tails with sweet ginger and bitter orange (with either gin or rum).
At 6:45, Mitchell Davis, executive vice president of the James Beard Foundation welcomed everyone and Billy Harris, a host/emcee for all kinds of benefits in New York City and Los Angeles, led the seder reading from The Bronfman Haggadah. He read about 30 minutes of the seder, leading the guests through the unison readings. No food was served and the focus was completely on the words and pictures in the book.
And then the dinner began. There were so many courses, I lost count. Fabulous gefilte fish (salmon and whitefish pike), chicken soup with matzoh balls…
A fish course of seared Skuna Bay Craft Rasied Salmon, pickled salmon belly lox, beets, apples and mustard seed. And then there was Lamb Belly Confit with quinoa and Brisket Bourguignonne with Mushroom and Cippolini Onion and Jerusalem Artichoke Confit with Preserved Lemon.
The dessert was divine: a warm haroset cake by Zucker Bakery. I was so moved seeing all chefs in the kitchen and when they came into the dining room to thundersous applause (Noah Bernamoff, Jeffery Yoskowitz, James Merker, Jake Dickson and David Schuttenberg of Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, Zohar Zohar and many more) and the sense of process, creativity, hard work and joy that infused the evening. We were all part of a special evening—performance art for chefs, a Jewish eating fest for the guests.
Next year in Jerusalem? Next year at the James Beard House.
It’s that time of year again. Time for a funny night at Brooklyn Reading Works. And if Marian Fontana is curating you KNOW it’s gonna be funny.
On April 18, 2013 at 8PM join Don Cummings, Sarah Fearon, Marian Fontana, Deborah Goldstein, Martin Kleinman, Leah Mitchell, Anya Ulinich and Adam Waring for the Second Annual Funny Pages, an evening of music, mirth and merriment curated by Marian Fontana.
The Old Stone House, 336 Third Street in Park Slope between 5th and 4th Avenues. The $5 suggested donation includes refreshments.
FYI: Brooklyn Reading Books is now on Facebook. Please like us.
How audacious and what fun. L Magazine picked the 50 Best Blocks in Brooklyn but it’s really “the 50 best, worst, and most unusual we’ve encountered in our many perambulations around the borough and its many communities.”
The reporters didn’t just go to the usual gentrified locations. They went out far and wide. Props to L Magazine for a great list.
Some examples from Park Slope
Block Most Unlikely to Change
Sherman Place, between 11th Avenue and Terrace Place, Windsor Terrace
Lined with a mix of brick and limestone townhouses set back from the street, this block feels protected from any development. Strictly residential, it’s unlikely ever to undergo any changes other than the occasional new family moving in. But once they’re in? They stay. It’s that kind of place.
Most Obama Block
2nd Street, between Eighth Avenue and Prospect Park West, Park Slope
Our president, the cause of so much disillusionment, lived in a few apartments in Brooklyn during the 80s, including one on the top floor of a brownstone on this block off the park, where he used to jog. Given its location, we assume the block now is full of Obama-voting Democrats. We mean, that vegetarian Jonathan Safran Foer lives on this block!
Best Block to Get a Sandwich and Eat it at a Bar
Fifth Avenue, between 22nd and 23rd streets, South Slope
So, your friend wants a Cuban sandwich? She can get one at Guerrero Food Center, which makes one of the area’s best. And you want a delicious vegan burrito? Try Luna on the opposite corner. And then you can both meet back at Bar 718, one of our favorites, to eat them over Sixpoints. Then pop over to Mary’s before you go home, just for good measure.
Best Block for Unexpected Porches 11th Street, between Third and Fourth avenues, Gowanus There’re certain architectural styles you expect this close to Park Slope: brownstones, yes. Apartment buildings, sure. The occasional town house, why not? Even a warehouse or something. But porches?! Walk down this Gowanus-border block, and you’ll find many row houses not with front stoops but with honest-to-goodness porches: we’re talking decks and columns and roofs and shit.
Ya think Jay-Z (or Beyonce) had something to do with bringing the show to Barclays Center?
These are the awards where Kanye West famously disrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech. That was really tacky but the show is known for bling, bluster and mega big names in the music biz.
August 25th: Leave town or be square.
I am pondering whether I should post an unhappy OR happy face emoticon? Last year the festival was sort of sprung on us in Park Slope and I heard mixed reports. There were crazy long ticket and water lines and lots of dissatsfaction.
Here’s hoping they get it right this time. For starters, they’re telling us about it two months in advance and that’s way better than last year. Nobody knew about it and when I saw a billboard about it at the West Fourth Street subway station I almost fell over.
GoogaMooga is also adding an extra day.
That said, they do have a great line-up of musical acts and the support of Emily Lloyd, President of the Prospect Park Alliance. In addition to it being a food festival with 85 of New York’s top restaurants are paired with 75 brews and 100 wines, there will be twenty plus lives performances from the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Flaming Lips, Matt & Kim, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, The Darkness, Jovanotti, Father John Misty and De La Soul.
Tickets are going on sale for the concerts on Thursday, March 28 at 12p and all tickets will be available at http://www.googamooga.com
Here’s what President of the Prospect Park Alliance and Park Administrator, Emily Lloyd had to say about this three-day event in Prospect Park.
Great GoogaMooga is a celebration of food, music and Prospect Park – three things that make Brooklyn such a wonderful place to live, work and play. Frederick Law Olmsted, Prospect Park’s brilliant co-designer, intended for the Park to be a great gathering place, as well as a place of quiet respite. We are looking forward to the Great GoogaMooga returning to Prospect Park in 2013,”
I’m guessing (hoping) that this means a lot of money for the park.
This Sunday (3/24) there’s a fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy Relief Kitchen at Old First Church from 5PM until 10PM (729 Carroll Street at 7th Avenue in Park Slope). There will great food, music, speakers and fun, as well as the vibrant spirit of volunteerism in the house.
The Sandy Relief Kitchen is something we’re really proud of here in Park Slope.
The Sandy Relief Kitchen is a community-based relief effort based in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. What began as an immediate, around-the-clock effort cooking out of the back of Two Boots of Brooklyn, has now transformed into an operation comprising local business, community groups and friends. Now operating out of Old First Reformed Church, the group has served tens of thousands of those affected by Hurricane Sandy in coastal neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Staten Island.
The help for those in need continues Wednesday through Friday, from our base at Old First Reformed Church, located at 729 Carroll Street (at 7th Avenue) in the Park Slope. We’re preparing hot food and sandwiches and delivering them, along with other necessary cleaning and personal supplies, to the Rockaways, Staten Island, Gerritsen Beach, Coney Island and other areas still gravely affected by the storm.
Carole DeSanti, who will be reading at BookCourt at 163 Court Street in Brooklyn next Tuesday, March 26th at 7PM, has written a transporting debut novel set in the backstreets and bordellos of 19th century Paris. While this is the author’s first novel, she is a veteran of the publishing business and has been an editor at Penguin known for her championing of strong female literary voices.
The book, which took a decade to write is about Eugénie R., a woman born in France’s foie gras country, who follows the man she loves to Paris, but soon finds herself marooned, pregnant, and penniless.
Sounds interesting so far, right?
She gives birth to a daughter she is forced to abandon and spends the next ten years fighting to get her back. An outcast, Eugénie takes to the streets, navigating her way up from ruin and charting the treacherous waters of sexual commerce.
Are you hooked yet? I am.
Along the way she falls in love with an artist, a woman, and a revolutionary.
Ooh la la.
Ah Paris: City of my dreams. The capital, the gleaming center of art and civilization in Europe, is enjoying its final years of wanton prosperity before galloping headlong into the Franco-Prussian War.
For the protagonist its a conflicted landscape — grisly, evocative, addictive. As the gates of the city close against the advancing army, Eugénie must make a decision between past and present — between the people she loves most
Join Carole for the paperback launch at Bookcourt:
March 26, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
163 Court St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Nine stunning panoramic photographs by Susan Wides of New York City, including shots of Brooklyn Flea, Coney Island and the Botanic Gardens, will be on view at the Kim Foster Gallery in Manahhatan from March 21-April 29, 2013.
In All the Worlds, Susan Wides “tracks her lens on our everyday drama and urban spectacle as both observers and participants in the theatrum mundi of our city’s streets. She illuminates the moments of struggle and transcendence in the many worlds that we collectively experience–the cultural, global, corporate consumer, and natural.”
And you know we love everyday drama and urban spectacle.
The gallery blurb for All the Worlds alludes to a wonderful quote by Baudelaire on the passionate city spectator (and by extension the photographer of the city). Here is the quote in its entirety from The Painter in the City:
“For the perfect flaneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world–such are a few of the slightest pleasures of those independent, passionate, impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define. The spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito. The lover of life makes the whole world his family, just like the lover of the fair sex who builds up his family from all the beautiful women that he has ever found, or that are–or are not–to be found; or the lover of pictures who lives in a magical society of dreams painted on canvas.”
All the Worlds opens on Thursday March 21 with an opening reception. But the show will run through April 29th at 529 West 20th Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.
No, it’s not my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah.
This Brooklyn by the Book event will include a Passover wine tasting, delicious treats from Gefilteria (a Brooklyn start-up that is reinventing seder food) and a conversation with Edgar M. Bronfman, Jan Aronson and Rabbi Andy Bachman about The Bronfman Haggadah just out from Rizzoli. Community Bookstore will be on hand to sell the book, which makes a truly great seder Haggadah and/or gift.
This is a Haggadah for your collection!
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) had to say:
“The Bronfman Haggadah has everything I want in a seder guest. It’s clear-headed but allows for argument. It’s straightforward but has a flair for the dramatic. It’s colorful but not tacky, opinionated but not dogmatic, and it’s not so long-winded that the soup gets cold. Dive in!
Rabbi Bachman and Edgar M. Bronfman go way back. From 1998-2004, Rabbi Bachman was the Executive Director of the Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life: Hillel at NYU. There’s is great respect between the two of them, which should make for an interesting discussion about the meaning of Passover and issues of Jewish identity and theology.
Edgar M. Bronfman, 83, has devoted his life to Jewish causes. He founded the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, which supports a wide variety of causes, programs and initiatives including, Birthright Israel, 92nd Street Y, Hebrew Union College, Interfaith Family, My Jewish Learning, American Jewish World Service, Congregation Beth Elohim and much more.
The Bronfman Haggadah written by Edgar M. Bronfman and illustrated by Jan Aronson is a provocative and stunningly visual retelling of the Passover story, the Bronfman Haggadahhas been called “a revolutionary Haggadah for the 21st century” for the way that it tells the story of the Jews’ dramatic journey from slavery to freedom, in a way that will captivate generations to come.
Jan Aronson’s bold and brilliant watercolor paintings heighten the text and amplify a story that is crucial to the Jewish narrative of Identity. These luminous images— both abstract and figurative—artfully illustrate the Seder plate’s symbolic foods, the parting of the Red Sea, the forty-year journey through the desert, the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, and other events pivotal to Passover.
David Suissa in Jewish Journal wrote:
“Bronfman has taken the secular and spiritual values that resonate with the new generation — such as tikkun olam, pluralism, human dignity and social justice — and rooted them proudly in the story of the Jewish people. He’s made the seder night different by appealing to the indifferent. That alone is worthy of Jewish pride.”
I’d love for you to join me on this special night. Come for the program and stay for the food (or visa versa). I think it will be very memorable evening.
What: Brooklyn by the Book Presents A Conversation with Edgar M. Bronfman, Jan Aronson and Rabbi Andy Bachman about The Bronfman Haggadah
When: March 21, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Congregation Beth Elohim
What Else: A $10 suggested donation includes tastings from Gefilteria and Slope Cellars. Please RSVP.
Books will be sold by The Community Bookstore.
FULL DISCLOSURE: My company Brooklyn Social Media is representing the Haggadah!
On Wednesday, March 13, at 7PM, there’s a March Planning Meeting at Fada (530 Driggs Ave, near N 8th St) for the up and coming Brooklyn Science & Arts Museum.
Apparently, $19.5 MM is available to Greenpoint from Greenpoint Environmental Benefits Projects! Sounds like a great opportunity to launch a world-class institution.
In the meantime, the group plans to offer pop-up museums, salons, and symposiums. More proof of the unique indie, can-do spirit of Brooklyn!
While not necessary, you can RSVP for the March meeting to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Turns out that Bev Grant and Carolann Solebello are doing a monthly series at my fave Park Slope art house and cafe. Two Moon is a cozy art gallery, performance space and coffee house on Fourth Avenue Park Slope.
We heart Fourth Avenue and the efforts of Two Moon’s owners Danielle and Joyce to bring food, beverage and culture to that up and coming Brooklyn thoroughfare.
Sharon Goldman, who used to be part of a sweet duo called Sweet Bitters, will be performing with Bev and Carolann in an evening of swapping songs and sharing stories, and this show will be extra fun because we’re tying it to Women’s History Month. She writes: “We’re an all-female cast, obviously, and we’ll be focusing on tunes with women-oriented and feminist themes (though that’s quite a wide swath of possibility!).”
Sharon promises to sing “Falling Into Place,” the Park Slope song I love.
Also, Bev has a wonderful exhibit up of her photos from the 1968 Miss America Pageant protest…I can’t wait to see those.
Bev & Carolann Present: Second Fridays @ Two Moon
Friday, March 15, 8 p.m.
Two Moon Art House & Cafe
315 Fourth Avenue
Park Slope, Brooklyn
$10 suggested donation
He is a forty-year-old man now. When he was only 4 in 1973, his insane next-door neighbor threw hot acid on his face and he’s been blind ever since. This heartbreaking crime happened on President Street in Park Slope. The perpetrator Basilio Bouza (24) was found not-guilty on grounds of insanity. The story by Wendell Jamieson is in the New York Times today.
Josh Miele is now president of the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco and he lives in Berkeley, California with his wife and two children.
The story is sad and unbelievable. But the portrait of Joshua Miele that arises out of Wendell Jamieson’s article is inspiring and beautiful.
Josh has a degree in physics and a Ph.D. in psychoacoustics from the University of California at Berkeley. He took several breaks, years long, while getting his undergraduate degree, and worked full time for the technology company Berkeley Systems on software to help blind people navigate graphics-based computer programs.
He worked for NASA on software for the Mars Observer. He is the president of the board of directors of the San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind. He plays bass in a band. And he works as an associate scientist at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, a nonprofit research center. “It’s not that I don’t want to be written about,” he said. “I’d like to be as famous as the next person would, but I want to be famous for the right reasons,for the work I’ve done, and not for some stupid thing that happened to me 40 years ago.”
Photo of Joshua for the NY Time by Jim Wilson
Just when I was feeling really fatigued by winter, Susan Steinbrock Design sent me an email about her new garden and floral design website. The photographs on the site of arrangements of colorful wild flowers grown in a Brooklyn lot made my day.
Spring is afoot and I am grateful to Susan for reminding me.
Brooklyn-based gardening business, Susan Steinbrock Design will plant and maintain perennials, annuals and flowering shrubs. SSD will select plants to create a continuously blooming garden, from spring bulbs through fall asters, yielding personally designed bouquets, directly from your garden to table.
“I believe in environmentally sound practices, using compost to enrich soil that is often depleted of nutrients. I choose flowering perennials native to our region as well as other plants that encourage pollinators and benefit the overall health of our Brooklyn neighborhoods,” Susan writes on the website.
Whether you are looking for a complete design and renovation of your current garden space, a new window box or container, or just advice in choosing plants that will thrive in your garden’s light and shade, Susan can work with you to make something beautiful.
And that is beautiful.
Tags: 11215, Brooklyn, floral design, flowers, Park Slope, woman business
Martinez and fellow photographer/videographer Antonio Rosario have opened a new business called Switch to Manual to help beginner and intermediate photographers take control of the camera’s basic settings, which they believe is the doorway to real creativity.
According to Martinez and Rosario, most people new to photography have a vague sense that it’s possible to control the camera’s settings, but are intimidated by the myth that to do so requires years of technical study. “And when you’re in love with photography all you really want to do is take pictures,” says Martinez.
That’s where the Switch to Manual photo workshops come in. In a workshop setting, Martinez and Rosario will give you a practical overview of the two manual settings you’ll want to master (shutter speed and aperture) and then take you out to shoot pictures.
Instead of a bunch of technical jargon, they will explain these settings in everyday language. By the end of the workshop you’ll understand how these camera controls relate to each other. “You’ll be in control of your camera and not the other way around. You’ll be adjusting both to get the image you want, no matter the situation,” says Rosario.
In addition to their workshops, Martinez and Rosario offer photo walks in some of the most photogenic locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.
Imagine spending a morning at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens or in the trendy industrial Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook or walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. How about an afternoon in Coney Island, Green-Wood Cemetery or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. During these photo walks, Martinez and Rosario will offer hands-on advice about how to get the most from your camera equipment. They will advise about composition, lighting, and lenses.
Most walks last between 2-3 hours and are a great way to get to know these great locations in the city, with camera in hand.
Their workshops and photo walks run year-round. Check out the schedule and sign up. Soon you’ll Switching to Manual in just one day!
The lovely photo of Antonio Rosario (left) and Tom Martinez is from Ditmas Park Corner.
Tags: Antonio Rosario, Brooklyn, camera, photo walks, photo workshops, photography, tom martinez, tourism
I am very frustrated with the way that the Daily News edited my op-ed about Barclays Center in Sunday’s paper. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised—it is a corporate conglomerate that has a stake in the Barclays Center. I was shown a shortened vershion but had little time to make changes. I had nothing to do with the headline (The drunken hordes that never came) or the subtitle (Park Slope was wrong about Barclays Center), which, as you can imagine, really rankled me. Here’s the original that I sent to the newspaper.
by Louise Crawford
Whatever you thought about the Atlantic Yards Project —what the new Brooklyn Net’s stadium was called before it was branded Barclays Center—it’s very possible that you think differently now.
Not because you’re a hypocrite. It’s just that when urban planning becomes urban reality, those who live in it must adapt and learn from it, just as they would when a giant gorilla decides to move next door.
During the planning stages for the twenty-two acre site, it was easy to feel apoplectic when Forest City Ratner, a Cleveland-based developer with big pockets, was able to bypass standard review procedures, the City Planning Commission and The City Council.
The proposed stadium and sixteen high-rise apartment buildings rankled locals in an area defined by its historic structures, low-rise vistas and a strong belief in gentrification as a form of grass roots development. The Fort Green neighborhood was already testy from the poke in the eye that is Forest City Ratner’s less than beautiful Atlantic Mall.
Just about every project that smells of big business, traffic and noise inspires local opposition in Brooklyn areas like Park Slope, Prospect Heights and Red Hook, big city neighborhoods that feel like small towns.
In the nineties, New York Methodist Hospital announced they were building an underground parking garage in the center of Park Slope with Rite Aid and Barnes and Noble on the retail level. Citizens feared traffic, noise, garbage and the loss of their beloved local bookstores and pharmacies. Indeed, most of the neighborhood’s bookstores did perish, except for one brave exception (Community Bookstore).
The coming of Ikea and Fairway caused no small amount of tsuris among Red Hook pioneers, who worried about traffic, congestion and changes to the areas historic charm.
Back in 2005, the guerilla opposition to Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards gorilla organized almost immediately. Locals cried “Develop Don’t Destroy” to a plan that lacked context and common sense. What about schools, subways, traffic, jobs, parking, affordable housing, tax dollars, and infrastructure? They demanded answers.
Ultimately, legal tactics using Eminent Domain won the day. The area, which has been gentrifying at a rapid pace, was dubiously deemed blighted and buildings were demolished, including Freddy’s, a beloved, historic bar, as well as a condo building, home of Daniel Goldstein, the Rosa Parks of the Atlantic Yards battle.
A funny thing happened on the way to Barclays. Locals realized it wasn’t so bad to have a basketball stadium in their midst despite their opposition to the way it got there. Fears about noise, traffic, garbage and public urination proved unwarranted, though there are some problems and traffic on nearby Third Avenue has worsened and rats run rampant and have invaded Park Slope, as well.
We also learned that having a basketball team can actually create a sense of camaraderie and Brooklyn pride. Barclays Center has become a public square (sponsored by the New York Daily News) in a racially and economically stratified borough that often feels segregated. The Barclays Center is one place in Brooklyn, other than the subway (and maybe the Cyclone) that truly has an integrated clientele.
Some like the Reverend Daniel Meeter of Old First Dutch Reformed Church in Park Slope, who opposed the project from the start, aren’t so sure about the benefits “The only real gains to Brooklyn are the economic gains to certain private businessman and ephemeral emotional gains to individual fans. Societal gains, real ones, like on race: realistically zilch. Architectural gains? Zilch, Lessons: ancient lessons rehearsed about money and power able skillfully to manipulate democratic processes of decision making. Big money sports (entertainment) is an essentially anti-democratic, anti-organic, and ultimately anti-social business.”
Still, the entertainment programming at Barclays has been inspired. Hip Hop ruled when Jay-Z performed in a series of opening week performances. The sound level was off the charts and Barclays was charged a $3,200 fine. But Hip Hop and Brooklyn were in the house.
Having Jay-Z as mascot and fifty of 1 percent owner of the Brooklyn Nets certainly went a long way towards making African-American and young Brooklynites feel a sense of trust and “ownership.” Mos Def, however, was not thrilled and wrote a powerful poem that expressed concerns that the trickle down from the stadium might never flow to those in need.
My Baby Boomer friends, many of whom protested angrily against the Atlantic Yards Project, seemed pretty excited when Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Neil Young , The Who, The Rolling Stones, and Leonard Cohen performed at the stadium. I wondered if, once again, we were being pandered to. Just like when they brought in starchitect Frank Gehry to design the first iteration of the stadium before he was fired.
I think it’s universally agreed that the architecture is less than the Miss Brooklyn we were promised. That said, I like the way the public space rises out of the subway station. I also like the rusty basket weave skin of the building, which is evocative of the site’s former life as a train yard.
The Barclay’s logo and other corporate signage is not only ugly but a reminder that corporations have control over our cities and that product placement has more power than the people who live right next door. It reminds me that even the borough of Brooklyn can be bought by corporate interests.
So the big gorilla moved in and we’re adapting. Like it or not, Brooklyn has a new cultural hub, a crossroads for an economically and racially diverse Brooklyn to come together. And we’ve got a team that gives us all something to cheer about.
This is the new now that we must build upon with plenty of lessons learned. But the question remains: how does Brooklyn enhance the neighborhoods that we love to build a community and not a battlefield?
We thought this up a few months ago. An event the night before Valentine’s Day celebrating broken hearts. Why? Because there would be no poetry and no song without broken hearts.
Tonight we celebrate the broken heart because for a heart to break it once had to be full. Full.
Tonight let Peter Silsbee and the Haywood Brothers and Courtney Adams, Jr. serenade you. Let Nicole Hefner Callihan and Yona Zeldis McDonough read to you. Let the mulled wine, snacks and coffee drinks soothe you.
At 7PM. Two Moon Art House and Cafe. 315 Fourth Avenue between 3rd and 2nd Street.
What a nice surpise. And just in time for a snowy weekend at home. Today I received a package from Autumn House Press. Inside: Cliff Thompson’s new book Love for Sale, a collection of essays
Cliff Thompson is the author of Signifying Nothing, a novel. He participated in a wonderful and memorable Brooklyn Reading Works evening curated by Martha Southgate called Young Gifted and Black (Men) with Victor Lavalle and James Hanihan. He lives in Park Slope with his family.
I was immediately taken in by the cover of Cliff’s new book: a painting of a Sidney Bechet album, a bottle of Sour Mash ,a fedora, a notebook and a pen (a painting, it turns out, by Cliff Thompson).
This book of essays was selected by Philip Lopate as the winer of the 2012 Autumn House Fiction Prize. Lopate writes “The triumph of this deeply satisfying essay collection is its presentation of a whole human being: immensely cultivated, likable because unfailingly honest, reasonable, mature, witty and never less than eloquent.”
I surveyed the table of contents and saw essays on Zadie Smith, Miles Davis, movies. These essays have appeared in The Threepenny Review, The Iow Review, Commonwealth, Film Quarterly, Cineaste, Oxford American and more…
I am grateful to receive this book today because I am just about done with my current book (Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore) and am deeply in need of something new for a long, snowy weekend.
Love for Sale. Just in the nick of time. I’m looking forward to reading these essays about books, film, jazz, race, “and the oddities of daily life.”
Songwriter/performer Louis Rosen returns to the Metropolitan Room (34 West 22nd Street, New York, NY) on February 9th and 10th at 7PM to celebrate the release of Time Was, his debut recording as a solo artist after three acclaimed CDs with vocalist Capathia Jenkins.
Time Was offers a broad journey across the landscape of American roots music with songs that explore the essential stuff of our lives—love and lust, dreams and pipedreams, fortunes made and squandered, the joy of creation, faith, loss, death and salvation. Louis and his band offer these intensely human portraits in ways that feel fresh, sophisticated and new, yet timeless.
Here’s a taste of what the press have had to say about Louis’ previous work:
“Highbrow—Brilliant.” New York Magazine Approval Matrix
“Rosen has a James Taylor-like talent for setting intimate lyrics over facile, catchy melodies…. Don’t miss this…” Bloomberg News
“Music that stirs the soul.” Huffington Post
To learn more about Louis and Time Was, and for a preview of some of the new songs, visit www.louisrosen.com.
Composer, lyricist, performer and author LOUIS ROSEN was awarded a 2005-2006 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Music Composition. His recordings include the new solo album release, TIME WAS (2013, Di-tone Records), and three albums with vocalist Capathia Jenkins: THE ACHE OF POSSIBILITY (2009, Di-tone Records), ONE OUNCE OF TRUTH (2008, PS Classics) and SOUTH SIDE STORIES (2006, Rosecap/Di-tone.)
Highlights of Louis’ work as a performer include over 100 concerts since 2005 in and beyond New York at venues such as The Public Theater’s Joe’s Pub, Birdland, Iridium Jazz Club, the Great Hall at Cooper Union, the Metropolitan Room, Harare’s International Festival of the Arts in Zimbabwe, Africa, Northwestern University’s Lewis Theater, SF’s Freight and Salvage, Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater, LA’s Gardenia Club, Washington D.C.’s 6th Street and I Historic Synagogue; Schenectady’s Eighth Step at the Proctor Theater, Brooklyn Library’s Dweck Center and many more.
Craig Hammerman, District Manager of Community Board 6 sent me the mayor’s sever weather advisory issued Thursday evening. Here goes:
At the direction of the Mayor, the public is hereby advised that significant snowfall has been forecast starting tomorrow afternoon through Saturday morning.
- The public is urged to avoid all unnecessary driving during the duration of the storm and, until further directed, to use public transportation wherever possible. As New Yorkers are making their commuting plans for tomorrow, they should be aware that driving conditions will be difficult. If you must drive, use extreme caution.
- The MTA has advised of potential service disruptions, and information about any service changes to public transportation is available on the MTA website at http://www.mta.info/.
- Any vehicle found to be blocking roadways or impeding the ability to plow streets shall be subject to towing at the owner’s expense.
- Alternate side parking is suspended citywide through Sunday. Due to anticipated high winds the Staten Island Ferry will be operating on a modified schedule beginning tomorrow afternoon.
- The Emergency Management, Fire, Police, Sanitation, and Transportation Commissioners will be taking all appropriate and necessary steps to preserve public safety and to render all required and available assistance to protect the security, well-being and health of the residents of the City.
- City government and public schools are open tomorrow. Afterschool programs are subject to cancellation.
- Due to potential power outages and transportation difficulties, New Yorkers are advised to stock up on potential supplies, including medicine.
The Political Science Department and other departments and clubs at Brooklyn College are getting slammed for their decision to sponsor a forum featuring two speakers—Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti —who support BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) an international boycott to force Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories.
BDS is the same group that caused a conniption fit at the Park Slope Food Coop last year when they proposed that the Coop stop selling Israeli products. A hearing and vote among members opposed the proposal.
I applaud Karen Gould, President of Brooklyn College, for her decision to proceed with the event despite opposition from pro-Israel activists, and a group of City Council Members, who threaten funding to the college.
A college is meant to be the center of free speech and academic freedom. Below is a letter published in the Nation by President Gould to students, faculty and staff.
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Each semester, student clubs, academic departments, and other groups on our campus host events and invite speakers on a broad range of topics. At times, the issues discussed may be challenging and the points of view expressed may be controversial.
Next week, Students for Justice in Palestine is hosting two speakers who will discuss their views on the BDS movement, which calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. The event is co-sponsored by several campus and community organizations, including the political science department.
As an institution of higher education, it is incumbent upon us to uphold the tenets of academic freedom and allow our students and faculty to engage in dialogue and debate on topics they may choose, even those with which members of our campus and broader community may vehemently disagree. As your president, I consistently have demonstrated my commitment to these principles so that our college community may consider complex issues and points of view across the political and cultural spectrum.
Unfortunately, some may believe that our steadfast commitment to free speech signals an institutional endorsement of a particular point of view. Nothing could be further from the truth. Brooklyn College does not endorse the views of the speakers visiting our campus next week, just as it has not endorsed those of previous visitors to our campus with opposing views. We do, however, uphold their right to speak, and the rights of our students and faculty to attend, listen, and fully debate. We also encourage our students and faculty to explore these issues from multiple viewpoints and in a variety of forums so that no single perspective serves as the sole source of information or basis for consideration.
In addition, as I have said on several occasions, our college community values mutual respect and civil discourse. We ask all students, faculty, staff, and guests on our campus to conduct themselves accordingly so that Brooklyn College continues to be a learning environment where all may discuss and debate issues of importance to our world.
Sincerely, Karen L. Gould, President
PHOTO BY TOM MARTINEZ
Only the Blog at Two Moon presents: Broken Hearted Valentine’s on the night before Valentine’s Day. Join us for music from Courtney Lee Adams Jr and her 4-piece band and Peter Silsbee and The Heywood Brothers; poetry from Nicole Hefner Callihan
Feb. 13, 7-9 p.m. at Two Moon Art House and Cafe.
Why should Valentine’s Day be so lovey-dovey and ooey-gooey? What about those peeps with broken hearts or love gone stale. Not to mention those who are still waiting for the real thing.
Where would music and poetry be without broken hearts?
Let Peter Silsbee, The Heywood Brothers, Courtney Lee Adams Jr. and poet Nicole Hefner Callihan serenade you on Broken Hearted Valentine’s at Two Moon Art House and Cafe.
No need to spend the night ALONE….
When: Wednesday, February 13, 7-9 p.m.
Where: Two Moon Art House and Cafe, 315 Fourth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn
Ed Koch, mayor of New York City from 1978-1989, died this morning of heart failure. He was the mayor of the New York City of my youth and young adulthood.
What an era that was—in City Hall and in the city itself. It was the period that took us from the desperate and debt-ridden late seventies through the go-go, Yuppie eighties. It was the period that saw the rise of graffiti, homelessness, crack, hip hop, Wall Street, punk rock, the AIDs crisis and much more.
Feisty, funny and full of chutzpah, he seemed, in a sense, to personify the city. He lived across the street from my grandmother on Fifth Avenue and 8th Street in Manhattan and seemed accessible and real. For me, he was the mayor across the street, when he wasn’t in Gracie Mansion. How’m I doing? was his iconic question and it exemplified his in-your-face way of being the mayor.
His approach to race relations was highly problematic and his refusal to admit his own homosexuality was certainly a betrayal to the city’s gay community.
His term spanned my out-of-town college years and the years when I set out on my own in the city of my birth. I lived in Harlem, Brooklyn Heights, the Upper West Side and Lower East Side (during the Tompkins Square Park riots) during that time. I remember the building of the Twin Towers and the nearby Art on the Beach area that was the landfill that is now Battery Park City and the 35 cent token. Soho was still an art center, Tribeca was just coming into being, the East Village had a boom and then a bust, CBGBs, Max’s Kansas City and Area were the places to be.
It was a different city. A grittier more dangerous place to live but also a vital and amazingly creative environment in which to come of age.
Indeed, Ed Koch will remembered by those of us who grew up during that time as a mayor as funny, flawed and complex and the city itself.
I just learned that Bronx-born Koch, lived in Brooklyn for a time. Here from a statement by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz: “Mayor Koch lived with his family in Brooklyn as a young man, and I have no doubt it’s where he got the Brooklyn attitude, swagger and “chutzpah” that made him such a character and helped him navigate New York City through some of its most challenging times. The Brooklyn flag over Borough Hall will be lowered in remembrance of this one-of-a-kind New York icon, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues.”
On Saturday, February 9th at 9am, FOKUS is having a family affair with storytelling and art making at Dee and Ricky’s in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn (503 Myrtle Ave).
The FOKUS Family Affair will take kids and families on an exciting trip using the books “Peter’s Chair” and “The Jones Family Express” during a morning of artmaking and reading at Dee & Ricky’s Home Cooking.
If you are interested, reserve a ticket now: http://fokusfamilyaffair.eventbrite.com.
FOKUS will read both books and then guide the children in an artmaking workshop where they will create collage postcards based on themes from each book. They will supply all needed materials, but feel free to bring old magazines that you were planning to throw away because we are promoting reusable materials as a source of art.
Dee and Ricky’s will also have a special Breakfast menu available at this event.
Story Time Art: A Celebration of Family
Saturday February 9th 9am – 11am
503 Myrtle Ave
Brooklyn, NY, 11205
Join us on the last day of February for the last word on the new and the bold in Brooklyn’s theatrical universe.
On February 28, 2013 at 8PM, BRW is thrilled to present this annual compendium of excerpts of staged readings of new plays by Brooklyn playwrights curated by Rosemary Moore.
Here’s your chance to see vital and provocative new work as it’s being developed. Always an entertaining and compelling evening, the playwrights will do a Q&A following the performances.
This year, plays by Scott Adkins, Robert Michel, Chris Nelson and Valerie Work
When: Feb. 28, 2013 at 8PM
What: Brooklyn Reading Works Presents New Plays by Brooklyn Playwright curated by Rosemary Moore
Where: The Old Stone House: 336 Third Street between Fifth and Fourth Avenues in Park Slope. F train to Fourth Avenue, R train to Union Street.
What else: A $5 donation includes refreshments and wine.