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December 31st, 2013

The 2013 Park Slope 100

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

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."


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.



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October 9th, 2013

What My Daughter Wore


Fashion blog meets mommy blog: What My Daughter Wore presents gorgeous illustrations by a Brooklyn mom of her daughter's daily sartorial choices.

The drawings are simply gorgeous and the outfits are wonderful, too. To me, it feels like a collaboration between mother and daughter—but who knows. Some of the outfits feel mildly subversive on the part of the daughter, like the one where she's wearing a colander on her head.

In a way it's so representative of what's interesting and questionable about a certain strata of Brooklyn at this time: the look-at-my-fabulous-kid thing; the sense of "we're so ultra cool"; the need to shout it out.

But isn't that the pot (me) calling the kettle black. The drawings are truly lovely and the mom and daughter are equally gifted.

As a former mommy columnist myself I wonder if the blogger's kids are turned off by the entire endeavor. Mine certainly were. That said, this blog is done with such love and beauty. Wouldn't anyone be thrilled to have such a record of their lives?


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September 24th, 2013

Brownstone Dreams: Love and Death in 1960s Park Slope

What was Park Slope like before it became the affluent Brooklyn neighborhood it is today? In the Park Slope of Brownstone Dreams, a new novel by Kevin R. McPartland, there are no cappuccino cafes, Bugaboo strollers or real estate offices selling million dollar apartments. Author McPartland spins a tragic tale about the mean streets of 1960’s Brooklyn, evoking the sights and sounds of tenements, bars, and schoolyards that comprise the battleground of warring teenage gangs.

The year is 1962. It’s early summer and it’s already a hot one. 19-year-old Bobby Dutton, street tough and gang member, is in a state of turmoil, after stealing the gun of local wiseguy Vincent Casseo. Still high on glue and beer, Bobby has to figure out how to get the gun back to crazy Vincent, without getting himself killed.

“The next morning Bobby sat leaning on one elbow on a cluttered kitchen table. He sat watching his grandfather go about his morning ritual of drinking tea by the fire-escape window while he shaved and complained. ‘Someday you’ll know what this is all about, Bobby-boy. It’s not fuckin easy makin’ a buck in the world. Look at me, other men work on ships that go to sea. I work on a stinking barge in a filthy goddamn canal called Gowanus."

But Bobby isn’t interested in how hard it is to make a buck in the world He is much more concerned about Vincent Casseo and his missing gun.

Brownstone Dreams is a gripping thriller about fear, anger and revenge. It is also the story of a Brooklyn neighborhood where drugs and alcohol take control of people’s lives; where working-class immigrant families fill tenement buildings; where hardworking men drown their disappointments in seedy pubs, while their sons fight each other with sticks and bats in Prospect Park.

Bobby, forever the dreamer, believes he can get the gun back to Vincent without incident. But that is just the first of many miscalculations that makes Brownstone Dreams such a compelling—and heartbreaking read.

Born and bred in Park Slope, McPartland writes about the world he grew up in with the eloquence and grit of Pete Hamill and Malachy McCourt. “McPartland’s is as authentic a voice from New York City’s streets as you’re ever likely to hear.” write Peter McDermott, Deputy Editor of the Irish Echo.

Bobby’s story comes to a head with the savage beating of one of his best friends by Vincent. That’s when Bobby’s game plan changes and he goes on the offensive, unafraid of Vincent’s reputation or his threats, determined to avenge his friend’s beating.

So begins a downward spiral from which Bobby will never return. Even the love of Cathy, a good neighborhood girl, can’t save Bobby from his inevitable trajectory. “Before Park Slope became the trendy family neighborhood of New York’s wealthy elite, it was the home of Bobby Dutton, an Irish-American teenager growing up in the cockroach infested flats of McPartland’s Brownstone Dreams,” writes Marian Fontana, award-winning author of A Widow’s Walk: A Memoir of 9/11. “The book captures a bygone era with a voice as fresh as it is engrossing,”

Brownstone Dreams will engross fans of Pete Hamill, Joe Flaherty and Frank McCourt, who will discover in McPartland a brave and bold writer with an urban story worth telling.

About the author: Kevin R. McPartland is 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.

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September 16th, 2013

BEAT Festival: Immersive Art All Over Brooklyn

After last year's successful inaugural season the BEAT Festival's second season focuses on site-specific and immersive theatrical experiences in unusual and non-theatrical settings.

BEAT stands for Brooklyn Emerging Artists Theater but the BEAT roster includes a whole lot more than emerging artists with seasoned and accomplished artists like Ping Chong, Lemon Andersen, Brave New World Repertory and others. But there are lesser known groups as well like LeeSaar and the Institute for Psychogeographic Adventure.

This past Sunday night at Congregation Beth Elohim, Brave New World Repertory Theater presented a reading of reflections by those involved with the CBE Feeds initiative, which has been serving food to victims of Hurricane Sandy for the past year and intends to continue.

Also at Beth Elohim, on September 21 they will presenting Ping Chong's Brooklyn 1963, about events connected with civil rights and the fight for freedom in Brooklyn.

There's a whole lot more to the festival, including a performance on Saturday, September 21 of the "striking, sexy and assertive choreography" of LeeSaar, a dance company established in Israel in 2000 by  Lee Sher and  Saar Harari.

For more information go here. 

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July 26th, 2013

BAM’s Harvey Theater is a Movie Palace, Again

Did you know that the BAM Harvey Theater on Fulton Street is now the largest, grandest movie venue in Brooklyn? Indeed, the Harvey is now a movie palace with a gigantic screen. At a  time when audiences prefer streaming movies in their living room, BAM has created a compelling reason to turn off the TV and go out to see a movie.

This is big news.

BAM's state-of-the-art movie palace has a brand new Steinberg Screen. It is now a great place to see newly restored Hollywood flicks like The Godfather 1 and 2, Dr. Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia. They will also be showing films like Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen's new movie, starting Friday, July 26th.

Good job BAM. You are really securing your reputation as the best movie theater in Brooklyn and maybe NYC. Yay.

The venue known as the "Harvey" first opened in 1904 as the Majestic Theater presenting dramas, light opera, musicals, and vaudeville. In 1942, the Majestic was turned into an elegant, first run movie house. During the 1960s, the Majestic closed and sat abandoned for nearly two decades.

Back in the 1980's, BAM's Executive Producer Harvey Lichtenstein wanted to stage Peter Brook's production of The Mahabharata and decided to restore the old, derelict theater just two blocks from BAM. Funds were raised and the theater was renovated.

The theater will, I assume, continue as a multi-arts venue, as it embarks on its renewed life as a movie palace.


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July 11th, 2013

Salamander Salsa Celebration at Backyard Restaurant and Bar

by Matthew A. Taub

After making fresh salsas, chili and crushed peppers from the hot peppers of small gardens in Rhode Island, followed by concocting impromptu recipes while working for various restaurants in the New York area, Brooklyn entrepreneur Timothy Kavarnos decided to follow his passion and start his own sauce-making business.

Last night Backyard Restaurant and Bar in Park Slope (5th Avenue near 6th Street), helped Tim’s company celebrate its sauces and spread the word about its Kickstarter campaign with a launch party. The event included cocktails featuring Salamander Sauces and a special menu designed to be paired with the sauces.

“As an avid heat seeker, I’ve learned to appreciate the variety of flavors offered by different peppers, and the many ways they can blend with other ingredients,” Tim explains on his company’s Facebook page.” I’ve found, however, that in the majority of hot sauces the fire overwhelms the flavor.”

At last night's shindig, employees and supporters took pictures and shot videos to help us spread the word, and there were chances win a free bottle of sauce or a Salamander t-shirt. Even if you missed the party, support the company, and get your sauce on!The result, Salamander Sauce Company, is dedicated to creating all natural sauces of distinction, and the recipes have a wonderful depth and complexity.


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July 3rd, 2013

OTBKB Asks: 5 Questions for Bill de Blasio

by Matthew A. Taub

Bill de Blasio, Democratic candidate for NYC Mayor, sat down with Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn's Matthew A. Taub for a few questions.

Bill de Blasio is currently New York City Public Advocate. A graduate of NYU, he also studied at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. His first political job was in David Dinkin's administration. He then moved on to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, working as Regional Director under then-Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo. In 2000, Di Blasio managed Hillary Clinton's successful campaign for the U.S. Senate. From 2002-2008, he served as New York City Council member for the 39th district, which includes Park Slope, Sunset Park, Boro Park, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Windsor Terrace, Red Hook, and Kensington. That seat is now held by Brad Lander.

MAT: With Christine Quinn in Chelsea, Anthony Weiner having moved to Gramercy Park and Bill Thompson de-camping to Harlem several years ago, you’re one of the few remaining “outer-borough” democratic mayoral contenders in this race. How does your history and commitment to the borough impact and influence you?

DE BLASIO: 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.

MAT: How does your position on the City Council’s recent modifications to the stop-and-frisk program differ from your fellow candidates, and how, if at all, has your family, influenced this position?

DE BLASIO:  The overuse of stop and frisk is putting our officers, our children, and our neighborhoods at risk.

I am the only candidate who believes we need an independent Inspector General and a strong racial-profiling bill. I encourage the City Council to stand strong against Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to subvert the democratic process and intimidate people into changing their vote. Weak-kneed reactions to the Mayor's mistakes will only guarantee the next four years are like the last 12.

 As Mayor, what plans do you have to hold developers to a commitment to affordable housing? To what extent are you hampered by actions like this in the legislature in Albany, and in what ways can you (and the city) still prevail?

DE BLASIO: I have a detailed, comprehensive plan to create or preserve nearly 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade. We must end giveaways for big developers and enact mandatory inclusionary zoning, so that when neighborhoods are rezoned, which tremendously increases property values, developers are required to build affordable housing for low- and middle-income families in return. These efforts should create 50,000 new affordable housing units over the next decade.

Another example in my plan is to encourage development on vacant properties by eliminating a tax loophole that incentivizes real estate speculators to leave lots vacant. By applying the same tax rate to big, vacant lots that we do to commercial properties, we would spur a wave of affordable housing construction and create more tax revenue to fund the creation of 4,000 new affordable housing units.

As far as Albany is concerned, we need to take control locally of rent stabilization laws, which help keep rent under control for millions of New Yorkers.

MAT: In contrast to the breaks begot by developers, you claim small businesses are feeling the squeeze. How are small businesses targeted, fined, and harassed in ways that make it difficult for them to conduct operations, and what reforms do you propose?

DE BLASIO: As Public Advocate, I issued two reports documenting, for the first time, the incredible burden on small businesses from the rapid rise in fines. After suing the city to obtain never-before seen data, I discovered that, starting in 2010, City Hall implemented an unannounced revenue-driven enforcement campaign, which has led to a dramatic increase in inspections and nuisance fines on small businesses, particularly in the outer boroughs, to plug gaps in the city’s budget.

I’ve proposed a five-point plan for small business fine enforcement, based on public safety and not the need to pad the city’s budget. First, we need to eliminate outdated and abused regulations using a Regulatory Review Panel that includes small business owners. We also need to increase small business owner’s understanding of these rules, so the first time they learn about them, isn’t when they get fined. We also need to create a tiered classification system for fines, so that business owners aren’t punished unnecessarily harshly, and enable business owners to contest violations online, or by phone or mail, so they don’t have to take time off of work. And, finally, to ensure this abuse doesn’t happen again, we need to require each City agency to report the amount of revenue raised through fines, and we need to create a group of Red Tape Cutters, whose responsibility it is to track trends in the City’s enforcement of business regulations and collect input on ways government can help businesses add jobs.

MAT: Rather than hiding or concealing your motives, your campaign is quite candid in asking the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay a bit more in taxes to support certain programs. What are the additional programs you propose, and what is your message to wealthy New Yorkers as to why they should be willing to accept such an increase?

DE BLASIO: The logic is pretty simple actually: as one city, we rise and fall together. While nearly 400,000 millionaires call New York home, almost half of our neighbors live at or near the poverty line. Our middle class isn’t just shrinking; it’s in danger of vanishing altogether. This income inequality affects everyone through rises in incidents of crimes, a decrease in affordable services, and quality public schools. Addressing the crisis of income inequality isn’t a small task. And if we are to thrive as a city, we’re going to need the help of every citizen. That's why I've asked the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay a little more in taxes so we can fund universal pre-kindergarten and after-school for New York's children. This is essential for our city's future.

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June 10th, 2013

On a Park Slope Stoop: Elmer Rice’s Street Scene by Brave New World Rep

This is a must-see and I for one can't wait. I so enjoyed B rave New World's production of The Crucible at The Old Stone House. Now Brooklyn's acclaimed Brave New World Repertory Theatre is taking Elmer Rice's 1929 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Street Scene to the streets--literally...on the stoop of a Park Slope tenement.

The site-specific production will spill out the front windows and onto the front stoop and sidewalk of a tenement in Park Slope, which will serve as the stage with the audience seated in the street, which will be closed to traffic for the day. Brave New World's multicultural production of this classic masterpiece reflects the full urban melting pot of New York City.


Park Slope, Brooklyn

5th Street between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park

(Directions: F/G to 7th Ave, D/N/R to 9th St, 2/3/4 to Grand Army Plaza, B/Q to 7th Ave.)


Saturday, June 22nd. Two performances: 1pm and 5pm.

(Rain-date: June 23rd)


Director Claire Beckman says, "With 20/20 hindsight, Brave New World's site-specific production seeks to capture the restless summer of 1929... and the sense of unease that comes-especially for those at the bottom of the pyramid like the working class people in the play-when everyone is living beyond their means. These are the people, who a year or two later, will be jobless and penniless. Now living together in cramped sweltering apartments, they spend their summer days out on the stoops... Gossiping and fretting about any impending trouble, as titillated by, as they are terrified of the big domestic drama unfolding in their own building... An infidelity...and worse."

Elmer Rice won the 1929 Pulitzer Prize for his Broadway play about a New York City "village" rife with domestic quarrels, racial and ethnic tensions and economic anxiety. Street Scene was made into a movie in 1931, produced by Samuel Goldwyn and directed by King Vidor, and into an opera in 1946 with music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Langston Hughes.


FREE (no reservation necessary) seating as available; unlimited standing room.

RESERVED FREE seating available in advance for elderly and disabled - limited.

RESERVED seating available: with online donations of $75 or more- limited.

For further info and reservations, visit:

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March 2nd, 2013

Susan Steinbrock Design: Brooklyn Garden and Floral Beauty


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.

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November 2nd, 2012

Chris Owens: Volunteer in Red Hook!

Today on Facebook Chris Owens, Democratic State Committeeman, 52nd Assembly District, urged friends and neighbors to volunteer in Red Hook, which is walking distance from Brownstone Brooklyn. He is suggesting that people send Carlos Menchaca a message on Facebook.

My good friend Carlos Menchaca will be the lead organizer for volunteers for the Office of Emergency Management's relief efforts in Red Hook, Brooklyn. If you have some time in the next few days or weeks, send him a message and he'll hook you up with a task. A lot of people and businesses in Red Hook were devastated by the hurricane and need our help.

For those of us who live right up the hill in the Park Slope area, which was fortunately spared by the storm, this is a volunteer opportunity that is within walking distance.

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November 2nd, 2012

A Synagogue Pitches In: 600 Sandwiches, 3000 Eggs, Dry Goods

Volunteers at Congregation Beth Elohim pitched in yesterday to prepare food for the Park Slope Armory, which is housing evacuated elderly patients from flooded nursing homes in South Brooklyn.

600 sandwiches (peanut butter & jelly and turkey) were prepared in the kitchen of the synagogue.

On his blog Water Over Rocks Rabbi Andy Bachman reflects on the day, which also included an event with esteemed authors Paul Auster and Don DeLillo. Writing at 5AM this morning, volunteers have already prepared breakfast.

 Hundreds of pounds of dry goods, batteries, flashlights and candles sent over to Red Hook in several shifts, continuing through the weekend; the gym, social hall, pool and basketball court open for restless kids and families; placing orders for food to prep for hundreds more throughout the weekend; Jonathan Safran Foer introducing Paul Auster and Don DeLillo at the end of the night. But then a call for volunteers with eggs--800 eggs that became 3000 eggs. And then someone from the Department of Homeless Services asked if we could be a drop-off center for clothes for the now homeless residents of Breezy Point (yes, of course.) And then at around 8:30 pm a truck from Masbia showed up with hundreds of pounds of carrots, potatoes, squash, onions, green beans, bread, eggs (more eggs), and sliced kosher turkey...

Today breakfast is already served--dozens showed up at 5:15 am to prepare bagels, cream cheese, butter and yes, eggs.

Today lunch for 600 again. And then Saturday lunch and Saturday night dinner...

The human capacity to love, to work together, to draw meaning from the seemingly inexplicable, is truly an awesome power.


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November 2nd, 2012

News Helicopters Overhead

You probably heard them, too.

News helicopters are flying over Park Slope this morning as they circle over the Atlantic Center capturing aerial images of the morning commute on the second day of minimal subway service in New York City.

Yesterday, commuters waited on extremely long lines to catch buses at the Atlantic Center and Fulton Street to ride across the Manhattan Bridge to working subways in Manhattan. So the Brooklyn commute is this morning's news.

Those news helicopters have been circling since five or six in the morning (or earlier) which seems awfully early. It certainly woke me up earlier than I wanted to be.

A friend writes on Facebook: "Relentless helicopters overhead...reminiscent of another apocalyptic event." I know what she means.

Helicopters hovering overhead.


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November 1st, 2012

Help Victims of Sandy: Donate to Red Cross

You can do it on your cell phone:

Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which helps people affected by disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires and tornadoes.

Or you can go to the Red Cross website.

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November 1st, 2012

Red Hook Houses Without Water: Bring Donations to PS 32

The Red Hook Houses are without power and running water. Donations are being accepted at PS 32, on Hoyt Street between Union and President.

Donations of bottled water, paper towels, and toilet paper. are needed.


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November 1st, 2012


We've learned during the after-Sandy that New York is a shadow of itself without our magnificent subway system. We've also learned that cars are not the answer. What with gas shortages and gridlock insanity.

Will Sandy be a wake-up call about bikes and limited access to NYC by cars? I think that would be a good thing.

When Bloomberg said three to a car on bridges and tunnels, I remembered  CONGESTION PRICING.

A lot of people I know are taking a good long look at their bikes. Suddenly bikes are the solution to getting around in a city with a limited subway system. Sure, it's not for everyone, not everyone can ride a bike. But those who can should do so.

Remember the transit strike?

Eric McClure of Park Slope Neighbors wrote in today about the morning commute: "There are lots of people riding bikes today who have happy stories about their commutes."

And Kerry, an OTBKB reader wrote: "I decided to bike from Williamsburg to Mid-town. I had a ton of company and it was actually kind of nice to commute among fellow bikers and walkers. Everyone was kind to each other and we all got a little sunshine on our faces. Hang in there everyone!"

Ah, what we know now. Going forward, we'll have D-cells and flashlights, our Go Bags will be poised at the front door, and our bikes will be ready for action (tires full, well-maintained, keys for the locks).

Our bikes can get us where we need to be.


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November 1st, 2012

The Difficulties Set In

Oh Superstorm Sandy.

First we were curious with a dash of anticipatory anxiety. There was panic, of course, but also excitement  as we obssesively prepared for the hurricane (it was  a hurricane then) on Saturday, Sunday and much of Monday.

Bottled water. Go bags. Batteries. Flashlights.

We didn't know what to expect. Denial led some people not to heed evacuation orders. Memories of Irene made  some dubious about dire warnings.

Then there was shock as we watched Manhattan go dark, Breezy Point burn, Lower East Side transformers explode and millions go without electricity and water. For the first hour or so we wondered if we were next. So we waited tremulously. But then the worst of it passed as gusty winds and rain continued through the night.

At dawn, we weren't sure what we would see by the light of day.

Then there was the relief. At least here in Park Slope where we dodged Sandy's bullet for the most part. We felt grateful and lucky not to be without power and water.

However, the devastation in other parts of the  City and State pained us. We stared at the TV all day taking in the scope of it.

As each day passed, we learned of losses related to Sandy and began to mourn. Jacob, a 24-year-old  son of Park Slope died during the storm with his friend, Jessie. There were more than forty deaths in NYC alone.

As we wandered around the Slope we saw trees down, long lines at the bank, queues at the grocery stores and gas stations. Seventh Avenue was crowded with children unable to go to school, adults unable to go to work.

By Thursday, as the city tried to get back to normal, subway service was extremely spotty and there was no easy way to commute to Manhattan jobs from Brooklyn. Long lines formed for Bus Bridges, available at Atlantic Center and elsewhere, a way for Brooklynites to get to a working subway in Manhattan. Crossing on bridges and tunnels is limited to those with at least three to a car.

Waking Thursday morning, news helicopters were hovering above, reporting on the morning commute. That was this morning's story. As the day  progressed the need for gas became a new narrative.

Now, the longevity of the aftermath is getting on everyone's nerves. People nearby in Red Hook, Staten Island and elsewhere are without power and water. The suffering continues.

How long will this go on? Will the gas lines get shorter, will the subway work again, will the tunnels ever dry? When oh when will our city get back to normal.


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November 1st, 2012

Halloween Without the Park Slope Parade

Despite the absence of the beloved Park Slope Halloween Parade, Halloween in Park Slope post-Sandy was actually quite charming.

Seventh Avenue was packed with trick-or-treaters and parents at 5PM or so. Parents were advised to do the bulk of the outdoor trick or treating before dark and that seems to have been the case. Everyone I saw seemed to be in a good mood, including shopkeepers who distributed candy until they ran out. As always, the Community Bookstore was the place to be. This year, a giant green puppet (alligator, dinosaur) was suspended over the front counter. At least that's what it looked like to me.

It was great to see the kids enjoying themselves after being cooped up at home for days.

Third Street, which is usually the final stretch of the Halloween Parade, was Halloween central nonetheless. Hundreds of parents and children streamed down our block for hours as candy was distributed by good-natured adults.

I must say, Halloween had a very quaint, small town feeling without the parade. The parade, I might add, started in a very casual way and has become quite a production, which takes months of planning. Yesterday was a reminder that Halloween can be just as fun without the parade. In fact, it felt like Park Slope of olde, a real back-to-basics Halloween.

That  said, the parade is a community building spectacle we're probably not willing to do without.

A benefit of no parade to parents: Halloween wasn't nearly as exhausting as it has become with hours of trick or treating followed by a parade that goes until 9PM or so.

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October 30th, 2012

Message from Brad Lander: Picking Up From Sandy

Here is an update from City Councilmember Brad Lander who also serves Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park and Kensington. He included the photo above by Conor O'Donough.

I hope you and your family made it safely through the storm. Mercifully, the damage in the neighborhoods in this City Council district was not too bad. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures and heard about the heartbreaking fires and widespread flooding elsewhere the city.

Volunteers Needed

I was heartened by all of the emails I got yesterday from people who wanted to help. There are two shelters in the 39th Council District, John Jay High School and the Park Slope Armory, that need volunteers. You need to be willing to work an eight hour shift and cannot bring your children. The Armory is sheltering people with additional medical needs, so volunteers should be comfortable working with the elderly, disabled, or others who may need extra support.

While those are the two shelters in my council district, there may be other shelters closer to you. Enter your address here to find the closest shelter to you and reach out to see if they are also in need of volunteers.

You can sign up to volunteer during future emergencies at the City’s service website.

Reporting Damage

If you see any downed trees or other debris from the storm, your first call should be to 311 (If there is an immediate danger to life, call 911 right away). Make sure to write down the tracking number from your 311 call.

We should remember that the effects of this storm are being felt across New York City, and agencies will rightly be prioritizing trees on power lines and other especially dangerous situations.

My office is also recording damage in the district and following up directly with City agencies. You can report storm damage on my website (make sure to include the 311 tracking number).

More News Coming Soon

Mayor Bloomberg is expect to give a press conference shortly with updates on the City’s response to the the storm and updates on transportation and agency closures. I will send out another email later today with additional updates.

Gowanus Canal

Many of you contacted me yesterday with concerns about the Gowanus Canal, a highly polluted waterway, which flooded neighboring streets. I have communicated with EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck and NYC Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland. Thanks to both of them for making the time, and communicating quickly (with each other, and with me) about our concerns at the canal.

If you live near the canal, do not touch standing water in the area, or any sediment or debris left by Gowanus flood-waters.

After the storm, the EPA and DEP are committed to work together conduct any sampling needed to address potential issues of toxicity created by the flooding.

Prospect Park

We checked in with Prospect Park staff this morning and learned that the park was hit hard. They are still assessing damage, but will be reaching out in the coming days for donations and volunteers to help put the park back together.

I look forward to seeing many of you - and working with you - in the coming days as we clean up from the storm.


PS: If you are looking for something inspiring after this brutal storm, check out this picture of an amazing rainbow above the Gowanus Canal this morning.

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October 30th, 2012

Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park Submerged by Sandy

An Instagram by Ana Andjelic is making the rounds among my Facebook friends. The image above is of the submerged Jane's Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

It's a sobering image of a carousel that usually brings much joy in Brooklyn on a devastating night we will never forget. Image below is of Jane's Carousel before Sandy.


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October 30th, 2012

Gowanus Badly Hit

Pardon Me for Asking has pictures of the Gowanus area at 9PM Monday night. A friend of the blogger took the picture above and wrote: "the water down the street was a few feet deep, and very toxic. It smelled like oil and sewage."

Very scary.
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October 6th, 2012

A Week of Obama in Brooklyn

The week began with Baracklyn, a Monday night fundraiser at the Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg with New York Senator Chuck Schumer, White House staff member Valerie Jarrett, Newark Mayor Corey Booker, Mass, Governor Deval Patrick and singer/songwriter extraordinaire Steve Earle. More than 500 Obama supporters were in attendance and the event raised $300,000 for the President's campaign.

On Wednesday at ArtObama, more than 100 artists donated their artwork to benefit the President's re-election campaign. The event on Atlantic Avenue was packed and fun. A great crowd, good wine, tasty snacks, terrific conversation. The space, a former art gallery called Metaphor and now a studio, looked stunning with its walls covered with really interesting art by the likes of David Konigsberg, Julian Jackson, Margaret Neill, Ann Agee, Tom Chambers, Hugh Crawford, Phong Bui (print of Obama above) and more.

Later that night Obama debated Mitt Romney. I listened to some of the debate in the car service on the way home from ArtObama (the Internet streaming we hoped to see at the auction didn't work). Once I got the television on, it was obvious that Obama was having an off-night and Romney was, uncharacteristically, very on.

I missed Rommney's comment about Big Bird but it was all over Twitter during the debate and after.

“I’m sorry, Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.”

Those were fighting words. Twitterers went wild defending Big Bird and worrying about the future of PBS. Even PBS got in on the act with a statement:

"Governor Romney does not understand the value the American people place on public broadcasting and the outstanding return on investment the system delivers to our nation."

The Twitterverse was unanimous in its sense that Obama look tired, unprepared and even depressed. Some blamed it on the fact that it was his anniversary; others said it had to do with his strategy and staff directive to be low-key and presidential.

Letterman on Thursday night showed a hilarious fake Cymbalta ad that inserted images of Obama during the debate.

Friday night there was a cmall package in my mailbox from my 89-year-old Aunt Rhoda in White Plains. She sent me an O necklace. "O for Obama," she wrote on her business card, which said Aging in Place, an organization she is actively involved with.

Aging in Place "refers to living where you have lived for years, typically not in a health care environment, using products, services, and conveniences which allow you to remain home as circumstances change."

Thank you Aunt Rhoda for a beautiful gift and a perfect ending to my Obama week.

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October 5th, 2012

Get Fleeced at the Fiber Arts Festival in Park Slope

On Saturday, October 8 from 10AM until 6PM, Stitch Therapy and the Old Stone House (Fifth Avenue and Third Street in Park Slope) present the Kings County Fiber Arts Festival this weekend at The Old Stone House, a festival of natural fibers for spinners, knitters and crocheters, offering handspun and painted yarns and rovings of many varieties. Handcrafted knit, crocheted and woven clothing, hats & scarves for the family.

The following artisinal fiber artists will be on hand at the festival: Artikal Handcrafted Millinery, Bay Haven Short Tails, Bittersweet Ridge, Brooklyn Crochet Collective, Cobblerock Ridge Farm, Compassioknit, Crochet shirret Rag Rugs, Decadent Fibers, Fish Hollow, Full Moon Farms, Hellomello Handspun, Humdinger Alpacas, Juliet Martin Designs, Lilac Hill Farm, Looliemom Fiber Arts, Loop of the Loom, Okos Farm Fiber, Pollywogs, Queen Bee Fibers, Utopia Bath, Winter's Past Farm

Here's a schedule of activities to expect:

11 am: Pop-Up Yoga NYC: An Ergonomic Stretch for Crafters

12 pm: Finger Knitting Demonstration for Children

12pm - 6 pm: Fabrications, an exhibit by Gail Rothschild in the OSH Great Room

1 pm: Finger Knitting Demonstration for Children

2 pm: Spinning Wheel and Drop Spindle Demonstration by NYC's Spin City

3 pm: Music by the Famous Accordion Orchestra

4 pm: Fleece Talk - identification and Characteristics w/ Kris Brynes, Winter's Past Farm

6 pm: Exhibit Reception: Fabrications by Gail Rothschild



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October 3rd, 2012

If You Had a Million Bucks What Would You Do?

Councilmember Brad Lander truly wants to know: What would you do with $1 Million?

Tonight in Park Slope, residents are coming together to tell City Councilmember Brad Lander how to spend $1 million of City funds on projects in their neighborhood.

Next spring, their votes will choose the winning projects. The process, called “Participatory Budgeting,” gives New Yorkers a chance to vote on how some of their tax dollars are spent.

WHAT: Participatory Budgeting Neighborhood Assembly

WHEN: Wednesday, October 3rd, 6:30 – 8:30 PM

WHERE: Greenwood Baptist Church, 461 6th Street (at 7th Avenue), Brooklyn

Last year's ideas ranged from the kooky to the sublime: a Gowanus Canal Gondola (aka a “Gowandola”), filling potholes, renovating schools, and building parks. I wasn't there, but I hear that the conversations were sometimes heated (what do you expect?) but creative and inspiring.

Participatory budget meetings are going on all over the city. This meeting is one of five in Councilmember Lander’s district in September and October, and one of more than fifty city-wide.

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September 18th, 2012

The Hundred Story House in Washington Park

Heather O'Donnell has a sweet story on her blog Honey & Wax Booksellers about the Hundred Story House, which was in Park Slope's Washington Park yesterday.

The Hundred Story House is the brainchild of Julie Marchesi and Leon V. Reid IV (illustration at left is a rendering) who organized a Kickstarter campaign to get the project off the ground and managed to raise an impressive $13,502 last March.

The One Hundred Story House is a miniature lending library and installation that was designed for Cobble Hill Park but is evidently going to other parks, too .

In  fact, the House opened in Washington Park in Park Slope on September 8th. I guess it's going to be there for a while (I will check with Kim Maier at the Old Stone House for further information).

Marchesi and Reid wrote on the Kickstarter site: "Brooklyn is very bookish. If you walk the streets on a fair weathered weekend in certain neighborhoods, you will notice a system of informal and anonymous book-sharing. You will see piles of paperbacks and hardcovers lying on sidewalks or stacked on brownstone steps, available to any passersby looking for a good novel, or a cookbook from 1972."

Ah yes, I did find Secrets of La Bonne Table a 1970's French cookbook by Jeannette Seaver on the street once. Marchesi believes this tradition speaks to limited space in our too-small apartments " but also to the distinctly Brooklyn spirit of small-scale community interactivity that can be possible in a huge metropolis. It also speaks to a shared love of the written word -- as do our many bookstores, public libraries, and coffee shops filled with famous (or soon-to-be) writers at work."

Lovely idea. I can't wait to see it.


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September 15th, 2012

My Schedule: Young Writers, Bookends, Einstein, Brooklyn Book Festival

It's a busy week. There are things to do, people to see, High Holy Days to celebrate, as well as Brooklyn Book Festival Book End events to attend all week.  For a full schedule go here.

On Thursday, September 20, at 7PM, Brooklyn Reading Works is hosting Young Writers Night, a Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend Event presenting fiction, poetry and song by teenage writers. The event was curated by high school senior Hannah Frishberg who will be introduced by Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang. One Teen Story will also be on hand to distribute free copies of that new magazine.

On Friday, September 21, I will be at BAM for Einstein on the Beach, an opera created by Philip Glass, Robert Wilson and Lucinda Childs. This will be the third production of Einstein at the Beach I've seen at BAM, the first without choreographer Lucinda Childs dancing.



On Sunday, September 23, I will be at the Brooklyn Book Festival with Honey & Wax Booksellers. I will also be talking up Peter Matthiessen Wheelwright's "gorgeous debut novel" As It Is On Earth (Fomite).



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September 14th, 2012

Nice Profile of Park Slope’s Honey & Wax Booksellers

Leslie Albrecht, a reporter for DNA Info, wrote a lovely profile (with a great slide show) of Park Slope's Heather O'Donnell, who runs Honey & Wax Booksellers. Albrecht sure knows a good lede when she sees it.

"Heather O'Donnell isn't the type of rare book dealer who puts on white cotton gloves before she handles her precious volumes. She's fine with plopping an 1881 edition of Henry James' "Washington Square" — which sells for $2,000 — on the kitchen counter next to a plate of marinating chicken."

Okay, let's not get carried away. I'm sure O'Donnell doesn't often leave her rare and valuable books in the kitchen. But she does, for the moment, run her business out of the attractive dining room of her historically detailed Park Slope apartment.

O'Donnell is a true book lover who believes books should be well loved and well used. She is also a client of my new company Brooklyn Social Media. Full disclosure there.

"She launched her rare book business Honey & Wax Booksellers in that spirit earlier this year. To her, rare books shouldn't be locked away in cabinets like specimens. She likes that books can be used to form relationships when they're passed between people. Her favorite part of the business is uniting appreciative collectors with long-sought books." writes Albrecht in her DNA Info piece.

Next week Honey & Wax will be the first rare bookseller at the Brooklyn Book Festival, an open-air celebration of, well, books. In fact, it is the largest literary event in New York City. This year there are more than 280 authors, more than 104 panels confirmed and something like 45,000  visitors expected.


O'Donnell will be there with an astonishing selection of rare books, first editions and special signed copies. She'll also be giving out tasty honey sticks. She is excited to showcase some of her best stock, and to field questions from festival attendees about the books they have and the books they want.

O’Donnell is uniquely qualified to answer those questions.  A lifelong book lover, she moved to NYC in 1989 to study English at Columbia. She received a doctorate from the Yale English department and worked as a curatorial assistant at the Beinecke Library, where she developed an eye for rare books. For seven years, she was a bookseller in the flagship New York gallery of Bauman Rare Books, dealing in a wide range of material, from Shakespeare to Audubon to Churchill. O’Donnell’s desire to make her mark in the borough she calls home inspired her to launch Honey & Wax Booksellers earlier this year, and she’s eager to make her Brooklyn festival debut on September 23.

Photos by Leslie Albrecht of DNA Info


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September 12th, 2012

ArtObama: Artists to Auction Work on October 3

They raised $54,000 in 2008, and the team that brought you ArtObama is doing it again.

On October 1, ArtObama will auction works by 120 American artists to support the re-election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. Auction proceeds will benefit the Obama Victory Fund 2012 as well as ActBlue, a political action committee that aids progressive House and Senate candidates nationwide. Space is limited, and preregistration for this event is strongly recommended. In 2008, ArtObama raised more than $54,000. Their ambition is to greatly surpass that contribution in 2012


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August 30th, 2012

Paul Ryan’s Playlist: What’s the A-Z of Your iPod?

Last night at the Republican National Convention, GOP Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan compared his iPod playlist to Mitt Rommney's.

"We're a full generation apart. And, in some ways we're a little different. There are the songs on his iPod that I've heard on the campaign bus and on many hotel elevators. He's actually urged me to play some of those songs at campaign rallies. I said, I hope it's not a deal breaker, Mitt, but my playlist starts with AC/DC and ends with Zeppelin."

I looked at my playlist this morning. Mine starts with Adele (and then Adrian Hibbs) and ends with The White Stripes and Yo La Tengo.

What's the A and Z of your playlist? And what does or doesn't it say about you?

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August 24th, 2012

80 Park Slope Artists Participating in Go Brooklyn

There are 1,814 artists participating in the Go Brooklyn Arts massive open studio weekend on September 8-9, 2012. Eighty of them are in  Park Slope.

That's a bigger number than I expected. There are a lot of artists in and around Park Slope but most of them don't have their studios in Park Slope, a neighborhood made up mostly of apartment buildings and brownstones. We don't have much in the way of loft or industrial buildings.

Go Art Brooklyn is a crowd -curated, crowd-sourced open studio extravaganza backed by the Brooklyn Museum. As an art appreciator, you can sign on as a visitor and actually vote for the artists you like best during your studio visits.

Of the eighty Park Slope artists, I know a few including my husband Hugh Crawford, who will open his photography studio right here on Third Street. "The last few years I have been making photographs I describe as "tangles". They are of rose bushes, ocean waves, the banks of the Gowanus Canal, amusement park rides, trees, and distressed ground. What I am trying to capture is "the act of seeing." Since mid-2011, my work is multiple exposures reassembled into single compositions with some of the work printed as large as 20 feet long," he writes in his Go artist statement.

Also, Bernette  Rudolph (above), whom I consider the elder goddess of Park Slope artists, will be showing her prints and mixed-media work in her Third Street studio, as she's been doing since 1985. "I work in my art studio with music or silence depending on what I am creating. I have been a working artist over fifty years exhibiting in museums and art galleries thru the United States. My current inspiration is photographing the people I see on the streets of New York City and the vast variety of people who ride the New York subways. I use photo shop to turn the photos into works of art," she writes in her Go artist statement.

Gregory Frux is another Park Slope artist participating. His work celebrates the life of his city in oil paintings and drawings. His work has earned recognition from such diverse organizations as Brooklyn Arts Council, The Library of Congress, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the National Park Service," he writes in his artist statement.

Mary DeVincentis open studio will feature her "One Hundred Not Famous Views," a series of monotypes inspired by many years of meditative walks in Prospect Park. "It is an homage to Hiroshige’s woodcut series, One Hundred famous Views of Edo. These prints are one of a kind, expressive, spontaneous and painted with a full palette on a single plate in a single session as opposed to the carefully planned process of creating color woodcuts," she writes on her artist statement.

Lauren Greengold will open her Prospect Park West studio. "My work has always been involved in the act of seeing, witnessing. That is what painting has given me, a tool to really see with. Sometimes the work has become the record, a witnessing of a dream or a memory, or a history that no longer exists. As of late, even the act of making the work is one that is about being there to see it, even if it is a passing thought, a dream, or something right before my ey

Simon Dinnerstein, who is perhaps the most well-known Park Slope artist will also open his studio to visitors September 8-9. His painting, the acclaimed Fullbright Triptich, will be on display at the German Consulate in Manhattan through 2015.

"I am interested in exploring the mysterious and haunting aspects of dream states and "time suspensions." The floating nude, "Purple Haze" (65 inches) and "A Dream Play" (82 inches) , the last image, are examples of this theme. Multiple realities and geographies collage themselves into a map of the unconscious."

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August 21st, 2012

Legend Massimo Vignelli, Designer of Subway Map, to Speak at Transit Museum

Few people probably know the name of the designers who designed the subway map many of us look at every day. Few imagine ever getting a chance to hear them speak.

But on on September 12th, Massimo Vignelli and his design partners Beatriz Cifuentes and Yoshi Waterhouse will speak at the New York Transit Museum with Michael Beirut about their famous and controversial 1972 New York City subway diagram and its new appearance in the MTA’s Weekender.

At this special Transit Museum event, Beirut will lead a discussion with Vignelli, Cifuentes and Waterhouse. This will be followed by a brief Q and A. Signed and numbered subway diagrams (limited edition of 1,000) will be available for purchase for $500 each. You can get tickets here. 

This promises to be an interesting and exciting discussion with a design team respected worldwide and hugely influential on the city of New York .

In 2008 and 2012, Vignelli updated his diagram to account for changes in station names and toned down the color scheme, adopting uniform colors for each line Vignelli will discuss this in addition to change she made to the map in response to one of the largest criticisms leveled at the 1972 diagram and that was the deceiving square shape of Central Park.

Vignelli simplified the new version by removing parks entirely. Take that.

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