Saturday night, Smartmom, Hepcat, and OSFO found themselves at Two Boots, Park Slope’s beloved Cajun pizzeria known for its tolerance of unruly children.
For a frigid January night, the restaurant was moderately crowded and the maitre d’ told them it would be three minutes until their table was ready.
“This is way more than three minutes,” OSFO whined as her parents sat at the bar drinking Turbo Dogs for 15 minutes.
Finally, the maitre d’ gathered up menus and took them to their seats.
“I’m very sorry,” she said. “I had a bunch of tables that looked like they were ready to leave…” Like most of the staff at Two Boots, she was charming and full of spunk (you have to be to work in a restaurant where the children run wild with small balls of dough while their parents zone out on peach Margaritas).
As they walked toward the pizza window, Smartmom noticed a long table of teenagers eating an interesting assortment of appetizers. At another table, a kid blew straw paper
“Oh sh—,” Smartmom said aloud. The maitre d’ was making a beeline for the table near the pizza window — aka the Second-Most-Dangerous Table in the restaurant. It’s the same table where a dough ball once landed in Smartmom’s Margarita, tossed by an unrepentant 4-year-old.
The most dangerous Table, of course, is the one next to the pizza window. When there are too many kids at the pizza window, they use that booth as a kind of off-ramp. At one dinner, Groovy Grandpa got many an Elephantan shoe on his thigh.
As Smartmom perused the familiar menu, she found herself overwhelmed with remembrances of things past. She was unable to imagine ordering anything other than what they’d ordered so many times before.
Pizza face for OSFO; goat cheese and andouille pizza for the grown ups; a small house salad and an order of calamari for the table.
And with each menu item, she saw a picture of herself and her children at various stages of their lives.
On a cold January night in 1989, Hepcat proposed to Smartmom in the East Village Two Boots, which was their favorite restaurant back then. They’d usually eat after 10 pm and were barely aware of the restaurant’s status as child-friendly. As far as they were concerned, it was hipster cool.
“Will you marry me?” Hepcat purred as he offered an empty white porcelain coffee cup as an engagement ring.
You know the answer to that question (even though a busboy whisked the “ring” away with the other dirty dishes).
Fried calamari from Two Boots was baby Teen Spirit’s first solid food. Or so they like to say. He was a regular at the restaurant by the time he was 2.
OSFO’s first meal at Two Boots was in a Baby Bjorn. Smartmom splayed the napkin over her infant’s head and gorged on pizza as the tot slept. As she grew, it became a family tradition to celebrate her birthday there.
Despite these crusts of memory, Smartmom longed for something new. “How about the Sophia, the special pizza of the day,” she blurted out. Red pepper, spicy Italian sausage, Vidalia onion, and fresh mozzarella.
Hepcat made a face. A creature of habit, he had his heart set on the usual. But with that passive-aggressive flair, he left it up to Smartmom.
“We’ll still have the house salad and the calamari,” she offered. He forced his lips into a smile. Smartmom hoped the Sophia pizza would make him forget this change in the routine.
The teenagers at the table nearby looked like they were having fun. They looked so comfortable in their seats — like they’d been there a million times before. And they probably had.
In different incarnations of themselves, of course.
Once upon a time, they were carried in by Bjorn. Or wheeled in by single or double Maclaren.
Later, they were one of the doughboys and girls at the pizza window. Perhaps they were one of the runners, a kid who nearly trips a good-natured waiter, holding a tray full of Sangrias.
Smartmom wondered how they perceived the place. Was Two Boots the fuddy-duddy place their parents always took them to? Or the childhood restaurant they remembered most fondly?
Would this be like the restaurant on Fire Island that sent plates from the kitchen by electric train that Smartmom never forgot? Or was it like the Great Shanghai, the cavernous Chinese restaurant on West 102nd Street that she was dragged to every Sunday night for years?
Smartmom watched as Hepcat bit into her steaming hot Sophia pizza slice. “How do you like it?” she asked hopefully, her mouth full of savory, succulent pizza.
“It’s OK.” Hepcat is known for his pathological understatement. “OK” is actually a compliment in his lexicon.
But then he made a face. “I don’t like this sausage as much as the andouille. And the fresh mozzarella — it just doesn’t compare to the goat cheese.”
You just can’t win. Still Smartmom enjoyed her Sophia pizza and OSFO, after she removed the olive eyes, the broccoli nose, and the tomato slice smile, was thrilled with her Pizza Face.
“Why do they put all this stuff on it that kids don’t eat?” OSFO yelped.
This is Park Slope. Kids DO eat vegetables here. And they love it.
At that moment, a waitress bolted out of the kitchen with a slice of cake with a single birthday candle. The kids at the teenager’s table sang “Happy Birthday” to a very embarrassed birthday girl.
Soon the entire restaurant was singing along. Out of the muck of discordant voices came a gorgeous operatic soprano, from a cheerful woman sitting at the Most-Dangerous Table.
Her soaring voice rose above all the rest. It was clear as a bell, deep and full of ebullient feeling. Her son hid under his shirt clearly embarrassed by his mother’s artistry.
The crowd applauded. Smartmom shouted, “Bravo.”
As the Park Slope diva exited the restaurant, customers thanked her and shook her hand. She stopped at the teenager’s table and wished the birthday girl a happy day. Smartmom overheard that she was chorus singer at the Metropolitan Opera.
Done with her food, Smartmom asked the busgirl she’s known for more than 10 years to pack up the remnants of the Sophia pizza.
It may not be as memory full as the goat cheese and andouille, but it would certainly taste great for breakfast tomorrow morning.
For research purposes, Smartmom asked the waitress what the most popular topping is: “Hmmm,” she thought for a moment. “Andouille. With goat cheese,” she said assuredly.
Hepcat smiled. Vindicated at last.
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?
Well, I have no idea who Gail Ghezzi is though I am fascinated by GH last names because my maiden name, may father’s family name is Ghertler.
Meditation grabbed me, too. Then I saw mortality. Then I saw shadow boxes… Click. Reader, I opened the email.
Below is a description of Gail Ghezzi’s artwork that looks very interesting. She collects things—records, artifacts, pop culture odds and ends—and turns them into shadow boxes a la Joseph Cornell but with a different kind of attitude. Way different.
The point of the email was to announce the debut of a website Birth, Death Repeat and an exhibition at Jalopy Tavern through October 12th. The details are below. I’m sorry I missed the opening on Saturday but I was in the thick of the Brooklyn Book Festival so I probably would have missed it anyway. But it’s not too late to see the show, or to check out the website. Ghezzi’s artwork sounds interesting and very interactive. Read ahead and you’ll see what I mean:
“Birth, Death, Repeat…” is 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. These lives are captured in short paragraphs attached to each box to make this the first collaboration between the artist and her husband/author Ben Greenman since the births of their children.
Anyone can participate by submitting a short story at birthdeathrepeat.com
Ghezzi’s art was debuted at Jalopy Tavern on Saturday, September 21 in Brooklyn. After the opening, the party continued next door at Jalopy Theater with live music by Lara Ewen . Ewen performed from her new record “The Wishing Stone Songs,” which features package design by Ghezz
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.
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.
A partner in a private law practice and a former federal prosecutor, Kenneth Thompson was already involved in some of New York City’s most controversial criminal cases when he made further shockwaves by announcing his intention to enter the race for Brooklyn District Attorney, taking on incumbent Charles “Joe” Hynes, who has held the position since 1990.Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn’s Matthew Taub sat down with candidate Thompson for a few questions.
1. You attracted considerable attention a few years ago when you began representing Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel housekeeper who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, of sexual assault. The handling of the case came under criticism from lawyers for Mr. Strauss-Kahn and from the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which eventually dropped the criminal charges because of questions about Ms. Diallo’s truthfulness. What can you tell us about the civil and criminal case(s) involved in this matter, and your role? Were you were satisfied with the overall outcome?
Kenneth Thompson: In my career as an attorney in public service as well as in private practice, I have fought for victims—victims of violence, discrimination at work, civil rights abuses and sexual assault. In this case, it was clear to me from the outset that Ms. Diallo needed a lot of help to face some very powerful forces. I’m proud that I was able to get Ms. Diallo justice in the civil courts. Because of the settlement, Ms. Diallo will be able to pull the pieces of her life back together after this horrific experience and will now be able to move forward.
OTBKB: District Attorney Hynes has been in office for twenty-three years—he is considered by many to be the mainstream choice, an incumbent with strong institutional backing—at the very least, a formidable candidate to take on. Why should Brooklynites believe that it’s time for him to go?
THOMPSON: Our campaign has the momentum for change, and support is growing every day. In addition to the support of Abe George, our campaign has earned the endorsement of the Amsterdam News, Assemblymember Dov Hikind, 1199/SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, which represents 220,000 members in New York City and over 100,000 members and retirees in Brooklyn alone. We’ve also won the support of Brooklyn Congressmembers Yvette Clarke and Hakeem Jeffries, Bay Ridge Democrats, Lambda Independent Democrats, Brooklyn-Queens NOW PAC and Muslim Democrats of New York. The reason we are getting so much support is because everywhere I go, people agree that it is time for a change. Under the current leadership, Brooklyn reports of wrongful convictions are coming out every day it seems, and we have the lowest felony conviction rate of any DA’s office in the City. Because of Hynes’ gross incompetence, a potential cop killer was let out of prison without bail. There is something very disturbing about Hynes’ judgment when he promotes a prosecutor whose coercion of false testimony, lies in court and intimidation of witnesses caused a man to be wrongfully imprisoned for 15 years. Enough is enough. As Brooklyn D.A., I will fight to ensure that innocent New Yorkers are not locked up for crimes they didn’t commit while criminals go free, and that prosecutors are held accountable – not promoted or given a reality tv show – when they violate the public trust. That just can’t happen – we need a tough, hands on, but fair prosecutor in this borough to fight for justice, and make our communities safer and stronger.
OTBKB: Former Manhattan prosecutor and Sheepshead Bay native Abe George was a third candidate in the race, but he recently dropped out, endorsing you instead. What were former candidate’s George’s positions and platforms that coalesced with your own, and in what ways did you differ?
THOMPSON: Abe and I are on the same page – we both feel strongly that Brooklyn can’t afford another 4 years of the failed Hynes administration. Among other things, he agrees that we have to fight to end the pattern of wrongful convictions and prosecutorial misconduct that has tainted the D.A.’s office, and bring common sense reform to the criminal justice system. Together, we will keep fighting for a safer and stronger Brooklyn where there is one set of rules for everyone, and equal justice is more than words etched into a court house wall.
OTBKB: Another area Hynes has received criticism is with regard to the Hasidic community—both for prosecuting the perpetrators of sexual assault (by those within the community embarrassed by the negative exposure) and for not prosecuting them enough, or even punishing the whistleblowers. Assemblyman Dov Hikind, influential in the Hasidic community, recently endorsed your candidacy, rather than Hynes (as expected). What does this endorsement mean to you, and what can this community expect from you as a District Attorney?
THOMPSON: I have a proven track record of fighting for one standard of justice for every community, unlike DA Hynes who has overseen a dysfunctional office that has often pitted members of the Orthodox Jewish community – and other communities – against each other. He has said that Orthodox Jews are “insular” and worse than the Mafia. Brooklyn needs new leadership that won’t just flail around and prosecute inconsistently depending on which way the political wind blows, we need a new DA who will protect every community. I’m honored to have the support of Assemblyman Hikind, and I’m proud of the support we’re getting every day from Borough Park to Bushwick. People from all Brooklyn communities can expect a fair trial and equal justice, that’s what I will deliver as DA.
OTBKB: What is your history and upbringing in the borough of Brooklyn? How do you plan to employ your perspective to change the DA’s office, and reform the criminal justice system?
THOMPSON: I grew up in the projects in the Bronx, was raised by a single mother, and moved to Brooklyn when I became a federal prosecutor in the Clinton administration. My upbringing looms large in informing my perspective today. My mother was one of the first female cops of the NYPD to walk a beat in New York in the 70s. She risked her life to provide for me and my brother and sister; but also because she had a fundamental belief in justice for all. That stuck with me. And I’ve dedicated my career to the fight for equal justice —as a federal prosecutor seeking justice for people like Abner Louima, and as a private attorney fighting for victims of assault, discrimination and civil rights violations. And that’s why I am running for District Attorney: because the people of Brooklyn deserve a DA who believes in fighting crime and corruption wherever it exists. It’s clear that the office’s old-fashioned approach is not solving all of today’s problems. I will not only fight crime, but I will also make sure every case is investigated and prosecuted with integrity so that justice prevails.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
I can’t believe it’s been a year since Roulette, an experimental music collective formerly located in Manhattan, set up shop in Brooklyn.
Clearly they’ve expanded the size and scope of their organization with a new 450 seat theater. But their mission, to provide opportunities for innovative composers, musicians, sound artists and interdisciplinary collaborators, stays the same.
First a little history. In 1978 three composers, Jim Staley, David Weinstein and Dan Senn, launched a new music composers’ collective they named Roulette. Weinstein had recently composed Café Roulette, an homage to Dada and to chance operations in music.
That 75-seat space in Lower Manhattan made a big name for itself in the world of experimental music and new jazz. The move to Brooklyn a year ago signaled an expansion in size, scope and ambition. They write in a birthday note on their website:
This last year was a breath-taking, nerve-wracking, exhilarating realization of the implications of our name. We moved from a 74 seat loft to a 450 seat theater, doubled our budget, presented over 150 music, dance and Intermedia performances, hosted fifty arts and community organizations, and our audience grew from 4,000 to 21,000.
Our new theater is an architectural gem with splendid acoustics and superbly equipped — thanks to the generosity of individuals, foundations, corporations, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Steve Levin, our New York City Council Member, and the New York State Council on the Arts. This season we will install an eight-camera robotic system which will make Roulette one of the few facilities in the city capable of complex videography, instant editing, and live broadcast.
In an astonishingly short time Roulette has become a cultural and social nexus for our neighborhood — the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership identifies Roulette as a keystone organization in its Strategic Plan — and has taken a prominent position in the cultural life of New York City.
The tote bags pictured above, designed by Christian Marclay, are for sale at Roulette.or
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
PHOTO FROM PARK SLOPE STOOP!
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.
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).
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.
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
“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?