Golden Swatch of Brooklyn Borough Hall
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
That line (which is opening lyric of Lauren Hill's) doesnt really express what I meant, what I'm thinking is it's funny when diverse sides of issues get broken down into their extreme aspects and then those extreme aspects are positioned against each other.
"Can it be that it was all so simple?"
Brooklyn was simple (wasn't it) just twenty years ago. It was the sample place it is now, rich with history (the Revolutionary War and Brooklyn Dodgers had still happened here, despite it being the Brooklyn of twenty years ago) but back then Brooklyn was so simple to peg into a whole.
It was full of beauty, Brownstones and Botanic Gardens, and danger; Brownsville shootings, beef fed beat-downs and random robberies at best. Taxi's? No, never. Had no restaurants. This was of course a judgement made by the Manhattan minded and dwelling. So did we have restaurants? By those standards nope. The restaurants in the borough went largely unseen and those visible from across the river (River Cafe & Peter Luger's) didn't belong to the Brooklyn geography they occupied (hell River Cafe is ON the river) a Micheline starred restaurant may brush up against Brooklyn suggestively in those days, but occupy, heavens no. If you wanted cheap rent and long commute and the implied danger from topics listed above, you went to Brooklyn. Once in a while a concert grew in Brooklyn that non-Brooklynites and some locals would be needlessly be nervous about attending. There was a college, somewhere, that was decent for art, or music, or science or occasionally an NCAA Basketball bracket. Which is how people I spoke with described Pratt, Brooklyn College & LIU respectively.
Basically Brooklyn was simply thought of back in the day. It wasn't a simple place it just conjured simple impressions, which lead usually to simplistic and short conversations.
Today much real estate, printed, virtual, and physical is given to the great discussion of Brooklyn, and what that means, should me, did mean, will mean. Damn B your therapy bills must be crazy.
New York Magazine ran this article with the cover copy "Brooklyn is Finished" written by Mark Jacobson back in Autumn and I wanted to tack on my comments to the piece, in this blog. It didnt bother me that I never got to it because the article in my opinion didn't need my two cents or anything it stands in my mind as the best expression of what Brooklyn was through differing eras, what it became, where it is now, and what stays unique and constent about this place.
A friend sent me this article "The Ins and Outs" written (I presume) by some of the many talented and encamped J-School grads that are easy to find around Frankin Avenue's Crown Heights these days. It's a good micro focused piece reflecting the dynamic causality and impact of large scale gentrification in the short period of time that has passed. It's very good too.
And on Friday the Grey Lady herself dedicated much space and writing talent to this piece, titled Brooklyn, the Remix: A Hip Hop Tour. Also a great piece which seems in part inspired by this art piece (in which a variant of street artist, fabricated faux street signs with classic location specific hiphop lyrics written on then, and then the artists mounts those street signs on existing poles in the name-checked neighborhoods and streets. Many of those streets have since dramatically changed often for the lifestyle betterment of some, so there is an added contrast & impact of the installations.
Personally I want to imagine a creative coup within the Grey Lady led by writers who live in the borough and had grown weary of under-informed pieces written about Brooklyn, published in her name, I'm looking at you Real Estate section. But I digress.
The New York Times piece covers various Hip Hop landmarks and emotional sign posts of their own, around the Borough. There's mention of old Sarah J. Hale nicknamed Sarah Jail because of it's often less than civil students, which is on a stretch of dean street that is now tony and gentrified. There's a reference to the Plaza movie theater on Flatbush near Park Place which became the Plaza Twin, then the Pavilion and finally now, an American Apparel store. In the article the person who invokes the movie theater reflects with irony that he say "Do The Right Thing" in that spot.
It's a testiment to the lightning rod that Franklin Avenue has become, the 180º turn around it's undergoinf that all three pieces make references to Franklin in the case of the New York Mag article it was where the writter's grandmother lived some 50 years before code words like "Craft Beer" & "Artisanal" became synonymous with Franklin.
I was sucked into the online New York Times comments following their article. One comment by a reader going by "IRS" seemed to whine a lament, writing:
I am getting sick of articles like these. I understand the nostalgia with how life "used to be" in NYC. My neighborhood is the epicenter for some of my favorite hip hop. I get it. What people fail to acknowledge is that their NYC of the past is just a blip on the overall story of the city as a whole. This city has changed EVERY DAY, since its inception hundreds of years ago, and that is what makes it so beautiful.I find that comment interesting because I hear it alot. It's one thing to say the past does and doesn't matter, but I'm impressed by the amount of residents ( I presume them to be new) who think it's time for people to stop having reminiseces. What an intersting suggestion, thought policing.
The conversation of this moment's Brooklyn is only halfway finished. Obviously the borough, city, country and much of the world will go on changing whether we like it, want it or not.
I think the impetus for all the dialogue is most eras take longer to switch and show visible signs. I myself often write that all these changes clearly started back in the late 70's right after the smoke cleared from the looting aftermath of 77's blackout. But the speed of change in Brooklyn, has been blinding and that's why we can't stop talking about it, besides all the other details that go into the conversation. The way a magic trick or lightning is fascinating and elicits fascinated analysis is partially because in the blink of an eye it's so dynamically different. And in Brooklyn the focus and who different groups are impacted is so extreme. There really was no breather before or after the crack era. Brooklyn was not much different that the rest of the city in 1970. By 1980 there were more extreme differences. By 1990 more so and by 2003 you could wallpaper your studio apartment with articles proclaiming Brooklyn the new Manhattan. By 2013 on some streets it is.
It's the change, its the speed, it's the cultural and socially effected and disconnected.
Basically, no one cared enough to think as deeply and consistently as people do now about Brooklyn. But I thought the NY Mag article and the NY Times HipHop remix article does a great job of pointing out a key detail of the neverending Brooklyn discussion. It's not that we want to go back to the gritty days specifically, its not that we want to close the artisanal cheese shops, its that we dont want to be resigned to the past, and a negative one at that, while we continue to live here. We who were in Brooklyn lived and exprienced like everyone else and in some cases we mined and polished social and culutral riches that are exploited and enjoyed today, in our borough and we wonder if the way we were generally ignored back then isn't happening now.
Nobody wants to be forgotten or ignored, especially not while we're still here.
And now I found what I was tying to say through the poetry often born of these Brooklyn streets.
Planet, Earth, was my place of birth
Born to be the soul controller of the universe
Besides the part of the map I hit first
Any environment I can adapt when it gets worst
The rough gets goin, the goin gets rough
When I start flowin, the mic might bust
The next state I shake from the power I generate
People in Cali used to think it was earthquakes
Cause times was hard on the Boulevard
So I vote God and never get scarred and gauled
But it seems like I'm locked in hell
Lookin over the edge but the R never fell
A trip to slip cause my Nikes got grip
Stand on my own two feet and come equipped
Any stage I'm seen on, or mic I fiend on
I stand alone and need nothin to lean on
Going for self with a long way to go
So much to say but I still flow slow
I come correct and I won't look back
Cause it ain't where you're from, it's where you're at
Even the (ghetto)
Thursday, May 9, 2013
One of the main changes requested by the residents who spoke is that the voluntary option included in the current plan (allowing developers to decide whether or not to provide affordable housing) be changed to mandatory.
Also during the meeting the new Commanding Officer of the 77th Precinct was introduced, he and his family are long term residents of Crown Heights which is covered by the 77th.
Additional issues discussed during the meeting included permissions for new and existing food establishments and votes for board positions.
My twitter feed @BklynBornBlog has details posted as the rezoning issue was being discussed.
Posted at 6p (prior to voting)
I'm positing exactly the text from the I Love Franklin Avenue Blog just to spread the word quickly about tonight's community board meeting to discuss rezoning in Crown Heights.
UPDATE After attending the meeting, I came to the belief that the plan should be adjusted to make developers requirement to provide affordable housing mandatory instead of voluntary.
Crown Heights has proven itself to be a desired money maker for developers. In my opinion and in light of the facts that voluntary inclusion options provide very poor results, I believe developers don't need incentives to build they need restrictions to keep them from excluding exactly the type of working class taxpayers that have been the heart of Crown Heights for decades.
Community Board 8 holds its public hearing on the proposed rezoning of "Crown Heights West" tonight at 7pm. Complete info is copied from their website below.
The Crown Heights West Rezoning proposal will be discussed for the third time at CB 8's Housing/ULURP Committee meeting on Thursday May 2, 2013, 6:30 p.m. at CenterLight Health Systems/CNR, 727 Classon Ave @ Park Place.Written comments are invited and can be faxed ahead to the Board office at 718-778-2979, or emailed to email@example.com.The Public Hearing on the proposal will be held Thursday, May 9, 2013 during the regularly scheduled full Board meeting that starts at 6:30 p.m. The meeting willl be held at Berean Missionary Baptist Church, 1635 Bergen Street, corner of Rochester Avenue.*******
The Department of City Planning announced on March 18, 2013 that it is moving ahead with the process to contextually rezone a portion of western Crown Heights, at the request of Community Board 8. The proposed rezoning will encompass 55 blocks with the aim of preserving their historic character, promoting affordable housing and improving retail in the area. The goal of zoning will establish limits for building height and commercial areas; it will also offer incentives for affordable housing development along Franklin and Bedford avenues. ”The rezoning of western Crown Heights builds on our commitment to protecting the character of Brooklyn’s distinctive residential neighborhoods,” said Commissioner Amanda Burden in a prepared statement.
“This comprehensive rezoning proposal, developed in close consultation with the community and elected officials, will reinforce the neighborhood’s historic brownstone and row house blocks. It will also ensure new development is appropriately scaled along the area’s transit rich corridors and provides opportunities for affordable housing in select locations.” Community Board 8 has 60 days to review the proposal. Then it goes on to other City agencies. A map of the proposed rezoning is on the jump below, or you can view it on the City Planning website. To view the entire presentation and not just the overview of the project, click here.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
I have so many great pics from that day I can fill a year of Wednesdays with them.
Costumed escapism can be so much fun.
How are YOU not like yourself?
BBG Sakura Matsuri 2013
Sunday, May 5, 2013
"Soul of Brooklyn" 2013 a cultural program of the of MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts) began with a Afropolitan Block Party in Bedford-Stuyvesant concluding Saturday night with a free live concert by international recording artists Les Nubians and Ghanian recording artist, Hip-Hop lyricist and nearly one man band Blitz The Ambassador. All recent residents of Brooklyn. They were backed by a dynamite actual band of brass and musical brawn.
Despite some technical hiccups which set back the start of the show (the well worn soundcheck phrase "HeyYup" offered often through the troubleshooting by a man wearing a "M.I.T." sweatshirt was both titillating, tedious and will ring in some parts of ears forever.)
Blitz led the concert, taking the assembled hundreds on a "flight" through his personal African Diaspora view through family gatherings, and governmental collapse. The sound-expedition was interwoven with bombastic lyrics, familial recollections and pan-genre musicality.
Les Nubians' set flowed from a song with Blitz. Stepping out from the collaboration Les Nubian offered to take the crown on a cultural journey through their brand of soulful R&B which made them international chart climbers with hits like "Makeba". Blitz took back to the stage amping an already swaying crowd into full on celebration and a good ol' fashion three count dance lesson.
Blitz The Ambassador @ Fulton Park in Brooklyn Sat May 4th, 2013 Photo: BrooklynBorn
Under the Blitz's influence hundreds swayed left, right and left again turning one of Bed-Stuy's most accessible parks (being bracketed by the Utica A/C station) into a classic house party stirring the chilly Spring night with the homegrown social warmth renown throughout the Diaspora.
The concert & cultural season is just starting so check with Soul of Brooklyn, Celebrate Brooklyn & SummerStage to stay in the know!
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
May 1st and April's showers, delivered!
Today's Photo Wednesday comes courtesy of the very photogenic Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I couldn't stop taking pics of the tulips, they're amazing!
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is also having a PLANT SALE TODAY & TOMORROW 5/2 so don't delay get on down and get some of the best most beautiful flora from the experts.
There's also a LOT of cherry blossoms and early roses in bloom too. Enjoy!