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BrooklynBornThis blog started in my head when I listened in the 90's to friends who feared Brooklyn and newcomers who blogged about BK as if it barely existed before they arrived. Brooklyn as Tabula Rasa. My blog satisfies my need to hear and air feelings of B'klyn from the people whose life experience was born here. Also I hope to provide balance to some of the revisionist historical musings I've seen how Brooklyn and her residents used to be, we're still here. If we can all live as best possible while appreciating the past and neighbors we've inherited that would be great too.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

A Rink Rolls in Brooklyn! BklynBridgePark RollerRink Opens Today!

"Come on everybody get your roller-skates today!" Happening NOW (as of 3pm Friday July 11, 2014) The free opening celebration of the new roller rink at Brooklyn Bridge Park!

(The New Rink with City and River views, Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Bridge Park)

In addition to today's free event, there are free hours on Fridays, Sundays and throughout the week.

When not free the rink charges $5 on Weekdays and $8 on weekends. I've never mentioned it on here, but I'm a skater so I'm very excited about the Adult only skate session they have scheduled.

For full details on hours and rates for entry and rentals check http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/blog/park-updates/pier-2-roller-rink-opening-celebration

I am a fan of Brooklyn Bridge Park the new green addition that has figurative and literally sprouted up to the south of the Brooklyn Bridge.

You'll flip for it, Brooklyn Bridge Park
(A photo of the park on opening day, 2010 The park's trees were just saplings, and that budding gymnast is probably about to graduate elementary school now.)

I was there on day one of it's opening as covered in a previous post. The park which is still expanding features open fields, a huge pro level set of enclosed basketball courts,Bike paths, photogenic lookouts and nooks, the Smorgasburgh food festival on weekends and music and film screening venues. It exists as an urban oasis in the space formerly occupied by less than inviting looking Port Authority piers. Check any riverside movie from the 70's & 80's and you'll spot them.

The problem with the current debate of all vs new, is that it's often had in very simple terms. For example I complain about many things new and I will say that is because subjectively (and occasionally objectively) many new things suck here in NYC or come with intense consequences for hard working people that for them, suck.

I don't care that there is the Toll Brother's development that we have to thank in part, for the park. I'm not a fan of some of their developments, but somebody was gonna develop this space eventually.

Even as a kid, in the beat down years of trash along the river's edge, I realized how fantastic it is to view Manhattan from riverside I wondered why less people lived there. Developers were going to build like the Toll Brother's corp. is doing and if public citizens get new park land as they do in this case, then I'm for it. Plus there's no chance in hell of anyone developing something in front of Brooklyn Heights that walls off their view they way that is currently being done in Williamsburg thanks to the Bloomberg administrations rezoning of that water front.

Apparently the new development the Toll Brothers corp is building is doing so well, they've raised prices on the units 6 times (according to CurbedNY) and the first apartment isn't even completed.

Seems like everyone wins on this one, and if that's the case, I'm all for it.

SOUL SUMMIT IS BACK! THIS SUNDAY FORT GREENE PARK!

the last Soul Summit of 2009 in Fort Greene Park - 50
(Photo from 2011 Soul Summit)

Soul Summit, the dance party made of love peace and of course, soul, will return to Fort Greene Park's top hill this Sunday and if the past is any indication you will not want to miss it.

Ft. Greene Park Summer 2011 DSC_0162
Dj's on hand will be mixing Rare Grooves, House and Dance Classics. Adding to the soundscape will be an untold number of drummers and percussionists who are likely to show and then their hands to the rhythm.

Ft. Greene Park Summer 2011 DSC_0210


If that's not enough the Soul Summit a festive tradition that began in the early 2000's, is a free gathering, customarily filled with dancers of all ages, united in gracefully soul speaking motion.

the last Soul Summit of 2009 in Fort Greene Park - 37
But don't take my words for it, here's photos from previous years.

Ft. Greene Park Summer 2011 DSC_0316
Fort Greene Soul Summit

Ft. Greene Park Summer 2011 DSC_0306
Ft. Greene Park Summer 2011 DSC_0212
Beside the dancing crowds, the nearby hill side usually becomes an family affair of spread blankets and spread plates of home cooked meals, children rollicking and tumbling and older folks laying back and enjoying the summer fun.
Ft. Greene Park Summer 2011 DSC_0195
the last Soul Summit of 2009 in Fort Greene Park - 53

And here's a clip of video (a little shaky sorry) from the last Soul Summit of 2009 when in the middle of the set a light but persistent rain began to fall. How the crowd responded is part of why this event is so spiritual for many, it basically became a baptism.

The Soul Summit has been a hard to find event for years now, because the times the group producing the event has been given to hold the event has been altered nearly every year since it began the City.

Originally the dance party was held at the same Cuyler Gore Park on Fulton. It moved and expanded to Fort Greene where it was a weekly Sunday event.

However one year the part was shut early by the park's department and it was called off for that summer. Ever since the even has occurred and on occasion had it's permits revoked seemingly without reason. Some years there have been no events at all. So I was happy to hear last week there will be at least one this Sunday. Hopefully there will be more this summer.

Nothing has been as good as that magical day in the summer of 2011 when The Fort Greene Music Fest, a full on free music festival was put on in Fort Greene Park, which had local food vendors at booths semi-encircling the soccer field, a stage with emerging artist and world famous musicians, among others Game Rebellion, and headliner Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def). Mos Def rocking the crowd in Fort Greene Park
Despite that being a peaceable day, attended by thousands, where profits were made and no entry charged (run-on alert) that ended on time (sunset) and didn't destroy the park, new home owners in the area complained and a similar event hasn't been held since.
Ft. Greene Park Summer 2011 DSC_0744
So with the track record of the past, I really suggest if you're a dancer or lover or music, or just want to take the kids out and enjoy good energy, you come out to the Soul Summit this sunday, who knows how long it will go on, so like summer, enjoy it while's here.

Read about previous years' Soul Summit's here:
http://umbrooklynborn.blogspot.com/2010/07/soul-summit-today-fort-greene-park.html
http://umbrooklynborn.blogspot.com/2011/08/ft-greene-park-summer-2011-dsc0316.html

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Photo (Video) Wednesday July 4th edition.

Where were we, ah yes.

I totally missed the Do the Right Thing 25 years in the making block party. Not only did I miss it, I wrote the wrong date on this blog. Apologies. Everyone down for 2039 right!!?? Ah.. yah.

Back to the block party, Public Enemy Performed their classic "Fight The Power" as featured in the film, DJ Spinna keep the party amazing, Brooklynites enjoyed an unexpected bonus reunion day with familiar longterm Brooklynite faces meeting up from around the Borough. And if that wasn't enough The artist formerly know as Mos Def: Yasiin Bey spun the packed crowd into a musical frenzy with some of his classics and more than a little dancing to LL's also classic, "Rock the Bells". I know all this from my Facebook timeline of the folks in attendance while I was far away.

Speaking of throwbacks, The New York Times wrote another article about how Crown Heights isn't just about rioting anymore, which I guess makes the previous 5 articles they've published saying the same thing just wishful opinion engineering? Or maybe they've been so busy reminding people for 23 years that 4 days of protesting, 2 days of looting, 1 horrible act of vehicular homicide that went unpunished (innocent 6 year old Gavin Cato's death at the hands of a driver who avoided scrutiny by fleeing to Israel) followed by a terrible mob attack on an innocent student Yankle Rosenbaum (who was stabbed and later neglected at Kings County Hospital where he died) all of which occurred in an area less than 10% of the neighborhood is all Crown Heights is about, that they need this many articles to set the record straight. Except thats not the purpose of the article, it's really about making prospective buyers feel good about the area.

Speaking of Independence, the fourth of July happened! And for the first time in a kindergardener's age, the fireworks launched from the East River as opposed to shining so much light on our beloved Jersey (Really Hoboken) neighbors. I wanted to capture great images from the show that was, including the sparkling pyrotechnics cascading off the Brooklyn Bridge itself, (first time I've seen this since the Bridge's centennial celebration back in '83) but my life got in the way (or more accurately a wedding in the family in of all places, upstate, 4th of July Weekend) so here's some cool video from folks with better views than I.


More coming up this month, The Brooklyn Bodega HipHop Fest (is being held in Williamsburg this year and if you want tickets, hurry, they're selling out fast. Last year's lines we're pretty expansive.)

"Back to the Future is screening in McCarren Park in Williamsburg, kicking off their outdoor movie season (tonight FREE!)

The FREE Wingate Concert series kick's off next week with Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds headlining and theres a variety of great of other stuff (Ex: Summerstage events all around the city) I'll try to make time to post. 

Or hey send me an email with your event at umbrooklynborn @ gmail.com and I'll post it here, free of charge.

Spread Love is the Brooklyn Way

Friday, June 27, 2014

Oops: Live from Bedford-Stuyvesant Spike Lee/Doing the Right Thing

(Updated Sat 6/28)

Apologies.

I got the date wrong. Hopefully I'm the only person who had to miss out on the block Party.
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"What is brooklyn?” is a question I find myself asking a lot lately. I’m willing to bet, New York being New York, that question is sincerely asked on average three times a week around the world. And that’s sincerely, add the ironic existential asks and I’m sure the question of what Brooklyn is, and my god isn’t runs like a metronome. 

For me to be wondering that, born here, having been, across the span of now five decades (I promise I’m still carded and I still think I’m supposed to be) it’s as bizarre as if I awoke this morning, swung my feet off the bed and looked down wondering, “who’s legs are these?”

But that’s where I’m at and I’m not alone. The amount of spontaneous conversations I hear and take part in on a daily basis asking the same questions, wondering as well whether we born Brooklynites are still attached to a living breathing factually member, this borough of whether we’re all suffering the pain of a phantom limb are countless. 

There are many Brooklyns. In each era for decades now, there have been many, untouched by the goings on of Manhattan, fairly oblivious to other corners of this same borough. Five decades lived and I’ve never walked the streets of Bay Ridge. I know of people who work a job, raise a family, live a life and never set foot out of Sheepshead bay, or Brownsville, or Greenpoint. It’s not unsurprising in a place like Brooklyn that has a population three times larger than San Francisco and if counted without the other four boroughs would be the 4th largest populated city in the United States.

I just watched an old episode of what I happily recall President Obama calling a “iiberal fantasy”, TV’s “The West Wing”. In this episode a congressman, and leader of the Black Caucaus tried to make the point that his constituents, young Black men in Bedford-Stuyvesant were being under-represented. The same episode referenced Colombia as proxy for a conversation about the drug war, and in a different region of the world (as well as the plot) “friendly fire” as short hand for the complexities of war. Bedford-Stuyvesant was referenced several times, each timing meaning impoverished, disenfranchised, and Black. That blanket reference doesn’t work today, barely ten years later. And that should be cause for celebration, but the problem for many people, many native New Yorkers, many born Brooklynites, is what definitions do apply to Bed-Stuy, today.

It’s good that as opposed to poverty and disenfranchisement, there are small businesses and home owners, forging new bonds and reaping dividends in Bed-Stuy. Fantastic would be if more of those people were the residents of that community that helped keep two nostrils above water when the floods of drugs, crime, and systematic neglect rained down upon that part of Brooklyn.

I recently was invited to the home of a new business partner, he a professional was telling me about the Bed-Stuy brownstown he’d recently purchased. I remarked about how great he, not of Brooklyn, must be finding it all, and I rattled of some culinary and social points of interest. He had no idea where any of these places and the streets they belonged to were. “He doesn’t need to…” I thought to myself as he told me, sheepishly the story of the people who were foreclosed on, which made his purchase possible. To say the least, I felt conflicted. Part of me wanted to look down and ask where my legs were and why weren’t they moving.

This Saturday Sunday June 29th from noon to 6p, on Stuyvesant Avenue and Quincy, Spike Lee will be hosting a block party in honor of his seminal film “Do The Right Thing”http://www.okayplayer.com/news/spike-lee-hosting-25th-anniversary-do-the-right-thing-block-party-bed-stuy.html. The block is the actual and entire block the Oscar nominated film was shot on. 

If you truly know Brooklyn’s Brownstown belt and the skirmishes contained in, or your simply old enough, you know how much of the city’s ills then and sadly now Spike packed into that film with poignance and power. You then probably know of the scene in the film where a man white of skin walks his ten speed bike, and celtics basketball jersey up the block and into that character’s new brownstone. A lot of people relate that scene from twenty-five years ago to today, especially after Spike voiced the displeasure thousands of us feel at having neighborhoods we’ve lived in redressed around and without us, earlier this year at a Pratt Institute event. I recall watching the film and not understanding how that could ever happen, I was unfamiliar and undeserving of Bed-Stuy back then, I was a teenager. Spike knew what I wish more people knew today, Brooklyn is a place where people intended to live, that had fallen on hard times (for countless reasons) and it only took (and takes) a release of the yoke holding the neighborhood down, offered to those with means, to create a market and a marketing, that would invite people with means to come back.

Sadly, and what troubles me most is how difficult it is for a lot of us to be happy about Brooklyn's fortunes. If you would have told people in 1989 that Brooklyn would be undergoing the current renaissance we'd be partying in the streets. Surely people would have to presume the problems of drug wars, underfunded schools, over policing, banking discrimination, crime, would have been resolved. But they really weren't, despite the light Brooklyn basks in today, the instrument of change in most cases is a bulldozer. Pushing away, old structures and old cultures, pushing people off the reservation, tables held for the new. Crime hasn't be solved in Brooklyn of most anywhere in New York City as much as it's been made complicated by raising rents on the poor, people who are victims crime and relative to their population, occasionally suspects in crime. The Brooklyn Bulldozer Baby & Bathwater Bloomberg Policy is what happened. And after eight years of a hostile Mayorial administration, and the near two decades of urban decay preceding that, it didn't seem so bad at first, until you saw the baby's rolling down the street and off into cold night.

Yesterday I was randomly net-surfing (see I am old) and I came across a listing on Franklin in Bed-Stuy for an apartment. Fifteen years ago members of my family used to go to substance abuse treatment a few doors down. Not a nickel to rub between them, not a pot to do anything with at a all. 

The asking price for the apartment I saw online yesterday? 1.025 Million dollars. Seriously where am I?

Well like I said, Spike is having a block party on Saturday sunday and I don’t quite know what that means or where my legs will be, but I believe they’ll be doing the right thing. If you don’t have the house you gotta have hope.

"Where Brooklyn At? Where Brooklyn At?"