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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hump this! BK Photo Wednesdays

Wednesday is picture day!

I've decided it and so it shall be,
from now on I'll be posting at least one Brooklyn photo every week on wednesdays.
Yeh I ain't the first to do it by a long shot, but this provides specific delivery date
for new views and gives y'all a chance to see what I love about Brooklyn
So as Slick Rick once said, "herrrrre we go...

Today's selection is:
"Springtime in Fort Green" (Cheesey, no?)
The view comes from DeKalb Av right in front of the Brooklyn Hospital
with a sliver of Brooklyn Tech HS in the background as a bonus.

More neighborhoods in the weeks to come...

Friday, April 25, 2008

50 Shots Not Reckless Enough?

This is video from the LIRR station roughly two blocks from the Sean Bell killing.

You'll see the result of at least one of the 50 bullets fired at a car
two blocks away.

These were the misdemeanor charges against the officers:
• Reckless endangerment
Firing a bullet that passed through the window of an occupied residence

• Reckless endangerment
For Discharing pistols on a street where others were present

How can there be a not guilty verdict on this?

Worse what this decision states as a result, is there was no mis-action, nothing wrong nothing to correct. Expect innocent men to continue being killed by police.

Ask yourself and others, how? why?

No Justice Just Police


That's my feeling right now in the wake of the Sean Bell killing and not guilty (on all counts) verdict. I am sad at the loss, the powerlessness the family specifically and people in the minority feel as a whole. Sad that the status-quo is maintained at all a costs. And sad that after dozens of unjustifiable deaths at the hands of NYPD...

Sean Bell - 2006

Timothy Stansbury Jr. - 2002

Patrick Doresmond - 2000

Amadou Diallo - 1999

Elenore Bumpers - 1984

(and many more)

...that I don't have the energy to be angry right now.
I'm just too tired of this happening over and again, which makes me sad.


you see I am sitting in my office, where I am expected to do.. something... but that thing has nothing clearly connected to do with making changes in society or expressing rage and intellect at injustice.

What I need to(and supposed to) do now is focus on work and work this out later.

And the only way to do that is to subdue the most intense of my reactions to this disgusting reality of American life, and act as if it doesnt sicken me. Because this is what it is. Because to allow my true feelings to consume me, to express in any way other than to type away (seemingly meaninglessly) at this blog, and to allow the fact that shooting wildly doesn't constitute recklessness when you are shooting at non-white people in poor or high crime neighborhoods, to allow all that to get at me would make it even less likely for me to come up with some positive way to get through this one and be ready for the next time this happens. And hopefully it won't be me or anyone I know, but it will be somebody.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Keeping Memories Sharp After All These Years

So there I was. Walking just past the C Train exit on Clinton Av, when suddenly a vehicle from long ago and far away began to jut out from the intersection of Gates & Clinton in front of me. It wasn't an X-winged Fighter but something just as unlikely, it was this:
Mike's Sharpening Truck - 5
My first thought was to look for the swirling vortex of time that must have torn open and deposited this truck from the past into the present. Then I heard it: The ping and echo of a worn old bell, not unlike the school fire alarm or boxing match from 1957. And I thought, "it can't be" but it was...

Okay, enough of my cryptic crap; the answer to "what is it?":

It's a Sharpening truck.

Most everyone in New York is familiar with the Ice Cream Truck, in the west and slowly migrating to the east people know of the Taco Truck...

...but how many of you remember (or have even heard of) the Sharpening Truck?

And it does just that, in the truck is equipment for sharpening blades, specifically scissors, and household knives, but if I remember correctly more outlandish items like garden tools and cleavers were made more deadly as well.

I can't help but wanna fire off one-liners about a service that sharpens New Yorker's crime inflicting weapons (a few thoughts and snide jokes are beginning to solidify around the idea as I type) but the overwhelming thought that came to me was sweet nostalgia.

The first time I recall hearing the bell was in the 70's I had to be really little, but I could distinguish that the bell I was hearing from our house on Prospect wasn't the ice cream man's jolly carnival quality bell, there was something different, manual, casual and weighty to the sound I heard. It was like the incidental ring that follows accidental contact between blunt tools and heavy metal.

When asked, my grandmother explained that the Sharpening Truck did as it's name suggested. She continued, saying that the truck had been around as long as she had been in Brooklyn, (in the 50's) but that it didn't come around as much anymore so she didn't keep her items waiting for it, like she once had. As if to punctuate this thought she glanced quickly at her sewing table and wondered out loud if he scissors couldn't be a little sharper. The bell clanged again in response, and my grandmother shrugged saying it's too far away now.

Except there it was, in the present, in front of me.


And with that I met Mike.

For reasons that escape me, the truck stopped midway on Clinton btwn Gates and Green.

I went to the door of the green truck and asked,"are you Mike?", (not assuming that the name of the door belonged to the driver of the truck) and with that funny assurance that only a Brooklyn lifer can utter, he replied, "Um Mike!" his definitive jovial tone suggesting the unspoken, "who else would be driving this truck with Mike painted on the door I ask you?")

So we talked.

Mike's Sharpening Truck - 2

The truck has been in his family for years. He takes it out from time to time, he told me. I believe he said it belonged to his dad but I don't quite remember if that's right (Part of me was concerned with the fact that I was essentially standing on the yellow median in the middle of the street, so my interview skills were suffering) I asked if he still sharpens things. He turned and pointed behind the driver's seat to the truck's equipment, which he said still works.

Mike's Sharpening Truck - 3
(The machinery used to sharpen various things)

Mike seemed bemused by my interest and I can't blame him, he was at home in the truck and I was standing in the street, at that moment I was the odd man out.

Which led me to explain that I hadn't seen the truck in years, and we talked a little about Brooklyn and the things you don't see any more. I mentioned this blog, and that it's reason for being was because of that element of unseen Brooklyn, history and the like. I mentioned wanting to let people know whats out there, and Mike responded quickly, "yeh, its a new generation out here... they don't know shit about this."

And with that Mike became my favorite dude of the day.
Mike's Sharpening Truck - 4
(The Man himself: Mike of the Sharpening Truck)

I almost missed this encounter.

At first glance of the truck, I reenacted my grandmother and thought how much it had driven in the time I spotted it and sorted my thoughts. It was too far away. Then I remembered my camera. I took a photo. The truck was nowhere near as impressive in the photo as it had been in my mind. Then I remembered this blog, (yeh I forget sometimes) that I needed to record my encounter with the Sharpening Truck and I took off running.

Honestly I felt a little dumb. I'm literally chasing the past, I thought, but then it occurred to me that no, it's not the past. Everything that is with us today, no matter how old or far flung it's point of origin, is the present. And it is at very least relevant by existing. So I ran faster. I decided the truck has made it from the world of radio, milkmen and other things cast in memory to the this very moment today. And in that moment I knew the least I could do is keep up with it, and reflect its present reality for a few more to see.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Outsidah Brooklyn: Mario Taxi!

Mario the plumber of Mario Bros. Nintendo fame will be hailing taxis for New Yorkers on Thursday in Midtown. Awesome. For details see

City Buildings Department criticised in wake of city wide construction destruction

After a public expression of non-support from the Mayor, the Commissioner of Buildings has resigned, this in relation to all the poorly supervised construction sites in the city and unfortunately, occasional falling bodies. The video below is from the Brooklyn accident in February:

I wrote about this when the first rumblings were reported this morning and the story didn't stop obviously. Here's the posting I was writing before the commish got sacked:
A story in Tuesday's NY Times about criticism of the City Buildings Department and it's commissioner over the flurry of construction deaths and building accidents, 12 already this year.

Included in the article is the crane collapse in midtown that destroyed a neighboring building, the worker who fell to his death at the new Trump building in Soho, there's no specific mention of the worker who dangled from a scaffolding eventually plummeting to his demise in Brooklyn on Clinton Ave.

Also mentioned in the article, the fact that the building who's crane destroyed it's neighbor, was out of scale for it's zoning area and should not have been built. This was confirmed by the Commissioner of Buildings. Makes you wonder if we as a city can increase scrutiny of projects and stop giving up the city to over zealous developers who are tearing down more than they are putting up.

New York Buildings Chief Resigns

NYTimes: For Buildings Official, Criticism Comes to a Boil (Published: April 22, 2008)

AP:NYC mayor examining buildings department after 13 deaths (Published: April 22, 2008)

Monday, April 21, 2008

A New Brooklyn Moon

Just wanted to throw this out to y'all; Brooklyn Moon is back after a brief renovation.
Brooklyn Moon
For those who don't know, out of all the current cozy easy tasty dining/socializing establishments on Fulton St. in Fort Greene, Brooklyn Moon came first. Located on between South Portland and South Elliot and opening in 1997 (then called the Brooklyn Moon Cafe) it catered to the people's needs for good food, atmosphere and art; with local painter's works on the walls and poetry readings by many from the spoken word scene of the 90's like Jessica Care Moore and Tish Benson to name two.

I spoke to Mike of Brooklyn Moon as he took a break for the renovating that had keep Brooklyn Moon outta service, and he said they would be serving food and drink again by the start of this week, I haven't been back yet but I gotta check and see what's on the anti-Bush menu these days. What's your Brooklyn Moon experience, don't have one? Drop in an support a pioneer.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Habana Outpost, that's the ticket

Habana Outpost was packed to overflowing and (real talk) it was hot, weather(beautiful), people(jam packed), food, yes man, the food as delicious and satisfying as I remember. It was great. Sometime when I'm out eating I think of how easily I could create the meal I'm having.

Not so at Habana, they make a simple thing like a burrito, corn and a corona seem damn near gourmet. That's how I feel, what say you?

In addition to the food, the people and the wait (which was back, more on that in a second) There were a host of eco-friendly groups providing info in the form of guides to eco-friendly city living, "Learn to dispose of your electronics without destroying the environment!" as well as some heavy examples of green living like a classic detroit convertable, that runs on veggie oil.
Eco-info and a converted convertable running on veggie oil

As for the wait, yes it was there and yes as I wrote previously, you need only to expect it, and have somebody to talk to while you wait around like a reality show finalist hoping you're name is called, before the suspense (and appetite) kills you.

My waiting moment came and there I stood patiently by the converted mail truck made to look like an authentic Contempo/Mexican food stand straining my eyes upward and hoping that next corn could be mine. I was one of at least seven others, our heads bobbing side to side, occassionally side steping the onslaught of other folks wandering throug the open air space, all of us waiting. One by one everyone around me got their food. I started to feel like that kid in a group who's never picked for sports. When I asked how much longer, the lovely host whose name is a mystery to me, demurely screamed at the cooks; it was the only way she could be heard over the roar of the crowd and sizzle of the corn, chicken, peppers, etc...

She yelled my name and the cooks looked at their tickets, scanning them and then replying "YEH! OKAY!! COMING!".

The host nonchalantly turned back to me and politely said, "very soon, maybe five more minutes". So I figured I'd go back and tend to my other hot commodity, my seat, which was being loosely guarded by a stranger. I waited at my seat, which of course is too far away to hear my name called, and so I came back to check on my food. And sure enough, it still wasn't ready. The considerate host asked again, screaming to the cooks of course, and then again politely she apologized and said "soon". Soon, I had heard "soon" about three more times. I was noticing people who were behind me in line getting their meals, huge tray-fulls of yellow rice, roasted peppers, grilled juicy beef, marinated chicken... can you see how hungry I was? And I noticed something else, something key, have you guessed it? Yeh, my ticket was in my pocket. This means (if you've never been to Habana, or like me, haven't been in a long enough time as to forget) that there is no direction for the cooks to follow to make your order. What were they saying "YEH! OKAY, COMING!" to? Who knows? Who cares, I was the dope who didn't give my ticket in, so I mentioned to the hostess, yeh I think I know what's wrong and she continued her polite streak by giving me a sympathetic look and later, passing me my tray delicious edibles. So of course the less of the day was make your order clear before expecting anything, that's the ticket.
And as for the crowd and the questions I raised in my previous post, the magic of opening day seems to have had the affect of bringing in old and new. I left in the afternoon (so crowded!) came back later in the evening and as soon as I exited the South Portland stairway I walked into a strong pound from Tyren, (those who know, know when you see Tyren you're among family) I also noticed new faces (to me) and it was reunion day from there especially when the bunch of smartly funny folks, who provided my seat turned out to be the same folks I first and last met on the original opening day back in 2006. Even managed to get my boy from Philly to come through and experience Brooklyn's Habana. (Muchos gracias a ti: Sofia, Paola, cool unknown brotha who held my seat down early, the effervescent Darcy and of course, Elvis for the good time! hope to see y'all all summer-long!)

Considering how much I've been thinking about change good and bad, essential and unnecessary, if yesterday is any indication of the summer to come I will be happy to see Habana Outpost remaining the exact same cozy window from which to view all that does and doesn't change in the current Brooklyn evolution.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Habana Outpost reOpens today!

I'm excited about today's reopening of one of the nicest recent brooklyn additions, Habana Outpost.
Re-OpensApril19 Habana Outpost
Located on the corner Fulton and South Portland in Fort Green, it's both an open air space and indoor restaurant/bar/market/social meeting point. Cuban/Mexican flavored food rule the day just like at "Habana Café" (the first in the Habana family of establishments in Soho) but among differences between this locale and the Manhattan original is that Habana Outpost boasts a mini fountain, solar power, biodegradable utensils and a human powered smoothie making process in addition to the great menu.

People love to chill at Outpost and they love the food (I do too) so expect to wait for your order and expect to be rewarded for the wait. Fortunately the atmosphere is socially mellow so you're bound to have someone to chat up (frequently a looker) while you strain to hear if your name's been announced.

Another thing about Habana Outpost is it provides a great window into who and what is new in the neighborhood simply because so many people can't help but to lounge there.

Personally I feel I see newer and newer faces every year which occassionally makes me wonder how many long time neighborhood residents drop in. After all the while Habana Outpost is relatively new (opened in 2005) and there is a history of this sort of eclectic mix of social interaction (food, movies, flea markets) in Brooklyn culture in general and Fort Green/Bed Stuy in particular. For example the West Indian Day Parade and to a slightly smaller degree the African Street Festival have provided a mix culture, food and social atmosphere for over 35 years in Brooklyn and while I see residents from Fort Green and Bed-Stuy at those events I feel like I don't see as many of those locals at the newer great establishments like Habana. It makes me wonder if long time residents feel as inclined to drop in as I do.

So Brooklynites tell a friend grab your elders or bring the kids and let's all toast to new face and old faces enjoying the delicious food(especially the mexican roasted corn) the smoothies, chilled beers and general goodtimes that have made Habana Outpost a cool addition to summers in Brooklyn.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Enjoy はなみ"HANAMI" @
the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
it's a good look

A classic Brooklyn treasure, the flowers are coming into bloom at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Strolling through the gardens at this time of year is so chill words don't do justice, matter of fact unless you're at work you shouldn't be reading this go check out the gardens asap!
cherry blossom photo from keylimepieGoing on now through Sunday May 11th "はなみ"(or Hanami)
the Japanese Cherry Blossom festival going on.

What is Hanami? The Botanic Garden's site describes it as:

"Hanami is the Japanese cultural tradition of viewing and cherishing each moment of the cherry blossom season. At Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Hanami is a New York City "rite of spring.""

During this time the pink blossoms will come into view and over the course of these weeks there are some really nice events going on that are great for sharing with your friends, your lives or just your inner self.

There's also music events for kids and lots of cultural happenings. It's also a great way to introduce people to Brooklyn.

here's a quick list of whats coming up:

HANAMI:はなみCherry Blossom Viewing Season
April 5th - May 11th

SAKURA MATSURI:さくらまつり A weekend of events too packed to detail, check the BBG link for details!
Sat May 3rd & Sun May 4th

Annual Plant Sale (Wed May 7th - Thur May 8th) This is a great chance to buy plants and seeds while getting gardening tips from experts! Don't miss it!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

April's first Saturday @Brooklyn Museum

Today is first saturday at the Brooklyn Museum, and this one features the opening of the latest Takeshi Murakami exhibit. check it out and get your dance on!
here's the url for more info:

Wow! what an unorganized chaotic scene. So I went to the opening day of the Murakami show, and I am sure it's interesting but I never made it in. The way the museum staff organized the massive lines of people was a cruel joke.

Workers contradicted one another, and it seemed they were so unaware of each other it was insane. They created multiple sets of lines seemingly by accident, which left people (myself included) waiting in line for... apparently nothing, only to be herded out the building and added to other lines that formed while we were misdirected. I still haven't seen the show and I'm a lot less excited about it.
More to come.