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About this Blog

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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.

More about this blog

Brooklyn Born Blog Subjects

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fall Foliage Fotos Series #14

B'klyn Colors of Fall IMG_6915.JPG

Even the transit workers are coordinated.

Eastern Parkway, Crown Heights

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Giant Fool


Let's see, doo rag, check! asian tatt, check!
now what else do I need to show I'm hard...?


So New York Football Giants receiver, Plaxico Burress (pictured above) shot himself in the leg, accidentally while at a club in NYC last night. (tmz)

Below are my initial thoughts;

Thought #1:
stupid.

Thought #2:
I know receivers don't like safeties but that's ridiculous.

Thought #3:
moron.

Thought #4:
it's a metaphor, not an instruction, you fool!

Thought #5:
earlier that night the Giants' receiver corp told him, "you think you're fast but how fast would you be with a bullet in your leg..."

Thought #6:
Loaded with free time as result of his hamstring injury, Plaxico had been catching up on his movie watching, recently checking out the Oliver Stone film "W". He enjoyed it and was then inspired to watch "JFK" (which he heard was good but had never seen due to his opinion that Kevin Costner is overvalued when compared to his output). Soon after watching the "Zapruder sequence" in JFK, Plaxico became entranced by the concept of a "Magic Bullet" one that would defy logic and change history.
Later that night at an NYC nightclub his childlike curiosity and one too many fuzzy navels got the best of him, he reached into his pocket for the cold steel nestled there, focused on his injured hamstring and took a shot in the dark.

Finally, how perfect would it have been if as they wheeled Plaxico out the club the DJ played this:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgivings sans misgivings + birds on the out-side + Photo Wednesday 2

stuffedturkey2008 croppedI'd planned to write a Thanksgiving post tomorrow from the unique Brooklyn point of view one would expect from the Brooklyn Born Blog. Suddenly I said to myself, "Hey", and my self said,"what?!" I replied,"Between the eating, sleeping, eating and wandering that I (and many) will be doing tomorrow, what's the likelihood of me actually posting anything to a blog other than "zzz's". Answer: same as tomorrow's odds of the Detroit Lions winning, America collectively losing weight, and anyone mistaking homemade cranberries sauce for the canned version.
stuffedturkey2008
The pictured birds denied steroids usage they also deny inflation and are against bailouts.

stuffedturkey2008

All that to say I'm posting these extra helpings of holiday edition Brooklyn Born Photo Wednesday images for today, tomorrow and the weekend, unless I happen to get a pic of former jailbird John Forté and Lame Duck Bush shaking hands while beat-boxing "Hit the Road Jack".

stuffedturkey2008
"Tom! the protective gate's open! We're vulnerable! Where's the lock?!" "lock??"

Personally I think Thanksgiving is the most important holiday in the ol U.S. of A. The concept of thanks and sharing the company of loved ones trumps the nationalist and religious themes of just about every other holiday we have. Which I believe allows more of us to celebrate the day without reservations (no pun intended) despite the fact that in every family gathering there's likely to be someone who hasn't returned your calls since borrowing your snow boots last Christmas. That the USA singularly celebrates Thanksgiving secures the day in our memories, expectations and as a result in our traditions and culture.

That's my waxing for the day. If you like those pennies of opinion here's two more:
Make an effort to hug the loved ones you're least likely to hug during the course of the year. If anyone tries to call you out as a bitch-ass-softy, reply that you're not hugging, you simply needed someone to lean on after a tryptophan induced fainting spell.

Btw if you've got better captions for these ridiculous pictures write them as comments, the winner will get posted as most cleverest and the rest of us will snipe.

Happy Turkey Day everybody.

Fall Foliage Fotos Series #12 Pre Gobble Edition

B'klyn Colors of Fall IMG_7030.JPG

These are not cranberries. I don't kow what the are frankly but they fit in with the holiday vibe I think.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fall Foliage Fotos Series #11

B'klyn Colors of Fall IMG_7218.JPG

Fall Foliage Fotos Series #10

IMG_6992.JPG

From Bedford Avenue in Flatbush as opposed to Williamsburg, Marine Park, Bedford-Stuyvesant, etc...

Did you know that Bedford Avenue is the longest avenue in Brooklyn?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fall Foliage Fotos Series #9 As I like It

The first pic (from a block people some have argued is the ugliest in Prospect Heights) is energized by the ricocheting action between colors, values and gradations
IMG_6279.JPG

This second pic is from the Clinton Hill Brooklyn Flea (happening today) and a reminder of warmer slightly warmer days
Fall Foliage 111608

so freakin' cold today and recently.
I've felt colder,
but I agree. It's better to be feeling
than the non-feeling nothing at all.
(unintentional bard nod)
though that judgment can only be made after you've held feelings
So while it's cold out at least I haven't been left numb.


stay warm

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fall Foliage Fotos Series #6

IMG_7018.JPG
From Washington Avenue in Crown Heights (Not to be confused with Washington Aveune on the border of Prospect Heights or in Clinton Hill)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Photo Wednesday 11/19/08 & Fall Foliage Series #05

Colors of Fall B'klyn 2008

The photo comes from inside the small but attractive campus of St. Josephs College which is in Clinton Hill. I doubt many people outside students and workers ever see this space, it's nestled between the campus buildings.

I present this secret gem this Photo Wednesday to tell a short story of my grandmother, a feisty lady, who back in the 70's was no different. Over 50 back then, she deciding to start a whole new career and become a teacher to help ends meet. She felt she had to enroll in college, since that would guarantee better pay and assignments. It wasn't easy, she worked while enrolled and eventually she achieved both a Bachelor's and Master's degree.

I was taking Fall pictures when I passed by and remembered my grandmother's graduation was held there.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fall Foliage Fotos Series #4

A shot from Victorian Flatbush as the home mongers call it, I still think of the area as Kensington. If you disagree with that assessment, prove me wrong.

Bklyn Autumn Tree2
Besides this being one of the few Brooklyn neighborhoods that seems to have a ban on yard fences (for which I'm grateful) it's also a sequestered land of large classically built homes, I know they're "Victorian" but they make me think fondly of plantations, which I generally never do, and are frequently used by savvy location scouts as exteriors for TV shows.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fall Foliage Fotos Series #3

This make's me think of a flowerbed, no photoshop just nature and a flash. Vanderbilt Ave.
IMG_7259.JPG

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Old souls finally "re"lluminated
in Fort Greene Park

The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument Lighted 11/16

So as mentioned previously, the Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument celebrated it's centennial by lighting up for the first time in
10086 years and opening the monument and surrounding grounds to the public for the first time in over two years.

Last Friday and Saturday's unveiling featured artistic presentations, musical performances and an number of events which I slept through and missed because Saturday was like a gray scab on the day, except for 20 minute swath of sun 'round noon.

In culmination wreaths were laid and the eternal flame (consisting of an electric light and mirror system) was "re-lit".

For those who may not know the Monument is a memorial to colonists imprisoned in hellish conditions on prison ships moored in the East River during the Revolutionary War. More details here.

However I did go up last night, moth like to flame, and snapped these shots of the tower since as it now and intended to be every evening from here on.

The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument Lighted 11/16

My first recollections of the monument was seeing it through the Ft. Greene Park trees as a kid when my grandmother and I drove her giant 1972 blue Plymouth Satellite (think of the police cars in "Life on Mars" or "The Dukes of Hazzard") down DeKalb on the way to the Dime Savings Bank. By age 14 I'd started pushing my boundaries, exploring further from home and on the list was to finally see what was in this park that everyone had warned me away from.

I'd never experienced crime at that point but it was assumed fact that you risked your life in most NYC parks after dark in the 70's and crime in Fort Greene park was spoken of with certainty in those days. So, no fool I; my first visit was in broad daylight when I cut high school.

Coming up from DeKalb Av, I was greeted by and stared hormonally at the Brooklyn Tech girls doing calisthenics in their shorts of temptation. Somehow I managed to get over that hill to and made my way to a different kind of peak.

The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument Lighted 11/16

I was really stunned when I reached the base of the monument because of the way the view of lower Manhattan, so neatly framed by trees, expanded out in front of me. Somewhere I know I have the worn photos I took from that day looking out at that much less crowded skyline, with the clear exception of those two twin towers contradictorily an arms reach and forever away.

The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument Lighted 11/16

The space was more enormous than I had previously experienced in the city. It was like someone had removed a wall I never knew existed. I felt slightly ashamed because my mind's way of comprehending the view was to tell myself that it wasn't real, that I was watching TV. Despite being a teenager, being "frum" here, born here, raised here, despite traveling to "the City" many times, up to that moment I hadn't really felt that I lived in the New York City I saw in movies and on TV.

panorama_fr_Prison_Ship_Martyrs'_Monument
The view from the base as it looks today, it's changing everyday with the building
of the Toren condo and several others on the physical and metaphorical horizon.


That sounds a little dense I know but I had never seen that vista open up before me. Being a city kid, my city kid experience was about getting into a train in a hole in the ground (because most New Yorkers loath driving in the city of course) and emerging surrounded by glass, steel, hustle and bustle with the briefest of blue sky rectangular shapes overhead. That perception changed when I walked up the hill to the base of that monument, seeing that iconic lower Manhattan view made me really see that I lived in New York City and once my vision and mind opened I knew I needed to explore the city in ways I never had considered.

The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument Lighted 11/16

Also as teen I wondered what the point of the tower was. It seemed too needlessly large for a headstone, and I noticed the bronzed structure atop and wondered what it could be used for.

The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument Lighted 11/16

There always seemed to be something missing, last week was when I learned that the completed refurbishing of the monument included the top lightening and then of course it all made sense.

The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument Lighted 11/16

It is a really startlingly attractive scene, I'm not certain the photos even do it justice. I recommend anyone who lives within view should really take a peak toward the downtown area of Brooklyn after sunset and try to spy that shining point of light. It's somewhat easy to spot surrounded as it is by the contrasting grove of Ft Greene Park's trees. It's a good look that I found to be serene and appropriately illuminating.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fall Foliage Fotos Series #2

here's a festive Friday fall frame. This one from the park in D.U.M.B.o
Brooklyn Foliage 08

Happy Friday

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Black Male Town Hall, real talk.

As is often the case with substantive stories, they're no match for cute or silly stories, like giant rodents who own the night.

So after a delay I now report on the details of Kevin Powell's "Black and Male in America/Town Hall" event held Thursday night at the Lafayette Presbyterian church.

"Black and Male in America (A Town Hall Meeting)"
Left: Moderator Soledad O'Brien and Panelist Ryan Mack (speaking)

This quote comes from the website promoting the event:
The OSI Campaign for Black Male Achievement presented this town hall event, moderated by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, celebrating the launch of The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life (Atria), edited by acclaimed author and community activist Kevin Powell. Powell and a panel featuring a number of the book’s contributors discussed the spiritual, mental, and physical components of being a black male in America. ...feature[ing] essays by influential black male educators, activists, and correspondents, including writer and award-winning documentary filmmaker Byron Hurt, actor and author Hill Harper, and author and educator Dr. William Jelani Cobb.
Basically the forum was an opportunity for the audience to participate in a meaningful discussion focused on personal and communal upliftment. The event was packed, with hundreds of people taking their seats before the 7pm start time. Unfortunately at least a hundred more showed from ten to seven through 7:30 looking for seating, pushing the start time back. I wasn't much better arriving at 6:45.

In his welcome Kevin Powell introduced the moderator, CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien. who many know from her CNN programs addressing American racial and cultural issues. The panelists and "Black Male Handbook" contributors introduced themselves, sometimes to the point of speechifying. Although in the case of Dr. Andrae L. Brown, the amazing story of his nearly indestructible father (heart attack, fire and gunshot survivor) as testament to Black male resilience, was as revealing as his earnest storytelling was entertaining.

Rounding out the opening was an acapella performance of Sam Cooke's "A Change Gonna Come" by the Samuel Austin Male Chorus. But the highlight of the open were two school aged young men (Akido Burnett and T'Cal Watson) who performed a not too long recital about identity ending with a proclamation to be visible (black) men in the world.

The man of the hour of course was thousands of miles away. President-Elect Obama was praised and lauded poignantly and at times used to trigger easy applause. Powell informed the audience that the event was planned months in advanced, and so there was no guarantee that holding a "Black Men's Town Hall" a week after the presidential election would be as significant as it was. The fact that the president-elect's name was invoked frequently throughout the night was to be expected what was not assured was how Obama's name would be used.

One by one the panelists sited our President to be with a cautionary note directed not at him but at all of us. They rightfully drummed home the idea that the change needs to come as much of and by the people. And to that end we as a community needed to make a special focus on Black males to be closer to our highest potential. That thought was underscored by Dr. William Jelani Cobb and several panelists. In Dr. Cobb's case that realization came while listening to Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention in Denver. At that moment Cobb said, he and a friend, both accomplished professionals and Democratic delegates thought, "we [all] have to step our game up". The discussion continued on that note raising issues of responsibility in every aspect of our lives, from relationships to the amount of water we're often not drinking.

"Black and Male in America (A Town Hall Meeting)"

I've been to many forums like this one and what I find is considering the topic and how much the discussion becomes about what's not being done, it's difficult for this type of event to not become preachy. Which from there runs the risk of devolving into more statement making than discussion. Perhaps with that as a consideration, Mrs O'Brien coyly offered in her opening remarks that in the Q&A to following the discussion, she would be looking to the audience for just that; Questions and or Answers. She added, (paraphrasing) that any other thoughts or comments (the audience) may have are appreciated, you can send directly to me, she said, but tonight we need questions and answers.

The panel in speaking about their views and perspectives was enlightening and somewhat provocative in a personal way, but I didn't feel they were always following Mrs. O'Brien's request for direct answers. At times I drifted to the those debate moments of the last two years when I wanted to yell at the TV "answer the question!"

For me while it's interesting to hear what people think I believe it's necessary to hear ideas challenged and debated so we the audience can see how well those methods and opinions standup. I presume that the spirit of brotherhood made it difficult to want to debate or challenge, and hopefully these events will become more commonplace so that the panelists whom the audience is looking toward for ideas will express as much intellectual provocation as parallel pleasantries.

Despite that, it can not be overstated that the most important part was the effort on the part of Mr.Powell for his organizing, Mrs. O'Brien for her dedication and time as well as the panelist several of whom flew in for the event and last but not least the audience for stepping up.

I left hopeful that as a group our "eyes were on the prize" to borrow the civil rights phrase, and that while the victory is Obama's, we're aware that the prize is us.

On two separate notes:

First despite being born and raised not far from the Lafayette Presbyterian Church, I had never been inside before. The building is warm and beautiful in its classical structure and I was most pleasantly surprised by the murals featuring scenes of diverse peoples, (see below) which adorn the upper walls. Powell mentioned in his opening remarks that the church was a site of abolitionists meetings drew connections between that movement and the progressive movement needed today in america.

"Black and Male in America (A Town Hall Meeting)"
"Black and Male in America (A Town Hall Meeting)"

And secondly, while this is a serious topic it's my blog and I would not be forthright if I didn't mention the obvious; Soledad O'Brien is hotter than the sun. Sorry voyeurs no cheesecake pics of Soledad, we were in church after all.

Free at Last?

I picked this up thanks to the Clinton Hill Blog, its a list of events celebrating the Sailor's Memorial in Fort Greene park which has been fenced in for the past two summers.

IMG_2813.JPG

The events will feature, art, music starting on this Friday the 14th and continuing on all day Saturday the 15th.

Here's a quick list of the schedule and the link to
the monument itself.

Come be a part of history and honor our country as we re-light the monument, which has been dark for over seventy years!
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1908 dedication of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a grand celebration will take place on November 15, 2008 in Fort Greene Park. The majestic Stanford White-designed Monument which stands in the heart of the Park is one of the most important and sacred memorials in our country. It honors the remains of over 11,500 POWs, interred in a crypt beneath the Monument, who perished for the cause of freedom during the American War of Independence.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2008
5:30-7:30 PM - Kick-Off Reception at MoCADA, 80 Hanson Place.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2008 RAIN OR SHINE
Full Day of Free Spectacular Activities in Fort Greene Park
10:00 AM - 7:30 PM .

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Raccoon!! + Soledad O'Brien!! = Breaking News

Raccoon in Brooklyn!
The Raccoon! Not quite the eye of the tiger. (video below)

BREAKING NEWS! - So I interrupt my program of fall foliage, to announce I have captured on film the elusive Downtown Brooklyn Raccoon. In a blog posting (I never wrote) I encountered The Raccoon weeks ago on the night before the gov'ment wiped out my WaMu shares. I never posted this because in addition to being somewhat drunk I didn't have a clear photo... (It was raining that night and I had the sting of financial ruin in my eyes...)

But tonight the Clinton Hill Raccoon is captured! on film at least.

I was originally intending on writing about the discussion/forum on Black Men that was organized by two time congress-hopeful Kevin Powell and moderated by CNN's Soledad O'Brien, but after leaving the event I wandered down to the Lafayette Av/Fulton St triangle and encountered the great furry beastie.

Raccoon in Brooklyn!
(outside of Lafayette Presbyterian Church)

The Raccoon was chillin, hard. Strolling across streets, through crosswalks, it made a pit-stop at Moe's and looked more comfortable on Lafayette than most 1st year Pratt students. Now for all you suburban folks, country heads and new-comers, I know you can throw a rock in the woods and hit a family of raccoons, but I'm impressed by the fact that at 9pm on crowded streets this raccoon was holding sway.

I marveled at it's marbled majesty and the amount of luck it took for the fat fuzzy creature (who didn't seem interested in sprinting) to navigate city streets. That is until I saw it wait for the light at South Elliot. (see below)

Raccoon Crossing (Brooklyn Style)
(triangle of Lafayette Av & South Elliot, Fulton St.)

In minor seriousness the fuzzy dude (or dudette) seems very much at home. Really as you can see in some pics it waddled right past me and others with little concern or aggression toward us. So I hope nobody fucks with it. (As long as it's not rabid or ripping the throats out of small pets and children with it's unnaturally dexterous clawed thumb) If it does turn out to be a rabid threat, screw 311 let's get this guy.

Here's The video (very blairwitch at the start) it's best part is during the encounter at Moe's:

Fall Foliage Fotos Series #1

Ah fall Photo Wednesday again,
I'm going to lay back and let the pictures do the talking, this one from Fort Greene Park in Ft. Greene B'klyn (of course)
B'klyn Autumn

I could look at fall foliage for days and take pictures of it for days more.
Since that's basically all I do these days, (curse you economic crisis) I'm going to be posting Fall Foliage pics at least every two days for the next two weeks.

kick some leaves and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The United States of America

The results are in of course and Barack Hussein Obama is our President. I could not be any happier. To celebrate today's "PhotoWednesday" installment and the day after history was so clearly made I present this shot I took and was drawn to a few weeks back.

Nuanced American 2

I don't normally do this but I want to explain why I took this photo and what I think it means. First the photo isn't doctored. There was no photoshop'ing no filters, and in fact no black and white film or setting. This picture came when my camera was set for a typical spectrum of colors. However the glare of light was so intense through the flag that it blinded the camera to those colors, leaving only the subtle spectrum from black to gray to white and back again. It's like an x-ray revealing to me, sameness, except for that delicate nuance between our positions as well as our unlikely unity resulting from the fact that were are all different values of the same substance. Sometimes we're more, sometimes less, depending on which angle and from whatever context we are viewed.

Everyone will not see this point of view. Some will refuse to see and accept how much more unity there is than is not. Some will look at what I think is so majestic and beautifully inspiring and see something foreboding and sinister. But that's the thing about hope it's usually only there when you want to see it.

On a lighter note I invite you to check out one of the first posts I wrote on this blog back on February which alluded prophetically to this momentous election victory.

Enjoy: http://umbrooklynborn.blogspot.com/2008/02/anything-is-possible-ny-giants-super.html

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes, I did.


I got several text messages throughout the day saying "I voted! did you?" I got that message from friends and distant acquaintances so I guess it's a viral mass action.

I thought it was an interesting way to encourage the electorate.

The best moment of my day came on Kings Highway, I was skating to my polling place. It's miles from where I live in B'klyn because I haven't changed it since I was 18.

As I skated down the empty sidewalk, I noticed a dude walking toward me. He was a dark skinned brother with Island features in his late 20's early 30's and he made eye contact as he approached. The eye contact didn't break and I noticed he was giving a toothy smile now.

When I got within 20 feet of him he said causally and with an island lilt,
"ya beh'tuh be skatin' tah vote"

I couldn't stop laughing as we passed and I guess to assure him I looked back laughing too much to speak my agreement and he smiled and repeated, "ya gotta vote"

perfect.

When I finally got to PS 251 elementary out in "The Flatlands" as the ex likes to call it, I made my way to the booth and found I couldn't pull the lever. It wasn't mental, it was mechanical. The little lever wouldn't turn to the "X" position.

I asked some help from the kindly old lady standing vigil outside the curtain and she replied,"no you can't use that one only Democrat." Now before anyone misunderstands, I was attempting to vote for Barack Obama, and attempting (as is the option in New York City) to vote for them on the Working Families Party, which they are on in addition to the traditional Democratic ticket. So the kindly lady wasn't trying to influence or game my vote, at least that's not how I took it, but it did sound strange.

Anyway, she helped me. I was then able to make my selections and take a pic of the historic choice, but I got so overwhelmed by the moment that I took the pic above before I had marked the "X" so it's not quite the momento I was going for, but never the less, I voted, did you?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

NYC Marathon 2008 B'klyn Born coverage

Pic of the winner as he ran through Clinton Hill

My attempts to keep up with the race.


Photos from the run through Clinton Hill/Bedford-Stuyvesant

Marathon in B'klyn photos

This is to all the runners, volunteers, high-fivers, cops and everyone who participated in today's Marathon from Vanderbilt Av to Bedford Av the Lafayette Ave stretch of the race. Details to follow...

Winner Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil
NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

NYC Marathon 2008 Bedstuy Clinton Style

And then it was gone... (the trash soon after, amazing, no wonder we pay taxes)

stories to come...