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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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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Photo Wednesday 12/30/09: Snow more fun Edition

On the edge of tomorrow.... soooo many things to report for this Photo Wednesday new businesses opening in the otherwise cold winter....bus service being painfully cut throughout the city, (riders of the B48, B7, B45 this means you) the Vanderbilt/Atlantic Yards monster being animated by our "blood"(tax dollars) and "steroids"(dubious investment sources) and more including Snowboarding?!?

BLKOPS-122009-loRes from jsjcreative on Vimeo.


Brownstoner's "Closing Bell" yesterday had a post and the above short video featuring Brooklyn snowboarders taking to the hills of Fort Greene Park, having fun and teaching the youth, until the Parks staff show. It's a cool idea and steps over a lot of misconceptions about what urban people, youth in particular would be into. Why not have more winter activities and mentor-ship utilizing the city parks?

2009 coming to an end, who besides people who became parents, married or hired are really sorry to see this year go. I don't have a decade wrap to add either. My eyes are faced front, my hears though take consul from the past.

Be safe out there and have a happy new year's celebration!

-umBrooklynBorn

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Photo Wednesday 12/16/09: Breaking News edition: Atlantic Station opens tomorrow next week

It's been announced that the 8 years in the making hollow space that is the entrance to the Atlantic Avenue LIRR/Subway station is opening tomorrow next week. Here's some pics of what awaits ye:

Atlantic Station Interiors, Almost Finished 12/12 15

Seriously it took 8 years to make a hollow building and two staircases?!? It's as underwhelming as the mall it's connected to. Does anyone really expect the Ratner Stadium planned across the street is going to be any better than this?

Here's some more to see as we ponder how many years, tax payer dollars and poor planning will go into the proposed Atlantic Yards stadium, which by the way the billionaire developer (Ratner) has made a half billion on but hasn't paid to the service cutting poverty claiming M.T.A.

Oh !$#? Bring on the Q*Bert.

PhotoWednesday 12/16/09 : "Pay Your Fair!" Edition


The M.T.A. is having math problems, you know the kind where things don't add up. If they have their way, thousands of school kids will be in the same position.

The New York Times reports an M.T.A. $400 Million budget shortfall this year. This after they supposedly avoided "doomsday" earlier this year thanks to action from the State.

To deal with this latest revenue crisis, the M.T.A. has decided to take subsidized Metrocards from NYC school children. This supposedly will save $140 million annually.

And here's where the math gets really ridiculous, you'd think taking away school students way of getting to class would be the type of last resort that comes after all other options have been tried and failed. But nope there's at least $90 million the M.T.A. is owed that for some reason they're not even trying to collect on.

The proposed Atlantic Yards proposal is meant to be built on M.T.A. land. That land has essentially been given to developer Bruce Ratner's company for $10 million instead of the $100 he was supposed to pay for it. (the $10 million is one of several payments he will be allowed to make well into the next decade).

Photo Fieldtrip to proposed Atlantic Yards site
(above right: Land claimed by Forest City Ratner for the Atlantic Yards Project )

And the $100 million is less than the appraised value of the land which is around $200 Million.
Photo Fieldtrip to Atlantic Yards
(above: several buildings have already been demolished for the Atlantic Yards Project, like the lot above where the old Ward Bakery was demolished. Yet the M.T.A. hasn't been paid for it's land)

 My question, to all who support the Atlantic Yards plan as a benefit for New Yorkers, if you want a stadium on M.T.A. land (which personally I am against) fine, how about actually paying for it?
Photo Fieldtrip to Atlantic Yards
(above: The MTA Vanderbilt Rail Yards, proposed site of Atlantic Yards, has been reduced with permission of the M.T.A. so less trains are able to use the yard, the reduction benefits Ratner's proposed Atlantic Yards and Nets Basketball Stadium, but the M.T.A. hasn't collected full payment)

 For that matter as City Council Member Letitia James points out, why was an offer of $150 million given to the M.T.A. for development of the same land rejected? (see below)

Why hasn't the M.T.A. collected on the over $250 million fee for the renaming of the Atlantic Avenue Station?

If the M.T.A. needs money, has deals unpaid for, and the reason eminent domain was used (to give private land to Ratner for this project) because it will "benefit" New Yorkers, why isn't he being told to pay in full for M.T.A. land?

Atlantic Yards Protest
(above: An unanswered call to Governor Patterson for a "Time Out" on Atlantic Yards from last May)

Before the M.T.A. starts throwing kids under the buses and trains how about collecting Ratner's fare?

---------------------------------------------------------------

*The full release from Councilmember James is here
THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
OFFICE OF COUNCIL MEMBER LETITIA JAMES

67 Hanson Place
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 260-9191
Press Release

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** December 15, 2009

Contact: Amyre Loomis at (718) 260-9191

SAVE STUDENT METROCARD PROGRAM, CRUCIAL SERVICE, AND MTA JOBS –
CANCEL THE ATLANTIC YARDS SWEETHEART DEAL FOR FOREST CITY RATNER!


(December 15, 2009) The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s latest doomsday budget cuts include a proposed cut of the student Metrocard program, which provides full and half fare Metrocards to over 550,000 students who commute to school each day. Also, numerous service cuts are proposed on routes where bus and train services are over-crowded, and waiting times are long. Lastly, severe layoffs and salary cuts within the MTA are proposed.

The MTA says these cuts will help alleviate a massive budget deficit and maintains that these proposed service cuts are for underused routes already serviced by other trains and/or buses. But, riders say they will be inconvenienced, especially because of the recent fare increase and reduction in service this year already. Some students have expressed expectations of having to choose between paying the Metrocard fare, or buying a meal for themselves. It is unacceptable that riders, specifically youth, who depend on the student Metrocard program for educational needs be subjected to unsafe walks, and/or possibly not being able to travel for classes at all.

An obvious questions for residents of Downtown Brooklyn then comes up - why is Forest City Ratner, the multi-million dollar developer of the Atlantic Yards project not paying upfront for what he has purchased from the MTA? If Bruce Ratner paid upfront what he owes to the MTA for use of the MTA’s Vanderbilt Yards, then the doomsday budget cuts could be significantly reduced.

“Cancel the sweetheart deal for Forest City Ratner,” said Council Member James. “Forest City Ratner should pay the $100 million owed now for the purchase of the Vanderbilt Yards. I also question why Forest City Ratner is not being made to pay the millions of dollars owed for the naming-rights deal upfront? And, had the MTA accepted a higher bidder, they would have received their funds upfront and their current budgetary gap could have been cut almost in half.”

The MTA’s deal with Forest City Ratner simply does not make sense. Many are questioning why the MTA, who is facing a potential budgetary gap of $615 million next year, and today faces a $343 million massive budgetary gap, is able to accept a $20 million payment towards a $100 million dollar property deal. This purchase and construction of the Atlantic Yards Development by Forest City Ratner was also given the option of spreading the balance of $80 million owed in payments over a 21 year period.

Community advocates suggest that another means of closing the budget gap would be for the MTA to do a new appraisal of the railyards valued at $271.5 million, and open up bids to other developers who would pay more of the cost upfront. Severe cutbacks in service, layoffs and especially cuts to the student Metrocard program appear unconscionable in light of the MTA’s business agreement with Forest City Ratner.

Critics and opponents of Atlantic Yards have continued to argue that rival developer Extell, who submitted a bid that offered $150 million in cash, was a far better plan. For unclear reasons, the MTA board negotiated solely with Forest City Ratner. Extell head Gary Barnett in a December 2007 interview with the Observer said he was shocked that he bid $150 million, and Forest City Chairman Bruce Ratner bid $50 million, yet Ratner was offered the deal.

“Something simply doesn’t sit right with the community about the preferential treatment that Forest City Chairman Bruce Ratner has received from the MTA. Now it appears as though MTA customers and specifically our youth - the future of the City - may pay dearly to support the project of a multi million dollar developer that the community doesn’t want to begin with,” said Council Member James.
###


Thursday, December 10, 2009

MTA: Slippery when everything


Jeez so the most heavily used (and only 24 hour) subway system in the world (ours) can't handle snow (ok) water (floods, sure) trash (track fires, sure, acceptable) and now add to that list colorfully brittle fallen leaves. yep leaves.

Today's New York Times reports that leaves are apparently staging an insurgent attack(my words) on rail steel causing trains to be slowed on select outdoor (below grade) subway lines like the Brooklyn Q, N, and Franklin Shuttle. This isn't as much of a problem for outdoor elevated lines like the Queens 7, Queens N and Queens J, (is somebody sticking it to Brooklyn?) because on those elevated the rain washes the resolute leaves away.

The article details the MTA's efforts to warn of delays and the average rider's understandably incredulous reactions. There's even a scientific breakdown of hot leaves become fatty acids which become waxy buildup on the rails, which some how requires a vacuums train to clean, although the cavity creeps fight crest squad might be a better way to go....



Interestingly what is not mentioned is why or how after 100+ years of service (and in my person 30+ years as a New Yorker) there seems to be no prior sign-age posted by the MTA about delays caused by fallen leaves. I'm pretty sure we've had autumn a few times before in the last 100+ years you'd think the problem woulda shown up before now.


Is it scientific? Are the new wheels of our mostly new subway fleet's extra stainless steelery causing them to get lubed up quicker? (let your minds glide on that) Or as some strap-hangers suggested is it the MTA looking for new and more creative excuses rather than newer and more creative savings methods?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

PhotoWednesday 12/9/09 : Rubber Tipped Edition

rubber tips2

Yup no xmas shots, outside seems more octobery to me, and in keeping with that, I offer tips. Rubber tips. I caught this on Washington Ave I think, I was trying not to alarm the owner. They were up on the Hill near Clinton. If you see a little flash of yellow today (I think they're rubber glove fingers) it's probably this little puddle jumper.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

PhotoWed! 12/02/09 : Borough of (Vanishing) Churches Edition

If memory serves there was a piece in the Ken Burns documentary "New York" that describes the rivalry between Brooklyn and Manhattan. In that segment, Brooklynites as far back as the 19th century would boast of the many classic houses of worship the borough had to offer, calling Brooklyn the "Borough of Churches" as a means of highlighting the greatness of the place. Bitter Manhattanites of the era were said to retort, that's cause "Brooklyn's a great place to die!"

Well these days it seems the churches are the ones that're fading.

Today's photo Wednesday comes from the Clinton Hill / Prospect Heights border where sits a church on Pacific between Vanderbilt and Underhill, that one of my aunts has warm and spooky stories about.

Church on Pacific St

There's more story than that but suffice to say it seems the church is coming down steeple by steeple if my photo shows true.

Anybody know more?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Photo Wednesday Returns, Musing Edition

out of the sky I landed with a thud. New York, again New York. The city, it's cabs, subways, hotdogs, wisecracks always right on time. It would be like this for 36 hours more, at least. I wondered how much more?

I've been away from the blog, the borough, the whole damn thing.
I found what was left, yes it was me, and the experience all cliche and true.

Here's some photos I've taken since the return:

I (still) hate this building
I still hate this building (situated north of Myrtle Ave, Btwn Hall & Washington, Clinton Hill), too big (again, it blocks the view from two miles away on Washington and Eastern Parkway, at least the view I'm used to)

I made it into the Pratt Walk w/o a hassle.
I got through Pratt Campus to see how my alumni donations are spend, this time they let me in....

IMG_1591
This factory has always given me a chill, for years I thought I imagined it, and even then, it only existed in twilight's haze.

Cycle shop on Myrtle btw Washington and Hall
Huzzah new cycle shop, this one on Myrtle (it's news to me) I dig the old trim of the store's metal rims

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Brooklyn45

In need, I spied the B45 bus lumbering up to the stop at Kingston Av. It was a reward given me for not stopping to buy beer. I was sure of it. Now I'd arrive on time and sober. Sprinting into traffic I was heralded by car horns, one stopped waving me along as I waved it, along, the two of us; idiots, in our polite protocols. My feet hurt. The previous 8000 miles were easier, long but leisurely nothing so dramatic as an impending city bus and the B45 drivers were known fr their disregard. But that was inky truth of people who got left behind, so I hauled ass down St. Johns Place. Running, the bus passed me before as I was midway to the next stop. My exercise was pointless. Naturally my running slowed futile. Until being from Brooklyn reminded me we go hard and hardly quit. The bus seemed off it's pace as well. Fact was in passing the driver took note of my desperate steps.
A yellow light blinked on the side of the hunkered down blue and white plastic covered transport. The doors hissed open twenty feet ahead of me, ignoring the fact there were no passengers at the stop or disembarking from the bus. He waited.

 A sound wheezed from me. A "thank you" croaked out and barely cleared the tongue after a more determined exhalation of barely there air. The driver nodded to my sentiment or my presence or both or neither. I babbled on, my wallet stuck. I trying to hurry the light still red and the driver finally offered, "it's the weekend" I thought I knew this information so I nodded.

"if it was a weekday with people having to get to work" The bus driver let the sentence drift like a likely birthday balloon, finally punctuated by a "hmmmp!" for empathizes. Now I got it. I tried to pay it back offering my grin of awareness and friendship plus a second dose of "thank you" I didn't need to. The deed was paid for. It was rewarding in Brooklyn.

(a piece of brooklynborn fiction)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

NYC Mayoral election 09 - An admission

Watching the sun go down on change
Watching the sun go down on Change.

Yesterday morning my first thought when I learned Bloomberg was reelected Mayor by a 5 point margin (basically squeaking into office more like an ambitious rat than a financial wizard) first thing I wondered was who to blame. Of course I blamed Bloomberg for running a campaign that was more of a purchase than an anything else. And then I gave some time to the what had been been and could have beens, which is when I began blaming Obama for the way I felt he fostered doubt in the form of neglect for contender Bill Thompson.

But eventually this morning I brought it home. We don't like to hear it, but it's the fault of any New Yorker who has a problem with the way things are and yet voted to prolong the problem or worse didn't vote at all. I'm sure you know self-incrimination is not concept we're excited by. Not as New Yorkers, not as Americans. It's not an attractive concept.

An attractive concept is that we are a nation of rules and principals. That we stand for something good and right. But at times some of us are too often willing to be very human and ignore the rules and our principals if we think there is something in it for us. And then worse, sometimes we close our eyes and pretend invisible.

A majority of voting New Yorkers decided it was okay to let our principals slip, and let Bloomberg get away with causing of a lapse in our democratic process.

We gave up on ourselves and so from this point on if Bloomberg fails anyone in this third dynasty turn, it wont be as much as what we the unprincipled and or apathetic have failed in ourselves.

I can't help thinking of that saying, that "Americans get the president we deserve" (based on our actions, which was brought up often in describing the Bush presidency as a reflection of the citizenry). This (and whatever may come) is what we get. The blame is not Bloomberg's for running a third time, the blame is ours for getting out of his way.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Running Affair (a true NYC Marathon Love Story)

Last year as I wandered along the NYC Marathon route I met an amazing bunch of people and one story, demonstrating the positive potential of random New York City encounters particular stood out. Here's that story in video and written form. Hope you have a good view of the Marathon.



Music:"Reach Out I'll Be There" by The Four Tops
The Four Tops - Essential Collection: Four Tops - Reach Out I'll Be There

Today's running of the New York City marathon will offer many intense and passive means of bystander participation. Some ways are almost as involved as running the race itself. But you don't have to be one of the hundreds of water bearing volunteers passing out hundreds of ounces of H2O to the masses. You don't have to play an instrument as is done at various points along the route, although it can greatly enhances the mood if you're belting out great sounds adding to the runner's sonic cacophony. You don't even need to bring a flag, although it's cool when people put on a giddy display of national backing.

However if you want low cost high impact results, I'd say pound for pound clasping hands (or giving five as we'd call it in the old neighborhood) with a marathon runner is one of the most fulfilling actions of the entire passive marathon watching experience. You, leaving your hand out to be slapped by a marathon runner you may never even see is the best is the greatest interaction for the generally uninitiated because it requires so little of the bystander. You only need extend your arm, hand and palm open, fingers spread like a wide welcoming smile. the runner stretches their hand out and in that brief contact you're able to offer good luck, hope, praise and allegiance to dozens maybe even hundreds. Which of course stimulates you as well, to embellish if nothing else. After all if you give "five" to a deflating runner who surges on after and wins, how can you not claim having had a hand in the victory?

But it's gotta be more empowering for the runner. Perhaps after six or nine or fifteen, certainly after twenty or so miles the mind must begin to peer dimly through a tunnel vision that can enhance focus but is just as able to become so transfixing as to block awareness and motivation. I imagine the runner in those fixated stretches, then a hand reaching out before them inviting, waiting passively. Then crack! It happens.

I've never run the marathon so I can't know from the runner's perspective, but it's gotta be more empowering for the runner. I've seen something happen when runner and bystander make that manual contact. Yours and their hands crash like human cymbals. A sudden jolt of focus, an explosion of unexpected encouragement. You become a pacemaker encouraging their required rhythm. And then it's over but the runner is sharper, more aware, redirected.

Amazing that it happens at all given the physics of the event. Marathon runners travel at an average of twelve miles per hour. If a moving car hit a parked car at that speed expensive damage would result. Despite the meaty mitt encircling much of our palm, it seems likely to think having somebody run their hand into yours at twelve miles an hour is gonna sting at least. So overcoming risk aversion is the first hurtle. Then there's the issue of aim. Again think twelve miles an hour. And consider it's not the comparably smooth ride of a car but the up and down, back and forth, bumpity jumpity of running. You'd be a head bobbing in a sea of bobble heads. Packed as well, so add to that a visibility limited to the back of the person a few inches in front of you. Objects are flashing into view, then gone. Salmon have an easier time locating things.

From my observations, of the hand-shake/clasps,pounds,fives I saw it was fifty-fifty between last minute sudden clasps and runners deliberate honing in on the supportive hand like a targeted missile.

During last year's marathon I was in Brooklyn, where Fort Greene tumbles down into Clinton Hill which promptly runs into Bedford-Stuyvesant. I took note of the many people giving that supportive hand to the runners. Eventually I reached the corner of Bedford and Lafayette avenues, across from KFC in what is usually accepted to still be Bed-Stuy. I noticed a spectator whose entire method of handshake, hand clasp, high five giving, separated him from the rest and that was Danny. Clearly he chose his spot, that corner where literally and sometimes figuratively the race turns. His hand remained aloft, just enough into the race as to matter, all the time I was there and I imagined long before and after. He was the Grizzly of the stream for that corner, except that instead of destroying hope with a swat he seemed to pound life and good will back into the runners he caught.

I was curious and spoke with Danny he explained that he held his hand out as a half target half energy boosting social connector because he made the runner's happy and that at the very least it made him happy. Then Shereen, the lovely woman standing beside Danny added it was also a showing of support. Shereen would know, thirteen years ago she and Danny met on that very corner.

On that day years ago Danny and Shereen exchanged numbers, courted, eventually married and have returned to that same spot every year since to continue their marathon watching tradition and share the love.

After meeting them I began to see, probably for the first time in 30 years of viewership how the New York City marathon strengthens and demonstrates that very New York City phenomon of possible, sudden, sometimes emotional bonds being created instantly between the diverse millions of New York's passing strangers. Often with lasting effect. While at the same time for those more deeply invested in New York City day in and day out, the marathon offers a warm touchstone for relationships that run and never lag.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Times: "Objects in refection are closer than they appear to be"

"weather is like the lover's infidelity once occurring sunshine becomes the surprise; owed, overdue, otherwise always disappointing. it's past barely relevant except it's fall."*

A sudden drop in temperatures aside it's not really as bad outside as everyone I know has been talking about, granted to agree you probably have to imagine a cataclysmic child eating blizzard.
bridge
"Objects of affection in refection are closer than they appear to be"

Context is everything always. Yes? Take this article from today's Sunday New York Times, "When Love is a Schelp" about the long distances lovers in NYC tend to commute just to exchange one bump and grind for another. With it's title attempting to brand this experience in broad New York terms, (using "schlep" to describe the journey's ordeal) the Times does it's best to make an experience that has been occurring for decades seem brand new.
subway barriers
subway barriers

I guess credit could be given when the times makes the distinction that they aren't referring to many long-term new yorkers by stating that the lovers in a earlier era would have probably lived in clustered Manhattan neighborhoods. Reminds me of something a famous NY musician once reminded me, "the New York Times has no idea and no interest in what happens outside the boroughs." I argued that statement to be false, citing major events that get covered outside of Manhattan, and the musician said, "MAJOR events yes, a rape, a plane crash. but otherwise no." It seems the New York Times cares now although sometimes that news coverage outside Manhattan is not so actually new.
Brighton Beach
"From Russia to far with love?"


An actually newer occurrence that drives me and apparently others is the human barricades many people have decided to become with the help of their cell phones. I've noticed many people who take a phone call in the city streets as a entitlement to become an island of immobility on our otherwise mobile isle, much to my disgust. We all know forward speedy movement is the way on city streets. Not for the life of me can I figure out why in the middle of the typical full on street stampede, cell phone users take "hello" to mean "freeze". In a piece I do like, the online sunday times has this from the city room "Complaint Box | Immobile on the Phone"

The piece details the writer's encounter with the cell phone users who violate our expectations of motion by standing at the top and blocking subway entrances (the worse). Maybe they're trying to talk their way out of a lover's schlep.

(*source of the musing at the top is me. © no uncredited biting.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Photo Wed: 10/14/09 : the late belated Roots pics Edition!

whooo... "plans; and the mice and men who make them" on the next maury... that's how this blog has been lately. better you don't know my plans, then you can less know and suffer the pain of my crushing fails.

anyway last weekmonth was a most excellent music exhibition at WillyB's own Brooklyn Bowl, which I need to write about because I thoroughly dug the place. The Legendary Roots Crew (not "band" unless you preside over a recording label or you're a smartass, perhaps if both) headlined and held sway, and hands down rocked the joint in at least three genre's of flow.
The Roots and guests @ BrooklynBowl 9/09

Talib Kweli came on (at one point baring a birthday cake in hand) Bajah + the Dry Eye Crew, Ursala Rucker, Moisturizer and Rev Vince, and host of other ascendant talents followed suit and collabo'd the night away.
The Roots and guests @ BrooklynBowl 9/09

All for $10 beans. Yup. 10. friends on mine were fed to miss it. so give a shout if you wants to know bout next time, meanwhile if you missed it, here go some blurry iPhone pics...(after a long delay..sigh)

The Roots and guests @ BrooklynBowl 9/09

The Roots and guests @ BrooklynBowl 9/09

The Roots and guests @ BrooklynBowl 9/09

The Roots and guests @ BrooklynBowl 9/09
Ursala Rucker

Monday, September 28, 2009

I'll miss the columns of William Safire (the language ones)

Brooklyn Born regrets the passing of William L. Safire. Pulitzer Prize winner, Writer, linguist, Conservative, Pundit and Native New Yorker. I rarely agreed with his politics (his never rescinded support for the Iraq invasion, for example) however I dug his way with words.

The obit in the NY Times, for whom he wrote from 1973 until earlier this month included this:
There were columns on blogosphere blargon, tarnation-heck euphemisms, dastardly subjunctives and even Barack and Michelle Obama’s fist bumps. And there were Safire “rules for writers”: Remember to never split an infinitive. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors. Proofread carefully to see if you words out. Avoid clich├ęs like the plague. And don’t overuse exclamation marks!!


Rest in peace. (Hope I wrote this well)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Safire

Friday, September 18, 2009

Show you care, just by being there - Street Co-naming in Crown Heights

GroundSwell Anti-Gun Violence Mural in Crown Heights
The Anti-Gun Violence Mural "Piece Out, Peace In" created by Groundswell Mural Project,
from a photo in July while it was in progress


This past summer I had the opportunity to witness a beautiful combination of artistic effort, civic pride and youth-energized dedication. The effort provided by community leaders and groups and acted on by the Groundswell Mural Project, went into creating an Anti-Gun Violence mural on Brooklyn Avenue between Prospect and Park Places in Crown Heights. I won't go into a lot of stats about crime and gun violence, but I was struck by a comment from a community organizer who works against gun violence at the mural dedication, she remarked it's a wider problem than people think, that despite the efforts of many there are "illegal guns on every block and almost every apartment building in this neighborhood". I can't prove that but imagine if it's true... What is true is that the mural began design and was completed in about seven weeks and during that time there were approximately 2 shootings per week in Crown Heights.

GroundSwell Anti-Gun Violence Mural in Crown Heights
The finished mural designed was dedicated last month in Crown Heights on Brooklyn Ave across from the Children's Museum

Another person who contributed to the mural and works in the community against the tragedy of gun violence is Robin Lyed, who came to this cause after losing her son, Benny who was needlessly murdered in front of his home by an unknown gunman. Benny by all accounts was a self motivated community active 19 year who mentored others, was a proven leader and looked forward to an ambitious future.


Benny A. Lyde victim of an unknown gunman will be honored on Saturday 9/19
when his name is added to Lincoln Place btwn Brooklyn and New York Avenues


Tomorrow, Saturday on Lincoln Place between New York and Brooklyn Avenues at 1:00 PM, the street where Benny lived and was killed will have his name added to it in his honor, and to demonstrate that good remains despite those who try to disrupt and destroy.

There will be a public ceremony and if you're able and you're interested in improving the community, come out and lend your strength and support.

details below (provided by Tish James' office)

Co-Naming of Lincoln Place for Benny A. Lyde, and celebration in his honor this Saturday September 19th at 1 pm

The community will remember and celebrate the life of Benny A. Lyde (known as Mr. Benny to many), by unveiling a new street sign at Lincoln Place between New York and Brooklyn Avenues in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The street will be co-named Benny A. Lyde Place. The co-naming ceremony is set to begin at 1:00 PM.

Numerous residents and public officials are expected to attend the co-naming event including: Robin Lyde; District Attorney Charles Hynes; Borough President Marty Markowitz; Council Member Letitia James; Council Member Al Vann; Council Member David Yassky; State Senator Eric Adams; Assemblyman Karim Camara; 43rd District Leader Jesse Hamilton; James Caldwell, 77 Precinct Community Council; Fred Monderson, CB 8; and Shalawn Langhorne, Community Counseling and Mediation (CCM).

“Benny Lyde is remembered as a young, bright jewel within the community. During his life, he set an excellent example of discipline and hard work for his contemporaries, as well as was extremely committed to his community and family. Benny touched many lives during his 21 years and is greatly missed,” said Council Member James.

The life of Benny A. Lyde was cut short September 2, 2006 by the hands of gun violence, but his contributions will last forever. Please read the articles at the links below to learn more about this incredible young man.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/03/nyregion/03kid.html

http://www.nydailynews.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Benny-Antoine-Lyde/90367352279

What: Co-naming of Lincoln Place to Benny A. Lyde Place, in honor of the late Benny Lyde

When: September 19, 2009
Where: Lincoln Place between New York and Brooklyn Avenues in Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Time: 1:00 PM
Please contact Alfred Chiodo at (718) 260-9191 if you would like more information.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Primary Day

It's primary day in NYC! That means all those City Council spots will be decided, and possibly some will be reshuffled. Got a complaint about something in the city, now's the time to act on it. Didja vote?! Well hurry!
West Indian American Day Parade 2009
Here's info! http://www.vote.nyc.ny.us/

Saturday, September 12, 2009

091109

Had a surreal moment today as I watched footage of 9/11/01 on 9/11/09 while flying over the east coast. More to it than that but I'll have to write it out another day as now I am about to pass I to slumber

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

End. Game (yet?) Atlantic Yards morphs turdtastic

Gothamist today has the story of the new renderings for the taxpayer funded money pit that is called Atlantic Yards/Barclay Center.

You probably know it is a bloated project, feed by tax dollars enriching private investors and it will drop a massive overcrowding set of buildings and stadium into an area not big enough and already choked with traffic. oh and it's ugly and built by people who've already dropped an ugly barely usable project across the street.

As tiring as it is to keep writing this, it will be worse to live with it, if it's built.

here is one of the new renders after the old baited and switched designers for the project were roundly dissed.


(img credit: ShoP Architects)

and here's what I wrote on gothamist:
The project needs to be scaled into something workable, and the arena can be anywhere along miles of underutilized brooklyn waterfront, or even, if they really want to improve a blighted neighborhood as they calm, the whole project can move about 8 blocks west to where atlantic has almost nothing but auto body shops and vacant lots. there's even an LIRR station that can be used.

like here: http://tinyurl.com/m7f326
or
here: http://tinyurl.com/krclx7

but equally insane are these renderings. the second image shows a crowd of kids about to wander gleefully into Atlantic Avenue, a six lane stretch of people slicer!

Once again, why is it wrong to stop this madness as it currently stands?
As always if you want the detailed story check with Atlantic Yards report which has tirelessly reported on this project. Some day this war's gonna end.

Photo Wed: 09/09/09 : Parade Nuh Stop Edition!

It's photo wednesday! And if you say the previous post, you know I took a ton of photos at the West Indian Day Parade 09.

After much thought this is my favorite narrative shot. check it. (hint) look for the purse.

West Indian American Day Parade 2009 - 37



speaking of the parade, the new york post tried to link an unfortunate and unrelated shooting that happened in Brownsville, to the parade events, they even tossed Colin Powell in for good measure. I'm not linking to the story because it wasn't at all part of the parade. but I will say wrapping dog waste in the new york post is redundant to say the least. i'm sure some good-hearted hard working people put their time and energy into it, and that's a shame. at least they get paid.

anyway.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Missed it..?: West Indian Day Parade/Carnival Edition



A slide show of photos from yesterday's West Indian American Parade/Carnival 2009.

And now video! These are short clips from (arguably) the largest representatives at the parade: Jamaica, Trinidad and Haiti.


Jamaica


Trinidad


Haiti



And what would the Pahkweh be without an aerial head check by the NYPD...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Droolers Delight: NYC Cream


Just saw this article in the NY Times wherein an intrepid reporter, friends in tow, traverses the city in search of tasty ice cream treats.


I couldn't get past the third paragraph and photos before drool deluge began. Watch out for Buzz Buzzard and good luck, I'm off to buy some creamy.

Photo Wedns: 09/03/09: Sensing a Parade, the Dragon strayed

Urban Chinese Dragon bones

I'm not familiar with a Chinese cultural parade through Crown Heights, so I assume this mythical creature got lost. Or maybe it's just early for next week when the West Indian Day Parade/Carnival marches down Eastern Parkway, just a block away from where this photo was taken.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Got To Be There: MJ Celebration in Pros Park tomorrow

Tomorrow's the big day, the party in the park (Prospect not Fort Greene) in memory of Michael Jackson. Expect to see Spike Lee and Boro Prez Marty, and hear DJ Spinna, more details from Gothamist, who I appreciate for doing the heavy blog lifting.

Remember it's 12-5pm, rain or shine, Nethermead lawn of the Park.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Photo Wedns: 8/26/09: Elves in Gravesend?, Summit in Fort Greene?

a soul summit?

I took this photo in Fort Greene Park Sunday, during the last "Soul Summit"(Dance Party) and I think it reps specialness in a kind of "summer's last rays" way.

But then I was also thinking, I don't rep outer Brooklyn enough. And I realized it's true, here at the Brooklyn Born blog I don't rep the far flung sections of Brooklyn enough. Not that those furthest from Manhattan care, which is one of the reasons I like those Brooklynites out there so.

And considering that most of what people think reps Brooklyn; "Hip!" (Williamsburg) or "Crime!" (East New York) or "Insufferably Breeding!" (Park Slope) is such as small percentage of the borough (I haven't checked the measurements but I feel confident that the all the East River bordering sections of Brooklyn combined are smaller than the Marine Park section, for example) and you have neighborhoods like Canarsie (also huge, granted larger neighborhoods have the advantage of not being sub-divided into sub-neighbors that are easier for new-comers to bite and chew.) that I haven't even written about despite living, laughing and being poisoned and on a separate occasion stung by the most scheming & vicious mosquitoes ever, I figured the least I could do is give some light to areas that the blogosphere tends not to shine on. Plus I did spend half my childhood between Flatbush and Mill Basin (and yet still put in much time in Crown and Prospect Heights).

I took a bunch of shots on the way out to Coney Island Saturday past and this house caught my eye. It's out on Ocean Parkway in Gravesend, which to me might as well mean "where Sheepshead, Coney Island, Midwood and Bensonhurst meet" but that's my take. Got a problem with that assessment, correct me.

Meanwhile enjoy the boarded up Elf house:

got gold? Cookies? shamrocks?


Enjoy

Monday, August 24, 2009

Missed it? Mondays: Wknd of 8/22-8/23 Love, Park and Soul Summit edition Edition

This past weekend started with the threat of messy storms and ended (for me at least) with a purifying rain dance.

The weekend was just getting going Friday when I can across this young brother,
Brooklyn Bus Stop Blues
I don't know the specific why he was at this bus stop near Classon Av, but he was playing a soulful brand of bluesy sound all of a sudden.

Like to hear it, here it go!
(warning there will be a loud burp, not me, but my apologies)


After last Friday's controversial debate which resulted in the Michael Jackson/Spike Lee Block Party being moved from Fort Greene to Prospect Park I decided Saturday to refresh my memory of the area and see if it was as far from a grocery store, deli, bodega, restaurant and or cafe as I remember. It is.
nethermead, prospect park - 5

As you can see from the pix, it's a lovely plot of land, but expect a walk to get to the back of the bus park, Nethermead.

My travels through the park brought me close enough to the heart of Flatbush, to be lured by nostalgia. I lived a lot of years in Flatbush and yet somehow it doesn't make it's way into my blog as much as it's in my heart.
Flatbush Av, Flatbush Brooklyn

I'm reminded every time i pass this way how much of a shopping/commercial center this part of the borough is, on pare with Fulton Street(Downtown and Bed-Stuy), Pitkin Av, in the way retail centers used to be arranged but not totally unified, the way a strip mall would be. It's also impressive to see the amount of people and business that are still out here, from Sears, to Staples, Rainbow shops these are the businesses local residents rely on for their shopping needs. One aside, it never made sense to drive through this part of Flatbush, and as you can see, it still doesn't.
Retail area, Flatbush Av, Flatbush Brooklyn

And then I decided to look for food, and I really was looking for some Jerk Chicken, or Veggie Roti, but my fave Jerk spot has gone (was on Flatbush between Clarkson and Lenox Rd) morphed into a vegetarian restaurant called "Zen" (but no Palet). So I trekked on seeking Caribbean culinary flare and wound up here:
IMG_1316.JPG

Why? Because I haven't had a slice here in at least a decade and if memory serves this is the first place I was introduced to pizza. I used to live (everywhere in Brooklyn) and among many addresses I lived just off Cortelyou Road with my Mom, as a child. We'd take the bus from Crown Heights, and wait forever for the B23 (which used to start it's run right in front of the pizzeria) to come take us down to East 3rd and Cortelyou. I remember one particularly long wait led my mom to go in and the rest was history, or at least the subject of a longer post, which I'll write later.

So I stopped. And thought to myself,"how many years have these guys been here?" And in answer to my query there was the sign adorning the top of the joint, signaling it's 40 year anniversary. So I went in. The place is changed, but then when I lived here there were still solid vestiges of the 40s and 50s visible in this part of Flatbush. For example a theater on the slender side of Cortelyou at Flatbush Avenue had been there since vauville, it was closed when I was a kid but still very prominent in it's antiquey details. The Albemarle was still there and it's where I saw the Empire Strikes Back (I came out of that screening so despondent at Luke's predicament that my mom consoled me with the very first McDonald's "Happy Meal". It worked. When the Albermarle closed in the 80's it became this church:
The Former Albermarle Theater now a Jehovah's Witness Church
Not to be confused with the long dormant Loews Kings Theater (below), one of the few things I truly agree with the Boro Prez on, (that the theater should be preserved and reused as such.
The derelict Loews Kings Theater in Brooklyn, Aug09


These are a few examples of why it's so amazing that Antonios' Pizza is still going. Up until the 70's this area was a mix of Italian, Irish and African-Americans with trace amounts of Middle Easter and Hispanic pops, now if I don't hear a Caribbean accent I feel almost certain I'm listening to a new-comer.

Anyway as I'll detail later, I had a little convo with the workers there, before gobbling down my slice with sausages (not how I used to but times change) and taking off again.

Eventually I was surrounded by residences and block parties:
Rogers Av Block Party 8/22/09
and I was so far from the city side of Brooklyn that it only made sense to head for the sea. I was especially curious if I'd see any effect from the then Hurricane Bill on the shore.

I headed aimlessly on to Midwood, another place I've spent a chunk of life-time and all I got was the remembrance that Midwood streets (in addition to being well served by the city, thanks to an influential constituency) are really wide. Insanely wide. It most have been part of the planning when these tracts of land were made, to create boulevard style lanes, but damn, you could build new blocks in the center of these streets.
Avenue I in Midwood sect Brooklyn
Ocean Parkway isn't much different, but at least it calls it self a parkway:
The Ocean Parkway

On the way, I had to stop in Brighton Beach.
Brighton Beach
After all if I shows love to my Caribbean Gangsters (not really) how can I neglect my Russian Mobsters (really not really). I strolled down the ave and this is what I saw:
Russian Flavored Pharmacy in Brighton Beach
IMG_1360.JPG

Russian Signage! The next time the "English as official Language" choir starts up, demanding all Spanish language signs come down, I'd like to see them pitch their shtick out here in "Little Odessa". If Boris doesn't have to write signs in English, why should Juan have to?
Gawking ate signs gave way to staring at rows of pastries
IMG_1363.JPG
which I ate
Russian Apple Pastry in Brighton Beach
and ate
IMG_1365.JPG

Btw this placed just opened:
Kebeer bar in Brighton Beach
and they were having beer specials
Beer Sampling Sun 8/23
(shout out to my comrades!)

Finally I reached the ocean (not really) and at Coney Island there was...Dancing!
coney island dancers-1
I'd totally forgotten about the long running Coney Island Dancers' Boardwalk Dance Party.

coney island dancers-7
It's free, fun and every Saturday during the summer. The Coney Island Dancers (who dance in many places actually) have a myspace page with event info, you can also join the Organic (dance) Movement, another group dedicated to social dancing, here.

Saturday ended with nightfall at Coney, no Hurricane in sight, but I did spot a Cyclone.
The Coney Island Cyclone
Followed by a frigid Q train home.

Sunday
Three words. Soul Summit, baptismal.

I got confirmation earlier that yesterday would be the last Soul Summit of the year and peoples and nature proved yet again that Fort Greene Park can handle a party.

As hearts, hours and rhythm pulsed on, all things were joined by a trickle of rain that became a downpour. Each boost of rain intensity was answered by joyous shouts and enraptured words from the crowd. Then the music stopped, and the party..?
See for yourself.


And that was my weekend. Only a few summer weekends left, don't miss them.