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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Erasmus Hall Landmarked yet Neglected, until now?

Photo: David Goldman for The New York Times (Pictured Erasmus Alum Terry Kaplan)

Cool story: NYTimes Reports on the history and disregard for one of the oldest High Schools in the country, Flatbush's Erasmus Academy

The thing many long term Brooklynites of a certain age remember is that if you took all those cheesy hollywood films about nightmarish crime ridden High Schools and rolled them into one they still wouldn't beat the reputation of Erasmus High. Seated in the Flatbush at what arguably is the geographic center of Brooklyn, Erasmus did a lot to earn that rep, or at least it's students did. Major crimes occurred just enough to make a Junior High Senior piss themselves at the thought of attending. And yet there is another side to Erasmus, as mentioned in the Times article, Erasmus is the oldest High School in the city, and one of the oldest standing in the country. Constructed in 1786 the building pictured above is the original school around which the modern school was built. It's also important as a former Tildenite that I mention Erasmus and all who attended were our sworn enemies and those epic stories are for another day.

"Shovel Ready ""This is only a Test"

Well the local Main Stream Media (MSM to the bloggies) has been all a flutter with Bloomy's proposal to effectively shutdown Broadway in Times Square in favor of a Ramblas styled public space. People are pissed and the press is eating it all with aplomb and a ladle but fear not Bloomy's minions express, "this is only a test" and will be reversed if it causes a trip down midtown to be timed with an hourglass.

Meanwhile here at BrooklynBorn Blog, I felt the bug of spring cleaning (really the lingering nag of New Years Upgrades undone) and I too have made drastic changes. You may (but as most designers fear may not) notice there are changes to this very blog. Where once there were two columns, now there are three. This should give you more info to pick like the succulent ripe from my musings are, without having to scroll around so damned much.

I've also added one of those cool "label clouds" as I learned they are called, which basically displays past topics in order of how many posts are written about those topics. The biggest sized labels have the biggest size, lesser written about topics have a smaller size. Plus a few additions I added months ago that never took, suddenly came to life with this redesign. And finally, just to plea for appreciation I will tell you that it took hours to revise, rewrite and otherwise screw with alot of techie javascript, xml, and wierdo-webpage code to bring this to life, and hopefully make your experience reading the BrooklynBorn Blog more pleasing. So don't said I never did ya nuthing.

Overall the pages as a result should be neater and I'd like to know what you think. Feel free to hate my overlord machinations because after all, "this is only a test".

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Photo Wednesday 2/25/09 Of Warmer Days...

It's been so damned cold out. But have you noticed? The days are getting longer and this is the last Photo Wednesday in Feb 09. To get us through the moment I thought a look back to brighter, sunnier, warmer days would help set our minds on a bright, sunnier, warmer future. Here's some pics I shot in Summer past when T-Shirts (and even no shirts) ruled.

Afro Punk Skate Park


Just 23 days till Spring official begins...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Photo Wednesday: "What Recession?" Edition

According to recent news Chrysler and GM plan to drop a combined total 50,000 jobs this year so by comparison I guess we should be happy for people like those hearty construction workers who reach for the sky everyday in order to lift still going condo projects over our heads, like the development at 80 DeKalb pictured below.
80 DeKalb Feb09 *80 DeKalb Feb09

Say what you will about the Condo-virus, capitalism, the perils of navigating construction sites or what-have-you (and you know I usually do) none of that changes how surreal it is to watch buildings rapidly grow. From my vantage point up in the Brooklyn Born Aerie, I've watched a total of over 100 stories go up in five buildings in the last twelve months. I find it mesmerizing in a weird artificially organic way.

Forte Condos with 80 DeKalb rental development rising in the background
80 DeKalb development comes into view behind the Forte Condos

My trance starts to wear off when I think of the needs of the average working family to find an affordable and acceptable place for a family of three or four to live. It doesn't disparage the desire to build and sell condos to admit that the price point for many condos in otherwise middle-income areas leaves them vacant for long periods, even in a good economy while developers weight for buyers to help them turn a profit.

However 80DeKalb is a rental development, which thankfully was pointed out to me by Norman Oder of the Atlantic Yards Report, whose blog has much more detailed info on the developer (Forest City Ratner of Atlantic Yards infamy) and the specifics of the project much of which can be seen positively and negatively depending on your politics.

Case in point the quickly constructed "Forte" with it's 30 stories, 500k+ starting price, and already dingy outer walls, is visibly 50% unoccupied three years after completion. A fact you can see from nearby Fort Greene Park. (below)
Mostly Empty Forté
Many vacancies are visible in the Forte Condo building.

Watching the skyline change before my very eyes (often one floor per day) is nothing when you consider the video below presenting the plan for downtown Brooklyn in 2012 that barely has anything to do with the Atlantic Yards calamity. Many of these towers are under construction at this moment.

Maybe you've seen this video, maybe not, I think it's interesting to see the 2012 plan, appropriately narrated by "X-Men" super-villain "Magneto" (Sir Ian McKellen provides the v.o.) The 80 DeKalb building materializes into view at 1:00 of the video from the left side. Check it, pass it, and try and wager which of these giants will actually be completed...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Photo Wednesday that time (I) forgot. Fishy and Crusty no more.

whoa, I missed wednesday all together. I won't bore you with the details of my life but suffice to say I've been very busy. But no excuses and no more delay, folks, it's PhotoWednesday (one day late) and a news day at that.

On a stroll I noticed this:

"Fish and Crustaceans", a friendly small takeout fish shop on Fulton street with barely enough space for the crowds who came to stand inline and order has been part of conversations in the Fort Green Clinton Hill area for years. An instant neighborhood institution in the tradition of neighborhood spots long since passed. According to the signs posted in the window, it has been closed.

All I think of when I see this title is a punchline. It's like they should be selling aquariums, or bait and tackle or something. Frankly I never came up with a winning joke setup good enough for the punchline. The enthusiasm people expressed to me long before I wandered down to Fulton St and encountered Fish and Crustaceans is what inspired me to want to attach a fall-down laughing punchline to my conversations about the Fish Shack. It seemed everyone, everywhere I went for months, was talking about how good the food was despite the awkward name.

I tried the fried fish, with french fries as skeptically as I could and still came away a convert. The food was truly delicious, a sinfully guilty pleasure. I've always believed the mark of good comfort food is the enjoyment that comes from eating something you know is probably not good for you. And the crispy, salty, greasy but not too much, portions along with the total coma I'd fall into after eating seemed to indicate how far from fresh fruit those meals were and added to the pleasure. And sadly now it seems the moment is over in exchange for some actually awkward news.

Closed by order of Board of Health for "operating without a permit". I'll post more as it comes.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Photo Wednesday Concedes, for now...

I've never done this in the year this blog has been up but I just saw this and wanted to share. Plus it's way better than my photo wednesday offerings.

photography by: Jake Dobkin

This is a photo taken of a house on "Admiral Row" in the derelict section of the Brooklyn Navy yard. Since I first wandered down there as a teen I have been curious of the place. The high barb-wired topped brick wall that surrounds the several acre Navy Yard only fueled my imagination. I think these photos are stark, saturated, beautiful payoffs. Enjoy.


Photo Wednesday attempts to find perspective with a limited lens.

Circuit City out of Business at Atlantic Ctr. Bklyn
"sign of the times #01b" If only it referred to Atlantic Yards

It's PhotoWednesday.
And I miss my camera. As some of you may recall back in late November at a really energetic point of the year, my camera did a swan dive to the pavement while I was traveling at about 15 m.p.h., evidently fast enough to make a Canon PowerShot look like this.

Since then the calendar has flipped, history has changed and thankfully I do have some other photo-capable devices. But the ability to point shoot and fine tune my view into a clear picture is not what it once was. Thanks alot non-focusing iPhone Camera you blockhead!!

A sign of the times which is fortunate though slightly disturbing is that while I don't have health insurance (this winter I've drank or eaten approximately my weight in ginger and other medicinal spices) my camera did have insurance.

A better insurance policy than any I've ever had, in fact it's so great that I would recommend it to specifically but I can't remember the name. But it still works! How great is that? What I do know is this. I went to B&H Photo to buy my camera which was actually a replacement for my first camera which, uh, took a swan dive into the pavement at about 25 m.p.h. (noticing a pattern?) and when the sales associate came to me, I like any good New Yorker, knew exactly what I wanted and had not the time to be upsold on fancy camera baubles and trendy camera-lederhosen or worse, these.

Instead the guy offered insurance, and I scoffed loudly to underscore that I was in fact a New Yorker. My scoff clearly identifying that I accept there are no assurances nor need for delusions of insurance. And that's when he said,"ya know if you had insurance you wouldn't've had to buy a new camera".

Now in a former life I worked at Tekserve. I felt I knew all about the wretched sensation of powerlessness that comes from dropping $100+ on protection money(applecare) and then having it rendered meaningless because you dropped your device before your device could express the honor and decency required to commit sepukku(”せっぷく”for those in the know). So to me the guy was speaking a smoothed ribbon of Merda de Vaca.

To prove him a filthy liar I hoisted my first twisted pile of plastic/camera from the counter (where it had been used for comparisons and ritual cleansing) pass his green vest and up to his smug countenance, saying, paradoxically "This?? Yer insurance would take care of this?!?!?" He breathed and replied "Yes"

So yeh. Next time you get a camera you may drop and can't afford to replace, consider getting the insurance. And try the Mutton.

Anyway, despite my love/hate with the iPhone camera abilities (everybody has to suck at one thing at least right?) I took these while walking the line from Prospect Heights into Park Slope.
Sign of the times #05 Prospect Heights
From Prospect Heights: I never actually went in here, always considered it. *Le Sigh*

Sign of the times #04 Park Slope
This business was around for quite awhile in Park Slope.

Seems a lot of businesses are shuttering. I notice a lot of the same in Soho last week.
Wonder if they have insurance?