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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Blame it on the Boogie
MJ Tribute party last night in Brooklyn @ Sputnik

DJ Spinna/Keistar's MJ Tribute party @ Sputnik 6/27 - 21
Last night at Sputnik in the hazy space where Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant intermingle, DJ Spinna and Keistar Productions turned an intended Motown party into a straight Michael Jackson Tribute. As the pics show, people turned out, got of the wall and just enjoyed themselves.

DJ Spinna/Keistar's MJ Tribute party @ Sputnik 6/27 - 12
As if song titled puns weren't enough, the party was hot, REALLY hot (these photos were not altered and the camera was wiped dry several times and still the heat of the crowd created the atmospheric effects you see in the pics.) Check the slide show for more, and RIP MJ.

DJ Spinna/Keistar's MJ Tribute party @ Sputnik 6/27 - 1

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Subway Shmutz and PP Bandshell Bonus

Thursday Random

The Times reports on the Straphanger's report of the cleanest and shumtziest subway lines:

And tonight at the Prospect Park Bandshell, Femi Kuti & the Positive Force/Melvin Gibbs Elevated Entity. If you don't know about the musical majesty of Femi Kuti (son of Afro Beat legend Fela Kuti) now's your chance to jump, funk and sway to the rhythms. Gate @ 6pm donations suggested ($3)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Photo Wedns: 6/24/09: A Space Invader lands in WillyB

a Space Invader lands in WillyB

WillyB, still a destination for outsider art. In this case the orange pixelated character is a artwork by the French (collective?) called "Space Invader" (for obvious reasons). This Wednesday's Photo.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Weekend One-Liners 6/20-6/21

Saturday June 20th
Coney Island
2009 Mermaid Parade is Saturday, June 20th, 2PM! Rain or Shine! King Neptune *Mr. Harvey Keitel and his Queen Mermaid Daphna (*as we've reported, and all should know, Harvey Keitel is also Brooklyn Born)

Empire Fulton Ferry State Park (in D.U.M.B.o.)

(so many artists and events)including: Pharoahe Monch, DJ Premier, Styles P, dead prez, Smif N Wessun and much more info at Brooklyn Bodega

Fort Greene
TamarRaqs Summer Solstice Hafla (part of BAM Café, Tamar hosts a night of Raqs Sharqi, or bellydancing.)

Saturday June 20th
Floyd Bennett Field (Far southern end of Flatbush Ave (extension) toward Rockaway)
Brooklyn Music Festival With Reggae And Ska Music, Feat Beenie Man, Big Daddy Kane and more @ Floyd Bennett Field

Sunday June 21st
Park Slope
Seventh Heaven Street Fair feat. (among others) "Panda with Cookie"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Photo Wedns: 6/17/09 Waterfall friendly

Remember when water made us happy?
little squirts, b'klyn museum
According to the converted box enabled HDTV, today will be the best weather day of the week. Rain is expected for the next five days, says the fickle converter box.

So I thought this shot from the Brooklyn Museum, where water dances for our amusement, would be a welcome change from the NYC-as-Seattle rainy days we've been experiencing.

(Also don't the kids all look like adults who were hit with a shrinking ray moments before the photo was snapped? (seriously check the young girl with the woman's purse) it's all freaky-friday looking!)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Weekend One-Liners 6/12-6/14

If you're not as cool as this cat, and you don't have a ton of things planned for the brief sunshine this weekend has to offer, here are a few weekend-one-liners. Also Happy Pride.

Friday 6/12
"3 THE HARD WAY / A WILD MUSICAL RIDE FOR BROOKLYN PRIDE /feat DJ SELLY / DJ LYNNEE DENISE / DJ RIMARKABLE - DET/SF/NY @ LITTLEFIELD - 622 Degraw Street bet. 3rd & 4th Aves.Music and Much more details/tix @

All Weekend (Show Ends Sunday!)

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater At BAM

All Weekend (ends Sunday!)
Northside Music Festival "Four Days of Music & Art in Brooklyn"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Photo Wedns 06/10/09: Developers Building Brooklyn Blight

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've moved back further into Brooklyn to Crown Heights recently. Traversing the area I've been shocked at how much construction has gone on in Crown Heights and frequently much of that construction looks like this photo:
Incomplete left to blight on New York Ave & Lefferts Ave
(above: from the intersection of Lefferts and New York Avenues)

The first thing that struck me was the size, but the impact of that view was quickly replaced by the obvious fact that the site had long been neglected. I turned to a resident that had been standing in her yard nearby as I snapped pictures and I asked, "how long has that (pointing to the building) been like that?"

Disgust hissed from her lips and she replied, "for years, more than three. They ran out of money and left it there."

The rust stains seem to support the resident's statement as well as googlemaps which tend to built from images months to years old. Google's imagemap shows a sign that didn't exist when I was there a few weeks ago. Can you imagine what it does to your property values to live across the street from this for years? Which says nothing of what it does to your sense of well-being to live with that eye-sore.
Incomplete left to blight on New York Ave & Lefferts Ave
You can tell by the photos that they didn't even finish the exterior walls. Did they not have enough funding to complete even the outer walls which would help protect the interior structure from the elements? Which brings up a question in my mind; Is there no requirement that a developer has the money to complete a project before they are allowed to erect it?

(Additional) I just found a post on Brownstoner from this January past, describing this building:
"...the developer (of) 393 Lefferts Avenue in Crown Heights Prospect Lefferts Gardens(*) has put the partially-constructed seven-story building on the market. Asking price: $8,500,000. This comes out to an average price of $257,576 for each of the 33 apartments, or somewhere between $200 and $250 per foot depending on which square footage estimate you believe."
The Daily News has a story about these condos from 2006 gleefully proclaiming that (Brooklyn Real Estate was):
"So hot that condo developers are seeking building sites even in Prospect Lefferts Gardens"
the Daily News article goes on to an interview with "Steve Rosenberg" who they credit as developer of the incomplete condos above.

*They also give the historically accurate boundaries of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens ("The boundaries of the eight-block area are Lincoln Road, Flatbush Ave., Fenimore St. and Rogers Ave." for those making their maps at home) while ignoring the fact that this construction site is outside those bounds.

**I won't wade into the border wars on for this part of Brooklyn, except to say that in my three plus Brooklyn decades, being that near to Empire Blvd meant you were on the south border of Crown Heights. "Lefferts Gardens" (no
Prospect) was always referred to by people I spoke with as ending at Bedford Av, west of that intersection. Conversely, I've heard that area has been referred to Crown Heights or Flatbush until you reach Kings County Hospital at which point we'd say East Flatbush.

So how is this:
Incomplete left to blight on New York Ave & Lefferts Ave
...allowed to happen?

This question also relates to my post yesterday about Atlantic Yards, since the developer there has millions of dollars riding on being able to break ground this year and so what defines "breaking ground"? Does it mean having the resources to finish or simply enough money and materials to drive a stake deep into Brooklyn and her heart?

Does anyone know the answer and what if anything our local elected officials in the City Council have to say about this?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

An open letter to Nicolai Ouroussoff

The New York Times lead architectural critic Nicolai Ouroussoff has come out definitively against the Atlantic Yards Project in its current form. He sites as reasons, the fact that star architect Frank Ghery and his designs will not be part of the proposed project as of a recent announcement and the fact that the developing company Forest City Ratner has most likely made the decision months ago while telling the city (which provides a portion of funds for the project) that everything was still as promised when it wasn't.

Of the new design and project, Mr. Ouroussoff states,

"If it is ever built, it will create a black hole in the heart of a vital neighborhood."

he continues describing the current plan as:

"A colossal, spiritless box, it would fit more comfortably in a cornfield than at one of the busiest intersections of a vibrant metropolis."

Mr. Ouroussoff goes even further stating simply,
"Building this monstrosity at such a critical urban intersection would be deadly. Clearly, the city would be better off with nothing."

Mr. Ouroussoff seeks to call our attention to another problem, that of the vicious cycle of 'bait and switch" that occurs when a developer promises grand multifunctional design only to deliver on the bare minimum of their promises, or none at all. And Mr. Ouroussoff names names, in detailing which groups (politicians, developers) are responsible for these constant disappointment in urban development and he even names himself (as a critic) somewhat responsible when he writes:

"Typically, a developer comes to the city with big plans. Promises are made. Serious architects are brought in. The needs of the community, like ample parkland and affordable housing, are taken into account. Editorial boards and critics, like me, praise the design for its ambition. Eventually, the project takes on a momentum of its own."

Mr. Ouroussoff's article is an amazing rejection of Atlantic Yards by a person in a position to sway important opinions as he is the lead architectural critic of the New York Times, especially when he admits his own complicity in the momentum of projects like this. Now people likely won't agree with me (I don't totally agree with me) on this but to a degree I am impressed and uplifted that Mr. Ouroussoff was willing to be sincere enough and equally aware of his complicity in a terrible process and yet still inject himself as a culprit, although to a much smaller degree than the developer, local government and I guess the rest of us citizens for not demanding more of our local government.

To include yourself as a party to this terrible overblown and under approved project, still takes guts Mr. Ouroussoff.

Now the part where I become conflicted to a personal degree is where I want to point out how hypocritical it is of the lead architectural critic of the New York Times to basically say I played a part in the process of selling the public on celebrity/aspirational architecture that is out of scale for it's intended surroundings and may actually be harmful when complete; but then end his article as if we all need alter our behavior and learn from this failing project.

To end on that note is to cast responsibility on everyone as if we are all equal players in this play. Yes the public needs to hold local government accountable in many instances. But to put the accusation on us so to spread blame is wrong because the responsibility for this lay with a few. The public needs to be well informed and the public needs to be able to vote. In the Atlantic Yards proposal the public has had no binding vote, and the amount of straight information about this project has been sorely lacking (especially in the beginning) except for a dedicated few local groups; Notably, Norman Oder's Atlantic Yards Report and Daniel Goldstein's Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, both of whom have written about this topic and this article with facts and information.

To their credit they seem less willing to brow beat you on your new position regarding Atlantic Yards but I'm not them and I am tired of people in positions of responsibility not being responsible and then offering a "what we all need to learn from this..." message when in fact we all didn't support this mess.

So saying that we need to learn to be better in effect, when choosing our architectural reimaging, on a project where developers and politicians didn't include the public in the process, and casting only a flickering piece of the white hot light of accountability on yourself, when you yourself Mr. Ouroussoff, have the architectural bully pulpit in New York City is disingenuous to say the least.

A throw away mention that the same developer behind this Atlantic Yards projected bait and switch is the same developer who built the recently constructed, 80 52 storied, tax break having, skyscraper headquarters for the New York Times, which you Mr. Ouroussoff lauded as having a "healthy sense of civic responsibility", may resolve the calls of conflict of interest officially, but for whatever reason Mr. Ouroussoff, you in fact championed this developer's plan for Atlantic Yards when it seems evident in your current piece that you willful ignored the faults of the development's design essentially, limits of space, finite resources in the neighborhood, traffic (to say nothing of eminent domain). You over looked all of that by essentially saying its going to be great in the end and it will increase great architecture in the city and that's what matters overall.

This city allows building without regard for architectural impact frequently, primarily because the priority is to increase tax revenues. In many ways that mentality makes cents. But it's interesting to me that you express so much desire for "thoughtful architecture" in mega projects and say so little about the ongoing boom and blight of "fedders" brick boxes littering the outer boroughs, which I think even you can see from your 80 52 story glass tower. The outer boroughs are drowning in poor architecture and it lowers the value of those neighborhoods by creating depressing streetscapes like these:

or these:

or these:

(the above photo is of the Atlantic Center development built by the people who want to build Atlantic Yards)

But more often then not there is no alarm sounded when actually blighted neighborhoods are finally renewed and get them buildings like these monstrosities that arguably are destined to depreciate and become blighted again.

To write a piece that says "we've seen it all again" and then imply that it's our collective fault as a city, when in fact the emperor's new clothes are blessed and certified by people like you, is dodgy at best. So often you and critics like you are the eloquence in the argument for these monstro-cities. That's not a small role. Your words lend legitimacy to these projects.

Overall I think what we really need to do collectively is decide whether persons such as yourself should continue to hold any relevance in the process. As with the Atlantic Yards proposal, perhaps our expectations of critics who are supposed to not only praise ambition but inform the public "demands a profound shift in mentality" as well.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Weekend One-Liners 6/6-6/7

This weekend's one-liners:
Today and tomorrow, Atlantic Art Walk:

Tomorrow Sun 6/7 1st Annual Brooklyn Beer Experiment: [gmap]

Friday, June 5, 2009

Artists, teens beautify for women in Bed-Stuy

This is a great story.

BRC Entrance Mural - 85 Lexington Ave B'klyn
The non profit organization Groundswell created a mural for the Bowery Residents' Committee (BRC)'s women's home on Lexington Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant just a stones throw from Clinton Hill.
BRC Entrance Mural - 85 Lexington Ave B'klyn
The mural wraps the interior of the entire vestibule many of the residents complimented the artists and their work at the dedication ceremony held on Wednesday June 3rd.

Many of the residents of the women's home talked about how much the mural has provided them with a lift and greatly increased their mood from the moment they walk through the doorway.

BRC Entrance Mural - 85 Lexington Ave B'klyn

Organizers from BRC as well as Groundswell said a few words of thanks to the women residents for providing input toward the project which in turn increased the value of and focus of the project.

Groundswell Artists
The artists spoke about their motivations and vision.
Groundswell Artists
Pictured: Mural Artists Alex Pimienta & Crystal Clarity

Most uplifting to me were the teenagers who worked under the guidance of the groundswell artists.
IMG_1566.JPG IMG_1567.JPG
The teens were award certificates in recognition of their service in helping the artists to create and add value to the mural effort. It was also mentioned that they demonstrated their own value to the community and to themselves as well.

After all were heard and souls satisfied it was time to sooth and satisfy the stomach...
...and the barbecue was on and popping.
I love that the grill master had a chef hat
BRC Entrance Mural - 85 Lexington Ave B'klyn
The work is beautiful and lush, illustrated with welcoming symbols of femininity and warm embracing strokes of line and color.
BRC Awning - 85 Lexington Ave B'klyn
Even from the outside a little of the art shines through.
BRC Awning - 85 Lexington Ave B'klyn
I've noticed the BRC logo for years but never knew precisely what it was about until this event and the subsequent research I did for this piece. BRC is very impressive considering the decades of constant help they've provided to people in need. Check out their site [BRC]. As someone who's family has experienced life's hardships I got the sense in speaking with the residents at 85 Lexington that they had gone through a lot yet remained determined to live valuable lives. The beautiful mural isn't only a tribute to them it's a reflection. It was clear to me how much BRC has helped them rebuild and prosper.
BRC Entrance Mural - 85 Lexington Ave B'klyn-Groundswell Logo
I've followed Groundswell for a few years as their murals have popped up sometimes withing a few feet of my many residencies. Check their site also [Groundswell] Years ago I actually contributed to a Groundswell mural and even though I had the littlest of contributions to it, every time I see that mural, I feel honored to have helped.

happy friday

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Happy Brooklyn Day! too Queens

Happy Brooklyn (-Queens) Day!

Today is Brooklyn day and you know what that means right-- what?

You don't know what that means? Allow me.

Originally Brooklyn Day was first celebrated in 1829 to promote religious instruction an evolved over the years until a wider celebration of civic pride in Brooklyn which eventually was forced to drag Queens along like a tag-along little sister into the spotlight and the day was re-christened Brooklyn-Queens day. At least that's how the Nuns at St. Teresa's used to make it sound.

If you want more than my biased historical account, here's a more detailed history about the day on Barry Popik's (whoever he is) site:
Brooklyn-Queens Day originated as a Protestant holiday celebrated in the City of Brooklyn in 1829. Back then it was known, and fondly remembered by some, as Anniversary Day. Anniversary Day is celebrated annually on the first Thursday in June, commemorating the founding of the First Sunday School on Long Island. The first parade was held in Brooklyn June 1829.

The New York State Legislature enacted, in 1959 at the request of the Queens Federation of Churches, the bill permitting the schools in both Kings and Queens Counties to be closed on this day. It was signed by Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller.

As a kid going to parochial school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn Day was the verification that I lived in the greatest city on Earth. How many other Cities have a special day that gets kids a day off from school, in June no less, like we needed it!
Cake Man Celebration Ft. Green Brooklyn - 15
my photo from an unrelated Brooklyn celebration, feat: The Brooklyn Steppers

But sure enough the 1st Thursday in June is always celebrated as Brooklyn Day (unless the 1st Thursday occurs the same week as Memorial Day) and we Catholic or parochial school kids would get the day off, run amok, argue with truant minded police officers and or stand in front of the Public Schools like PS 316 and taunt the poor bastards locked within.

Looking for a Brooklyn-Queens Day event?

Here's one, uber-cool Clinton Hill resale kids clothing/toy story "Still Hip" is celebrating the day with a mix, and discounts on local eats:
bklyn-queens day edition
Thursday, June 4 | 7-9pm | FREE
In honor of Brooklyn-Queens Day I am inviting some of my born n' bread friends to mix it up. Find out what it was like growing up in NY and what is in store for the next generation of Brooklynites.

The hiP mIXer is a great way to network with local parents, teachers and the community of professionals that support Still Hip. There will be snacks and drinks as well as a great network of amazing people. It's all about community!
• 25% off all purchases from 7-8pm
• off at Luigi's Pizzeria
• off at Le Grand Dakar
• off at Nu Yu Day Spa (if you make an appointment during the mixer)
• Mirrors is making special BQ Coctails and extending their happy hour till 9pm!!!

More details on "Still Hip" at

So Celebrate the day, make your own Brooklyn-Queens history and pass it on!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Photo Wedns: 6/3/09 Holes in the wall, Sing-alongs & more

Holy Jeebus! It seems I had what the internet (or those who surf it) wanted to see and the result was a flex of spontaneous and awesome page viewing attention. How? Last week's photo wednesday was this image (gratuitously reposted to the left)

Of course I think it's a cool photo, I took it. It's also great street art with a sense of humor and all that, which is why I posted it. But I think everything I post is great, give or take a few exclamation points. So imagine my shock when I saw that this one photo, in one day accumulated more views than almost everything I've ever posted and every photo I've ever shot. Over 9,000 views on Sunday May 31st alone. In the grand scheme of internet views, not a lot I know, but I'm still working from the theory that there's only five of you who actually read this, and two of you have the same last name as me.

Interestingly none of that resulted in increased views of this blog... I tracked the source of the eyeball explosion, So thanks reddit users.

This Wednesday's main photo comes with a news story:

The photo above is taken from Jay Street (in Downtown B'klyn), looking at the wall of the Northbound F Train track.

See those four jagged but rectangular shapes? They're holes in the wall. And behind a pot of gold? A window to throw it out of? Meh. The construction behind that wall of the Jay Station, to which the A,C & J (usually) run, is to build a tunnel connecting to the R & M lines at Lawrence Street. It's an old news story I somehow missed and here's the old link provide by the Brooklyn Eagle
For those willing to add another transfer at DeKalb Av or Atlantic Av, will provide an extension cord like connection between the A, Q, & D trains. Which in theory is somewhat awesome, but you know how theories go.
Construction is ongoing so by now those holes are probably closed up. But it's a reminder of how much more there is to the subway system infrastructure than we see. For example up to the 90's Jay Street was were all the money in the system was brought and counted as the MTA's headquarters used to exist in the building above Jay Street. Described by Hollywood in the film "Money Train":

...which I will probably still prefer over the remake of "The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3"

MTA headquarters has since been moved over to a new building at Livingston, which as I recall has the old G line tracks under it.

Since I'm behind in my writing I'm gonna drop some photos that have been waiting for me:
"Coming to America" @ Habana Outpost
This photo is from Fort Greene (of course) during a sunday movie night when "Coming to America" was shown at Habana Outpost. (And not a Gitmo joke in the house!)

For those who don't know, "Coming to America" is a significant piece of American pop cultural in general and especially if you are of brown color or culture and you were young in the 80's. It's ridiculous which is the point. The amount of movie lines that are quoted by random assemblages of people is impressive by itself (and you probably know more than you realize).
"Coming to America" @ Habana Outpost
The screening at Habana was packed with folks who seemed to have permanent tans and used to dance the "Wop", so it makes sense that the crowd began singing the song from the scene above.

But how could you not want to sing abut a Queen who's "free from infection"?

And Finally Here's a photo that I didn't write, it's about Willowtown:
Willowtown Spring Fair Flier
In short. It's a residential development in Brooklyn Heights that makes the folks there all excited. Here's the details as wiki puts it. I was shocked to find yet another neighborhood sub-section, this time in Bklyn Heights, and I intend to rant about (unlike this example) how neighborhood sub-sections become separate neighborhoods in the minds of real estate folks and new comers. Soon come.