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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?


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:

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

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
which I ate
Russian Apple Pastry in Brighton Beach
and ate

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.

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.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The community is bigger than one person.

Originally I wasn't going to post anything today, it's Friday and I wanna go outside.

But then along came Abby Weissman. Yes, I'm naming names.

A block party styled event, organized by Spike Lee and DJ Spinna, in honor of Fort Greene and Michael Jackson has been planned for Saturday Aug 29th to be held in Fort Greene Park.

Some people may wonder why.

Here's why Spike Lee, despite no longer residing in Brooklyn, put Fort Greene back on the map, in a positive way, that made all the benefits of today's Fort Greene, and to some extent, all of "Brownstone Brooklyn" possible. You wanna argue that, leave your comments below.

Also Spike Lee's business, 40 Acres and a mule filmworks, opened businesses in Fort Greene, his production office and some may remember, his merchandise store, which not only increased the profile of the Fort Greene area, brought positive press and tourists from around the world. And these businesses were also the sites of what? Block Parties; held right in front of Fort Greene park. Therefore, a Spike Lee/Dj Spinna block party is a tradition. It has not been repeated every year, but it's a part of the neighbor summer tradition in the minds of many long term residents of Brooklyn.

The fact that this year's event was dedicated to Michael Jackson has given opponents to an event held in the park an angle to declare the event unsuitable. Michael Jackson didn't stay in Brooklyn long enough to deserve a party held in Fort Greene, that may be but the party is by Brooklynites who are choosing to celebrate Michael Jackson. MJ didn't have to receive mail in Brooklyn to be appreciated here. Even Borough Prez Marty Markowitz with whom I don't always agree, could see it's a party celebrating music and culture most of all.

Enter Abby Weissman. In a letter to the NYTimes Fort Greene/Clinton Hill blog, she argues against the event being held in Fort Greene Park, raising the specter of the masses who will come (I guess like locusts?) from parts unknown and wreck havoc on the area. Where is the evidence to support this last claim? Abby sites the thousands of people who came to the Michael Jackson memorial in Los Angeles as proof that the neighborhood will be overwhelmed...and then she complains. Fine. We live in a Democracy, I disagree with you but make your voice heard if you need.

But now I read that the city is considering relocating the party. Based on the concerns of people like Abby Weissman, who's initial comments seemed to have started the anti-party bandwagon rolling with further statements asking why taxpayers are footing the bill for policing this party and complaining about how the neighborhood will suffer.

And enter my beef and two cents. A few years back there was a massive event the biggest I've seen in Fort Greene Park held that featured neighborhood food vendors, a concert stage a performance by several musicians headlined by Twalib Kweli and thousands of people. It was held without incident, it was orderly, it went into the night shutting down at the time predetermined by city officials. And it was amazing. The park was not hurt. The vitality of the neighborhood harmed, and local businesses around the park, made good business on the foot traffic to and from the event.

This is was not a MICHAEL JACKSON event, it was a Fort Greene event celebrating Michael Jackson, celebrating Spike, celebrating the neighborhood, celebrating our historic neighborhood culture.

What's the difference you may wonder? This is not the Staples center in LA with a schedule of world renown performers and the Jackson family. I know some of the people involved and they described the event to me this way,"you know those block parties we used to do... it's gonna be like that."

The people opposed to the party have a right to be opposed to everything (and quite possibly are), but they've exaggerated the hypothetical dangers of this neighborhood event, created by neighborhood residents, inappropriately depicted the event because it doesn't match their idea of what the neighborhood is. And now they're pressuring the city to succumb to their personal view of things.

I saw on Facebook (of all places) where Abby responded to a pro-party person calling them a Fascist. Before you get with the name calling start with the man in the mirror.

My opinion, if this event is moved somewhere else, if the city succumbs to the misinformation being put out there then an irreparable wedge will be permanently driven into the heart of the neighborhood which has still managed to be united by the good intentions of diverse neighborhoods despite the arrogant sense of entitlement that represents the downside of gentrification.

People's concerns should be addressed. One view of the neighborhood should not be able to bulldoze other citizens and in fact history.


The party has been moved out of the neighborhood.

"It’s official: Spike Lee’s Michael Jackson birthday party will be held in Prospect Park, not in Fort Greene Park."

from NYTimes Local blog

MJ's Rainbow 6/27 - 18

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Photo Wedns 08/19/09: Late Fuzz Edition

When did the pole-ice start driving Altima Hybrids?!?
Fuzz Has Hybrid Altimas?!?
just wondered...
Fuzz Has Hybrid Altimas?!?
almost makes me want to ride with da po po....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Missed it Mondays: Wknd of 8/16-8/17 Bushwick Edition

What an amazing weekend! Hope yours was amazing too, here's what I caught and what I missed:
Moon over (Bushwick) Stanwix St

Spread love is the Brooklyn Bushwick Way?!?

Bushwich RooftopParty SatNite 8/15 - 15

So I don't get out to Bushwick a lot. Fact is the first time I hit up the hood there it was 1989, and it's not fave of mine, but maybe I need to change that opinion, cause with all things and peoples being squeezed out everywheres else, Bushwick is providing a welcome to a wide range of happ'nings...

So it was Saturday night and first I went down. The "Rock the Block" massive music festival jumped off in D.U.M.B.o. I attended, and it was a lot of venues and a lot of parties/performances, good stuff, but rather than nesting under the Bridges (where in between partying I managed to stumble into a wedding uninvited at Power House Books, and then into a music video shoot (also unvited, but I was welcomed in both cases) instead I got live out in Bushwick. All day, from various sources, in various counties in and out of NYC I was hearing about "The Rooftop Party". Considering how many rooftop parties are going down on the average day in just about every part of summer NYC, that's some serious hype.

Finally I strolled down a sketchy part of Flushing Av, and frankly, though I'm a lover of all things Brooklyn, what part of Flushing Av isn't sketchy. The particular stretch I walked was industrial, post apocalyptic, pre-bubble condo all at once.(redundant?)
And then I saw a fringe of silhouetted shapes pulsating along a distant rooftop like a giant flowerbox of backlit dandelions. A few minutes, ten dollars and 80,000 steps later I was here:

Great views:

Bushwich RooftopParty SatNite 8/15 - 8

Bushwich RooftopParty SatNite 8/15 - 20
Bushwick RooftopParty SatNite 8/15 - 24
Bushwich RooftopParty SatNite 8/15 - 18
Bushwich RooftopParty SatNite 8/15 - 25
(barely visible, cops in the background shutting it down...)

Non-stop parting, until it was stopped, thanks NYPD! Your true blue instincts were right, I was having too much fun!

Before I strolled to the rooftop party and after I left Rock the Block" I decided to peer into the speakeasy-esque spot that straddles the board of BedStuy and Bushwick, a place that seems to have no name, and floats much the same over several underground NY eras.
Bushwich speakeasy SatNite 8/15 - 52
I won't say where, I won't say how (perhaps you already know) but if you're industrious and can spot the lone doorman (who also needs to spot you to show you the way in) than you too can indulge your late 80's lower east side fantasy party/performance venue jones.
Bushwich speakeasy SatNite 8/15 - 57
Once in I was surrounded by kids (20ish from the looks) for whom Hipster is an aspiration instead of a diss...
Bushwich speakeasy SatNite 8/15 - 50
Bushwich speakeasy SatNite 8/15 - 51
Bushwich speakeasy SatNite 8/15 - 49
There were barely functioning facilities and something that passed for a stage.
Bushwich speakeasy SatNite 8/15 - 55
A Dj played to through a slightly overblown sound system that had the useful effect of forcing conversations to be held cheek to cheek.Bushwich speakeasy SatNite 8/15 - 47
Here's a last look, maybe you'll spot your interns, an upcoming designer or just your lecherous older brother....
Bushwich speakeasy SatNite 8/15 - 48

Bushwich RooftopParty SatNite 8/15 - 4

Things I missed this weekend: Chico Mann, DJ Ian Friday and Brand Nubian @ Littlefield (really sorry I missed that!) the Brooklyn Flea, another round at der Schwarze K├Âlner biergarten, and the sunday night movie at Habana Outpost.

BTW I've heard a rumor that the Soul Summit will be back for a day at Fort Greene Park next week. If anyone can confirm I'd appreciate it!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Weekend One-Liners 8/14-8/16 Another Party Edition

Friday Night August 14th

Long Island City:
Roof Party NY Ravel Hotel
8-08 Queens Plaza South 7pm - 2am

Saturday August 15th

ROCK THE BLOCK BK" -Brooklyn's Urban Arts Festival
Saturday 12pm to Sunday 4:00am
147 Front St. Betwn Jay St. & Pearl
Literally a ton of events, performers, DJs, among several venues, check the website:
(Among them the group HEAvy, DJ Scratch & DJ Spinna...)
For tickets & more info:

The Old American Can Factory, Courtyard
232 3rd Street, bet. 3rd and 4th Avenue 11pm - 4am
AFROKINETIC+Chris Annibell present

+ EDWARD JAHN on visuals
@ The Old American Can Factory

Celebrating Afrokinetic Photographer
Amanda Adams-Louis's Birthday!!!

Sunday August 16th

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I missed it monday, here's last weekend

A good weekend takes days to respond to. so sayeth me. Last weekend was a great weekend so much so that I totally missed my "Missed it Mondays" edition.

Without much ado here's the highlights:

Friday was a movie with the fellahs, (avoid GI Joe)

followed by a rubberneck moment at this accident and the accident heavy intersection of Vanderbilt and Atlantic (is it right-of-way on turns causing the uptick?)

it seems the sedan was from Evelyn car service, located on Vanderbilt a few blocks south. (overheard but not confirmed)

finally a quick wander through Franklin Park.

Saturday I didn't get to see Big Daddy Kane at Prospect Park, but I did see some big air and daddy's on boards at the Skate Park Jam held by Park Delicatessen on Saturday(which was so popular the cops decided to visit not once but twice).
Young Brooklyn Skater
The event was held across from Park Delicatessen (the skate and floral shop's inherited name)
Park Delicatessen 8/8 skate park in PS 316 school yard

Obama Deli had work done was stepping down, in name at least the Times FG/CH Blog has the deets:

There was no lederhosen but Der Schwarze Koelner BierGarten finally opened to a packed house. Much bier was consumed, happily.

Under the Brooklyn Bridge (and yet still D.U.M.B.o) the Brooklyn Flea Sunday edition was under way,
Sunday Brooklyn Flea under the Brooklyn Bridge
which gave me a chance to (again finally) sample the Lobster from the Red Hook Lobster Pound.
Red Hook Lobster Pound stand at Brooklyn Sunday Flea
Yummy as all hell (if hell were delicious)
This was the only pic I took of the food that didn't make it look like starving termites with dynamite had attacked it.

I finally got to the see the pomposity that is Yinka Shonibare MBE at the Brooklyn Museum and I really enjoying his brand of Art, ego unleashed and all. My fave part was in the accompanying video in which he described something as beautiful as he is. Plus Mannequins in a threesome, how can you not like that?