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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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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:
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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
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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
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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.