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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Photo Wednesday 03/31/10 : MTA on Schedule?

MTA empowers subway schedules (CU)

In recent weeks (and overall for the past few years) the MTA has been boasting their intent to give us the riders of New York's subway the same privilege that London and Tokyo subway riders have had for a decade...

Up to date real-time schedules of train arrivals.
(*On the rest of the system, the L train was blessed with digital schedules years ago.)

Well the LED screens have been bolted in place at a number of locales throughout the system, and as I ambled toward the turnstile even in pre-caffeine mode I couldn't miss the green and orange glow of progress staring down on me.

Franklin Avenue Station Subway Schedules online

As the pics show the schedules are up, and at least today in the Franklin IRT station (yeh IRT) they were very accurate.
MTA empowers subway schedules
I find it hard to think a coincidence is the reason the schedules are up or that some last bit of needed technology was finally delivered making this all possible as a person could speculate. Instead I do wonder if after years of waiting and months of these screens already being installed but not active, the schedules coming online was simply the result of the MTA trying to deflect from the flack they are getting over having no attendants or working cameras in many stations throughout the system (half the cameras in the NYC subway don't work according to MTA) especially in the wake of the stabbing murders that happened on a Downtown 2 Train at the Christopher Street station last week and the Moscow subway bombing this week.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Photo Wednesday 03/24/10 : "WTF?" Edition

This Wednesday's photo was taken by Monifa Bandele and it's posted on a site I've just learning about called A friend and lifelong Brooklynite directed me to the site and the above pictured "jail" playground structure currently (as of this writing) standing at the Thompson Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant off Park Av.

You'll see if you visit their site and read the followups they did that it is not an act of technically proficient and disgusting vandalism as my tipster and others first thought.

It's actually part of the playset. The word "Jail" and the bar motif I'd like to hope were meant innocently at least in some sort of possibly inappropriate retro "High-Noon" western setting might work, but this piece of playground furniture was placed in a predominately Black and Latino housing project where as a local parent pointed out, many young people are already struggling to avoid the idea that "jail" is a natural part of their lives. went on to contact the city and ask if this piece of play furnishing has been installed at other housing projects around the city. The city said they would look into how this object was selected and whether there are more, but so far according to the story, they haven't replied further.

Personally I tend to save up my outrage for the rainy days of innocent males shot by police while at homelocal government forcing people from their homes to save a billionaire(no not that one) and of course ignorant sport stars who should at least try to avoid doing the stupid (too many to link to). But this image and how it can affect young people in that area is demoralizing and I think we should speak up about it.

If you think it's no big deal look try looking past the easy "kids have played cops and robbers" excuse that I can hear a mile away and accept that regardless of how it got there, that structure in that neighborhood is inappropriate and the definition of insensitive.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Photo Wednesday 03/17/10 : Missed it by that much Edition

Well I made a commitment to have a new photo up every week and I just watched as a 404error allowed the last grains of this Wednesday pass through the hour glass. Brings me back to last week's thought about deadlines.

But speaking of things missed, spring is on the march as evidenced by today's Bonny Bright St. Patrick's Day and all the bonny suburban lasses I saw in midtown...

So I guess in keeping with the thought of "missing" here's somethings we may not see again for some time...

Winter Torii at Bklyn Botanic Garden this frozen lake scene from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Japanese pond.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring ahead, (bike) map your route now...

Bike lanes work for me. I'm a fan. That the city even bothered to read my thoughts and paint them everywhere was cool enough for me. That the city went further and created a map of the bike paths almost makes me believe I live in a useful functioning democracy.

Here's the map

oh the places you'll go

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Protest Atlantic Yards Ground Breaking 12:30pm today!

reposted from Found in Brooklyn Blog:

Photo Fieldtrip to Atlantic Yards

The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods today called on its dozens of member organizations and the tens of thousands of community residents of Prospect Heights, Ft. Greene, Park Slope, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Bedford Stuyvesant and Boerum Hill, and all citizens disgusted with the abuse of public process that is called Atlantic Yards, to show up for a protest to the “groundbreaking” scheduled for March 11, 2010.

From the Call To Action message:

“To all CBN members, Brooklyn residents, NYC residents, fellow advocates for good government, and everyone disgusted by taxpayer abuse, corporate welfare, and sham politics:

The poster child for everything wrong with development in New York State today, Forest City Ratner’s disastrous Atlantic Yards project, is scheduled for a sham groundbreaking tomorrow. We must ALL show up to protest this

The Shams and the Shame
The AY process has been a sham since before day one.

Sham #1: Six years ago, in violation of every development requirement for an open bidding process, Mayor Bloomberg, Boro President Markowitz, and then Governor George Pataki announced a development to be called Atlantic Yards. After the first howls of protest at this dismissal of process, a sham Request for Proposals was circulated. The winner? The previously annointed Forest City Ratner.
Sham #2: The Starchitect. In an attempted gloss on the mostly hideous buildings previously inflicted on Brooklyn, FCR announces the miraculous Frank Gehry would be the sole architect. Gehry, who had never engineered a single skyscraper, designed at least four iterations of his unworkable designs before being canned.
Sham #3: FCR announces significant community support with the unveiling of a document signed by 8 organizations, 5 of them formed by FCR and all of them receiving payments from FCR. This was called a Community Benefits Agreement. All good government groups have already labeled this sham a SHAM, earning Atlantic Yards another star on its Poster Child of Bad Development scoreboard.
(…Skipping ahead…)
Sham #167: Politicians and prosecutors ignore FCR’s involvement as what some have describes as an unindicted co-conspirator in Yonkers’ Ridge Hill (a development by Forest City Ratner) bribery scandal which has resulted in FBI indictments of Yonkers city councilmembers for allegedly soliciting and accepting bribes from “Developer #2,” identified as Forest City Ratner.
Sham #168: FCR maintains it will break ground on another building in addition to the George Foreman Grill-like arena during the current year, even though no architect has been contracted and no designs exist, a process that generally takes a minimum of 2 years. In a related Sham, the new head of the Municipal Art Society blesses the arena and says his firm would be happy to be considered to design towers for Atlantic Yards.
Sham #169: Governor Paterson defends continuing the money pit of the public subsidy sucking Atlantic Yards project, despite his own warnings of imminent Depression status for New York. He said we wouldn’t be able to see if it was a good project or a bad project until we wait another 10 years!

Is that a good enough evaluation to close schools and hospitals to balance a budget that showers public subsidies on a billionaire from Cleveland, and a Russian billionaire-“oligarch”, for an unnecessary arena and NO PUBLIC BENEFITS?


March 11, 2010
12:30 PM
Gather at 6th Avenue and Dean Street, (in front of Freddy’s)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Photo Wednesday 03/10/10 : Meeting the Deadline Edition

Downtown Brooklyn Bavaria? 1

Funny thing about life, time and our perceptions of it all. I think it's funny that we interact with deadlines. That we judge ourselves by our stage of completion in approximation to deadlines becomes absurd in the face of the finality of most human endeavors. Are we trying to demonstrate foresight? Are we priming ourselves to be the pinnacle of human punctuality? Are we covering our ass? Maybe it's a combination of all.

We even make artificial deadlines, which is a little like buying presents for ourselves and pretending Santa did it, then dressing as Santa while having a congratulatory cookie snack, which we left for ourselves and finally avoiding mirrored surfaces, less the whole farce shatter.

I'm suddenly surrounded by deadlines. When I worked in publishing my favorite work-phrase was "dropdead" which was the penultimate deadline. Implying if work were not complete by that time the Apocalypse would ensue thereby making arguments about fonts, serifs and leading all woefully moot.

These days my favorite work phrase is "frame fucking".

Life is motion, rather than look at a time coming why is it so hard to visualize the time that's always passing?

Downtown Brooklyn Bavaria? 1
The photo above comes from a building I never fail to forget exists. It's tucked into the beginning or end of Nevins street. I would love to know Nevin's history but I don't save for the fact that the Fox Studios theater was here in the 30's

The building has that kind of Bavarian exterior you can find in Crown Heights, Astoria and Forest Hills in Queens. I wonder if the building is on borrowed time.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


My niece's "baby father" was shot and killed last night in Brooklyn.

I didn't know the "kid". But his shooting was the result of a beef, and that men and boys of color continue to wrap themselves in the circle of street life, while I work in companies who's scarcity of brown male faces is nearly equivalent to being in the suburbs of China is ridiculous.

Frankly I don't know whether to feel bad or relieved for his son.

It's 2010, and while elements of society do in fact conspire, the path to self destruction is still led by the self.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hold the pickles, hold the fries, hold the burger......

It seems the Dutch Boy Burgers that and I and others have been blogging about with mouthwatering suspense, won't be firing up the grill just yet.
Hold that Burger!
The yet to be opened food spot's window went from sporting a Stop Work" order to a straight up menacing "VACATE" sign (Pictured above) at first I thought it said "VACA te" which coulda made sense but nope.

It means until further notice everyone is barred from entering. Worse yet it includes Franklin Park's large bar room (not the small one at the end of the beer garden, that's open). Sad. When will it be burger time?

I wonder if Matt the owner feels like this:

Friday, March 5, 2010

Signs ahead: Atlantic Yards ready to steamroll over brooklynites

Sign of things to come
Several blogs are posting that residents in the way of eminent domain abuse aka "Atlantic Yards" ave been given 30 day eviction notices in the wake of a judge's clearing the project to proceed.

Update: According to DDDB blog which speaks for many of those residents;

"incorrect. no eviction notices have been given.

Ratner plans to break Brooklyn hearts and Brooklyn ground with the project next week Friday Thursday, March 12th.
The Sign has already come down
They've already taken the subway sign down in what will become Barclay's Arena Station. A basketball arena that will ironically add more blight to a thriving lucrative area than remove.

Weekend Woodwork

Woodwork, Bar Vanderbilt Ave window

Vanderbilt Av in Prospect Heights is continuing to raise it's culinary game. For years well known neighborhood eats like "The Usual", "Soda" (which makes great burgers in addition to serving brews and spirits) Zaytoons and long term faves like Bob Law's Seafood Cafe have been the block standard. But with the onslaught of "The Beast" and even more recent "The Vanderbilt" (which with it's elegant yet modest decor, looks quite the fancy, though I've yet to indulge) there seems to be an ever higher lever of dining to be had.

I love the new biz on Vanderbilt. It almost makes up for the difficulty the avenue has promoting socializing due to it's width, unlike cozier thin strips like Court Street or Bleeker Street can.

Not to be undone I guess is the new pub I found last week "Woodwork"(pictured below). It's new to me at least, and that means I'm either the first or the last to write about it.
Woodwork, Bar Vanderbilt Ave
In short "Woodwork" located on the corner of Dean Street and Vanderbilt (follow the bike paths!) is not a restaurant but a bar. And of all things a soccer (excuse, Football) bar. With wide plasma screens of World Football playing in stereo vision, and a long list of beers and pub spirits.

That the tables and bar itself are made from thick slabs of oak rescued from the past (they have a leaflet explaining the history, but I used mine for a coaster, I deferred to the wood so much) adds even more to the cozy feeling of being shipboard with a good gang of soaked mates. The also have a little history of their inspirations written on that leaflet which I found goofily charming (they reference the New York Cosmos N.A.S.L soccer team that Pelé slummed with in the 70's) It's definitely an atmospheric joint.

Woodwork, Bar Vanderbilt Ave looking north

It's a long way from the days in the late 80's when the Dean Street Cafe (Corner Underhill and Dean) debuted leading people in the neighborhood to openly questioned the logic of starting new businesses in the area, especially a restaurant.

Plus I always say yes to $3 Red Stripes.

That there were crowds fogging up the windows with their human crush surprised me, maybe I am the last to know. Have a look see.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Brooklyn Tasty

my sweet new hero:

(image by Victoria Belanger)

Just found the blog of the self proclaimed Jello-Mold Queen of Brooklyn. I think he and her concoctions are awesome, long live the Queen!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Photo Wednesday 03/3/10 : Gowanus Edition

Gowanus Canal
Time to do a little self congratulatory dance! Why? If you haven't heard the Gowanus Canal was granted SuperFund status by the Federal Government which means basically that after 100 plus years of oil, lead, car and body parts polluting the once pristine oyster lined waterway, it will now be cleaned under specific guidelines. Congrats to Gowanus, especially all the people in the surrounding areas, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Wyckoff, Park Slope, who've fought again the city's lower standards and the pressure from developers who wanted to do less cleanup.

Gowanus Canal, coming soon: a cleanup

Special cheer and thanks to the Found in Brooklyn blog whose posts have keep me in the know on this issue way better than the established media has. Thanks (wiggle wiggle)

Second dance goes to me (yay me, wiggle, wiggle) for getting my photowednesday post up last week (though I did forget I scheduled the bottom part of this post and started to get frantic about time last night) and of all things for me to pick as my future post topic I chose the Gowanus Canal. Awesome I see the future and it will be! Love it when I'm prescient. (below is the original post)The Gowanus Massive
The Gowanus portion of the BQE makes no sense to me. It never has been possible for my brain to wrap around it because of it's enormity. The fact that something this mammoth is in Brooklyn. I think that every time and yet I have so few photos of the Gowanus Canal spanning portion of this highway because my photos never seem to do a good job expressing more than a few unspecific words. With this one I realized scale (at least) is what's lacking the people in frame give a good sense of what is the easily tallest roadway in any of the 5 boroughs.