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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Photo Wednesday: Evangelical Street Edition

"God is Good"

"God is Good"(above, written in pink)

A child's chalk musings on a Bedford Av sidewalk this week.
Interestingly there was a tombstone drawn as well (which I didn't capture well) just above this part of the drawing. The tombstone only had one date "1986"

I was going to write "hard to argue against the message", then I started debating with myself about whether the phrase "God is Good" is arguable or not.

Recently I was enjoying an appropriately summer styled bit of lounging on an Eastern Parkway bench near Franklin. I lay out on the three planks of wood like a banana man in his tropical hammock enjoying all aspects of the moment. After a while delibrately strolling down Franklin, hunger grabbed me so I headed for a local longtime food spot. Just as my mind began to taste my soon to be purchased morsels, it became clear I had no wallet. Worse, I had a wallet it simply wasn't with me any longer. Worst than that, I had only minutes earlier used my ATM card to withdraw $80 and I'd placed that cash in my wallet which was no longer with me.

The store proprietor asked, "anything else?" I answered "be right back" and I tore out of the store a man possessed. Seconds and shortness of breathe later I was back at my lounging spot on Eastern Parkway. I saw a mirage. My wallet lay under the bench visible to me from twenty feet away. It was open like a young girl's prom night heart. So surreal was the sceen, if my wallet would have shut itself, or better began to flap it's panels around the center crease, taking flight in the process and fluttering away all elusive butterfly like, I would not have been shocked at all. Either of those outcomes would be no more unbelievable than finding the wallet, ten minutes after dropping it, in broad daylight on a Saturday in July, with a twenty sticking up like a bookmark no less.

Later back at the food shop I answered the proprietor's question by telling my lost&found wallet story, to which she replied "God is Good!" Never knowing how to respond to that phrase personally, I didn't and instead offered a meaningless clump of loosely connected words. She again said "God is Good" and added as punctionation, (with the same cadence) "...all the time".

The provocateur in me chimed in. "well it wasn't a good time when that guy got shot earlier" referring to the verbal exchange that ended in gunfire on these same streets two weeks ago. The proprietor paused, I couldn't tell if she was going to lay into my irreverence or what. Finally she stopped her ponder and resumed her speech completing with, "...well those who ain't good, God gets".

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Soul Summit Today!! Fort Greene Park! (updated)

the last Soul Summit of 2009 in Fort Greene Park - 50So yesterday's news was a deadly downer, but today is a dancing delight! (yeh I'm corny, I grew up reading the Daily News, much luv NYDN!)

(Update: The Soul Summit, which has been getting short-changed by the city for years, shrinking from a summer long event to recent years when there have only been three days of soul glow, was cut further this year. The same edition of the soul summit I referred to in this pos turned out unexpectedly to be the last. It was during the DJ crew's spoken thanks to the crowd of dancers an supporters in general that we heard the MC say "this is the last Soul Summit if the year" Meaning this year's soul summit lasted only two separate days. Local officials tried to express the reduction as a result of compromise with other neighborhood elements, personally I think Fort Greene Park having hosted a separate concert earlier in the summer somehow cut into te number of park events local residents were willing to accept. In any event it's a fine example of the old broken and dangerous park being good enough for locals and the new refined realigned park being too good for us. Yeah that motivates improvement...)

Today is Fort Greene Park is another edition of the hilltop House party known as the Soul Summit and it's wonderful. Families, old friends, dancers, artisans all moving to the steady beat of rare grooves and deep house music.

It's going to be fun, it's free to come, and there will be good memories made.
the last Soul Summit of 2009 in Fort Greene Park - 37Fort Greene Soul Summit

I love coming out here, seeing the beautiful people of all shapes, sizes, colors and cultures. United in rhythm.
the last Soul Summit of 2009 in Fort Greene Park - 53
 It's from 3pm to 8pm so the music won't stop when the sun drops...

Fort Greene Soul Summit

The Soul Summit party has been a tradition since at least 2002 in 2003 it moved to Fort Greene Park where its been ever since For more details:

And if you are into social dance (an umbrella term for many forms of dance including House) theres also the Coney Island Dancers who get down on the Coney Island Boardwalk (natch) weekends all summer along.

the last Soul Summit of 2009 in Fort Greene Park - 51

1 Shot on Franklin Av

Yesterday afternoon in the midst of a beautiful summer's day there was that most unfortunate activity on Franklin Avenue. According to eyewitnesses a verbal altercation between two young (possibly teenaged) males turned lethal as one male pulled a handgun out and began firing at the other. Eyewitness report one shot fired followed rapidly by two more. The intended target was shot once in the leg. He was said to bleed profusely and was taken away by ambulance. Police arrived shortly after, and again according to eyewitnesses a suspect was apprehended within hours.

I was showing my cousin how the neighborhood changed when I ran into people who told me what happened.

In my mind of course this is arguable the worst aspect of crime taken place in the area, my sources indicate the shooter was erratic, which may account for him shooting three times at nearly point blank range and missing twice. Not that I am wanting professional marksmen to be committing gun crimes, but the only thing worse than criminal behavior to me anyway is wild unfocused criminal behavior.

The shooting took place on Franklin between Anyone passing by could have gotten shot. Which brings up my next thought, as much as people want to talk, or imagine, what the "bad ol' days" were like, let me tell you, people did not pull out guns at 2pm in the middle of a crowded street. Granted there were those crack days where anything goes and a drive by would happen, but and understand I am not condoning anything merely stunned by the lack of logic, those idiots doing drive bys had an escape planned. Apparently the shooter had so little awareness of what his actions would lead to that he then ran, down Franklin Av, past dozens of people. More baffling to me is Franklin Av is heavily policed these days. Since the shootings that happened a few months back (this brings the total of shootings on ten block strip of Franklin Ave this year to at least three) and an increase in robberies (which I personally experienced in May) local Police authorities and representatives have saw to an increase in foot patrols that is visible on and around Franklin av, day and night.

Again I'm not really seeking logic from the type of individual who would pull a gun in broad day light as a means of winning a verbal disagreement, but it just increases the concern factor. As I have written my belief is personal vigilance lowers the risk of being caught up in a crime/violence situation. But random ignorance is a lot harder to protect against. Stray bullets even harder.

A friend was attempting to walk down the street when it happened and he had to duck for cover. Thank goodness for his quick reactions but who wants to be dodging bullets in their neighborhood?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer, Blowing through the jasmine in my mind

(above) "Summer Breeze" Recorded by: by Seals And Crofts available on Summer
(That's my attempt to show appreciation for my usage of "Summer Breeze"

The days have been breezing by this summer, for me at least. Last year, without going to deep was one of me floating on a raft too small in an ocean too big. This sun season, I'm on a yacht, not mine, but still a comfortable passenger and often going too fast to notice my travels.

All that to say this post will be a digest of what's past and what I've noticed of late in regards to Brooklyn, New York and me this summer (so far):

The tree terrorist is back. Sunday morning I spotted branches ripped from Bedford thru Franklin and down Eastern Parkway. (photos to come) Last week I saw branches ripped off down Eastern Parkway all the way to Grand Army plaza. I presume this is still the reason.


The apartment building that was heavily damaged by fire last year at the corner of Franklin Av and Park which housed many residents and two beloved eateries, seems to be getting renovations after a year without residents. Men were unloading trucks with bricks and other construction materials into the building during the week of July 1st. (photos to come)


In the midst of the heatwave (Which I missed) Con Ed kept trying to keep Brooklynites and Bronxies (what are the Bronx denizens called?) by threatening to cut power if we didn't first. I saw one of those enormous trucks with the feeder-cables sitting on Franklin as ConEd workers went down on Park. But we seemed to have come through it all fine.(photos to come)


Just when New Yorkers though LeBron's going to Miami would suck all the sports news out of the air, it was suddenly time to say goodbye to George Steinbrenner. A man who let's face it handled more money that most of us every will, who affected the news, the people and the city and occassionally the world in away many never have, and who (this is important to my sensibilities) came from advantage like most people who have affect on the world. All that to say he was not the common man. But his life in New York made you, if you were a certain kind of New Yorker, feel he was as reachable as putting your hands on the concrete at the base of the Empire State Building. He was a tangible part of New York for Millions of New Yorkers who would never meet him, and who frankly he gave to, but overall took from. I quantify that last statement by fact that the New Yankee Stadium was built with around $1 Billion in public subsidized money and that the new stadium's revenues go to the Steinbrenner family and not to the city despite building on city land and enjoying city cops as security among other unpaid for city services.

However in terms of passing, I felt a shift in my perceptions with the passing of George Steinbrenner as much for his outsized personality as for my own sense of time and place. officially another aspect of the life I've lived, the place I knew has ceased to be part of the now and is forever more the then. I don't think that's over stating considering my entire life has known the character of the Boss representing a certain NYC archetype, brooding and billowing in the Bronx and now that mountain moves from the earth to the memory.

In a related story the times has this piece written by the son of a woman who as a young woman got to know a young George, it's a sweet series of anecdotes about "the Boss" that show how we're all young, at least once:

Last week was Summer event crazy with The Roots, Talib Kweli, Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew and more at the Prospect Park, Jimmy Cliff (!) at Summer Stage in Central Park, The Soul Summit (Dance Party) back at Fort Greene Park, and non stop line up of events performances and concerts at other parks around the city. I didn't write about any cause I was too busy getting down.

Next up at the MLK Jr Concert series at Wingate Field and Seaside Summer Concert series Asser Levy Park/Seaside Park, are these events

Here a schedule for the Martin Luther King Jr. and Seaside concert series in Brooklyn. All shows start at 7:30 p.m., and are free. Information: (718) 222-0600 or
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. SERIES Wingate Field, Brooklyn Avenue, between Rutland Road and Winthrop Street, Wingate.
Monday: Toni Braxton
July 26: Musiq Soulchild and Chrisette Michele
Aug. 2: Salt-N-Pepa, Naughty by Nature and Slick Rick
Aug. 9: Aretha Franklin
Aug. 16: BeBe and CeCe Winans, and Fred Hammond
Aug. 23: Sean Paul and the Mighty Sparrow
SEASIDE SUMMER CONCERT SERIES Asser Levy Park/Seaside Park, West Fifth Street and Surf Avenue, where Brighton Beach meets Coney Island.
Thursday: The Beach Boys, the Turtles, the Monkees and Mark Lindsay
July 29: George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes
Aug. 5: John Legend
Aug. 12: Aretha Franklin
Aug. 19: The B-52s and Belinda Carlisle
Aug. 26: Annual Latino Music by the Sea concert

And I want to draw attention to a few blogs I read.
First the Kensington Stories written by Ron Lopez. His perspective comes as a life time resident raised in the neighborhood of Kensington, think Church Avenue on the F (and now G) Train (although he always writes about his place up state). We've exchanged some letters and Ron's a good guy with good stories of the old neighborhood ( I lived there for three years, but a bit after Ron's day).

Next up is back2brooklyn.blogspot written by Nora Campisi. I don't know much about Nora, but her stories are authentic Bensonhurst, Brooklyn and come with some great photos.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Photo/Video Wednesday 07/07/10: Summer Dirty Gritty Edition

Ah summer... hot, outdoors and thanks to less than civil Brooklynites, filty.

I'm reposting from Gothamist, the Brooklyn Paper and the Daily News with stories and video of Prospect Park post 4th of July trash strewn, and the ashtray formerly known as Coney Island beach thanks to careless smokers. Although in fareness Coney Island while dirty is still cleaner than it used to be....

The Daily News writes:

The Daily News was easily able to gather a small mountain of butts from the sand - nearly 1,000 in all - as the holiday crowds thinned on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

"It's disgusting," said Michael Austine, 50, of Middle Village, Queens, as he surveyed the tobacco addicts' litter.

"It's like sitting in a giant ashtray."

Meanwhile from Prospect Park comes this video narrated by Gersh Kuntzman of the Brooklyn Paper:

One thing I notice in the video of the park is some people seemed to try and use the trash bins available, but the parks could clearly use more. Perhaps bringing out large dumpsters for Holiday weekends or having staffers come by at the end of the day and point out to park goers where to dump. Maybe that would help with clean up?

The following statement from the Parks Department's Adrian Benepe, regarding not only Prospect Park but all city parks:

“The July 4 holiday weekend, fireworks display, and the extremely hot weather together made for a triple-whammy as huge crowds flocked to the city’s beaches, pools and parks.

More than 2.4 million went to the city’s 14 miles of beach over the three-day weekend, with more than 1.1 million on Monday alone, watched over by a large municipal lifeguard corps. The 54 outdoor pools were filled to capacity, and tens of thousands more made use of spray showers in over 450 parks. Massive crowds also arrived at all the traditional picnic and barbecue spots.

At Prospect Park, clean-up crews were out working in the park every day of the long, holiday weekend from 5 am until midnight as thousands of park goers enjoyed picnicking and barbecuing from early in the morning to late in the evening. The clean-up continues all day today and throughout the week and the summer ahead, and we ask for New Yorkers to pitch in by carrying trash to the receptacles provided and leaving it neatly placed next to the receptacles if they fill up.

Don’t dump your coals near a tree because it will kill its roots. Recycle your bottles and cans. And remember, every time you re-use a water bottle, that’s one less plastic bottle going to a landfill.”