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Saturday, June 29, 2013

StudioBPM last night Yah! & Grove Alley Happened, Meh.

Grove Alley a heavily promoted street that dead end's behind part of Downtown Brooklyn no one knew existed was given a party, a dose of hip and college try. The food trucks were faves, the crowd was young, trepidatious with notes of lascivious and the vendors showed their goodies. I wasn't moved but I did get this great shot:

Definitely a lot of potenial for the space and I'm sure the powers that be in real estate will make another swing since the alley is in the nexus of several literally up and coming condos downtown. For my tastes I'd need a little less Hooser hooser_DSC1691 Meanwhile Studio BPM avoided the whimper choosing instead to go with the musical bang ala jam session. studioBPM_jam_web_DSC1831 It was crowded, cozy, loud, rapturous a little drunken and everything else the hole in the wall music venue has been for ten years, if it had to close it went out hard. studiobpm-jam-web_DSC1902 StudioBPM-jam-web_DSC1860 StudioBPM_Web_guyphoto_DSC1899

Friday, June 28, 2013

Studio BPM Bye Bye Party TONIGHT

burning bright
(Photo © Jason Scott Jones)

I blame the years and first impressions. Sometimes the reality that the neighborhood formally known (In my mind) as Williamsburg is not a river hugging no-man's land between a wet and a hard place. That union workers don't process sugar in the cross hatched shadow of the bridge anymore. Supposedly religious men don't troll for underage fair along the underlit south streets. Blue flickering broadcasts don't illuminate the retired and retiring working class couples front windows like they used to. And Kent Avenue isn't the more western of two parallel and nearly always desolate blocks, lined with yesterday's industry. I forget about today.

Today is the last night StudioBPM will be open on Kent Avenye. It's a classic and literally hole in the wall were local and far a field musicians have grooved for over ten years ago by some not as young as they used to be folk from the land of the rising sun.

The space is sweet, not being a musician I speak from the peanut gallery which works because it's got a gallery's boxy fit coyly suggesting hidden sonic treasures to be found and it's smallness floor level stage make you feel like your in the coolest living room being treated just because life can be good.

All the players of the last ten years and more in the undiscovered (often widely "discovered" soon after though) crowd has played there, Apollo Heights, TV on The Radio, Dub Nomads, Akoya Afrobeat Ensemble and many more. Set lists were discarded or non-existant, videos accompanied, enhanced or distracted, Dub was plentiful by Rock, Soul and various experimental sonic cocktails had their nights and a good time was had by all.

The first time I got to know StudioBPM was shortly after they opened in 2002. The entrance was just some doorway with a guy standing there, he didnt ask me for anything and his sole presence on the block gave me a little confidence that this non-descript one level light industrial building was what I was lookign for. Shortly after entering the door I felt I was going to some combination of dungeon, level of Hell, Wizard chamber, which on a given not it could be. From the entrance you'd quickly descend some stairs and endup walking threw dirt (or mud if it had rained) and as soon as you reached this short trip to the pit, you were walking right back up again in to the narrow lounge space the preceded the venue. It was trippy the definition of grit, weird, disconcerting, exciting, bold. Perfect. Nightlife like New York City used to exude on the regular. That it was 2002, post Millenium, Post the dark day in September, post "Hipster" in the lexicon, made it all the more wonderful to the native New Yorker I am.

A few weeks back I attended a gathering and performance of "The Brunt Sugar Arkestra Chamber" who were honoring member and Saxophonist "Moist" Paula Henderson of "Moisturizer" & "Rev. Vince and the Love Choir" fame. The performance made me woozy in that feel good took me away and showed me the sights kinda style. And it was then (late) I learned that the forces of real estate in WillyB were forcing them to shut there doors.

I asked one of the staff, part of the fantastically warm and charitable Japanese crew behind Studio Bpm and this guy in particular of the fantastic type uber laid back to the point of stand-slumber Japanese dudes I'd known and cherished in Tokyo, if they were really closing and he nodded. "What's next?" my slack-jaw asked, his laid back posture, held, levitated and then laid forward, just a bit as he replied,"I dunno. Umm. Condo?"

Internally I thought,"How the fuck can you put a condo in a place like.." was the point where my mind caught on and up to the day we're in. Zoning laws had changed, much begat a change in positioning for a new not-so-hipster newcomer, which unleashing a waterfront flood not much different than Sandy for a lot of people. I left the staffer, the electric spark of funk soul and improvisation still with me courtesy of the generous musicians, but when I did the "v" stairs and exited the building I noticed, for the first time, despite being a new Williamsburg visitor, the condos, across the street, up and down the block, I'd come out of a time warp and and like many before me ran out of time.

Tonight's the StudioBPM Bye-Bye. Make it or miss it. 237 Kent Avenue btw Grand & N1st  9pm until

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Photo Wednesday 062613 : Boysen Berry Late Edition

I'm sick. argh. Either too much airconditioning and 90 degree days or a little too close to a old flemish gent but either way I'm at about %50 potency.

But it is Wednesday and I have a Photographic mission.

This weeks Photos for Wednesdays are of a subject I've wanted to write about for a while now.
The Boysenberry. Untitled Each year, late into Spring, after trees have sprouted leaves and sweaters all but disappeared a curious berry appears dotting certain Brooklyn streetscapes. Equally curious is how the berry buds suddenly appear first leaf green then red and finally a mixture of color spanning the blackberry to raspberry spectrum.

That's appropriate but more on that later. As with most things on this blog I have a personal remembrance on the subject. Each school year my child mind full of the impending ever important summer vacation, I'd be startled from my distraction by the berry sight of trees with low hanging fruit. So much fruit in fact that the tree branches would bend generously toward the street below, graciously offer a sweet flavorful break in the day.

Untitled Almost more fun than plucking grape sized fruit and popping them direct to my mouth, was the horrified looks I'd get from passersby, 3rd and 4th generation urban dwellers who were likely without the benefit of a weird year spent on a farm as I'd had, or random trips to the Caribbean as were often orchestrated by family, or maybe the people which with terror and my berry red lips just had no expectation that anything nourishing could come from a Brooklyn street.

Since then, I've looked forward (and up) to the trees impending blossoms. This year is the latest bloom I can recall, I blame climate change, and the berries don't disappoint.

You'd think with all the locally sourced fervor taking over Brooklyn in the last few years there'd be no end to the appearances and usages of Boysenberries on tony tables but nope all that hype is saved for rhubarb and ramps. (Ramps? really?)

A few years ago I brought up the berry topic with a friend and fellow native brooklynite. I called them Mulberries. He insisted they were Boysenberries. A wiki search proved him correct, much to my dismay. The same wiki page informed me not only that these Berries were Boysen, but that there were white variations of the same.
Of course a week or two later, the moon lighting my bike path home, I came across two men on the sidewalk, standing the dark shade of a broad tree. They were in a curious discussion and I slowed. Surrounding them on the concrete ground was a familiar stipple pattern of small dark stains. Weary, it is still Bk after all I got within earshot and just as I overheard them they noticed me, one motioning me over saying, "you know what these are?" "They're berries. Not just any berries, the mythic white ones I'd recently learned of. "You can EAT them." the night stranger offered. The Alice Carrol-esque element of his enthusiastic suggestion aside I joined them, not in the eating, too soon and too late to be eating from trees with strangers. But we chatted as they chewed and before I was on my way.

Speaking of that tell-tale pattern of berry stains on the ground; I'd always presumed it was the result of fallen fruit from the wind blowing or perhaps the juicy fruit was simply too heavy for it's spindly stem but as I was taking the photos featured here, I got my answer. Fruit was falling like late August rain, in uneven in large and small droplets all while I took photos. Finally I felt the urge to look up to where many berries were falling from and I came eye to eye with this guy, the culprit.

That squirrel seems to be enamored with his territory and I don't blame him, it's not on every block that you find Boysen. I have a memorized few streets where the easily accessible fruit treats can be reliably found. One is the corner of Eastern Parkway and Washington. Another is in front of the church (St. Teresa's) on Classon near Sterling Place. And there's a few more in people's yards but I'm keeping those on the hush.

I've since learned the Boysenberry is in fact a hybrid man made fruit. A combination of such fruits as Raspberries, Blackberries and currants. Made by one Rudolph Boysen, who started the work before it eventually became the concern of the same Walter Knott for whom Knott's Berry Farm is named.

The fruit was cultivated in the 1920's which may explain why it's so plentiful in brooklyn front yards as a large number of homeowners especially brownstone owners were planting fruit trees of various climate friendly varieties.

For years I've meant to do a full on harvest ending in a juice or a pie but this year the fruit came on later than expected and I'm a little slow today so get a start on next year and grab them while you can. Hurry the squirrels and pigeons have ganged up!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Bike Clot!!

Not my best title but I havent thought up poetry for this post. It's a busy 1st summer weekend in NYC, (Mermaid Parade tomorrow!) so before I over think, I figured I'd write and here it is.

The Bike Lanes need drano, for right now my peoples, they are clogged.

I'm stunned, sincerely. As one who is pro most things bicycle let me tell you I was shocked dismayed astounded and more. A metaphorical snake couldnt even get through because people were maintaining speeds and spacing so the type of maniacal darting and weaving I'd be likely to do through traffic was only going to get some other cyclist hurt so I resigned to be down with the slow-go crowd.

Before anyone anti-bike gets too excited, it's not like this everywhere, in Brooklyn for example I still get to cruise like Elaine after Kramer widened the highway, but in Manhattan it's like being trout in the Pacific Northwest (no pun intended, granted I can't speak for KimYe). here is one detail the surprised me most, as I rode down 2nd Avenue midweek, midday, and crawled through BIKE TRAFFIC, (BIKE!!) it wasn't at all deadly or safety concern inducing, because everyone in the lane, citibike or not (and the citibikes were out numbered 4 - 1 that day) was riding as slow as cabbies in traffic court.

A majority of the bike riders I encountered on the city bike lanes was slow, and riding like they were on a country path someplace bucolic where the need to make space for your fellow rider doesn't matter because there is no other country rider.

In some ways it was beautiful. People traversing, obviously enjoying, slowly savoring the city, with zero harmful emissions, save the rage steam pouring out my ears as I wished wistfully that I could get off that damned path and take my chances with the cabbies. Sure some of the cabbies are driving with their cousin's license, but they're driving fast!

So yeah on the 1st day of Summer let's all bask in the sun, bake away troubles and have a great time but please pull your big blissfully unaware ass over and let people pass. There's ya poetry.

Bike safe NY.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Photo Wednesday 061913: East Side Access Edition

This is a tunnel carved out by a giant mechanical earthworm.

(Photo: MTAflickr)

Actually it's a tunnel boring machine and it's what has been chewing through granite under and inside of Manhattan island. So weird that the machine itself ends up buried forever in the last tunnel it creates. This PhotoWednesday picture comes from the MTA's collection of tunnel project images and it's very impressive that this and more is going on under our collective feet.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

NYCHA reports "Unexpected" budget cuts could close Public Housing Community Centers

NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) is facing an "unexpected" budget shortfall of over $200 Million dollars or 11% of it's operating budget. NY1 reports that as a result of this surprise, "a spokeswoman for the agency says the federal government's sequester cuts will affect every part of the housing authority's budget. She says that without a new source of revenue, "difficult decisions are unavoidable.""

NYCHA Senior and Community Centers which provide resources for public housing residents could be forced closed as a result of this, which would negatively impact thousands across the City. I won't rant about how unacceptable it is that an action taken by the federal government months ago suddenly results in an "unexpected" shortfall because it's already happened and it's better to focus on fixes.

To that end, the City Council has scheduled a last-minute budget hearing on Thursday to address the unexpected shortfall. Let your Council member know you want them to find a fix that keeps those Community Centers open, and if it's not too much to ask figure out how to better monitor budgetary situations so $200 Million "unexpected" shortfalls don't happen.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Photo Wednesday 061213 : Rose Night Edition

The Brooklyn Botanic(al) Gardens held its "Rose Night" members event this past June 5th with picnicking, pageantry and music provided by the period appropriate musicians of the "Dew Drop Society"(pictured above). They were awesomely fun, I half expected F. Scott Fitzgerald to be tapping his toe behind a tree whilst taking notes.


I took more than a few photos that night. The lighting and fashions of some really made for some throwback imagery and that's a little of the point of the event.


Rose Night (if you haven't checked the link above) is a celebration not only of the beauty of June blooming roses of all shapes, sizes and colors, but it's also a call back to the era the Rose Garden was dedicate, back in 1927.

ROSENIGHT_adj_DSC1078 In addition to music and roses the annual event consisted of kids events, beverages, (including a rose-like florally fragrant vodka martini which was a fave) and a hat contest. Attendees were encouraged to wear period clothing and at least go all out with the hats. I spotted and spoke with a few Easter Parade alums who came bespoke in their bonnets.
(Winner of the Hat Contest pictured above. Congrats!)

I didn't quite understand the mechaniations of the hat contest, but it was won, fun was had, and there was enough Flappers, Charleston steppers and kids in what seemed to devolve into a conga line to bring smiles to everyone's faces.

There's so many photos, and I really got into adjusting them to push the period look further) that I couldn't decide which to show so below's a slideshow of the best views I saw that night, Enjoy:

Can't wait till next year. And if you're a fan of Brooklyn Botanic Garden events in general, you don't have to wait for one. Their calendar is full of nearly daily happenings so check em out.

Friday, June 7, 2013

They make DOUGH but don't call them doughboys

DOUGH!! Bed-Stuy's crown seat of fried confectionary delight is cram-packed with shoppers at of 6:50pm. It could be their delicious multi-optioned namesake doughnuts or it could be that today is national doughnut day (really?) it it could be their in-store sweepstakes offering the winner 4 free doughnuts for a year.

It's all three. Even actions of tropical God do not deter the faithful, as attested by the soaked-to-the-bone masses, pictured below.

Yesterday I spotted their delivery van far from its Lafayette ave home, and in taking that as some sort of good omen.

Dough is open until 9 tonight when entries for the sweepstakes end, so come down and see if you can live out the Homeric Dream.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Photo Wednesday 060513 | Memorial & Rose Night Edition

As a kid I noticed these one day when I decided to read them instead of passing them as I had hundreds of times previously. It was shocking to me that they had been laid decades ago, and in brought up a cheesy yet civic-prideful sense of happiness in my elementary school self. So today's Photo(s) for Wednesday come from Eastern Parkway.

The plaques were created and dedicated for Brooklyn residents who perished in "The War to End All Wars". Many of America's WWI soldiers were laid to rest overseas and so memorials like these were dedicated across the nation. Down the western end near the Museum new benches, widened sidewalks and a bike-lane have been added. Parking signs were reposted today. Included and repositioned are the World War I memorial placards. 

Over the years tree root growth, erosion and occasional vandalism have disturbed the placards and I'm happy to see there refurbishing was part of the Eastern Parkway makeover. Each placard is aligned next to a tree as they were originally. A subtle memorial as was originally intended.

Eastern Parkway the nation's 1st parkway built in 1866 expressly for "pleasure-riding and scenic driving" by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux has been undergoing successful remodeling and refurbishing for years now and it's looking great. 

From wikipedia's Eastern Parkway Entry:
The world's first parkway was conceived by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1866. The term parkway was coined by these designers as a landscaped road built expressly for 'pleasure-riding and driving' or scenic access to Prospect Park (also designed by Olmsted and Vaux). To these ends, commerce was restricted. The parkway was constructed from Grand Army Plaza to Ralph Avenue (the boundary of the City of Brooklyn) between 1870 and 1874. Olmsted and Vaux intended Eastern Parkway to be the Brooklyn nucleus of an interconnected park and parkway system for the New York area. The plan was never completed but their idea of bringing the countryside into the city influenced the construction of major parks and parkways in cities throughout the United States.[4]

Speaking of trees and thoughts of days past in the vicinity of Eastern Parkway; Tonight is the Brooklyn Botanic(al) Garden's Member's Rose Night, were attending members will be treated to music in celebration of the era in which the Cranford Rose Garden opened in 1927.

From the Garden's website:
Enjoy live ragtime and jazz with Dewdrop Society. Don your best bonnet to participate in our second annual hat contest—kids can make their own at our specially equipped craft table. Picnicking is permitted and a cash bar will be available.

I'll be the one in the top-hat. Be a member enjoy the Garden. Cheers! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Missed it Mondays 060313 - Bushwich Open Studios 2013

Bushwich Open Studios the massive open invite local artists put out to the public, ringed by a schedule of musical events and parties was this past weekend and that's the subject of today's Missed it Monday feature. 
(Above "Bushwhich" 2013 Digital media: flier art, recontextualized googlemap, bedazzled with confusion. 36"x96". $9,000. or you could just steal it.)

Because I missed it. Because Bushwich is literally far out, and well, I couldn't find it.
yeh... I know.

I decided to trek from Crown Heights over and it never fails to shock me how much longer it takes to get to Bushwich central, than it takes to get to almost anything in Brooklyn not sitting on the shoreline. I've lived in or traversed about 75% of this borough in my years and i still can't find my way through Bushwich's layers. I rode in circles so lost even google's servers could clear my confusion.

I was specifically trying to get to a few artists studios and before I even left the apartment I was caught in a self-induced whirlwind of confusion worried that I got the date of the mermaid parade wrong and it was somehow going on yesterday, or that perhaps dance african hadn't ended and i was missing something and nagging appetite led cravings for Brooklyn Crab or Smorgashburg, while at the same time my mind was filled with certain dread that it was 1st saturday which i love except that, well i go to bars near by and can't find my favorite seat, after the sea of humanity flows down from the Brooklyn Museum's cultured hilltop.  

In short I was suffering for the luxury of living in one of the most awesomely dynamic places on earth Brooklyn on the edge of summer. (yeh 1st art world problems, woe is me)

Of course this is just the beginning. Celebrate Brooklyn hasnt even started, June is just opening, there's even a Zombi Crawl on the calendar (why...) so as it is most every summer there will be something great, worthwhile and possibly magical happening every weekend in Brooklyn from now until its time to take my sweaters back out of cider infused mothballs (what you don't do cider, c'mon son, biological loss prevention at it's finest) so yeh that.

So now I pretend I went to the Bushwich Open Studios, instead of wandering the streets like a person off their meds in a foreign country and one Artist person i want to mention is Coby Kennedy. 

here's some of Coby's recent work:

(above from : ©Coby Kennedy)

Why because beside intending to see his creation space, Coby's a dope artistic-muthernucker and one of the peoples who studio was open in bushwich this past weekend and I've seen much of his recent work is a melange.. (nah I'm not finishing that sentence)

Heres what Coby's recent work says to me, "the world ended, you missed it, we're still here and now with nothing to lose, lock and load." and they say that with practical objects crafted as much from raw materials and street architecture as imagination and they're likely to make you wonder if you'll have enough ammo in the after life.

So what have we learned, (you, probably that I can write an egregious run-on sentence like no one's business) and me that maybe it's time I get over the time specific hype of events and realize the true mission of open studios events, to introduce people to cool artists who because of social-economic pressures work (and often live) way the fuck out on the fringe (where the rainbow ends) and just visit some artists studios regardless of what the date is. Annnd I came across more wild condos, crevasse dwelling subcultures and thick tree lined streets than I give Bushwich credit for. A photographic  revisit is in the works.