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Thursday, December 4, 2014

FUN, FREE, FAMILY Event by FES this Sat, Marcy Playground

Just found out about a fun, free community event in Brooklyn THIS Saturday, 12/6 in support of #DontStealPossible —  a movement created to raise awareness of the NYC education crisis and the 143,000 students stuck in failing NYC schools. 

In celebration of this one-of-a-kind campaign, there will be a #DontStealPossible neighborhood block party on Saturday, December 6th at Marcy Playground (corner of Myrtle and Nostrand, in Bed-Stuy) from 12-3pm that features family-friendly entertainment and activities including music, arts & crafts, face-painting and storytelling, as well as complimentary bites, drinks and snacks.

Here's a map to get your orientated, check googlemaps for specifics.
Local area favorites such as artisanal handcrafted donuts from Dough, tacos from Tacombi, hot apple cider, hot cocoa, and more will be available to attendees, at NO CHARGE.
Kids and parents will also have the chance to sign and complete the #DontStealPossible mural by renowned New York native artist, Greg Lamarche, created last month for the #DontStealPossible rally in Foley Square that brought over 1,000 parents, teachers and kids together.

And for the event, see the flyer above for further details:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

CrowHill Comm Assoc Meeting tonight 11/18

The meeting will be held at the Gospel Tabernacle Church 725 Franklin Ave
Between Park Pl and Sterling Pl in Crown Heights to discuss local issues, all are welcomed especially Crown Heights residents.

This is the tentative agenda:
  1. Opening statement from CHCA Vice President Paul Carson
  2. Report on Halloween Parade by CHCA President Frank Esquilin
  3. Status of children’s workshops & Scholar’s Program by CHCA President Frank Esquilin
  4. Community Survey by CHCA President Frank Esquilin
  5. Community Information by CHCA Project Manager Constance Nugent-Miller
  6. Thanksgiving Food Basket cost approval by CHCA Treasurer Joanne Crispe
  7. Report on CHCA website by CHCA Secretary Josh Thompson 
  8. Guest Speaker: Mr. Mathew Pitt from Councilwoman Cumbo’s Office                     
  9. Guest Speaker: Mr. Harold Lutchman, Capital One Manger
  10. Guest Speaker: Mr. Guillermo Phillips, President of the Panama Assoc.                              
  11. "Did You Know?" by Mike Fagan
  12. Guest Speaker: Ms. Jennyfer Bagnalli, President of the PTA for P.S. 316
Check their website for more information:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Successful talk about renters rights in the wake of Gentrification

Before the event (I'll post a better photo later)

Last night's talk about Gentrification was better than I'd hoped. The organizer of the meeting Neta Alexander screened two films "Rent Freeze" which documented the struggle to install a five year rent rate freeze for all stabilized and rent controlled apartments in New York City. And "A Snowboarding Day in Brooklyn" by Jason Scott Jones, which captured a moment of bless ruined by the inequity certain New Yorkers often face.

The event was well attended with an active audience and four guest speakers Donna Rachel and the filmmakers. Topics of renters rights were heavily discussed. I met great people and came away more optimistic and with specific ideas on what we can all do to increase the sustainability of longstanding communities while uniting with new comers to the neighborhood to make Crown Heights in particular and the once neglected neighborhoods of New York city as a whole, vibrant functioning places again.

I'll post more about the discussion event, and some inspired thoughts that came out of it, and hopefully some new ongoing reporting that may be featured on this blog.

Friday, September 26, 2014


TOMORROW -  SATURDAY 9/27 7:30pm a public talk about Gentrification - Rent Controls & Resistance - will take place at the FiveMyles Gallery at 558 St. Johns Place in Crown Heights. 

Everyone is invited to come down and join in. Two short films on the topic as it relates to Brooklyn will be shown, come down and meet the contributors to the Brooklyn Born blog as well as the filmmakers and Rachel Godsil, Director of NYC's Rent Guideline Board, and lenders of the Crown Heights Tenants Union.

Details on the flyer for more information contact Neta Alexander (

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Smorgasburg & Bklyn Flea, coming to Crown Heights

 (Above) "BERG'N" the newest eating, hanging, drinking spot to land in Brooklyn and most audaciously, in Crown Heights. Soon to be sharing Winter customers with the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg


I like food. And much in the same way I like to have my good t-shirts dry-cleaned for reasons of practicality and pampering, I occasionally enjoy spending more than I should on small portions of obsessively prepared, delicious food.

In other words I like Smorgasburg.

And they've just dropped the word that they're going to be in Crown Heights for the winter weekends starting on Nov 8th & 9th placing them at 1000 Dean Street the newest of recently renovated commercial spaces in the western end of the neighborhood. This will place them back to back with Berg'n which I have been to twice but yet to review because I want to get a fair sense of Berg'n before I proclaimed it the latest and tastiest Beer-eteria I've been to. Oh see? there that went.

Eric Demby, Smorgasburg & Brooklyn Flea co-founder says there'll be between 100 and 110 vendors each weekend and that they'll be set up with more permanent stalls. Of those, five to 10 will be cooked-food stands and more from the "packaged-food contingent." In addition to food vendors from Smorgasburg there will be marketeers from the Brooklyn Flea in the space, making for an enclosed experience of food, shopping and meet up spaces. ("Whooohoo 360º!!" says the marketing staff.)

Snips aside it's a brilliant move. Berg'n the venture co-funded by GoldmanSachs (is this the first time they've invested in Crown Heights?) has been packing them in, even in these pics I took on their second day open just before lunchtime.

(Above: owner and Ramen Burger creator Keizo Shimamoto, he nimbly prepared one for me)

I'd figured it would be the convenient lunch destination for whatever businesses filled 100 Dean Street. Now this merge of offerings that attract and overlap like-minded customers boosts all the player's profiles and profits, and will probably go a long way to keeping Berg'n profitable despite the weekday afternoons when people traffic is lower.

(Above: A Ramen Burgen, bun of ramen noodles in between a tasty hunk of shredded beef chuck, juicy steak tomato, arugula and special mayo sauce, seconds later it became part of me)

I haven't written about 1000 Dean (the old Studebaker repair building long since under used) being made into a wide open ready to go commercial space mostly because I haven't heard of a main tenant being announced. Bergen and Dean streets run straight from Brownsville(Ocean Hill now, yeesh) East New York's end of Crown Heights and continue west straight to within blocks of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Bike lanes and buses on both streets. It's exactly what I've been saying to potential property buyers for years now, follow the bike lanes, there on lies a plan.

So all this new business in Crown Heights could be cool. Downside I can imagine now there'll be more new people who haven't gone through the crucible of moving to Crown Heights, meeting neighbors and becoming aware through hard and soft interactions not to be a entitled douche. So let's so come November how much fun it is to be around here on the weekends. Between this and Starbucks having opened today on the other end of Franklin's now crowded commercial corridor (mostly from Eastern Parkway to Dean St) we'll really get a sense of how much of the conscientious character of the neighborhood stays intact as we develop forward.

From the left; Mighty Quinn's (BBQ), Asia Dog, Pizza Moto, & Ramen Burger,
(clearly you can't sell food here without a compound name)

Look at those scant lines of people up there, it won't be that way when the Smorgasburg train comes to Crown.

More details from the folks at Gothamist:


THIS SATURDAY 9/27 7:30pm a public talk about Gentrification - Rent Controls & Resistance will take place at the FiveMyles Gallery at 558 St. Johns Place in Crown Heights. 

Everyone is invited to come down and join in. Two short films on the topic as it relates to Brooklyn will be shown, come down and meet the contributors to the Brooklyn Born blog as well as the filmmakers and Rachel Godsil, Director of NYC's Rent Guideline Board, and lenders of the Crown Heights Tenants Union.

Details on the flyer for more information contact Neta Alexander (

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Brooklyn Heights Public Library Slated for Redevelopment/Partial Sale

Architect's rendering of the proposed new library with residential rental units above.

I just noticed the news that the Brooklyn Public Library is selling the land of it's current Brooklyn Heights branch for $52 Million to developer Hudson Companies who will build a new library and market rate apartments on that space.

The new library will be physically smaller than the current but the press release says there will be more "usable" space in the new than currently available. Market rate for the area which is across from Cadman Plaza will make the apartments among the most expensive in the borough.

Personally I have no qualm with any of this. I don't know the exact number of people who make use of the library but I worked on a BPL project a few years back and the purpose of that project was their constant need to raise funds. Budgets have been tight at the libraries for decades. If the BPL can raise some much needed funds, without entirely closing a branch, in a neighborhood where I'm guess you'll find on average more private libraries in homes than most neighborhoods have books in their own public library, I don't see a major loss.

The libraries do need to continue finding ways to expand the vital services they provide like internet access and skills training so that they can stay viable and fund their branches in less well off neighborhoods. Selling the branch for apartments isn't going to be a revenue stream going forward.

I could be wrong. Do you have any thoughts to share?

News reports from NY1

Brooklyn Eagle:

And the most comprehensive coverage I found was on the Brooklyn Heights Blog:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Photo Wednesday 091014 : West Indian Parade 2014 Edition

I was in the parade which feels like many more than ten days ago. Not in the parade in the teen aged sense of the days when I'd hope the barricade and join the mostly other non participant paraders, but in a more age mature stroll with my niece and nephew down the parkway lanes, enjoy the people watching and food scents.

From my point of view, having walked back and forth from Franklin to Nostrand and back, as well as taking the train out to Utica Av, (with the exception of a lack of information dolled out to the rank and file officers on where crowds could permissibly cross streets) the parade was a grand success.

I have lots of pics (Senator Chuck Schumer was hilarious with the bullhorn in my opinion) and I'll put up a gallery soon, but I've settled on this shot from high above Franklin Av and Eastern Parkway.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


So yesterday was a lot. I'm still recovering from the greatest weekend in Brooklyn this summer of 2014.

The Afro Punk Festival had been on my calendar since I was forced to miss it last year, and then outta the blue Spike Lee, 40Acres, DjSpinna and the New York Knick City Dancers (?!) decided to throw a huge old fashion Brooklyn block party styled tribute to Michael Jackson at Restoration Plaza in Bed-Stuy.

So of course I hit both.

Afro Punk 2014 Day 1xP-2585 And (as you can see) I got pictures, click through the one below or check the album (since yahoo killed flickr's slideshow function  and it's like you were there, only much quieter and less cool.

Afro Punk 2014 Day 1xP-2463

and video and stories and my god there needs to be another weekend between last and next just to express all the greatness that went down, from Spike hosting a good all family event for longterm Brooklynites and newcomers from around the world, including bringing out two of the newest Knick players, to a free rock event that somehow got a fraction of the Arcade Fire concert's media coverage despite it being just walking distance away from AfroPunk which was hands down the greatest music event last weekend and possible of the August if not the summer.

Here's a list of bands if you were getting married last weekend or just had fingers in your ears:

Meshell NDegocello
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
Bad Brains
Alice Smith
Lianne La Havas
Unlocking The Truth
Body Count with front man Ice-T
The Bots
Valerie June
about half The Roots
and thats only about 1/5 of the show. Plus there was food beer and rows of tents with vendors selling artwork, clothing and more. And entry was free.

So up there is a slideshow of some of the best pics and I'll be getting the video I shot soon with some special clips.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

AfroPunkFest 2014 & Spike Lee MJ Party

(above: Alice Smith mid set on Saturday Aug 23, 2014 at Afro Punk Festival, Commodore Barry Park, Bklyn)

AfroPunk 2014 music art food culture ere in Downtown/Fort Greene Brooklyn and i'm here.

5:15p Alice Smith at the Green Stage literally brought the sun out with her voice and energy.

Amazing set, Alice gave that no nonsense sweet sweet fierce fierce love to the crowd, her inspirations and even had a little left over for the soundman.

Lianne La Havas, brit born, Jamaican/Greek descended chartreuse/muse followed a Beverly Bond DJ set, and proceeded to cause a Brooklyn swoon the likes of which many are still happily unrecovered from. 

Throughout the crowd I heard as many people singing La Havas lyrics as there were remarking about how perfectly darling she is. Its true Lianne's songs have the quality of a young woman who's in the effort of finding love has had heart tarnished and uses the experience to burnish out songs which when delivered in her range from primal scream to often audible whisper, melt the heart.

It's a perfect bit of scheduling that Valerie June (whom I just caught before her set ended) Lianne La Havas & Alice Smith, played a processional lead toward Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, because each of the three musicans present a facet of young womanhood. Valerie's rockabilly strunging and "aw shucks-esque" sing cleverly ensconce a Valerie's  woman who will not be taking shit now or later. Lianne is romantic optimist, going mind and heart wide open into the romantic abyss, and Alice is lightning a potential lover hopes to catch and worries my fry them. 

If you'll allow me to wrap these three musicans into a loosely fitting metaphor, here goes, Alice Smith is Id, Lianne the Ego and Valerie's the Super Ego. Granted each has songs in which they play all and none of those roles, but on stage thats what the viberation I hear.

Alice Smith is a force of nature unapologetically contained in the body of an electrifying young woman. When Alice's label lacked the vision of her second album, the Grammy nominated artist went to her crowds and funded "SHE" her second album which has produced more of the high voltage, piognant and true songs of Alice's heart as mind, laid bare, that make her a musical pleasure to be transfixed by.

The stellar end to the 1st night of Afro Punk at the green stage was aptly presided over by the one and only Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. If you've ever been in a church service, if you've ever been to a racuous party, or had the pleasure of both in one, you'll have a slight idea of what heaven on Earth  Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings unfurled in Commodore Barry Park at Afro Punk 2014. Sharon was  minister preacher in full in one sequence sharing with the congregation her personal struggles and uncertainties after illness, "I didn't know if I would make it, I had no hair, no eyebrow hair no nostril hair, I didn't know if I would be anywhere.." in another moment renegotiating the playlists into a satisfying melody of their decade longer career songs. The movement of souls was visible, a funk more fortified than the sess tinged air, churning up the clouds as their musical chariot descended, like the revival jams of 100 Days, 100 Nights and eons of horny bass all rolled in to one, knocking the often unknowingly sanctifying crowd flat dead and bringing us back to life. Thats how Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings closed night one of Afro Punk 2014 on the green stage.

Today acts ranging from the nearly brad new life of "Unlocking the Truth" (who at aged 13 swiped the title of youngest festival group  from The Bots) to stalwarts of punk, ska & rock, Fishbone, who can always be counted on for a memoral show, will hit the Afro Punk stages, along with dynamic and diverse acts including Tamar-Kali, SZA, The Internet, Cro-Mags, the legenday Michell Ndegeocello, and culminating with a festival ending set by D'Angelo. So you've been told.

In a true challenge to musical loyalty and geographic possibilty at today is also the Spike Lee presented Michael Jackson party in Bedford-Stuyvesant at historical mixed media venue Restoration Plaza from 12noon to 6p Dj Spinna will be controlling the decks an spinning straight MJ and Jackson and or Jacksons inspired track just as Spinna does at hos annual MJ and MJ vs Prince parties around the country.

Cell service at these events tends to be spotty which I dont know whether to blame on infrastructure, or crowd control, but that is the case so I'll be uploading pics tomorrow as well as some choice video.

Fyi if youre a straight R&B type, the Mj Party ends at 6 as D'Angelo starts at Afro Punk at 8:30 so that C train (Kingston Av to Lafayette, followed  by a walk north on Ashland) might have your name on it

All Free. That's what's up Brooklyn, USA. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Despite Us Being American: after Michael Brown Jr. & too many more

Eric Garner's murder saddened me as it has many. As a person of color, as a person who has men that resemble Eric in my family. As a tax payer and American, his murder brought me so much sadness it took two weeks for me to write what I thought was a concise and useful post about it.

Then Micheal Brown Jr. an unarmed 18year old was killed in Ferguson, MO. by a police officer, shot six times, dead. It's been a week of me mostly avoiding that story for a variety of reasons.

Finally I wrote this, and my point if you want a headline, is it's not simply the shooting, the death, the tragedy of how people are viewed that has and continues to disturb me, it's that when these tragedies occur, the aftermath says as much about how people of color are considered in America if not more than the entire situation.


"Despite Us Being American"

He said "I will fight for your right to protest" and I could feel the tears forming.

I don't know why I chose finally watching Ferguson/Michael Brown Murder news reports to be tonight's insomnia activity.

One of the clips I saw was Capt. Ron Johnson the solidly build African-American head of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, who was shoehorned into this situation and seems to have been elected for his ability to sit exactly between a rock (the historically disenfranchised community of African-Americans) and the hard place(the Police in Ferguson who as a group have largely deflected the law).
Capt. Johnson started with an apology to Michael Brown's family, speaking in uniform as a member of law enforcement in that state. But you know got me, what gave me pause?
When Capt. Johnson said to the parishioners ,"I'll protect your right to protest" my eyes watered up. I had to stop watching and wonder if I was just going to start bawling flat out.
If you haven't watched all these black people, not just in the last two months, or two years but since lets just say the last twenty or thirty years, watching all these black and brown people, (Oscar Grant, Patrick Dorismond, Timothy Stansbury Jr., Anthony BaezAmadou Diallo, Eric Garnermany of whom haven't committed a crime, several who committed misdemeanors or were caught in situations where they didn't know they were interacting with police, be killed by law enforcement. If you haven't witnessed that through the life of a black, brown or some other variation of "Other" person, then in some ways frankly you're lucky.

Lucky to know you're a citizen of a country that can't get enough talking about Freedom and almost always feels an obligation to protect yours. Do you who are not visually "other" have to interact with assholes despite being an American? Of course. Do you wonder if the government is not trying to take advantage or misuse your tax dollars, despite your not being an "other" american? Yes of course. There's lots of concerns. But usually law enforcement doesn't target you. If someone in law enforcement does target you, you have options, you can seek and expect justice, mistreatment of you will most always only go so far.

That's what hurts. The cop who shot a kid he'd probably never met ten minutes earlier is all kinds of idiot. But the entire police force felt it justifiable to back that idiot. That's a big part of being "other" usually Black as in this case and most cases. The police backed the murder, the victim was Black.That's the full on injustice. It's the same damned injustice. Even with a deep tan in the white house. The injustice starts with the precept that an unarmed, (very possibly innocent) brown skinned male is deserving of gun violence. It's an idea promoted across american society and embraced by law enforcement. Then the injustice continues when the officer of the law kills that black male without (we now know) knowing anything about this male. Then the injustice reaches full voice in the chorus of systematic American racism, when those in charge of the Ferguson Police force decide to back the murder. It starts with a racial history and the ideas that come out of it. But to understand the crime, for friends of those who don't, understand a police officer made very bad decisions, over reacted, killed a person he knew nothing about, and then the Police force decided to do everything it could including leaking false information in public media, to protect the murder.

That's what happened.

When the Highway Patrol officer told the congregation "I'll protect your right to protest" they erupted in cheers. CHEERS. Capt, Ron Johnson didn't promise to get justice (he can't alone) he didn't promise to hunt down the murderer (who's not been charged and was allowed to leave the state) he didn't promise to end racism and bias. He said he'll defend the crowd's American rights, and the people cheered. If you’re anything people refer to as “Black” you know this already. You’ve lived this, near and from afar but always as a member of the group not able to get equal treatment under our law. If you aren’t what people call "Black", or married, parented, bonded, brothered and sistered in some authentic way to someone considered as Black, I’m laying this out for you. The crowd cheered, at a member of law enforcement who resembles us, saying that he’ll simply do his job so we could simply have our right to say we’re terribly sad and upset, without us having to fear those we pay to protect us.

Because that's not something we're used to from American police forces, despite us being American.

Monday, August 11, 2014


On the corner of Rogers Ave and Park Place in Crown Heights ("western" crown heights as the new comers say, because obviously a neighborhood of two miles requires geographic annotations) there is a small lot that had been neglected by the owner. Concerned citizens long ago transformed the lot into a community open, garden.

The garden has stood for at least ten years. I remember the mural painted on the wall above it for at least that long.

Recently developers, one can only imagine who, tracked down the owner, who I was told, was living in Florida and beset with back taxes for the lot. It seems developers purchased the lot for below market value and are now attempting to developed the site.

Rogers Ave recently got a make-over in the form of an express bus lane. The lane stretches from near Brooklyn College in the Flatbush/Midwood section, connecting with Bedford Ave where it and Rogers merge at Atlantic Ave and continuing to Williamsburg.

I've been talking up Rogers to friends for years because it has lacked aesthetic charms but had lots of available rentals. Leading in the lacking amenities on Rogers is greenery, specifically flowers, trees. No double entendre here.

So the fact that there is a garden on Rogers which is fueled by new and old residents who want to keep the neighborhood on the upswing is a great reason in my mind for this site to remain green, and open to residents and especially local kids at the elementary school down the block.

I spoke with a volunteer who was putting the finishing touches on large painted letters spelling out "SAVE THE GARDEN" (pictured above) and he explained these details as well as the hope that local residents will contact our elected representatives, in this case Mayor DeBlasio, Public Advocate Tish James, as well as the City Councilmember for this site, Robert Cornegy( and request the city take over the site as a result of owed taxes and lease the land to the community garden.

For more information on how to help save the garden, go to

And now a brief summer 2014 recap.

It's been a great summer. I've already personally decided this is one for the history books in terms of the congenial weather we've had almost everyday since June.

It's also been a rough summer in terms of world events, and here at home senselessness like the murder of Eric Garner by members of the NYPD.

I've been out enjoying the former and loathing the latter so much I've found it hard to focus enough to write.

Some things I've missed are the random bouts of fireworks, (unrelated to the 4th of July), Kara Walker's "Subtlety" exhibit at the doomed Domino Sugar factory,

Things that won't be missing from this blog, the upcoming Afro Punk festival in two weeks which is shaping up to be the best ever. Views from the newest property on Eastern Parkway. A tease for Brooklyn's own Crown Heights Film Festival. A soon to be open new bar in an under served part of Crown Heights. Where I think you should place your bets for the next neighborhood to explode trend-rific (hopefully long lived Brooklynites can get in on this) And of course the now shortened West Indian Day parade.

In the meantime I came across this item about the efforts to save a community garden in Crown Heights today and I'm writing a new post to it right now.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Rink Rolls in Brooklyn! BklynBridgePark RollerRink Opens Today!

"Come on everybody get your roller-skates today!" Happening NOW (as of 3pm Friday July 11, 2014) The free opening celebration of the new roller rink at Brooklyn Bridge Park!

(The New Rink with City and River views, Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Bridge Park)

In addition to today's free event, there are free hours on Fridays, Sundays and throughout the week.

When not free the rink charges $5 on Weekdays and $8 on weekends. I've never mentioned it on here, but I'm a skater so I'm very excited about the Adult only skate session they have scheduled.

For full details on hours and rates for entry and rentals check

I am a fan of Brooklyn Bridge Park the new green addition that has figurative and literally sprouted up to the south of the Brooklyn Bridge.

You'll flip for it, Brooklyn Bridge Park
(A photo of the park on opening day, 2010 The park's trees were just saplings, and that budding gymnast is probably about to graduate elementary school now.)

I was there on day one of it's opening as covered in a previous post. The park which is still expanding features open fields, a huge pro level set of enclosed basketball courts,Bike paths, photogenic lookouts and nooks, the Smorgasburgh food festival on weekends and music and film screening venues. It exists as an urban oasis in the space formerly occupied by less than inviting looking Port Authority piers. Check any riverside movie from the 70's & 80's and you'll spot them.

The problem with the current debate of all vs new, is that it's often had in very simple terms. For example I complain about many things new and I will say that is because subjectively (and occasionally objectively) many new things suck here in NYC or come with intense consequences for hard working people that for them, suck.

I don't care that there is the Toll Brother's development that we have to thank in part, for the park. I'm not a fan of some of their developments, but somebody was gonna develop this space eventually.

Even as a kid, in the beat down years of trash along the river's edge, I realized how fantastic it is to view Manhattan from riverside I wondered why less people lived there. Developers were going to build like the Toll Brother's corp. is doing and if public citizens get new park land as they do in this case, then I'm for it. Plus there's no chance in hell of anyone developing something in front of Brooklyn Heights that walls off their view they way that is currently being done in Williamsburg thanks to the Bloomberg administrations rezoning of that water front.

Apparently the new development the Toll Brothers corp is building is doing so well, they've raised prices on the units 6 times (according to CurbedNY) and the first apartment isn't even completed.

Seems like everyone wins on this one, and if that's the case, I'm all for it.


the last Soul Summit of 2009 in Fort Greene Park - 50
(Photo from 2011 Soul Summit)

Soul Summit, the dance party made of love peace and of course, soul, will return to Fort Greene Park's top hill this Sunday and if the past is any indication you will not want to miss it.

Ft. Greene Park Summer 2011 DSC_0162
Dj's on hand will be mixing Rare Grooves, House and Dance Classics. Adding to the soundscape will be an untold number of drummers and percussionists who are likely to show and then their hands to the rhythm.

Ft. Greene Park Summer 2011 DSC_0210

If that's not enough the Soul Summit a festive tradition that began in the early 2000's, is a free gathering, customarily filled with dancers of all ages, united in gracefully soul speaking motion.

the last Soul Summit of 2009 in Fort Greene Park - 37
But don't take my words for it, here's photos from previous years.

Ft. Greene Park Summer 2011 DSC_0316
Fort Greene Soul Summit

Ft. Greene Park Summer 2011 DSC_0306
Ft. Greene Park Summer 2011 DSC_0212
Beside the dancing crowds, the nearby hill side usually becomes an family affair of spread blankets and spread plates of home cooked meals, children rollicking and tumbling and older folks laying back and enjoying the summer fun.
Ft. Greene Park Summer 2011 DSC_0195
the last Soul Summit of 2009 in Fort Greene Park - 53

And here's a clip of video (a little shaky sorry) from the last Soul Summit of 2009 when in the middle of the set a light but persistent rain began to fall. How the crowd responded is part of why this event is so spiritual for many, it basically became a baptism.

The Soul Summit has been a hard to find event for years now, because the times the group producing the event has been given to hold the event has been altered nearly every year since it began the City.

Originally the dance party was held at the same Cuyler Gore Park on Fulton. It moved and expanded to Fort Greene where it was a weekly Sunday event.

However one year the part was shut early by the park's department and it was called off for that summer. Ever since the even has occurred and on occasion had it's permits revoked seemingly without reason. Some years there have been no events at all. So I was happy to hear last week there will be at least one this Sunday. Hopefully there will be more this summer.

Nothing has been as good as that magical day in the summer of 2011 when The Fort Greene Music Fest, a full on free music festival was put on in Fort Greene Park, which had local food vendors at booths semi-encircling the soccer field, a stage with emerging artist and world famous musicians, among others Game Rebellion, and headliner Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def). Mos Def rocking the crowd in Fort Greene Park
Despite that being a peaceable day, attended by thousands, where profits were made and no entry charged (run-on alert) that ended on time (sunset) and didn't destroy the park, new home owners in the area complained and a similar event hasn't been held since.
Ft. Greene Park Summer 2011 DSC_0744
So with the track record of the past, I really suggest if you're a dancer or lover or music, or just want to take the kids out and enjoy good energy, you come out to the Soul Summit this sunday, who knows how long it will go on, so like summer, enjoy it while's here.

Read about previous years' Soul Summit's here:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Photo (Video) Wednesday July 4th edition.

Where were we, ah yes.

I totally missed the Do the Right Thing 25 years in the making block party. Not only did I miss it, I wrote the wrong date on this blog. Apologies. Everyone down for 2039 right!!?? Ah.. yah.

Back to the block party, Public Enemy Performed their classic "Fight The Power" as featured in the film, DJ Spinna keep the party amazing, Brooklynites enjoyed an unexpected bonus reunion day with familiar longterm Brooklynite faces meeting up from around the Borough. And if that wasn't enough The artist formerly know as Mos Def: Yasiin Bey spun the packed crowd into a musical frenzy with some of his classics and more than a little dancing to LL's also classic, "Rock the Bells". I know all this from my Facebook timeline of the folks in attendance while I was far away.

Speaking of throwbacks, The New York Times wrote another article about how Crown Heights isn't just about rioting anymore, which I guess makes the previous 5 articles they've published saying the same thing just wishful opinion engineering? Or maybe they've been so busy reminding people for 23 years that 4 days of protesting, 2 days of looting, 1 horrible act of vehicular homicide that went unpunished (innocent 6 year old Gavin Cato's death at the hands of a driver who avoided scrutiny by fleeing to Israel) followed by a terrible mob attack on an innocent student Yankle Rosenbaum (who was stabbed and later neglected at Kings County Hospital where he died) all of which occurred in an area less than 10% of the neighborhood is all Crown Heights is about, that they need this many articles to set the record straight. Except thats not the purpose of the article, it's really about making prospective buyers feel good about the area.

Speaking of Independence, the fourth of July happened! And for the first time in a kindergardener's age, the fireworks launched from the East River as opposed to shining so much light on our beloved Jersey (Really Hoboken) neighbors. I wanted to capture great images from the show that was, including the sparkling pyrotechnics cascading off the Brooklyn Bridge itself, (first time I've seen this since the Bridge's centennial celebration back in '83) but my life got in the way (or more accurately a wedding in the family in of all places, upstate, 4th of July Weekend) so here's some cool video from folks with better views than I.

More coming up this month, The Brooklyn Bodega HipHop Fest (is being held in Williamsburg this year and if you want tickets, hurry, they're selling out fast. Last year's lines we're pretty expansive.)

"Back to the Future is screening in McCarren Park in Williamsburg, kicking off their outdoor movie season (tonight FREE!)

The FREE Wingate Concert series kick's off next week with Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds headlining and theres a variety of great of other stuff (Ex: Summerstage events all around the city) I'll try to make time to post. 

Or hey send me an email with your event at umbrooklynborn @ and I'll post it here, free of charge.

Spread Love is the Brooklyn Way

Friday, June 27, 2014

Oops: Live from Bedford-Stuyvesant Spike Lee/Doing the Right Thing

(Updated Sat 6/28)


I got the date wrong. Hopefully I'm the only person who had to miss out on the block Party.

"What is brooklyn?” is a question I find myself asking a lot lately. I’m willing to bet, New York being New York, that question is sincerely asked on average three times a week around the world. And that’s sincerely, add the ironic existential asks and I’m sure the question of what Brooklyn is, and my god isn’t runs like a metronome. 

For me to be wondering that, born here, having been, across the span of now five decades (I promise I’m still carded and I still think I’m supposed to be) it’s as bizarre as if I awoke this morning, swung my feet off the bed and looked down wondering, “who’s legs are these?”

But that’s where I’m at and I’m not alone. The amount of spontaneous conversations I hear and take part in on a daily basis asking the same questions, wondering as well whether we born Brooklynites are still attached to a living breathing factually member, this borough of whether we’re all suffering the pain of a phantom limb are countless. 

There are many Brooklyns. In each era for decades now, there have been many, untouched by the goings on of Manhattan, fairly oblivious to other corners of this same borough. Five decades lived and I’ve never walked the streets of Bay Ridge. I know of people who work a job, raise a family, live a life and never set foot out of Sheepshead bay, or Brownsville, or Greenpoint. It’s not unsurprising in a place like Brooklyn that has a population three times larger than San Francisco and if counted without the other four boroughs would be the 4th largest populated city in the United States.

I just watched an old episode of what I happily recall President Obama calling a “iiberal fantasy”, TV’s “The West Wing”. In this episode a congressman, and leader of the Black Caucaus tried to make the point that his constituents, young Black men in Bedford-Stuyvesant were being under-represented. The same episode referenced Colombia as proxy for a conversation about the drug war, and in a different region of the world (as well as the plot) “friendly fire” as short hand for the complexities of war. Bedford-Stuyvesant was referenced several times, each timing meaning impoverished, disenfranchised, and Black. That blanket reference doesn’t work today, barely ten years later. And that should be cause for celebration, but the problem for many people, many native New Yorkers, many born Brooklynites, is what definitions do apply to Bed-Stuy, today.

It’s good that as opposed to poverty and disenfranchisement, there are small businesses and home owners, forging new bonds and reaping dividends in Bed-Stuy. Fantastic would be if more of those people were the residents of that community that helped keep two nostrils above water when the floods of drugs, crime, and systematic neglect rained down upon that part of Brooklyn.

I recently was invited to the home of a new business partner, he a professional was telling me about the Bed-Stuy brownstown he’d recently purchased. I remarked about how great he, not of Brooklyn, must be finding it all, and I rattled of some culinary and social points of interest. He had no idea where any of these places and the streets they belonged to were. “He doesn’t need to…” I thought to myself as he told me, sheepishly the story of the people who were foreclosed on, which made his purchase possible. To say the least, I felt conflicted. Part of me wanted to look down and ask where my legs were and why weren’t they moving.

This Saturday Sunday June 29th from noon to 6p, on Stuyvesant Avenue and Quincy, Spike Lee will be hosting a block party in honor of his seminal film “Do The Right Thing” The block is the actual and entire block the Oscar nominated film was shot on. 

If you truly know Brooklyn’s Brownstown belt and the skirmishes contained in, or your simply old enough, you know how much of the city’s ills then and sadly now Spike packed into that film with poignance and power. You then probably know of the scene in the film where a man white of skin walks his ten speed bike, and celtics basketball jersey up the block and into that character’s new brownstone. A lot of people relate that scene from twenty-five years ago to today, especially after Spike voiced the displeasure thousands of us feel at having neighborhoods we’ve lived in redressed around and without us, earlier this year at a Pratt Institute event. I recall watching the film and not understanding how that could ever happen, I was unfamiliar and undeserving of Bed-Stuy back then, I was a teenager. Spike knew what I wish more people knew today, Brooklyn is a place where people intended to live, that had fallen on hard times (for countless reasons) and it only took (and takes) a release of the yoke holding the neighborhood down, offered to those with means, to create a market and a marketing, that would invite people with means to come back.

Sadly, and what troubles me most is how difficult it is for a lot of us to be happy about Brooklyn's fortunes. If you would have told people in 1989 that Brooklyn would be undergoing the current renaissance we'd be partying in the streets. Surely people would have to presume the problems of drug wars, underfunded schools, over policing, banking discrimination, crime, would have been resolved. But they really weren't, despite the light Brooklyn basks in today, the instrument of change in most cases is a bulldozer. Pushing away, old structures and old cultures, pushing people off the reservation, tables held for the new. Crime hasn't be solved in Brooklyn of most anywhere in New York City as much as it's been made complicated by raising rents on the poor, people who are victims crime and relative to their population, occasionally suspects in crime. The Brooklyn Bulldozer Baby & Bathwater Bloomberg Policy is what happened. And after eight years of a hostile Mayorial administration, and the near two decades of urban decay preceding that, it didn't seem so bad at first, until you saw the baby's rolling down the street and off into cold night.

Yesterday I was randomly net-surfing (see I am old) and I came across a listing on Franklin in Bed-Stuy for an apartment. Fifteen years ago members of my family used to go to substance abuse treatment a few doors down. Not a nickel to rub between them, not a pot to do anything with at a all. 

The asking price for the apartment I saw online yesterday? 1.025 Million dollars. Seriously where am I?

Well like I said, Spike is having a block party on Saturday sunday and I don’t quite know what that means or where my legs will be, but I believe they’ll be doing the right thing. If you don’t have the house you gotta have hope.

"Where Brooklyn At? Where Brooklyn At?"

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Photo Wednesday 061814 The Return Edition!

Can it be I stayed away to long? Seems I lost some views while I was gone. Well this time let me tell you where I'm at.

(Btw if you know where that riff comes from, just look over your should honey, I loves ya!)

I've been working and meaning to junp back into this blog and I have been overwhelmed by where to start, which is alittle goofy since i started this blog already, six years ago.

It used to be that I could simply tell you what was taken from brooklyn added to brooklyn an who the players were an than wax philosophic about it all. But now there is so much happening in Brooklyn so often so fast. Stories I wanted to write my personal forecasts on have happened faster than you could post a listing. The sudden wave of airbnb suitcase trawlers going past my window in droves has been half replaced by joggers and streets are alive with the domino lineup of sandwich boards. At least thats what I'm seeing on the streets of Crown Heights.

So im back and im wading back in and hopefully i wont just be blathering but useful.

For now lets enjoy the start of summer sun.

Rent Guideline Meeing TONIGHT Bk Hts

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 from 5:00 - 8:00 P.M.
Public Hearing (Public Testimony)

Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

For more information check

Friday, May 16, 2014

Brooklyn Half Marathon Saturday May 17th

Today, Saturday, is the Brooklyn Half Marathon #BrooklynHalf and I've got a number of friends on Facebook chatting away with excitement about the upcoming run.

I barely knew of it last year, and I'm surprised there isn't more news about it around today. I'm guessing present day realities and fears of violence are part of the reason, there are several textual course maps online but a few searches haven't turned up one image of the relatively simple basic course.

That said by Friday morning Eastern Parkway was being lined with port-a-potties in a way reminiscent of an art installation, with the starting point being The Brooklyn Museum.

Because of the thousands of runners who will be amassing at the museum, subway service will be adjusted and the Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum station will be closed during the race.


All 2 trains will skip the Brooklyn Museum stop from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. on race day. 

The 4 train from Manhattan will terminate at Atlantic Avenue; runners can switch at Atlantic to the 2 or Q.

The race kicks off at From the museum the race will wind through Prospect Park and then go into a long stretch ending at Coney Island.

If my stubborn sinus infection will abate I'll be out there and have photos. Either way, good luck runners.

For more coverage check the Brooklyn Eagle.

And course details are at the RoadRunners club website.

I did manage to get out there and capture some pictures like this one below of the front runners exiting Prospect Park for the last time on their way toward the long stretch of Ocean Parkway ending in Coney Island.

Early on Runners entering the Park off Parkside Avenue.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Brooklyn, Free your Summer with music and movies

BRIC (Brooklyn's own producer of contemporary art, performing arts and community media programs) and Summerstage have released their summer schedules and while I would love to write each out for you complete with some handy pdf you could keep as your own, they've already done just that.

For your list of what's happening often free, from live music with renown artists, to movies projected in Brooklyn's new parks, out under the starts, check these links.

Prospect Park Bandshell:

Brooklyn Bridge Park:

Summerstage (listings for all 5 borough city parks):

I plan to take in Cibo Matto, whom I've never scene perform together at Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park and I've got more in store.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

NYC and the living ain't easy (as it once was)

This article: caught my eye.

It's the story of a resident who after many years in NYC and a literal neighbor to our Mayor DeBlasio is being priced out. She details her history in NYC and what has gone down (not prices) since moving here.

I have classic New Yorker mixed feelings. In my mind I am aware the economic disparities are sharper than they've been in the city in a long time. I'm aware of the manipulation of prices that are like a hammer blow to people who's incomes are not poor, but not wealthy. But I'm also aware that the New York City several generations, mine included, had the pleasure of experiencing from the late 60's to the mid 90's was economically depressed in some key areas, and that has been in the process of ending, giving way to owner's capitalistic whims, for nearly twenty years.

Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights from 2009-2012 changed crazily in terms of new business and up-pricing of housing. So did the East Village from 1997-2000. So did Fort Greene from 1995-2000. There's a reason the phrase for this sudden change is called a tipping point. But it's a long climb up, and while I have sympathy for many, and concern for myself as I wonder what the condo being built next door to me foretells of my future, I can't help but think for myself and everyone, we need to prepare for the shock or be shocked. Yes there are some who can't change their finances, and yeh it sucks that affordable living in New York City's inner radius isn't the broader concern of business and government (especially government) but I also feel no one after the shifts of the the mid 90's to mid 00's should be without a plan to stay, or a plan to leave.

It's the comments below the article on that page, that are my reason for talking about whether or not we have a plan to stay in New York in general, Brooklyn in particular. If you don't live in a rent stabilized or controlled situation, if you neighbor has historically been devalued, if you don't have the means to afford the shifts in NYC rental pricing, if you don't own, you have to have a plan in this city.

The affordably nooks are, have been and unfortunately will continue to shrink.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Is the African Bazaar at Dance Africa Shrinking? : Photo Wednesday

This is not one of the those I hate gentrification pieces. But simply a sincere question;

What’s the future of the African Bazaar that has accompanied BAM’s annual Dance Africa event for almost two decades?

My question stems from the fact that the triangle shaped parking lot, which for the past decade has provided space for the Bazaar vendor tents and food stands is the footprint for one of several new 20+ story towers soon to be erected along side five relatively brand new high rising additions to the Downtown Brooklyn skyline.

Tomorrow is May 1st and in three weeks the African Bazaar will be held as part of Brooklyn Academy of Music's annual Dance Africa event and I wonder what plans, if any have been made to keep the Bazaar, a marketplace and meeting place, an unofficial annually reunion for many communities of color, particularly for creative peoples who's talent, passion, and dedication, have helped to cultivate and maintain the positive image of Brooklyn that has proved so enticing to developers.

I wonder because from my outsider perspective I available spaces, parking lots that were once buildings, and recently staging grounds for the bazaar, now becoming buildings again. I wonder if in the planning for all these developments, space has been allocated for to the bazaar which has long been a central nexus of community culture and history, so the long standing communities in Brooklyn can continue to enjoy and participate in that history and culture.

I’ve written various pieces complaining about the callous and sinister side of gentrification, about displacement, and economic bias, which often overlaps ethnic bias. And I’ve written about the positives that come with development and change. For me sky scrapers in downtown Brooklyn are pretty much fine, despite the fact that they’ve made the city skyline from my physical perspective look haphazard and unfamiliar. For me, and I believe other Brooklynites, Downtown, is just that Downtown, Brooklyn’s “City”. Since Downtown was so beat down since the departure of major department stores from the 70’s to 90’s and the climate that existed after, I’m happy for renewal to almost any degree, My definition of Downtown, starts where the bridges let out, and ends with the Williamsburg Savings Bank Building at Hanson.

So I’m don’t automatically think the new towers on the grounds of the African Bazaar are necessarily bad. I’ve followed the development and planning of these spaces, and I’m aware they are co-owned by BAM, a sponsor of the African Bazaar. I’m also aware the new spaces will contain cultural amenities of their own, a new library in one, possibly a theater in another. I'm sincerely excited to be in those spaces.

But my question is because as an Afro-Carribean man who's lived in this borough through waves of change, I've become sensitive to how often that change is people like me, being short changed out. I walk through Bedstuy and see dozen's of tourists from Europe suitcases on wheels in tow and plenty of Upper East Siders who've been priced out paying above market in rent stabilized buildings, exploding their protected rent stabilized status, and on the other end of that I see moving vans, moving people of color out as frequently as I see the aforementioned people coming in.

So I’ve searched online and haven’t been able to find what space the African Bazaar goes into, which tower is going to open it’s spacious lobby to the dance recitals that have been as much a part of the African Bazaar as it’s food and clothing vendors. Inclusion or expulsion, that’s the difference between evil gentrification and positive gentrification. I’m not sure where we’re going here, anyone know?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Spike to the heart of Gentrification Agnst

Since everyone else is talking about fiery filmmaker and Brooklynite Spike Lee's expressive talk about gentrification during a Q&A at Pratt Institute (Alumni office I'm side-eyeing you for my lack of notice) I might as well post it too.

Besides simply saying gentrification is bad Spike addresses the issues of new people trampling the longstanding culture of existing residents, neighborhood renaming and my fave the "discovery" of places that already have people, culture and life.

A few highlights:

"Why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers into South Bronx, Harlem…for the facilities to get better?"

"The motherfucking Christopher Columbus syndrome… you can't discover this we been here."

Spike also references the Michael Jackson Tribute party planned for Fort Greene park back in 2009, and how it was turned away, by new residents to the area, which I wrote about on this blog:

Here’s the full audio, including the man’s response and Lee’s rebuttal:

All that's essentially the raison d'être of this blog, nearly verbatim. Wonder if Spike's a reader?

The whole breakdown from NYMag:
The filmmaker, wearing a Knicks beanie, orange socks, blue Nikes, and "Defend Brooklyn" hoodie, was at Pratt Institute for a lecture in honor of African American History Month, surrounded by locals, when he was nearly asked a question about “the other side” of the gentrification debate. “Let me just kill you right now,” Lee interrupted, “because there was some bullshit article in the New York Times saying ‘the good of gentrification.’” (See: “Argument Over a Brownstone Neighborhood” andNew York’s “Is Gentrification All Bad?”)

“I don’t believe that,” said Lee. And for the next seven minutes he explained, with passion, humor, and a fair amount of f-words.
Here’s the thing: I grew up here in Fort Greene. I grew up here in New York. It’s changed. And why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the south Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed Stuy, in Crown Heights for the facilities to get better? The garbage wasn’t picked up every motherfuckin’ day when I was living in 165 Washington Park. P.S. 20 was not good. P.S. 11. Rothschild 294. The police weren’t around. When you see white mothers pushing their babies in strollers, three o’clock in the morning on 125th Street, that must tell you something.
[Audience member: And I don’t dispute that … ]
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. And even more. Let me kill you some more.
[Audience member: Can I talk about something?]
Not yet.
Then comes the motherfuckin’ Christopher Columbus Syndrome. You can’t discover this! We been here. You just can’t come and bogart. There were brothers playing motherfuckin’ African drums in Mount Morris Park for 40 years and now they can’t do it anymore because the new inhabitants said the drums are loud. My father’s a great jazz musician. He bought a house in nineteen-motherfuckin’-sixty-eight, and the motherfuckin’ people moved in last year and called the cops on my father. He’s not — he doesn’t even play electric bass! It’s acoustic! We bought the motherfuckin’ house in nineteen-sixty-motherfuckin’-eight and now you call the cops? In 2013? Get the fuck outta here!
Nah. You can’t do that. You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherfuckin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code. There’s people.
You can’t just — here’s another thing: When Michael Jackson died they wanted to have a party for him in motherfuckin’ Fort Greene Park and all of a sudden the white people in Fort Greene said, “Wait a minute! We can’t have black people having a party for Michael Jackson to celebrate his life. Who’s coming to the neighborhood? They’re gonna leave lots of garbage.” Garbage? Have you seen Fort Greene Park in the morning? It’s like the motherfuckin’ Westminster Dog Show. There’s 20,000 dogs running around. Whoa. So we had to move it to Prospect Park!
I mean, they just move in the neighborhood. You just can’t come in the neighborhood. I’m for democracy and letting everybody live but you gotta have some respect. You can’t just come in when people have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now shit gotta change because you’re here? Get the fuck outta here. Can’t do that!
And then! [to audience member] Whoa whoa whoa. And then! So you’re talking about the people’s property change? But what about the people who are renting? They can’t afford it anymore! You can’t afford it. People want live in Fort Greene. People wanna live in Clinton Hill. The Lower East Side, they move to Williamsburg, they can’t even afford fuckin’, motherfuckin’ Williamsburg now because of motherfuckin’ hipsters. What do they call Bushwick now? What’s the word? [Audience: East Williamsburg]
That’s another thing: Motherfuckin’… These real estate motherfuckers are changing names! Stuyvestant Heights? 110th to 125th, there’s another name for Harlem. What is it? What? What is it? No, no, not Morningside Heights. There’s a new one. [Audience: SpaHa] What the fuck is that? How you changin’ names?
And we had the crystal ball, motherfuckin’ Do the Right Thing with John Savage’s character, when he rolled his bike over Buggin’ Out’s sneaker. I wrote that script in 1988. He was the first one. How you walking around Brooklyn with a Larry Bird jersey on? You can’t do that. Not in Bed Stuy.
So, look, you might say, “Well, there’s more police protection. The public schools are better.” Why are the public schools better? First of all, everybody can’t afford — even if you have money it’s still hard to get your kids into private school. Everybody wants to go to Saint Ann’s — you can’t get into Saint Ann’s. You can’t get into Friends. What’s the other one? In Brooklyn Heights. Packer. If you can’t get your child into there … It’s crazy. There’s a business now where people — you pay — people don’t even have kids yet and they’re taking this course about how to get your kid into private school. I’m not lying! If you can’t get your kid into private school and you’re white here, what’s the next best thing? All right, now we’re gonna go to public schools.
So, why did it take this great influx of white people to get the schools better? Why’s there more police protection in Bed Stuy and Harlem now? Why’s the garbage getting picked up more regularly? We been here!
All right, go ahead. Let’s see you come back to that.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Photo Wednesday 020514 : Bridge to SnowWhere Edition

And the snow goes on...

This Photo for Wednesday obviously comes from this week's snow storms. Love this pic, I was on my way to an errand when I decided to hop off the subway and take the bridge. Stinging snow, obscured city, frames hands, icy camera. Good times! It got so dark the lights came on, it's actually about 12:35pm in this pic.

Click through and you'll see the other one I like of the mail-carrier living up to that mythic poem.

In addition to the new snow falling today, supposedly more snow's on the way this weekend. I blame the groundhog for being mad that the Mayor dropped him. Stay safe.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Photo Wed 012914: Lonely Soldier on Schermerhorn Edition

With scheduled construction of a hotel to the left of it (from this angle) and the largest tower in Brooklyn slated to go up to it's right, this lonely little building is at more than a few interesting intersections on Schermerhorn Street at Downtown's edge.

In Downtown Brooklyn, Schermerhorn Street is a heat sink, to borrow and adjust the term for a computer part who's principal purpose is to suck all the heat to one location. In computers this is useful because heat sinks sit on or next to fans and vents, that allow the heat to be dispersed. Lonely Livingston Avenue, sitting parallel between the active avenues of Fulton Street and Atlantic hadn't been as useful for decades.

In my life time of several decades it's been home to city offices, like the Board of Education (now moved to midtown in an effort to reign in their ranks) and state service offices like medicaid, unemployment and the bureau of child welfare. Other than that, the back side of a municipal parking garage, occasionally wafting with the fragrance of urine, a small sadly neglected city park, and a few other odds and ends were all I could tell you about Schermerhorn  until about ten years ago when the condo boom erupted in downtown Brooklyn. Since then there are a few tony developments. For example the "Be@Schermerhorn" is complete with an anchor retail tent in the style of a whole-foods-esque, which made me laugh because I remember when a hotdog and a person in need of medical attention was much of what you could reliably find on Schermerhorn, and those days weren't long gone when that particular condo and market went up. Which could account for some of the issues they had filling the vacancies before an angel swooped in and saved them.

I found myself downtown this week. "Found" being a disingenuous term for my guilty pilgrimage to Brooklyn's own ShakeShack, which besides staying delicious, stands as in this era as an appropriate if unofficial greeter to the western edge of Fulton Street and the Downtown Brooklyn shopping area.

Travel home by chilly bike (I'm a blogger remember) I came across many freshly vacant lots, (which I've learned from Brownstowner are owned by Steiner Development and slated to be discount hotels) some already deep in the throws of new residential construction. There wasn't much time for me to take in the flurry of new before I can across this lonely outpost.

I also found this sate-photo I've highlighted to be pretty hilarious as you can see where the lonely soldier stands in regard to the development.

This gritty little building shares the block with the mega development "The Hub" as reported on Gothamist (seen below) which as shown in this rendering will not only be a major real estate development but the new largest tower in Brooklyn (It'll be 52 stories) will push the borough's vertical profile further to the stratosphere.

That of course means it'll become a commercial destination. With BAM, "The Theater for a New Audience" on Rockwell as well as the high-rise residential tower 66 Rockwell all one block away it's guaranteed to be a hot spot. And that doesn't even include the Two-Trees mega BAM tower slated to go up across the northern nub of 3rd Avenue and Flatbush, which would add another cultural center, replacement library (there's debate about whether it's a replacement library or not) and residential tower. This area now has potential to be a consistently vibrant and enriching center in the way it hasnt been since the 50's when it was just around the corner from rows of Brooklyn's theater district. All of this development no doubt benefiting from tax exemptions, and the market cultivated by buildings like "Be" and the Barclay Center just (technically) three blocks away.

Personally I'm curious to know how all all this will embrace the African Street Fair that has been part of BAM's spring Dance Africa event for over a decade. Since the Two-Tree's project is aimed at the footprint of the street festival, it would make sense to me that some sort of connective supporting relationship be made.

Other than concern for Dance Africa and the annual street festival, I got no gripes about all this mind you. I don't want massive condos towering over and killing classic city and neighborhood sight-lines in Prospect or Crown Heights and the like, but this is Downtown, it's were massive projects should be. Hopefully since so many are residential the city has plans in the works to address the reality of the thousands new people who will be using nearly century old infrastructure in that area, and new school with all those some of the cash from all those new tax payers would be good too.

Vaguely I recall seeing a few residents on Schermerhorn and my guess (+mischieveous hope) is at some point in the down and out 70's or 80's a resident bought this building, thus ensuring a place in the glistening tomorrows to come. Of course it could be that some speculator came along at the right moment and there's nothing romantic about this building, but eh, in a life less ordinary, I'll vote for the romance.

So maybe it's good if there's a hold out relic from the past sticking up like a thumb against the new. Judging from the generic glass-rectangle-rific architectural design of many of these new projects it might be the easiest way for new comers to see what character looks like.