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Archive for the ‘Brooklyn’ Category

Water Street, (DUMBO) Brooklyn (February, 2010)

(See more photos from the “Literature Versus Traffic” project @ luzinterruptus)

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“Despite a six-day-a-week work schedule, Derr always makes time to take pictures. His images of DUMBO, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, and Brooklyn Heights can be seen on Flickr — and purchased through Imagekind — and have appeared in the Gothamist, the New York Times, and Brooklyn Heights blog. They’ve also been published on dumbonyc.com and used in the promotional materials of Arts at St. Ann’s and the DUMBO Neighborhood Association. . . .

“‘DUMBO was rough when I arrived,’ he begins. ‘There is a building complex on Sand Street that is owned by The Watchtower where about 900 staff live. When I first moved in, the area was not as refined as it is now, with galleries, shops, and brand name stores. Before, there were art collectives and there was more of an artist presence in the community. Right up the street there was the Between the Bridges Bar, which looked like a dive. I guess something was lost, and something gained.’

“Among the losses, Derr says, is DUMBO’s once-gritty feel—the abandoned warehouses and factories, broken concrete, and glass shards that used to litter the ground. He is saddened, he says, by the destruction of numerous art deco structures, one of which, the Purchase Building, was knocked down to create a parking lot that now houses the Brooklyn Flea each Sunday.” (more @ The Brooklyn Rail, via Dumbo NYC)

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“TOMORROW, the seventh annual show of designs created in Brooklyn — Bklyn Designs — will open in Dumbo, drawing renewed attention to this neighborhood of former factories and warehouses, and its vibrant design scene.

“Over the last six years, the juried show, which features contemporary furnishings, lighting and accessories designed, and in most cases made, in Brooklyn, has grown from a Chamber of Commerce exercise in borough boosterism into a high-profile event and an effective springboard for local designers. This year, it has 45 exhibitors and is attracting attendees from as far away as Milan, the Netherlands and Japan.

“The show in Dumbo offers a good place to begin exploring what Brooklyn offers in the way of home furnishings. Just as the borough has become a center for locally produced, handcrafted food, it has also developed a broad population of independent, often artisanal designers.” (cont’d @ NY Times)

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dock_street_two_trees“The City Planning Commission voted overwhelmingly to support a controversial tower next to the Brooklyn Bridge — though the building’s 18-story wing will be shaved by one story.

“In addition, Jed Walentas’s 325-unit Dock Street proposal — which features a ‘green’ design, plus 65 below-market-rate rentals and a public middle school — would lose two to three stories from the part [sic] its 10-story wing closest to the bridge.

“The vote to rezone Walentas’s lot from manufacturing to residential was 11-2, but despite the landslide, Planning Commission Chairwoman Amanda Burden described the proposal as ‘the most difficult to come before the commission in many years.’ . . .

“In ordering a height reduction and the cut-out section from the mid-rise portion of the building, the Commission seemed to at least be partially swayed by a late push by Brooklyn Bridge historian David McCullough, who visited the fabled span this month to call for the Walentas proposal to not only be halted, but for other buildings around the bridge to be demolished for a national park.” (more @ The Brooklyn Paper)

Even so, celebrity opposition to the project continues to grow. Dumbo NYC reports:

“We received word from [Dumbo Neighborhood Alliance (DNA)] that in addition to David McCullough, several celebrities will be starring in supporting roles in their grass roots campaign. Gabriel Byrne of The Usual Suspects and HBO’s In Treatment, Helen Hunt of As Good as It Gets and Mad About You, Gary Sinise of The Green Mile and Forrest Gump, Ana Gasteyer of  Saturday Night Live and Mean Girls, Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns of Brooklyn Bridge and The Civil War fame and Skipp Sudduth of Third Watch and Law & Order have all added their support to the opposition of the proposed 18-story building.” (more @ Dumbo NYC)

Update

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The Crumpled Press, the brainchild of [Jordan] McIntyre and [Alexander] Bick, publishes work by new authors and sets previously unpublished, notable lectures and articles into proper books — hand-sewn — on culture, politics, self-reflection, and poetry. ‘It’s original, thought-provoking work that might otherwise be tossed aside,’ says Bick, who is pursuing a history PhD at Princeton. ‘Hence the name Crumpled Press.’ In the four years since the outfit’s birth, they’ve published nine titles — from a series of fictional voicemails placed on 9/11 to a meditation on Darwinian selection, sexuality, and fashion — priced from $5 to $25. . . . 

“Today the four editors work with each author to create a book’s artisanal feel, reproducing journal sketches or deliberating fonts, flyleaves, and covers, to savor the printed-page aesthetic in an era of digitized technology — including sites for e-books, such as Google Books or the Amazon Kindle. [Anthony] Grafton’s Codex in Crisis reflects on this very topic. Expanded from a 2007 New Yorker article, the book was first released in a limited edition of 250 copies, each hand-numbered with a letterpress cover and holding a fold-out color plate.” (more @ University of Chicago Magazine)

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housingworksOn Saturday, May 2nd, “The Millions.com” will lead their first annual “Walking Tour of New York’s Independent Bookstores.” The 11-stop itinerary begins in the East Village, continues through NoLita and SOHO, crosses the Brooklyn Bridge into DUMBO, and ends after 4 or so hours of walking and book-browsing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The complete, 11-stop  itinerary includes: 

Additional information on the event can be found here.

A full-size Google map of the tour, with walking directions, can be found here.

RelatedLiterary DUMBO: An Afternoon Walk Under the Bridges in Search of Books

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“In the latest chapter of a hot dispute over the building of a proposed tower near the Brooklyn Bridge, the historian and Brooklyn Bridge expert David McCullough is voicing his opposition to the plan.

“At a news conference on Wednesday, Mr. McCullough spoke to a crowd of more than 50 local advocates and politicians about why he opposed plans by the developer Two Trees Management to construct a tower called Dock Street Dumbo, so close to the Brooklyn Bridge.

“While Mr. McCullough lives in Maine, he used to live near the bridge, and also spent extensive amounts of time near the site of the bridge when researching the Battle of Brooklyn for his book ‘1776′ and the bridge itself for ‘The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge.’ He also worked with Ken Burns on a documentary of the Brooklyn Bridge.

“‘It’s one of the most important structures in our country,’ he said. The construction of the proposed tower is ‘upstaging what should not be upstaged. The magic of the bridge’s image is diminished. It’s wrecked.'” (more @ NY Times)

letter from McCullough to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz opposing the Dock Street Project, penned in January, 2009, can be found here. 

A video of McCullough calling for a halt to construction plans near the Brooklyn Bridge, which he says would obscure the monument and damage a forgotten historical site nearby, can be found here.

Related

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levittHelen Levitt, a major photographer of the 20th century who caught fleeting moments of surpassing lyricism, mystery and quiet drama on the streets of her native New York, died in her sleep at her home in Manhattan on Sunday. She was 95. . . .

“Ms. Levitt captured instances of a cinematic and delightfully guileless form of street choreography that held at its heart, as William Butler Yeats put it, ‘the ceremony of innocence.’ A man handles garbage-can lids like an exuberant child imitating a master juggler. Even an inanimate object — a broken record — appears to skip and dance on an empty street as a child might, observed by a group of women’s dresses in a shop window.

“As marvelous as these images are, the masterpieces in Ms. Levitt’s oeuvre are her photographs of children living their zesty, improvised lives. A white girl and a black boy twirl in a dance of their own imagining. Four girls on a sidewalk turning to stare at five floating bubbles become contrapuntal musical notes in a lovely minor key.

“In Ms. Levitt’s best-known picture, three properly dressed children prepare to go trick-or-treating on Halloween 1939. Standing on the stoop outside their house, they are in almost metaphorical stages of readiness. The girl on the top step is putting on her mask; a boy near her, his mask in place, takes a graceful step down, while another boy, also masked, lounges on a lower step, coolly surveying the world.

“‘At the peak of Helen’s form,’ John Szarkowski, former director of the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art, once said, ‘there was no one better.'” (more @ NY Times)

Related

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On the same day the New York Times reported that the city’s yellow cab industry is being spared from the worst effects of the recession by allowing riders to pay by credit card, the MTA announced major fare hikes for public transportation commuters:

“After a fiery hearing Wednesday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted 12 to 1 to approve subway, bus and commuter train fare hikes from 25% to 30% and impose severe service cuts, including elimination of two subway lines and 21 local bus routes. . . .

“Starting May 31, the monthly MetroCard, now $81, will cost $103 and a weekly MetroCard, now $25, will cost $31. The one-way bus and subway fare will rise from $2 to $2.50, a whopping 25% increase.

“Commuter train fares rise June 1, while MTA bridge and tunnel tolls jump July 11. Service cuts also include longer gaps between trains and the closure of a few stations overnight.” (more @ The Daily News)

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purdy2James Purdy, whose dark, often savagely comic fiction evoked a psychic American landscape of deluded innocence, sexual obsession, violence and isolation, died Friday in Englewood, N.J. He was 94 and lived in Brooklyn Heights. . . .

“Wayward and unclassifiable, Mr. Purdy, the author of the novels ‘Malcolm’ and ‘The Nephew,’ labored at the margins of the literary mainstream, inspiring veneration or disdain. His nearly 20 novels and numerous short stories and plays either enchanted or baffled critics with their gothic treatment of small-town innocents adrift in a corrupt and meaningless world, his distinctive blend of plain speech with ornate, florid locutions, and the hallucinatory quality of his often degraded scenes. . . .

“If Mr. Purdy made limited headway against what he called, in an autobiographical sketch, ‘the anesthetic, hypocritical, preppy and stagnant New York literary establishment,’ he was proclaimed ‘an authentic American genius’ by Gore Vidal and admired extravagantly by writers like Angus Wilson, John Cowper Powys and Edith Sitwell, who, reviewing the stories and short plays collected in ‘Children Is All’ (1962), wrote that Mr. Purdy would ‘come to be recognized as one of the greatest living writers of fiction in our language.’ (more @ NY Times)

RelatedWho is James Purdy? Edward Albee Tells

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basketballComing Soon – the WORD Basketball League!

WORD Books in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is setting up a summer basketball league for book lovers. The league will welcome men and women and will likely play its games on the playground courts across the street from the store.

To prove their league-readiness, applicants need not demonstrate their shooting or dribbling skills – instead, book-loving hoopster-hopefuls need to answer the following five questions:

1. Who wrote Ulysses?
2. What is the best selling book of all time?
3. What is J. D. Salinger’s most well-known book?
4. Name a book that has been banned in the United States in the last 100 years.
5. What is your favorite book?

Those who don’t score well (on the test) are invited to cheerlead.

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306abboxlibraryBrooklyn, New York perfume merchant CB I Hate Perfume has just introduced “In the Library,” “a perfume inspired by the proprietor Christopher Brosius’s love of books and his inability to pass a secondhand bookshop without stopping in.

“According to the shop’s description, the perfume is supposed to evoke a first-edition English novel via ‘Russian and Moroccan leather bindings, worn cloth, and a hint of wood polish.'” (more @ The Book Bench)

[Makes me want to curl up with a good book . . . or a woman who smells like a good book!]

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bobguskindBob Guskind, the legendary Brooklyn blogger and founder of Gowanus Lounge, has died:

“After days of speculation inside and outside the blogosphere, much-liked journalist Robert Guskind died on Wednesday, the city Medical Examiner confirmed this morning. . . .

“In his prime, Guskind’s blog focussed a keen eye on city development projects with an objectivity and a level of reporting rare in the blog world.” (via The Brooklyn Paper)

The following video of Bob Guskind is via newyorkshitty, a blog about Greenpoint, Brooklyn:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Memorials to Guskind on other Brooklyn blogs can be found at: Dumbo NYC, Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.

Guskind’s “flikr” photostream, featuring numerous sets of Brooklyn neighborhoods, can be found here.

Flatbush Gardener is maintaining a running list of online tributes to Guskind. The list gets longer by the hour.

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dollhouse

Mabou Mines’ Dollhouse, which first opened in late 2003 at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, returned to St. Ann’s last month after five years of touring the world, for what is likely the final staging of the celebrated adaptation of Ibsen’s “protofeminist” classic, A Doll’s House. This exhilarating, bawdy and broadly comic production, in which the male actors are all “little people,” standing between 40 and 53 inches tall, and the women are all nearly 6 feet tall, closes next Sunday, March 8th.

An interview with Mabou Mines co-founder and Dollhouse director Lee Breuer can be found here.

A slideshow of images from the current run can be found here; or watch the promotional video –

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The original New York Times review from 2003 can be found here.

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williamsburg_540

“A month after allegations of child sexual abuse surfaced in the mainstream press, the Hasidic community in Brooklyn, N.Y., is taking cautious steps to confront the scandal. Meanwhile, outsiders are tackling the issue head on.

“On Sunday, state Assemblyman Dov Hikind plans to host a community-wide ‘morning of chizuk’ (support) for the alleged victims of abuse. Hikind, an Orthodox Jew who is largely responsible for bringing public attention to the scandal, has recruited rabbis and community leaders to speak at the event, which takes place in Boro Park, the center of the Hasidic district he represents. Some community members believe the gesture is merely symbolic, but Hikind calls the event ‘unprecedented.’

“‘No one has touched this subject before,’ he says. ‘We’re telling the victims we’re sorry we didn’t see your pain before, and we’re turning the corner.'” (via NPR)

[The website for the organization Survivors for Justice, run by “survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community and their advocates who are committed to offering guidance and support to victims seeking justice through the criminal and civil legal system,” can be found here.]

Related

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dumbodockstreet“The Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, has jumped into a contentious debate over a proposed development near the Brooklyn Bridge, saying that he supports the project but would like to see it modified.

“In a letter to the Department of City Planning, Mr. Markowitz wrote that he supported the proposed tower, called Dock Street Dumbo, which would include shops, rental apartments and a new middle school, but wants to make sure that the tower did not affect the public views of the bridge.” (via NY Times)

The New York Times article, which was posted on DumboNYC.com, also reported that Markowitz suggested the developer, Two Trees Management Company, make the tower taller — 25 stories instead of 18 — but Markowitz contacted the Dumbo blogger to correct the record, noting that his recommendation is not necessarily to build higher, but that as of right, Two Trees can build up to 25 stories on the site.

Markowitz’s office released a statement recommending that the City Planning Commission and the City Council support the multi-use concept proposed by Two Trees Management while rejecting the building as currently configured. Markowitz’s full statement can be found here (.pdf).

[It has not escaped notice by Dumbo locals that just last night, the borough president kicked off his re-election campaign at an art space in Dumbo owned by the Dock Street developer. Presumably cake was served at the event, which Markowitz worked hard both to have and eat.]

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“Joseph O’Neill’s novel ‘Netherland’ was named the winner of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation said on Wednesday. The honor for ‘Netherland,’ about a Dutch-born equities analyst, his British wife and their son, who live in New York during the Sept. 11 attack and its aftermath, is something of a comeback for Mr. O’Neill. The novel, though widely praised, was shut out in the National Book Awards and the National Book Critics Circle awards.” (via NY Times)

Michiko Kakutani’s New York Times review of “Netherland” can be found here.

[In many ways “Netherland” is a book about sports — in this instance cricket — and national identity; but the novel also contains some of the finest descriptions of ethnic New York City found anywhere. Related20 Are Detained After Cricket Attack (3/4/09, via NY Times)]

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“These days, with a kitchen and a bit of ambition, you can start to make a name for yourself in Brooklyn. The borough has become an incubator for a culinary-minded generation whose idea of fun is learning how to make something delicious and finding a way to sell it.

“These Brooklynites, most in their 20s and 30s, are hand-making pickles, cheeses and chocolates the way others form bands and artists’ collectives. They have a sense of community and an appreciation for traditional methods and flavors. They also share an aesthetic that’s equal parts 19th and 21st century, with a taste for bold graphics, salvaged wood and, for the men, scruffy beards.” (via NY Times)

Related: edible Brooklyn

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As reported in a New York Magazine article still much-discussed by DUMBO locals, Steven Kaplan, a Professor of European History at Cornell University and the “world’s preeminent French-bread scholar,” after a blind tasting of 13 of New York City’s finest baguettes, chose Almondine Bakery‘s eponymous baguette as the city’s best.

Scoring a 14.65 (on a scale of 21), the Almondine baguette, said Kaplan, “has a nice look, nice resonance, and a nice song . . . It has a little bit of fruit, a peachy, buttery quality in its nose . . . [and] achieves a good marriage of crust and crumb.”

almondineBut before Almondine’s now famous dough could rise, the abandoned four-story warehouse and pepper factory now occupied by the bakery had to be gutted, rehabilitated and adapted for commercial and residential use.  In 2003, Bob Vila, late of the This Old House home improvement and repair television series, devoted the entire season of his Home Again series to the transformation of this c. 1850s building unused since the 1950s.  

More than just a chronicle of a single restoration project, the videos from the DUMBO series (clips from all 13 episodes can be found here) offer some of the best footage available of the development of the Brooklyn neighborhood that in the past several years has become a must-see destination on the New York City tourist circuit.

Update: Best of New York: Eating: Best Bakery (via “2009 Best of New York” issue of New York Magazine)

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savethebrooklynbridge1In a recent editorial, “A Con Grows In B’klyn,” Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, like The Brooklyn Paper before it, voiced its support for the controversial 18-story residential building and public middle school that opponents argue will forever block views of the historic Brooklyn Bridge.  But unlike The Brooklyn Paper, which published a measured, point-by-point rebuttal to critics of the project, Post writer Steve Cuozzo reveled in denouncing what he called the “farcical arguments” and “blatantly bogus claims” of the “cranky opposition.”

Singled out for particular abuse were City Councilman David Yassky, the New York Times, and the organization “Save the Brooklyn Bridge” which Cuozzo accused of printing and distributing misleading and “fake” images of the planned tower.

[The best and most up-to-date chronicling of the DUMBO Dock Street Project, including local opinion (pro and con), can be found at DumboNYC.com.]

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