Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Videos Part III - KIDS DAY!

With all due respect to our first two videos, this is one you absolutely have to watch in full-screen. It might be cold and dreary out on the Avenue right now, but back in July, it was 98 degrees and sunny for the most colorful day of the year, the Franklin Avenue Kids Day, presented by About Time Boutique with the support of the CHCA and a huge variety of local businesses. Thanks to local filmmaker Jan Weber, we've now got a beautiful record of the event.

As you can see in the footage, the Kids Day was an enormous success, drawing hundreds of kids and parents to the Avenue for a full day of incredible activities. About Time and Collective Concept PR are already planning this year's event, which they hope to make even bigger and better, but they can't do it without support. For more information on how to get involved, email info {at} abouttimeboutique {dot} com.

Sunday Videos Part II - Building Barboncino

Next up in today's trilogy of local videos is the latest from Barboncino, the Wood Oven Pizza place coming soon at 781 Franklin (view the clip in its original format here). The owner, Ron, spent some time in the movie business, and he's keeping us updated on his progress with these great little montages (you can view the first one, "demolition," here). ILFA caught up with Ron for an interview when he first leased the space, and it's safe to say he's got a lot of enthusiasm for the Avenue.

Sunday Videos Part I - Park Delicatessen Delivers

By sheer coincidence, I've received three great videos from local merchants in the past few days, all of which I'm posting today. The first is from Park Delicatessen, where you can purchase flowers for Valentine's Day or any other occasion online and have them delivered (by skateboard!) to your door. You can watch the video in it's original slightly-wider-screen YouTube format here (someone needs to tell the folks at Google that they should sync up their video-sharing service with their blogging platform).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Two More Saturday Events

Two events today that I just caught wind of:

- At 2pm, Crown Heights local Greg Todd will be giving a "Introduction to Permaculture" at LaunchPad. Click the link above for a great article on his work, courtesy of Prospect Heights Patch.

- At 4:30pm, SOS Crown Heights will lead a shooting response at 1144 Bergen (between Nostrand and New York Avenues). For more information, click the flyer above.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Weekend? We Got Your Weekend Right Here!

As promised, here's a weekend rundown:

- On Friday, unwind with some music therapy at Force and Flow's monthly Sound Bath at 1104 Dean Street between Franklin and Bedford (and while you're at it, check out the BRIC segment on them embedded above).

- On Saturday, come out and hear ILFA read at Crown Writes: A Local Literary Talent Showcase, at 7pm at LaunchPad.

- And on Sunday, check out the first of several wine-tasting classes being offered at Abigail Cafe on St. John's and Classon, staring at 4pm.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Crown Writes: A Local Literary Talent Showcase (Featuring ILFA!)

As usual, there's plenty to do on this snowy weekend, but I'm starting a barrage of calendar posts with a special event: Crown Writes: A Local Literary Talent Showcase on Saturday night at LaunchPad. Organized by Crown Heights writer extraordinaire Victoria Cho, who has appeared at the Franklin Park Reading Series and leads the Crown Heights Writing Workshop, the event will feature four alumni of the workshop sharing a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Yours truly will be reading - can't reveal exactly what, but if you like you what you read in this space, you'll most probably enjoy it.

The fun starts at 7pm sharp -we'll have wine on hand, but attendees are encouraged to BYOB. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Movie Night at LaunchPad Tonight

Courtesy of the Kings County Cinema Society, another night of free films at LaunchPad:

Tomorrow, Wed. 1/26 8pm, we welcome some friends and neighbors with some recent short work and music videos, followed by Jim Jarmusch's Down By Law.

Christian Carroll, a Brooklyn-based writer-director-cinematographer-actor, will present a music video,"Strange Position" by Adam Harpham, and the debut of the official trailer to his upcoming "black comedy sci-fi" feature Suicide or Lulu and Me in a World Made For Two. Elliot Eustis, a local actor, director and videographer, will present two recent projects: a beautiful experimental video project set to the song "Redlights" by Salem, and the short clip "Late Afternoon in the Park."

Down By Law (1986, 107min) is arguably the finest film by New York post-punk auteur Jim Jarmusch: an existential, hilarious, bone-dry comedy/elegy, in which three very different convicts rely on each other to bust out of prison in the Louisiana bayou. Starring Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni as an out-of-work DJ, a low-rent pimp and a cheerfully clueless Italian tourist, respectively. With gorgeous silvery black-and-white photography of NOLA and the bayou by Robby Muller, and Jarmusch's signature deadpan touch, Down By Law stands as a true original and one of the best American indies of the '80s. original trailer

Tomorrow, Wednesday 1/26, doors at 7:30, films at 8
, 721 Franklin Ave btw Park/Sterling. 2/3/4/5 to Franklin Ave.
Free, and popcorn will be provided. BYOB.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Threats to Two Local Schools Seen in Charter Plan - Updated

The New York City Department of Education has come under fire in recent works for its siting of new charter and elite schools, with critics saying that the DOE is deliberately locating charters and elite schools in upscale and gentrifying neighborhoods, displacing schools that have traditionally serve less well-off students of color (very few of the city's upper-middle and upper class residents send their kids to public schools). Right here in Crown Heights, a fight has arisen over the DOE's plan to put a charter school in the Elijah Stroud Campus at 750 Classon Avenue, which parents and teachers at the two schools located there now (PS 316 and MS 353) say would do irreparable harm to their successful programs.

I'm just familiarizing itself with the situation, but I urge everyone to read this passionate letter from a concerned parent and Councilwoman James' response to the situation. What seems beyond dispute is that both of these schools are high-performing, successful educational institutions. The logic of placing a charter school in the building seems to be centered on the assessment of the school as "underutilized," a verdict that is disputed by parents, teachers, and our Council member. On a personal note, this blogger spent two years doing health, fitness, and nutrition education at over 50 public (including charter) schools in Brooklyn, and had the pleasure of working at PS 316 and MS 353. Both schools were clearly well-run, well-staffed, and well-attended - I would never have characterized the building as "underutilized," unless that term is taken to mean the presence of chaotic overcrowding that one encounters far too often.

Maintaining excellent local public schools should be a top priority for all of us, not just parents. Beyond the obvious importance and value of education, local schools are crucial civic institutions, bringing not just children but parents and communities together. In a neighborhood where change is a destabilizing force and unfamiliar faces are part of that change, interactions on the schoolyard or in the PTA meeting become even more valuable, bridging divides of culture, race, and class and involving community members new and old in the common project of educating our children. On the flip side of this, I can't think of anything more divisive than the destruction of such a school for the placement of an "elite" school, charter or otherwise, that is perceived as exclusive (and though charters do not exclude students on the basis of ability, their admission process often generates an air of exclusivity) - witness the recent controversy over the fate of the John Jay campus in Park Slope.

I'm not informed enough to suggest a motive for the DOE's recent moves, but I do know that the city should do everything it can to empower successful local schools. This means taking a good, hard look at the great things going on inside 750 Classon Avenue before messing with success.

Update: The folks at Patch have some good coverage of a similar battle taking place at PS 9/MS 571.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Classon Rising: Four Corners, New Housing

A few weeks back, I reported on a pair of new businesses opening on Classon, Thirst Bar and Pasha Pita Pizza Grill. The folks at Nostrand Park swung by Thirst Bar a few days later to try the food. In their post, they noted, as I did, that the location is somewhat unexpected (next to an auto body shop, across from a junkyard, and down the street from a live poultry place). Despite the unique site, Nostrand Park offered a theory for success, namely, that the bar (and Pasha) are located at the "Four Corners," the intersection of Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Crown Heights. These four neighborhoods have seen an influx of new residents and businesses over the last decade that has accelerated in the last few years, which amounts to a lot of potential customers living and shopping close by. Along with the nearby C train stops, NP suggests that Thirst Bar could become the anchor for a new "restaurant row" in the area, reporting that an Italian restaurant from an experienced Manhattan restaurateur is slated to open next door soon. The idea has generated some conversation on Brooklynian, with some commentors noting that Outpost, on Fulton, has had a lot of success in a similarly out-of-the-way location (though Fulton does get considerably more foot traffic).

I'd suggest a complimentary theory. The "Four Corners" area between Washington and Franklin north of Prospect Place and south of Atlantic Avenue was historically a non-residential zone, home to the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn and industrial sites including the Knox Hat Factory, Nassau Brewery, the Pirika Chocolate Company, and a Studebaker Service Station. In the past several years, however, this area has slowly become increasingly residential, with the Hospital, Knox and Nassau (in part) sites converted to rental units and new residential buildings erected, including the Ishi Condos, Hello Living. As I type this, the hospital is completing a huge new wing of rental units and the city is putting the finishing touches on its St. Marks Gardens affordable development, and in some ways, I think these latest developments have been the tipping point. With so many people living nearby, it's no wonder that business owners are starting to take a second look at Classon. In addition to Thirst Bar, Pasha, and the new Italian place, a huge Compare Foods (pictured above) is getting ready to open - note the White Rose truck at the loading dock - and renovation has begun of the one-story hospital building on the corner of St. Marks and Classon (home to the short-lived Tiny Urban Park), which is slated to become a coffee shop. There's also a storefront under renovation down the street on Classon between Dean and Bergen, though I couldn't ascertain what it's going to be (anyone know?).

In short, it seems the Four Corners, where residents from the four neighborhoods once congregated to work, has become a residential area where people live, and where they'll soon be able to shop, eat, and drink as well. As these residences and businesses open, they'll begin to generate the type of foot traffic that attracts further development, though one wonders what will happen to the light-industrial businesses that remain, including a number of garages/auto-body places and several warehouses and workshops. At the moment, most of the development has happened in vacant spaces, but if the trend continues, these types of business, which provide local jobs, may be forced out. I can't predict what Classon Avenue will look like in five or ten years, but I'm starting to believe that a lot of these new businesses will still be thriving.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Value of Libraries

(photo via Ernest C. Withers/Rebekah Jacob Gallery)

My dad likes to tell this story on MLK day, which was told to him twenty-odd years ago by a Quaker colleague from Philadelphia. I've done my best to relate it to Brooklyn in a roundabout way, but I'm mostly just posting it because I think it's fabulous, even if it's a couple of days late.

Sometime in the early 1980s, a dwindling Quaker congregation in the Philadelphia area found itself in rough financial waters, and came together to discuss the various ways they might avoid insolvency. Among the congregation's holdings was a small, free lending library, housed on the meetinghouse grounds and open to anyone who wished to use it. Many of these Quakers, while proud of the library's legacy as a free community resource, believed it received insufficient use to merit preservation, and suggested liquidating the collection and putting the space to some other, perhaps revenue-generating, use. The library's defenders argued that it remained a valuable collection for congregants and an important site for community interaction, and that despite the current state of affairs, it had once been a thriving little site of exchange and might one day be so again. This last point was disputed by some, who claimed that many of the library's books had barely, if ever, been used.

As debates often do, this one became focused on a single hinge, namely, whether or not the books had received sufficient use. The congregation decamped to the library to seek the answer, and the pro-library contingent was dismayed. Book after book was pulled from the shelves, each opening to reveal few, if any, signatures on the sign-out card pasted to the inside back cover. History, social thought, literature, theology . . . it didn't matter. All but the most popular volumes were practically untouched. The library, it seemed, was doomed.

A few stalwarts continued to pry books from the shelves, hoping to find a seam or lode of dog-eared, beloved tomes that would refute the mounting consensus that the library had outlived its usefulness. One persistent woman spied a copy of The Collected Works of Mohandas K. Gandhi and reached for it. Surely such a work would have appealed to generations of pacifist Quakers! She flipped to the back cover, and her heart sank. Only one name was printed on the sign-out card. Only one person in all the decades that this book had sat on the shelves had ever brought it home. She stared down at the card sadly, and then realized, with an exclamation of joy, that the name on the card read "Martin Luther King, Jr."

A few in the congregation were old enough to remember the young seminarian who had passed through in the 1950s, before Montgomery, before the Nobel Peace Prize, before he was simply "MLK" or "Dr. King." Many more recalled with pride that it was the American Friends Service Committee that had organized and funded Dr. King's trip to Gandhi's birthplace in India in 1959. All of them knew that Gandhi's thought, specifically his teachings on non-violent resistance, had made a profound impact on King. They kept the library.

I love this story. It explodes the idea that some threshold of use is what makes a free lending library valuable. In theory, those in favor of scrapping the Quaker library could have argued that Dr. King had already encountered Gandhi when he stopped through the library, and certainly he would encounter him again. Having a book with his signature, they might have said, was a nice memento of his stop at the meetinghouse, but did not demand the preservation of an entire library that he and others had left mostly untouched. But they didn't argue this. Perhaps the image of Dr. King refreshing his commitment to non-violence in their halls was powerful enough to sway them, or perhaps they recognized the more general point, that the power of knowledge is not quantifiable, and that ideas and minds, given the opportunity to interact, can produce the most unexpected and remarkable outcomes. This last is a lesson that cities and states would do well to remember as they cut the budgets of libraries across the nation, including right here in Brooklyn.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Volunteering in Brooklyn on MLK Day

As part of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger's 2011 MLK Day Serve-A-Thon, about 25 volunteers gathered at LaunchPad on Monday morning to conduct a comprehensive food survey of Crown Heights. Led by the Brooklyn Food Coalition, which is building a borough-wide database of food outlets at, they gathered information on the availability and quality of food at approximately 180 bodegas, greengrocers, and supermarkets. Teams of volunteers armed with maps and forms walked every major avenue (and checked down every side street) in Community Board 8 on this chilly January day, surveying not only the locations and types of establishments but also the availability of nutritious food such as fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk, and whole-grain bread, as well as whether or not these outlets accept EBT (food stamps). This information will be added to the database and map at, where it will serve as an important tool for activists and policy makers working to improve access to nutritious food in Brooklyn, and where it will also be a resource for local residents looking for a healthy meal.

ILFA tagged along in a group of five that surveyed east Crown Heights, from Utica Avenue east to Ralph Avenue. Our team consisted of two members of the Make it Betta Fellas/Ladies Auto and Social Club, a wonderful service-oriented organization whose members were out in force for this event, and two local musicians (check out their bands: Steer and Advaita). Utica is one of the biggest commercial strips in the area, blessed with many more food options than most of the avenues in Crown Heights (particularly those east of Nostrand), and yet, you could count on one hand the number of places offering fresh produce beyond the few moldy apples one finds under the Utz rack at the typical corner store. Hopefully, the efforts of these volunteers will serve those who are working to make fresh, nutritious food available and affordable for all of Brooklyn's residents.

This is the second time I've participated in an MLK Day Service event in Crown Heights. Last year's Clean-Up Day generated a lot of discussion and no small amount of criticism, and it's with these debates in mind that I add the following. A single day of service cannot "realize Dr. King's dream" and will not solve the myriad challenges facing Crown Heights, poverty, recession, cuts in state funding, and gentrification among them. To quote the man himself, "Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary."

What a day of service can be is a coming-together of hitherto disparate individuals and an inspiration to continued service. Participation in service builds community and reminds us, as King wrote from Birmingham (and as our organizer from Brooklyn Food Coalition read aloud before we started), that "we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." Thanks to all those who took a step towards a more caring community on Monday.

CHCA Meeting Tomorrow

The Crow Hill Community Association meets at LaunchPad tomorrow night (Tuesday) at 7:30pm sharp. They'll be addressing the issue of jobs in our community and electing their Board of Directors for 2011.

A lot of people have, laudably, taken today's holiday "on" by participating in service to their communities. The next step is building that mindset into our everyday lives. Working with the CHCA is one great way to do that in Crown Heights.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Weekend Links - MLK Weekend Edition

Some more goings on about town, in addition to the two MLK Day events posted earlier this week:

- About Time Boutique has a huge clearance sale going on, with 50% all merchandise.

- Park Delicatessen has also has a big sale going on this weekend - 25% off all men's jackets, sweatshirts, flannels and pants, $10 tees, vintage flannels 2 for $40, and sneakers starting at $30.

- If you're looking for more service options on MLK Day, join Sue Rock Originals for a day of quilting for survivors of domestic violence. If you haven't heard of Sue Rock, she's running a one-of-kind nonprofit here in Crown Heights that does amazing work and offers a great slate of classes and activities for locals interested in sewing and fashion.

- The Crow Hill Community Association's first meeting of 2011 takes place at LaunchPad this Tuesday, January 18, at 7:30pm. They'll be electing their Board of Directors for the year and addressing the issue of jobs in Crown Heights that came up back in October during the pawn shop protests. Check out their blog for more MLK Day events in Crown Heights.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Explosion on Franklin Avenue

From New York 1 - video link here. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured. NY1 also gave some love to Crown Heights earlier in the day, covering the successful response to Tuesday night's half-blizzard.

Factory workers in Crown Heights, Brooklyn braved the cold Wednesday, after a chemical explosion forced officials to evacuate their workplace.

Fire officials say someone mixed an acid into tanks of bleach stored inside industrial drums at the Sea Crest Linen Supply company, leading to an explosion just before noon.

Bleach is a commonly used ingredient in the manufacturing of linens.

Several workers were given oxygen at the scene, but no serious injuries were reported.

Some of the roughly 200 employees working at the business, which supplies linens to restaurants and hotels, described a loud explosion before they left the building.

"We heard a whole 'boom' and we went out. We got scared, we all got scared. We didn't know what happened," said an employee.

"We heard a big explosion, so it was time to get out of there," said another. "And then it started getting strong, smelling strong. It was time to go."

"Everybody got outside safe, but thank god, you know, nothing happened. Thank god everybody was protected," said a third.

Following the explosion, management aired out the building to get rid of strong chemical smells and dangerous levels of vapor, and workers were able to return to the building by the end of the day.

Phenomenal MLK Event at the Brooklyn Museum This Sunday

This event speaks for itself, and ILFA has already got (free!) tickets. Click the flyer above or follow this link for more information.

Help Map Food Availability in Crown Heights

If you're looking for a productive way to spend your MLK Day, check this out:

On MLK Jr. Day, January 17, 2011, join the Brooklyn Food Coalition in partnership with NYCCAH (New York City Coalition Against Hunger) for a day devoted to making Brooklyn a better place to live and eat - create food maps!

The Research & Mapping committee of the Brooklyn Food Coalition is seeking volunteers to help change the way we look at our food systems by creating comprehensive maps of food across our beloved borough. Volunteers will visit retail food stores and complete Community Food Survey forms, recording information about food, type, and location. This data will be compiled as part of an ongoing study with the hope that once a full picture of our food system is available, advocates of policy changes will have the necessary information to lobby for us!

The event will begin at 11am, meeting place is Launch Pad, located at 721 Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights. As this is a door-to-door job, volunteers are reminded to dress warmly and bring their walking shoes!

Affordable Acupuncture at LaunchPad - Now on Thursdays, Too

Starting today, local acupuncturists from AcuTake Health will be offering affordable acupuncture at LaunchPad on Thursday evenings from 5pm - 9pm. They'll also be keeping their current slot on Wednesdays from 11am - 6pm. Prices are on a sliding scale - their sign today said $15 - $35 a session. Just another great way to relax at LaunchPad!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


It's not as much as last time, when Franklin Avenue made the cover of the New York Times (second photo, above), but there's still something about a snowy day that demands photos of brownstones looking like gingerbread houses. Now if only I had a helicopter to take photos like the Times does . . .

Monday, January 10, 2011

NP Post on Arizona Tragedy

Crown Heights' Virtual Town Square, Nostrand Park, has a reflection posted this morning on the shooting of Congressman Giffords and her constituents in Tucson that really resonated with me. Read it here (and don't forget to check their site regularly for great local news and analysis).

In particular, NP makes the point that our most beloved and effective politicians are those who make themselves available to constituents. In an era when it's easy to feel increasingly alienated from the forces that govern our lives, events like the one Rep. Giffords was hosting when she was attacked are essential to maintaining a participatory democracy. Here in Crown Heights, as NP notes, we're blessed with some wonderful office holders in this regard. I share Councilwoman Letitia James' politics and would likely vote for her if I had never met her, but chatting with her at CHCA meetings and seeing her spend well over an hour on a Saturday afternoon listening to concerned constituents and suggesting constructive solutions to problems at the pawn shop protest last October has given me a substantively deeper faith in her as a representative of, and advocate for, our community. Having taken over for the late James Davis, Councilwoman James likely knows all too well the hazards of her public position, but she stays connected to her district, as Rep. Giffords was doing on Saturday.

Amid calls for improved security and increased bodyguard details for Congressional representatives in the wake of this tragedy, NP reminds us that if we want to remain involved in our democracy and connected to those we elect, we must think of them first as neighbors and human beings. I couldn't agree more. There's been no shortage of public comment about our political climate in recent days, but as I often find, the most important message is often available closest to home.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Reading Series Tomorrow Night

The first Franklin Park Reading Series of 2011 arrives tomorrow night at 8pm, with $4 drafts and five great readers. From their Facebook page:

From absurdism to realism, four short fiction writers and one storyteller will explore a wide range of human experience. Acclaimed young author DANIELLE EVANS (Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self) will be joined by This American Life contributor and lit humorist DAVID ELLIS DICKERSON ( House of Cards), flash fiction star GREG GERKE (There's Something Wrong with Sven), and Crown Heights writers J.E. REICH and ANTHONY JONES.

Subway: 2/3/4/5 to Franklin Avenue

DANIELLE EVANS is the author of the short story collection Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. She is a graduate of Columbia University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her stories have appeared in The Paris Review, A Public Space, and The Best American Short Stories 2008 and 2010. She teaches writing and literature at American University in Washington, D.C.

DAVID ELLIS DICKERSON, the author of House of Cards: Love, Faith, and Other Social Expressions, is a comic, storyteller, crossword constructor, and ex-greeting card writer. A regular contributor to This American Life, he holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in American literature from Florida State University. He has written for The Atlantic Monthly and The Gettysburg Review, and his puzzles have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Games magazine, and Time Out New York. He lives New York. Check out his video work here.

GREG GERKE is the author of There’s Something Wrong With Sven, a book of short fiction published by Blaze Vox Books, and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Quarterly West, Mississippi Review, Gargoyle, Rosebud, and Fourteen Hills. A Brooklyn resident, he edits very short fiction for ArtVoice and is a member of the National Society of Book Critics.

J.E. REICH is a Pittsburgh native and Emerson College graduate. She was nominated for an Emerson College EVVY Award in "Outstanding Prose: Fiction" in 2009 and a 2010 Pushcart Prize for her story “This Right Now Is a Love Story.” Her fiction has appeared in Paradigm Journal, Blast Magazine, Frostwriting, and The Emerson Review and is forthcoming in Plain China, edited by The Atlantic Monthly’s fiction editor C. Michael Curtis, and in The Best of Undergraduate Fiction. A Crown Heights resident, she is a graduate student at Brooklyn College and is working on her first novel.

ANTHONY JONES is a writer and basketball coach living in Brooklyn. His short stories have appeared in Westwind magazine and The Furnace Review. He was the 2008 recipient of the Ruth Brill Scholarship, awarded to the most outstanding fiction writer at UCLA. He draws inspiration for new stories from ex-girlfriends and television shows. Recently, he's spent a lot of money on the arcade basketball game in the back of Franklin Park. His best score is 153.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

More Pizza, More Wine

Franklin Avenue has already become coffee central, and soon, it'll be the place for pizza, too. The lady and I ran by this storefront next door to the Franklin Mini Market (between Park and Prospect) this morning while the grate was up and spoke to one of the workers inside. He told us the new place will be a "great hang-out spot" serving pizza and wine. The interior, from what we saw, looks great, and almost done. According to our source, they're planning to open at the end of the month. Between A Slice of Brooklyn, Barboncino, and this new joint (we didn't get a name), Franklinians will be able to get all the pie they can handle.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Hoover Dam Collective Residency Starts Tomorrow

As previously mentioned, the Hoover Dam Collective, a Crown-Heights-based multi-disciplinary arts collective, kicks off a first-Saturdays residency at LaunchPad tomorrow night at 8pm. There's more information at their website and on Facebook, and copied below.

Also, don't forget to swing by the SOS Crown Heights shooting response tonight at 186 Prospect Place.

Via Facebook:

Come check out the initiating show of the Hoover Dam Collective's residency at the Launchpad!! This is the first of a series of shows that will take place the first Saturday of every month, indefinitely. As you probably already know, the Hoover Dam Collective is a unique group of young artists who come together to collaborate on artistic projects and produce interdisciplinary shows. This show will feature:

An art gallery (with snacks and wine) from 8-9 PM, featuring dance photography by Breegan Kearney, and others

The comedic stylings of Willy Appelman and the Thunderbirds-4-Life

Hayley Swinburne's grand debut on solo ukelele

solo improvisation performance by Genna Baroni

Cosmo D, Hirshi, and Kroba collaborate to bring you an interactive sound experience like you've never witnessed before.

Check out the Hoover Dam Collective blog for more information on the show:

And the best part?? All of it is completely FREE!! Why waste your money and your Saturday night at the usual hipster hangout? Come check out this mind-blowing show, and get down with the Hoover Dam Collective!!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Thursday is Art Night

Two shows open tonight in the neighborhood:

As mentioned yesterday, the American Laboratory launches "We are Nebeneinander (We are Side by Side)," a performance piece utilizing text from James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man starting at 8pm at Five Myles Gallery and running through the weekend.

Down the block at LaunchPad, an exhibit entitled "Balancing Act" opens from 8pm - 10pm, featuring the work of photographer Shane Perez, Cesar Rodriguez, Kelsey Marcus and Isobel Wohl. The artists describe the exhibit as " an exploration into the human relationship with nature, whether the nature we see outside us or the nature we find within us, and comments on our place in nature and nature’s place within us."

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Big Weekend in Crown Heights

Wednesday afternoon and all's quiet at Lily & Fig, looking across the Avenue to what will one day be Franklin Avenue Beer and Grocery, an oyster-and-cocktail bar from the guys who brought you Franklin Park and Dutch Boy Burger. It's the calm before the storm, however - on top of reports of more snow, Crown Heights will be a flurry of activity this weekend.

- On Thursday night, The American Laboratory opens We are Nebeneinander (We are Side by Side), a performance art piece utilizing text from James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, at Five Myles. Shows start at 8pm through Sunday, with a nightly afterparty at The Vanderbilt.

- On Friday night, SOS Crown Heights leads a a shooting response (a peaceful vigil and gathering) at 186 Prospect Place. A program of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center, SOS CH does phenomenal work, and if you'd like to get more involved with them, they're hiring.

- LaunchPad has something happening all week and all weekend (affordable acupuncture is back on Wednesdays, going on next door as I type this). Their big event gets going on Saturday, when the Brooklyn-based Hoover Dam Collective kicks off a first-Saturdays residency with a free show starting at 8pm. Music, dance, comedy, performance art, and more/everything in between will be on offer.

- Finally, after a rest day on Sunday, the beloved Franklin Park Reading Series rings in the new year with a Short Fiction Night on Monday at 8pm. $4 draughts and great writers - there's no better way to close out the weekend and start the week.

Botanic Garden Gets Some Love

After catching heat for the slow-plowing of the outer boroughs, Mayor Bloomberg did some damage control yesterday, trekking out to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to deliver good news about rising revenues and job creation from record tourism numbers. A cynic might note that these disproportionately benefit the mayor's home borough - anyone know where to find a borough-breakdown of tourism's impact? - but in this economy, you're not going to find ILFA complaining about creating jobs and bringing in spend-happy tourists. Meanwhile, local blogger Gregory Malcolm of Why I Love Brooklyn provides a home-grown tour, above.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Coming in 2011: Look for the FAM Sticker

I Love Franklin Ave is all about local businesses, and this year, we'll be sharing content with the newly-created Franklin Avenue Merchants Association, or FAM. FAM is just what it sounds like - a dues-paying organization of local merchants working together to improve their collective fortunes, and by extension, the collective fortunes of the Avenue. They're just getting started, but ideas floated so far include offering discounts, planning events, offering assistance with start-up and improvement to Franklin Avenue's entrepreneurs, and working closely with the Crow Hill Community Association on community improvement projects.

One of their very first initiatives is underway, and that's the simple process of self-identification. The image above, created (as was the FAM website) by Ground Up Designers, will soon be a window sticker displayed prominently by each of FAM's member businesses. When you're out shopping on Franklin, look for the FAM sticker - it represents a commitment (financial as well as philosophic) to a vibrant local community.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New Bistro in Prospect Heights

Walked by the old Tavern on Dean space on Underhill and Dean today and saw people working. The new place will be an American-style bistro called "Dean Street," the brainchild of a pair of longtime Brooklynintes, Rob Gelardi and John Longo, with a kitchen headed by former Spotted Pig chef Nate Smith. No word on an opening date, but they've written a very enthusiastic intro at their website.

Incidentally, Prospect Heights Patch picked this up at a Community Board meeting back in October, but I complete missed this (I've also missed their site, which is now on the blogroll).

Also, don't forget karaoke at Franklin Park tomorrow night (details below)!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Karaoke at Franklin Park on Tuesday

If you're suffering that post-New Year's letdown, come sing your blues away on Tuesday at Franklin Park. Details on the flyer above.