Thursday, March 31, 2011

Any Day Now - Chavela's Comes to Franklin

The buzz has been building for months, and any day now, Chavella's, the beloved Mexican restaurant on Classon between Park and Prospect, is set to open an almost-eponymous spot on Franklin and Sterling. Last week, ILFA had the pleasure of tagging along to a soft opening at their gorgeous new digs, where we heard all about what is sure to be a huge draw on Franklin for years to come. Lots of people are asking questions - here are a few of the answers:

Q: Chavela's? Surely you mean Chavella's!
A: Nope - after a few years of correcting well-meaning high-school Spanish champions who pronounced his mother's name cha-VEY-A, proprietor Arturo Leonar has decided to drop the second L in the interest of hearing it said correctly (no matter how you see it spelled, it's cha-VELL-a).

Q: Their Classon location is legendarily tiny - how many folks will the new restaurant hold?
A: The gorgeous new space (high tin ceilings, rustic chandeliers, dark woods and colorful tiles) is laid out to seat 45 comfortably. There's a big chef's table at the back for larger parties, with small tables all along the wall, and another 15 stools at the bar. If all goes to plan, there'll be patio seating along Sterling this summer as well.

Q: The bar! Is that a full bar I see?
A: You betcha. When it's fully armed and operational, Chavela's will have fifty tequilas on offer, as well as margaritas and sangria on draft, a line of signature cocktails (mango chili, cucumber lime, and more), and bottled Mexican beers. As for the lovely tiles, they're handmade and imported from the source.

Q: And after I've had a few, will the menu be familiar?
A: For now, it'll be exactly the same as the Classon menu, though Arturo and his team will start sneaking in specials and new twists as inspiration strikes.

Q: What about the Classon location? They're not closing it, right? RIGHT?!
A: This is the first question anyone who lives west of Franklin asks, often with the same look of panic that would accompany a query about a meteor strike. Do not fear, good people of Classon Avenue, Chavella's shall remain! There are plans in the works down the line to get creative, both with the space and the menu, but I've said too much already.

Q: What does this all mean for Franklin Avenue? Is this a coming of age for the nascent nightlife scene? A tipping point for gentrification? The end/beginning of an era?
A: I'm kicking this one to the readers, with two observations to keep in mind. First, the Chavela's guys are community-minded folks, active in the Franklin Avenue Merchants Association and well-liked by customers, neighbors, and fellow merchants on Classon for over four years. They've hired locally, both for the construction of the new space and the waitstaff, and their new neighbors on Franklin (About Time, Lily & Fig, and others) are as excited as the Brooklynians to have them on the block. Second, by my imprecise count, they are the 30th new business to open on Franklin since summer 2008. By any measure, that is rapid change, and it's worth keeping that trajectory in mind.

Q: I thought you were kicking the final answer to us readers - what's this next question?
A: Merely a chance to thank all the readers (and facebook and twitter followers), the folks on Brooklynian and Nostrand Park, the CHCA and those who attend their meetings, the Franklin Park Reading Series, and LaunchPad events, and everyone else who's engaged in the ongoing conversation about Franklin Avenue over the past few years. See you at Chavela's!

Monday, March 28, 2011

RIGHT NOW - Island Thyme Grand Opening

(photo above via Nostrand Park, who posted this yesterday)

They've actually been open for a few weeks now, but Island Thyme (formerly Bristen's) is hosting a GRAND OPENING right now with free food and drink (the press release below says 8pm, but it's still going on as of five minutes ago). Nostrand Park reviewed their food awhile back, and everyone inside was enjoying their meals. More information on this event, which should have gone up yesterday, is below. I know that not everyone who comments here has been positive about their experience at past iterations of this restaurant, but by the looks of it, they're really making an effort. If you check this event out, or if you've been to Island Thyme already, let us know what you think!

Brooklyn, NY, March 28, 2011—ISLAND THYME CAFÉ ANNOUNCES GRAND OPENING. Vibrant and eclectic West Indian restaurant awakens Franklin Ave Brooklyn, NY giving it a burst of flavor with an Island vibe.
Island Thyme’s festive and decorative dishes will entice all those in quest of scrumptious and exotic cuisines. The Café is located walking distance from the Brooklyn Public Library, Botanical Gardens and the Brooklyn Museum, not to mention convenient access to the Franklin Ave/Botanical Gardens subway station and shuttle.
Owner and Head-Chef, Carlene Haughton, a native Jamaican, fuses dishes from the entire Caribbean in hopes of giving guests the opportunity to explore the culinary diversity of the West Indies. Ms. Haughton, a graduate from the Institute of Culinary Education, dishes are inspired by her grandmothers’ cooking, “she taught me the importance of using real herbs when seasoning”. Mr. Paul from Berry Chow, South Africa, also operates island Thyme’s kitchen adding his spin on things.
The menu is filled with authentic West Indian dishes from jerk chicken to curried goat. Island Thyme features a Red Strip Pan Seared Chicken, pan-fried chicken slowly cooked with Jamaican Red Stripe Beer. The entrees range from $5-$15 with appetizers ranging from $3-$9. Non-meat eaters will love the vegetarian menu, ranging from $5-14, which includes a delicious Rasta Pasta meal. The Rasta Pasta is made up of tri-colored spiral pasta with broccoli, carrots and a house spicy sauce.
The restaurant also has an extensive Seafood menu from Jamaican classics such Ackee & Codish and Steamed Red Snapper Fillet to a Trinidadian inspired Shrimp Roti. The owner’s favorite dish is the Mussels and Prawn topped with a house coconut crème sauce. Guests can sip on beer and wine, or savory their entrees with made-to-order Carrot Juice, limeade, Sorrel, or ginger pineapple juice.
Island Thyme, located at 751 Franklin Avenue, will host a GRAND OPENING on Monday, March 28th, 2011, featuring a live band, complimentary appetizers and wine all afternoon.
The restaurant will be opened Tuesday through Sunday 9am-10pm. Brunch specials are held on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-3pm. Lunch Specials are $5-$6 everyday from 11:30-4:30.
For press inquires contact Carlene Haughton at or 917.940.6713
Follow us on twitter: Island Thyme Cafe

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Very Young Girls - Documentary at LaunchPad

Click the flyer above for more information on this event, and make some time on Wednesday to come out to LaunchPad for the film or Franklin Park for the discussion, drinks, and petition signing.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Landlord Tonight at LaunchPad @ 5pm

This one just in - tonight, the Kings County Cinema Society, the Center for Active Learning, and LaunchPad are hosting a showing of the 1970 classic "The Landlord," shot just down Eastern Parkway in Park Slope. Nostrand Park (lots of shoutouts for NP in the last few posts) incorporated this film into a reflection on neighborhood change about a year ago, but it's not a film that gets shown very often, so check it out for a look back into Brooklyn's past. More from the KCCS guys below:

The Landlord was shot in Prospect Heights and Park Slope in 1970, and is about a privileged white 29 year-old from Westchester who buys a brownstone in what was at the time a ghetto (Prospect Pl. between 5th and 6th Ave. to be exact) and has a series of madcap, funny, erotic, and poignant misadventures with the building's black tenants. I can't think of too many films that tackle gentrification in NYC - or anywhere - but here's a great one that stands as a fascinating time capsule. It was written by Bill Gunn, one of the great blaxploitation writer/directors (Ganja and Hess, The Angel Levine), based on the novel by African-American novelist Kristin Hunter, and directed by Hal Ashby, who followed this one up with the classic Harold and Maude in '71. Center for Active Learning founder Joanna White-Oldham will lead a discussion after the film about what's changed in Brooklyn and what hasn't in the 40 years since the film's release.

"The Landlord remains one of the funniest social comedies of the period, as well as the most human." -J. Hoberman of the Village Voice

Read Roger Ebert's original review here ... though it gives away too much story for my taste.

Sat. 3/26, 5pm
LaunchPad, 721 Franklin Ave, btw Park Pl and Sterling
Crown Heights.
2/3/4/5 to Franklin Ave

Friday, March 25, 2011

Introducing Bob & Betty's

Tony Fisher's supermarket is a venerable local institution, something Nostrand Park's Abeni Garrett explored in a fabulous post earlier this week (if you haven't been reading NP regularly - for shame! - Abeni has been tearing it up on Franklin recently, with another great post about the new Chavella's last week. Also her photos are always fantastic.). Founded by Tony's parents, Bob and Betty, in 1981 (the Fishers already owned two other supermarkets in the area, where they had begun selling groceries in the mid-1970s), Fisher's has been a constant on the Avenue ever since. The success and longevity of the institution, as Tony will tell you, rests on an unswerving commitment to serving customers, one that he inherited from his folks (I realize it's good journalist practice to call someone by their last name, but really, does anyone know Tony as anything but Tony?). When, in my first month living on Franklin, I asked Tony if he had any black pepper, he introduced himself, asked whether I wanted whole peppercorns or ground pepper, and promised to have it for me the following day, which he did. This was not a unique experience - it's Fishers' operating principle. As NP noted, this commitment has run deep, "from stocking a variety of “ethnic” foods – from the Caribbean, Africa and various Latin countries – to delivering food to their elderly or immobile customers or extending credit to families they knew were in need."

Tony is an unabashed booster for the Avenue, singing the praises of the new merchants in the area and encouraging others to do their business on Franklin. Across the street, he's encouraged owner of the fried chicken place to renovate - they'll still serve chicken, albeit with a bigger deli and a grocery section. Thus, when the time came to renovate Fisher's, Tony went all out, completing gutting and re-imagining his store with huge new windows, low-energy lighting and refrigeration (supplied with power from a rooftop wind turbine), a wide-open layout, and his Brooklyn-pride commitment to buying locally. Citing NP again, Tony's new supermarket will be working only with vendors in a 50-mile radius to cut down on additional food mileage, and he's reached out to farmers in the same region to supply his produce. He's also keeping an eye on the pricing - while committing to environmentally-friendly practices and stocking organics, Tony plans to keep carrying the affordable staples that people expect from him, which, as he notes, he can afford to do because unlike other Avenue merchants, he owns the building, and isn't subject to rising rents.

When I mentioned Fisher's new store in a post a few weeks back, I called it "refurbished." Tony wasn't a fan - to him, he said, "refurbished" sounded like a new seat cover in an old car. What we've got here is an beautiful, brand-new supermarket, one called "Bob and Betty's" in honor of Tony's parents (logo above), who founded Fisher's and built it into the Crown Heights institution it is today. For Tony, the reincarnated Fisher's pays homage to his parents, and their customer-first values that made the original a success.

Spectacular Weekend Lineup at Force and Flow

Group Pilates Yoga and Prenatal Yoga Classes at Force and Flow
Force and Flow has a special place in my heart because they're on my street (don't tell anyone, but ILFA doesn't actually live on Franklin Ave - the lady and I are around the corner on Dean). If you're in the area this weekend, make sure to check out their fabulous lineup of events:



Friday, March 25th
$15 Suggested Donation
(no one turned away for lack of funds)


Divya Alter will co-lead this week's Sound Bath with beautiful Sanskrit chants accompanied by Katie Down on glass and crystal bowls and electric tambura.

The sound bath series at Force and Flow is a monthly sound immersion event focusing on the practice of focused presence and mindfulness in the act of listening. The sound baths provide opportunities for experiencing one full hour of continuous live sound provided by different artists working with musical drones including at various sessions: didjeridoo, sitar, crystal bowls, Tibetan bowls, Indian shruti box and chanting, drum circles, tuning fork sound therapy, urban soundwalks, and more. Each participant in the sound bath is invited to co-create sound with the facilitators when appropriate to the theme. Or, they may simply bathe in the sound with intention, visualizaiton, breath work, and mindful meditation.

Divya Alter teaches Sanskrit and sacred chanting at the Bhakti Center in Manhattan. She is a truly inspiring spiritual teacher with over 20 years of experience studying and teaching Indian spiritual philosophy, yoga, sacred singing and Sanskrit throughout Europe, India and the US. Originally from Bulgaria, she studied and taught Sanskrit in Sweden and India, and has assisted in the translation of many ancient texts. She also completed traditional Indian vocal training while living in India. Her singing is as spiritually impacting as it is beautiful. She is a co-founder of Life Learning Continuum, a non-profit educational organization, through which she shares her deep knowledge and realizations around the world.

Katie Down is a Board Certified and Licensed Music Therapist, performing artist and composer. Her music psychotherapy practice includes mindfulness, meditation, pain management with sound, individual and group therapy.



8:00PM - LATE

An improvised art happening in celebration of SWAN Day! Bring your musical instruments, art supplies and your dancing juju. The walls will be covered in paper, the treatment room will be transformed into an otherwordly oasis featuring Kristen Timchak's organic Elixirs, and we'll fill the space with dance and live music. Impromptu performances and readings are welcome!

FREE if you bring an instrument to play, art supplies and/or food & drink to share
$5 Suggested Donation otherwise


This if the fourth consecutive year that Force and Flow is hosting a SWAN Day event. The idea for SWAN Day (Support Women Artists Now Day), grew out of a collaboration between Martha Richards of The Fund for Women Artists and Jan Lisa Huttner of Chicago's WITASWAN (Women in the Audiences Supporting Women Artists Now). Martha Richards, the co-founder of SWAN Day says, "This day of celebration will help people imagine what the world would be like if women’s art and perspectives were fully integrated into all of our lives. The long term goal of SWAN Day is to inspire communities to recognize and support women artists as a basic element of civic planning." For more information about SWAN Day events happening around the world, please visit



12:00 - 1:30PM
By Donation

Through silent seated meditation, we learn to quiet the discursive everyday thinking mind. Attention is concentrated on awareness of the breath. As practice deepens, insight into our true nature is revealed.

Brent Lyman is a certified aikido instructor. He has studied Zen Meditation extensively, both in the United States and in Japan.

Once a month, Force and Flow offers a community class by donation. Each month we invite a different teacher from a variety of mind-body modalities that we feel the community would benefit from experiencing. Past classes have included Alexander Technique, Qi Gong, Authentic Movement, Pilates on the Ball, Shamanic Guided Meditation and more. If you would like to teach a community class, please email us with details.



2:00 - 5:00PM

Between Dec. 2010 and June 2011, PPL is conducting a series of Focus Workshops in Brooklyn, NY, investigating cultural structures, interpersonal politics, daily conceptions of reality, and institutional ecologies.

Seeking opinions, experiences, and feedback from individuals of all ages and from all backgrounds, these workshops form a public co-creation aspect of the experimental opera project Institute_Institut.

A Focus Workshop is part focus group and part thinktank. "Workshop" is used to note the performance-based perspective held by the workshop facilitators (the artists creating the project) and the performance research direction that some workshops take, depending on the interests of the participants.

Part I: Group Discussion. What are institutions? How do they function in your life? What are some of your experiences with them?

Part 2: Enactions, observations, and games.
All participants will receive a free ticket to the performances of Institute_Institut, in Fall 2011. The project is a staged documentary opera about authority, reality, institutionality, and sensibility. Issues and ideas discussed and researched through these Focus Workshops, as well as selected experiences, statements, and documentation from them (and many other forms of research) will largely form the libretto.

For more information and to RSVP, email

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Art/Sewn: Tradition, Innovation, Expression at Five Myles

Another great Saturday event, from the folks at Five Myles on St. John's (and for the anonymous poster who asked about the Park Deli Party below, I think these openings do usually have a complimentary glass of wine or two for those who swing by):

March 26 - May 8, 2011
Opening: Saturday. March 26, from 4:30 -7 pm

Art/Sewn: Tradition, Innovation, Expression
Curator: Ward Mintz

Emily Barletta . Denise Burge
Elisa D'Arrigo
. Linnea Glatt
Sandy Benjamin-Hannibal
Janet Henry
. Cyrilla Mozenter
Anna Von Mertens . Jessica Rankin

Art/Sewn explores the power of the needle in the making of contemporary art.
It presents work by nine artists who use sewing and embroidery to create outstanding work.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Two Years of Park Delicatessen - Celebrate This Saturday at Tip Top

Has it really been two years since Park Delicatessen opened its one-of-a-kind doors? True to form, the skate-florists-and-more are celebrating their terrible twos with a kickin' FREE party at Tip Top Bar and Grill on Saturday night. I know it's early to start thinking weekend, but when Monday is as gray and miserable as today, what else can you do?

In other news, the new Chavella's spot on Franklin and Sterling is slated to open next week (Nostrand Park got a great photo), and after sampling their wares tonight, I can say the food and drink are as fantastic as the new place looks. More to come on that front soon.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

An Incident on Franklin and Looking Out for Neighbors - Updated and Amended

About a week ago, I received the following email from one of our neighbors:

On Saturday February 26th around 5:15 am, I was assaulted at two different locations on Franklin Avenue. My attacker demanded money from me via the ATM at BNI Express laundromat on Franklin and Park, and when the machine didn't work, the initial assault took place. The employees of BNI Express, who were fully aware and watching what was taking place, did nothing to help me even after repeated cries for help. My attacker then demanded money via the ATM at Nam's fruits and vegetables, as it was the only other business open at the time. This time, he took my money, phone and assaulted me again. I again asked for help again at Nam's, but to no avail. My attacker then left the scene and I returned home, after which the police were notified and came to my home to take a report. I decided to write this letter for the benefit of the community, as I am very disturbed at the notion that employees of locally owned businesses that I regularly support did nothing when faced with these circumstances. I no longer feel comfortable supporting BNI Express, or Nam's fruits and vegetables and wanted to make this issue known in the Crow Hill community. Locally owned businesses that we know and support have a responsibility to help someone in distress that is being attacked in their space, at the very least, they should be calling the police. Please be mindful of these issues and if you see someone that looks like they may need help, please help them.

Now, of course, I wasn't there, and the email above does not contain any reporting on ILFA's part, so I won't speculate further on the specifics of this particular incident. That said, the message at the end is worth repeating. Crime is a reality in New York, and in the 77th Precinct (our own), robbery and petit larceny are both on the rise this year. Anonymity is a feature of city living - and a draw for some folks looking to escape the social supervision of the small town - but it comes with a cost, particularly when someone is in trouble. We count on police to do our policing, but the NYPD can't be everywhere at once (and if they were, we'd live in a police state, and that would be troubling, to say the least), so sometimes it falls to citizens to look out for one another and take action to make the world we live in a world we want to live in.

While it's admittedly tricky business in a rapidly-changing neighborhood where we don't know everyone (and where tensions generated by gentrification work against affective ties), looking out for neighbors isn't just a sign of community, it's a route to building community. This doesn't mean calling the police every time someone looks different, or putting oneself in harm's way. Everyone has different levels of comfort with these sorts of things, but eye contact, greetings, and simple questions can go a long way toward both defusing situations and assessing whether they require further action (calling 911 shouldn't be a first reaction, but it should never be taboo, either). There aren't any special tricks or magic bullets, and no one should try to break up a situation like this alone, but concerned, alert citizens who don't turn away from bad situations can be as crucial to neighborhood safety as the Skywatch and impact zones. Call it enlightened self-interest - if you look out for someone, it's more likely that there'll be someone looking out for you.

Updated and Amended: While this was far from the most-read or most-controversial post published here in March 2011, it's probably the one I thought the most about, both before and after, and one of the bigger missteps on ILFA overall. A colleague whom I respect greatly read it, and replied to me with a strongly-worded email that began with the definition of "paternalism" (the lady, upon reading this email, concurred in large part). I also spoke with other bloggers and reporters who received similar emails, and had similar ambivalence to my own (though I believe, in the end, I was the only one who wrote about it). My intention, in publishing the email and my own comments, was to give voice to someone who had suffered something traumatic and wanted to be heard (having felt ignored and dismissed by merchants, bystanders, and the NYPD), and also, perhaps, to prompt a discussion among merchants (many of whom I was in close contact with through the CHCA) about how to address and prevent incidents like this one on a more systematic basis. I can see, however, that my garbled comments above got it wrong, on (at least) three counts:

1) the problems of the "sketchy neighborhood" discourse: As the lady explained, "it's not about what you felt or wanted to do, it's about how people read this." Her point was that this post contributed to a deeply problematic and deeply engrained discourse that appears frequently in gentrifying neighborhoods, that of "sketchiness" or the lack of safety for newcomers (assumed to be young, white gentrifiers). The problem with this discourse is that it reduces complex issues of community safety and cohesion to stark stereotypes in which the newcomers are the innocent victims of predatory behavior by longtime residents. This isn't to downplay to the trauma of incidents like the one reported above, but to point out that such traumas are, in fact, reported far MORE often than the traumas suffered by longtime locals, whether at the hands of criminals, the police, or the process of gentrification and displacement itself. I might have wanted to get merchants talking about late-night safety, but by publishing this, I was adding fuel to the fire, one that burns those longtime residents when the logic of "gentrifying neighborhoods are dangerous" is used to support zero-tolerance policing that destroys the lives of so many young men and women of color in New York City.

2) the problem of "neighborhood safety" as discussed by this particular blogger: I'm upfront about my background on this blog: I'm a young, recently-arrived white guy, very much part of the process of gentrification. I try to be thoughtful about my position, but in this case, I wasn't. I may have borrowed my language of "concerned, alert citizens" and community policing from CHCA meetings - where  discussions of neighborhood safety are led by longtime residents - but that doesn't mean I can employ it in my own writing to the same effect. Context matters, and when young, white newcomers call for "community policing" online after detailing late-night street crime, it reads very differently. To put a finer point on it, it reads as an exhortation to similarly-positioned people (the language of "citizens" operating in a classically exclusive fashion here) to take action against a (nameless, rights-less) group of "others." I certainly didn't intend this, but re-reading it, I can understand how someone who didn't read ILFA regularly would read this post this way.

3) the problem of bringing in the NYPD: I intended, in this post, to offer community "action" as an alternative to zero-tolerance, Skywatch-using, impact-zone policing (which generates as much violence - by police - as it purports to stop, and drags thousands of young men into the deeply unjust criminal justice system). However, that's not at all clear from reading this post, and reception is more important than intention. In fact, this reads as though I'm calling for citizens to work together with the NYPD (which would be great if mutual trust existed between these groups, but it doesn't). This is the biggest problem of all, as the NYPD and their supporters could read such a post as a call for MORE policing on Franklin, when in fact, ILFA is of the very strong opinion that we have far too much of it.

At any rate, I'm not sure it would have been possible to post this without triggering at least some of the issues addressed above, but I'm not going to delete it now, as that feels sort of cowardly on my part. I certainly could have written a more nuanced and thoughtful post originally, and I could have tried harder to write against the problems above. The lesson for ILFA, which I'll carry with me going forward, is to remember my own position in these processes and to think harder about context, reception, and the broader discourse of the day. Blogging is always a conceit, but to think I can impose my own desires and intentions on an incident, or a community, is a dangerous conceit, one that bleeds all too easily into the colonizing discourses of gentrification on the "urban frontier." I'll try to do better. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lily & Fig on Groupon Today!

Check it out - Lily & Fig are the featured Deal of the Day on Groupon today, offering an 8-inch, two-layer custom cake (a $32 value) for only 15 dollars!

Monday, March 14, 2011

CHCA Meeting Tonight

The Crow Hill Community Association hosts its March meeting tonight (Tuesday) at LaunchPad, 721 Franklin Ave, starting at 7:30pm. More from the CHCA below:

Spring is coming and the March meeting will address a number of "green" issues. Gita Subramony from the Pratt Center for Community Development will present information to homeowners and business owners about energy efficiency incentive programs offered through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Our Go Green/Go Clean Committee will present: A reminder about Jonas's request for people to share their visions about the garden. Manuel will talk about his project to present ideas on how to improve the spaces surrounding the S train tracks. Jessica will talk about a beehive in the garden Planter box clean up day April 2 (raindate April 3).

More info about these projects will be posted soon on our website. We will also have an update on the Brewery Project.

See you Tuesday, CHCA

Brooklyn Unplugged at Franklin Park Today

Nostrand Park posted this earlier in the day, but if you didn't get enough Franklin Park at last night's fantastic Reading Series 2nd Anniversary Bash, come out tonight for Brooklyn Unplugged. Details below (they're hoping to make it a monthly thing, so get out and support them!):

45 Shootout presents... Brooklyn Unplugged.

If you live in Brooklyn (or don't mind inter-boro travel), Please come out and support some amazing performers. Best of all... It's FREE!

We are introducing a new, monthly series of acoustic performances, where bands can strip down, get sexy and generate their own electricity. A perfect way to enjoy a school night and boost you over the hump, the inaugural evening, hosted by 45 Shootout and Franklin Park, will include performances by 45 Shootout, Belikos, AwShockKiss and Aqua Cherry, with special guest DJ Alias soul-spinning grooves all night long.

It all starts @ 7:30pm with a smooth set by DJ Alias. Bands begin @ 8:30pm.

For info on bands visit page below:

Hope to see you there...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Come Celebrate Two Fantastic Years of the Franklin Park Reading Series Tomorow

A sure sign that ILFA is getting old - the Franklin Park Reading Series turns TWO this Monday, and they're celebrating in style with $4 drafts and cake, as well as a quintet of fantastic authors. The show starts at 8pm at Franklin Park (St. John's just west of Franklin), and there's more info on their Facebook page, which I've copied below with author links.

Join the party! We're celebrating with friends old and new...
Our stars include BENJAMIN HALE, author of the hilarious and poignant new novel The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, returning favorites JAMI ATTENBERG (The Melting Season, The Kept Man) and SUSAN SHAPIRO (Overexposed, Speed Shrinking), celebrity comedian OPHIRA EISENBERG, and irreverent memoirist MOSHE SCHULMAN. And there will be cake and cheap beer!

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


BENJAMIN HALE (The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore)
JAMI ATTENBERG (The Melting Season, The Kept Man)
SUSAN SHAPIRO (Speed Shrinking, Overexposed)

BENJAMIN HALE is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop. He received a University of Iowa Provost’s Fellowship to write The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, which also went on to win a Michener-Copernicus Award. He has been a night shift baker, a trompe l’oeil painter, a cartoonist, an illustrator, and a technical writer. He grew up in Colorado and now lives in New York.

JAMI ATTENBERG is the author of the short story collection Instant Love and the novels The Melting Season and The Kept Man. She has written about sex, technology, design, graphic novels, books, television, and urban life for The New York Times, New York Magazine, Nylon, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Huffington Post, Salon, Time Out NY, The Awl, and other publications. Her fiction has been published by Nerve, Five Chapters, Smokelong Quarterly, 3: AM Magazine, and Spork. Her work has been featured in several anthologies, including Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone, Love Is a Four-Letter Word: True Stories of Breakups, Bad Relationships, and Broken Hearts, and Rumpus Women: Volume 1. She also wrote Wicked: The Musical: A Pop-up Compendium. Her fourth book, The Middlesteins, will be published in 2012. She lives in Brooklyn, NY and blogs at

SUSAN SHAPIRO, a Manhattan journalism professor, has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times, Newsweek, The Nation,, Daily Beast, The Forward, Village Voice, Time Out NY, People, Marie Claire, Glamour. Cosmopolitan, and other publications. She's editor of Food for the Soul, author of two comic novels, Overexposed and Speed Shrinking, as well as the nonfiction books Only as Good as Your Word, Lighting Up, Secrets of a Fix-Up Fanatic, the upcoming Unhooked, and Five Men Who Broke My Heart, optioned for a feature film. She lives with her husband, a TV/film writer, in Greenwich Village, where she teaches her popular "instant gratification takes too long" writing method at the New School, NYU, and in private workshops and seminars.

OPHIRA EISENBERG is an acclaimed comedian and storyteller. Selected as one of New York Magazine's Top 10 Comics that "Funny People Find Funny,” Ophira has appeared on Comedy Central, VH-1, Fox, E! Channel, the Oxygen Network, and the Discovery Channel. She regularly performs onstage at The Moth, Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad, and The Liar Show. Ophira’s shows have been highly recommended by the New York Times, New York Post, and Time Out. Her writing has been featured in five anthologies, including I Killed: True Stories of the Road from America’s Top Comics, Rejected: Tales of the Failed, Dumped, and Canceled, and Heeb Magazine’s Sex, Drugs, and Gelfite Fish. She is also a regular contributor to US Weekly's Fashion Police,,,, and The Comedians Magazine. Her acting credits include the award-winning independent film The Overlookers, Showtime's Queer As Folk, and CBS’s The Guardian.

MOSHE SCHULMAN was raised in the Ultra Orthodox Jewish town of Monsey, New York. When he was only eight days old he was given a blessing, at his bris, to become greater than the greatest rabbi of his time. At the age of sixteen he made the decision to abandon that blessing, left his yeshiva community, attended public school, and entered the secular world. His nonfiction work has been published in WORDS and at The Rumpus. He’s been a participant at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Tin House Writing Workshop, and was the recipient of a Waiter Scholarship in Nonfiction from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in 2009. He’s currently at work on his first book, a memoir, about leaving the Ultra Orthodox Jewish community in Monsey, New York. He’s also one of eight children…that he knows of.

Right Now - Afternoon Tea at Lily & Fig

If you're in the neighborhood this afternoon, Lily and Kendra are putting on another scrumptious afternoon tea at Lily & Fig. Tuscan Bean Soup, Chicken Pesto Sandwiches, and the usual lineup of delicious sweets and teas. Check it out if you're in need of a lazy Sunday pick-me-up.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Local Job Opportunity

Force and Flow Studios on Dean Street is looking for "someone local who is passionate about the neighborhood/community" to fill a part-time administrative position. The full job description is below (follow the link above for more information about Force and Flow).

Force and Flow Integrated Bodywork ( is in search of a part time Administrative Assistant. We are a small Yoga, Pilates and Bodywork studio located on Dean St. between Franklin & Bedford Ave's and are in the process of expanding. We are looking for someone extremely organized, energetic, versatile, and with excellent communication skills to be actively involved in all aspects of running a small business, including:

Website Maintenance and Development
Web Marketing including Social
Customer Support
Studio Operations and Maintenance

Excellent Internet skills and working knowledge of the Mac OSX operating system are essential. Familiarity with Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, QuickBooks and WordPress is preferred and familiarity with the MindBody studio management system is a plus.

In your one-page cover letter please clearly state your experience with and the nature of your interest in the field of somatic development (i.e. Yoga, Pilates, Bodywork, Sound Therapy, etc.), in addition to experience relevant to the job description. In a brief statement we would like to know about you, your goals and how involvement in a studio of this sort might benefit or support your personal vision. Please also indicate whether you have a driver’s license, own a car, own and ride a bicycle and your interest and skills in any home building/creative/craft skills you have. We prefer someone who is passionate about our local neighborhood but are open to all applicants.

The initial commitment is for 5-10 hours per week, with a strong likelihood of this increasing as the studio continues to grow. Hours are flexible and after an initial training period, much of the work can be done remotely. Pay is $10/hour or $15/hour in barter for classes, treatments and studio use. A combination of pay and barter is possible.

Please email your resume and cover letter to info {at} forceandflow {dot} com. PDF format please, one page only cover letter only.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Sweet Basil Opens Today

The photos aren't great, but the sign says it all - Sweet Basil, the new Thai place on Franklin and Park, will be opening today. The menu look pretty standard in terms of dishes and prices, but with the nearest Thai place of any note on Washington, methinks Sweet Basil will do a brisk business.

Also, reader Sarah checked out Roti & Dumplings on Franklin and Union over the weekend, and offered her comments on ILFA's facebook page. Sounds like it's worth the trip across the parkway!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Kelso on Groupon Today!

$7 for $15 of food at Kelso today on GroupOn! (Thanks to Liz for the tip). The last remaining Panamanian place on Franklin, Kelso has been continuously operated since 1969 by three owners. Veronica, the current proprietor, makes some of the tastiest food in Brooklyn.

Blake Butler at Franklin Park This Tuesday

The Franklin Park Reading Series, recently voted "Best Readings" in the L Magazine's 2011 Brooklyn Bar Awards, is celebrating its second anniversary this month with a double dose of literary talent. This Tuesday, experimental writer Blake Butler launches a four-day marathon reading of his hotly-anticipated new novel There Is No Year, starting at 7pm (click the poster above for more info). The following week, the Series returns at 8pm with five writers to celebrate its birthday in style.

In other local news, the Daily News had a nice piece on French Culinary Institute Chefs teaching cooking to kids in Crown Heights, and the Post had a ridiculous photo of a Camry parked in a McDonald's Playplace on Utica Avenue (it's ok to laugh - no one was hurt, and the driver wasn't a jerk or drunk).

Friday, March 04, 2011

Friday Links - Updated

A few things that came across ILFA's radar in the past few days (thanks to the readers for the two additions):

- The Daily News reports that St. Francis DeSales on Eastern and Classon, the only free school for deaf students in the borough of Kings, will be forced to close if the state goes through with proposed cuts to education budgets (how good of Cuomo to prove that the Republicans don't have a monopoly on slashing state services to the needy, who continue to be hit disproportionately hard by the recession and not bailed out).

- AMNewYork (the slightly-less-trashy free subway rag) quoted a Food Network judge singing the praises of Kelso.

- Nostrand Park has been straying over to Franklin Avenue lately, offering a report on the remarkably well-stocked wine and liquor store at Prospect and Franklin and a review of Island Thyme (formerly Bristen's).


- The fabulous Franklin Park Reading Series earned a mention in the New York Times, with a link to a nice profile/interview of Reading Series founder Penina Roth.

- There's a new restaurant on Franklin, and this one's bucked the trend and opened up south of Eastern Parkway at Union Street. A comment to a recent post asked ILFA to give a little more love to Franklin below the Parkway, so I think a tasty trip to Roti & Dumplings is in order this weekend.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Know Your Neighborhood - Municipal Art Society Tour of Crown Heights North This Saturday

The Municipal Art Society of New York is offering a tour of Crown Heights North this Saturday, focusing on the some of the grand and gorgeous buildings in the area. From their website:

Saturday, March 5, 11:00 a.m.
Crown Heights North
Unusually rich in history and architecture, Crown Heights is being rediscovered. Focusing on the finest blocks between Eastern Parkway and Grant Square, we’ll view free-standing mansions and row houses, as well as Dean Street, the spine of the recently designated historic district. We will also view a remarkable collection of churches, the former Union League Club and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, dramatically expanded by Rafael Viñoly in 2008.
Tour Leader: Matt Postal, architectural historian.
Meet at: The Franklin Ave./Fulton Street subway stop on the C and S trains, outside the turnstiles.MAP.
Cost of Tour: $15, $10 MAS members. Pay at tour.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Participatory Urbanism

Local architect Manuel Avila Ochoa has a great idea, and he wants your input. His project, Participatory Urbanism Crown Heights, "takes a landscape urbanism approach to rethink residual spaces adjacent spaces to the Franklin Avenue shuttle train towards a new public space network. The project is founded on the idea of creating a common ground for residents, business owners, governmental entities and local community organizations for a more plural public spaces in the context of a diverse emergent community in the Crow Hill/Crown Heights neighborhood." Perhaps most exciting is that community input, in the form of web-based participation, is built into the project. To register your thoughts and suggest ways to design the spaces outlined above, follow this link.

While this project, supported in part by Superfront, is purely exploratory and creative at the moment, it suggests some fabulous potential uses for the area's liminal zones. NostrandPark, who reported on this project last week, asked whether we need more public space in Crown Heights (they're in favor). I'm of the opinion that we could always use a little more breathing room in NYC, and I particularly like the idea of repurposing the spaces near the shuttle for pedestrians. If you've got an opinion, make it heard at