Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mural Painting on a Saturday Night

The folks at Veggies Natural Juice Bar are spending Saturday night spiffing up their shop with a new mural. Also, for those who think Veggies is just a juice bar, make sure to stop in and try some of their fantastic vegan/vegetarian food (the Yelpers are yelping). Their veggie burger and chili, in particularly, have never failed to impress.

About Time on Groupon Today

Check it out - $25 for $55 worth of gear from About Time Boutique.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Franklin Roadhouse, opening in an hour!

Just walked through the new spot and it looks great! They'll be open late serving pizza, burgers, and beer, with draught pints starting at 3 bucks.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Franklin Roadhouse - Opening Today!

The Brooklynians have already been chattering about it, and the comments on the post below took me to task for not mentioning it earlier, so . . . Franklin Roadhouse!

I walked past this site back in January when it was just a gutted shell, and the guy out front told me it was going to be a "great hang out spot" serving pizza and wine, and made a point of gesturing across the street at Slice of Brooklyn and saying "it'll have everything they don't." In the interim, though, it's seemed awfully quiet around there (as whynot/MikeF wondered on Brooklynian, did they build it while we were sleeping?), though the owners did apply for a liquor license under their current name in February. I barely noticed anything until the sign went up earlier this week. Maybe they decided they didn't want to compete with Barboncino (where work is rolling along very visibly) and shifted gears to do a BBQ/homestyle joint.

The place has a classic roadhouse look inside - painted, rough wooden tables and booths, old license plates on the wall, a three-sided bar that sticks out off the back wall, and big, old-timey jukebox that plays 45s in the corner - and as Liz mentioned, it looks absolutely ready to open. I'll freely confess that I know nothing about this place beyond what's visible from the street and through the windows (ironically, it was this very site that the Brooklyn Independent Television guys caught me photographing when they came out to do their segment this past winter - so much for the sleuthy neighborhood blogger!). Anyone have any inside info, or even a website/phone number? (UPDATE: See the comment below from Adam - they're opening today).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Local Food Demos at Bob & Betty's

As part of their commitment to keeping their store as local as possible, the Bob & Betty's team is bringing in local companies to tout their wares (follow along on Twitter for the latest updates). Up first was Fourth Creek Foods, whose owner/founder Andy Schiavetti was on hand last night from 5-9pm offering samples of his sweet pepper relish (very tasty). If you missed it last night, he'll be back again, along with other local vendors from the NYC area. You can also check out their website for recipes, and you can pick up their locally-made product at Bob & Betty's.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

A little something from Park Delicatessen in honor of the April holiday season. Happy Earth Day, Easter, Passover, and 4:20 to all those who celebrate them.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What Do You Want To See In This Storefront?

Who says there's no such thing as community-minded landlords? Local leaders Kevin and Garnett (you know them from the Franklin Avenue Kids Day, the Franklin Avenue Merchants Association, About Time Boutique, CHCA meetings, and much more) just put their storefront at 733 Franklin up for rent, and they're seeking community input as they search for a new tenant. They're also open to offering up the space for one-off events while it's on the market. More from the landlords below:

Please find attached images of the vacant storefront now available on Franklin Avenue.

Call Kevin 347.693.4482 or Garnett 347.576.4004 for more information.

In addition if you know someone who is looking for a venue, during the rental process, this space will be available.

I'd like to hear what many of the residents/merchants would like to see come to the Avenue. We WILL keep this in mind as potential renters come forth.

Tell a merchant from this/another neighborhood that Franklin Avenue is GREAT for business!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Putting a Legislative Stop to "ProCro"

We've been talking about it out here in Crown Heights since February, but the "ProCro" controversy has just made it to the Statehouse in Albany, thanks to Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who's proposing a ban on real estate broker renaming of the ProCro/SoBro/BoCoCa variety. Jeffries, who represents large parts of Prospect Heights and Crown Heights that fall in the 57th Assembly District, framed the legislation as a community-preservation measure, noting "Brokers are allowed to essentially pull names out of thin air in order to rebrand a neighborhood and have the effect of raising rents or home prices." While it's notoriously hard to define neighborhoods, particularly at the margins (as the ongoing "where does Crown Heights become Prospect Heights" debate demonstrates), ILFA appreciates the Assemblyman's honesty in taking on renaming for what it is - a practice that accelerates turnover by erasing an insufficiently buyer-friendly past, something that makes the historian in me very wary. Change is often the only constant in NYC neighborhoods, as half a century of migration, immigration, and gentrification have demonstrated in Crown Heights, but changing names can keep us from preserving and learning from the vibrant history of change and continuity in communities like ours.

In reply to the comments below, with all due respect, I think you guys are missing the point a little bit. Allow me these four points:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Royal Relations and Brownstone Brooklyn: Two Great Events from the Brooklyn Historical Society

Click the flyer or read on below for more information:

Mixed-Colonial-American Ancestry: Are You Related to Royals?
Wednesday, April 27, 7:00pm

Before you watch William & Kate's royal wedding....Pearl Duncan will discuss how she uncovered her mixed ancestry in Colonial America including Maroons in Jamaica, enslaved people who rebelled and escaped to freedom; Scottish nobles related to the kings and queens of Scotland and England (among the nobles, one who inherited castles in Scotland); and two brothers: one a slave owner, the other an abolitionist. These ancestors settled in Jamaica, Virginia, and New York. Duncan found mixed-ancestry birth records as far back as 1726. Join us for this exciting exploration of mixed-colonial-american-ancestry.

This program is part of BHS' Crossing Borders: Bridging Generations, a series of public conversations about mixed-heritage families, race, ethnicity, culture, and identity, infused with historical perspective. Free Caribbean cocktail patties, jerk chicken and punch will be provided. Catering donated by Golden Krust of Flatbush. This event is free with museum admission and open to the public. Admission is always free for BHS members. The museum will remain open between 5:00-7:00pm.

Funding provided by New York Council for the Humanities.

The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn with Author Suleiman Osman
Saturday, April 30, 2:00pm

The gentrification of Brooklyn has been one of the most striking developments in recent urban history. Considered a "blighted" slum by city planners in the 1940s and 1950s, Brownstone Brooklyn by the 1980s had become a landscape of hip bars, yoga studios, and expensively renovated townhouses in new neighborhoods with creative names like "Boerum Hill" and "Carroll Gardens."

In The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn (Oxford, 2011), Suleiman Osman locates the origins of gentrification in the cultural upheavals of the 1960s. Starting in Brooklyn Heights in the 1940s, a new urban middle class (or "brownstoners" as they referred to themselves) began to migrate into Brooklyn's brownstone areas. Where postwar city leaders championed slum clearance and modern architecture, "brownstoners" sought a new romantic urban ideal that celebrated historic buildings, industrial lofts and traditional ethnic neighborhoods as source of authenticity they felt was lacking in new suburbs and downtown skyscrapers. They started new reform democratic organizations, founded block associations and joined forces with long-time residents to battle urban renewal. But as brownstoners migrated into poorer areas, race and class tensions emerged, and by the 1980s, as newspapers parodied yuppies and anti-gentrification activists marched through increasingly expensive neighborhoods, brownstoners debated whether their search for authenticity had been a success or failure.

This event is open to the public and free with museum admission. Admission is always free for BHS members.

Brooklyn Historical Society is located at 128 Pierrepont Street, at the corner of Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights.

Subway: 2,3,4,5 to Borough Hall, R to Court Street, A, C, F to Jay Street.

Hours: Wed. - Fri. and Sun., 12 - 5pm. Sat. 10am - 5pm.

CHCA Meeting Tonight

(Local leader Stacey Sheffey accepting the 2011 Daffodil Award on behalf of the CHCA)

If you don't know what the Crow Hill Community Association is, step one is to click here and learn about the great work they do on behalf of the neighborhood. Step two is to come to LaunchPad (721 Franklin) tonight at 7:30 for their monthly meeting. Step three is to become a member and join one of the many committees that are putting words into action in Crown Heights, but even if you're not ready to commit to membership, swing by - it's a great way to learn about the challenges facing the area and how people are responding, as well as a way to get to know your neighbors. First-time attendees are always welcome.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bloomberg on Franklin - Updated Photos

The mayor stopped by the Pulp & Bean for breakfast this morning to congratulate Tony Fisher and his family on the opening of Bob & Betty's. According to Tony, it was the first time a mayor has visited the Avenue since he's been here. Assemblyman Karim Camara was on hand for the celebration as well.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Weekend Roundup

(the brand-spanking-new Bob & Betty's)

Just a few items that came across ILFA's desk in the past week:

- The Prospect Park CSA, a new community-supported agriculture venture in the neighborhood, has 10 subsidized spots available for low-income families, as reported on the CHCA Blog and Prospect Heights Patch. The Crown Heights CSA also still has spots available. CSAs are a great way to guarantee your fridge is full of delicious, home-grown, healthy food all summer long, and though you pay a lot up front, it breaks down to a very, very reasonable weekly price (there are lots of moral reasons to become a member, too, but I've always found that "delicious tasty food" is the best of selling points.)

- Dozens of Crown Heights residents gathered at the Chase Bank at 1128 Eastern Parkway (just east of Utica) yesterday to protest the bank's handling of foreclosures in Brooklyn. I'm still trying to learn more about this particular situation, but it seems to stem from Chase's ownership of EMC Mortgage, a company they purchased during the meltdown that has been accused across the country of scamming/misleading prospective homeowners and is currently the subject of a class-action lawsuit for loan fraud in California. While New York City on the whole has been climbing out of the recession faster than expected, number are far bleaker in low-income communities in the outer boroughs, and foreclosures have been a particularly pernicious force in this process. Bank of America recently announced it will stop foreclosures across the country in light of the damage the process does to the real estate industry (not to mention people's lives) - will Chase and EMC follow suit?

- The Crown Heights - Australia connection popped up in two interesting places this past week, a NYDN profile of down-under-born Hasidic rapper DeScribe, and a review of a new book of short stories, You Lose These by Goldie Goldbloom, that span the continents and oceans between Brooklyn and Sydney (reviewed by Franklin Park Reading Series favorite Matthue Roth).

Friday, April 15, 2011

Laundromat Revival?

The old laundromat on Franklin was open last night - anyone heard anything about it?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Friday Can't Come Soon Enough

Yet another great event this Friday, to go along with Kinetic Cinema (the post below) and the Bob & Betty's opening: the wild and crazy denizens of Brooklynian, specifically those who haunt the Crown Heights Forum, are going bar-hopping! If you're looking to meet good folks in the neighborhood, engage in some - searching for a word - invigorating conversation, and have a beer on a Friday night, click here, or see below:

Let's begin this adventure at 8:00 at Washington Commons.

We will stay there until at least 9:00.

After 9:00 PM, we will be either:

a. still at Washington Commons, OR

b. At Minor Arcana OR

c. at Way Station OR

d. at Franklin Park

Newbies who have never met any of us should look for:

1. Incredibly good looking people
2. This wood sign:

Kinetic Cinema at LaunchPad

I asked, you delivered - information about this event brought to you by a reader tip!


Kinetic Cinema @ LaunchPad

The Virtual Double: A Screening and discussion with Jillian Peña

Friday April 15th 7-9pm

Join us for an informal screening and discussion with dance and video artist Jillian Peña. Following in the steps of the Greek chorus, the corps de ballet and the Rockettes, dance artist Jillian Peña sought to create a homogenous group of dancers to work with. Finding it impossible, Jillian turned to video and found perfect unison of bodies using self-multiplication. In her program, Reflection Jillian will show the earliest and the most recent of her works employing this aesthetic ideal. She will also screen works which have inspired her in this process.

Jillian Peña’s art is primarily concerned with confusion and desire between self and other. Her work is in dialogue with psychoanalysis, queer theory, pop media, and spirituality. She has been presented internationally, including at Dance Theater Workshop and The Kitchen in New York, Akademie der Kunste Berlin, Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, International Festival of Contemporary Art Slovenia, and Mix Brazil Sao Paulo.

Free, with $10 suggested donation

721 Franklin Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Franklin Comes Alive - ILFA on Local Podcast

Last weekend, ILFA joined a trio of gents who live just up the Avenue on their new podcast, Franklin Comes Alive, a laid-back conversational show covering a little bit of everything. The results are now available at their iTunes page, and you can also follow their weekly output on Twitter. If you've got a great idea for them, or if you know someone who would make a great guest (or if you've always wanted to rock the airwaves yourself), give them a shout at franklinpod {at} gmail {dot} com.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

ILFA Loves Reader Tips

One reader passed along this photo yesterday, and another posted a link to this great local event on ILFA's Facebook Page over the weekend. In case I don't say it enough, I LOVE it when readers send photos/tips/stories/suggestions/events/pretty much everything (I'll even post your hate mail if I think you've got a point). Never hesitate to share the news, whether by email, Facebook post, comment threads, or whatever other technology you prefer.

Also, let's move the discussion about Fisher's over here, shall we - I have a policy of not telling people what to do on the comment threads, but I want to keep the emphasis for that post on the great event Manuel is planning for Participatory Urbanism at LaunchPad.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Franklin Park Reading Series Tonight

ILFA's favorite literary event, the Franklin Park Reading Series, returns to Franklin Park this evening (Monday) with five fantastic authors reading "Coming of Age Tales." As always the readings start at 8pm and the draught beers are $4. More info below:

From madcap adventures in Europe and Latin America to culture conflicts and fateful collisions, DARIN STRAUSS, DEB OLIN UNFERTH, RACHEL SHUKERT, CHIN-SUN LEE & CAMERON PAGE fearlessly explore moments that shaped their lives.

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


DARIN STRAUSS (Half a Life, Chang and Eng)
DEB OLIN UNFERTH (Revolution, Vacation)
RACHEL SHUKERT (Everything Is Going to Be Great, Have You No Shame)
CHIN-SUN LEE (Shadowbox Magazine, SLAB)
CAMERON PAGE (Pax Americana)

DARIN STRAUSS is the author, most recently, of the memoir Half a Life, winner of this year’s National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. He is also the international bestselling author of the New York Times Notable books Chang and Eng and The Real McCoy, and the national bestseller More Than It Hurts You. His work has been translated into fourteen languages and published in seventeen countries. The recipient of a 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction writing, he is a Clinical Associate Professor at NYU's creative writing program.

DEB OLIN UNFERTH is the author of the recent memoir Revolution, as well as the story collection Minor Robberies and the novel Vacation, winner of the 2009 Cabell First Novelist Award and a New York Times Book Review Critics' Choice. Her work has been featured in Harper's Magazine, McSweeney's, The Believer, and the Boston Review. A Harper’s Bazaar “Name to Know in 2011,” she has received two Pushcart Prizes and a 2009 Creative Capital grant for Innovative Literature. She teaches at Wesleyan University and currently lives in New York.

HUKERT is a playwright, performer, and the author of the memoirs Everything Is Going to Be Great and Have You No Shame? And Other Regrettable Stories. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney's and Heeb, and on Salon, Slate, Gawker, Nerve, and The Daily Beast, as well as featured on National Public Radio and in numerous print anthologies. Shukert was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and now lives in New York City with her husband and her bipolar cat.

CHIN-SUN LEE received her MFA in Creative Writing/Fiction at The New School in 2009. Her work has appeared, most recently, in Shadowbox Magazine and is forthcoming in SLAB. As a freelance writer for Margit Publications , she covered trends in fashion and interior design. An East Village resident, she works as a clothing designer and is writing her first novel.

CAMERON PAGE is a playwright and non-fiction writer. His plays have been performed at Pianos in New York City, the D.C. Arts Center in Washington D.C., and on the National Mall. His work has been published in Pax Americana, the D.C. City Paper, and Yale Medicine magazine. In 2007 he was awarded the Lerner Prize for outstanding medical writing. He has worked as a research assistant, an actor, a doctor, and a door-to-door salesman. He lives in Crown Heights.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Participatory Urbanism Show: What Would You Like in This Space?

Architect Manuel Avila Ochoa's experiment in what he calls "participatory urbanism" has generated dozens of comments and suggestions online and in notebooks around the neighborhood, and attracted the attention of international architecture, arts, and design magazine Domus in the process. On Friday, April 22nd, he'll unveil his community-informed proposal at LaunchPad from 6 - 8pm (click on the flyer, above, for more info). If you haven't seen the project yet, you can find all the details on the Participatory Urbanism blog.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Taqueria Resurrection

Just walked by the former Oaxaca Taqueria, which is getting a festive red paint job in preparation for its reopening, under new management, as a taqueria. The folks outside said only that it will be "very different" than the previous one.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Crown Heights All Over the News - UPDATED

Crown Heights Locals React To "Pro Cro" from Gregory Stefano on Vimeo.

My daily Google Alert for Crown Heights arrived with a whopping six items today (it's usually one or two, if any), including the video above, from Gothamist, asking local residents to respond to the Wall Street Journal article from a few weeks back that introduced us to the new neighborhood moniker "ProCro."

UPDATE: This should probably be a post of its own, and likely will at some point in the coming days, but having actually had a chance to watch the video (posting without watching is always dangerous, but so it goes when you forget your headphones), I can't say I feel very good about it. The first comment below captures some of my ambivalence, which stems from the way the questions are being asked. The goal seems to be to profile and caricature Crown Heights residents as much as possible, whether that means asking white folks where the yoga studio is or trying to trip up longtime black residents with the deadpan assertion that they live in "ProCro." Unsurprisingly, they get what they came for - most people look befuddled, a few halfheartedly embrace the change that "ProCro" seems to suggest, and they manage to goad one man with very serious concerns about police profiling and its impact on access to public space into a frustrated rant about the indignities he's suffered on his own street. While I'm glad they gave this resident airtime, because voices like his are severely underrepresented in the mainstream debate about gentrification (and this blog, I'll admit, is hardly an exception) the way they handle his response is trivializing, cutting back and forth to idiotic questions about how many Whole Foods outlets there are on Franklin. If this is all one big joke, as the introduction suggests, it misses an opportunity to actually engage residents about the exercise of power that (re)naming wields. Sure, there's potential value in satirizing a Wall Street Journal article that helps to reify such a name change, but ultimately, the joke's not very funny, and there are ways to provoke these conversations as a reporter without reducing your subject material to farce. Gothamist, with their predictable monotonic snark, could learn some valuable lessons the work that Laurel and Abeni from Nostrand Park put into their equally provocative but far more human trailer and soundbite for "Gentrifying Brooklyn: The Buying, Selling, and Repackaging of Crown Heights." Sometimes it pays to actually listen to what people are saying.

All that said, I'm leaving it up to provoke conversation. Thoughts?

Other articles include:

- Another video from the New York Times' City Room Blog, documenting the work of wedding planner Devorah Benjamin to bring the perfect special day to couples who can't otherwise afford it.

- A rags-to-riches-to-redemption story about Crown Heights native Iyanla Vanzant from the Daily News.

- Thirstbaravin at Classon and Pacific got a glowing write-up in the Times' Dining section.

- Finally, closer to home, Nostrand Park is surveying locals to see what new business they'd like to have move in next to Pacific Oasis Cafe.

Social Media for Kids - Local Program Makes Big News

Check out this great program, the brainchild of local hero Garnett Alcindor, who's also a driving force behind the Franklin Avenue Merchants, Collective Concept PR, and the Franklin Avenue Kids Day:

News 12 Brooklyn was on the scene in the 6th grade classroom at Dr. Rose B. English School/PS 327 to get a sneak peek at Social Media For Kids® in action. In light of recent incidents in which Brooklyn youth engaged in arguments over social networking sites - later escalating to violent interactions and murder – News 12was amazed to see how well the curriculum incorporated tactics that prevent cyberbullying, while teaching the kids social media and multi-media literacy. News 12 captured Social Media For Kids’® lesson on cyberbullying, in which the class made videos to spread the word about how we can work together to prevent violence over the Internet.

Social Media For Kids® educates children about the dangers of the Internet and teaches them to promote themselves online in a positive light. They also offer Adult Workshops that teach parents how to use social media outlets and how to monitor their children’s online activities. Staying informed, alert, and serving as a positive online role model can help ensure that our children avoid online dangers.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Monday Night Links - About Time, Compare Foods, and More

Some bits and pieces from this past weekend:

- About Time Boutique has been doing some spring cleaning over the past week or so, with clearance bins out front featuring their great-looking gear from $5-15.

- The folks on Brooklynian have been all over this one, but the new Compare Foods on St. Marks between Franklin and Classon (in the old Jewish Hospital complex) has been open for about two and a half weeks, and has thus far satisfied most expectations (click over to the forum for more extensive reviews). It's a fully-loaded, brand-spanking-new supermarket, with a wide selection that includes a West Indian Foods aisle, a sizable seafood section, reasonably-priced staples, and (ILFA's personal favorite) bottle-redemption machines out front (pictured above).

- The New York Daily News ran a moving eulogy for longtime Crown Heights community leader Emeline Elaine Nisbett.

- Education Week lauded the work of middle school teacher Ariel Sacks in bringing participatory journalism to her Crown Heights students. Sacks blogs on teaching and education at On the Shoulders of Giants (which has been added to the blogroll).

- The Brooklyn Daily Eagle covered the opening of Medgar Evers College's Women's History month art exhibition, entitled "Women: Multiple Energies, Multiple Images."

- This one I missed, but thankfully, it's a recurring thing - on Sunday, Park Delicatessen opened a "pop-up shop" at the Brooklyn Flea in Williamsburg. Make sure to say hi if you venture northward on Sundays.

- Finally, the Crow Hill Community Garden (see flyer in the post below) hosted two work days on Saturday and Sunday, bringing out a diverse group of community members to clean and landscape the garden, build raised beds, and plot the future of this new green space on Franklin. For those interested in getting involved, they've got a Google Group, a Facebook page, a Flickr photostream, and a website, so pick your medium and get connected. The Crow Hill Community Association, which spearheaded the project, also posts their information.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Crow Hill Community Garden Spring Work Day Tomorrow

All the info you need is on the flyer above - come out tomorrow for the Spring Work Day (the rain is supposed to stop for the weekend!) and help beautify the avenue with the Crow Hill Community Association. You can also follow all garden activities on their Facebook page, as well as the CHCA Blog.