Monday, May 30, 2011

Built in Brooklyn: Craft Fair this Weekend at LaunchPad

Sure, it's still technically the holiday weekend, but ILFA is looking forward to this event on Saturday, June 4, at LaunchPad, where many of the great vendors from the now-defunct Franklin Flea (bring it back! bring it back!) will be hawking their wares. Click the flyer or email builtinbklyn {at} gmail {dot} com for more info.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Weekend Stuff: More Movies and Sound Tonight, Bike Tune-Ups Tomorrow

(chickens at the Walt L. Shamel Community Garden)

- If you can't get enough film, head over to Gowanus tonight to Littlefield to catch another screening from Kings County Cinema Society (who brought Sidney Lumet to LaunchPad earlier in the week), their Short Film Slam (click the flyer above for more info).

- Force and Flow on Dean hosts their monthly Sound Bath tonight, offering "the healing power of drone instruments," including (for this edition) cello, flute, and singing bowls.

- Tomorrow (Saturday), the Walt L. Shamel Community Garden (Dean between Bedford and Franklin) is hosting a FREE basic bike tune-up event from 11am - 3pm, open to all but specifically for the kids and teens in the neighborhood. They'll also be doing a flat-fixing workshops at 12pm and 2pm.

- Speaking of chickens, a new start-up in Crown Heights, Victory Chicken Corporation, has just launched an ambitious plan to establish 1,000 chicken coops in New York City. From their press release:

"Raising chickens in backyards and community spaces was commonplace across New York City as recently as a few decades ago. As part of the rapidly expanding urban agriculture movement, Victory Chicken is committed to bringing them back, and is offering its standard “Rosie” Package to make it easy for families, roommates, schools, community gardens and everyone else to raise their own urban flock."

The Latest Developments

The fence around the cafe-to-be at Classon and St. Mark's has come down, revealing a sizeable raised terrace out front, and the back room at the Breukelen Coffee House is a welcome addition.

Special to Liz (re: the comment on the previous post) - I've got no idea, though they've been at it for awhile. Someone told me it was going to be a salon, but that was over a year ago, so take it with a grain of salt.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Keeping it in the Family: The Band Called Fuse and Grind City, Live at Southpaw This Sunday

(Grind City brings their fabulous live show to Brooklyn on Sunday)

This is not a music blog per se, but we make an exception for family. This Sunday, May 29, ILFA's rock-star brother rolls into town with GrindCity out of Philadelphia to help Brooklyn's own The Band Called Fuse launch their new album, Sucker Punch Gospel, at Southpaw in the Slope. The show, which also features local acts Silent Knight, K.O.N., Rasheed Chappell, Kyle Rapps, and DJ Dylemma, starts at 8pm sharp and costs only $10. I realize I'm not the most objective of observers, but Fuse and GrindCity have been sharing stages in both NYC and Philly for a while, and they've got a tendency to push each other to great heights and great live shows.

If you've got Monday off, spend your Sunday night at Southpaw (125 5th Avenue, BK). You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Art To End The Violence, Thursday @ LaunchPad

Save Our Streets Crown Heights, a program of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center that is working tirelessly to put an end to violence in the neighborhood, hosts ART TO END THE VIOLENCE at LaunchPad tomorrow night from 6 - 8 pm. Click the flyer above or read on for more information.

From their website:

Please join us for the culminating event for the S.O.S. Multimedia Contest. The contest engaged talented youth and adult artists to create public service announcements, video and radio shorts, and posters for our public education campaign that convey the message that shooting and killing are not acceptable in Crown Heights.

At the event, winners of the contest will be announced and awarded their prizes. Additionally, S.O.S. will be awarded the coveted Martin Luther King Jr. Award from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, one of the oldest and most storied civil rights organizations.

Light refreshments will be served and entertainment will feature DJ M Dot.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sidney Lumet Tribute at LaunchPad Tomorrow, Much More To Do This Weekend

Kings County Cinema Society hosts a belated tribute to departed NYC director Sidney Lumet tomorrow night, with a double feature including "12 Angry Men" (Lumet's 1957 debut) and, in an unintentional nod to their host's controversial neighbors, "The Pawnbroker." The free show (BYOB) starts at 7:30pm at LaunchPad.

Lots of other things on tap for this week/weekend:

More movies on Thursday in Fort Greene, courtesy of Rooftoop Films:

Thursday May 26, 2011

NO WAY OUT - Short Film Thrillers

These fun and frantic short films—comedy, animation, music videos—tell the twisted tales of terrified souls trapped inside the machine. One of these little old ladies is not like the other, but she’s settling among the group. This ordinary office is not what it seems, but you may end up working here. A disturbing chaos is sweeping these average American high school scenes, but there’s no time to transfer out. And once we have gone into the future, we may never come back whole. But patch up that shabby space suit, dust off that bloody prom dress, and batten down the hatches: it’s gonna be a spectacular show when this ship goes down.


On the Roof of Brooklyn Technical High School
29 Fort Greene Place (between Dekalb and Fulton), Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NY 11217
G to Fulton, C to Lafayette, 2,3,4,5 to Nevins or B,M,Q, R to Dekalb

8:00 PM Doors Open

8:30 PM Live Music by Ela Orleans

9:00 PM Films Begin

11:00PM After Party at No. 7 Restaurant (7 Greene Avenue at Fulton Street), sponsored by Radeberger Pilsner.

- On Saturday, the folks who run the Walt L. Shamel Community Garden (Dean between Franklin and Bedford) are hosting a FREE basic bike tune-up event from 11am - 3pm, with flat-fixing workshops for all you budding cyclists at 12pm and 2pm. Kids and teens are especially welcome.

- The Brooklyn Paper has a pretty solid Memorial Day Weekend Rundown.

Monday, May 23, 2011

More Photos from the New Ice Cream Place

I stopped in this evening to grab some more photos of the new ice cream and candy store coming in at 733 Franklin, and the place looks great already. With respect to the conversations people have been having on the previous post about this store and, to a certain degree, on the post about community policing, I want to say that I'm ready to put a lot of faith in the ability of these owners to make this store a place that appeals to a wide variety of Franklin Avenue residents. Nothing is going to make everyone happy, of course (nor would it be much of a business plan to try to), but Kevin and Garnett - who together are the driving forces behind About Time Boutique, Collective Concept PR, Social Media For Kids, the Franklin Avenue Kids Day, and the Franklin Avenue Merchants Association - have done as much as anyone in the area to build bridges between people from all walks of life in their corner of Crown Heights, particularly between youth and adults and newcomers and longtime residents. I'm not saying everything's going to be perfect, but given the effort they made to seek community input as they considered possible uses for the storefront and their long track record, I think this place has as good a chance as any to become a favorite spot for many Franklinians.

I don't say this to keep people from making suggestions or voicing concerns, of course - giving voice to these responses is one of the best uses of this blog, and if business owners do read online feedback (and I know some in the area do), it's a way to keep channels of community interaction open. I just want to offer up some hopeful writing as we head into a summer with lots of new businesses opening. On that note, Rosebud Vintage is looking great across the street, and work continues apace on Franklin Avenue Beer and Grocery, the cocktail-and-oyster-bar coming soon on the same block from the owners of Franklin Park and Soda.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

U-Haul Loses Control On Classon

Reader Scott sent in this photo, taken earlier this morning, of the damage done by an out-of-control U-Haul that totaled 5-7 cars (most of which appear to have been parked) on Classon Avenue between Park and Prospect. It doesn't seem as though anyone was seriously hurt, though they certainly could have been. Anyone have more info?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

TODAY: Short Stories at Five Myles

One I meant to post last night - thankfully, even though the reception's tonight, the show goes on for a few weeks.

May 21 - June 19, 2011
Opening: Saturday.
May 21, from 4:30 -7 pm

Short Stories
seven artists – seven stories

Jamie Ellen Davis
Michael Ensminger
Stephen Kuzma
Jason Noble
Sandra Osip
Caroline Parker
Sam Tufnell

Hours: Thur, Fri, Sat, Sun, 1 to 6 p.m. or by appointment: 718-783-4438

FiveMyles is supported by The Greenwall Foundation, New York State Council for the Arts, Public Funds from the New York City Dept. of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the Foundation forContemporary Arts, the Brooklyn Community Foundation and by the Brooklyn Arts Council, JPMorgan/Chase.

Directions: Take the 2,3,4 or 5 trains to Franklin Ave. Walk two blocksagainst the traffic on Franklin. Turn left into St. Johns Place. Walk 1/3 block to 558 St. Johns Place. FiveMyles is within easy walking distancefrom theBrooklyn Museum.

558 St. Johns Place, Brooklyn, NY 11238
718.783.4438 /
Image: Sandra Osip

Friday, May 20, 2011

Live Jazz at LaunchPad Tonight

Local guitarist Rafiq Bhatia ( performs songs from his debut solo album with his ensemble at 9pm. Free, BYOB.

(photo by Timothy Saccenti)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Policing on Franklin: Impact Zones & Zero Tolerance - UPDATED

Last Tuesday, May 10, an incident on the corner of Franklin and Prospect escalated into a altercation between residents and police. The end result was a full-scale show of NYPD force, with officers storming a building while dozens more made arrests outside with assistance from several squad cars and, to the surprise of many residents, an NYPD helicopter. ILFA initially guessed that the event was a raid, based on previous police activity on that corner, but local blogger Zachary Goelman of Epichorus spoke with the 77th Precinct's community affairs officer and learned that the incident was an "arrest being made with resistance" in which officers called for backup, occasioning the maximalist response that so many locals noted with alarm. In the days that followed, reports came through from various sources that several individuals on the scene who were behaving peacefully were maced or beaten by officers, while others reported that cops were maced and injured as well (ILFA was not on the scene and cannot verify any of these accounts, beyond saying that all of them were corroborated by multiple sources).

Needless to say, this incident was a hot topic at Tuesday's CHCA meeting, particularly with the 77th in attendance. After a brief, boilerplate introduction from the executive officer, and some chiding from CHCA President Evangeline Porter that the officers patrolling Franklin need to make more of an effort to be friendly with local residents and merchants, a woman stood and said, to murmurs of support and concern, that she was furious about the events of a week prior. "I've lived here for 40 years" she said, "and I'm not going anywhere. My grandson was born here, he's growing up here, he's going to be educated here, and one day, he's coming for your job." She gave a quick recap of the chaos that disrupted her Tuesday evening, including the beating blades of the chopper, and asked, palms open, "for what?" The police, she said "do not understand us," and had completely overreacted. "We didn't deserve that," she said firmly, stating that police had sprayed a man in a wheelchair and beaten other bystanders with their batons. With regard to crime on Franklin, which the executive officer had touched on briefly in his introduction, she turned to the assembled residents and said "we are trying just as hard as we can," and added "in the 80s and 90s, when crack was on Franklin, there was no one to help us." To close, she whirled back to the officer and said "if you have a problem with people in this neighborhood, call a meeting, have a dialogue."

Then it was the executive officer's turn. "Do you want to know what happened?" he asked, clearly flustered. "Because it's important." NYPD officers, he said, "leave in the morning, and their families don't know if they're coming home." He was willing to believe that there might have been opportunities for "de-escalation" on the part of officers on the scene, as well as residents, but he drew a hard and fast line. "If you put your hands on a New York City Police Officer, you're going to jail, and I will land a helicopter in the middle of Franklin Avenue if I have to, to make sure that our officers go home to their families." Nine cops, he added, were hurt in the incident.

Seeking to diffuse the extremely confrontational mood that was taking hold, one of the CHCA's officers rose to explain that, as part of the Impact Zone on Franklin (a program that places 40 beat officers fresh from the Academy on high-crime streets from 6pm - 2am), police are called upon to enforce "zero tolerance," the hotly-debated strategy pioneered by the NYPD under Bill Bratton in the 1990s. In short, it means that minor infractions that get ignored in other Precincts, such as drinking on your stoop or riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, result automatically in tickets or arrests. As she put it, the intent is to "clear up quality of life issues as well as crime issues." Advocates say policing the little things creates an atmosphere of law and order that keeps the big things from happening. Critics say it does little to address the underlying causes of violent crime, merely pushing it out of sight while criminalizing poverty and street life.

It was here that the 77th's executive officer jumped back in, looking to re-frame his position. The impact zone, he said "is trying to foster a new community." He'd mentioned earlier that he got his start twenty years ago in the 77th, and now he added that "we're always going to be here" and "the results you see today" when comparing Crown Heights to its past self "didn't happen on their own." He called on one of the Impact Zone officers, who said she had grown up on Franklin and Union, and that she knew people got frustrated when they were stopped on the street or pulled over, including her father and brother, but that "if you haven't done anything wrong, there's no reason to get upset, we're not here to do anything to you." The woman who had launched the discussion applauded her for growing up nearby, and the tension dissipated into the usual talk of working together and getting involved by attending the 77th Precinct Community Council Meetings (the next one is June 13 at St. Teresa's on Classon and Sterling).

For some reason, I seem to be losing parts of posts (the blog-gods telling me to keep it short and succinct, perhaps). Anyway, there's a reconstituted second half coming soon - suffice to say that while I believe the CHCA and 77th are committed to finding a way to address these tensions, I found the resolution described above a little unsatisfying.

Friday Update:

The day after the CHCA meeting, I saw another arrest on Franklin. This one wasn't as over-the-top, though it did involve a cruiser parked on the sidewalk against traffic at Franklin and Sterling, and several cops searching a man who asked, with evident frustration, why the police were going through his wallet when all they needed was his ID. Watching it brought me back to the frustration I felt at the resolution of the debate the previous evening.

I believe the 77th and the CHCA members want to resolve this, of course, but I worry that the language that gets deployed skirts the issues. In this lexicon, ability to speak legitimately for or about the community stems from having been here a long time (this makes sense, but it doesn't account for the divergence - if the NYPD and locals are part of, and fighting for, the same community, what on earth happened?). "We" (whoever we are) cleaned up Franklin Avenue, we deserve thanks and dialogue, not suspicion and violence. We are not the enemy, "they" are, where they is forever an ill-defined group that sallies forth from beyond the margins of society to rend the social fabric and then fades away, leaving the good, honest residents, or good, honest, officers to pick up the pieces. This kind of language leads to statements of the obvious (should there be repercussions for hitting a cop? absolutely! should an officer mace a peaceful guy in a wheelchair? of course not!) and has its own resolution built in, the invariable cathartic moment (I grew up here!) that allows the "good guys" to join forces and march off to put an end to the bad guys once and for all.

The problem with this language is that it ignores the messy reality of the situation. There are, of course, some really awful people who commit heinous crimes out there, but there's not really much debate about how either cops or communities should handle them. Incidents like the one on May 10 aren't cut-and-dried; someone didn't just haul off and punch a perfectly courteous cop out of the blue, and some officer didn't whirl on a man in a wheelchair and mace him in broad daylight with no provocation. These situations start from a position of mutual frustration and distrust, a sense of "we're just living here the way we always have" meeting a sense of "we're just doing our jobs." They escalate because a young officer is too eager to assert his authority, or because a young resident is too eager to defend his manhood. They are complicated situations, and they do not involve some evil "they" - they involve decent police and decent residents who find themselves at odds in the context of a policing strategy that puts them there.

Take the Impact Zone, pushed for by a coalition of local electeds and community leaders, including the CHCA. It has undoubtedly made Franklin safer, if NYPD crime stats are even close to correct. This really matters. It has also undoubtedly resulted in petty arrests and stop-and-frisks that make longtime Black and Latino residents feel as though their existence has been criminalized, their standing in the community disrespected and diminished in favor of newcomers. It's no surprise that, in this climate and context, people resent arrests, and occasionally lose their cool and resist them (ILFA does not, of course, endorse any violence toward the NYPD). There's a ton of information out there about NYPD has abused its power, and how stop-and-frisks amount to racial profiling (heck, last year, Kevin from About Time was arrested by Impact Zone officers, and he's one of the leaders working hardest to improve the community), and yet, I know these officers don't leave for work in the morning planning racism, malfeasance, or violence against residents. The problem is that these things, as they stand, are two sides of the same coin, and separating what we like about the Impact Zone from what we don't requires serious thinking about police strategy and community-police relations.

In the midst of the argument on Tuesday, another woman stood up, and mentioned that she had a son, and that "if he looked suspicious" she knew he would be arrested. She started to say "and I have to say it . . ." but was quickly cut off by another voice that said "no you don't." There was a pregnant pause, and then she changed directions. I don't know exactly what she was going to say (I have a guess or two), but I'm not sure she shouldn't have. Looking crime on Franklin in the face means thinking about how police serve, relate to, and even set the boundaries of, the community. "Good" police and "good" residents are part of the problem and part of the solution, no matter how often we rhetorically push the "bad" in our neighborhood into some great beyond, the product of some evil other.

The CHCA and the 77th are planning a drive to educate local residents about the meaning of zero-tolerance in the context of an Impact Zone that has, crucially, reduce violent crime on Franklin. This is a good start. We should also educate the police about local residents, to help them differentiate the dangerous criminal from the community leader, and even the harmless old uncle who's had one too many from the belligerent drunk. Hopefully, this will lead us to think about ways to "dialogue" and "de-escalate" situations before somebody socks a cop or maces a bystander. Otherwise, somebody's going to come home from work and find a helicopter in their parking space.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Updates and Events from the CHCA Meeting


Last night's Crow Hill Community Association meeting at LaunchPad was action-packed as usual. Some updates for those who missed it (click to their website for more info):

- The second-in-command for the 77th Precinct was on hand to discuss the recent arrests on Franklin (including the one that involved a helicopter), the Impact Zone, and Zero Tolerance. More to come on this in a longer post tomorrow. If you're interested in learning more about the 77th Precinct or making your voice heard to those in charge, their next Community Council meeting will be at St. Teresa's on Sterling and Classon on June 13th at 7:30.

- Last Saturday, the CHCA put together 20 new planter boxes for Franklin Avenue, and as soon as they can acquire some soil and plants to put in them, they'll be out on the street (if you know of a way to get a donation of soil, let the CHCA know). They also plunked a handsome new wood brand of the CHCA logo on the existing boxes that you see on Franklin.

- Children's educator Linda White will be hosting open-ended children's play dates at Lily & Fig tomorrow (Thursday) from 3:30 - 5:30 pm and Friday from 10-12 am. All are welcome to come and make use of her extensive collection of arts and crafts materials. If there's interest in this new childcare option in the area, she's hoping to start a regular thing at LaunchPad at some point soon (Ms. White was also involved with the Mandala of Compassion last week at LaunchPad, which I completely failed to cover.)

- Planning for the 4th Annual Kids Day is underway! The event will take place on Franklin between Park and Sterling on July 23rd. Check out their Facebook page to find out more, and consider making a donation - street closures, games, rides, and prizes aren't free, but last year they were free to every kid who came thanks to community generosity.

- Steve the Tree Branch Breaker may be returning home to Crown Heights very soon. If you see him around breaking tree branches again (and hopefully this won't happen, but it could), please keep in mind that he is mentally ill and needs help, not threats. Contact MikeF (a frequent commenter on ILFA) or the CHCA to report such a situation.

- As usual, LaunchPad has a great slate of events coming up:

- On Friday, they host a free performance from the Rafiq Bhatia Quartet from 9:00 - 10:30 pm. They've just released a debut album that includes, in their words, collaborations with Grammy-nominated pianist/composer Vijay Iyer, legendary jazz drummer Billy Hart, The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and Valgeir Sigurdsson (best known for his production on Bjork's albums), among others, and they're very excited to be playing on Franklin.

- On Saturday, June 4th, local creative folks will be hosting a art/craft fair and market, "Built in Brooklyn." More on this to come as well.

- Finally, join our State Senator, Eric Adams, in pushing for the renewal of New York's rent laws. You can sign the online petition here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tuesday Night: CHCA Meeting, Brooklyn Unplugged

Two great events tomorrow night: Come meet your neighbors at the Crow Hill Community Association's monthly meeting, and then swing over to Franklin Park to catch some live acoustic music at Brooklyn Unplugged (organized by local band 45ShootOut).

Franklin Getting an Old-School Ice Cream Parlor

A few weeks back, landlords and local leaders Kevin and Garnett (no, not Kevin Garnett - I'm talking about the masterminds behind About Time Boutique and the Franklin Avenue Kids Day) asked community members what they wanted to see in their storefront at 733 Franklin. If you've walked by in the past couple of weeks, you might already know this, but the answer has arrived - they'll be opening a classic ice-cream parlor and candy store (better interior shots to come), with space in the back for events, both for kids and adults. Kevin promises that it'll have all the things you want an ice cream place to have, with a few twists here and there to keep it interesting. They're aiming to open sometime between the end of June and the end of July, in time for the 2011 Kids Day (watch this space for more information on that, too).

Also, speaking of cool new spaces, the Breukelen Coffee House has finally opened their back room, an awesome multi-purpose space for everything from live music to vintage/craft sales. Swing by and check it out.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Weekend Events - Build Planters with CHCA, Tag Sale for Immigrant Youth

Apologies for not posting these until Friday evening - Blogger, the server that hosts ILFA, was down last night and this morning (and appears to have erased all the comments from the previous post). At any rate, the CHCA is hosting a great event tomorrow from 11am - 2pm at LaunchPad, and their monthly meeting on Tuesday (more to come on that). Also, a friend of ILFA's is starting a non-profit called Atlas that works with immigrant youth, and they're having a tag sale tomorrow in the West Village to raise funds. Click on the flyers above for more details.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

NYPD Raid on Franklin between Park and Prospect

ILFA wasn't an eyewitness, but as readers and the folks on Brooklynian have reported, the hot corner of Franklin and Prospect was hotter than usual last night, with tons of squad cars, officers entering buildings, arrests made (and resisted) ambulances, a visibly upset and angry crowd, and a helicopter hovering overhead (we did hear that one down the street, along with a few sirens). If you know what this was about, pass it along - cursory googling hasn't turned up anything, though over the course of the last week, I've seen more angry/shouting folks outside than usual, and the lady and I have both seen ambulances/fire truck EMTs pull up (the time I caught the scene, someone seemed to have fallen and was unable to get up, though they were conscious).

This block has attracted a lot of NYPD attention over the past few years - I walked right through what appeared to be a narcotics raid about a year and a half ago (additional posts on that incident here and here) and passed a heated argument that ended in arrests a few months later. Anyone have any insights?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Franklin North of Fulton - Daily Press and More

ILFA swung by The Daily Press on Franklin just north of Fulton this weekend, a new coffeehouse specializing in French Press coffee and espresso (they've also got bagels for your morning commute). Located at the heart of the original village of Bedford - founded in 1663 by the Dutch West Indies Company, and still preserved in the name of the local school and library branch, as well as the crooked paths of Fulton and Bedford, two of Brooklyn's pre-grid colonial roads - they're looking to bring a little of that history into the shop with a Bed-Stuy-through-the-ages slideshow, and they've put out a call to residents, archivists, and local historians to donate photos and other media. Given their killer location, this place likely has a long, bright future ahead of it.

It's no secret that Franklin Avenue in Bed-Stuy is undergoing many of the same changes as Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights. The area around Pratt (just south of Lafayette Gardens) has been on the rise for years, with (relatively) new additions Dough and Bedford Hill drawing even more traffic to a three-block strip that already included Nice Pizza and Sweet Revenge (for an interesting look at how Yelpers navigate the gentrification issue, read the comments on Dough's page). Now, the little commercial zone that runs just north of Fulton, home to the venerable Tip Top Bar & Grill, seems to be experiencing something similar, with the Daily Press entering the fray, and the Lovell's Deli on the corner of Putnam and Franklin has become the Gourmet Deli, and has switched its marketing from "the coldest beer in town" to "organic produce." (See photos 3 and 4, above - I took #3 over two years ago, #4 a month or two ago). In a nod to continuity, they've kept the ODB mural (he was born and raised in the area).

Unsurprisingly, these three commercial areas currently cluster around subway stops. As neighborhood change continues, however, will the three become one long stretch of businesses? It seems unlikely from Putnam north to Lexington, as many of the houses along that stretch are beautifully-restored brownstones that probably won't be retooled as storefronts, but Franklin was once a commercial strip from Crown Street to Putnam, and the way things are moving, it may be again soon.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Franklin Park Reading Series Tonight - Myth and Magic

Hot on the heels of one of its recent readers pulling down a Pulitzer (Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad), the Franklin Park Reading Series returns tonight with a Crown-Heights-focused lineup. Author Ned Thimmayya, who'll be reading from his collection "Old Ghost Stories," is an alumnus of Crown Writes (a local writing workshop of which ILFA is also a proud grad), and author Zetta Elliott, author of A Wish After Midnight (a fantastic time-traveling novel set in pre-9/11 Crown Heights and Weeksville during the Civil War) will be back to read again too. As always, the show starts at 8pm and the beer is cheap! More info from their Facebook Page below:

Join us for a night of "Myth and Magic"! To counter a world of chaoes, strife, and natural disasters, writers ALEXI ZENTNER (Touch), HELEN PHILLIPS (And Yet They Were Happy), ZETTA ELLIOTT (A Wish After Midnight), ANTHONY TOGNAZZINI (I Carry A Hammer In My Pocket For Occasions Such As These), and NED THIMMAYYA (Old Ghost Stories) present an alternate reality of time travel, witches, ghosts, and monsters.

FREE; $4 pints
Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5 to Franklin Avenue


HELEN PHILLIPS (And Yet They Were Happy)
ZETTA ELLIOTT (A Wish After Midnight)
ANTHONY TOGNAZZINI (I Carry A Hammer In My Pocket For Occasions Such As These)
NED THIMMAYYA (Old Ghost Stories)

ALEXI ZENTNER is the author of the debut novel Touch. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Atlantic Monthly, Tin House, Glimmer Train, Narrative, The Walrus, Slice Magazine, Orion Magazine, on, and in other publications. His short story “Touch,” which inspired his novel, was awarded a 2008 O. Henry Prize and his story “Trapline” won the 2008 Narrative Prize. He holds an MFA from Cornell University and lives in Ithaca, New York with his family.

HELEN PHILLIPS is the author of the debut novel And Yet They Were Happy and the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, the Meridian Editors’ Prize, and the Italo Calvino Prize in Fabulist Fiction. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in PEN America, Brooklyn Magazine, Mississippi Review, Sonora Review, Salt Hill, and L Magazine, among others, and in the anthology American Fiction: The Best Previously Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Authors. She received her MFA from Brooklyn College, where she now teaches undergraduate creative writing and administers the MFA program. Originally from Colorado, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband, artist Adam Thompson.

ZETTA ELLIOTT is the author of the novel A Wish After Midnight and a poet, essayist, and playwright. Her poetry has been published in the Cave Canem anthology, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Check the Rhyme: an Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees, and Coloring Book: an Eclectic Anthology of Fiction and Poetry by Multicultural Writers. Her essays have appeared in The Black Arts Quarterly, thirdspace, WarpLand, and Rain and Thunder. She won the 2005 Honor Award in Lee & Low Books’ New Voices Contest and published a picture book, Bird, in 2008. Her play Nothing but a Woman was a finalist in the Chicago Dramatists’ Many Voices Project. She lives in Brooklyn.

ANTHONY TOGNAZZINI is the author of I Carry A Hammer In My Pocket for Occasions Such As These, a collection of prose poems and short fictions. His work has appeared or will appear in Quarterly West, Mississippi Review, Denver Quarterly, Swink, Pindeldyboz, Puerto del Sol, Quick Fiction, the Alaska Quarterly Review, and other journals, and in Sudden Stories: A Mammoth Anthology of Minuscule Fiction. He was born in California and has lived in Texas, the Philippines, Spain, Germany, Indiana, and the Czech Republic. He currently lives in Brooklyn, where he works as a teacher and freelance journalist, and performs with his band Sky Eats Man.

NED THIMMAYYA is a writer, law student, and former rapper. His work has appeared in the Foundling Review, Up the Beanstalk, and is forthcoming in the Brooklyn Journal of International Law. He has written a short story collection, Old Ghost Stories, and is currently working on a new story collection and a novel. He has also written and recorded three rap albums: The Leap, Empire State, and The T-Notebook. Originally from Kinderhook, NY, he now lives in Crown Heights.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Coming Soon: Rosebud Vintage

The hottest block on Franklin (between Sterling and Park) is getting a vintage store, in a cute little space that was a storefront church five years ago and has been vacant since. The owners have been working on the interior all weekend, and they hope to be open by the end of the month.

Friday, May 06, 2011

And Now, the Weekend!

Links laziness continues - ILFA shall return in full force next week.

- TONIGHT: Brooklyn-based (with one member in Crown Heights - ILFA loves locals) band People's Champs release their debut EP at Piano's on the Lower East Side. You can snag a free download of their new single at their Bandcamp site.

- TOMORROW: Girl. Scout. Cookies. So very, very tasty. So very, very out of season - except that the local troop is selling them at LaunchPad from 10am - 1pm. They've got 360 boxes to move, so make sure you come down quick for your Thin Mints and Samoas.

- MONDAY: The Franklin Park Reading Series returns with another great lineup. In case you need any convincing about the quality of the series, one of last year's readers, Jennifer Egan, just won the Pulitzer Prize!

- Lincoln Postal, the shipping center that looks like a hip bar on Classon and Lincoln, was handing out flyers on Franklin yesterday, and they have a much more impressive slate of services than ILFA was previously aware of. Did you know that you can do almost everything there that you can do at a US Post Office (but without, you know, braving an NYC post-office)? And that they have self-serve copying and printing, as well as office supplies, moving and packing gear, and mailbox rentals with a real street address (not a P.O. Box) for all you start-uppers? I did not know these things, but this will keep me from crossing Atlantic to the bunker that is the Brevoort Station anytime soon.

- However, there are still plenty of good reasons to venture north into Bed-Stuy, among them the new French Press and Espresso Bar at 505 Franklin (just off the C train), where a slideshow of Bed-Stuy history runs on one wall.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

One More Link - Local Songwriter Stephanie Carlin on Kickstarter

I meant to link this below, but somehow forgot - anyway, local Crown Heights/Prospect Heights (she's right on the border) singer-songwriter Stephanie Carlin is raising money for a self-produced album on Kickstarter. Check her out, and if you like what you hear, you can "be her record label" with a donation (rewarded, per Kickstarter rules, with some goodies).

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Links, Links, Links
The 533 Arrangement
The Park Deli Classic
One Dozen Rose Bouquet
The Classon Arrangement

It's finals time for ILFA, and the blog is suffering, along with everything/everyone else who has to deal with me. In lieu of a legitimate post, here are some links!

- It's Mother's Day on Sunday, and Park Delicatessen has some great flower selections for you (see above).

- Do you love Girl Scout Cookies? Are you sorry you missed out this year? Did you little sister hit junior high and quit her troop to devote more time to her punk band, or did your mom decide you were far enough out of the nest that she didn't need to put six boxes of Thin Mints in the mail this year? NEVER FEAR - This Saturday, a local Girl Scout Troop will be trying to move 360 boxes of cookies in 3 hours, from 10 am - 1 pm at LaunchPad. Swing by to grab a box and contribute to a local youth group!

- Bloomberg's new Chancellor, Dennis Walcott, was out in Crown Heights last week visiting much-maligned Paul Robeson High School to promise students that their needs would be met during the transition.