Friday, June 30, 2006

Coney Island All Lit Up with Fireworks and Parachute Jump


The photo above, which was posted over at Curbed today, offers a cool preview of what Brooklyn's Eiffel Tower will look like when Boro Prez Marty Markowitz throws the switch at 9:00 PM next Friday, July 7. (It's also pictured in the paper he mails out to Brooklynites, which hit mailboxes yesterday.) Plenty to do in Coney before then, though.

Friday Night Fireworks got off to a stormy start last Friday, but the weather may be better for tonight's edition, which starts at 9:30. So, get you're pre-July 4 fill. They're also happening every Friday night through Labor Day, and the (getting beaten up on the ball field) Cyclones are shooting off their own fireworks on July 3 and September 4. (They say they're doing fireworks tonight too, but we assume they're talking about the Coney Friday night show.)

And, of course, if you're up for seeing people shove hot dogs down their throats, there is the famous Nathan's Hotdog Eating Contest on July 4. Starts at noon. Go see if Japan's Takeru Kobayashi can hold on to his crown.


Gowanus Goes Green

Gowanus, Sunday Morning
Call Gowanus green, at least, if the vision presented last night by the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation pulls any weight. The GCCDC's updated plan for Gowanus, which was unveiled at a meeting at St. Agnes Parish Hall on Sackett Street, divides the neighborhood into South, North and Hinge zones. The South Zone would lean heavily on industry, with a new emphasis on business producing environmentally-friendly products in green facililities. The North Zone would include a mix of residential, light industrial and retail uses. The Hinge Zone, around the Smith and Ninth subway station, would include parks, housing and retail.

The plan envisions a "green" future for Gowanus that includes a cleanup of the still heavily-polluted canal, green residential and commercial architecture and efforts to develop businesses that produce environmentally-friendly products. "We want to market Gowanus as a green zone," said Bill Donohoe, who presented the plan. "We want to make something special out of Gowanus."

The entire plan runs to 120 pages and is too complicated to dissect here in one piece--so we'll be following up. Suffice to say that it emphasizes public access to the canal, with pedestrian and bicycle paths and, even, new pedestrian bridges that would connect streets on the canal's east and west banks. It also features numerous parks--at least one of which would be developed on the Keyspan site near the Smith and Ninth subway station, once an environmental clean up happens. (It would also suggest moving at least one of the concrete businesses currently on the canal.) The GCCDC even goes so far as to imagine approaching the MTA to allow a restaurant at the Smith and Ninth Street stop (the highest in the system and one that affords excellent views of Brooklyn and Manhattan). The updated plan--which will continue to be the subject of community discussion and revision--will be available on the GCCDC website soon.

Real power in determining Gowanus' future, of course, rests with city planners, those who will redo zoning regulations in the area, designs that developers have on land they are already stockpiling and public and private entities that will have to finance community-oriented projects. "If you sell the idea of Gowanus as a green community and it begins to happen, people will believe in it," Mr. Donohoe said.

GCCDC chair Michael Ingui also announced the creation of a Gowanus Canal Conservancy that will work to promote public access to the canal and promote efforts to clean it up. The conservancy will be modeled on those that exist for Central Park, Prospect Park and other NYC parks. "Our aim is to create a clean canal," Mr. Ingui said. A "Water Quality Summit" is planned for the fall.

There is much more to consume and relate about all of this, so Gowanus Lounge will be returning to it often. For now, we'll simply say that the plan presents an exciting vision of the neighborhood's future and we hope that it will influence the government decisions that will determine Gowanus' future.

Brooklinks: Friday Taking it Down Edition

Taking it Down

Brooklinks is a selection of Brooklyn-related blog items and news story that are worth checking out:

Brooklyn Parrots: The Movie

Ah, urban wildlife. The other day, we turned to Brooklyn's cool parrot colonies and to the wonderful blog dedicated to them at brooklynparrots that has been set up by Steve Baldwin, the man who runs Brooklyn Parrot Safaris (there's one on Saturday, July 1...check the brooklynparrots site for info) and is the Parrot King of the Borough of Kings. Turns out that Mr. Baldwin is working with a team to create a film about the parrots and that there's a trailer for it. (GL was so asleep at the switch on this one that we qualify as comatose.) Just click on the play button above to watch.

Truth in advertising requires GL to disclose being a total sucker for The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, but we have faith that a Brooklyn Parrot could teach a San Francisco Parrot a thing or two about life in the big city.

"The story of the Brooklyn parrots includes many dramatic elements which will not make this 'just another bird movie," Mr. Baldwin writes of the Brooklyn parrot movie. "The struggles of these birds -- so far from home, strangers in a strange land -- a jungle of stone, really -- subject to predators ranging from hawks to poachers to utility companies, makes for a fine drama."

Also, Animal Planet did a great segment on the parrots that features Mr. Baldwin. Check it out.

Rescheduled Billyburg Short Film Fest is Tonight

billburg film festx500

The 3rd Annual Billyburg Short Film Festival, which was rained out on Saturday is now happening tonight at our favorite spot--McCarren Pool in Williamsburg. Festivals showcasing their work include The Coney Island Film Festival, The Brooklyn International Film Festival, and the Billyburg Short Film Festival. The event starts at 6:30. Admission is $10. There will be DJs, plus BSFF
6.30pm June 24th, 2006 at The McCarren Park Pool, Williamsburg Brooklyn
10 bucks at the door. There will be installations and booths from local community artists including Open Ground, 3rd Ward, Antimart, Peripheral Media, Interrupcion, Indamine Ochre Architecture, Harry Rosenblum, Action Direction, Fnerd, Jennifer
Jaser, Feed Tank, Brooklyn Parents for Peace, Not An Alternative Arts
Collective, and others.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lonely Gowanus Building is Landmarked

Brooklyn Improvement Company Building
We've been following the tale of the building at the corner of Third Avenue and Third Street in Gowanus for some time and knew that it had been up before the Landmarks Preservation Commission a few weeks ago. The building is on the corner of the site of the planned Whole Foods and, yesterday, it was landmarked. This has generated much happy coverage today, including the following:

3rd and 3rd Gets Landmarked [Brooklyn Record]
Pippin Gets its Place in History [Callalillie]
It's Official: Pippin Won't Be Eaten by Whole Foods [Gothamist]

We also wrote about it at Curbed in the item called Facadomy Averted in Gowanus.

In any case, the building which is now completely by itself on the large empty parcel, used to be the home of the New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company. (The Gowanus company manufactured artificial stone that was used in parts of St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Metropolitan and the American Museum of Natural History.) Then, it became the home of the Brooklyn Improvements Company, which among other things, helped build the Gowanus Canal and much of Park Slope. More recently, it housed an auto parts and auto repair shop. The LPC chair calls the 2 ½-story, Italianate-style structure "mysterious" and "elegant."

We're thrilled to see that this pretty little building will survive, and hope it is not swallowed up by the Whole Foods, no matter how much we want a big grocery store nearby.

In the Event of a Hurricane, Take the A Train

New Hurricane Mapx500

There is a lot of new and fun information now available at the Office of Emergency Management's website about the updated city hurricane evacuation plan, including a brochure in 10 languages and a long primer on the Evacuation Plan (click here for the full PDF).

The new $30 million hurricane plan that will triple the number of shelters was announced by the Mayor yesterday. According to the plan, the city will be able to evacuate 3 million people and shelter 600,000. There are 65 evacuation centers (up from 23) and 509 hurricane shelters. Less reassuringly, the plan relies heavily on the MTA to help us run for our lives. (Fun thing for today: Make up examples of the helpful announcements you would hear on the train.) The city would increase bus and subway service from flood zones. It would ask the state to make mass transit free (!!!!) and let cabs stuff in as many people as possible. GL assumes the taxi plan is for Manhattan, because Brooklyn and Queens don't got no freaking cabs in good weather, let alone when a killer hurricane is racing toward us.

OEM is going to mail hurricane preparedness brochures to 300,000 residents in the most vulnerable parts of the city, which one supposes is a way to tell people who don't bother looking to see if they're in "evacuation zones" that they should get out of Coney because they're New Orleans Screwed when the Big Blow comes.

Pay attention Brooklyn: One in four New Yorkers lives in a hurricane evacuation zone and an awful lot of those evacuation zones are in the Borough of Kings. Check out the map and you will see just how much of Brooklyn potentially becomes Underwater World. It looks like the Incredible Shrinking Borough. The only saving grace here is that the odds of a hurricane hitting the city are just one percent.

According to OEM, New York City is particularly vulnerable to storm surge due to a geographic characteristic called the "New York Bight," a sharp bend in the Atlantic coastline where New York and New Jersey meet. (This is not to be confused with the "Brooklyn Bite Me" and the "Bronx Eat Me," which have nothing to do with hurricanes.) The New York Bight amplifies the effects of a storm surge and can create severe flooding in coastal areas, particularly when the storm tide coincides with normal high tides. If a Category 1 hurricane made landfall in the City, portions of the Rockaway Peninsula, South Brooklyn, Red Hook Piers, communities bordering the Newtown Creek in Brooklyn and Queens, Lower Manhattan, Staten Island's North and South Shores, and low lying areas of the Bronx would be vulnerable to flooding and damage.

One part of Brooklyn where they apparently are worried about the Big One is Brighton Beach, at least, according to a recent NY Sun story about Brighton Beach hurricane paranoia. Makes you wonder if those old Russian ladies on the boardwalk know something we don't or if there are just a lot of hurricane-fearing people in Brighton Beach. It makes a fascinating read.

Do you know what should be in your Go Bag?

Brooklinks: Thursday Prepare to Evacuate Edition

Jogging Past Painted Door

Brooklinks is a selective daily review of news stories and blog items related to Brooklyn:

Celebrating the Gowanus (Comprehensive Plan)

Carroll St Bridge

The Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation is holding a get together tonight to showcase the comprehensive plan in its current iteration for the Big G and environs. The group has been developing a plan that emphasizes public access to the Gowanus and dreams of a "green" neighborhood with environmentally-friendly projects. The group's chair says that the plan is especially important because time is running out to try to superimpose a plan before development simply happens. The planning process has been funded with nearly $250,000 arranged by Rep. Nydia Velazquez.

The GCCDC is expecting elected officials, community groups and residents at the meeting, which takes place tonight (June 29) at 7:00PM in St. Agnes Parish Hall, which is located at 433 Sackett Street between Hoyt and Bond.

Moving? Call GE8-5800

From Brooklyn Ramblings and the in-depth research and extensive photography of Sonja Shield comes a priceless look at the era when New York (and Brooklyn) telephone exchanges started with letters rather than numbers, and 718, 917, et. al. were just a twinkle in Bell Telephone's eye. Check out excellent examples of Brooklyn signage that can still be found with the old phone exchanges as well as Sonja's wonderful histories of some of the businesses and buildings represented. Cool stuff. The photo here is, of course, one of Sonja's shot of a sign for Molloy Bros. Moving & Storage that is visible from the F Train on the east side of McDonald Avenue. Sonja writes that the GE might have stood for GEneral or GEneva.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Park Slope North? Now They've Crossed the Line

Park Slope North? Has the Brooklyn property rush delivered us to the point where someone can refer to a community like Prospect Heights as an extension of its neighbor to the south?

Apparently so. A listing for a $1.65 million, new three-family development on Underhill Avenue refers to its location in "trendy Park Slope North (Prospect Heights)," as reported at Daily Heights, which notes, " sure to update your business cards." Another commenter is less diplomatic, writing "Park Slope North? I want to slap this guy." The message board also contains a number of shots taken at the development itself. Now, what GL wants to know is, does this mean that Ratner Land is going to be Park Slope Northwest? Or is Park Slope to be known as Ratner Southeast?

On a related note, we learned at the Brooklyn Blogfest last week that Daily Heights' founder is moving from Brooklyn and that the message board will serve as its replacement. As GL has learned much from Daily Heights, and its cousin, Daily Slope, we certainly hope that the void is filled quickly. Meantime, we will redouble our efforts to scan the discussion board every day.

The photo here was made by Frank Lynch, one of flickr's Brooklyn pillars whose work we love.

Breaking News: Atlantic Yards Appeal Motion Filed

Attorneys for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and 15 co-plaintiffs have filed to appeal last month's Appellate Division decision overturning a State Supreme Court decision. The "motion for relief" was filed with state Court of Appeals. (Translation: They're asking the court to hear their appeal.) The case centers around an environmental lawyer who had represented Forest City Ratner on the Atlantic Yards proposal and later represented the Empire State Development Corp., which is the public agency involved in the environmental review of the project. The Appellate Division had found no conflict of interest in overturning a State Supreme Court decision in favor of Atlantic Yards opponents.

According to DDDB, the case presents "fundamental issues of governmental integrity and accountability in the context of an enormously controversial development project that will have a significant impact on hundreds of thousands of citizens and significantly change several Brooklyn neighborhoods."

The Court of Appeals, which is New York's highest court, must accept the case for a hearing.

New York Highlights Six Outdoor Brooklyn Eating Options

Boardwalk Dining
New York's guide to 25 outdoor dining spots happens to include six Brooklyn choices (and we know there are tons more). In any case, the ones that are showcased in the mag, followed by New York's description in quotes, are:

Alma. 187 Columbia St., at Degraw St., Carroll Gardens/Red Hook, Brooklyn; 718-643-5400. "A restaurant in Red Hook made for romance: Start with a mojito, stuffed with mint and served in a latte-size glass, and end with the just-as-fresh Key-lime pie. Service is spacey, but we like to think that the slow pace ups the tropical factor."

Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 1000 Washington Ave., at Crown St., Park Slope; 718-623-7200. "Spring for the $40 annual membership fee, if only for the Wednesday-evening picnicking privileges: Cheese-and-charcuterie specialist Blue Apron Foods is just two blocks away (814 Union St., at Seventh Ave.; 718-230-3180)."

Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park. At the foot of New Dock Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn; 718-858-4708. "Picnic with a pie from Grimaldi’s (19 Old Fulton St., nr. Water St.; 718-858-4300) and “Mom’s peanut brittle” from Jacques Torres Chocolate (66 Water St., nr. Main St.; 718-875-9772). Walk it off with a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge."

Habana Outpost. 757 Fulton St., at S. Portland Ave., Fort Greene, Brooklyn; 718-858-9500. "The popular Nolita diner Habana has a Brooklyn spinoff (next to the Lafayette Avenue C-train stop) that’s even better than the original. The scene is part restaurant, part block party—and drinks are served out of a down-home 1949 GMC pickup truck."

Smith Street. Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. "To the chagrin of a couple of curmudgeonly residents—and to the delight of the rest of us—Smith Street has blossomed into an outdoor diner’s paradise. Check out the picnic tables at the Gowanus Yacht Club (323 Smith St., at President St.; 718-246-1321), the lovely backyard at Grocery (288 Smith St., nr. Union St.; 718-596-3335), and the quirky patio at Robin des Bois (195 Smith St., nr. Warren St.; 718-596-1609)."

Tatiana. 3152 Brighton 6th St., at Brightwater Ct., Brighton Beach, Brooklyn; 718-891-5151. "There are about a half-dozen similar cafés on the Brighton boardwalk—and this one is the best. Order the chicken Kiev for yourself, a smoked-fish platter for the table, and wash it all down with homemade kvass, an alcoholic Soviet-era refreshment that tastes a lot like root beer."

Brooklinks: Wednesday Long Weekend Coming Humpday Edition

Williamsburg Waterfront Development Primer

2006_06_Williamsburg Map

Gowanus Lounge is the first to admit that we've had a devil of a time keeping the Williamsburg waterfront developments straight, even though we pay close attention to what is going on at each site. So, spurred by yesterday's story about the "groundbreaking" at the site of the Palmer's Dock development at 164 Kent, we outlined noted the four major projects--184 Kent, Palmer's Dock/Northside Piers, The Edge and East River State Park--on a map for Curbed. The New York Times story about the mayor groundbreaking (which didn't break much ground because earthmoving equipment has been on the site since Spring) even managed to say that 164 Kent is in Greenpoint. (Oh well. To the writer, it must all be Brooklyn, which is over there, on the other side of the East River. Must not be a Billburg hipster-type person.)

In any case, the projects are as follows, going from south to north:

1. 184 Kent. This is the Austin & Nichols warehouse of landmarking/unlandmarking fame. It is now clear of residents and on the verge of luxury condo conversion.

2. Palmer's Dock/Northside Piers. Palmer's Dock will contain 117 units of affordable housing (of the project total of 900 units). The highrise portion of the project is being developed by Toll Brothers and L&M Equity Participants, one of the Palmer's Dock developers. All together, three big towers are going up here. (The projects are called Palmer's Dock and Northside Piers after the original uses of the area. This part of Kent was the Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal, with dozens of rail spurs going to a half dozen piers.)

3. The Edge. This huge residential and commercial project is being built by Douglaston Development between North Fifth and North Seventh streets. It will include three towers with 1,300 units.

4. East River State Park. Stretching from North Seventh to North Ninth, this park is supposed to open in late July.

MAS Eulogy to East River's Lost Industrial Heritage

Death Notice

The Municipal Arts Society held a session last night billed as a "eulogy" for the East River's lost industrial heritage. Included among the "deaths" are the iconic Long Island City Power House, whose smokestacks were castrated last year as part of a redevelopment plan that will push a highrise through the building, the burned-down Greenpoint Terminal Market and the demolished Con Ed Waterside Power Station in Manhattan.

MAS and others are still pushing a last ditch effort to try to landmark Austin & Nichols Warehouse at 184 Kent (strongly opposed by City Council Member and Congressional candidate David Yassky) despite last year's nasty fight and the fact that it is now cleared of residents and on the verge of development into luxury condos. And there is a move to landmark the Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg as well as the magnificent Sohmer Piano Factory in Long Island City.

The links above contain information about where one can write to try to spur action to save the survivors.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Birds on the Brain: Hating Mockingbirds in Prospect Heights

There's some bird hating going on over at the Prospect Heights Discussion Board about a loud songbird around Sterling and Flatbush. The discussion is too funny not to pass along. First, people were wondering what the tuneful bird was. Some suggested our friends, the Brooklyn Parrots. Popular opinion, however, settled on Mockingbirds, which are known to be on the loud and vocal side. We go to the copy and paste:
Five years ago a mockingbird was tormenting my wife and me, waking us up every morning around 5:15am - as we had just moved into our place on Sterling we were sleeping with the back door to the garden open (just the screen door bolted). The little bastard was riffing on car alarms. Whoooop whoooooop whoooooop! EEEEH EEEEH EEEEEH EEEEEH. Riiirrroooh riiiirrrooooohhh rirrroooooh! Loud enough to wake me out of a sound sleep. I have never wanted to shoot and kill an innocent wild animal as much. And I'm a pretty easy-going guy.
All this time, Gowanus Lounge thought we had it bad with car alarms and ambulances. Thank God, we don't have mockingbirds.

Four More Cool Brooklyn Blogs: Shortcakes, Runners, Pigs and More

Four cool Brooklyn blogs have come to Gowanus Lounge's attention in the last few days, so we thought we'd help spread the good news.

First among equals is Coney Island Shortcakes, which is being brought to you by the people that have set up a Strawberry Shortcake stand on the boardwalk near Cha Cha's. We're keeping an eye on this one, as it should provide superb documentation of the summer season at the Brooklyn Riveria. Before the rain cut short our day at the Mermaid Parade on Saturday we were on our way to sample the shortcake (tough job though it would have been), having bypassed them the week before. Good chance we'll be getting a taste this weekend, though.

Second, is 3 Bikini, which we learned about thanks to the Brooklyn Blog Fest. It bills itself as "Musings on Design, Brooklyn, and the space in between." The coverage is eclectic, but there's a real neighborhood emphasis on Prospect Heights/Park Slope and on the changing streetscape and development, which is the quickest way to our heart, other than sending chocolate or cake. It's barely two weeks old, but off to an excellent start.

Third, is the Porkchop Express, which deals heavily with the food scene and specifically with pork. While GL largely hews to a vegetarian road, we wouldn't dream of denying anyone knowledge of where they can get a daily dose of flesh, especially pork, which tempts us with relapse on a daily basis. There's some very cool info about restaurants and even a nod to veggies, with the entry Veggie Might.

Fourth, is a brand new blog called Runs Brooklyn/Brooklyn Runs written by a Greenpoint resident that will track his runs around the Borough of Kings. As a lifelong armchair runner, GL fully appreciates and admires RB/BR's efforts and will watch carefully (from a chair, in front of his computer). The blogger's ambitious goal is running every street in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Parrots Revisited

Heard about the Brooklyn Parrots? No, the Cyclones haven't been renamed. Gowanus Lounge is talking about the parrot colonies around Brooklyn, with two of the biggest being at Green-Wood Cemetery and the Brooklyn College campus. A Brooklyn Life wrote about them a while back and a visit to Green-Wood in search of them.

There is also an entire blog about the Brooklyn parrots at Briefly, the parrots are believed to have come from a shipment of birds that got loose at JFK in the late 1960s. Somehow, the birds survived around Jamaica Bay, and immigrated to Brooklyn, where they were first sighted at Brooklyn College in the early 1970s. Another theory has them escaping from a pet shop on Flatbush Avenue or an overturned truck. Over the years, other colonies established themselves in Green-Wood Cemetery, Marine Park, Bensenhurst and Bay Ridge. BrooklynParrots reports that the birds tried to establish a foothold in Manhattan's Central Park, but were driven off by the Parks Department. (Boo. Hiss.)

(The photo above shows a parrot eating pizza, which warms GL's heart in a totally, like, Brooklyn way.)

Check out a Google Maps-Brooklyn Parrots mashup, or if you want a guided tour, you can join a BrooklynParrots "safari" on July 1, or simply head out to Green-Wood Cemetery and stare at the big Gothic Main Gate.

Brooklinks: Tuesday Edition

Bburg Water

Brooklinks is a daily selection of Brooklyn-related news articles and blog items.

Monday, June 26, 2006

About Time: Decrepit Coney Island Aquarium Mural Repainted!


The peeling Coney Island boardwalk mural on one of the New York Aquarium's block-long walls is no more. Over the weekend, painters were hard at work creating a new mural, the outlines of which had gone up the week before. The new mural--which is bright, but about whose overall merit we will hold off until completion--depicts Coney Island icons, like the Wonder Wheel and Parachute Jump.

Brooklyn photographers looking for cool juxapositions of people sitting on benches in Coney Island with a decrepit mural (with lines of poetry) in the background must be heartbroken.

Now, we await the day, a decade or so from now when the Aquarium opens up to face the sea and no longer confronts visitors with walls on the boardwalk. In the meantime, we remain in dumbfounded awe of the unique planning and architectural genius that went into the decision to hide an aquarium behind tall walls on a boardwalk. "Gee, Mr. Moses, whaddayu tink we oughtta to do about the new aquarium? You tink people lookin' at the fish oughtta be able to see the ocean?" one imagines He was asked. "Put the damned fish behind a blasted wall," one hears Him saying. "I can't tell you how sick I am of them. Are all the amusements demolished yet?"



Skin and Fins Redux: More Mermaid Parade Links

We were going to add these links to yesterday's Mermaid Parade roundup, but have come across so many other photos, that we're going to add them here today, and use the excuse to post a couple more of our photos, which exist in large numbers in our Mermaid Parade 2006 flickr photoset:

Mermaids on Parade [Bklyn Record]
24th Annual Mermaid Parade [NYC Photobloggers]
Featured Flickr Photos: Mermaid Parade!!! [Dope on the Slope]
Rainy Day Mermaid Parade [Brooklyn Shortcakes]
Mermaid Parade '06 [Bluejake]
2,500 Tagged Photos So Far on Flickr [flickr]
263 '06 Mermaid Phots [Don Wiss]


Small Factory Design's Rounder: Made in Brooklyn

Gowanus Lounge is thrilled to report that we are now in possession of “The Rounder,” a super-cool stool (with storage space inside) that we won for taking Second Place in the Design Sponge Brooklyn photo contest a while back. Not only does the Gowanus Lounge home base now have a wonderful new piece of furniture on which GL can park posteriors and store things, we had the pleasure of talking with the designer, Curt Meissner.

Meissner is the Brooklyn-based designer who is behind the Small Factory Design, and part of the fast-growing world of Brooklyn design. Thus far, the business is entirely home-grown. As it develops, Meissner—who is a Sunset Park resident--hopes to find a local manufacturer to build the furniture he designs—rather than shipping production overseas as many firms do. Meissner is also a Brooklyn devotee and, when he’s not designing furniture, says that he is bicycling all over the borough checking out streets and neighborhoods that are far off the usual Brooklyn Heights-Park Slope beaten path.

The really cool thing about Small Factory Design furniture is that it’s produced with sustainable bamboo plywood. Fabrics are produced without waste and utilize things like re-purposed denim for cushions. Doors are made of recycled-paper based plastic. Even the wax finishes are natural citrus-based.

Best of all, Meissner’s creations are elegant, cool and functional.

Brooklinks: Monday Edition

Famous Park Slope Biker Pig

So, Gowanus Lounge was strolling down 11th Street in Park Slope on Sunday afternoon on our way to the meeting of our Brooklyn Writer's Group at Bar Toto, when we spotted this big stuffed pig in a black leather jacket with big rainbow-colored beads. We pulled out our camera and were shooting away when two passersby stopped and said, "Are you taking pictures because the house was in the Times?"

Truth be told, we hadn't seen the City section of the Sunday Times, but it turns out the house on 11th Street with the biker pig had indeed been featured. Specifically:
It's not every day that there are sightings of the Virgin Mary, the Easter Bunny and an overstuffed pink pig sporting a black leather jacket and a strand of rainbow-colored beads. But anyone who walked by 467 11th Street in Park Slope recently would have spotted such a trio. After seven years of festooning their red-brick row house for holidays both major and marginal, Stanley Shor and Charley Wells, an otherwise conventional couple who keep to themselves, were doing a little spring cleaning. The rabbit and the Virgin Mary, discarded on the sidewalk, were up for anyone's taking. But the biker-pig would remain a fixture by the front stoop in honor of Gay Pride Week, which ends today. Some neighbors worried that the two men were giving up their pastime for good, but they were only "thinning the forest," said Mr. Shor, who is 47 and the assistant commissioner in the city's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.
Another reason to love Brooklyn.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Brooklinks: Sunday (Fins, Skin and Mermaids) Edition


Brooklinks is a somewhat random selection of daily Brooklyn articles and blog items. The photo above is from GL's 117-photo strong flickr Mermaid Parade photoset.

Really Cool Photo: Inside the Dry Dock

The amazing photo below is from Gowanus' flickr photostream. It is a shot taken inside the dry dock at the Todd Shipyard, which is rapidly becoming the Ikea site in Red Hook. Ikea wants to fill in the historic drydocks for parking.

Gowanus Lounge's 117 Mermaid Parade Flickr Photos

This is Gowanus Lounge's Mermaid Parade flickr photoset. There are 117 photos there. These are thumbnails of a few of them. (There are also a few larger ones right here at GL, in our item posted yesterday afternoon.)


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Coney Island Mermaid Parade Photos

DSC_2567x, originally uploaded by rsguskind.

The Mermaid Parade was a wild affair as usual, although the lousy weather probably held down attendance a bit. Still, the parade managed to dodge the rain until the very end, even while it was pouring in other parts of Brooklyn. Here are a few photos. You can find 117 photos in my flickr photo set.









Billyburg Short Film Festival at McCarren Pool; Miss Rockaway Boat Party

billburg film festx500

The 3rd Annual Billyburg Short Film Festival happens tonight at our favorite spot--McCarren Pool in Williamsburg. Festivals showcasing their work include The Coney Island Film Festival, The Brooklyn International Film Festival, and the Billyburg Short Film Festival. The event starts at 6:30. Admission is $10. There will be DJs, plus BSFF
6.30pm June 24th, 2006 at The McCarren Park Pool, Williamsburg Brooklyn
10 bucks at the door. There will be installations and booths from local community artists including Open Ground, 3rd Ward, Antimart, Peripheral Media, Interrupcion, Indamine Ochre Architecture, Harry Rosenblum, Action Direction, Fnerd, Jennifer
Jaser, Feed Tank, Brooklyn Parents for Peace, Not An Alternative Arts
Collective, and others. We assume it's a rain or shine thing, but you might want to check the website if it's raining. The upside is, you get to see McCarren Pool with water if it's raining hard enough! UPDATE: The fest was rained out. The sign at McCarren said "TBA," but keep Friday open.

Bonus: Another cool event is the Miss Rockaway Boat Party at the Empty Vessel Project boat on the Gowanus. DJs Filastine (Seattle), Dirty Fingers (Black Label), and Aliqua (Chicken Hut) spin. And, there's something about "eye-popping flaming hula hoops." It all takes place at the Empty Vessel Project boat at the foot of 1st Street on the Gowanus. Admission is $5, and festivities start at 9. A Saturday night dance party on the Big G. What more do you want?

Gowanus for Kids: Gowanus Girl

Gowanus Canoe
Gowanus Lounge would be serious lacking if we didn't mention Gowanus Girl, a play being performed at the Old Stone House in JJ Byrne Park this weekend. It's billed at a look at change on the Gowanus Canal through the eyes of ten-year-old girl. And, it's said to be for kids 6 and up. How good is that? The performances are today, 6-24, at 11AM and 12:30PM and tomorrow, 6-25, at the same times. For reservations or more info call 917-494-7540. The Old Stone House is between Fifth and Fourth avenues, between Third and Fourth Streets. It's never to early to teach the little ones about the Big G.

Rain, Rain Go Away: Cool Tours of Brighton Beach and Green-Wood Cemetery

Among the many weekend opportunities in Brooklyn, presuming no torrential downpours and assuming you're not going to the Mermaid Parade today in Coney Island (starting time: 2PM), are tours of Brighton Beach and of Green-Wood Cemetery.

The "Brighton Beach Memories" walking tour is sponsored by the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment (BCUE). Learn about the Hotel Brighton and the Brighton Beach Baths, and see the Oceana apartments which now stand where the baths did. The tour is $11 and $9 for member and $8 for seniors and students. Meet under the elevated B/Q train at Brighton Beach and Coney Island avenues. It goes from 2-4 PM. Call (718) 788-8500, ext. 208, for more info.

The Big Onion Walking Tour takes in Green-Wood Cemetery at 5PM (which means that, in theory, you could do the Mermaid Parade and hit the cemetery afterward. The tour includes the history, architecture and info about the many New Yorkers enjoying eternal rest at Green-Wood. Visit DeWitt Clinton, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Leonard Bernstein and John "The Soda Fountain King" Matthews. Cost is $15, $12 for seniors and $10 for students. Report to the Green-Wood Cemetery main entrance at 25th Street and Fifth Avenue. Info at (212) 439-1090.

Brooklinks: Saturday Edition

Brooklinks is a somewhat, but not totally, random collections of links to stories and blog items we have noted over the last 24 hours:

Life in the (Atlantic Yards) Shadows

We were a little swamped when others noted this story yesterday, but it's worth repeating: Tall buildings make big shadows, and a Pratt Institute professor and students say that Atlantic Yards is going to cast some big shadows indeed. Gowanus Lounge will let the Brooklyn Paper's Gersh Kuntzman, who wrote the story that is making its way around the blogosphere, deliver the news:
According to a new analysis by a Pratt Institute professor and two students, shadows from the developer’s Atlantic Yards mega-project would darken a wide swath of Brooklyn from Prospect Heights to Downtown — including a strip in Fort Greene that won the “Greenest Block in Brooklyn” contest in 2002.

At its worst — at 9 am on Dec. 21 — the shadow from the 62-story “Miss Brooklyn” building, proposed for the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, would extend all the way to Fulton and Gold streets.
Brent Porter, the Pratt professor says the shadows will be especially "severe" from September to March. “Once those buildings go up, the shadowing will be forever," he says. The professor says that a good part of Fort Greene will be lacking light in the winter in an Atlantic Yards world.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Brooklinks: Special Friday Brooklyn Blogfest Roundup Edition

If you put dozens of bloggers in one place, you will get a lot of blogs. By noon today, last night's Brooklyn Blogfest had been nicely covered. (The photo to the right is Dope on the Slope's flickr shot of Hugh Crawford, who does the excellent daily photo feature on Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.) Here are a few links to some of today's Blogfest coverage (with apologies for any number of glaring ommissions):

Brooklyn Blogfest [A Brooklyn Life]
Bloggers Revealed [Brooklyn Record]
Name That Blogger [Curbed]
Brooklyn Blogfest Report [Gowanus Lounge]
Blogfest Big Fun [OTBKB]
doughnut: Blogfirst Blogfest[Doughnut]
Last Night at the Old Stone House [OTBKB]
Live from Brooklyn Blogfest [Daily Heights]
Dope on the Slope's flickr Blogfest Photos [flickr]
Brooklyn Blogfest! [3 Bikini]

Brooklyn Blogfest Report

Brooklyn Blogfest
Like many other Brooklyn bloggers, Gowanus Lounge went to the Brooklyn Blogfest last night at the Old Stone House in Park Slope. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet many bloggers, photobloggers and street-level journalists whose work we've been reading for a long time and from whom we've learned much. Dope on the Slope presented a hysterical history of blogging. Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn explained how the Thomas Wolfe short story, Only the Dead Know Brooklyn, inspired the name of her blog. Brownstoner, who recently launched the excellent Brooklyn Record, told us how a modest blog has turned into a small blogging empire.

We will make several observations, and leave it at that:

1. The Brooklyn blogging world owes a huge debt to Bruce Ratner and other developers whose projects have motivated so many of us to start our blogs to add our voices to the debate and to try to share information.

2. The Brooklyn Blogosphere is older than we thought. What we mean is that, for some reason, we'd assumed that most bloggers are twentysomethings. It turns out we're twentysomethings, thirtysomethings, fortysomethings and fiftysomethings. No sixtysomethings, but maybe somebody just doesn't show it.

3. The Brookly Blog Universe is expanding exponentially. Daily Heights pointed out that as recently as January 2005, there were probably a dozen Brooklyn blogs. Now, there are about four dozen.

A huge thanks to the wonderful Louise Crawford of Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn for organizing this event. We prepared the photo below for Curbed, and post it below, along with the identities of the bloggers pictured.

Brooklyn Blogfest '06

A. Design Sponge, B. Daily Heights, C. Brooklyn Views, D. Brownstoner/Brooklyn Record, E. Dope on the Slope, F. Joe's NYC, G. Lost and Frowned, H. No Land Grab, I. A Brooklyn Life, J. Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn, K. Atlantic Yards Report, L. Express Train.

Brooklinks: Friday Edition

Brooklinks is a selective and semi-random listing of Brooklyn-related news stories and blog items:
The Pier [Brooklyn Record]
A Champion to Stop Bruce Ratner: Bill Batson [onNYTurf]
Hungry Cabbie at Waterfalls Cafe [Gothamist]
Mermaid Parade Takes Over Coney Island [AM New York]
NYC 2030 [AM New York]
Bright idea in Coney [NYDN]
Ratner's Shadow Looms [Bklyn Papers]
Lines Being Drawn on Plan for Piers [B61 Productions]

The photo above is another one of Gowanus Lounge's Googly Eye Cru sticker photos shot in Williamsburg.

Atlantic Yards Reverberations: Anti-Project Candidate in Assembly Primary Bid

Some Atlantic Yards opponents are setting their sights on a new Governor and new members of the legislature in Albany. The New York Sun noted this week that neither Democratic front-runner Eliot Spitzer nor Republican John Faso have a position on Atlantic Yards. (And both are probably as anxious to wade into the fight as they would be to go for a swim in Gowanus.) But, the next governor could play a major role in shaping the project and, even, whether it lives or dies.

Local opponents, meanwhile, are rallying behind Bill Batson, who they are pushing as a grassroots candidate for the
Assembly seat for the 57th district in Brooklyn that's up for grabs this November. (The district includes the Atlantic Yards site.) Batson, they note, opposes the Forest City Ratner plan and has fought a plan to use of eminent domain to turn an Underground Railroad site in downtown Brooklyn into a parking garage. The former Greenpoint artist worked with NYCLU head Normal Siegel and worked for Senate Democratic Leader David Paterson.

IE: He's a Gold Standard candidate for the Develop-Don't Destroy Brooklyn, anti-Atlantic Yards crowd.

OnNYTurf reports on the petition drive that supporters are mounting to get Batson's name on the ballot for the September primary.

Tripping (and Falling) in Coney Island

Broken Boardwalk
Yes, Gowanus Lounge has been beating the Coney Island drum hard this week, but hey, it's summer and this is Coney's time of year. Speaking of which, around Memorial Day we touched on the slow pace of the Coney Island boardwalk repair project, wondering why it was still underway at the beginning of summer season and when the job would be done.

Now, we know the answer. It won't be done.

If you have been to Coney Island this year you know why this is of interest: The Coney Island Boardwalk--other than the very small portion that was replaced for $500,000 over the winter--is in a disgraceful state of disrepair. We're not talking about a couple of loose boards here and there, either. We are talking about it being in such a sad state that all an ambulance chasing lawyer has to do to get new clients is find a particularly odious part of the boardwalk and stand there and wait for people to trip and fall. These spots are easy to locate. They're the ones where boards are see-sawing up and down as people walk on them or where there are holes where the wood is rotted or where bolts are sticking out.

The head of the Brighton Neighborhood Association told INBROOKLYN, "It's the worst it's ever been." The Parks Department claims a shortage of funds to fix it, although maintenance crews are alleged to travel the boardwalk making repairs as needed.

Fingers of blame are pointed in various directions: A lot of people using the boardwalk. Police cars cruising up and down. Sand piled under it by the Army Corp of Engineers in the early 90s.

One EMT told a trip-and-fall boardwalk victim, according to INBROOKLYN, that there will be "a hundred more like this" during the summer.

Even if you don't care about the person who goes to Coney Island for a ride on the Wonder Wheel and a walk on the boardwalk and goes home with a broken face, isn't it cheaper to put more people on the job to try to fix the thing and, then, replace it over the winter than to pay out cash settlements in all those lawsuits? Or will it have to wait until Coney Island redevelopment when Thor Equities and others demand that the city do it because patrons breaking bones outside the front door and walking in dripping blood on the floor are bad for business?

Just wondering.

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Gowanus Lounge Photo Du Jour: Christmas in June

Christmas in June

It's freaking hot outside, which is only fitting for the final approach into summer. So, Gowanus Lounge thought it appropriate to put up this photo from Williamsburg of a year-round Santa. The old guy is pretty weathered, so we know he's been there for years, if not decades, but he still sends a chill up our spine on this blazing June day.

Coney Island Roundup: Friday Night Fireworks Are Back; Parachute Jump Lights Up July 7

Coney Fireworks

One of Gowanus Lounge's favorite ways to end the week is to head down to Coney Island to catch the Friday night fireworks. The fireworks start up again tonight (Friday, 6/23) and continue every Friday night until Labor Day. (They start between 9:00 and 9:30 right now.) So, head on down to Coney, take a seat in the sand and watch a nice fireworks display every Friday night this summer.

Meanwhile, still our hearts, the Parachute Jump is going to be lit up as of July 7. We reported a couple of months ago on the lighting plans, and have been watching for an announcement. The Daily News reports both the date and the details:
The amusement mecca’s tallest structure will be lit by 17 flood lamps, 150 light fixtures and 450 LED lights in a display that will be seen from as far away as Long Island...Manhattan artist Leni Schwendinger designed six lighting schemes for the 277-foot landmark, including a red, pink and amber sequence that will last through the summer. On weekends, pulsing white flood lights and a red LED strobe will dance along the Boardwalk.

The Parachute Jump will be illuminated from dusk until midnight May through October. The remainder of the year it will be lit from dusk until 11 p.m.

Reminder (not that you don't already know): Mermaid Parade on Saturday. Starts at 2:00.