Friday, December 15, 2006

GL Brooklyn Holiday Gift Guide: Red Hook Edition

The profusion of stories about Red Hook in the last week or so, and the impending loss of the Revere Sugar Plant got us to thinking about Red Hook-related holiday gifts. So, here are a few (very selective and subjective) ideas:

Operation Christmas Cheer. For the third year in a row PortSide New York (more about supporting them in a moment) will bring cookies and newspapers on Christmas Day to people working on tugboats and barges. Apparently, the tug and barge crews work 24/7 for up to two weeks at a time. "They frequently work national holidays and keenly miss their families on those days," Portside writes." They also feel the burden of working in obscurity, bringing you the stuff you use. The simple gesture of being remembered on Christmas means a lot to them. " Just another way to give a different kind of gift that will mean something to someone else.

Portside New York. You can also give the gift of supporting PortSide on someone's behalf. The group runs a variety of programs that are oriented both to New York City's and Brooklyn's maritime tradition and to the Red Hook community. It is also currently renovating a tanker, the Mary A. Whalen, to use as a museum and community facility. You can donate to Portside or support it by making purchases at several sites including igive, not to mention their Electronic Book Store set up through Amazon, which has a bunch of waterfront-related gift options.

The Waterfront Museum. If you've been to the Red Hook Fairway and seen the little barge nearby in the water, that's the Waterfront Museum. They host exhibitions, circus and musical performances, do maritime education and more. Memberships for the Red Hook lover in your life start at $20. Plus, the membership gives you a reason to go to this part of Red Hook more often, which puts you across the street from Sunny's.

Added Value. We mentioned Added Value before, but they are worth mentioning again in this context. They run programs for young people in Red Hook and operate a community farm and farmers markets--but you can certainly make a contribution to the cause in someone's name. They do exceptional and valuable work. Helping them would make a cool gift. Check out their donation page here.

Red Hook by Gabriel Cohen. Here's an excerpt from Gabriel Cohen's wonderful mystery novel: "The Gowanus Canal was a bilious green. Long ago, Brooklyn kids had jumped in off its narrow banks to shout and splash around, but more than a century's worth of raw sewage and pollution from the adjoining factories had rendered the water unfit for every living thing except some algae and a tiny perverse species called killifish. Its opaque depths kept many secrets, but by a stroke of luck this corpse was not one of them." (The link above brings you to Amazon and donates some of the proceeds to PortSide.)

Red Hook: Confessions of a Brooklyn Eaglet by Richard Gambino. Amazon describes it thusly: "Red Hook is a humorous, poignant, whimsical account of growing up in a long-ago neighbourhood which was as improbable a place as any one might imagine. Jumping back and forth from one age to another, it is presented through the eyes of a boy as he lived and saw life there. Red Hook describes experiences which would not ordinarily be associated with living in New York, or any other large city. (Again, buying via the Amazon link donates some of the money to PortSide.)

Red Hook University T-Shirt. The Red Hook University shirt comes in sizes up to XXL from the online store, which has bunches of other Brooklyn things too.

Erie Basin. This gorgeous and really cool new shop at 388 Van Brunt has some killer cool antique and contemporary jewelry and other items. The shop itself sparkles on Van Brunt at night. It's not cheap, but the selection is pretty awesome.

Pier Glass. Pier Glass has an awesome selection of handcrafted glass that is produced by the design studio and gallery run by Mary Ellen Buxton and Kevin Kutch. The gallery is in one of the most gorgeous spots in all of Red Hook. You can also purchase an "glass blowing experience" for someone--a one-hour class with Kevin during which you get to make your own glass object with Kevin's expert help. GL did it this summer and it is way more than cool. They're at 499 Van Brunt, which is at the very end, through the gate and on the water in the old warehouse.

LeNell's. This little shop is known around the area for its incredible selection of bourbon and other spirits, NYC's biggest bourbon selection, in fact. They're at 416 Van Brunt and they really, really know their stuff.

Saipua. This boutique soap maker opened this summer at 392 Van Brunt. You know someone that would dig some pure olive oil and other soaps? Come to Red Hook.

Baked. Give killer cupcakes and cookies. Or a Baked t-shirt. Or a baked mug. Or a tea pot. Or other things. They are at 359 Van Brunt.


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