Little House on the Brooklyn Prairie

April 9, 2014

Take a look around and guess where we are.

There’s a white-washed building topped by a stout brick chimney. Rough hewn wooden posts holding up a shingled roof. Wood framed double-hung windows with slightly sagging screens. A wide porch holding an assortment of ladder-back rocking chairs, some with seats of woven rush, others with canvas webbing.

Are we in a small, sleepy Southern town? Or are we someplace in the American Heartland, perhaps an old farmstead out on the wide prairie?

Sorry, but no and no.

Actually, this rustic-looking structure is the Avenue H subway station on the Q line, deep in the heart of Brooklyn. Built in 1906, over the years the station has been updated and renovated but, thankfully, never replaced.

Now, don’t just stand there. Grab a glass of lemonade and let’s do a little rocking before we catch the next train to Brighton Beach.

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The Epoch Times: Renovated Brooklyn Station House, Relic With Modern Feel
NYC Subway: Avenue H Station
Subway Nut: Avenue H 


A Very Porky Christmas

December 25, 2010

The folks at Esposito’s Pork Store on Brooklyn’s Court Street have decorated for the season. Have a very porky Christmas!

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The store

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Santa Pig

New York Magazine: Esposito’s Pork Store


Zoni Brothers Auto Repair

September 1, 2009

Although New York City has the lowest rate of car ownership in the US (42 percent of New Yorkers don’t have access to a car, versus the national average of eight percent), the city still contains a sizable population of motor vehicle owners.

For those who consider their cars and motorcycles more than just mere transportation, this colorful shop, covered inside and out with signs, flags and banners, is a mecca.  No ordinary neighborhood repair place, this is home of Zoni Brothers Auto Repair/Zoni Customs on 56th Street and 4th Avenue in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood. Zoni’s is so revered by car lovers that they even sell a line of t-shirts emblazoned with their skull and spade logo. And yes, the shirts are available online.

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The view from 56th Street

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The sign says “Autos” but there are more motorcycles than cars in sight

Zoni Brothers Auto Repair Inc.
New York Times: The Costs of Owning a Car
Berkeley University: Study explores metro car ownership


Fixed? Did You Say Fixed?

August 3, 2009

Last night this notice was posted in phone booth at the corner of Brooklyn’s Court and Montague Streets.

OK, I understand the idea of naming a big, black Brooklyn cat after Biggie Smalls (aka The Notorious B.I.G.)., the famed Brooklyn-born rapper who was murdered in Los Angeles 12 years ago.

But “fixing” (neutering) Biggie Smalls, the namesake of a ladies’ man who referred to himself as “Big Poppa,” just seems wrong. No wonder the poor cat has gone missing.

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Wikipedia: The Notorious B.I.G.


Goodbye Heights Books, and thanks!

February 27, 2009

For nearly two decades, Heights Books was a fixture in Brooklyn Heights.

The used bookstore, which often displayed carts filled with bargain-priced books on the sidewalk, was the last remaining bookseller on busy Montague Street — the street that inspired Christopher Morley’s 1919 novel, The Haunted Bookshop, which begins, “If you are ever in Brooklyn, that borough of superb sunsets and magnificent vistas of husband-propelled baby-carriages, it is to be hoped you may chance upon a quiet by-street where there is a very remarkable bookshop.”

Recently, when the building in which it was located was sold, Heights Books’ owners decided to close up and move to another part of the borough. Rather than pack their entire stock, move and reshelve it all at the new location, they chose to sort out the books that had lingered far too long in the store’s inventory and throw them away.

Today, a crew of workman tossed thousands of volumes into a dumpster outside the shop. When passersby spotted cartons full of books being hurled into the trash, they scrambled to rescue as many as they could grab. They jumped atop the piles of books, their efforts intensifying as darkness and rain began to fall. One fellow remarked, “I’ve heard the expression dumpster diving, but this is the first time I’ve seen people literally diving into a dumpster!”

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The dumpster on the street

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Inside the store, the shelves are gone

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Passersby grabbed books before they were tossed in the dumpster

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Younger readers stood on boxes to better see into the dumpster

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Older readers remained on the sidewalk

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Some climbed atop the pile

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Few could resist peeking into the dumpster

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Some books were rescued

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A last grab as the rain starts to fall

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Books heading for the landfill

Page by Page Books: The Haunted Bookshop
Heights Books
New York Magazine: Heights Books
The Brooklyn Paper: Book ‘em! Heights Books to move to Cobble Hill
The Brooklyn Paper: Book ‘em! Heights store will not close, says owner


The Cemetery of the Evergreens

February 3, 2009

The Cemetery of the Evergreens is one of the largest, oldest burial places in New York City. Its 225 acres straddle the border between Brooklyn and Queens, and contain the graves of approximately 550,000 people of all faiths and nationalities.

The cemetery, designated a national historical landmark, was organized in 1849. Strolling across the rolling hills and meadows is like taking a walk through history. Many notable and infamous figures are buried at the Evergreens, including unidentified victims from two of the city’s greatest tragedies: the General Slocum Disaster and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

One unusual feature of the cemetery is Kwong Fai Toi, a section reserved as a Chinese burial ground. Many of the graves here show evidence of joss paper, or ghost money — sheets of paper, cut and printed to look like currency, that are burned at traditional Chinese funerals to ensure that spirit of the deceased has good fortune in the afterlife.

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Kwong Fai Toi

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Joss paper

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Faded, weathered joss paper

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Kang, Yu

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Wu

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Both the fronts and backs of the stones are carved

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Yee, Lau, Yu

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Chow

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Eng

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Huie

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Chan

The Evergreens Cemetery
The Evergreens: Where Brooklyn is Laid to Rest


Richie Havens Comes Home

August 7, 2008

The final act of this year’s BAM Rhythm & Blues Festival at MetroTech was an appearance by the legendary folk singer Richie Havens, who was the opening act at the Woodstock Festival.

He grew up in Brooklyn, sharing a crowded Bedford-Stuyvesant house with nine siblings (“and one bathroom”), many of whom attended today’s outdoor concert in Downtown Brooklyn.

The 67-year old musician performed old hits (Freedom, Here Comes the Sun) as well as songs from his latest CD, discussed his passions, travels, and family, and frequently paused to say how delighted he was to be back home in Brooklyn.

The crowd erupted in whoops and cheers whenever he mentioned a familiar Brooklyn landmark or street, and he described memories of local street corners and stickball.

He was briefly joined onstage by Marcus Carl Franklin, with whom he appeared in the Todd Haynes film I’m Not There. While Havens played, Franklin sang Tombstone Blues and When the Ship Comes In, the Bob Dylan songs he performed in the film, and topped it off with a spirited buck and wing.

At the end of his set, Havens sat at a picnic table under the trees, happily signing autographs and chatting with throngs of devoted fans. “No pushing!,” cried a security guard. “Don’t push, he’ll be here as long as you need him. He’ll stay to the end.”

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Playing his guitar

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Laughing onstage

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Richie Havens close up

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Richie Havens singing

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Strumming the guitar

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Marcus Carl Franklin

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The crowd

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Richie Havens signing autographs

Amazon: Richie Havens music
Richie Havens
MySpace: Richie Havens
Wikipedia: Richie Havens
I’m Not There
BAM


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