The folks at Esposito’s Pork Store on Brooklyn’s Court Street have decorated for the season. Have a very porky Christmas!
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.
The view from 56th Street
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.
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!”
Page by Page Books: The Haunted Bookshop
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 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.
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.”
More from the archives.
This enormous sign advertising Calvin Klein jeans, now gone, used to dominate the intersection of Houston and Crosby Streets. Please note: the sign is not a billboard. It is a large cloth banner, illegally hung right over the windows (you can see a few window ledges peeking out from the bottom).
How’d you like to wake up and see that blocking out your view?
Last summer, while strolling through Brooklyn, I saw a colorful little card pinned to a wall. I read it, saw the words “photographers wanted” for a “community project,” and was, well, hooked. Soon I was involved with What’s the Hook, a all-volunteer effort to create a photographic time capsule of Red Hook, one of the most rapidly-changing neighborhoods in New York City
Now the project is ready for public viewing. The first selection of What’s the Hook photos have been hung at the Kentler Gallery (also known as the Kentler International Drawing Space), a non-profit artist-run space that exhibits drawings and other works on paper.
If you are in the neighborhood, please stop by one (or more) of the exhibits and see how over 120 people have answered the question, “What’s the Hook?”
*** F O R·I M M E D I A T E·R E L E A S E ***
What’s the Hook?
A Community Photography Project
ON VIEW NOW!
Kentler International Drawing Space
353 Van Brunt St.
May 24 – May 25
May 29 – June 1
(Noon – 5 pm)
Open Reception – Sat. May 31st, 3-5 pm
Join us at the Kentler International Drawing Space in Red Hook, Brooklyn, for the first of six summer exhibitions of photos taken of the Red Hook community by the Red Hook community.
What’s the Hook? is a community-based photography project designed to document a single week in the life of Red Hook, Brooklyn, one of New York City’s most unique and rapidly changing neighborhoods. Last summer, What’s the Hook? asked people of all backgrounds to submit images captured during the week of August 12th – 19th 2007. Kids at PS #27 and their neighbors at the Senior Center were given single-use cameras. Other people used their own.
In seven ordinary days more than 120 people produced over 1000 extraordinary photos of what Red Hook means to them. Images of all kinds, from all kinds of people.
From the pupusa vendors at the ball fields to the crew of the Crown Princess at the Container Port. Old-timers and newcomers, professionals and amateurs, dog-walkers and drivers, shopkeepers, chefs, artists, vets — even the UPS guy.
What’s the Hook? was created in part to bring the community together to RECORD, REMEMBER and REDEFINE the changing face of Red Hook.
Kentler International May 24, 25
Drawing Space May 29-June 1
353 Van Brunt St. (noon – 5 pm)
OPEN RECEPTION – SATURDAY, MAY 31st 3-5 PM
Hope & Anchor June 14th – June 29th
347 Van Brunt St.
Mark Van S. Studio June 16th – June 18th
384 Van Brunt St. (projected slide show after dark)
Fairway Market Café June 16th – July 13th
480 Van Brunt St.
The Sovereign Bank June – July (TBA)
498 Columbia St.
Red Hook Public Library June – July (TBA)
7 Wolcott St.
Artist’s Coalition (BWAC) July 26th – Aug. 17th
Beard St. Warehouse
499 Van Brunt St.
What’s the Hook? is sponsored in part by the Greater New York Development Fund of the NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs, administered by the Brooklyn Arts Council.
What’s the Hook card
The 2008 Tribeca Film Festival ran from April 23 – May 4. Compared to last year, the event featured fewer movies, lower ticket prices and a return to theaters located exclusively in downtown Manhattan.
Once again, I neglected laundry and cleaning for two weeks while I took advantage of the opportunity to attend the festival’s screenings. Here’s what I saw in the order in which I saw them. The descriptions below are taken from the Festival’s Web site. My favorites appear in red.
- Thriller (short)
- The Making of Thriller
Join filmmaker and “Thriller” video director John Landis for a special 25th anniversary screening of Michael Jackson’s epic 1984 music video, plus the classic Making of Thriller.
Like the weekly pansexual party it pays tribute to, SqueezeBox! immortalizes the no-holds-barred, anything-goes attitude that its denizens embodied. The legendary club where the Toilet Boys and Hedwig were born gets the ultimate rock-and-roll tribute where all are welcome.
- Gotta Dance
The inspirational story of the New Jersey NETSationals, the NBA’s first senior citizen hiphop dance team. Against all odds, these energetic and dedicated seniors prove that even in their golden years, they’ve just Gotta Dance!
- Live Long Love
When Oscar®-nominated Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) was invited to film the Gumball Rally, the famous high-speed race in Istanbul, he decided instead to craft a raw and intimate film that exposes the effects of an unexpected sexual encounter and the high stakes of the race on two strangers. For seven days, Figgis shot in his signature run-and-gun style—the result is a courageous new work that blurs fact and fiction and probes the unsettling consequences of infidelity, loneliness, and life in the fast lane.
- A President to Remember: In the Company of John F. Kennedy
Culled from direct cinema pioneer Robert Drew’s unparalleled behind the-scenes footage of JFK at work in the Oval Office, and the events that brought him there, this remarkable film proves a timely update of the Kennedy mythos and an eerily intimate portrait of the man himself.
- Green Porno: Bee (short)
- Green Porno: Praying Mantis (short)
A short short-conceived, written, directed by, and featuring Isabella Rossellini (who co-directed with Jody Shapiro)-providing a comical but insightful glimpse at how bugs and insects “make love.”
- The Caller
Frank Langella gives a tour-de-force performance as an energy executive who tries to expose his corporation’s corrupt practices in this quiet yet chilling neo-noir thriller. He hires a private investigator (Elliott Gould) to forward his efforts, but who is investigating whom? Winner of the “Made in NY” Narrative Award.
- Conessionsofa Ex-Doofus-Itchy Footed Mutha
Melvin Van Peebles, still our most playfully inventive filmmaker after nearly 50 years, returns with a boisterous adventure that ranges from Harlem to the high seas, following the exploits of a man (MVP, natch) who’s always on the move–but always returns to New York.
- So Beautiful (short)
Sonia, an elderly lady, treats herself to a day at the beach. Soon she is approached by a young woman who asks her to keep an eye on her bag. Time passes and Sonia wants to go home, but there’s no sign of the girl. By opening the girl’s bag to have a look before she leaves, she starts longing for her younger days. She goes away, leaving behind a surprising gift for the girl.
- 57,000 Kilometers Between Us
A provocative yet charming take on digital communication, this debut follows a teen caught between her stepdad (who records the family’s supposedly perfect life online), her real father (now a transsexual), and the refuge of her online life as she searches for meaningful connections.
- Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot
Rucker Park. The mecca for all street basketball players. In Beastie Boy Yauch’s super-energized documentary, eight of the country’s top 24 high school players participate in the first “Elite 24″ tournament on the same court that helped turn Dr. J, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Wilt Chamberlain into legends.
- Green Porno: House Fly (short)
- Green Porno: Firefly (short)
- Green Porno; Worm (short)
A short short-conceived, written, directed by, and featuring Isabella Rossellini (who co-directed with Jody Shapiro)-providing a comical but insightful glimpse at how bugs and insects “make love.”
- Toby Dammit
A gorgeous new restoration-supervised by its cinematographer, Giuseppe Rotunno-of Fellini’s adaptation of a Poe short story has Terence Stamp as a British celeb struggling through a haze of booze and drugs to make sense of the paparazzi and produttore who welcome him to Rome. Presented by Taormina Film Fest. Co-hosted with Italian Cultural Institute of New York.
- Kassim the Dream
Kassim “The Dream” Ouma went from Ugandan child soldier to world champion boxer. In this gripping tale of survival and determination, Kassim proves that even against all odds, a man can achieve his dreams and turn tragedy into inspiration.
U.S. policy bars female soldiers from engaging in direct ground combat, so why were the women of Lioness sent out routinely with the marines into the some of the bloodiest counterinsurgency battles of the war? Co-hosted with Human Rights Watch International Film Festival.
- The Dalai Lama: Peace and Prosperity
An amazing experience for those unable to attend the ’07 live event, this film is a visual record of the Dalai Lama’s visit and presentation to a sold-out Radio City Music Hall. With photographic montages by Richard Gere and music by Tom Waits and Philip Glass.
- Going on 13
Ariana, Isha, Rosie, and Esme are young girls who are followed for four years as they navigate the precarious path to womanhood and, in Valadez’ and Guevara-Flanagan’s expert hands, breathe new life into the coming-of-age story. Co-hosted with New York Women in Film & Television.
- Eau Boy (short)
A young man who has suffered from excessive sweating since birth is blown away by a strange encounter. Directed by Eric Gravel.
- When I Become Silent (Watashi ga chinmoku suru toki) (short)
Aspiring writer Kyoko has a problem. She wants to begin writing a novel, but her mind is not into it. Is it because Rie, her girlfriend that she has been with for more than a year, has proposed they move in together? As the moving day approaches, Kyoko’s uneasiness grows.
- I Think I Thought (short)
Joe’s life threatens to come apart when he begins thinking too much: at home, at work, on the train, in the bookstore. Luckily, he discovers Thinkers Anonymous, where he learns that thinking is best left to professionals like politicians, religious leaders, and the news media. After all, they’re the ones who know what’s best for us, right? Directed by Matthew Modine.
- Shift (short)
Fifty-year-old George Komann and his colleagues face the possibility of being laid off by their company without even receiving decent compensation. Knowing that no one will rehire people their age, Komann risks everything by asking his boss for 15 minutes to discuss a delicate matter, the outcome of which will be either the making or the undoing of each man.
- Irish Twins (short)
Despite being born within a year of each other, Michael and Seamus Sullivan have become very different men. On the night after their father’s funeral, Seamus drags Michael to the local pub in their small hometown in Northern California and attempts to convince his brother that they must take their father’s ashes to Ireland in tribute. Of course, it isn’t long before Seamus’ true intentions surface, and Michael must confront how much he is willing to sacrifice for his Irish Twin.
- Tournament (Il Torneo) (short)
In the suburbs of Rome in 2007, an outcast group of teenagers dreams of participating in a soccer tournament but does not have enough money to buy the team uniforms.
- Sikumi (short)
Apuna, an Inuit hunter, is driving his dog team on the frozen Arctic Ocean in search of seals when he becomes witness to a violent murder. With no anonymity in the microscopic communities of Arctic Alaska, Apuna realizes that he knows both the victim and the murderer. The latter claims self-defense and is desperate to avoid punishment, so Apuna finds himself forced to navigate the uneasy morality between honoring the body and memory of one friend while destroying the reputation and life of another. Shot on anamorphic 35mm at temperatures of 20 degrees below zero, Sikumi is the first film ever made entirely in the Iñupiaq language.
- A Donkey in Lahore
An unusual love story that follows the quixotic courtship of Brian, an ex-goth puppeteer from Australia, and Amber, the traditional Muslim girl he met and fell in love with in Pakistan. Can this unlikely couple survive the challenges they are about to face?
- 7 Cities (short)
Striking painted visuals evoke the encounter between the great 13th-century Sufi poet Mevlana Rumi and the wandering dervish Shamsuddin of Tabriz, who would become his mentor.
- My Marlon and Brando (Gitmek)
They fell in love on a film set-but she’s a Turk living in Istanbul, and he’s a Kurd living in Iraq, which US forces have just invaded. The lovers play themselves in this captivating film, based on their true story.
- Yonkers Joe
A small-time con man’s search for the perfect scam is disrupted by unexpected family challenges. This heartwarming drama features memorable performances by Chazz Palminteri and Christine Lahti.
- Two Mothers (Meine Mutter)
At age 58, award-winning filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim found out he was adopted. The search for his biological mother leads him-and the audience-on a dark and engrossing journey into a world of Nazi occupation, prison hospitals, and the SS.
- Sita Sings the Blues
Using a variety of colorful animation techniques, writer-director Nina Paley wittily interweaves the story of Sita, the leading lady of the ancient Sanskrit epic Ramayana, with the story of a modern American woman struggling to keep her marriage afloat.
- Worlds Apart (To Verdener)
The world of a dutiful daughter and Jehovah’s Witness unravels when she falls for a nonbeliever. She is torn between her conscience, faith, and passion-and forced to make a choice between a love and a family that are worlds apart. Based on a true story.
- Lake City
When her family is threatened by violent criminals, a mother and son must reconcile the past in order to save their home. Powerful performances by Sissy Spacek and Troy Garity highlight this potent drama, also featuring Dave Matthews and Rebecca Romijn.
- A Story of the Red Hills
The story of a disheartened dancer and a disabled boy–both of whose lives are transformed by the magic and power of Chhou, a traditional Bengali dance of great spectacle and color-is recounted movingly, if improbably, by a renowned Bollywood choreographer.
- Under Our Skin
Arguably the most overlooked and misdiagnosed ailment currently verging on epidemic throughout the United States, Lyme disease and the shocking controversies surrounding its identification and treatment are the focus of this provocative and often terrifying documentary.
- Baghdad High
Four classmates (Kurd, Christian, Shiite, and Sunni/Shiite) in Baghdad are given cameras to document their last year in high school, resulting in a rare firsthand view of what it’s like growing up where sectarian violence rages right outside the classroom window.
In the years following September 11, the black redaction stripe has become a familiar sight to most Americans. Secrecy probes the roots of the United States’ culture of classification-and its consequences.
- Zen of Bobby V
Former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine took his baseball expertise to Japan in 2004. This film follows a season in the life of an American who has become an admired icon-and a primary reason that baseball remains Japan’s most popular sport.
Tribeca Film Festival
57,000 Kilometers Between Us
Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus-ItchyFooted Mutha
The Dalai Lama: Peace and Prosperity
A Donkey in Lahore
Going on 13
Green Porno: Official site
Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot
I Think I Thought
Kassim the Dream
Love Live Long
My Marlon and Brando
A President to Remember: In the Company of John F. Kennedy
Sita Sings the Blues
A Story of the Red Hills
Toby Dammit’s Inspiration: Edgar Allen Poe’s Never Bet the Devil Your Head
Two Mothers (Meine Mutter)
Under Our Skin
When I Become Silent
The Zen of Bobby V
Recently, the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art held an innovative exhibition called blog.mode: addressing fashion. The ideas behind the show, which closed on April 13, were that (1) fashion is a living art form and, like all art, open to multiple interpretations and (2) it is important to promote critical and creative dialogues about fashion.
The exhibition included forty costumes and accessories that were recently acquired by the Met, and visitors were encouraged to share their reactions using computers set up in the Costume Institute galleries. You can see all of the clothes, and read comments on the exhibit blog (sadly, comments can no longer be added) by clicking the links below.
These are some of my favorites from the show, where the question wasn’t “Is it attractive?” or “Would I wear that?” (after all, most of these things were never intended for everyday wear) but rather “What does that garment say?”
In the mid-1990s, a New York City nightclub owner Don Hill decided to hold a weekly “gay night.” He hired a party planner who vowed to create an event that included everything he liked and nothing he didn’t, and they called the result SqueezeBox! (yes, the exclamation point is part of the name).
The Friday night SqueezeBox! parties offered uncensored, uninhibited entertainment and attracted a regular audience of drag queens, rock & rollers and celebrities. After several years, the parties had run their course.
The last SqueezeBox! event, a gala farewell party, was held on May 18, 2001, and filmmakers almost immediately began working on a documentary. Last night, the movie that was seven years in the making was shown as part of the Tribeca Film Festival.
Some of the SqueezeBox! regulars showed up in full party regalia and, for a few moments, the lobby and street outside the theater were transformed into the site of an impromptu drag performance, fashion show and family reunion.
It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark
Under the moonlight you see a sight
that almost stops your heart
You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes
‘Cause this is thriller, thriller night
And no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike
You know it’s thriller, thriller night
You’re fighting for your life inside a killer thriller tonight
A quarter of a century after it was released, Michael Jackson’s Thriller remains the best-selling album of all time. To acknowledge this landmark in music and, thanks to its accompanying video, in film, this evening the Tribeca Film Festival held an event called “Thriller Night.”
The open-air celebration of the ghoulish song included a zombie face-painting station, a “make your own Michael Jackson glove” booth, where participants dipped white gloves in glue and glitter, Thriller dance lessons and demonstrations, a Michael Jackson dance-alike contest, and screenings of the epic music video and the rarely seen documentary, The Making of Thriller.
Choreographer Vincent Peterson, who danced in the original video and now hosts the Bravo network television program Step It Up & Dance, hosted the event while the cast of his show danced onstage. The evening also included a special appearance by filmmaker and Thriller video director John Landis and an amusing, unplanned and not entirely friendly encounter between two Michael Jackson impersonators.
Tribeca Film Festival
Tribeca Thriller Night
New York Times: At the Drive-In Movie
The Epoch Times: 25th Anniversary Party for Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’
Entertainment Tonight: Celebrating the 25th anniversary of ‘Thriller’
MSNBC: MJ’s ‘Thriller’ still a classic after 25 years
Many people believe that this spot, at the intersection of Astor Place and Lafayette Street, marks the point where Greenwich Village turns into the East Village.
Today, this trio of buskers took advantage of the warm sunshine by playing their jazzy tunes near the entrance to the Astor Place subway station. When the musicians took a break, I asked whether their group had a name. “Three,” replied the sax player, “all in lower case.”
And so, here they are: three.
Central Park, the first public park built in America, attracts over 25 million visitors each year. Within its 843 acres, the Park contains 50 fountains, monuments and sculptures, 36 bridges and arches and more than 9,000 benches.
In 1986, the Central Park Conservancy devised an innovative way to raise the money required to maintain the benches. The program, called Adopt-A-Bench, provides donors with a small touch of immortality via engraved plaques affixed to benches.
The donor selects both the inscription and the bench on which it will be placed, and the Conservancy promises to care for the bench and surrounding plantings for the life of the Park. Most benches can be adopted for $7,500, but hand-made rustic benches in select locations can be adopted for $25,000.
To date about 2,000 benches have been adopted, and their plaques commemorate the joyous, humorous, tragic, puzzling, poignant and mundane moments that occur every day in this great park.
Last week we shivered and froze, but today New Yorkers are basking in unseasonably warm weather. In fact, this temporary respite from frigid conditions (predictions are for snow within a week) has broken the city’s records for high temperatures in January.
Here are a few images of New Yorkers relaxing under the bare branches and enjoying a brief preview of spring.
City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas
Children laughing, people passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you’ll hear
Silver bells, silver bells
Its Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas Day
- Ray Evans & Jay Livingston
This is Christmas Day in the city, and here are some scenes of New York’s 2007 holiday style.
Part of the Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival, Drumsong African Ballet Theatre burst upon the stage at Josie Robertson Plaza with a program called “We Are Griots.”
This international troupe of performance artists, led by husband and wife team Obara Wali Rahman Ndiaye and Andara Rahman Ndiaye, feature the West African drums and folk dances of Old Mali and Senegal.
The group, formerly known as Sabar Ak Ru Afriq Dance Theatre, exuberently combine drumming, dancing, singing and rhythmic chanting (griot) with the earthy humor, rituals and ceremonies of the Sabar and Senegambia peoples.
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