Pocky at the Park (and a Giveaway!)

December 10, 2015

There it was, on West 40th Street, parked directly across from Bryant Park. A bright red panel truck painted with large graphic designs.

Passers-by were approaching the truck, reaching up to the folding window cut into its side, taking something from the hand that appeared, and walking away.

It was the Pocky truck.

Pocky is a little Japanese treat created by Ezaki Glico in 1966. Dubbed “the world’s first chocolate stick snack,” Pocky is a slender, crisp cooky (biscuit) stick with one end covered in a sweet coating. The name was inspired by the crunching noise made while eating a Pocky, described in Japan as “pokkin pokkin.”

The original Pocky was dipped in chocolate, but it now comes in a variety of flavors including strawberry, chocolate banana, cookies & cream, almond crush, and green tea. While only a handful of flavors are sold in the US, Pocky lovers in other countries have access to different shapes and sizes, limited editions, and seasonal flavors.

The Chinese enjoy peach flavored Pocky, and blueberry dipped Pocky is popular in Thailand, but the greatest variety is available in Pocky’s home country, where the slim snack has developed an almost cult-like following.

In fact, in Japan, November 11 is designated as Pocky Day because the date, 11.11, looks like four Pockys in a row. The date has been certified by the Japan Anniversary Association and is registered as an official national commemorative day. On the most recent Pocky Day, Pocky broke Twitter’s record for the most tweeted brand name in a 24-hour period, racking up 1,843,733 tweets.

So, what was that about a giveaway?

To spread the joy of Pocky, I will be giving a pack of the original chocolate dipped cooky sticks to a Blather From Brooklyn reader. For a chance to crunch into a Pocky, leave a comment on this post. Want a second entry? Comment on a different post. Third entry? Same deal.

The winner will be randomly selected and contacted via email (so please be sure to provide your email address). Sorry, US only, as there seem to be some bizarre rules regarding the mailing of food overseas. The deadline for all entries is Sunday, December 27, 11:59pm (Eastern Time). Good luck!

——–
Update: The giveaway is closed. Many thanks to all who participated; I enjoyed reading your comments. The winner is  Jerry Marquardt! Thanks again; I plan to hold another giveaway soon.

Bright Red Pocky Truck
A bright red truck

Getting Pocky
People were approaching the truck

Something being distributed
Something was being distributed

Pocky anyone
It was a truck filled with Pocky

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More flavors available via Amazon.com (and in Japan)

Pocky Pack
Yes, I got a pack!


Pocky commercial

Pocky Christmas Concert
Pocky
Facebook: Pocky
Rocket News: Happy Pocky Day
Glico: Pocky Worldwide


Remembering Flight 587

November 12, 2015

On November 12, 2001, American Airlines Flight 587 departed JFK International Airport en route to the Dominican Republic. At 9:16 am, seconds after take off, the jet crashed into the community of Belle Harbor, killing all 260 passengers and crew and five Belle Harbor residents.

People from France, Haiti, Israel, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States and Puerto Rico were on the flight. Yet the majority were of Dominican descent, traveling to their homeland, or returning from visiting family. The plane struck the ground at the intersection of Beach 131st Street and Newport Avenue, where members of the fire and police departments (many of them off duty) and numerous volunteers rushed to the scene. Despite their heroic efforts, the crash of Flight 587 stands to date as the second largest aviation tragedy in U.S. history.

All New Yorkers were devastated by this terrible event, occurring only two months and a day after the World Trade Center attack. The communities of Washington Heights and Belle Harbor were uniquely affected. Many of the passengers lived in and around Washington Heights. Belle Harbor was home to many police officers and firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11.

These communities, together with the families of the victims and the city of New York, have created this monument to honor those who perished and ensure that we never forget those we have loved and lost.

Freddy Rodriguez, a Dominican-born New York City artist, designed the Flight 587 Memorial that stands near the beach in Rockaway, Queens. It was dedicated on November 12, 2006, the fifth anniversary of the day the packed Airbus A300 crashed in nearby Belle Harbor.

Placement of the Memorial was controversial: many of the victims’ relatives wanted it to be built at the scene of the disaster, while residents opposed the idea, saying it would create a constant reminder of the horror that had traumatized so many of them. The conflict was resolved by placing the structure within the boundaries of the neighborhood, but about 15 blocks from the crash site.

The Memorial stands at the end of a street full of shops and apartments near the Ocean Promenade. Its curving wall has window-like openings providing broken views of the Atlantic Ocean. Near the center of the wall is an open door angled towards the Dominican Republic. The rose granite blocks are inscribed with the names of all 265 of the victims. A large block is inscribed with the description of the incident (quoted above).

Directly above the door are the words of the late Pedro Mir, Poet Laureate of the Dominican Republic: “Después no quiero más que paz (Afterwards I want only peace).”

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Inscription on a nearby wall

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The memorial includes a plaza and bench

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The doorway faces the Dominican Republic

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Another view of the doorway

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Names of victims

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Victims

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A family

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Victims

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Victims

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Men, woman, children

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Victims

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A family

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A family

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Afterwards I want only peace

City of New York: Flight 587 Memorial Project
USA Today: Reaction Mixed on Flight 587 Memorial
Pedro Mir


Junior’s Birthday Cake

November 3, 2015

There I was, minding my own business in Downtown Brooklyn, when I was approached by a member of the NYPD.

“Hey!,” yelled the cop.

“Yes?”

“Do you like cheesecake?”

“Huh?”

“DO YOU LIKE CHEESECAKE?”

Despite momentarily wondering whether “cheesecake” might be a code word for some type of illegal activity, I admitted that I did, in fact, like cheesecake.

With that, the officer told me that to celebrate its 65th birthday, today Junior’s restaurant was selling cheesecake for 65 cents a slice.

To Brooklynites, there is no question about where Junior’s is located, what it serves or why a 65 cent slice of their cheesecake is worthy of a proclamation.

Junior’s restaurant was founded by Harry Rosen on the corner of Flatbush Avenue Extension and DeKalb Avenue on November 3, 1950. Rosen said that if his was going to be a great restaurant, he had to have a great cheesecake. He and his pastry chef began tinkering with formulas for the rich sweet until they found what they considered to be the perfect recipe. The pubic agreed and Junior’s cheesecakes have gone on to worldwide acclaim.

Junior’s is now in the hands of third-generation owner Alan Rosen. The little corner restaurant with the scrumptious dessert has become a local landmark. There are branches in Manhattan at Grand Central and Times Square and a location within the Foxwoods casino in Connecticut. There is a mail order business (said to sell over one million cakes per year), several cookbooks and scores of awards naming theirs the best cheesecake in the city. And a single wedge of Junior’s classic cheesecake sells for $6.95.

To celebrate its 65th anniversary, the restaurant announced that it was selling slices of its famous original New York plain cheesecake for just 65 cents—one per customer—only at the original Brooklyn location on Tuesday.

The line began forming before the sun rose. Celebratory signs and balloons were fastened to the restaurant’s famed orange exterior, crowd control barriers erected, security guards posted at the front door, a squadron of police officers stationed at the curb. Behind closed doors, thousands of cheesecakes were baked, sliced, packaged and bagged for the waiting crowd.

By the time doors opened at 6:30 a.m., the queue stretched down the block and around the corner. Some passersby called out that people had to be crazy to stand outside like that “just for a piece of cheesecake.” But they were wrong. It wasn’t “just cheesecake”—it was Junior’s.

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The crowd waits

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The deal

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One slice per customer

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Security guard keeps order

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The hard working countermen

cheesecake
The cake

Welcome to Junior’s! Remembering Brooklyn With Recipes and Memories from Its Favorite Restaurant
Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook
Junior’s Dessert Cookbook
Junior’s Home Cooking
Junior’s Restaurant
Brooklyn Eagle: Junior’s fans come in droves with loose change
NY Daily News: Slices of famous cheesecake for 65 cents
PIX11: Junior’s Cheesecake celebrates 65th anniversary
Foxwoods Casino


Halloween in the Heights

October 31, 2015

While their fellow New Yorkers complain about how the city is being destroyed by greedy developers, the residents of Brooklyn Heights bite their tongues. That’s because little has changed in the neighborhood in decades.

In 1965, the newly created New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Brooklyn Heights as city’s first historic district. Later that year the neighborhood was also named a National Historic Landmark and the following year, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

All of that governmental recognition and legal protection mean that Brooklyn Heights essentially looks the same today as it did 50 years ago—a mixture of brick homes, brownstones, grand mansions, and wooden houses (some dating back to the Civil War), punctuated with century-old shops and churches.

The area is beautiful at any time, but it takes on a special appeal when decorated for Halloween. These are streets where young trick-or-treaters still troop from door to door, and few homeowners neglect adding at least a touch of seasonal color to their stoops and thresholds.

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Pumpkins and cobwebs

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Skeleton and pumpkins

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Dried corn

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Tombstone and ghost

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“Boo” says the pumpkin

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Pumpkins and evergreen

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Pumpkins and cobwebs

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Skeletons, cobwebs, etc.

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Pumpkins and ivy

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Pumpkins and potted mums

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Pumpkins and squash

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Mums and pumpkins

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Pumpkins, cobwebs and a blue planter

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Witch, bats and ghosts

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Pumpkins and spider

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Pumpkin and metal pots

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Big pumpkins

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Pumpkins and skeletons

Curbed: How Brooklyn Heights Became the City’s First Historic District
National Park Service: Brooklyn Heights Historic District
National Historic Landmarks in New York
National Register of Historic Places
NYC: Brooklyn Heights


Seeing the Pope in the Park

September 25, 2015

Long before the pope’s plane touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Roman Catholic Church officials began meticulously planning every aspect of his two day trip to New York City. At the same time, law enforcement agencies—ranging from the local to federal levels—started coordinating what Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called the “largest security challenge ever.”

Pope Francis arrived late on the afternoon of the 24th and was immediately whisked to St. Patrick’s Cathedral where he led the evening prayer. The next morning he plunged into a whirlwind of activities around Manhattan, going to the East Side to address the United Nations General Assembly, heading downtown to hold a multi-religious service at 9/11 the Memorial and Museum, driving uptown for a visit with students at Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem, traveling in a motorcade through Central Park and then down to a Mass at Madison Square Garden.

Admission to all of the events involving the pope was restricted; at no point could someone simply wander over to a school or church to catch a glimpse of the pontiff. Tickets to the religious services were distributed by politicians and priests, while city officials conducted a free lottery for those wishing to view the pope’s procession through Central Park.

On September 10, 40,000 area residents were notified by phone and email that they’d each won a pair of tickets to see the motorcade. The announcements were accompanied by detailed instructions, warnings and restrictions, including a lengthy list of prohibited items:

  • Alcohol
  • Aerosol containers
  • Amplified sound devices
  • Animals other than service and guide animals
  • Balloons
  • Bicycles, scooters and skateboards
  • Blankets
  • Backpacks
  • Chairs
  • Coolers
  • Drones and other unmanned aircraft systems
  • Flags
  • Glass, thermal and metal containers
  • Large bags
  • Laser pointers
  • Mace and pepper spray
  • Musical instruments
  • Posters
  • Selfie sticks
  • Signs and supports for signs and placards
  • Unlicensed vending
  • Umbrellas 
  • Weapons, explosives and ammunition

Those selected in the giveaway were assigned to color-coded park entrances (red, yellow, green) and told to arrive, bearing their tickets, before 3:00 p.m. to ensure that they’d pass through security in time to see the pontiff drive by at 5:30.

The southern end of the Park was enclosed behind high fences while security gates and tents were erected near Columbus Circle. The streets surrounding Central Park were closed to traffic. Thousands of law enforcement officers, both uniformed and in plain clothes, were deployed throughout the area. Although the gates weren’t scheduled to open until 11:00, anxious ticket holders began arriving at the barricades before dawn and patiently waited for hours until they were able to move forward.

The crowd slowly passed through airport-style security checks conducted by Transportation Security Administration agents including X-rays, inspection of electronic devices and sniffs from dogs trained to detect explosives.  Upon entering the Park, the faithful sprinted towards the metal barriers lining the roadways.

People jockeyed for position, trying to get as close to the front as possible, then settled in for the day. At one point, someone in the crowd cried, “Look up!” All heads turned to see that, directly above the path that the pope would take, a tiny rainbow had appeared above.

As observers remarked on the fact that the day had been clear and almost cloudless (“Imagine, a rainbow without rain!”), the colored strip grew wider, longer and bent into an upside down arc. “It looks like a smile,” some said. Others thought that it was a sacred sign, a blessing, a miracle. After a few minutes, the rainbow faded away.

Finally, a rumble was heard in the distance and a fleet of slowly moving vehicles, all of them flashing lights, appeared. A convoy of motorcycles, armored trucks, NYPD vans, limousines rolled past as excitement in the crowd surged. An open bed truck, its rear filled with photographers and camera operators clamoring for shots, was directly in front of the sight all were awaiting: the famed white Popemobile.

Inside stood the pontiff, smiling and waving his hand to the faithful. The vehicle drove slowly through the Park without pausing. Pope Francis and his guards moved up the roadway and drove out of sight, headed south to Madison Square Garden, where he celebrated Mass and delivered a homily that included references to urban life.

Living in a big city is not always easy. A multicultural context presents many complex challenges. Yet big cities are a reminder of the hidden riches present in our world: in the diversity of its cultures, traditions and historical experiences. In the variety of its languages, costumes and cuisine. Big cities bring together all the different ways which we human beings have discovered to express the meaning of life, wherever we may be.

But big cities also conceal the faces of all those people who don’t appear to belong, or are second-class citizens. In big cities, beneath the roar of traffic, beneath “the rapid pace of change”, so many faces pass by unnoticed because they have no “right” to be there, no right to be part of the city. They are the foreigners, the children who go without schooling, those deprived of medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly.

These people stand at the edges of our great avenues, in our streets, in deafening anonymity. They become part of an urban landscape which is more and more taken for granted, in our eyes, and especially in our hearts.

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Mural overlooking Penn Station

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Sign at Pizza Parlor

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Banner on deli

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Pope marshmallows

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Selling vatican flags

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Vendor with football pope t-shirts

Pope Ticket
Ticket to the green zone

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Posted instructions for ticket holders

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Warning sign on the fence

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Reminder about banned items

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Notice about Secret Service dogs

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First arrivals at the barriers

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TSA checkpoint tents

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Waiting for security inspection

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Standing against the barricades

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Officer reminding the crowd to be patient

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A tiny spectator

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Visitors displaying flags and banners

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A tiny strip of rainbow appeared directly overhead

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The rainbow grew into an upside-down arc bisected by a strip of cloud

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He arrived, waved, and drove on

New York City: Pope Francis Visits New York City
Archdiocese of Washington: Walk With FrancisPope Francis Visit
NBC 4: Officials: Upcoming Papal Visit to NYC ‘Largest Security Challenge Ever’ for NYPD
NY Times: Pope Francis, ‘People’s Pope,’ Is Security Teams’ Headache
NY Times: Pope Francis in America
NY Times: After Lottery in New York to See Pope Francis, Some Winners Scalp Tickets Online
Catholic to the Max: Madison Square Garden Mass
National September 11 Memorial & Museum
Madison Square Garden
Our Lady Queen of Angels School


Selling the Bear Necessities

August 17, 2015

PinkyOtto, a women’s clothing store with several locations in New York City, is advertised as “a fun-filled, charming place for stylish girls.”

Their whimsical window displays include mannequins topped with teddy bear heads. These fashion figures are in the Flatiron District store at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street.

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PinkyOtto
Teddy Bears


A Neighborhood Tragedy

August 11, 2015

I was surprised to see the pastry shop closed, and at first I thought that some kind of itinerant florist was selling bouquets in front of their lowered metal gate.

Then I noticed a sign taped to the gate and crossed the street to read it. That was how I learned that Muyassar Moustapha, the man who ran the shop with his brothers, had been killed by a speeding motorist.

Oriental Pastry, along with the family that operates it, has been a Brooklyn fixture for decades. Walking through its doors is akin to taking a trip into the past or a foreign land, with heaps of spices and dried fruits spilling from bins and barrels, a small glass case filled with fragrant, freshly baked sweet and savory pastries, a revolving selection of purring resident cats, and friendly, caring proprietors.

As I gazed at the bouquets arrayed on the sidewalk, two neighborhood boys, both about 10 years old, came over to talk. They asked whether I’d known the man who died. Yes, I had.

Tremulously, one boy worried aloud about what would happen to the cats that lived in the store. They’ll be OK, I told the boys. They’ll still have good lives. But they’ll remember Mr. Moustapha, and they’ll miss him— just as we all will.

Flowers in front of the shop.

The sign.

Gothamist: Owner Of Oriental Pastry In Cobble Hill Reportedly Killed By Driver
Gothamist: Cobble Hill Mourns
Patch: Brooklyn Pedestrian Struck, Killed by Mercedes-Benz
NY Daily News: Man, 66, Mowed Down
Yelp: Oriental Pastry & Grocery


The Brooklyn Bridge Park Pop-Up Pool and Beach

July 7, 2015

Wedged behind a construction fence, in a weedy corner of Brooklyn Bridge Park between Pier One and Pier Two, is one of the city’s secret delights: a pop-up pool and beach.

If you aren’t familiar with the term “pop-up,” it is used to indicate that something (a shop, restaurant, etc.) is open for an intentionally temporary period. The pop-up pool and beach were built here with the understanding that they would be demolished after five years.

These summer attractions stand beside a luxury hotel and condominium project, known as Pierhouse, which is currently under construction. As Pierhouse nears completion, the land on which the pool and beach now stand will be integrated into the surrounding park. Until that happens, they offer a perfect respite from the heat and humidity of a New York summer.

The primary feature of the tiny resort is a fenced-in blue pool that measures 30 by 50 feet and is only three to three and a half feet deep. This is a wading pool, not a swimming pool, and it is the perfect depth for young children. No electronics, food, glass, or printed materials are allowed beyond the fence (hence, I could not take any photos from inside the pool). There are also changing rooms, communal showers and toilet areas.

On the other side of pool’s fence is a sparklingly clean sandy beach complete with lounge chairs, shady umbrellas, an assortment of sand toys, balls and plastic spades and a snack bar that serves up lemonade, beer, chips and sandwiches. Aside from the food and drink, everything at the pool and beach are free.

The rules here are strictly enforced and those who want to enter the pool area are inspected by lifeguards to ensure that they comply with the clothing and health requirements. If you want to go, the pool is open daily, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m, from June 26 until September 7.

Wristbands are required for entry to the pool, and they are distributed hourly on a first-come, first-served basis. Since the pool’s capacity is only 60, it is wise to arrive early before the allotted number of wristbands are taken.

Each wristband entitles the wearer to a 45-minute session in the pool. After each bathing period, the pool is closed and cleaned for the next wave of waders, splashers and sun-worshippers.

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The pool is almost impossible to see from the park

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The entryway is in the weeds

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The beach is small but lively

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The view of lower Manhattan is spectacular

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Everything is provided for visitors

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The pool has rules

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A glimpse through the fence

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Another view of the pool

Brooklyn Bridge Park: Pop-Up Pool Rules
Lizzmonade Concession Stand at the Pop-Up PoolBrooklyn Bridge Park: Pop-Up Pool
NYC Parks: Brooklyn Bridge Park Pop-Up Pool
Brooklyn Bridge Park Project Development
DNA Info: Visitors Pop In to Brooklyn’s New Pop-Up Pool
Pierhouse
The Brooklyn Paper: Parks and declarations: Judge gives Pier 1 condos and hotel the all-clear
Curbed: Judge Rules, Again, That Pierhouse Can Rise to Its Full Height
Curbed: Brooklyn Bridge-Blocking Pierhouse Is Allowed to Keep Rising
Curbed: First Look Inside Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pierhouse Condo


That Didn’t Take Long

April 13, 2015

Well, that didn’t take long. On April 3, Hillary Clinton announced that she would be locating her presidential campaign headquarters at 1 Pierrepont Plaza in Brooklyn.

Today, vendors were selling t-shirts with the slogan “Brooklyn Loves Hillary” on Court Street in Downtown Brooklyn.

Politics may sometimes be slow, but capitalism and consumerism move quickly — at least, that’s how it works in Brooklyn.

Hello Brooklyn shirt.

Brooklyn Loves Hillary shirt.

Time: Hillary Clinton Leases Office Space in Brooklyn
LA Times: Hillary Clinton bases campaign headquarters in Brooklyn
Hillary Clinton campaign headquarters to be based in Brooklyn


‘Tis Tartan Day

April 11, 2015

As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

On April 6, 1320, Bernard of Kilwinning wrote a letter to the Pope, proclaiming Scotland as an independent, sovereign state. Bernard was then the head of Arbroath Abbey, a monastery along the coast of the North Sea, and the document, written in Latin and sealed by eight earls and about forty barons, became known as the Declaration of Arbroath.

More than six hundred and fifty years later, a group of New Yorkers chose the date of Bernard’s missive to celebrate their Scottish heritage. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and by 1998 the U.S. Senate recognized Scottish-Americans’ contributions to the nation by declaring April 6 as National Tartan Day.

The Scots-centric festivities have grown and become a yearly event, dubbed Tartan Week, which honors all things related to the land once known as Caledonia. The highlight of the week is the loud and colorful Tartan Day Parade.

In the first New York Tartan Day Parade, a small, loosely organized group marched across the Upper East Side, from the British Consulate to the United Nations, while clad in kilts and playing bagpipes.

Today the 17th annual New York Tartan Day Parade was held on Sixth Avenue. It featured thousands of bagpipers, marchers, dancers, dogs and representatives of organizations from all over the world who strode up the street, delighting all the Scots and “temporary, honorary Scots” who lined the route in Midtown Manhattan.

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No Sixth Avenue bus today

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Marchers taking a break

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Shamrock tattoo

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Ready to march

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Marching and waving

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Bearskin hat

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Her first time marching

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Temporary, honorary Scot

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Carrying a staff

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Waving the flag

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Pipers chatting before the parade

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Bagpipers practicing

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Tartan Day Parade bus

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Marcher meets officer

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The Westie and Scottie Pack

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Clan MacLare

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Waving flags

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Girls leading the pipers

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Marching and piping

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The Grand Marshal isn’t as interesting as his phone

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Playing at 46th Street

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West Point Cadet Corps

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Seasoned marchers

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Pipers and drummers

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Best seat in town

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Greenwich Pipe Band

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Clan Chattan Confederation, Clan McBean, Clan Shaw

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Happy marchers

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Clan Kincaid

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Marching trio

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Scotland’s most famous citizen

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It’s Nessie!

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Clan Munro Association, Thailand

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If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap

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American Scottish Foundation

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Folk dancers

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NYC Police Band

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University of Strathcylde

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Marchers laughing

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Tri-County Pipe Band

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Dog in a kilt

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Atlantic Watch Pipes & Drums

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Group wearing thistle t-shirts

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Sauntering on the sidewalk after the parade

The National Archives of Scotland: The Declaration of Arbroath
Historic Environment Scotland: Arbroath Abbey
Scotland’s National Tourist Board: Arbroath Abbey
Undiscovered Scotland Bernard of Kilwining
New York Tartan Day Parade
NYC Tartan Week
St. Andrew’s Society of the State of New York
New York Caledonian Club
American-Scottish Foundation


SWAN Day Screening

March 28, 2015

And in remembering a road sign
I am remembering a girl when I was young
And we said, “These songs are true
These days are ours
These tears are free”

— Paul Simon, Obvious Child

This is the eighth anniversary of Support Women Artists Now Day (SWAN Day). Created in 2007 by film critic Jan Lisa Huttner and arts administrator Martha Richards, SWAN Day “helps people imagine what the world might be like if women’s art and perspectives were fully integrated into all of our lives.”

While the official date of SWAN Day is March 28, activities celebrating women in the arts take place throughout this month and the next, following the founders’ statement that, “The spirit of SWAN events is far more important than the exact dates.”

In New York, several groups, including New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT), the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the School of Visual Arts Film department, the Women in Arts and Media Coalition, and HerFlix, organized a special SWAN Day movie event: a special screening of Obvious Child, a critically acclaimed romantic comedy that was produced, directed, and written by women.

The film was followed by a reception and a Q&A session with director Gillian Robespierre and Caren Spruch, a member of the Board of Directors of NYWIFT.

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SWAN Day sticker

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SVA Theater

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Introducing the screening

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Q&A with Gillian Robespierre and Caren Spruch

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Gillian Robespierre

WomenARTS; SWAN Day
SWAN Day 2015 Calendar
SWAN Day Screening and Reception
Obvious Child
Wikipedia: Gillian Robespierre
The Dissolve: Gillian Robespierre and Jenny Slate on Finding Obvious Child’s Voice
Paul Simon: Obvious Child
The Straight Dope: Paul Simon’s The Obvious Child –What Does it Mean?
New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT)
Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)
School of Visual Arts Film Department
Women in Arts and Media Coalition
HerFlix


Upside Down Hello

February 28, 2015

While strolling along East 23rd Street in Manhattan I notice a man coming towards me. He is walking briskly, purposefully, while wordlessly carrying a child upside down.

I look into the child’s eyes and call out, “Hello!”

“Hello!,” comes the reply.

We draw closer. We are nearly abreast.

“Upside down hello!,” I say.

“Upside down hello,” responds the child.

And then we begin to pass each other.

“Upside down goodbye!,” I exclaim.

“Upside down goodbye!,” the child echoes, as he and his silent beast of burden head west and I continue to walk towards the east.

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Marathon Meal

October 31, 2014

I get all the exercise I need by jumping to conclusions, climbing the walls, bending over backwards, sticking my neck out, pulling out all the stops, and pushing my luck.

It’s an old joke. And while I don’t avoid all forms of exercise, I am not, by any means, a marathon runner. So when a stranger offered me a VIP ticket to the New York City Marathon Eve Dinner, I didn’t know what to expect.

The dinner, held in an enormous white tent erected inside Central Park, was open only to ticket holders. My VIP ticket meant that I was able to walk past the long line of runners waiting in the chilly night air.

As it turns out, the Marathon Eve Dinner is a beloved tradition of the race that was first organized in 1970 by Fred Lebow and Vincent Chiappetta, co-presidents of the New York Road Runners Club. That year, one hundred and twenty-seven men ran around Central Park and 55 crossed the finish line.

Today, New York’s is the largest marathon in the world, with over 50,000 participants from around the world. The current course goes through all five of the city’s boroughs, where an estimated two million spectators line the streets, highways, and bridges that are closed for the race.

Because authorities say that a large intake of carbohydrate rich foods before a marathon can increase stamina and enhance performance, the night’s menu featured salad, two pasta dishes, and beer—all with unlimited refills.

While they listened to speeches, watched presentations and ate and drank, the polyglot crowd laughed, exchanged tips, recounted past races, and formed friendships. And then, quickly, the beer and spaghetti-filled runners withdrew to their hotel rooms, eager to get some sleep and make it to the starting line early in the morning.

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VIP ticket

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Inside the tent

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Distributing dishes and utensils

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Aproned server

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Filling dishes

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Making their way to tables

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Diners in action

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The meal

New York Marathon
TCS New York City Marathon Eve Dinner
Runner’s World: How to Carb-Load for Marathon Week


Emily With a Ukulele Bag Lives in Brooklyn Heights

October 27, 2014

It is just an ordinary Brooklyn bodega near a subway station in Brooklyn Heights.

But today, as I passed the store, I noticed a sheet of paper taped to the front window. I read what it said, then sought out a worker and asked him for an explanation. This is what he told me:

A Chinese guy sees this girl, he talks to her. He knows she live around here. He look for her but he can’t find her. So he write that … poem. He put it on the ATM, on the front, in the back. He put it many places. He thinks maybe she see it.

He didn’t put his phone number on it.

He put it on the ATM.

So what happened?

She see it. She take from ATM machine. 

Was this today?

No, no, one week ago. 

And?

I don’t see her again. I never see him. But I think he love her. 

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Sign in the window

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The poem


Thanks, But What Kind of Prayer Books Were Those?

September 23, 2014

The holiest days in the Jewish year are fast approaching.

This sign, hanging in the window of a day care center on Brooklyn’s Montague Street, advertises services available to the observant during the next two weeks.

I can’t speak to the accuracy of the Hebrew used in their prayer books, but they might want to double-check the Engligh.

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Chabad of Brooklyn Heights
Congregation B’nai Avraham


I Shudder to Think …

August 30, 2014

I was walking along 15th Street when something caught my eye — a spot of bright blue that seemed out of place on the sidewalk in front of a toy store.

I stepped closer to investigate. A blue bowl and a basket that were labelled with small paper tags.

However, the words I read gave me pause. I know that orange juice is made from oranges, and apple juice contains nothing but apples.  But what is the stuff in that blue bowl, and how was it made?

I shudder to think.

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A spot of blue on the sidewalk

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A closer investigation

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What is in that bowl?

Kidding Around


ETHEL at The Winter Garden

June 24, 2014

“Don’t call it a string quartet. It’s a band.”

— Steve Smith, The New York Times

If the words ‘string quartet’ conjure up an image of stuffy, somber classical music, then you haven’t met ETHEL.

ETHEL is a group of string instrument players who, while based in the traditions of classical music, incorporate elements of jazz, blues, folk, post-rock and neo-classical music in their performances. The musicians perform new, original work as well as pieces by prominent contemporary composers, many of them written especially for the group.

ETHEL’s unconventional approach to string music reflects the musical backgrounds of its members: In addition to leading orchestras, they have played and recorded with rockers Sheryl Crow, Roger Daltrey, Tom Verlaine, Thomas Dolby, Joe Jackson, David Byrne, Jill Sobule, and Todd Rundgren. The band’s shows include improvisation, choreography, lighting, and video displays.

Tonight the River to River Festival featured ETHEL and guest guitarist Kaki King in a performance of “…And Other Stories,” in the Winter Garden Atrium at Brookfield Place.

The program included an interpretation of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #6 as well as works from ETHEL’s repertoire, original compositions by Kaki King, and a rearrangement of Serbian composer Aleksandra Vrebalov’s Logbook.

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Kaki King
ETHEL performs “…And Other Stories” with Kaki King at the River to River Festival
Facebook: ETHEL


Bang On a Can Marathon

June 22, 2014

Founded in 1987, Bang on a Can is an organization dedicated to bringing new music to new audiences. Based in New York, Bang on a Can performs, presents, and records diverse musical works worldwide.

They are best known for their annual Marathon Concerts, usually performed in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. During a Marathan, an eclectic mix of pieces are performed one after the other. Some audience members stay for the entire Marathon, while others feel free to wander in and out during a program that can last anywhere from 12 – 27 hours.

This year’s Marathon, held once again at the Winter Garden, lasted nearly 13 hours and included the following artists and compositions:

  • Great Noise Ensemble
    Armando Bayolo: Caprichos
    Carlos Carrillo: De la brevedad de la vida
  • Adrianna Mateo, violin
    Molly Joyce: Lean Back and Release
  • Great Noise Ensemble
    Marc Mellits: Machine V from 5 Machines
  • Bearthoven
    Brooks Frederickson: Undertoad
  • Anonymous 4
    David Lang: love fail (selections)
  • Dawn of Midi
    Amino Belyamani and Aakaash Israni: Excerpt from Dysnomia
  • Roomful of Teeth
    Judd Greenstein: AEIOU
    Caroline Shaw: Allemande and Sarabande from Partita for 8 Voices
  • Contemporaneous
    Andrew Norman: Try
  • Meredith Monk & Theo Bleckmann
    Meredith Monk: Facing North
  • Jherek Bischoff & Contemporaneous
    Jherek Bischoff: Works TBA
  • Meredith Monk, Theo Bleckmann, & friends
    Meredith Monk: Panda Chant II from The Games
  • Jace Clayton, electronics; David Friend, Emily Manzo, piano; Arooj Aftab, voice
    Julius Eastman and Jace Clayton: Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner
  • Bang on a Can All-Stars
    JG Thirlwell: Anabiosis
    Paula Matthusen: ontology of an echo
    Julia Wolfe: Big Beautiful Dark & Scary
  • So Percussion
    Bryce Dessner: Music for Wood and Strings
  • Bang on a Can All-Stars & friends
    Louis Andriessen: Hoketus
  • Mantra Percussion
    Michael Gordon: Timber

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Bang On a Can
Band On a Can Marathon
NY Times: Eight Hours of Free Music at Sunday’s Bang on a Can Marathon


Make Music New York

June 21, 2014

Now in its eighth year, Make Music New York is a city-wide musical celebration held annually on June 21st, the summer solstice.

The Make Music New York Festival (also known as the Summer Solstice Music Festival) was inspired by France’s “Fête de la Musique,” a national musical holiday launched on June 21, 1982. The success of that first Fête soon inspired other nations to host their own summer solstice music festivals.

The idea quickly spread and today, more than 100 countries around the world sponsor associated musical events, all of them open to both amateur and professional musicians playing in every musical genre.

This year, Make Music New York includes 1,350 free performances in public and private venues throughout the five boroughs. Participation is open to all, regardless of musical experience or style, and passersby are encouraged to join in the fun.

I was able to make it to only a single concert this year, but it was a great one: the Privia Piano Bar, a traveling show on a pickup truck. The moving venue, sponsored by Casio Keyboards, made several stops around the city. While Simon Mulligan played in the back of the truck, singer Lolita Jackson took to the sidewalk and encouraged onlookers to join her in the music of one of New York’s favorite musicians, Billy Joel.

If you missed the summer solstice concert, don’t worry; the same group sponsors a second festival, Make Music Winter, on December 21st, the winter solstice.

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The official poster by Josh Gosfield

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The song list

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The MC and star, Miss Lolita Jackson

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When he began to sing the crowd went wild

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Simon Mulligan, the piano man

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A passerby decides to sing

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Another passerby joining in the fun

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He can’t resist the opportunity

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Rocking on the sidewalk

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Impromptu trio

Make Music New York
Make Music New York Concert Map
Privia Piano Bar
Fête de la Musique
Billboard: From Billy Joel Sing-Along to Rhythm on Rikers


Big Joy at the New York Public Library

June 18, 2014

Tonight, in honor of the DVD release of the documentary BIG JOY: The Adventures of James Broughton, the New York Public Library (NYPL) hosted a special celebration.

While filmmaker/poet/author/teacher James Broughton had a notable following among the avant-garde during his lifetime, today he is known to many only through the “warts and all” biopic, BIG JOY.  

The film traces his life from his painful childhood in Modesto, California, through his career as an acclaimed underground filmmaker and poet, his tumultuous marriage and fatherhood, his sudden emergence (at the age of 61) as a gay man, his death at age 85 and his legacy.

Prolifically creative, Broughton made 23 experimental films, several of which won awards a film festivals, and wrote 23 books of prose and poetry. In his final years, Broughton earned a reputation as “the bard of the modern gay rights movement” and was known by his frequently-uttered slogans, “follow your own weird” and “when in doubt, twirl.”

 

I was born in the San Joaquin town of Modesto,

on the Tuolomne River of Stanislaus County

in the state of California.

My grandfathers were bankers, and so was my father.

But my mother wanted me to become a surgeon.

However, one night when I was 3 years old

I was awakened by a glittering stranger

who told me I was a poet and always would be

and never to fear being alone or being laughed at.

— James Broughton

 

The NYPL program included a reception, where it was possible to view some of Broughton’s surprisingly-charming short films, an introduction by cabaret star Justin Vivian Bond, and a discussion with experimental film experts Jon Gartenberg, Robert Haller, and Jim Hubbard.

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The official poster

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Justin Vivian Bond

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On the screen

Big Joy: The Film
All About James Broughton
NYPL: The Adventures of James Broughton
Justin Vivian Bond
Jon Gartenberg
Robert Haller
Jim Hubbard


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