West Indies at Borough Hall

June 28, 2006

This evening, commuters emerging from busses and subways near Borough Hall were greeted by the sound of beating drums, shaking maracas and resonating gourds. It was an outdoor concert organized by the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, the folks responsible for the annual Labor Day parade on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway.

Dancer on stilts Posted by Picasa

Two dancers on stilts kicking backwards in unison Posted by Picasa

Playing the guitar Posted by Picasa

Orange and white feathers Posted by Picasa

Pink and orange feathers Posted by Picasa

Young dancer Posted by Picasa

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Association

  • Pride Parade 2006

    June 25, 2006

    When it comes to homosexuality, most gay organizations are determined to project an image of normalcy in which all gay men are Will Truman and all lesbians Ellen DeGeneres.

    — Riki Wilchins

    This massive last-Sunday-in-June event has always been characterized by a mixture of flamboyance and defiance. Initially known as the “Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day March,” it began as a way to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots – the singular event that sparked the gay rights movement.

    The Stonewall Riots (also known as the Stonewall Rebellion) took place over several nights in June 1969. The riots started during what was supposed to be a routine police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar on Christopher Street. According to Martin Duberman’s book, Stonewall, the rebellion was sparked when a police officer prodded drag queen and incipient transgender activist Sylvia Rivera with a nightstick and she responded by throwing a bottle at him.

    A melee ensued and the angry crowd overwhelmed the surprised officers who’d expected the crowd at the Stonewall, like all their predecessors, to quietly enter the paddy wagon and submit to arrests for “indecency.” When passers-by and patrons of other bars in the neighborhood joined the fight, the NYPD brought in reinforcements and riot gear. Before it was over, a crowd of 2,000 protestors fought 400 police officers. Once unleashed, their sense of injustice and outrage quickly led to the formation of several gay rights organizations.

    Over the years, the anger and rebellion that fomented the gay rights movement have been largely replaced – at least in the mainstream media – by a more conservative message, a more inclusive, celebratory and conciliatory tone. The march turned into a parade, the words “Liberation” and “Freedom” were replaced with “Pride,” the focus on transgender rights and concerns was replaced by the fight for legalized gay marriage.

    But this year, the rage and outrageousness that fueled the movement’s beginnings returned to the front pages and parade-goers’ conscienceness. On June 11, popular drag performer and Billboard chart-topping singer Kevin Aviance was attacked outside a gay bar in the East Village. He was robbed and savagely beaten by a group of men who yelled “Kill the faggot” and pelted him with garbage.

    Suffering from a broken jaw and requiring extensive physical therapy, it appeared that he would be unable to participate, as scheduled, in the parade’s after-party.

    However, two days before the march he told the New York Post, “I am getting my mouth unwired for one day, so that I can be done up for the Gay Pride Day Parade on Sunday.” And so he did. Today he made a triumphant return to the public eye, riding Hannibal-like on the back of an elephant while waving to the ecstatic, cheering, wildly proud crowd.

    Gay bashers can kiss my ass Posted by Picasa

    From the LGBT Community Center Posted by Picasa

    Baby blue accessories Posted by Picasa

    Dressed in MetroCards Posted by Picasa

    Pink hat Posted by Picasa

    The Barry Z Show: 15 years of great TV Posted by Picasa

    The colors of Brazil Posted by Picasa

    Puerto Rico Posted by Picasa

    Purple and gold Posted by Picasa

    Red and yellow Posted by Picasa

    From the Center Posted by Picasa

    Svedka Vodka float Posted by Picasa

    Lady Bunny for Svedka Vodka Posted by Picasa

    Rainbow Mohawk Posted by Picasa

    Matching bandana & motorcycle Posted by Picasa

    American by birth, biker by choice Posted by Picasa

    Evita, direct from Argentina Posted by Picasa

    Dancing men in lederhosen Posted by Picasa

    CrossDressers International Posted by Picasa

    Big water gun Posted by Picasa

    Radio station KTU 103.5 float Posted by Picasa

    Columbia float Posted by Picasa

    Another Gay Movie Posted by Picasa

    Just out of the hospital, Kevin Aviance Posted by Picasa

    Kevin Aviance Posted by Picasa

  • Heritage of Pride
  • Stonewall Veteran’s Association
  • Sylvia Rivera: 1951-2002
  • Riki Wilchins: In Memory of Sylvia Rivera
  • Queenmother: Kevin Aviance
  • Drag Queen Beaten in E. Village Horror
  • Back With Pride
  • New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project

  • Mermaids in The Rain

    June 24, 2006

    The Northeast part of the United States has been pelted with rain for days, but regardless of the weather, local Mermaids were determined to hold their parade today on the streets of Coney Island.

    There were few drizzles during the 24th Annual Mermaid Parade, but the crowds in the streets were unusually sparse, the skies were gray, some of the floats were draped with tarpulins and more than one participant carried an umbrella. And when the marching (and dancing, strutting, singing and swinging) stopped, the skies opened. Good thing that all mermaids love water.

    The Mermaid Parade Posted by Picasa

    The “mayor” of Coney Island banging his own drum Posted by Picasa

    East Village Sea Monster Marching Band Posted by Picasa

    Chef vs. lobster Posted by Picasa

    Mermaid and Captain Posted by Picasa

    Sea-Funk All Star Band Posted by Picasa

    Bride and Grouper with attendants Posted by Picasa

    Burleque queen Little Brooklyn & her boyfriend Posted by Picasa

    Republi-Sea-Monster Posted by Picasa

    Rockin’ little mer-boy Posted by Picasa

    Patriotic mermaid Posted by Picasa

    Marilyn Mermaid Posted by Picasa

    Blue mermaid Posted by Picasa

    Wearing pink on the Boardwalk Posted by Picasa

    Tatooed mermaid Posted by Picasa

    Mermaid and (soon-to-be) mer-mom Posted by Picasa

    Red & white fish Posted by Picasa

    Wearing the official parade hat Posted by Picasa

    Man, dog & parrot Posted by Picasa

    Man-eating goldfish Posted by Picasa

    Bambi the Mermaid and indy director Abel Ferrera Posted by Picasa

    Ginger & the Skipper (sans Gilligan) Posted by Picasa

    Elvis of the sea Posted by Picasa

    New York’s Finest Posted by Picasa

    Trio of New York’s Finest Posted by Picasa

    After the parade, a lone mermaid stands in the rain Posted by Picasa

  • Mermaid Parade
  • Costume Network
  • Kostume Kult
  • Little Brooklyn
  • Bambi The Mermaid
  • Nathan’s

  • A brief tour of As-tour-ia

    June 19, 2006

    Astoria has always been the home to strivers and dreamers. In the early 1800s the village of Hallet’s Cove was re-named Astoria in hopes that John Jacob Astor, the first millionaire in the United States, would invest there. Although he reportedly never set foot in Astoria, America’s richest man eventually gave the village $500 and the name stuck.

    This northwestern section of Queens, where three bridges – the Queensboro, the Triborough, and the Hell Gate – cross the East River, is the traditional center of Greek life in America. Today, long-time residents are joined by newcomers from around the world and Astoria has become one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the nation, filled with those pursuing their own American dreams.

    Triborough Bridge seen from inside the subway station Posted by Picasa

    View from subway station stairs Posted by Picasa

    Welcome to the neighborhood Posted by Picasa

    We speak German, Polish, Spanish, French, Greek Posted by Picasa

    Pedestrian and sidewalk mural Posted by Picasa

    Selecting oranges outside of a Greek market Posted by Picasa

    A proud gardener tending his fig trees Posted by Picasa

    In a quiet corner of the Triborough Bridge Playground Posted by Picasa

    Resting in the shade Posted by Picasa

    Chatting on the grass in Astoria Park Posted by Picasa

    A sleepy snuggle in the park Posted by Picasa

    View of Riker’s Island Posted by Picasa

    Bridge over the East River Posted by Picasa

    Chilling inside the Bohemian Beer Garden Posted by Picasa

    Security guard at Bohemian Beer Garden Posted by Picasa

    Statue of Socrates Posted by Picasa

    Athena, gift from the people of Athens, Greece Posted by Picasa

  • Queens Borough President
  • Central Astoria LDC
  • Astorians
  • Joey in Astoria
  • Greater Astoria Historical Society
  • Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden
  • Freeze Peach Cafe

  • Welcome to the Meow Mix House

    June 16, 2006

    Well we’re movin’ on up
    To the East Side
    To a dee-luxe apartment in the sky
    We’re movin’ on up
    To the East Side
    We’ve finally got a piece of the pie

    — Ja’net DuBois and Jeff Barry
    Theme song to “The Jeffersons”

    It wasn’t that long ago that they were homeless and hopeless, scrounging around in garbage cans and sleeping in the streets. Now these cats are ensconced in a duplex apartment on one of the city’s toniest streets. Welcome to the Meow Mix House.

    10 cats from shelters around the country were brought to New York to share the Meow Mix House – a storefront that has been temporarily transformed into a kitty dream home. The cats-in-residence are participating in what’s being called “the world’s first cat reality show.” All the cats will be adopted and receive a one-year supply of Meow Mix cat food. The “winner” in will also be given “a job working for The Meow Mix Company as Feline Vice President of Research and Development.”

    Of course it is silly, and it is intended to sell a lot of cat food, but the Meow Mix House also raises awareness of animal welfare and, for the week it remains at the corner of Madison Avenue and 49th Street, the house’s residents are amusing, enchanting and entertaining their fellow East Siders.

    Exterior view Posted by Picasa

    New Yorkers stopping in their tracks Posted by Picasa

    Napping on the couch Posted by Picasa

    Descending from the loft Posted by Picasa

    Grabbing a snack Posted by Picasa

    Sinking to a new low Posted by Picasa

    Posing for passers-by Posted by Picasa

    Napping Posted by Picasa

    Catching some rays Posted by Picasa

    Beware of cat Posted by Picasa

  • Meow Mix
  • Meow Mix House
  • About the Meow Mix House
  • Theme song to “The Jeffersons”

  • 28th Annual Museum Mile Festival

    June 13, 2006

    The second Tuesday of every June, as day turns to night, one of the most beautiful sections of the city hosts the Museum Mile Festival. The mile-long stretch of Fifth Avenue from 82nd Street to 104th Street is closed to traffic while nine of the cultural institutions that line its sides are open to the public, free of charge. For a few all-too-brief hours this evening, this normally quiet, dignified street overflowed with laughter, awe, music, art and magic.

    Face painting on 5th Avenue Posted by Picasa

    Escaping from straight jacket & chains Posted by Picasa

    Watching a magician Posted by Picasa

    Jazz in front of National Academy of Design Posted by Picasa

    Young sidewalk artist Posted by Picasa

    Chalk drawing Posted by Picasa

    Chalk drawings by Giorgia Posted by Picasa

    Cassis (Birgit Staudt) in front of the Goethe-Institut Posted by Picasa

    Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre Posted by Picasa

    Juggling flaming torch, machete & apple Posted by Picasa

    Watching a street magician  Posted by Picasa

    Young juggler in front of Metropolitan Museum Posted by Picasa

  • Museum Mile Festival
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (5th & 82nd)
  • Goethe Institut New York/German Cultural Center (5th & 83rd)
  • Neue Galerie New York (5th & 86th)
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (5th & 89th)
  • National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts (5th & 90th)
  • Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (5th & 91st)
  • The Jewish Museum (5th & 92nd)
  • Museum of the City of New York (5th & 103rd)
  • El Museo del Barrio (5th & 105th)
  • Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre

  • Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

    June 11, 2006

    OK, it isn’t a typical block party; it is a heavily-promoted, big-time commerical enterprise featuring corporate sponsors and high-profile chefs. But there’s no denying that this weekend the 4th Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party attracted a crowd that included some of New York’s most ravenous foodies.

    The event brought 10 pitmasters to Madison Square Park for two days of marinating, smoking, basting, cooking, eating, dancing and drinking. Thousands of people stood on line for hours to get their share of the ribs, pulled pork, brisket and Brooklyn Beer while soul, jazz and country musicians took the stage. Best of all, the proceeds from the sale of food and drinks benefit the Madison Square Park Conservancy. Good food, good beer and good music, all for a good cause.

    Entrance to Madison Square Park Posted by Picasa

    Surrounded by smoke Posted by Picasa

    Partygoer eating a barbeque sandwich Posted by Picasa

    Bettye LaVette singing soulfully Posted by Picasa

    Partygoer carrying a platter Posted by Picasa

    Partygoers digging into platters Posted by Picasa

    Pit worker covered in barbeque sauce Posted by Picasa

    Pit worker in a scorched shirt Posted by Picasa

  • Big Apple Barbecue Block Party
  • Bettye LaVette

  • Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Block Party

    June 11, 2006

    This section of the Lower East Side, Eldridge Street between Canal and Division, was once the home of a thriving community of Eastern European Jews. In 1887, they constructed the jewel of their block – the Eldridge Street Synagogue, an imposing Moorish-style building with a vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows, ornate brass fixtures, hand-painted murals and a velvet-lined ark.

    Over time, the center of New York Jewish life moved elsewhere and the area began to fill with immigrants from other areas, primarily China. The Synagogue’s congregation dwindled, the operating budget became smaller and the building fell into disrepair. As a tiny group of worshippers hung on, the roof caved in, the walls crumbled and the entire structure neared collapse. Then, in the late 1980s, historians and community activitists “discovered” the building and formed the Eldridge Street Project, Inc., determined to restore and preserve this landmark.

    Today, with the restoration project well underway, the Eldridge Street Project is sponsoring the 4th Annual Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Block Party. This unique event celebrates the evolving culture and traditions of this densely-packed community with nods to both its Jewish heritage and its Chinese present.

    The block party features the language, arts, music, dance and foods of both cultures, including mah jong lessons, a Chinese calligrapher and a Jewish scribe, arts and crafts, performances in Yiddish and Chinese, and, of course, delicious home made kosher egg rolls (a fried variation of the classic Chinese spring roll which contains no egg) and egg creams (a traditional New York soda fountain drink which contains no egg).

    How to Make an Egg Cream according to Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup

    1. Take a tall, chilled, straight-sided, 8 oz. glass.
    2. Spoon 1 inch of U-Bet Chocolate Syrup into glass.
    3. Add 1 inch whole milk.
    4. Tilt the glass and spray seltzer (from a pressurized cylinder only) off a spoon to make a big chocolate head.
    5. Stir, drink, enjoy.

    Making egg creams for an eager crowd Posted by Picasa

    Master egg cream maker Posted by Picasa

    Mah jong on the sidewalk Posted by Picasa

    Calligrapher, scribe and the tools of their trades Posted by Picasa

    Restoration in progress Posted by Picasa

    Selling kosher eggrolls Posted by Picasa

    The yarmulke is a present for Daddy Posted by Picasa

    Her first yarmulke; she made it herself Posted by Picasa

  • Eldridge Street Project
  • Eldridge Street synagogue Tour
  • New York Architecture: Eldridge Street Synagogue
  • Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup

  • Mysteries of Manhattan: Romance and Anti-romance

    June 10, 2006

    Two mysterious, brief encounters near the main branch of the New York Public Library today left me wondering about romance in this city.

    First, on the 42nd Street side of the library was a scene that should have been in a movie – an old Checker cab was parked in the right lane, blocking traffic, while a photographer hurriedly shot images of a gloriously gorgeous newlywed couple. At first glance they appeared to be models posing for (perhaps) a bridal magazine, but the scene lacked all the accoutrements of a professional photo shoot; there were no stylists, no makeup artists, no assistants – just a perfectly beautiful pair in a perfectly dramatic setting on a perfectly beautiful day.

    Secondly, a sign pasted inside a phone booth on the 5th Avenue side of the library. As I passed the booth, I caught a glimpse, took a few more steps and stopped. Had I really seen that? I went back for a photo of what is possibly the most anti-romantic image ever.

    So … is New York one of the most romantic cities in the world or the one of the least? How do this sign and this couple exist on the same block? In the same city? In the same universe?

    Stopping traffic on 42nd Street Posted by Picasa

    A big clinch Posted by Picasa

    Sign pasted inside phone booth (WARNING: not for the queasy).

  • New York Public Library
  • Checker Taxi Stand

  • A Trip to Lake Woebegone

    June 5, 2006

    For years, friends earnestly urged me to listen to public radio and for years, I ignored their suggestions. I suspected that the programs on something called “public radio” would be either educational (translation: dull and dry) or political (translation: dull and irritating).

    Then, one night, someone turned the radio dial and I heard a deep voice intone, “Welcome to Lake Woebegone, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” I was enthralled by the quirky variety show that followed and the exotic Midwestern culture it portrayed. Fascinated by the program, A Prairie Home Companion, and its tales of Norwegian bachelors, lutefisk suppers, deer hunting and ice-fishing, I’ve kept the radio tuned to that station ever since.

    Tonight, the man behind that voice and show, Garrison Keillor, appeared at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Union Square. He described his experiences making the new feature film based on his radio broadcasts, fielded questions, offered advice and autographed books and CDs for the wistful New Yorkers who hope to spend their summer vacations on the shores of beautiful Lake Woebegone.

    Garrison Keillor speaking Posted by Picasa

    Signing a book for a fan Posted by Picasa

  • Barnes & Noble
  • A Prairie Home Companion: radio program
  • A Prairie Home Companion: 25th Anniversary Collection
  • A Prairie Home Companion Movie
  • Minnesota Public Radio: ‘Prairie Home’ Movie
  • The Writer’s Almanac

  • Erev Shabbos in Borough Park

    June 2, 2006

    This is a sunny day in one of the world’s largest cities. It isn’t a legal holiday; there isn’t an emergency; the authorities haven’t evacuated the neighborhood. Yet the shops are shuttered, the businesses are closed and the streets are empty of traffic.

    Question: What is going on and where is everybody?

    Answer: It’s just another Friday afternoon in Borough Park.

    Borough Park (also spelled Boro Park), a somewhat run-down, working-class area of Brooklyn, is home to one of the largest Orthodox Jewish communities in the world. Many of the residents here follow the teachings of Yisrael Ben Eliezer, known as The Baal Shem Tov (The Master of the Good Name).

    The Baal Shem Tov, who died in the Ukraine in 1760, was the founder of the Hassidic Jewish movement. He taught that God is best served and worshipped through singing and dancing, and instructed his followers to meditate, so they could connect with the “holy sparks of the Glory of God” that dwell in “all that is in the world.”

    The male followers of The Baal Shem Tov are easily recognized by their distinctive appearance. Bearded, they wear garments modeled after those of their spiritual leader, including a beskeshe (a suit with long tailored jacket), a fringed prayer shawl called a tallit or talles, a skullcap known as a kippah or yarmulke and, on Shabbos and other holidays, a circular fur hat called a shtreimel. Hasidic women can dress in mainstream styles but are limited to suitably modest items. They are free to wear makeup, jewelry and other fashionable adornments, but once married, the women cover their hair with wigs, scarves or hats.

    While they have always considered children a blessing, many modern Hasidim are committed to having as many children as possible, believing that they must replace the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Consequently, the neighborhood has the highest birth rate in the city.

    On Friday afternoon, around 2:00 p.m., the entire neighborhood shuts down, allowing the Hasidim to go home and prepare for Shabbos, the Jewish Sabbath. It is Erev Shabbos (the evening the Sabbath begins), when, dressed in their finest garb, large families hurry through the streets to the services where they welcome their day of rest. Come Sunday morning, the normal workweek will resume; the restaurants and stores will open again, the sidewalks will overflow with bustling shoppers and the streets will be filled with roaring, honking traffic.

    Posters on a lamppost Posted by Picasa

    Sign on a construction site. Posted by Picasa

    Holding his shtreimel and tallit (talles) Posted by Picasa

    Retrieving a curious (and fast-moving) toddler Posted by Picasa

    A chubby little scholar Posted by Picasa

    Taking a break Posted by Picasa

    Mazel Tov Bubbies & Mommies – ad on a 13th Avenue bus shelter Posted by Picasa

    Kosher Submarine, locked until Sunday Posted by Picasa

    A yeshiva school bus stands empty Posted by Picasa

    A family of seven (one inside Mom) Posted by Picasa

    No place to spend a dime Posted by Picasa

    A row of shuttered stores Posted by Picasa

    Sisters in matching dresses Posted by Picasa

    The main street of Borough Park, 13th Avenue, at 2:30 p.m. Posted by Picasa

    Not a soul in sight on New Utrecht AvenuePosted by Picasa

    Nothing in this direction, either Posted by Picasa

  • Wikipedia: Borough Park
  • Village Voice: Close-Up on Borough Park
  • Boychiks in the Hood: Travels in the Hasidic Underground
  • Etude: At Work in the Fields of the Lord
  • Baal Shem Tov Foundation

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