They Call it Little India

August 31, 2006

The air is heady with the fragrance of cardamom, cumin, roses and incense. The markets are crowded with women clad in flowing saris and men wearing caftans and intricately-wound turbans. Shop windows display glittering gold jewelry, statues of Krishna and lacquered sitars. Sidewalk vendors proffer bunches of fresh herbs, sticky sweets and copies of the Koran.

This is Jackson Heights, also known as Little India. It has been said that this section of Queens is not really like Bombay (or even Mumbai) because there are no cows wandering the streets. But Little India certainly isn’t like anyplace else in the United States.

This is the place to go for books, newspapers, CDs and videos in Urdu, Hindi, Tamil and Gujarati. Catch the latest releases from Bollywood at the Eagle Cinema. Bang on a tabla, have a salwar kameez made to measure, fill your arms with colorful glass bangles, get a mehndi tattoo, drop a coin in a beggar’s cup, have your eyebrows threaded or your handlebar moustache groomed.

The grocery stores and pushcarts overflow with the spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Intrigued by curry leaves, purple yams and ridge gourds but unsure what to do with them? Just ask (you’ll be inundated with “secret” family recipes) or leave the food in the hands of the professionals and fill yourself — cheaply and deliciously — at the local sweets shops and restaurants.

Fresh Pan, Kulfi Posted by Picasa

Outside a toy shop Posted by Picasa

Bejeweled necklace Posted by Picasa

Gold bracelet Posted by Picasa

Gilded statues of Hindu gods Posted by Picasa

India Sari Palace Posted by Picasa

Selling saris Posted by Picasa

Silk on display Posted by Picasa

Bolts of silk in a sari shop Posted by Picasa

Stacks of glass bangles Posted by Picasa

Vegetables piled on a pushcart Posted by Picasa

Grocers with cases of mangos Posted by Picasa

Okra and karela (bitter melon) Posted by Picasa

Methi and palak Posted by Picasa

Tiny eggplant Posted by Picasa

Cloth bags of rice Posted by Picasa

Delhi Palace Sweets Posted by Picasa

Sweets with cherries Posted by Picasa

Pistachio burfi with silver foil Posted by Picasa

The Eagle Cinema Posted by Picasa

  • Citysearch: Jackson Heights
  • Jackson Heights NYC
  • Time Out New York: 74th and Broadway
  • Jackson Diner

  • A Fence Full of Flowers

    August 27, 2006

    Strolling through Dumbo one Sunday, I came across a wooden construction barrier painted with white flowers and took a few pictures. About a month later the New York Times published an article telling the story of this fence, the construction workers laboring behind it and Pasqualina Azzarello, the artist who made transformed bare boards into a garden down under the Manhattan bridge overpass.

    At the corner of York and Jay Streets  Posted by Picasa

    What does humility require? Posted by Picasa

    Storage box Posted by Picasa

    Thank you Posted by Picasa

    Acera cerrada use el otro lado Posted by Picasa

    Th-an-ky-ou Posted by Picasa

  • New York Times
  • Pasqualina Azzarello’s Little Red Studio
  • New York Professional Outreach Program: Pasqualina Azzarello

  • Atlantic Yards Ruckus

    August 23, 2006

    In the decade or so since big developers “discovered” Brooklyn, sections of our community have changed radically. Right now, one company’s building plans are generating the biggest political ruckus seen here in decades.

    Forest City Ratner Companies wants to erect Atlantic Yards, a 22 acre complex including offices, apartments and a professional basketball arena. If constructed, the $4.2 billion Frank Gehry-designed project will add 16 highrises and 7,000 units of housing to what is now an area of lowrises and brownstones.

    It is a massive project mired in massive controversy. Tonight a public hearing on Altantic Yards was held at the New York City College of Technology in Downtown Brooklyn. Thousands of supporters and protesters arrived, trying to crowd into a room that held only 880 people. At one point, someone in the audience cried out that everyone was talking and no one was listening to each other. The speaker at the dais responded, “Welcome to New York City politics.”

    Member of the carpenter’s union waits outside Posted by Picasa

    The auditorium was packed Posted by Picasa

    Standing room only Posted by Picasa

    Document inspection Posted by Picasa

  • Forest City Ratner Companies
  • Atlantic Yards
  • Develop Don’t Destroy
  • Atlantic Yards Report
  • No Land Grab
  • Fans For Fair Play
  • New York Magazine: Mr. Ratner’s Neighborhood
  • New York Times: Blight, Like Beauty
  • New York Times: Raucous Meeting on Atlantic Yards

  • Borough Park: Part Deux

    August 22, 2006

    Borough Park is a neighborhood largely shaped and defined by its large population of Hassidic Jews. Last spring I visited on a Friday afternoon when the area’s businesses shut down to prepare for Shabbos, the Jewish Sabbath (see Erev Shabbos in Borough Park).

    In sharp contrast to the stillness and quiet found here at Shabbos, during the business week Borough Park is bustling. The busiest street, 13th Avenue, is lined with hundreds of mom-and-pop shops and restaurants. It doesn’t take many mothers pushing strollers to fill the aisles of these small stores, so on a sunny day most of the shopkeepers move racks, tables and boxes of merchandise outdoors. Their sidewalk displays serve to both promote the business and make more room inside. Everything from earrings to suitcases to toys can be purchased curb-side, giving the district the air of a gigantic stoop sale.

    The prices aren’t far above those of a stoop sale, either. While some stores cater to the needs the religious community, dozens of places offer deep discounts on designer and name-brand goods, particularly women and children’s shoes and clothing. Buy a few items and be prepared to be offered a discount — or just ask for one. In addition to shopping, Borough Park is a great place to practice your bargaining skills.

    Kosher pizza guys Posted by Picasa

    Strolling near 48th Street Posted by Picasa

    Three mommies on 13th Avenue Posted by Picasa

    Yakub’s Shoe Repair Posted by Picasa

    S&W Ladies Wear Posted by Picasa

    At the corner of 13th Avenue and 44th Street Posted by Picasa

    Stationery – Cigars Posted by Picasa

    Klein’s real kosher ice cream truck Posted by Picasa

    Newsstand on 13th Avenue Posted by Picasa

    Rack of dresses displayed on sidewalk Posted by Picasa

    Towels for sale Posted by Picasa

    Old man on 39th Street Posted by Picasa

    Mother and daughter running errands Posted by Picasa

    Sign in window of butcher store Posted by Picasa

    Join us for dinner. Gas is on us. 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

  • Garden of Delights, Part Two: Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park

    August 13, 2006

    More from the Garden of Delights show, these sculptures are in Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park. George Spencer’s Gumball Machine actually works; insert two quarters, turn the lever and you’ll receive a plastic dome containing a tiny clay building. Hurry over to the park and you, too, can own an authentic Brooklyn brownstone for only 50¢.

    Nielson Amon & Ruby Levesque: Shark Tooth Auxesis Posted by Picasa

    George Spencer: Gumball Machine (view 1) Posted by Picasa

    George Spencer:Gumball Machine (view 2) Posted by Picasa

    Kevin Barrett: Slingshot Posted by Picasa

    Karen McCoy: Sensory Station Posted by Picasa

    Cynthia Karasek: Cedars Posted by Picasa

    Matt Johnson: Gluttony Posted by Picasa

    Matt Johnson: Greed Posted by Picasa

    Richard Brachman: Power Totem Posted by Picasa

    Stephanie Bloom: Before And After Posted by Picasa

    Antoinette Schultze: Earth Shine Posted by Picasa

    Antoinette Schultze: Earth Shine (close-up) Posted by Picasa

    William Zingaro: Landscape #12 Posted by Picasa

    Bill Berry: Too 2 (view 1) Posted by Picasa

    Bill Berry: Too 2 (view 2) Posted by Picasa

    Steve Dolbin: False Oracle Posted by Picasa

    Ursula Clark: Stick Dome Posted by Picasa

    Ursula Clark: Stick Dome (close-up 1) Posted by Picasa

    Ursula Clark: Stick Dome (close-up 2) Posted by Picasa

    Lori Nozick: Genesis Posted by Picasa

    Bernard Klevickas: Waveforms Posted by Picasa

    Charon Luebbers: Bird Flew (view 1) Posted by Picasa

    Charon Luebbers: Bird Flew (view 2) Posted by Picasa

    Charon Luebbers: Bird Flew (view 3) Posted by Picasa

    Julia Ousley: Skyline Posted by Picasa

    Michael Poast: Sound Structure Posted by Picasa

    Miggy Buck: David Posted by Picasa

  • Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition
  • Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park

  • Garden of Delights, Part One: Brooklyn Bridge Park

    August 13, 2006

    Garden of Delights is the 24th annual outdoor sculpture show organized by the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition. About 25 artists from around the country contributed work that will remain on display in two adjoining public parks until October 13. These sculptures are in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

    The instructions on the back of Rodger Stevens’ Public Sculpture and You say:
    1) Lift a door
    2) Put your face in there
    3) Get your friend to take a picture
    4) Come back anytime

    Doug Makemson: Royal Heron Posted by Picasa

    Naomi Teppich: Terra Stela Posted by Picasa

    Alexandra Limpert: Untitled (View 1) Posted by Picasa

    Alexandra Limpert: Untitled (View 2) Posted by Picasa

    Jack Howard-Potter: Fat Lady Posted by Picasa

    Rodger Stevens: Public Sculpture and You (back) Posted by Picasa

    Rodger Stevens: Public Sculpture and You (front) Posted by Picasa

    Allan Cyprys: Skyscraper the Father Posted by Picasa

    Thea Lanzisero: Starlight (view 1)  Posted by Picasa

    Thea Lanzisero: Starlight (view 2) Posted by Picasa

    Courtney Kessel: Il Nido Posted by Picasa

    Tyrome Tripoli: Travels With the Kitchen Sink Posted by Picasa

  • Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition
  • Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park

  • Middle Age Crazy

    August 12, 2006

    High atop a hill at the northern tip of Manhattan Island stands the Cloisters, the branch of the Metropolitan Museum devoted to the art of the middle ages. Constructed in the early 20th century, the fortress-like building was inspired by medieval structures. The setting, structure and core of the collection were gifts from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to the people of New York.

    This building incorporates chapels, halls, rooms and architectural elements from Europe. The ancient stone portals, windows, columns and fountains allow many of the items on display to be shown in settings similar to their original situations. Visitors don’t simply view a wooden crucifix hanging against a white gallery wall; they see it displayed in a stone chapel, illuminated by sunbeams streaming through stained glass windows.

    The museum also features three enclosed gardens, including an herb garden containing more than 250 species that were grown during the Middle Ages. The plants, grown in beds and large pots, are grouped by their intended use: household, medicinal, aromatic, kitchen and seasoning, salads and vegetables, plants used by artists, magic plants, those associated with love and marriage.

    The most famous work in the Cloisters is the Unicorn Tapestries, a series of Belgian textiles portraying a party of nobles hunting and capturing the mythical creature. The collection also includes stained-glass windows, metalwork, sculpture, painting, liturgical miniatures, enamels, jewelry and of course, cloisters.

    Main entrance Posted by Picasa

    Lion wall fountain Posted by Picasa

    Doorway to a courtyard Posted by Picasa

    Butterfly in herb garden Posted by Picasa

    Dragon fresco Posted by Picasa

    Lion fresco Posted by Picasa

    Carved ivory Posted by Picasa

    Miniature ivory carving Posted by Picasa

    Cross shadow Posted by Picasa

    Red columns Posted by Picasa

    The Unicorn is Found Posted by Picasa

    The Unicorn Leaps Out of the Stream Posted by Picasa

    The Unicorn at Bay Posted by Picasa

    The Start of the Hunt Posted by Picasa

    The Unicorn in Captivity Posted by Picasa

    Window in gothic hall Posted by Picasa

    Swabian stained glass panel of groom Posted by Picasa

    Swabian stained glass panel of bride Posted by Picasa

    A seat in the shade Posted by Picasa

    Bonnefort Cloister on lower level Posted by Picasa

    Espaliered pear tree Posted by Picasa

    Exterior at closing time Posted by Picasa

  • The Cloisters
  • Introduction to the Cloisters
  • The Unicorn Tapestries
  • The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture
  • Middle Age Crazy

  • Brighton Beach Memoirs

    August 11, 2006

    Take the Q train to the Brighton Beach stop and exit directly into another country. This is “Little Russia,” also known as “Little Odessa,” the heart of Brooklyn’s Russian community and the reputed home of the Russian Mafia.

    The Village Voice says, “No matter where you’re from, it’s likely that at first, Brighton will make you alienated, lonely, and even … miserable.” Perhaps not miserable, but for those who don’t speak Russian or understand the culture of the former Soviet Union, negotiating the ‘hood can be a daunting experience.

    This immigrant community is remarkably insular and suspicious — in fact, Brighton Beach is the only area of New York where shopkeepers have actually abandoned their busy cash registers and run outside to angrily forbid me from photographing their storefronts. That’s right, they don’t want photos of the exteriors of their shops. Taking pictures inside the stores is even more difficult, requiring a bit (or more) of subtrefuge.

    And that’s a shame because, while the area is seriously lacking in charm, visitors who peek behind the Cyrillic signs can discover fascinating (and delicious) shopping and dining in Brighton Beach. Beyond the famed Russian connection, the neighborhood has drawn immigrants from many of the nations in Russia’s orbit and the main shopping street, Brighton Beach Avenue, is crowded with Ukrainian bakeries, Belarusian furriers, Turkish sweets shops and Georgian shashlik houses.

    Brighton Beach’s many bakeries all have large windows open to the street, allowing shoppers to buy savory pastries — flaky pockets stuffed with meat or cheese and fresh, fragrant loaves of pumpernickel and rye — without having to push their way into the crowded shops. The delis and supermarkets feature “salad bars” stocked with heaping trays of cooked sausages, chicken Kiev, dilled potatoes, stuffed cabbage, beet salad, eggplant “caviar,” cherry-filled blintzes and other hearty old world dishes. Huge stores offer goods ranging from t-shirts emblazoned with Russian slogans to copies of Microsoft Excel for Dummies in Russian; tiny shops sell caviar and babushkas.

    If you go to Brighton Beach, be sure to stop in at Vintage, where you can select nuts and candies from dozens of bins and barrels, M&I International Foods where you can enjoy Russian ice cream, borscht and pelmeni at the rooftop cafe, and the Odessa grocery, where you can buy an enormous slab of baked salmon for only a few dollars. Walk a block or two south and you’ll find a wide, windswept boardwalk and miles of clean, beautiful Brooklyn beaches.

    Welcome to Brighton Beach Posted by Picasa

    Keep Brighton Beach Clean Posted by Picasa

    Under the tracks Posted by Picasa

    This appears to be an ad for a Russian drag show Posted by Picasa

    Sign at butcher shop Posted by Picasa

    Glass-fronted wooden drawers of grains in Vintage Posted by Picasa

    Olives and sundried tomatoes in Vintage Posted by Picasa

    We squeaze juice Posted by Picasa

    Bakery worker Posted by Picasa

    Danielle Steele novels Posted by Picasa

    Caviar Posted by Picasa

    Fresh sweets Posted by Picasa

    Ground pork Posted by Picasa

    Under the tracks on Brighton Beach Boulevard Posted by Picasa

    Bakery worker Posted by Picasa

    On Brighton Boulevard Posted by Picasa

    A pavilion on the boardwalk Posted by Picasa

    The beach Posted by Picasa

  • Brighton Neighborhood Association
  • Village Voice: Close-Up on Brighton Beach
  • Village Voice: Close-Up on Brighton Beach, Brooklyn
  • Roadtrip America: Brighton Beach
  • Brighton Beach Memoirs
  • Little Odessa

  • Art: The Weapon of Intelligence

    August 11, 2006

    Don’t dare call the paintings on this Brooklyn truck graffiti; they are, in every meaning of the word, art.

    Art: The weapon of intelligence! Posted by Picasa

    He stay gettin bizy Posted by Picasa

    Way up in ya Posted by Picasa

    Maman Posted by Picasa

    The black leprakhan Posted by Picasa

    He has a good Russian wife Posted by Picasa

    Vel Crew * Ganoz Posted by Picasa

    72 Brighton Ct – Bklyn, NY 11235 Posted by Picasa

    A Stink Grows in Brooklyn

    August 11, 2006

    The news is filled with stories about a plant that bloomed late yesterday at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Known as amorphophallus titanum and nicknamed “Baby,” the species is remarkable for its rarity, its size and its aroma, which is said to smell like putrid, rotting meat.

    The amorphophallus titanum, popularly called the “corpse flower,” takes decades to bloom (this is the first flowering in New York since 1939) and the blossom lasts only a few days. Hordes of admirers and reporters have been flocking to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, all of them anxious to get a whiff of Baby’s remarkable smell.

    The plant’s single flower is enormous and strangely beautiful. Unfortunately, most of the visitors who arrived today in search of its famed stench couldn’t smell a thing. The gardeners overseeing the plant patiently explained that once the flower blooms the smell comes “in waves” during the first eight or so hours. “You should have been here at 6:00 this morning,” said one. “It really stank then.”

    One well-heeled suburban matron asked a security guard to describe the plant’s aroma. “Well,” he began, “you know what a dead rat smells like?”

    “Good God, no!,” she exclaimed, recoiling in horror.

    The guard pondered for a moment, trying to think of another example to offer the woman. Finally, he turned to another visitor. “Do you know what a dead rat smells like?,” he asked.

    “Of course,” came the swift reply. “I’m from Brooklyn!”

    Baby at the peak of its bloom Posted by Picasa

    Daily News photographer on a ladder Posted by Picasa

    News crew from Channel 9 Posted by Picasa

    So, what do YOU think of the stinky flower? Posted by Picasa

  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • Blooming of Amorphophallus titanum
  • Plant Web cam
  • Brooklyn’s Bloom, a Sight (and Stench) Not to Be Missed
  • Forget Bees. This Flower Lures Humans.
  • Blooming Flower Causing Big Stink
  • Stinky Plant Ready to Bloom in Brooklyn

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