Trader Joe’s Comes to Brooklyn

September 26, 2008

Who would get excited about the opening of a new grocery store in New York City, where dozens of grocery stores open (and close) every year without making a ripple? Making a big deal over a new food market seems more appropriate for a sleepy village where nothing ever happens.

But today’s store opening drew reporters, politicians and excitement. Despite the pouring rain, shoppers waited for more than an hour outside the balloon-festooned market just for the honor of saying they were the first to set foot in Brooklyn’s first Trader Joe’s store. The California-based specialty grocery chain, known for their high quality, unusual selection and fair prices, has an almost cult-like following — some shoppers even run fan sites.

This morning, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz stood on the front steps of the building that formerly housed the Independence Bank and declared that this is Trader Joe’s Day in Brooklyn. Then, as a steel band played and the store’s employees applauded, the soggy but eager shoppers burst through the doors.

Balloons signal the opening

Shoppers waiting in the rain

The carts are empty as employees applaud the first shoppers

The JahPan Caribbean Steel Drum Band playing

Banging the drums

Shoppers explore the new store

Trader Joe’s
NY1: A Trader Joe’s Grows In Brooklyn
Brooklyn Daily Eagle: Brooklynites Cheer as Trader Joe’s Opens It’s Doors
NY Daily News: Trader Joe’s gets a grand unwrap
NY Times: For Trader Joe’s, a New York Taste Test
Trader Joe’s Fan
Tracking Trader Joe’s

Just Hangin’ Around

September 26, 2008

David Blaine is an entertainer who is usually called a magician. However, while he does perform some slight of hand and street magic, he is best known as part of the long tradition of performers who have gotten themselves into, and out of, difficult situations with great flourish and showmanship. Blaine specializes in highly-publicized stunts that test his endurance: among other feats he has been encased in ice, entombed in a plastic box, and stood atop a pole for long stretches of time.

A few days ago he began his latest project, called the “Dive of Death.” It is supposed to entail Blaine hanging upside down above Central Park’s Wollman Skating Rink for 60 hours. The stunt will end tonight at about 11:15, culminating in what is being described as a spectacular finale involving big balloons, acrobats and music.

Today I stopped by the Park to see Blaine hanging upside down and was very surprised to see him standing right side up. He was standing on a platform, drinking juice from a bottle. When he finished the juice, he followed it with a bottle of water. Eventually, he was moved away from the platform and suspended from a crane. The area around the rink was surrounded by metal security barricades and dozens of enormous guards with thick necks, shaved heads and earpieces.

Spectators took pictures and some were escorted behind the barriers to pose for photos with Blaine. While they were waiting, a teenaged Blaine fan in the crowd named Joseph quietly performed magic tricks for those around him. His appearance wasn’t planned, wasn’t publicized, wasn’t paid, and was barely even noticed by most of those who surrounded him. Too bad. It was more entertaining to watch the boy doing card tricks and causing a straw man to rise on his palm than it was to see David Blaine hanging upside down.

By the way, if you would like to reach Joseph, you’ll find him in Queens at 347-484-6148.

David Blaine, standing on a platform

Not upside down

Being hoisted up

Finally, hanging!

Upside down man

Joseph the street magician working in the crowd

The elaborate set built in Wollman Rink

Entertainment Weekly: I Don’t Get It
Live News: David Blaine’s a fake, claim angry witnesses
Times Online: David Blaine rubbished over breaks
Gothamist: David Blaine Starts Upside-Down Stunt Over Wollman Rink
Sydney Morning Herald: The Blaine Game – No dive, no death
Times Online: Hanging about like a sloth. Call that magic?

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