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.

Pumpkins and cobwebs

Skeleton and pumpkins

Dried corn

Tombstone and ghost

“Boo” says the pumpkin

Pumpkins and evergreen

Pumpkins and cobwebs

Skeletons, cobwebs, etc.

Pumpkins and ivy

Pumpkins and potted mums

Pumpkins and squash

Mums and pumpkins

Pumpkins, cobwebs and a blue planter

Witch, bats and ghosts

Pumpkins and spider

Pumpkin and metal pots

Big pumpkins

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

Remember, They Say

September 10, 2011

Actually, I wish I could forget. But it isn’t possible; everywhere I look there are reminders, and this year their presence is especially heavy — even at home. This is what was in my personal email inbox this morning.


AIDS Walk NY 2011

May 15, 2011

The weatherman predicted that it would be a rainy Sunday and he was right; we had a downpour. At times, the 47,000 people who participated in this year’s AIDS Walk NY were drenched.

But many of those who sign up for this, the world’s largest AIDS fundraising event, view it as more than just a charity fund raiser. In fact, quite a few of the participants – even those who can’t raise any money at all – consider participation something akin to a sacred obligation.

Regardless of the weather, regardless of their own disabilities or discomfort, they push forward on foot, crutches and in wheelchairs, uphill and down, and they somehow manage to complete the 10 kilometer trek around Central Park.

Just past the finish line, up a little hillock, large pieces of cardboard were hung under the shelter of a white tent. There, walkers used felt-tip markers to record their reasons for walking. Thousands stood in the tent and wrote until their messages overlapped and no empty space remained.

No matter why they chose to come out and walk on a wet gray morning, their determination helped raise a total of $6,214,768 and will bring us closer to a cure for the scourge that has taken so many lives and broken so many hearts.

A walker writing on the hanging cardboard

I walk for love

I walk because I can

I walk because my two kids need to grow up

We walk for Grandma Shirley

I walked … for all those who can’t

I walk for the sake of my HIV patients

I walk for Freddie – it’s been a long 20 yrs. without you

I walk for my dad – and a cure

I walk to help others in need

We walk for all of our angels that left to soon

I walked for the ones I lost

I walk for Kenneth, John D., Michael, Bruce, John C. R.I.P.

I walked for everyone

I walk for a better world

I walk for friends & family who died or living with HIV/AIDS

I walk for life, I walk for love, I walk for my family

I walked with a reason!

I walk to make a difference

We walked to create smiles, to show that we care

I walk for Hernando, my bestie

I walk for hope

I walk in memory for all who lost their lives

I walk for my generation

I walk for my beloved mother, Damaris R.I.P.

I walk because it’s the right thing to do

I walk for my darling Francis. I love you

I walk … so my grandchildren and great grandchildren won’t have to



January 1, 2011

I wasn’t thinking about the significance of the date when I made an appointment for December 31 on the Upper East Side. It was only when I was en route that I realized that to reach my destination, I had to change trains at Times Square. It was still early in the day, but the place was already a madhouse.

When I got to my appointment, I sadly told the person I was meeting that my route had taken me through Times Square. She laughed and said, “Now I know you’re a real New Yorker! Only New Yorkers try to stay away from Times Square on New Year’s Eve — the tourists can’t wait to get there!”

She was, of course, correct, and as soon as our meeting concluded, I made a hasty retreat to Brooklyn, where I spotted this reveler on Montague Street. Happy new year!

Woman celebrating the new year in Downtown Brooklyn

Happy Freecycle Thanksgiving

November 25, 2010

All over America, at this very moment, people are peeling, chopping, roasting and baking, busily preparing traditional Thanksgiving meals. But one person in Brooklyn is seeking an alternative to expending all that time, effort and money via a Freecycle Thanksgiving.

Freecycle, if you are not familiar with it, is a simple, rather noble concept: those who have things they can’t use give them freely, as gifts, to those who need them. The object is to reduce waste, save valuable resources and ease the burden on landfills.

Freecycle members contact each other online using message boards operated by the Freecycle Network. While most members post messages describing the items they want to give away, a few request items they want but don’t have.

This “wanted” listing, posted the evening before Thanksgiving, struck me as particularly ambitious and audacious, and I can’t help wondering what type of response it will generate.

In any case, however you choose to celebrate the day, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

The notice on the Freecycle Web site

A closer view of the post

Freecycle Brooklyn

Canon Expo 2010

September 2, 2010

Canon Expo is held once every five years to showcase the wide range of advanced imaging technologies from the Japan-based corporation’s divisions: Vision, Consumer and Home Office, Office Equipment Print Production and Graphic Arts, Professional Photography, Video and Projection, Broadcast and Communications and Healthcare Technologies.

The exhibit filled 150,000 square feet of the Jacob K. Javits Center on Manhattan’s West Side. Sections of the Expo were designed to replicate art galleries, research laboratories, theaters, printing plants, offices, stages, call centers, photographic studios, medical facilities, a football stadium, fashion shows, printing plants, a skating rink, stadiums and tourist attractions — the types of environments in which Canon products are frequently used.

Canon displayed items that are currently for sale as well as models and prototypes of gear that may be available in the future. One of the most interesting gadgets exhibited was the Cross Media Station, a device still in the planning stages. Simply by placing still or video cameras atop the Station, a user could wirelessly download, view and transmit images — even from multiple devices — while simultaneously recharging them. The designers of the Station were present to answer questions (via a translator) and aid with the demonstration.

A fascinating area dubbed the Canon Gallery displayed outstanding photos as well as the work of the Tsuzuri Project, joint effort of Canon and the Kyoto Culture Association. The Tsuzuri Project is designed to preserve Japan’s cultural heritage by employing the most advanced technology to create and print full-sized high-resolution digital images of screens, paintings and other precious fragile cultural artifacts. The near-perfect replicas are donated to the owners of the original works, who put them on display while placing the treasures themselves in a safe, controlled environments where they can be preserved for future generations.

In another section, physicians (yes, real, licensed ophthalmologists) operated equipment that scans the eye and instantly provides information about whether a patient has, or is developing, a range of serious medical conditions including diabetes, hypertension, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

I was delighted by the opportunity to use Canon’s professional-grade cameras and join the pack on mock-ups of a TV stage and a fashion show (first lesson: those professional cameras and lenses weigh a ton!), and I consulted with the product and technical geniuses about my next camera purchase. One of the most important features? It must be lightweight.

Towards the end of the day, a Canon rep who was answering my questions took me aside and, sotto voce, said, “I’m not supposed to talk about this, but …” He then told me about a camera that Canon is currently developing, noting that it will address just about everything on my “most-wanted feature list” and will be (almost) within my budget. I’m going to start putting my pennies aside for the camera that cannot say its name.

The Expo’s slogan displayed on a wall

Entering the Canon Expo

Printing books on demand

Attendees used HDTV cameras on the set

In the Canon Gallery

At the sports stadium

A professional explains his techniques

Model at the fashion show

Model shot with Canon EOS 7D

On the runway

Model shot with the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III

Canon Expo 2010
PC Magazine: Canon Shows Off Concept Cameras at Expo
The Tsuzuri Project (Cultural Heritage Inheritance Project)
Canon Unveils The Future Of Imaging At Canon EXPO 2010 New York
MarketWatch: Canon Unveils the Future of Imaging

Mermaids on Parade

June 19, 2010

This year’s Mermaid Parade was bigger than ever, possibly because this Coney Island institution featured iconic New York musicians Lou Reed as King Neptune and his wife, Laurie Anderson, as Queen Mermaid.

The sidewalks, fire escapes and rooftops were packed with viewers as hundreds, perhaps thousands of marchers, strollers and riders paraded along Surf Avenue. When they reached the police barriers at Astroland, they turned and began the parade again, this time passing through a long, narrow barricaded strip of the Boardwalk.

While the nautically-themed costumes were as clever, colorful and outrageous as ever, some of the participants opted to give their looks topical twists. These included not-so-subtle references to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (mermaids smeared with black paint, pasties shaped like oil wells) and sly nods to this summer’s vampire craze (mermaids with fangs and bloody neck wounds).

But whether they are classic or trendy, flashy or subtle, one thing is certain at this parade: everybody loves a mermaid.

Dick Zigun, unofficial mayor of Coney Island, leads the parade

Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed under a parasol

Banners for King Neptune, Queen Mermaid and the Royal Mer-Dog

Spectators crowded onto every surface

Yes, even elephants

Mermaids get thirsty, too

A pirate smiles on the boardwalk

A mermaid with blue hair

Colorful creature from the sea

A crown of sea serpents

Pretty in pink

Vampire mermaid

A blonde mermaid

Lobsters, come out and play …

Coney Island USA Mermaid Parade


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