Archive for June, 2011

Opa! Greek Festival Hits Schermerhorn St.

By , 7 June, 2011, No Comment

Walking home from the subway this afternoon I was thrilled to see the annual Grecian Festival at Sts. Constantine and Helen Cathedral in full swing. The fun will run through Sunday, 12 June on Schermerhorn St. right off Court, and in addition to the outrageously yummy gyros, plump with seasoned lamb, you’ll also find other Greek food and pastries, music, kids activities, dancers (Thursday and Friday at noon and on Saturday night) and a gift shop sale. It will begin at 11am until Friday and at 1pm Saturday and Sunday.

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Don’t Miss Red Hook Jazz Fest

By , 6 June, 2011, No Comment

The next two weekends, you can enjoy the cool sounds and local talent of the 4th Annual Red Hook Jazz Festival. Taking over the Urban Meadow (at President and Van Brunt Streets) from 1pm to 6pm, it begins this Sunday with folks like the Marco Capelli Project, The Wee Trio and Jedd Newlett’s New Trad. Next Sunday, 18 June, you can expect to groove to the tunes of Renku, Jeff Davis Band and the Ingrid Laubrock Trio. Come for the music–stay for the laid back, family-friendly vibe. Tickets are $5 for adults, kids are free.
And, in other jazz news, the NY Transit Museum will be hosting a night of music, art, and mingling on Thursday, 23 June from 6pm to 8pm. NY Saxophonist Roy Nathanson and Sotto Voce will beperforming tunes from their aptly titled second album, Subway Moon and Nathanson’s wife, Charna Meyers, will show photographs from her latest project, The Subway Photos. Refreshments provided by Brooklyn Brewery. You can purchase tickets here for $10 each.

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Come Stargaze at BH Promenade

By , 3 June, 2011, No Comment

Yes, you can see stars in Brooklyn. Don’t believe me? Come on down to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade tonight for a stargazing meet-up, part of the 2011 World Science Festival. You’ll join professional and amateur astronomers for a free evening of speculation on the cosmos–bring your telescope if you have one, or use one of the dozens they’ll have on hand. Music, refreshments, a clear night and some good discussions should make it worth your while. The fun begins at 8:30pm and runs until midnight.

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Now, Free WiFi in DUMBO

By , 2 June, 2011, 1 Comment

Rejoice bloggers and freelancers of Brooklyn. Today, DUMBO Business Improvement District (BID), Two Trees Management Company, and NYCwireless announced that DUMBO is now New York City’s first neighborhood to offer wireless on streets, in its parks and plazas–notably the northern portion of Brooklyn Bridge Park between the two Bridges, The Archway under the Manhattan Bridge and in the Pearl Street Triangle. The building, installation, and maintenance of the network is executed by NYCwireless, a non-profit organizations that builds, supports, and advocates for free, public Wi-Fi Internet access in New York City.
According to Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park, “Visitors can log onto a free Wi-Fi network to learn about Brooklyn Bridge Park’s amenities and find local restaurants and events to get the most out of their DUMBO experience.” And, of course, Borough Prez Marty Markowitz had something to say as well. “One day, mark my words, this area will rival Silicon Valley in terms of high tech ingenuity—so it’s only natural that DUMBO is the first neighborhood to be truly connected 24/7.” Ooooooooooooooookkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk. We’ll see about that. But I’ll take it, thank you.

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Monte’s Old-School Gowanus Italian Given Rebirth

By , 2 June, 2011, No Comment

image via Brooklyn Paper

About six years ago, some friends took us to dinner at Monte’s. Back then, it was a fly in amber, memories of a time when Sammy Davis Junior held court and goodfellas dined on piles of veal parmigiana and spaghetti from overladen trays. It was one of those dinners I’ll remember more as a destination than a meal. And then, all of a sudden, it closed its doors last year. So what a nice surprise to see the phoenix rising from the ashes, as it were. Seems husband and wife Dominick and Tina Castelvetre are reviving the restaurant as a more modern Italian haunt. Gone are the vintage phone booth and chandelier, but don’t worry, the ricotta cheesecake is staying the same. According to the Brooklyn Paper:

That means updated interiors that resist kitsch with sage green and exposed brick walls — and the gigantic murals of Venice have been replaced with vintage Brooklyn street maps, wrought iron sconces, and the occasional pizza paddle.
“We kept what we could, like the old bar,” said Castelvetre. “We just gave it a new marble countertop. The tables got a new base. The red booths aren’t original, but we kept the look the same. Everything else needed to be gutted — it was all rotted through.”
The most striking aspect of the renovation is an entirely open kitchen, where patrons can watch pizzaiolo John Censullo shuttle thin crusted pies from a massive wood-burning pizza oven.

The chef, Christian Sbordi, formerly of The Rainbow Room/Cipriani’s and Le Caprice, is promising modern grub with an affordable price tag. Think lamb meatballs with ricotta, sherry onions, cauliflower and sesame cream; pasta with wild boar ragu and parmagiano foam; and sesame-crusted tuna with caponata and saba. So go on, check it out at 451 Carroll St. between Third Avenue and Nevins Street. This ain’t your uncle’s Gowanus.

Brooklyn Gets Its Own TV & Movie Tours

By , 2 June, 2011, No Comment

Remember when the “real” Kramer from Seinfeld started doing tours of the TV show’s locations in Manhattan? Or women from all over the world came to NYC to drink cosmos at the same bars as Carrie and the gals? Well now Brooklyn has its very own kitschy movie tour. The approximately four hour tour by On Location Tours takes place every Saturday and will run you $42 for adults and $24 for kids aged 6 to 9. It touts up-close views of over 40 bridges, bistros and brownstones featured on the big and small screen, including the French café used in Julie & Julia, the bakery from Moonstruck, the bar that stood in for a Boston pub in The Departed, the casino in Boardwalk Empire, the bookstore from Eat, Pray, Love, and the firehouse from I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (god help us all).
Of course, anyone living here, especially in good old Bococa, knows we have no shortage of movie and TV shoots to choose from (hello Men in Black III). Those huge, white trucks are taking up our parking spaces more than we’d like to admit. But heck, if it brings the borough a little extra cash, I can’t complain. No, you won’t see the spot where Mr. Big bought bought his sushi, but thank goodness the poor kids in Gossip Girl are slumming it in DUMBO.

What to Do During Those Shortened School Days

By , 1 June, 2011, No Comment

It’s a comin’. The days before the days. Next week, public schools will be closed early on 7 June and altogether on 9 June. Looking for something to keep them busy that doesn’t include a triple trip to the playground? Here’s some events from The Brooklyn Children’s Museum you may want to look into. Good luck to you all.

Tuesday, June 7 (Clerical Shortened Day)
Tales for Tots
11:30am–12:30pm & 2:30pm–3:30pm
Travel to faraway places in your imagination by listening to tales from around the world.
Ages 5 and under

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge
2:30–3:30pm
Join us in celebrating the Summer Solstice as we learn about the prehistoric monument Stonehenge and its mysterious origins. How was Stonehenge made? How did it predict the seasons? Learn the answers as we create our own models of this superb sculpture!
Ages 3+

Thursday, June 9 (Chancellor’s Conference Day)
Tales for Tots
11:30am–12:30pm & 2:30pm–3:30pm
Travel to faraway places in your imagination by listening to tales from around the world.
Ages 5 and under

Chase Wonder Why Workshop: Lunchbox Gardens
1:30pm–2:30pm
Mmm…lunch that’s fresh from the garden. There is plenty you can plant today so you can enjoy yummy lunches later. Get your garden started in this fun workshop.
Ages 4+

NYC Playground Rant

By , 1 June, 2011, No Comment

Our friend Andrea Strong from the foodie TheStrongBuzz.com changes gears this week and talks about her experiences at NYC’s newest playgrounds (including Pier 6). Agree or disagree? Let us know your thoughts. Here’s what she has to say:

“Why NYC’s Newest Playgrounds are a Hazard to Our Kids”

I am going to rant — I warn you. And it has nothing to do with food. It has to do with the other part of my life. The “mom” part, which these days, is really all of my life.

Emily and I journeyed to Union Square Playground today, a playground that cost our city almost $3.8 million to build. Umm, how shall I say this tactfully? What a mistake! Sure there were some very cool gizmos and doo-dads, but Emily could not use any of them. Why? “TOO HOT! “As she said, several times after touching them and pulling her hands back quickly as though she had been pulling them out of a hot oven.

Here’s a question I’d like an answer to: Does anyone who designs playgrounds actually think about the fact that little kids aren’t into getting blistered sunburns or that they might not want to scorch their feet in sandboxes or their legs on slides because the sun has turned them into virtual skillets? I don’t need to fry my eggs and bacon for breakfast on a slide. I can do it at home, thanks!

Union Square Playground was a heat hazard today (Note: it’s only May). Moms, dads, and various caregivers were huddled under what shade could be found like refugees from a hurricane, sending their kids out and calling them back from more sunscreen and water, no one able to enjoy the park because it was the Sahara at noon. For a park covered in the lovely canopy of old oak trees, they stuck the playground in the north end in a space with NO SHADE at all.

That climbing dome of silver in the Union Square “Wonderland” that NY Magazine raved about? It’s a heat-seeking missile. It can’t be used because of the sun’s direct rays, so, after the fact, they added a sail over the top to partially shade it, and now only half of it is usable. Can we get half our money back?

Why not just burn our tax dollars instead of spending it on hiring fancy architects who can’t design a playground and think about the logistics of sun and shade? How about adding an umbrella (or 10) so that we can play without risk of frying to an overdone crisp. If you can’t play on their fancy designs in the summertime what good are they?

Brooklyn’s well-publicized Pier 6, which I live quite close to, is even worse. There’s a giant sandbox, a place called Sandbox Village, which sounds very sweet and fun, but it’s Death Valley. The place is big enough for about fifty kids and their entourage of various nannys and parents, but as soon as the summer temps hit 80, you can’t sit in it. The sandbox becomes a fire pit. Plus, there are the boulders that dot the sand’s surface. They often get covered up by the sand that gets kicked around, so this is a common scene: Hey, friend, let’s run to the other side of the sandbox, oops, giant boulder, trip, fall, forehead hits rock. Lovely! They should keep a team of Paramedics nearby to stitch kids up. I am being completely serious.

Did I mention the rocky runways that line the perimeter of the sandbox that seem to actually trip kids and scrape their knees up and good (with little pebbles that get buried deep in the nooks and crannies of their skinned knees which make for lots of fun in the clean-up stage), and the uneven wooden deck which also seems designed for implementing the most falls per hour (plus they burn your feet). Oh, I could go on and on. Okay, I will.

The neighboring playground, Swing Valley, is just as bad –dozens of fun swings, from ropes to tires, but not one tree to shade you from the sun. It’s just not usable as a practical matter unless you are immune to the sun’s rays.

These new playgrounds may look pretty and may seem fantastic but they are useless, and what’s more a waste of money. Spend it on our schools. Spend it on our libraries. Spent it on free ice cream! Spend it on something that makes sense and won’t hurt our kids who just want to play and have fun in the summertime. (How about a bulk order of umbrellas from Crate and Barrell, to start?)

For the most shade and fun, stick to the old parks, without the fancy architects, places like Pierrepont Playground, and Harry Chapin Playground. Places with lots of shade, lots of fun and no eggs frying on the slides.

Thank you. Rant over.