Brooklyn Heights Blog » News Dispatches from America's first suburb Wed, 25 Apr 2018 11:09:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 “Rats the size of burritos”: is Chipotle or Construction to Blame? Wed, 25 Apr 2018 02:14:27 +0000

Local residents have complained about very large, aggressive rats in the area along Montague Street between Clinton and Court near the Chipotle restaurant and the neighboring construction site, as reported by Mary Frost in the Eagle. Those complaining have noted that Chipotle puts out trash in plastic bags that rats can easily rip open. The Eagle story quotes a Chipotle manager as saying she never saw the rats until the construction began. The story also quotes Brooklyn Heights Association Executive Director Peter Bray as saying, “If there is no food available, the rats would not be foraging on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. It is incumbent upon Chipotle to put their garbage in rat-resistant containers.” The Chipotle manager also said, “the rats are not good for us, either.”

Rat image:

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Increased Security at Brooklyn Bridge Park this Summer Tue, 24 Apr 2018 03:18:23 +0000

The Eagle’s Mary Frost quotes Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation President Eric Landau saying that increased police presence and newly installed security cameras should prevent the sort of incidents that have troubled the Park during previous periods of warm weather.

The Eagle story also notes that Joralemon Street and Willowtown residents think that more needs to be done to thin the crowds heading to and from the Park along Joralemon. Their preferred solution: a Park entrance/exit to and from Montague Street.

Photo: Teresa Genaro

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Brooklyn Folk Festival Delights Sun, 22 Apr 2018 03:05:33 +0000

The tenth annual Brooklyn Folk Festival happened April 6th through 8th at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church. As it always has been, it was presented by the Jalopy Theatre and School of Music in Red Hook, now a not-for-profit institution.

The opening act on Friday evening was Little Nora Brown (photo). She’s twelve years old, and began her banjo training at six, taking instruction from the late Shlomo Pestcoe. She played a rousing set, later joined on fiddle by Stephanie Coleman. Nora demonstrated great skill with her instrument, and received a tumultuous audience response.

IMG_9773Grammy nominated Innov Gnawa are exponents of gnawa, or Moroccan trance music. This musical tradition has roots in Morocco similar to those of blues and jazz in the U.S., as it was brought there mostly by slaves from sub-Saharan Africa. At right in the photo above is Maalem Hassan Ben Jaafer, the bandleader, who plays a three-string sintir bass lute. The lyrics are chanted, call-and-response style, between Ben Jaafer and the chorus, whose members also shake hand-held instruments.

IMG_9770The Boxcutter Collective presented a puppet show featuring Judy (at right in photo above), a “tough as nails New York City grandma” who has a perils-of-Pauline sort of day, beseiged by various patriarchal figures and even attacked by birds and flowers, until she discovers and is taken into a witches’ coven that cooks up a potion to thwart Google’s attempt to take over the world.

IMG_9782This year the Festival featured a return performance — he was here in 2016 — by Claudio Montouri, the “Birdman of Rome.” He’s a popular street performer in the Eternal City. After performing some squeeze-box magic (photo above), he sat on the stage and invited children, of whom there were many at the Festival, to gather around while he played some electronic music and amused the kids with many toys arrayed around him.

IMG_9788Jerron Paxton has been a regular performer at the Festival for some time, and never fails to impress. This year did a mixture of blues, folk, and ragtime numbers, accompanying himself on guitar and banjo, and playing harmonica (photo above).

IMG_9795I couldn’t resist an entry on the Festival’s schedule for a movie, Gold, that I’d never heard of, described as follows: “Filmed in 1968 in the remote foothills of the Sierra Mountains, this wacky piece of celluloid captures the essence of the sixties with a reasonably coherent story.” The “essence of the sixties” turns out to be the ancient struggle between the followers of Hermes, the trickster god, and Apollo, the guardian of Order, as described in the context of 1946 by former Heights resident W.H. Auden in his poem “Under Which Lyre”. Seen from today’s perspective, is anything new under the sun? Your correspondent was delighted to find his late Lion’s Head drinking companion Garry Goodrow playing a prominent role. Besides, how could I hate a movie with a soundtrack that includes both the MC5 and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott? Gold’s co-director and auteur-on-the-fly (now that’s Hermetic) Bob Levis was on hand (photo above) for a lively post-viewing discussion.

IMG_9798The Down Hill Strugglers were joined by John Cohen (second from left in the photo), formerly of the New Lost City Ramblers and the Putnam String County Band, for a very lively set, highlighted, for this train buff, by a stirring version of “Casey Jones.” On guitar, at left in the photo, is Eli Smith, who also served as emcee for the Festival.

IMG_9814The Festival closed with a set by Julia Patinella, accompanied on guitar by Andreas Arnold. She did songs from the Spanish Flamenco and Latin American traditions in a voice of remarkable range and expressiveness. It was a fitting adios.

There were many other musicians and groups, as well as non-musical events and workshops, not all of which your correspondent could cover. One of these groups included cartoonist R. Crumb on mandolin. Over its ten year history, the Festival has grown in breadth and quality. We look forward to its next incarnation.

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Grace Chorale Presents “Messiahs False and True” at Plymouth Church May 5 and 6 Mon, 16 Apr 2018 00:28:59 +0000

On Saturday, May 5 at 7:00 PM and Sunday, May 6 at 3:00 PM, at Plymouth Church, Orange Street between Hicks and Henry, Grace Chorale of Brooklyn will present “Messiahs False and True,” a concert featuring “[t]hree works exploring the allure of charismatic leaders in times of crisis.” The three works are: “Cry Out and Shout,” bu Knut Nystedt; “Messiahs False and True,” by Rex Isenberg; and “Rejoice in the Lamb,” by Benjamin Britten. Britten was one of the residents of February House, on Middagh Street, in the late 1940s.

There’s more information here. You may buy tickets for the Saturday concert here and for the Sunday concert here.

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Collapsing Scaffolding Injures Three at Court and Joralemon Sun, 15 Apr 2018 00:37:28 +0000 The Daily News reports that scaffolding being taken down from the building at Court and Joralemon streets that houses a Starbucks and is adjacent to an entrance to the Borough Hall subway station collapsed at about 11:00 AM this morning (Saturday, April 14), causing minor injuries to three pedestrians. Two of them were taken to Methodist Hospital for treatment; the other declined medical attention. The collapse also knocked down a traffic signal.

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Final Weekend of Voting for Participatory Budget Community Projects Sat, 14 Apr 2018 15:54:08 +0000

District 33 Council member Stephen Levin would like to remind you it’s that time of your when you can decide how to spend 1.5 million dollars in our community. The only two requirements to vote in Participatory Budgeting are that you live in a participating district and be in 6th grade or at least 11 years old. You don’t have to be registered to vote or be a citizen.

Your best opportunity to vote in person in Brooklyn Heights is TODAY, Saturday, April 14th at the Brooklyn Borough Hall Farmer’s Market, Borough Hall Plaza   12:00 PM – 3:00 PM

You can also vote online until Sunday at!

For a full list of projects, including improvements to Westinghouse High School & security cameras in the 84th District, check out this list HERE.

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Poplar Street Community Garden Workday Saturday Thu, 12 Apr 2018 11:03:23 +0000

Our friends at Poplar Street Community Garden have sent us this message:

We will indeed have another workday in the Poplar St. Community Garden this coming Saturday 4-14 (noon to 3pm). With the compost now turned and going onto plots and other growing areas, we’ll next give the roses their spring pruning, check the fruiting shrubs and trees, spread wood chips on some paths, and more – all while enjoying the Garden’s new life and each other!

Join us! Stroll the Garden, delight in the emerging greenery and colorful blooms, talk gardening talk with us, lend a hand if you wish!

Would you like to become a member? We welcome people who like to garden! Member-gardeners work together to care for the whole of the Garden, from the trees on down to the soil life, each engaging with whatever features are of personal interest. Previous gardening experience and skills are not required, tho’ certainly most appreciated. We learn from each other and from the Garden itself.

A personal plot, if available, is one of the benefits of membership, and two are available at this moment, first come first serve. Members without plots are accommodated in other ways, such as in our communal plots, tho’ some are content just to care for other aspects of the Garden.

In the Garden, we grow native plants and traditional garden favorites, fruiting trees and shrubs, cooking and medicinal herbs, and perennial as well as annual vegetables – all in the good company of many kinds of pollinating insects and birds. The Garden has a beehive, nice benches, stepping stone and earthen paths, charm, beauty, magic, joy!

During the growing season, we welcome visitors on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 3pm, Tuesday and Thursday evening from 6pm to 8pm, and any other time one of us is there to open the gate. We hold dedicated workdays, trainings, and a gardening party too.

See our Facebook page – but better yet, come to the Garden – this Saturday!

The Poplar St. Community Garden lives at the northwest corner of Hicks and Poplar Streets, at the north end of Brooklyn Heights where Hicks Street bumps into the BQE off-ramp. Enter on Poplar Street.

See you in the Garden!

The weather people say Saturday will be a gorgeous day. What better than to visit a garden and, if you wish, help the gardeners?

Photo: Karl Junkersfeld

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Your Days of Perelandra Lunch Deprivation Are Over Wed, 11 Apr 2018 00:06:48 +0000

After several months of renovation, Perelandra is back to serving lunch–and maybe more importantly, coffee–to the neighborhood.
The new space will include a hot buffet, made-to-order sandwiches, and prepared meals, in addition to old standbys like a fresh juice and smoothie bar.
Among the new items on the vegan menu:
  • Smoky pulled jackfruit with red cabbage avocado slaw, pickles and cashew queso on a toasted gluten free bun
  • Sweet potato chimichurri with smoky roasted sweet potato, caramelized onion, coconut bacon, marinated kale & chimichurri spread on a toasted ciabatta roll
  • Promenade bagel with housemade cashew cream cheese, balsamic tomato relish & baby spinach on a toasted bagel 
  • Peanut butter chocolate mousse whoopie pies
  • Chickpea-vegetable frittata
  • Spicy adobo tempeh with peppers and 0nions
  • Tofu reuben: oven-roasted tofu, Hawthorne Valley biodynamic caraway seed sauerkraut, Russian dressing and cashew
  • Thai peanut salad with zucchini noodles
  • Southwestern salad with quinoa, black beans & sweet potatoes
  • Peanut butter chocolate mousse
  • Whoopie pies

While it all sounds delicious, those last two items are the ones that will have me stopping by tout de suite.

Baked goods and pastry offerings will include  root vegetable muffins, banana chocolate chip coconut muffins, chocolate chip cookies, black bean brownies, zucchini bread, coffee cake and seasonal fruit crisps.

100% of all packaging is easily recycle, and any prepared foods that aren’t sold will be picked up nightly by Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and brought to shelters to feed hungry New Yorkers that same night.

The food is prepared by kitchen manager Aly Weigle, who has been at Perelandra since 2012. A native of New Hampshire, Weigle grew up in the food industry, working in it from the time she was a teenager. While in college, she became a vegetarian and immered herself in the world of plant-based cooking.

 Perelandra is located at 175 Remsen St. (between Court & Clinton) and is open every day from 8am – 10pm.  The kitchen and juice bar close an hour earlier, at 9pm.

Open daily, and for the first time-ever, the kitchen now will be serving the full menu through the weekend, the new Kitchen & Juice Bar’s operating hours are 8am to 9pm. Perelandra is located at 175 Remsen Street (between Court & Clinton St. ) Brooklyn, NY 11201 and open daily 8am-10pm. Please visit


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Mail Bandits in Brooklyn Heights Wed, 04 Apr 2018 17:49:52 +0000

The Brooklyn Heights Association alerted members via email to be vigilant when using the corner mail boxes.

In recent months, there has been a raft of mail being illegally removed from street corner mailboxes in Brooklyn Heights, which has led to stolen identities and bank and credit card accounts being compromised.

“The NYPD has issued an alert to warn Brooklyn Heights residents that if you are mailing checks, money orders, or tax returns, to protect yourself from mailbox fishing and check fraud by taking these precautions:

  • Drop mail containing checks inside the post office
  • When writing checks, use permanent ink that cannot be erased
  • Check your bank account balance frequently to ensure that the proper amount is debited, and
  • Call 911 immediately if you see anyone tampering with a street mailbox.

The NYPD is working with the appropriate U.S.P.S. authorities to apprehend the responsible individuals.”

Image courtesy of Brooklyn Heights Association

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Silhouette Artist Returns to Brooklyn Women’s Exchange April 20-22 Wed, 04 Apr 2018 00:59:08 +0000

Silhouette artist Deborah O’Connor will be at the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange, 55 Pierrepont Street (between Henry and Hicks) Friday, April 20 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. She will “create beautiful heirloom quality silhouettes for your whole family.” Adults, children, and pets are all welcome. The silhouettes make excellent Mothers’ or Fathers’ day presents.

For more information, or to make an appointment, call 718-624-3435 or e-mail

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Design/Build for BQE Renovation Approved Tue, 03 Apr 2018 02:20:40 +0000

The Brooklyn Heights Association has let us know that the state budget, passed by the legislature and approved by Governor Cuomo on Friday, includes approval for the use of a design/build procedure for the renovation of the crumbling Brooklyn Queens Expressway below Brooklyn Heights. As the BHA noted:

This victory is the culmination of months of community effort, led by the BHA, to urge the legislature to enact a measure whose passage failed during the past two years. Had it not passed now, DOT would have proceeded with a Design-Bid-Build approach, which would have cost $113 million more to complete the BQE project and led to trucks being diverted onto local Brooklyn streets in 2026 due to the extended project timeframe.

The BHA thanked State Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon (whose office also advised us of the approval) for their efforts to secure passage, along with Governor Cuomo for his support. It also expressed gratitude to the local residents who demonstrated their support.

In related news, the BHA has announced that it will not appeal the New York Supreme Court’s decision to allow construction of the two residential towers near Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

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Brooklyn Folk Festival Returns to St. Ann’s Church April 6th through 8th Wed, 28 Mar 2018 03:50:02 +0000

The tenth annual Brooklyn Folk Festival will be at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church, Clinton and Montague streets, the weekend of Friday evening, April 5 through Sunday, April 8. A schedule of events is here.

This year’s lineup features some new performers, among them singer-songwriter Pokey LaFarge,

Many old favorites will also be performing. Among them are Jerron Paxton,

and, a special treat, the Birdman of Rome will return:

I was delighted to learn of a previous performer who has become recent addition to the lineup, Meredith Axelrod, who will be joined by Craig Ventresco:

The main stage performances will be supplemented by many others, including square dancing, in the Parish Hall, and workshops featuring films, readings, and instrumental or vocal instructions, in an upstairs room. On Sunday afternoon there will also be the Banjo Toss, at which your correspondent has always done miserably.

You may purchase tickets here.

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St. Ann’s Middle School Head Resigns; School Investigating Allegations Involving Others Going Back Many Years Sat, 24 Mar 2018 19:28:16 +0000

Buzz Feed reports that the former head of the middle school at St. Ann’s School resigned following reports that he had given parties at which students, though no current students, and recent alumni under legal drinking age had been served or allowed to consume alcohol and to smoke marijuana.

According to the Buzz Feed story, which quotes a letter sent in October 2017 to members of the St. Ann’s community by school head Vince Tompkins and Board of Trustees chair Jonathan Weld, the school is investigating allegations of “inappropriate physical contact with students by past employees of the school.” The letter said that the allegations “are to date small in number, and do not extend to any current administrators, faculty, staff or students.” The alleged incidents were said to have occurred in the 1990s or before; a later letter from Tompkins said they extended back as far as the 1960s.

Buzz Feed further quotes Tompkins and Weld in their October letter: “To distort the boundaries of the student-teacher relationship is antithetical to our school’s most deeply-held values and undermines the foundations of our educational mission … Such behavior is not, and will not be, tolerated at Saint Ann’s.”

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Open Thread Wednesday Wed, 21 Mar 2018 03:52:42 +0000

It’s another nor’easter coming, this one called Toby. What’s on your mind? Comment away!

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Public Schools Closed Tomorrow Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:41:12 +0000 Update: Schools are open tomorrow; Thursday, March 22. Notify NYC has announced that all New York City public schools are closed tomorrow, Wednesday, March 21 because of winter storm Toby. After school activities are also cancelled. There’s more information here. Update: Brooklyn Public Library branches are also closed for the storm.

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Gun In Schools Vs. Neighborhood Noise Tue, 20 Mar 2018 12:03:42 +0000

In today’s example of Politics At Its Worst, noise in our neighborhood from the BQE project is being made a pawn in the school safety bet, with state Senate Republicans tying streamlining the BQE project to a provision that would require guns in schools in New York City.

As reported by Brooklyn Paper in an article with the dismayingly clever headline “Troubleshooting: Electeds tie faster BQE fix with (sic) deploying gun-toting cops in schools,” Republican state senators will agree to allow the city to use design-build to facilitate the work on the BQE–and thus minimize its effects on our neighborhood–if “firearm-carrying officers” are required “in public learning houses.”
Unsurprisingly, this idea has not gone over well.

“I find it very distressing that they would connect these two issues,” said Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, whose Democratic majority in the lower chamber released its own one-house budget that included authorization for design-build without any conditions. “I don’t think the recent events inspire confidence in that approach — this is a very troubling proposal.”

Senators Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) and Simcha Felder (D–Midwood) are reported to have drafted a simple proposal with Democrat Brian Kavanagh, a state senator whose district includes Brooklyn Heights, likened the proposal to New Jersey’s infamous Bridgegate.

“Is this an example of the majority, if they don’t get their way on a certain policy issue, however legitimate, suggesting that perhaps ‘it’s time for traffic problems in Brooklyn,’ to borrow a phrase from New Jersey?” said Democrat Brian Kavanagh.

The state budget, of which these provisions would be a part, has a deadline of April 1 for approval, so if you want to make your feelings on this issue known, now is the time to call. And, if I may editorialize for a moment, this is a despicable union of two entirely unrelated issues, and we should let the state know that as concerned as we are about the BQE project, putting more guns in schools is not the way to address those concerns.

Get the full story at Brooklyn Paper

Photo: Jim Henderson via Wikimedia Commons. Used with permission.

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Subway Service Alerts: Brooklyn Heights and Vicinity Fri, 16 Mar 2018 03:30:17 +0000

This St. Patrick’s Day weekend — Friday, March 16 to Monday, March 19 — we in the Heights have the luck of the Irish. Sure, we have the usual, until some time this summer, cancellation of 2 or 3 train service in either direction (meaning no service at Clark Street or on the 2/3 platforms at Borough Hall). As usual, during the absence of 2/3 service, 4 and 5 (5 trains don’t usually serve Brooklyn on weekends) will provide alternate service to and into Brooklyn. From 9:30 PM Friday to 5:00 AM Monday, there will be no G train service in either direction between Hoyt-Schermerhorn and Church Avenue. A and F trains provide alternate service. Apart from that, though, there are no planned cancellations, route diversions, or station skips directly affecting service at any local stations.

The following work week — Monday, March 19 to Friday, March 23 — things get complicated again, at least during the late night hours. Each night from 9:30 PM to 5:00 AM the F and D trains resume their do-si-do, with F trains rerouted to the D line and D trains rerouted to the F in both directions, between West 4th Street and Stillwell Avenue. For F stops in Manhattan up to West 4th, you may take a D from Jay Street-MetroTech or York Street in DUMBO. If you’re going to an F stop above West 4th, you may change from the D to the F there. Conversely, if you’re taking an F from above West 4th to York or Jay, change to a D at West 4th.

Each night from 9:45 to 11:45 PM there will be no Manhattan bound service on the R/N line from Court Street or from Jay Street-Metro Tech. Use the 2 or 4 from Borough Hall as an option. From 11:45 PM to 5;00 AM each night there will be no R service in either direction at these stations, and no Manhattan bound service on the N, which normally runs on this line late at night. You may, however, still get from Manhattan to Court or Jay streets on the N during these hours.

For planned service changes that may affect travel on other parts of the system, either during the weekend or the following week, and for unplanned disruptions, see MTA Info.

Leprechaun image: Clipart Library.

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Cuomo Counsel: Ask and You Shall Receive Design/Build for BQE Fri, 09 Mar 2018 04:03:09 +0000

The Daily News reports that Alphonso David, counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a letter to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, has said that the Governor is eager to sponsor approval of a procedure called “design/build” for the needed reconstruction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway below Brooklyn Heights. Failure to provide such authorization would greatly extend the length of time to complete the project, and its expense. It could also cause the diversion of truck and other traffic to Brooklyn Heights streets.

So, what’s the problem with getting the Governor and the Legislature to approve this? According to David’s letter, it’s that the City has bundled its request for BQE design/build with design/build requests for two other projects: building new jails to replace Rikers and renovation of NYCHA housing. If each were presented individually, David wrote, the Governor would support them, and they would have a better chance of legislative approval.

Why, then does the Governor want projects, all of which he supports, presented à la carte instead of table d’hôte? For the Governor, I suspect, it’s to emphasize his and the legislature’s stranglehold on almost all city decisions, forcing the mayor and council to get state approval on virtually everything of substance. For the legislators, I believe, it’s to allow more scope for “horse trading”; e.g. “I’ll vote for your design/build on the BQE provided you vote for funding for my Waffle Iron Museum.”

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NYC DOT Engineer Says Keeping Traffic Off Brooklyn Heights Streets High Priority Thu, 08 Mar 2018 03:02:37 +0000

The Eagle’s Mary Frost has an excellent report on last week’s Brooklyn Heights Association Annual Meeting. Here are my takeaways from the meeting:

1. The featured speaker, DOT Deputy Commissioner Robert Collyer (photo) said at least twice that a primary DOT concern is keeping traffic off Brooklyn Heights streets during the BQE renovation.

2. Mr. Collyer said that DOT is considering creating alternate routes for traffic during the BQE project that wouldn’t affect the Heights or other residential areas.

3. One of the objectives of the BQE project, according to Collyer, is to “improve [vertical] clearances” on the highway. Some residents asked if this would necessitate raising the BQE roadways, thereby affecting the Promenade. Mr. Collyer said it would not, and that the preservation of the Promenade was of vital concern.

4. When asked about the proposal to create an entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park from Montague Street, the BHA took no position for or against. Mr. Collyer also remained neutral, but noted the long drop from Montague to the level of the Park and that any entrance/exit would have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

5. The BHA is considering options following the court decision allowing construction to proceed on the two high rise residential towers near Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park, including a possible appeal.

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Schools Open Wednesday, March 7 Wed, 07 Mar 2018 03:32:50 +0000 Mayor de Blasio has announced that New York City public schools will be open tomorrow, Wednesday, March 7, despite the impending storm. Alternate side of the street parking rules are suspended.

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Theater 2020’s Assassins, at St. Francis, Hits the Mark Sun, 04 Mar 2018 03:52:13 +0000

Assassins is a musical comedy conceived by Charles Gilbert, Jr., and brought to life with a book by John Weidman and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Playwrights Horizons gave it an Off-Broadway run in 1990, but it didn’t make it to Broadway until a Roundabout Theatre Company production in 2004, with Todd Haimes as Artistic Director. It’s now being staged by Theater 2020 at Founders Hall, St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street.

Theater 2020’s choice of this relatively obscure piece of Sondheimiana has proved to be prescient, as the nation has, once again, been thrown into conflict over gun violence. At the play’s beginning the entire cast is on stage when David Fuller, the play’s director, takes on the role of a carnival barker urging them all to take a shot at a President. They line up, get their guns (cap pistols), and fire away at targets, all the while singing Sondheim’s opening (and closing) number, “Everybody’s Got the Right.”

Fuller later returns to the stage in different guises, most prominently as a bumbling Gerald Ford who takes a pratfall worthy of Chevy Chase, and who survives two assassination attempts. The first is by Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme (Jana Bernard), whose gun fails to go off; the second by Sara Jane Moore (Elizabeth Kensek), who misses. Yes, the play includes failed, as well as successful, assassins.

The entire cast is superb, but I want to give special mention to Danny Wilfred (left in photo above), who plays Charles Guiteau, assassin of James Garfield, along with several other parts, and Amber Dewey (right in photo), who plays many roles, including a balladeer; the anarchist Emma Goldman, who has an encounter with Leon Czolgosz (Evan Maltby), assassin of William McKinley; and Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of John F. Kennedy. She plays these varied roles with great alacrity. Mr. Wilfred brings a powerful intensity of energy and charisma to his portrayal of Guiteau, a delusional, narcissistic con man who kills Garfield following the President’s rejection of his hopeless request to be named ambassador to France.

As I noted above, the play is timely because of our current focus on gun violence and its causes. Guns were used by all of the successful assassins, as well as all but one of the unsuccessful ones. The deranged Samuel Byck (David Arthur Bachrach) didn’t plan to shoot Richard Nixon. His plan, which was foiled, was to hijack a plane, which likely would have involved use of a gun, and crash it into the White House. As for the motivations of the real and would be assassins, only Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth (Josh Powell), and Leon Czolgosz, clearly appear to have acted for political reasons only (although one of the characters suggests that Booth was impelled to act because of his anger over some unfavorable reviews and rivalry with his actor brother, Edwin). Giuseppe Zangara (Robert Farruggia), whose attempt to assassinate the then President Elect Franklin D. Roosevelt was foiled by a woman’s hat in front of him, claimed to have acted out of hatred of capitalism, although some have claimed that his real target was Chicago mayor Anton Cermak, who was killed by Zangara’s supposedly stray bullet, and that Zangara was acting as a hitman for the mob. There has been much speculation about what motivated Oswald, given his having been murdered shortly after the assassination. His interrogation by the Dallas police provided little other than his response to the question, “Are you a communist?”, which elicited the response, “No, I am not a communist. I am a Marxist.” As with Zangara, there has been speculation that the Kennedy assassination was mob inspired.

As for the rest, Guiteau had the delusional belief that a speech he had made was the cause of Garfield’s election, and that the President owed him an ambassadorship. Fromme and John Hinckley (Christian Doyle), whose bullet hit but failed to kill Ronald Reagan, were both obsessed. Fromme loved the then imprisoned Charles Manson, and believed that a presidential assassination would create chaos during which he could be freed. Hinckley longed for Jodie Foster, and thought that killing Reagan would at last make him worthy of her notice and affection. Moore, at her sentencing, said that “at the time it seemed a correct expression of my anger.” Thirty two years later, on her release from prison, she said she regretted having been “blinded by my radical political views.”

The play ends with a reprise of the opening song, Sondheim’s “Everybody’s Got the Right”, which ends with the words, “Everybody’s got the right/ To their dreams.” Does everybody?

I recommend this play without reservation. Credits are also due to musical director and pianist Brandon Adams, costume designer Ben Philipp, lighting designer Giles Hogya, choreographer Judith Jarosz, and production stage manager Maria Marrero. Here’s another review. For a schedule of remaining performances see here, and you may buy tickets here, or at the door.

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“Motherless Brooklyn” Movie Shoot Transforms Henry Street Mon, 26 Feb 2018 04:43:25 +0000

If you were walking on Henry Street Friday and approached the block between Pineapple and Orange streets, you may have been asked to cross the street and walk on the other side, as a movie shoot was in progress. Looking across the street, you would have seen some storefronts temporarily transformed to a decades-ago look, as in the photo, along with vintage cars parked in front of them. This was for a movie adaptation, directed and with screenplay by Edward Norton, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bruce Willis, and Willem Dafoe, and based on the novel by Jonathan Lethem.

Motherless Bklyn 2

One storefront that did not get modified was that of Fortune House, which may have looked enough like an early 1950s Chinese restaurant. The photo above shows it with a Ford Customline, from that era, parked in front.

Photos by Martin Friedman; used with permission.

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“Dresden Fireworks” by Repast Baroque Ensemble this Friday Sat, 24 Feb 2018 21:27:33 +0000

This Friday evening, March 2 at 8:00 the Repast Baroque Ensemble returns to the McKinney Chapel of the First Unitarian Church, 116 Pierrepont Street (between Monroe Place and Clinton), to perform a concert of “Dresden Fireworks.” On the program are works by WF Bach, Fasch, Veracini, Vivaldi (image; shown holding an 18th century predecessor to the iPad), and Zelenka. In addition to the group’s regular musicians, the concert will feature Geoffrey Burgess, who “is known internationally as a performer of historical oboes.”

There’s more information and you may purchase tickets here.

Vivaldi image: U.S. public domain.

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Court Gives Go-Ahead to Pier Six Towers Mon, 19 Feb 2018 04:16:36 +0000

Curbed reports that New York Supreme Court Justice Carmen Victoria St. George on Friday issued a ruling dismissing a lawsuit filed by the Brooklyn Heights Association in July of 2016 against the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation and two developers, seeeking to prevent the construction of two high rise residential towers on the uplands of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier Six, near Atlantic Avenue and Furman Street.

The BHA’s suit was based on language in the Park’s General Project Plan providing that no more private development would be allowed in the park than is necessary to provide the Park with funds, in the form of payments in lieu of taxes (“PILOTS”), needed to provide for the Park’s ongoing maintenance and operations. The BHA engaged financial experts who compared the Park’s maintenance and operational needs with what they considered the likely amount of PILOT revenue to be generated by already completed or soon to be so commercial and residential projects. These projects, the experts concluded, would produce more than enough revenue to cover all reasonably expected maintenance and operational costs. The BBPC’s and developers’ experts disagreed.

The Curbed story quotes the judge’s ruling as follows: “[while the BHA’s experts] provided rational alternatives to the analyses of respondents’ experts … [i]t simply means that respondents had more than one acceptable path to take in their review of this complex and multi-part project”. This implies that “build” and “don’t build” were both acceptable results within the terms of the General Project Plan, which seems odd. Perhaps it reflects the court’s sense of frustration following repeated attempts to get the parties to reach a compromise and settle the suit.

Curbed reports that the BHA has issued a statement of its “disappointment” with the court’s ruling, noting that it still strongly believes the Pier Six towers “far exceed the Park’s fiscal needs.” It also notes that the BHA “is considering its next steps in its long-term effort to ensure that the BBPC complies with its legal obligations.”

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Update on Design/Build for BQE: Meeting Tomorrow Evening Wed, 14 Feb 2018 16:27:51 +0000 As an update to our post below, reader Chris Bastian has alerted us to a meeting of the Brooklyn Heights Association’s Transportation Committee on Thursday evening, February 15, starting at 7:00, at 38 Sidney Place. The purpose of the meeting is

to prepare comments for the BQE Repair Scoping Meeting on Feb 27, and to discuss the State’s proposed Congestion Pricing strategy. All are welcome.

If you wish to attend, please RSVP to

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What’s Holding Up Approval Of Design/Build For The BQE? Wed, 14 Feb 2018 04:31:23 +0000

Last June we noted here that a procedure called “design/build”, in which the same contractors bid on both the design and construction aspects of a project, could greatly shorten the time necessary to do the vital reconstruction and repair work on the cantilevered portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, beneath Brooklyn Heights and the Promenade. In December we observed that, without design/build, the project could be delayed beyond a point at which it would be necessary to divert trucks from this stretch of the highway onto Brooklyn Heights streets.

The Brooklyn Heights Association has been very active in the effort to get design/build approved. Last Friday morning there was a demonstration (photo) sponsored by State Senator Brian Flanagan and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, held at the Montague Street entrance to the Promenade. Design/build will also be the principal topic of the BHA’s Annual Meeting, to be held on Wednesday, February 28 at Founders Hall, St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. Finally, the BHA has chartered a bus to take concerned residents to Albany on Tuesday, March 6, to meet with legislators whose approval is crucial to the project. Seats are limited, so you should register here as soon as possble, or call 718-858-9193. Although the BHA’s maim page on the BQE reconstruction says there is no charge for the event, the registration page linked above requires a $30 “event fee.” Perhaps this can be avoided by using the phone option.

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BHS Presents “Free Love” This Friday Evening, February 9 Thu, 08 Feb 2018 03:43:33 +0000

This Friday evening, February 9, from 5:00 to 9:00, the Brooklyn Historical Society will present “Free Love”, a Free Friday event that gives you an opportunity to warm up for Valentine’s Day. The evening will get going with keyboardist Natti Vogel doing “anthems to singledom and trysts without strings attached.” Afterward, there will be talks and videos on various topics concerning love through the years in the Borough of Churches er, Cherce. Admission is free and you need no reservation; refreshments, which will include beer and “Age of Aquarius Punch”, may require a small donation. There’s more information here.

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City to Designate Ten Parking Spots in the Heights to Rideshare Vehicles Sat, 03 Feb 2018 19:44:23 +0000

Oh boy, this is bound to incite a rousing debate. WPIX reports that the City has chosen 14 neighborhoods for its two-year pilot program to designate certain parking spots to rideshare companies such as Zipcar. Park Slope and Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens will have to relinquish 30 spots each. Boerum Hill will have to do without 20, and Brooklyn Heights and Red Hook, 10 each.

Photo credit: By Herzi Pinki (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Grace Church WinterFair Saturday, February 3 Fri, 02 Feb 2018 02:52:40 +0000

This Saturday, February 3, from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Grace Church, 254 Hicks Street (between Grace Court and Joralemon) will hold its annual WinterFair. On sale will be men’s, women’s, and kids’ clothing, books, CDs and DVDs, housewares, furniture, plants, toys, and other goods. There will be a luncheon and a kids’ cafe.

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Pier Six Towers Update: Developers Busy Building and Advertising Despite No Court Decision Tue, 30 Jan 2018 03:48:16 +0000

The Brooklyn Paper reports that the developers of the two controversial high rise residential towers on the uplands of Pier Six, near the Atlantic Avenue entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park and on park land, have already done extensive construction work on one of the two towers (see photo in story linked above) and are, as the story indicates, already advertising to (although not yet accepting any money from) prospective condo buyers. This is despite there is as yet no final ruling on a lawsuit brought by the Brooklyn Heights Association and others to prevent construction of the towers, on the contention that revenue from them is not necessary to fund the park’s maintenance. As it stands, a judge has ordered that, while construction may proceed at the developers own risk, they should do nothing “that is irreversible or incapable of restoration to its original condition” until the court issues its final decision.

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