Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Vote for Nurse Ratched! - Fictional Campaign Sign Contest

The Morning News is running a contest inviting you to submit photos of actual campaign signs for fictional candidates. Got that? Real signs, fake candidates. Deadline is this Friday, November 3rd, at midnight. Start painting those placards.

Happy Halloween, Spooky

Washington Square Park, by Joe's NYC

Where Do All Those Damn Tourists Come From?

Worldmapper, out of the University of Sheffield, has signed the death warrant for the standard world map that hung in our world history classrooms. Instead, they give us maps where the countries expand or shrink like distended balloons based on variables like income, population, and more. Here you can compare the origins of tourists across the globe with the origins of refugees.

Tourists made 665 million trips in 2003. Most were residents of Western Europe, North America and Eastern Europe. From Central Africa, South Eastern Africa and Southern Asia - not so much. While residents of Antigua and Barbuda left their islands 3.66 times per year (lucky bastards!), residents of Angola traveled on average 0.0002 times per year.

In 2003 there were 15 million refugees and internally displaced persons internationally. The highest numbers came from (1) Serbia and Bosnia, (2) Iraq, Afghanistan and Azerbaijan.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Up Close & Personal with the Gowanus Canal

gowanus, originally uploaded by f.trainer.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ghosts of Old Brooklyn Farmhouses

It's an age-old story. Brooklyn transplant falls in love with his new borough and sets about photographing it voraciously, aware that what he sees through his lens is changing every day and might soon fall victim to the relentless pressures of urbanization and modernization. 2006? No, 1906.

Between 1905 and 1911, Clinton Irving Jones traveled the outer boroughs, using a bellows camera with glass plate negatives to preserve the old farmhouses, barns and mills of neighborhoods like Flatlands, Flatbush and Elmhurst. The negatives were recently rediscovered and were bought through ebay by Dumbo gallery owner David Sokosh. Sokosh is displaying them until next Sunday at his gallery, Underbridge Pictures, at 111 Front Street.

Photo: 1224 Fulton St., between Bedford and Nostrand, under the elevated train [map]
The Last Strains of a Pastoral Song [NY Times]

Phony Demolitions as Brooklyn Eviction Tactic

Five buildings in Prospect Heights and Park Slope face eviction based on their landlord's claim that he plans to wholly demolish or do a gut rehab of their building. The landlord, Frank Farricker, is currently running for Connecticut State Senate on an affordable housing platform.

Although Farricker insists that he will respect tenants' rent-stabilized leases, which guarantee tenants the right to renew their lease, Farricker's real estate investment firm's application to the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal suggests otherwise. The application asks the agency's approval for Farricker "to refuse renewal of" tenant leases "and/or proceed for eviction."

Bennett Baumer, who works for the Metropolitan Council on Housing, charged that "this is a mass eviction that he's applied for, so his intention is to have everybody out on the street. He says one thing in Connecticut and does another thing in Brooklyn."

Read more: Greenwich Times, New York Times.
Photo: 217 St. John's Place, one of the buildings Farricker seeks to gut.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Graffitti on the Gowanus

Graffitti on the Gowanus, originally uploaded by daltonrooney.

Photo of the day from the Gowanus Canal.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Good News From Around the City for Bikes & Pedestrians

Ever tried to cross from the Central Library at Grand Army Plaza to the farmer's market? Then you know that the timing of the lights will leave you stranded on a tiny traffic island as traffic whizzes by you in both directions. Streets Blog reported today that the Department of Transportation has corrected the timing of the lights, after repeatedly insisting that to do that would have a disruptive ripple effect on neighborhood traffic. DOT is also planning to implement other pedestrian-friendly changes at Grand Army Plaza over roughly the next year. Check out Streets Blog for the full report.

What effect does traffic have on neighborhoods? Besides what you might expect, Transportation Alternatives' new study, Traffic's Human Toll, found that New Yorkers living on streets with high volumes of traffic spend less time outside and are more likely to restrict their
children's outdoor play compared to people who live on "medium" and "low" traffic streets. The study also finds that compared to residents on low traffic streets, residents on high traffic streets are twice as likely to be disrupted by traffic while they are walking, talking, eating, playing with kids and sleeping.

Want to check out the Bronx waterfront? The Department of City planning has just released the Bronx Harlem River Waterfront Bicycle and Pedestrian Study, which proposes to improve pedestrian and bike access to the waterfront by adding off-street paths or striped bike lanes. Click here for the full report.

Photo, an inventive entrance to the bike path in Toronto, by mute*.

This Sunday

Bye sun, originally uploaded by Mazda6.

For Kaija, originally uploaded by pirate johnny.

Gloomy days are upon us.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Maps of Other Lands: Narnia

First of an occasional series.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Zombies Take Manhattan

Zombiecon 2006 kicked off on Saturday with a bloody mary brunch on the upper east side. The locals who showed up to watch the game on the telly were, shall we say, a little befuddled to see that so many people who belong below 14th Street had taken over their bar and were busily applying zombie blood and make-up.
After traipsing through the Bloomingdale's perfume floor - we definitely needed something special to cover up that funky grave smell - we hit the subway to head to Times Square.
There's nothing more classic than a subway car full of New Yorkers, who, when zombies crowd into the car, look up briefly from their newspaper, make a snarky comment or two, and go right back to their reading. Does nothing phase you? Nothing?
FAO Schwartz management was not exactly thrilled to see us. Neither was Red Lobster - despite bringing our own bibs and politely asking the maitre de for a "table for 95, please," they kicked us out too. Passers-by were very sympathetic about the zombie discrimination.
Next - zombies gotta eat. Ordering from a waitress who's seen it all at the Times Square Pub.
Revitalized, we hit the street again. Next up: Union Square and a few more bars. Somewhat surprisingly, the tourists were way more playful and into the whole thing than the downtown New Yorkers.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

1964 World's Fair Subway Map

On this date in 1964, the New York World's Fair ended its first six-month run at Flushing Meadows. More than fifty-one million people saw the Fair, which was planned by the infamous Robert Moses and is now best remembered for the "Tent of Tomorrow" and Unisphere.

To mark the occasion, the MTA published a special subway map that explained how to get there - I guess some things don't change, we still need help getting to Queens.

Map courtesy of Ryn

Neckface Kicks

Graffiti artist Neckface has teamed up with Vans to put out a series of skate shoes emblazoned with his designs. After being based out of NYC for a number of years, Neckface has moved back to his native California. You can still see his prickly arms stretching across NYC walls and rooftops - a great view of a big one is from the F train as it goes above ground at Smith/9th. My personal favorites are his stickers (below), which show his irreverent and self-deprecating sense of humor.

"Die Brooklyn Yuppies"

IMGP5757, originally uploaded by amg2000.

Found in the men's room at Bonnie's Grill on Park Slope's hipper strip, 5th Ave. The snarky reply to "die Brooklyn yuppies" says "before or after brunch?"

Monday, October 16, 2006

Part II: Halleck Street Ikea

On a recent trip to the planned Ikea site in Red Hook, I checked in on the former truck loading zone next to where the graving dock used to be. Although the graving dock was destroyed by Ikea in the last month or so, the truck loading zone next door still remains and is virtually unchanged. I believe Ikea plans to turn this area into a parking lot, and I imagine they'll leave it for a while longer while they're building the store. Soon enough, though, another of the few wild and forgotten places hidden in the city will be gone.

inside, graffiti on the concrete walls

jury-rigged fencing

"Do not pick up / girls in this / area thay got / aids"

where truck used to exit the loading zone, viewed from Hallack Street

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Last Glimpses of Halleck St Ikea Site

The bulldozing of the Todd Shipyard in Red Hook appears almost complete, paving the way (no pun intended) for Ikea's planned store. For now, there's still some street art along Halleck Street. Although graffiti and street art is always ephemeral, these are almost guaranteed to disappear when Ikea sanitizes the area.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Dumba at the Under the Bridge Festival

Brooklyn Ramblings checked out the Dumbo artists open studios today. Powerhouse Books presented No Sleep 'til Brooklyn, a hip hop retrospective that runs until November 19, and includes classic shots from the 1980s, some intense series, and current shots from around Brooklyn. Art collective Dumba showed a number of artists, and the collective itself is something to see. These kids have put a lot of work into the building over the years, and it shows. Here are two shots from their place.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Oh Cambodian, Where Might You Be

The search for Cambodian food in New York City continues. After some short but basically exhaustive internet research on the Cambodian community in New York, I made a guess that if there was Cambodian food to be had, it would be in the Bronx along Fordham Road. You can see my earlier post and the map showing how much time I had on my hands here.

I took a trip up there after work on Tuesday. As I walked along Fordham Road near the D train I quickly saw that the stores were all pretty high-rent places - national chain stores, fast food joints, and local powerhouses like Jimmy Jazz. A mom and pop restaurant isn't likely to be able to pay that rent. On the west side of the Grand Concourse, the stores get a little more local - cell phones stores, pizza joints, and bodegas. But still no Cambodian food. I couldn't find anything but Goya in the bodegas.

I must have looked lost, as I was soon greeted with "hey guy - whatcha lookin' for?" When I said Cambodian, my good samaritan just looked bewildered. But then I started getting some interesting leads. First I stopped in at St. Rita's youth program, which does a lot of work in the Cambodian community. The staff there told me that there was a Cambodian grocery a few blocks away, above the park on University. Very excited, I walked there, but it turned out to be a Vietnamese grocery. The owner pointed me towards Jerome Ave just south of Kingsbridge, where he said there was a larger Asian grocery that was owned by someone who is Cambodian. Once at Phnom Penh Market (2639 Jerome), the owner confirmed that she was Cambodian but said that they didn't sell any Cambodian food, just Thai and Vietnamese. This is the point in my fantasy where I would get invited to their house for some home cooking, but alas, that didn't happen. I also went and peeked into Phung Hung across the street (2614 Jerome), but their food appeared to be just Vietnamese. They were closed, so I couldn't investigate further, but this place might deserve a return trip.

Sadly, it seems that there is no Cambodian food to be had in the five boroughs. It almost (almost) makes me sad that the place in Fort Greene has shut down. It seems that I'm going to have to content myself with driving a few hours to Apsara's in Providence for their nime chow. Translation: heaven.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Gowanus Artists Are Agast

Coming up October 21st and 22nd is the annual Gowanus Artists Studio Tour (aka AGAST), now in its tenth year. In those ten years, they've grown from 15 artists to over 120.

On a crisp fall day, it's easy to get off at one of the nearby F train stops and amble from studio to studio. As in past years, if you get your "passport" stamped at four of seven locations, you can win prizes donated by local businesses. (Full disclosure: I won a lovely dinner at Aunt Suzie's a few years back - thanks guys.)

The multitude of street graffiti in the Gowanus area are not an official part of the studio tour, but are well worth checking out. Keep your eyes peeled for gems by elbow-toe, TO, cheekz, flower face killah, royce bannon, gore b, inkhead, metal-worker revs, and others.

more: photo tour of Gowanus [Bluejake]

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Top CL Missed Connections Locations

Today on Gawker, where you should go if you want to find yourself on Craigslist's Missed Connections. The list reads like a compendium of how New Yorkers live. A whopping 35% of unredeemed moments occurred (duh) on the subway. And NYU bred more missed connections than Columbia. Is this because: NYU students are hotter? more wimpy than their up-town rivals at asking someone out? or more easily distracted from their books? You be the judge. Also: you've got an equal chance of a missed connection involving a cop, Home Depot, a barber, or a hypnosis show. There must be a link there somewhere.

Elsewhere: Gowanus Lounge on Gawker's line by line subway breakdown.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Open House New York Picks

My recommendations for Open House New York, which is this Saturday and Sunday. It's the third year of this cool event that lets you get a behind-the-scenes look at many of New York's historic private, government and corporate buildings. My picks here are some of the unusual places that you can't usually get access to.

Floyd Bennett Field
Ryan Visitor Center, Brooklyn
Sat: 9am-5pm; Guided tour Saturday at 10am.
Sun: 9am-5pm
Crowds used to gather at NYC's first airport to cheer pioneer aviators such as Howard Hughes. Take the rare opportunity to visit the site's historic control tower and the underground access tunnel that led to the runways.

Old Croton Aqueduct Walking Tour
Sun: 9:30 am
Reserve a spot by emailing aqueduct@verizon.net. Meet at the SW corner of The Great Lawn, Central Park: benches between the lawn and the Delacorte Theatre
Walk the path of one of America's great early engineering achievements, and NY's first source of plentiful, pure water. Organized by Friends of Old Croton Aqueduct.

Ellis Island's South Side - reservation only Update - reservations are no longer being accepted.
Sat: 9:30, 11 am, 12:30, 2 pm, 3:30 pm to Sun: 9:30, 11 am, 12:30, 2 pm, 3:30 pm
Reservations: 212-363-3206 ext. 580. Meet at the information desk, Ellis Island Immigration Museum, Ellis Island
Tour the grounds of the abandoned Ellis Island hospital where 1 million immigrants were treated between 1900-1954. Wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes. No children under age 16 will be permitted.

Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch at Grand Army Plaza
Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn
Sat: 11am-4pm
Sun: 11am-4pm
NYC's grandest arch, built in the style of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, commemorates the Union forces of the Civil War. Climb up to the roof for views of the surrounding park and skyline.

Grand Central Terminal
East 42nd St & Park Avenue, Meet at Main Concourse Information Booth New York
Sat: 10am-5pm
Sun: 10am-5pm
Tours with renovation architect 10 am & 12 pm, reservations ohny@bbbarch.com.
Tour the Beaux-Arts icon and learn its history and secrets.

Grand Lodge of Masons
71 West 23rd Street, New York
Sat: 10am-4pm
Sun: Closed
View the lavishly decorated rooms of the Freemasons meeting place, which reflect this ancient organization's unique history and mission.

High Line Cell Phone Tour
820 Washington Street, New York
Oct 7, 2006 & Oct 8, 2006, All day/night
Self-guided cell phone tour discusses various stopping points along the High Line, the disused freight rail currenlty undergoing conversion into NYC's first elevated park. Dial the main phone number 888-7-LOOK-UP starting Saturday, Oct 7th. Each stop has its own three-digit extension. Organized by the Friends of the High Line.
Also: High Line Viewing
Sat: 11am-5pm; Sun: 12pm-5pm
Project design presentations, 1-4 pm on the hour.
This disused, elevated rail viaduct is being converted to public open space. View the progress from the platform of a former meatpacking building.

Astoria Pool
19th Street & 23rd Avenue, Astoria
Sat: 10am-1pm
Sun: Closed
Meet at pool entrance at 19th Street and 24th Avenue. Tours at 10 am, 11 am & 12 pm.
Tour this 330-ft Art Deco pool's underground infrastructure with its innovative filtration system, orginal details and spectacular East River views.

Graving Dock Update

Tipsters reported to B61 Productions that Ikea began filling in the Todd Shipyard graving dock in Red Hook sometime last month. It had been thought that Ikea was waiting for approval from the Army Corps of Engineers before committing to tearing down the historic 19th century graving dock to turn it into a parking lot.

The Gowanus Lounge has a recent update on what Ikea is doing. In speaking to the Carroll Gardens Courier, Ikea's spokesperson pooh-poohed criticisms of the project and tried to make it sound as though the nay-sayers were all from outside New York. Blaming those craaaazy outside agitators is a common way of trying to rebut organizing, but it's an odd tack for Ikea to take when talking to a local Brooklyn paper.

When the question is "should Ikea come to Brooklyn?," there are strong feelings and good reasons on both sides of the issue. That's not the question, though (we're a little past that point). I go to the Gowanus Lounge for his incisive analysis:
We have many things to say about Ikea's offensive brush off of legitimate concerns, but will limit ourselves to a few: First, it's bad PR to broadcast blatant disregard for the community in which you are building. There are legitimate divisions of opinion regarding the Ikea Red Hook. There are strong critics that object to Ikea's location. There are strong supporters who welcome it. There are an awful lot of people in between, who don't think that a few compromises--like saving the graving dock--are so out of line.

We have nothing against Ikea, per se. We have dealt with execs at existing Ikea locations and have found them to be decent and community-minded people. On the whole, we find Ikea's corporate behavior less troubling than, say, Wal-Mart and other huge firms, but we think Ikea's position on the graving dock is wrong and its attitude is nothing short of arrogant. (We'll leave aside its brutish demolition of historic buildings, of which we're not big fans either.)
Hear, hear.

Photo: Inauguration of the Todd Shipyard Graving Dock from the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Long Island City to be Green-Roof Leader

Silvercup Studios, the home of Tony Soprano, now has another claim to fame. It's the site of the largest green-roof in New York City, and it may soon become the anchor for a neighborhood of green-roofs.

Metropolitan Magazine reports this week that Long Island City is an opportunity waiting to happen. It's not a particularly healthy place to grow up, with a high incidence of asthma and very few parks. But it's loaded with flat roofs that lend themselves to rooftop vegetation. Put enough of these rooftop parks together and they can help lower the heat index, make the air cleaner, and reduce storm-water runoff.

Landscape architect Diana Balmori, the
Long Island City Business Development Corporation, and the owners of Silvercup Studios worked together to make the Silvercup green-roof a reality. They planted the roof this summer - right in the middle of the heat wave. Since they included a monitoring station, they'll be able to track the effectiveness of the green-roof. Could be, Long Island City will feel a little bit cooler next summer.

Tourists Are Not Permitted Beyond This Point

Photo of the Day, courtesy of NewYorkology.