The Lively Letters – and Interesting Times – of My Cousin Lillie

By David Fay Smith

Lillie de Hegermann-Lindencrone's author photo for her first memoir. She studied with the same voice teacher as Jenny Lind and sometimes sang duets with her at private dinners, but Lillie did not want a life upon the stage.

Lillie de Hegermann-Lindencrone’s author photo for her first memoir, taken in about 1908. She studied with the same voice teacher as Jenny Lind had, and sometimes sang duets with her at private dinners, but Lillie did not want a life upon the public stage like Jenny Lind’s.

I RECENTLY OPENED A BOX OF BOOKS that had been in storage  – usually a dubious proposition – and discovered a copy of In the Courts of Memory by Lillie de Hegermann-Lindencrone, a second cousin several generations removed. (Her mother and my great-great-grandmother were first cousins, but only a Hobbit would care.) Lillie Greenough was born into a musical family in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was well known there at a very young age for her remarkable soprano voice. In 1859, at the age of 15, her mother took her to London so she could be trained by Manuel Garcia, a famous voice teacher of the time.

By 1862 she is living in Paris, married to Charles Moulton, a wealthy American banker, and partying at the Second Empire – as the court of Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie was known – all the while writing letters to the folks back home, detailing who was there, what they wore, what they did for entertainment, what music was performed, and what she sang, for she was almost always asked to sing. For example, in June 1867, she entertains Franz Liszt, Prince and Princess Metternich (the Austrian ambassador) and 25 other people, including the composers Daniel Auber and Jules Massenet. Auber brought along a manuscript, which Liszt glanced at, “and said ‘C’est très jolie.‘ After dinner, and a cigar in the conservatory, ìhe went to the piano and played the ‘jolie‘ little thing of Auber’s.” From memory!

“He seemed extraordinarily amiable that evening,” she wrote, “for he sat down at the piano without being asked and played a great many of his compositions. One has generally to tease and beg him, and then he refuses. But I think when he heard Massenet improvising at one of the pianos he was inspired, and he put himself at the other (we have two grand pianos), and they played divinely, both of them improvising.”

Known as the "Swedish Nightengale," Jenny Lind also was a student of Manuel Garcia and became world-famous for her operatic soprano. P.T. Barnum brought her to tour the US in 1851. Dress and even furniture styles were named for her.

Known as the “Swedish Nightingale,” Jenny Lind studied with Manuel Garcia in 1841, and became world-famous for her operatic soprano. P.T. Barnum brought her to tour the US in 1851, and later she made her own very successful tour circuit. Dress, hair, and even furniture styles were named for her.

Lillie has a sharp eye (and ear) for detail (and for human nature), and provides a vivid, sometimes acerbic image of the life and times of the very, very rich. Imagine Downton Abbey, but with appearances by people like Massenet, Liszt, Gounod, Rossini, Wagner, Jenny Lind (with whom she sings duets), and Sarah Bernhardt – not to mention all the royalty and near-royalty. Lillie is in France during the Franco Prussian War (1870) and in Paris during the Paris Commune (1871), an uprising of anarchists and Marxists who depose Napoleon III and rule the city for 72 days of chaos and bloodshed. A few years after her husband, Charles Moulton, dies, she marries the Danish minister to the United States, and travels with him to diplomatic posts in Stockholm, Rome, Paris, Washington, and Berlin.

My cousin Lillie lived in interesting times, and often had a good vantage to observe the people and events. In the Courts of Memory is only the first volume, covering 1858-1875. The second is The Sunny Side of Diplomatic Life, 1875-1912, which was not in our storage box and I intend to read on my iPad. (Both are available as free e-books at Project Guttenberg.)

Brooklyn Artisan Contributor David Fay Smith is the author of  A Computer Dictionary for Kids and Other Beginners, and a former columnist for Publishers Weekly.

What Makes a Book ‘Rare’ –– And Do You Have One?

Heather O'Donnell at the Community Bookstore meeting, living-room style. Plenty of social skill goes into face-to-face book evaluations, and the rare book expert never knows what to expect. (Partially visible behind Heather is her young daughter, sitting sideways, absorbed by "The Guiness Book Of Records, 2013."

Rare-book advisor Heather O’Donnell at the Community Bookstore’s living room-style meeting. Plenty of social skill as well as professional knowledge goes into face-to-face book evaluations with the owners. (Partly visible behind Heather is her daughter, absorbed by “The Guiness Book Of Records, 2013.”) (Photograph by Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool)

ON THURSDAY NIGHT AT THE COMMUNITY BOOKSTORE ON SEVENTH AVENUE, Heather O’Donnell set out to shine a little light on the subject of rare and collectible books for more than a dozen of her Park Slope neighbors. “Rare books are my passion,” she said, and hastened to reassure her listeners sitting with books on their laps that she also enjoyed seeing and evaluating all sorts of interesting or cherished books from personal bookshelves, no matter how modest, and hearing the stories about them. Literature is her specialty: Before founding Honey & Wax Booksellers in 2011, Heather earned a Ph.D. in English literature, taught at Princeton, and then worked for seven years for Bauman Rare Books, on Madison Avenue.

That location was open to the public, she said, and though usually she enjoyed the social contact and always cherished the occasional surprise discovery of a valuable volume, Heather allowed as how yes, as in any business, there were occasional bad days. In her business, a bad day can be opening the doors to “belligerent people with worthless books.” (Chuckles around the room.)

A pristine Gatsby jacket of the first edition,1925, can multiply the value 50 times over.

A pristine Gatsby jacket of the first edition, 1925, can multiply the value 50 times over.

The rarity of a book is determined by its scarcity balanced against its desirability, she said. In general, book collectors look for first printings of books of importance, in good shape and with the dust jacket intact. Ideally there would be no fading, heavy wear or tearing of the book jacket or its binding; no stains or coffee rings, please, especially not on the cover (note to self: buy more coasters); no loose or missing pages, and – god forbid! – no yellow highlighting or disfiguring scribbles on the pages. Daintily penciled notes in the margins okay? It all depends on the collector.

Heather gave the example of a first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby: in pristine condition including its dust jacket, it would sell in the neighborhood of $200,000; without the jacket, not so much – in fact, probably around $4000. (A quick glance at nearby laps showed few intact jackets; Brooklyn Artisan felt a little better about the bare-naked books we’d brought.) Authentic author’s autographs may enhance value but don’t guarantee it, we learned, and inscriptions like “Happy birthday to the best boy in the whole world, Love, Grandma,” while certainly not sought after, aren’t necessarily disastrous, either. Again, it all depends.

We got some pointers on research we could do ourselves such as looking at the standard reference works by Allen and Patricia Ahearn and searching on AbeBooks, which a librarian can help with, or even using amazon.com or ebay.com just to begin to get a fix on availability and price. Looking at auction records is better yet; again, the right librarian can coach you. Once you’ve done some homework, if the signs auger well, then you may be ready for the next step: approaching a dealer.

The moment had come to show the books that had been brought. It felt just a little like an audition. There were some nice books: a first edition of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, by Gertrude Stein, still wearing its jacket. [Read more…]

ODD CONNECTIONS: ‘Avarice’ at the Brooklyn Museum and ….

Brooklyn Museum "Avarice" Fernando Mastrangelo 2008IT’S A SHOW-STOPPING GRAND FINALE TO BROOKLYN MUSEUM’S GREAT-HALL EXHIBIT Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn, and no wonder, for the piece is spectacular. To Brooklyn Artisan’s surprise, it’s even more striking in situ than Gaston Lachaise’s monumental “Standing Woman” –  which we’d gone there to have another fond look at. (That, and the bronze foursome from Rodin’s “The Burghers of Calais” who’re standing around in the covered courtyard.)

What stunned us – and won us –  is the disc-shaped piece almost ten feet in diameter that’s called “Avarice.” Part of the museum’s collection of contemporary art, it was made in 2008 by Fernando Mastrangelo, who was then 30. Mastrangelo is a Brooklyn-based artist (whose mom lives in Texas, one learns from his Facebook page). As the name suggests, “Avarice” combines art and politics. Its artistic basis is, of course, the circa-1500 Aztec Calendar Stone – which recorded the creation story of the Aztec world – with the face of Tonatiuh, the Sun God, at the center. The political statement is what it’s made of, a wry example of Marshall McCluhan’s dictum that “the medium is the message.” The media in this case are:  White corn, white and yellow corn meal, epoxy, fiberglass, wood, and metal. (And maybe just a small shovelful from the recycling bin?)

In adjacent panels, some cobs and a Coke. Sounds like a summer snack in Mississippi.

In nearby panels, some cobs and a Coke. Staples of an American summer diet.

Toothpaste, spark plug, sliced lunch meat, see anything else?

Toothpaste, spark plugs, deli sliced meat. (Photos: Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool.)

The museum sign also tells us, “The depiction of corn-based products draws attention to Mexico’s mass cultivation of corn to meet energy needs (via ethanol) and foreign consumer demands.” The Aztec visual reference brings up the whole sordid story of the Spanish Conquest; the devil in the details, however, is the “avarice” of North American agribusiness and consumer culture. Take a look at these close-ups and the large image at top, and you’ll find some telltale items.

Political art is nothing new for Mastrangelo; his 2010 TED Talk spoke of art as an evolving way to record history, to tell the story and capture the spirit of one’s times, including in today’s digital world. Last year he had a 3-month show in Miami at the Charest-Weinberg Gallery called Black Sculpture. The gallery write-up makes clear this is not about race. “After creating exact molds based on the work of Frank Stella and Ad Reinhardt, Mastrangelo casts his reliefs out of compacted gunpowder. The pieces teeter on the precipice of annihilation.” Yikes, talk about jimmy-crack-corn. “Yet the pieces are not simply bombastic,” the gallery says; “submerged beneath the tense potential for destruction is an elegiac calm. They give form to the Existential angst that inspired their Cold War-era predecessors….The black gunpowder, coupled with the Reinhardt’s cruciform and Stella’s teleological line work, firmly suggests an end of something.” Indeed. One hopes all future shows will be firmly No-Smoking zones.

Brooklyn Artisan came across what seemed to be a clear Brooklyn influence in Mastrangelo’s other discographic work from 2008 (click through to have a look). Though our favorite was composed of “Turquoise Sugar, Red Arbol Chili, Corn, Corn meal” and titled “Xochiquetzal,” we knew at a glance its visual vocabulary was from Brownstone Brooklyn’s   ornate plaster ceiling medallions, including the hole for the chandelier.

Meanwhile, back in the Great Hall: The stated purpose of the Brooklyn Museum exhibit is to “create new ways of looking at art by making connections between cultures as well as objects…. Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn was a joint effort of the Brooklyn Museum’s curators, organized by Kevin Stayton, Chief Curator. The installation was designed by Matthew Yokobosky, Chief Designer at the Brooklyn Museum” and financial support for the long-term installation came from Lisa and Dick Cashin. Brooklyn Artisan salutes them all, but as much as we enjoyed working the room, we do admire this comment shown on the museum’s own web site: “it’s a strange collection that doesn’t seem to sync with each other. reminds me more of a victorian living room than a museum exhibit.” — Posted by Tameka G.

From totally outside the museum scope, there was one more odd cultural connection we couldn’t help making. Last fall Brooklyn Artisan visited another great hall exhibit, “American Made,” put on in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Station by Martha Stewart. In our photos made at the time, take a look at the sign and its detail.

Painter's tape, sparkly braid and bating brush.

Painter tape, sequin braid, brush.

From the exhibit in Grand Central's Vanderbilt Hall.

From Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall.

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn: Need a fix for the winter doldrums?

Get out of your comfort zone with a challenging class that uses new materials, techniques and ideas. Here’s some of our favorite classes, coming up right now:
IMG_0816

What better time than cold, grey January to cocoon with warm, soft
yarn?
I’m thinking that it’s time to take a class to learn a challenging stitch
or two, handle some new wool and see what others are working on.

HANDS ON

Entrelac Knitting at Argyle Yarn Shop
This is one of several classes offered at this new Windsor Terrace yarn shop that make complicated-looking techniques easier to learn. During the two-hour class, up to six students will learn to knit a scarf using Entrelac technique. The final result resembles a basket-weave type of texture, accomplished by using only knit and purl stitches. 10% discount toward yarn and needles is offered on the day of the class. Sunday, January 20. 1pm-3:30pm.

knit

A knitting knobby, aka spool knitter, may appeal to young children learning to knit.

Parent & Child Knitting at Brooklyn General Store
Knitting is a wonderful skill to learn and share and should be started young! My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was seven, and I went crazy knowing that I could save up a few quarters and go to Woolworth’s, buy a huge skein of Coats and Clark knitting worsted in colors that striated all over the color wheel, and knit me up a scarf in a week or so. I later moved on to knitting skirts and vests out of all kinds of acrylic fluff—this was the 60s, you know—and watch out when I learned to make fringe! Grandmother taught me Continental-style knitting, but I found the English style easier, and to this day I knit English style and it has never cramped my technique. When I came across the Parent & Child Knitting class at Brooklyn General Store, I totally approved. This 3-week class is designed to encourage creative interaction between parent and child (age 7 and up). Together you’ll learn basic knitting skills including how to cast on, knit, purl, bind off, and decipher simple instructions. Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill. Sundays, beginning January 13, 5pm-6:30pm.

Ronimainworkshop

Screenprinting, once abandoned by art schools and artists as unhealthy with its use of solvents and oil-based inks, is having a resurgence. Master printer Roni Henning (pictured in green tee) tells all at her open-studio workshops in Bay Ridge.

Screenprinting with master print artisan Roni Henning
Learn to create water-based screenprints and monoprints using non-toxic techniques pioneered by printmaker Roni Henning. Screenprinting has personal, professional and commercial applications that will be explored at open-studio workshops. Using hand and digital methods, Roni will cover basics for those unfamiliar with screen printing, along with demonstrations of more complex techniques. Roni, a reknown artist and author, collaborates with artists to create fine art editions (Romare Bearden, Andy Warhol, Red Grooms, and Alice Neel are on her resume). Bay Ridge. Sessions scheduled twice a month. Contact Roni through her website to sign up.

NYC Resistor teaches students to“Fire the Lazzzzor!”

NYC Resistor teaches students to
“Fire the Lazzzzor!” safely and creatively.

Laser Design and Rapid Prototype at NYC Resistor
Using an Epilog 35 Watt Laser, learn basic rapid prototype techniques, safety and design skills, and make a piece during this three hour class. Class fees include lab time for laser cutting, Q&A, and working with design software like Inkscape, Illustrator or Corel Draw. Scrap materials for experimenting with are provided, and additional materials such as laserable acrylic can be purchased to use. This hands-on class will go step-by-step from initial idea to pressing the “go” button on the laser. NYC Resistor is a hacker collective that meets regularly to share knowledge, hack on projects and build community. Founding member George Shammas’s bio states that he breaks things to fix them. Good to know. Boerum Hill. Sunday, January 20, 2pm-5pm.

joineryPro Picture Frames on the Table Saw at Makeville
Artisanal shop class? Makeville Studio, a hands-on lab for craft, building, art and invention is offering a chance to safely master table saw techniques and learn to make professional quality hardwood picture frames. Learn to make accurate and repeatable miter cuts and keys, set up and use a dado set, apply quick and easy finishes, cut mat boards and mount the finished frame. Gowanus. Three sessions on Mondays, starting January 14, 7pm-10pm.

NEED TO KNOW

Intellectual Property for the Fine Arts at 3rd Ward
Sooner or later, every artisan, business owner, author and maker confronts the need to control ownership of what they have created. The financial implications can be huge, and most of us are ill-prepared to deal with protecting our rights when it comes to our creativity. An evening spent learning about Intellectual Property at 3rd Ward will be a few hours well spent. Entertainment and intellectual property lawyer Kelly Kocinski Trager will discuss when and how to use copyrights, trademarks and patents; how to protect yourself and your creations; and Q&A on pertinent facts. Williamsburg. Thursday, January 17. 7pm-10pm.

Intro to Google Analytics at Gowanus Print Lab
If only someone would tell us about the stuff we need to know so that our blog gets more exposure. 21-year-old Rutgers Graduate Ian Jennings is presenting this three-hour lecture, and sounds ideal. His course will discuss: What’s the difference between a visit and a pageview? • Who’s visiting your site? • Who’s coming back? • What kind of device are they using? • How can I get more traffic from search engines? • What about Facebook, Twitter, and all those other social networks? • How do I sell more stuff? • What other tools exist? Thank you Gowanus Print Lab for recognizing that some of us need clarification in this area. Gowanus. Wednesday, January 23, 7pm-10pm.

5-dollar-lincoln$5 Fridays at Brooklyn Central
Brooklyn Central, a new art and photography education center in DUMBO, offers 90-minute classes for $5 on Fridays. It’s part of BKC’s philosophy to keep things simple with motivated instructors and short sessions that will help you learn something new, build on your creativity, and expand your goals. Seems like a painless way to pick up some photo basics like “Dealing with Low Light Situations,” “Color,” “Capturing Motion,” “The Lowdown on Lenses,” and “Photoshop Basics.” DUMBO. Fridays, check website for times and dates.

BLDG 92's Ted & Honey café.

BLDG 92’s Ted & Honey café.

CAUSE YOU’RE HUNGRY TO LEARN

The Pearl Harbor Sandwich: Cuisine at the Brooklyn Navy Yard
Brooklyn Artisan is often found hanging around the Brooklyn Navy Yard because it’s such a fascinating mix of old and new, with history to discover and history in the making. This talk and tasting, in conjunction with Brooklyn Historical Society, will explore the Yard’s past and present using food as the central theme. Discover the modern grocery store that is soon going to replace Yard mansions, and get access to one of the largest rooftop gardens in the U.S. Where do the Yard’s artists go for snacks today? (Hint: it may be BLDG 92’s Ted & Honey café.) Led by historic gastronomist Sarah Lohman, who is Artist in Residence at BLDG 92. Vinegar Hill. Thursday, February 28, 7pm.

Current soda flavors from Brooklyn Soda Works include spiced plum, hibiscus + cinnamon + ginger,  apple + ginger.

Learn about current flavors produced at Brooklyn Soda Works like apple & ginger.

Create Your Own Handmade Soda at Brooklyn Soda Works
Small batch soda masters Caroline Mak and Antonio Ramos, founders of Brooklyn Soda Works, will be demonstrating their special science-based techniques—Ramos is a chemist—to create home-brewed soda. Tour their test kitchen and get a hands-on demo in pairing interesting flavor combinations, and then hand craft your own soda. Book this class through SideTour, an online marketplace of classes and events. Bushwick/Bed Stuy location. Thursday, January 24. 7pm-9pm.

LEARNING COLLECTIVES & MEETUPS

3rd WardBrooklyn BraineryBrooklyn SkillshareFixers Collective NYCChurch of Craft at the Etsy LabsBrooklyn Tech Meetup
jellyweekWorldwide Jellyweek: A Jelly is a casual working event that takes place in a home, a café, a coworking space or an office to allow people to collaborate on a project for a day. Worldwide #Jellyweek  2013, January 14-20, will offer several opportunities in Brooklyn to collaborate: • Coworking Jelly Day, Friday, January 18 at Brooklyn BraineryJellyweek 2012 days at Bitmap.

2todoNOTEPlease mention Brooklyn Artisan if you decide to sign up for a class.

Joy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekly Best of Brooklyn lists.
Send items for listings to brooklynartisan@joymakondesign.com

Documentary Asks a Big Question: Who’s Really Entitled to Brooklyn?

'My Brooklyn' DocumentaryI HAD A PREPAID TICKET TO SEE THE NEW DOCUMENTARY MY BROOKLYN at Dumbo’s comfortable reRun Theater, with old red-brick walls and bench car seats from the 1960s. But they’d overbooked it—must be a great date movie, I thought – and the apologetic guy at the door put my name in the computer and gave me a coupon for free food from the restaurant/bar, reBar. I’m always into free food.

The documentary runs only through this Thursday, so the next night I returned and found my empty seat. I ordered a cheeseburger and fries fresh from reBar, just a few feet down the hall. Before the food could arrive the crowd, mostly hipsters, were taking over folding chairs set up in front and along the aisles. Despite the crowd size and innocuous title, My Brooklyn is not a date movie, nor is it a happy documentary; its subtitle is Unmasking the Takeover of America’s Hippest City. Telling the story of Downtown’s Fulton Street, filmmakers Kelly Anderson and Allison Dean convey the borough’s changes over the past few decades, from a mostly white community to a dilapidated minority community, to a restored community, to what developers are now doing their damndest to turn into bland city of ugly glass towers, chain restaurants, big-box stores, a too-big-to-fail bank on every corner. Like today’s Manhattan.

“They take culture away from the city and turn it into Disney World,” director Anderson says in the film. She interviews small business owners along Fulton Mall – the same businesses referred to as “job creators” during the last election.

Their tales aren’t so creative: Landlords have jacked up rents from around $15,000 a month to as much as $45,000; businesses have 10-year leases which in the fine print say they can be evicted with just 30 days’ notice. And many have been: the same landlords are selling the land to large developers. In footage shot during New York City Council meetings, the developers say that they’re building offices to create jobs, to prevent jobs from going to New Jersey. Instead they resell the same land for a huge profit to other companies, which construct 20-story co-ops that sell for around $400,000 each, and hotels whose rooms go for between $400 and $1,000 a night. And the jobs? A few office jobs, but mostly short-term construction work and low-wage hotel-staff and box-store “associate” positions.

While the City Council never does a follow-up, the developers do receive subsidies for bringing in jobs, and co-op buyers also receive tax subsidies. “For them it’s subsidies,” says one small business owner, Todd Jones. “For us it’s called welfare.”

“Success isn’t measured by how many jobs are created, it’s in the use of land,” Anderson explains during the question and answer session following the documentary. “It’s not keeping Mom and Pop in Brooklyn; [the profit] goes out of town.”

Jones was another guest during the Q&A. He runs Cuzin’s Duzin (“Hot Fresh Mini Donuts” reads his business card), which was evicted from Fulton Mall. Despite his hardships, “Entrepreneurship is a choice you make,” he says. “You have to be relentless.” And so he is. He moved to another location until that was closed down. Now he caters, embracing new technology like social media (Check out his Facebook page).

“Box stores are a magnet,” Jones says. “They attract business. Mom and Pop—that model is done. And not everybody eats donuts.”

True. “Let them eat cake,” Mayor Bloomberg might say – as long as it has no trans-fat.

Executive Editor Phil Scott frequently writes about travel and aviation.

Moore’s Law: How the Future Came To Be Stuffed in a Stocking

Apple II computer, 2 disc drives.By David Fay Smith  COMING UP ON 30 YEARS AGO, I WROTE A BOOK called A Computer Dictionary for Kids and Other Beginners (Ballantine, 1984), to explain bits and bytes to children and their parents. This Christmas, my wise wife gave me a copy of iPads for Seniors. And so it goes.

At Costco recently, I bought flash drives for Christmas stocking stuffers: $10 each for SanDisk 16 GB flash drives – solid state gizmos with retractable USB connections that will bayonet into practically any fairly modern PC or Mac and provide a convenient means of backing up or transporting files from one computer to another. These are about 1 ½ inches long and weigh a third of an ounce.

Just to be clear, 16 GB is 16 billion bytes (actually 16, 384,000,000, but who’s counting?) A byte is equivalent to a single character or letter, so 16 GB amounts to some 2 billion 8-letter words or about 40 typical 50,000 word novels.  [Read more…]

What’s Not Been Said a Thousand Times?

Twelfth Day or Not: When the New Year comes in, Christmas goes out. Call it the Mulch of Memory.

The New Year comes in, Christmas goes out —into the rich mulch of memory.
(Photograph by Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool)

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

What can be said in New Year rhymes,

That’s not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,

We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,

We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,

We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,

We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,

And that’s the burden of the year.

During the decades when Brownstone Brooklyn was being developed, Wisconsinite Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s poetry was appearing often in newspapers and magazines of the day.  In 1883 she sold the poem ” Solitude” to the New York Sun for $5.00. It contained her most famous lines: “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone.”

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn, December 28, 29, 30

PART TWO
The Team at Brooklyn Artisan is thankful for:

Here’s Part Two of our list. What are you thankful for? We’d love to know. Share with us on Facebook, email, or leave a comment.

Getting to see and play around Natural History, the amazing stick sculpture by Patrick Doherty, at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. By the end of December it will be taken down, because it was not built to last forever. Wear-and-tear and Sandy have done it in. (Photograph, taken in February 2011 is courtesy of One Little Star.)^ Getting to see and play around Natural History, the complex, visually striking stick sculpture by Patrick Doherty, at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Created to be temporary, yet having lasted well over a year, it will be dismantled on December 31 because wear-and-tear and numerous storms have finally broken it down. (Photograph, taken in February 2011 is courtesy of One Little Star.)

Families who’ve donated tons of toddler toys to the Underhill Playground in Prospect Heights

The passing stranger who saw our keys hanging in the lock and kindly put them through the mail slot.

allhandsondeck_coverSeemingly unlimited energy and creativity in fundraising for Sandy restoration efforts.
restoreReStore Red Hook is one such effort, formed to raise at least $5,000 for neighborhood small businesses still reeling from Sandy. Their cookbook, All Hands On Deck, a $15 e-book download, is a collection of well-loved recipes selected from the tightly-knit community. Recipes include home/made’s Flourless Chocolate Torte, Pumpkin Almond Cake from Baked and Lobster Mac & Cheese from Red Hook Lobster Pound. “People put everything they had into their restaurants,” said Monica Byrne, a ReStore Red Hook co-founder whose restaurant home/made and its basement storage was flooded during the storm. This project gives a glimpse into what makes the businesses and the people running them so special. Purchase and download here.

Bergen Bagel for what they do best: bagels.

^ ^ ^ ^ Bagel fight! Terrace Bagels for what they do best: cinnamon-raisin bagels.

Pete Hamill, the former Shabbos goy at Park Slope Jewish Center in the 1940’s, for reading “The Gift of the Magi” at the Brooklyn Holiday Book Fair at Old Stone House.

chemexOur Chemex coffeemaker for its timeless design. No other carafe or coffeemaker matches the elegance of pouring coffee from this glass spout. Ours is circa 1980; the rawhide tie gets replaced every few years.

MTA.info/nyct for keeping us up to date after Sandy flooded the subway tunnels.

Neighbors who’ve turned sidewalks and stoops into free libraries.

NYE_ProspectPark_PaulMartinka

December 31 at 11:59:59pm. (Photograph: Prospect Park Alliance/Paul Martinka.)

New Years celebrations in the nabe:
* Fort Defiance. EVE: an evening with Master of Mixology Charles H. Baker, Jr.  DAY: Southern brunch with Coca-Cola ham, biscuits, lots more. Yes, reserve. Red Hook.
* Fireworks in Prospect Park at Grand Army Plaza. Thank you Marty.
* Run. EVE: Brooklyn Road Runners sponsors a 5K in Prospect Park at 11:15, complete with glow necklaces and fleece hats for registrants. DAY: Prospect Park Track Club’s 20th annual Harry’s Handicap Race at 10am. One loop of Prospect Park, followed by potluck brunch, coffee, bagels with a great group of runners and friends. It’s been awhile, but we’ve run this one at least ten times, and it’s always a hoot.
* Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge with Dr. Phil. Philip E. Schoenberg, Ph.D., that is. His annual walk is a chance to party and play on the Bridge, complete with fireworks viewings, refreshments, prizes, and lots of chances to pick up little-known facts from one of NYC’s best tour guides.

smilingCat_NYFoodTruckAssnrussia-mccurryThis kitty via NYC Food Truck Association
and This > “A home without a cat—and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat—may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?”—Mark Twain. Quote and photograph from Home Again, a series of global photographs defining the idea of home, from the blog of photographer Steve McCurry.

Kings County Hospital ER for taking care of 140,000 of our sick and injured every year.

Saint Augustine Roman Catholic Church for their remembrance of World Aids Day.

Everyone in the surf, on January 1, 2013. (Photograph by the Coney Island Polar Bear Club.)

Everyone in the surf, on January 1, 2013. (Photograph from the Coney Island Polar Bear Club.)

Coney Island for an amazing summer with beach walks, Nathan’s, Grimaldi’s pizza, and Tom’s. We’ll be back next summer no matter what. And come January 1 at 1pm, we will be (only) observing the annual New Year’s Day Swim by the Coney Island Polar Bear Club. Happy Happy Joy Joy—so glad to hear the swim is on!

Sally Gil's work FW1, part of 440 Gallery Small Works show.

Sally Gil’s work FW1, part of 440 Gallery Small Works Show.

Gorilla Coffee for even a stroll-by creates a caffeine high.

Ella Yang for allowing us to showcase her Brooklyn-without-irony paintings: see Day Four from our 12 Days of Brooklyn posts. Ella is a member and exhibitor at the artist collective 440 Gallery where the 8th annual Small Works Show is currently on. Juried artwork is no larger than 12” and represents a strong Brooklyn artistic presence. Great things come in small packages indeed. Park Slope. Through January 6, 2013.

Holidays at Fort Defiance. (Photograph by Basia Hellwig/Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool.)

Holidays at Fort Defiance. (Photograph by
Basia Hellwig/Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool.
)

3rd Ward and all the other co-working spaces that help give cred and shelter to the artisanal work being done here.

Mixologist and Fort Defiance owner
St. John Frizell for sticking it out.

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2todoNOTE
If you missed Part One, catch up here.

Joy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekly Best of Brooklyn lists.
Send items for listings to brooklynartisan@joymakondesign.com

BROOKLYN ARTISAN’S 12 DAYS OF BROOKLYN: Starting at the Grand Gateway to Prospect Park

Day One  12 Views of Brooklyn
The arch at Grand Army Plaza lighted for the holidays (Photo by Joseph Caserto. More: Who’s Who)
  Photograph by Joseph Caserto; see our Who’s Who.

dec6THE SOLDIERS’ AND SAILORS’ ARCH at Grand Army Plaza, lighted for the holidays. Built in 1892 to mark the entrance to Prospect Park, the arch was modified three years later when bronze statuary was added. Originally Prospect Park Plaza, the circle was renamed Grand Army Plaza in 1926 as commemoration for veterans of the Union Army of the Civil War. In 1975, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. At the nexus of Union Street, Eastern Parkway, Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Park West and Flatbush Avenue, where the 2/3 trains stop, it is an imposing backdrop for the popular Saturday farmer’s market and food truck meet-ups. (Be warned: This is the busiest traffic circle in Brooklyn, and though recent efforts to address the safety and preferences of pedestrians have yielded improvements, not all problems have been solved.) 

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