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.

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn, November 23, 24, 25

Happy holidaze! We will take some time out for ourselves, right?

Vintage from Kasbah, top, and serious treats from DUB Pies, at Brooklyn Night Bazaar.

Friday: Green Friday Gowanus. Don’t Buy It, Build It. Film Biz Recycling, Build It Green! NYC and the Lower East Side Ecology Centers E-Waste Warehouse are hosting a Black Friday alternative with the goal of inspiring creative gift-giving through reuse. DIY terrariums, jewelry, ornaments to make or purchase using recycled electronics, salvaged wood, vintage post cards, more. Gowanus. 10am-5pm.

Friday: Great for Families: Brooklyn Bowl presents Family Bowl. Work it off at one of the 16 QubicaAMF bowling lanes featuring an automatic scoring system and energy-efficient pin spotters. Enjoy food from Blue Ribbon (a Sloppy Joey!) along with local brews. Williamsburg. 12pm-6pm.

Friday and Saturday through December 22: Brooklyn Night Bazaar. Inspired by night markets across Asia, this venue, located in a 40,000-square-foot warehouse, brings together more than 100 indie vendors, musicians, artists, chefs and breweries. Williamsburg. 6pm-12am.

Saturday and Sunday: Gifted, a holiday market, produced by Brooklyn Flea. Vintage, handmade, art, food at the former Williamsburg Savings Bank building. While browsing, check out the original bank vault doors still present in the lower level, as well as the amazing ceiling tiling and detail on the ground floor. Five weekends, beginning November 24 & 25. Fort Greene. 10am-6pm.

Saturday: Small Business Saturday. A one-day shopping event dedicated to supporting all the small businesses that Brooklyn Artisan followers know and love. Examples of some special services and offers, including fundraising for Sandy relief:  [Read more…]

A Tale of Two Libraries

The Kensington Library opened November 15, 2012.

After a nearly three-year renovation, the Park Slope Library reopened in September.

INSPIRED BY A NEWLY ISSUED LIBRARY CARD from the Brooklyn Public Library and by a tip from Madeleine Appell, an instructor at Kingsborough Community College, I went to visit two branch libraries to look at the architecture and design of the buildings.

As new as it gets

The Kensington Library branch opened on November 15 in a newly built, LEED-certified green, sustainable and fully ADA-compliant building. The new building replaces an older location that was a few blocks away in a former catering hall from the 1960s. This light-filled open space is cool as can be, yet warm and appealing, even as it stands out from the surrounding residential neighborhood of traditional-looking low-rise homes and mish-mash storefronts. I love the daylight that streams in from the glass walls and skylit atrium, along with the arty Calder-like mobiles suspended from the second floor. This would be a fun, cheery place to spend a few hours reading or surfing the web.

Sustainable features of lighting, heating and cooling systems, and thoughtfully-selected materials and finishes are invisible in such a well-designed and people-friendly space. The Kensington branch has been one of Brooklyn’s most active library locations with over 100,000 items in circulation. It’s hoped that this beautiful new space will provide an energy-efficient and healthier environment for users and staff. Unfortunately, according to the Daily News, this may be the last branch built from scratch. Due to budget realities, the Brooklyn Public Library is considering preexisting storefront locations for new branches.

Retrofit plus

Back in Brownstone Brooklyn, the Park Slope Library, known as “Prospect Branch,” reopened in September after nearly three years of renovations. As befits the neighborhood, this building is replete with the columns, paned-glass, and details found in the landmarked homes surrounding it. Renovation has brought new lighting, technology, climate control, and accessibility to this 1906 building that was part of Andrew Carnegie’s legacy. It was all in use when I visited this afternoon—kids, parents, caretakers, and the occasional grown-up, all gently engaged with books and computers, in comfy, well-lit spaces. A row of strollers were parked neatly by the entrance.

City Councilman Brad Lander notes that libraries routinely provide internet access and computers to the 50% of New York households without high-speed internet, as duly noted by the activity I observed in both branches today.

Kensington Library. F train to 18th Avenue. Kensington/Boro Park
<< Nearby: Korn’s Bakery and Cafe K

Park Slope Library. F/G train to 7th Avenue; R train to 9th Street. Park Slope
Nearby: Colson Patisserie >>

Joy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekend to-do lists.

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn, November 16, 17, 18

Stanley & Sons, The Tailors, from Brooklyn Makers,
a book and photography project by Jennifer Causey.

Starting up: holiday crafts and food, plus ways to feed your head too.

BE SURE TO CONFIRM with each event or venue as schedules and availability continue to change for many things.

Friday: A good day to take advantage of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s free weekday admission during winter hours. “Times like this remind us that plants, trees and gardens are about renewal,” from Garden News. Tuesday—Friday: 8am-4:30pm.

Urban Agriculture: United Community Centers Farm,
East New York, by photographer Rob Stephenson.
Opening exhibit Friday at BRIC Rotunda Gallery.

Friday: On Purpose: Art & Design in Brooklyn, 2012. Opening reception, BRIC Rotunda Gallery. An exhibition featuring the work of multi-disciplined designers, architects and visual artists that address the environmental challenges of contemporary urban living. Topics emphasize sustainability, diverse creative solutions, desire for beauty and working together to build community. Brooklyn Heights. 7pm-9pm.

Saturday & Sunday: Julemarked Danish Christmas Fair, The Danish Seamen’s Church. Modern and traditional Danish art, craft and delicacies: Christmas ornaments, Bodum, Dansko, as well as aebleskiver, meatballs and candy. Nearby Plymouth Church hosts a restaurant with smørrebrød, beer and glogg (Saturday only, 11am-5pm). Brooklyn Heights. Saturday 11am-5pm. Sunday 11am-3pm.

First time for the holidays in Brooklyn—The Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Market

Saturday & Sunday: Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Market in Brooklyn at East River State Park. A curated craft collection from indie makers; workshops including a DIY wrapping station; music from some of Brooklyn’s best DJs; free-to-use photobooth from Magnolia Photobooth Co., and local sweet and savory treats to round out the day. Williamsburg. 11am-6pm.

Sunday: Hands-On Pie Making: Pumpkin Pie at The Brooklyn Kitchen. This two-hour class aims to teach home cooks to make a crust—including the daunting lattice-top—and a mini-pie to take home and bake. Taught by Millicent Souris, author of How to Build a Better Pie. Williamsburg. 2pm-4pm.

Sunday: The 10th Anniversary Chili Takedown. Taste 30 chilis—“America’s favorite pot of hatred,”— mostly local and mostly from veteran Chili Takedown entrants. Park Slope, The Bell House. 2pm.

Sunday: Radio Unnameable Ciné Barbès Rewind/Replay Series. Documentary portrait of WBAI-FM radio personality Bob Fass who revolutionized FM in the 60s and 70s with free-form programming. Interviews and performances by Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Carly Simon among others. Q&A with co-director Jessica Wolfson after the screening. Park Slope, Barbès. 5pm.

Read: Jennifer Causey’s Brooklyn Makers, part of the Makers Project, features inspired photographs of 30 of Brooklyn’s self-styled creators, i.e., Brooklyn Artisans.

Sign: NYC Food Trucks Petition. We love our food trucks; we’ve all seen and heard about them during Sandy’s relief and recovery actions; they are valuable to our city and worthy of our support.

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

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn, November 9, 10, 11

A chance to recharge, support and giveback: theater discounts, house and history tours and it’s Meat Week NYC with events to benefit Sandy recovery

Best of is glad to be back with more eclectic things to do in Brooklyn and Outer Brooklyn.
BE SURE TO CONFIRM with each event or venue as schedules and availability continue to change for many things.

Miguel Cervantes in the classic Giant, performed at the Public Theater. (photo by Karen Almond.)

Through Sunday: Off Broadway post-Sandy Discounts. Playhouses big and small were dark last week and as an enticement to get audiences to return, many are offering $20 tickets. Among the offerings: “A Summer Day” featuring Karen Allen, at the Cherry Lane Theatre, and $15 tickets at The Public Theater for three shows. NYTimes lists participating theaters.

Through Sunday: Meat Week NYC, celebrating the farmers, markets and chefs who bring sustainable meat to our tables. Tastings, parties, butchering and cooking demos, market tours, talks. Updates to scheduled events will benefit Sandy relief efforts. Brooklyn and Outer Brooklyn locations, check the website for specifics.

Friday: The Shooting Gallery, part of Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 30th Next Wave Festival. An interactive installation in which the audience will trigger short video and audio clips with lasers while circulating through the theater. “Creating something like a group gestalt,” according to director Bill Morrison. BAM Fisher Fishman Space, Fort Greene. 7:30pm and 9pm.

Friday: Broads for a Cause—An art benefit for Planned Parenthood. Opening reception and silent auction of artwork from over 45 female artists and tattooers. Sponsored by Coney Island Beer and Cupcakeland. At Eight of Swords Tattoo, Williamsburg. 7pm-11pm.

Saturday & Sunday: International Passive House Days. Four Brooklyn residences will be open for tours: two landmarked homes, two new construction. All use construction methods that meet Passive House standards: comfortable temperatures year round, affordable to build, energy savings, renewable. Various locations, check the website for information.

Saturday & Sunday: 21st Annual Quilt Show “Cool Quilts”. This annual exhibit showcases some of the most interesting quilts made in the area. This year’s show takes inspiration from the word cool. Lefferts Historic House, Prospect Park. 12pm-4pm.

Bldg92 at Brooklyn Navy Yard is on the tour on Saturday.

Saturday: Brooklyn Navy Yard by Bus: the Past, Present & Future of the Yard. Voted 2012 best tour by New York, this tour packs almost 400 years of city history in a little over two hours. At its peak, the Navy Yard employed tens of thousands of workers, but then stood idle for almost 30 years. In its current resurrection as a haven for artists and entrepreneurs, the Yard is becoming a model for sustainable urban industrial parks. Included in the tour is a closer look at the dry dock that’s been in use since before the Civil War, a hospital frozen in time, and the nation’s first multi-story LEED Gold-certified industrial building. Advanced ticket purchase is advised. Vinegar Hill. 2pm.

Saturday: The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. A one-day series of events featuring artists and publishers displaying and selling publications; lectures and conversations on comics; exhibits.
Free public exhibition. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Williamsburg. 12pm-7pm.
Events and talks throughout the day, such as a Q&A with Roz Chast at 2:30pm. The Knitting Factory, Williamsburg. 11am-4:30pm.
Screening of two documentaries about cartoonists Joann Sfar and Ben Katchor. Followed with a discussion by filmmaker Sam Ball and subject Ben Katchor moderated by WFMU’s Benjamen Walker. At Union Docs, Williamsburg. 7:30pm.

Saturday: Farmy Folks Soiree Markets Fundraiser and Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony sponsored by the Hattie Carthan Community Farmers Market. You are invited to join in on a home-grown family-style feast, live eco and folk performances, locally grown/produced wines, local bread, more. Tickets required. Bedford Stuyvesant. 6pm-10pm.

Puppetmaking workshop at BAM, Sunday.

Sunday: Great for families The Sweatshirt Sheep Puppetmaking Workshop, Brooklyn Academy of Music. Part of BAMcinématek series Puppets on Film. Make your own puppets and then perform your creations in front of a camera. Be sure to check out other puppet programing throughout the weekend at BAM, Fort Greene. 11am, 2:30pm.

Sunday: Open Studio and Gift Sale by watercolor and ceramic artist Sally Mara Sturman. Paintings, illustrations, drawings, prints and pottery, old (really cheap!) and new (not so cheap).

Illustrated Ceramic Bowl by Sally Mara Sturman, Open Studio and Sale, Sunday

Sally’s Etsy site All Things Painted is also on sale [use coupon code: HOLIDAY1 for 20% off]. To visit her Lefferts Garden Open Studio, contact Sally for exact address. Please mention Brooklyn Artisan. 2pm-7pm.

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

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn for October 19, 20, 21

Walking tours that help you work off the eating

Friday: Launch party for Widow Jane Whiskey, a single barrel bourbon. Cocktails, BBQ, Live Bluegrass music, whiskey distillation and white lightning from the still. At Cacao Prieto Distillery & Chocolate Factory, Red Hook. 7pm-10pm.

Friday: Celebrate Cider Week NY with Cheese and Cider at BKLYN Larder. Demo by Eve’s Cidery plus cheese and cider pairings. Park Slope. 5pm-8pm.

Saturday & Sunday: Electronic Waste Recycling in Brooklyn, sponsored by the Lower East Side Ecology Center
Saturday: Flatbush Food Coop, Cortelyou Road, Flatbush. 10am-4pm.
• Sunday: PS29 at Baltic Street, Cobble Hill. 10am-4pm.

Painting by Frangiou Fotini,
BWAC, this weekend.

Saturday & Sunday: Last weekend for Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (BWAC) Affordable Art Auction. Red Hook. Silent auction until 4pm each day. Winners can take art home by 6pm.

Saturday: Events in Bed-Stuy:
Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Inc.
34th annual House Tour. Self-guided tour from 11am-4pm.
• Bed-Stuy Bazaar featuring merchandise from Fulton Arts Fair members. 10:30am-3:30pm.
BeSAA 9th Annual Studio Strut. Self-guided tour of local artists in their studios, homes, galleries and area businesses. 3pm-7pm

Saturday: Prospect Park Food Truck Rally. To date, 16 trucks including: Bongo Brothers, Cupcake Crew, Eddies Pizza, Green Pirate, Kimchi Taco Truck, Mexicue, Milk Truck, Nuchas, Phil’s Steaks, Red Hook Lobster, Rickshaw Truck, Schnitzel & Things, Souvlaki GR , Taïm Mobile, Wafels & Dinges. Sponsored by Prospect Park Alliance and the NYC Food Truck Association. Grand Army Plaza. 11am-5pm.

Brownstones in Bed-Stuy and mansions in Bay Ridge will be part of walking tours on Saturday. (Photo courtesy
of the Historic Districts Council.)

Saturday: Bay Ridge walking tour led by Victoria Hofmo, founder of the Bay Ridge Conservancy. The tour focuses on some of the neighborhood’s most pressing preservation priorities. 10am

Saturday: 2nd annual Tastes of Brooklyn. Top Brooklyn chefs partner with farmers and seeds in the middle of the Greenmarket at Borough Hall. 11:30am-3pm.

Sunday: 3rd annual Havemeyer Sugar Sweets Festival. All-donation bake sale and baking competition to raise funds for The City Reliquary museum and civic organization. Baking Smackdown schedule: The most decadent vegan, 11am. Best fall-flavored treat, 12pm. Best sweet slice, 1pm. Best booze-infused, 2pm. Best In Show, 3pm. Williamsburg, 10am-4pm.

Sunday: Pickling Canning Workshop, one of a series of classes in practicing the skills of sustainable living. Everyone who attends will get a jar of something to bring home. Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, Park Slope. 1pm-3pm.

At MAD: Basket. Jeremy Frey, 2011. (Image copyright
©2012 Ari Plosker, all rights reserved)

Sunday: 3rd annual MAC-OFF, a no-holds-barred competition to find the best version of the All-American classic macaroni and cheese. With complementary Ommegang BPA. Huckleberrybar, Williamsburg. 5pm-8pm.

Sunday in Outer Brooklyn: Closing day for Changing Hands, Art Without Reservation 3. Contemporary Native North American Art from the Northeast and Southeast. Museum of Art and Design. “MAD” explores the blur zone between art, design, and craft today. MAD’s history of honoring the relationship between materials and maker is evident in their architecturally-fascinating space at Columbus Circle. Manhattan. 11am-6pm.


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

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