Thursday, April 30, 2009

'What's Behind the Wall?' Atlantic Ave. Tunnel Mystery Picks Up Steam With CNN Coverage

CNN's Eric Landford (video above) has picked up on the amazing Bob Diamond/Atlantic Avenue Tunnel story, which we've followed here at McBrooklyn over the past couple of years (see links below).

Diamond discovered the long-lost tunnel -- which runs under Atlantic Avenue between Boerum Place and Hicks Street -- in 1981, after hearing about the legend of a Civil War era rail tunnel on a radio show. After an eight-month search (during which he was repeatedly advised by City officials to give up on his lost cause) he struck gold -- uncovering, intact, the world's first subway tunnel.

Diamond is Brooklyn's keeper and historian of this historic, cave-like expanse. Down in it's cool, otherworldly recesses, he tells of its building (by hundreds of Irish workers in seven months, including one murder), how it was used and where it led.

Trey Nelsen and Jerry Kolber are producing a movie about the tunnel and what Diamond believes is hidden behind a bulkhead wall at its west end: a steam locomotive from the 1830's -- and (possibly) some pages from the diary of John Wilkes Booth. (See

Diamond is now trying to get permission and funds to knock down the wall. Even if no train is found, the movie is about a regular guy who pursued his dream, the filmmakers say.

(Aside: We at McBrooklyn once spoke to an old timer who told us that he had seen a bit of a train, when he was a boy, from a hole in the wall of an Atlantic Ave. basement.)

The next tour takes place June 7. (Wear sneakers and bring a powerful flashlight.) Visit the web site of Diamond's Brooklyn Historic Railway Association.

- Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue Tunnel: What's Behind the Wall?
- Mole People Back in Brooklyn?
- Lineup For Atlantic Avenue Tunnel Tour
- Brooklyn Spelunking: Atlantic Avenue Tunnel Tours Return

Read the history of the Bob Diamond discovery of the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel at the Brooklyn Eagle.

Photos copyright MK Metz, 2009

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cobble Hill Lawyer Is Madoff Trustee, and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Construction is underway on Old Fulton Street at Fulton Ferry Landing — including a new building, a new restaurant and the conversion of three adjoining buildings. Brooklyn Eagle

- The Brooklyn Flea will take up a Sunday residency underneath the Brooklyn Bridge starting June 14. Fun! Food! Treasures! Brownstoner

- A lawyer from Cobble Hill has been appointed interim trustee on the Bernie Madoff bankruptcy case, and is liquidating Madoff’s many personal assets. Brooklyn Eagle

- Live in Brooklyn Heights? Check out the photos posted by Nabeguy on the Brooklyn Heights Blog, of Cadman Plaza West before the Whitman towers and townhouses were built. BHB

- Federal officials knew that sending two fighter jets and Air Force One to buzz lower Manhattan might set off a panic, but they still ordered secrecy. CBSTV

- Remember when Republican Karl Rove criticized the inclusion of $462 million for the Centers for Disease Control, and $900 million for pandemic flu preparations in the economic stimulus package? Rove said such expenditures -- stripped out of the package by the GOP -- were "disturbing" and an example of President Obama's "lack of engagement and leadership." Huffington Post

- Oh those crazy Koreans: they've cloned glow-in-the-dark beagles. Huffington Post

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Contempl A Ting Sleep

Elbow Toe is contempl a ting sleep on Court Street in Cobble Hill Brooklyn.

Great Elbow Toe interview on gammablog.

Photo by MK Metz

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Brooklyn Heights Swastika Man Has Yet Another Day in Court

Ivaylo Ivanov, the 37-year-old Bulgarian immigrant who allegedly went on a swastika spree in Brooklyn Heights AND shot himself in the hand AND stored a bunch of bombs and guns in his apartment is back in court preparing for his trial, says the Brooklyn Eagle.

Though joking called the "mad bomber" and written off as a dog-walking kook, Remsen Street's Ivanov was charged more than a year ago with 105 counts of hate crimes as well as criminal possession of a cache of rifles, handguns, and 8 pipe bombs, including one with a remote control.

Ivanov looked meek and even gentle, reported the Eagle.

More at the Brooklyn Heights Blog.

Past stories on this topic:
- Brooklyn Heights Swastika Man Has First Day in Court
- The Tragedy That Was Averted in Brooklyn
- AIDS Researcher Roomie of Brooklyn Heights Bomber Stays Mum

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Tracking Swine Flu Cases

Want to keep track of the incidence of swine flu? Here are several ways:

The Google mashup map above (this one will be obsolete* by the time you see it; go here for updated version) shows reported incidences of swine flu. It was put together by niman, a biomedical researcher in Pittsburgh.

Pink markers are suspect. Purple markers are confirmed or probable. Deaths lack a dot in marker. Yellow markers are negative.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides an exact state-by-state swine flu index; as of April 27, 2009 1:00 PM ET, 40 cases were reported. 28 of those are in New York City.

Finally, here's the CDC's Twitter flu update link.

(*Map updated 4-28-09)

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Monday, April 27, 2009

'We Feel Fine,' Sort Of

Brooklyn artist and computer scientist Jonathan Harris wrote the "We Feel Fine" program that paints an online picture of what the world is feeling.

"We Feel Fine" searches through the world's blog entries looking for occurrences of "I feel" and "I am feeling." It also looks to see what else is going on in the world, and finds information about the poster's demographics, the weather, etc.

It collects about 20,000 sentences a day, represented by colored dots on the screen -- the happy thoughts are bright, the sad thoughts are dark.

You can also focus down to what certain age groups are feeling, or people from certain cities, certain genders, etc. For example, in New York Saturday -- on a shimmery, summery day -- the mood of bloggers was not quite as sunny as the weather.

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Video: Low Flying Planes Scare the @#! Out of Lower Manhattan

Sure, just buzz lower Manhattan with a 747 and then send some fighter jets out to chase it. It was apparently a photo op, but the FAA forgot to tell New Yorkers about it and a bit of panic ensued. Oops!

Read the whole story at Gawker. The above video is from the Wall Street Journal.

UPDATE: "Thousands" of people in the streets of Jersey City were set into a panic, said Stan Eason of the Jersey City Police Department. Buildings were evacuated, according to msnbc.

About 1,000 workers ran out of the Mercantile Exchange and gathered along the Hudson River, according to Newsday.

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Stoop Sale in DUMBO Under The Archway

The DUMBO Parents Organization (DPO) is presenting its first annual DUMBO Stoop Sale. The event will take place in The Archway (below the Manhattan Bridge) and is a great opportunity to buy gently used clothes, accessories, children’s toys, books, etc.

More at DumboNYC

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

U.S. Declares Swine Flu Public Health Emergency

Government officials have declared a public health emergency in connection with the swine flu outbreak that has killed dozens in Mexico and sickened 20 in the U.S., said the nation’s director of Homeland Security Sunday.

A cluster of (mild) cases has occurred in Queens, New York. The CDC is trying to figure out why the cases in Mexico have, so far, been much more serious. The U.S. is releasing 25 percent of its stock of anti-virals, like Tamiflu, mainly as a precaution. The CDC notes that we are past the peak of the flu season.

If you are sick, stay home. Wash your hands frequently; take all reasonable measures. has the latest information on swine flue.

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Thousands March Over Brooklyn Bridge to Rescue 'Invisible Children'

About 3,000 people marched over the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday afternoon and spent the night camped out in Fulton Ferry/ Empire State Park in DUMBO.

The New York City march was part of an event called the RESCUE that the organization Invisible Children staged in 100 cities around the world . Thousands of people symbolically 'abducted' themselves to stand in solidarity with abducted children forced to fight as soldiers by an African warlord named Joseph Kony. His rebel troops in Uganda and the Congo kidnap children while they sleep and force them into a life of violence and death. If they try to escape, they are killed.

In the last two decades, Kony has abducted more than 30,000 children. What they are forced to do turns them into monsters. Kony has been declared the world's first war criminal, indicted by the International Criminal Court.

Filmmakers Laren Poole, Jason Russell and Bobby Bailey traveled to Uganda where they were shocked to see thousands of children fleeing abduction. They made a film about it (see it here) -- and started a movement, the RESCUE/ Invisible Children, which ran yesterday's events.

Poole led the New York City marchers over the Bridge into DUMBO.

Above: Filmmaker Laren Poole, holding a laptop, live-blogs the crowd's march into Fulton Ferry / Empire State Park in DUMBO.

Stars like producer/director Jon Turteltaub, actor Chris Lowell ("Private Practice”) and Yin Chang ("Gossip Girl”) also joined the New York contingent.

To find out how you can help, visit

UPDATE: The Brooklyn Eagle has more about the Brooklyn march here.

Photos copyright MK Metz 2009; contact:
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Friday, April 24, 2009

Walt Whitman's Print Shop In Brooklyn Heights, Revisited

The red brick print shop in Brooklyn Heights where Walt Whitman set the type for the first edition of “Leaves of Grass” in 1855 was torn down years ago to build Whitman Close co-ops (at 75 Henry Street.)

We've been told that the bricks were saved, however, and embedded in the ground around this planter near the A train stop on Cadman Plaza West.

Photo by MK Metz

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sometimes All It Takes Is the Sound of Music To Get Going In the Morning

How would you like to be in a train station when this happens?

All we'll say is that this took place during morning rush hour in the Central Station of Antwerp on March 23. More details here.

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Lightsaber Battle This Saturday

Okay, this is not a Brooklyn event, but a large contingent from Brooklyn will be there:

A "massive, glowing lightsaber battle" will be held in Washington Square Park Saturday, April 25th 2009 @ 8:15 p.m.

3,000 blacklight-reactive, meter-long cardboard tubes will be distributed and there will be huge blacklight cannons aimed at the crowd. Wear black, neon or both. The battle will continue until every tube is DESTROYED!

Brought to you by newmindspace.

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Are We Not Famous Men? At Open Source Gallery

Opening Saturday May 2nd, 7pm - 10pm: Photographer Gary Baldwin's series of portraiture, Are We Not Famous Men? explores "both the necessity and impossibility of capturing the constant flux of life in a snapshot."

Baldwin is influenced by both Walker Evans' photography in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men -- and by Devo's Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!

Second Saturday Potluck Dinner

Saturday May 9th, 7pm - 10pm: Food at this potluck dinner will be provided by the artist and the subjects in the photographs on view. This event is free of charge and open to the public.

Open Source Gallery 251 17th street between 5th and 6th Ave (street level) in South Slope, Brooklyn. Map

Photograph: Mr Scheiderbauer, by Gary Baldwin

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth To Brooklyn: All Is Forgiven

No matter what the hell we throw at Mother Earth, she still loves us.

The proof is at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Photo by MK Metz
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Hipster Grifter T-Shirts, and More Brooklyn Briefs

- The Brooklyn Eagle tells us where to buy Hipster Grifter T-shirts.

- Brooklyn playwright Lynn Nottage has won the Pulitzer for Drama. NY Daily News

- Big fat discussion on Brownstoner right now about whether or not a fancy 3-bedroom at 75 Henry St. in Brooklyn Heights is worth $1.6 million.

- He catches fish in the Gowanus Canal. Found in Brooklyn

- Computer spies -- most likely from China -- have broken into the Pentagon's $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Air Force's air-traffic-control system also was breached.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Here's That Talking Sewer Grate Video

Here's a sweet little video -- "The Lost Tribes of New York" -- which is attracting attention on animation sites. In it, Andy and Carolyn London "interview some of New York City's more overlooked citizens."

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Brooklyn's Municipal Building Facade Rehab Underway

Restoration work on the facade of Brooklyn's Municipal Building (210 Joralemon Street at Court Street, Downtown Brooklyn) is set to begin. Scaffolding (faintly visible to the left) is being erected on the north side, and numbered patches have appeared on the west facade (see photo below).

The restoration program encompasses facades and setbacks, including repair of cracked and spalled limestone masonry cladding, pointing, glass and glazing work, and coating of structural steel, according to Superstructures, which is providing investigation and design services.

The restoration will also address Local Law 11 related conditions, according to Superstructures.

According to Minority Commerce Weekly, the estimated project range is $100,000 to $175,000.

Numbered patches on the facade next to the missing chunk .

Is this a lead-up to the much-discussed conversion of the bottom two floors of the building to 22,000 square feet of retail space? (See New York Daily News, Curbed, Brooklyn Paper, Brooklyn Eagle.) This idea was first run up the flagpole by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership in 2007.

The Municipal Building presently houses city offices like a City Finance Department office and the Brooklyn office of the City Clerk.

In his 2009 State of the Borough speech, BP Marty Markowitz called for Finance to move out of the Municipal Building and become an anchor tenant at City Point (at the site of the old Albee Square Mall). The City Point project is currently stalled.

Markowitz said the move would open the building to retail uses such as Crate and Barrel, Nordstrom Rack or Saks Off 5th.

Let's hope the rehab won't affect the "wonderful Missouri brachiopods" that can be found embedded in walls (most likely interior) in the building. Brachiopods, according to the New York Times, are primitive shellfish that are almost as old as life itself.

Top two photos by MK Metz
Rendering Courtesy of Studio AMD

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Brooklyn Headhunter: Find a Job in Brooklyn

From time to time, McBrooklyn puts on its Headhunting gear and scouts out a handful of Brooklyn employment opportunities.

Here's the latest batch:

- A small art gallery in Dumbo is seeking a part time director. Craigslist

- The Brooklyn Brewery is still looking for a marketing manager. New York Times

- G4S is looking to hire a field investigator to investigate insurance claims. Career Builder

- Heights Cafe, on Montague Street, seeks waitstaff. Craigslist

- Brooklyn Hospital Center needs a Community Outreach Manager. New York Times

- CAMBA Legal Services wants to hire a housing/ foreclosure unit paralegal. Craigslist

- Assist the Director of Marketing with outdoor entertainment events held at Coney Island this summer. Craigslist

- BAM needs a facilities/building operations manager. New York Times

- A digital media client seeks a Senior Financial Analyst (to $75K). Direct Employers

- H&M has an opening for a part-time sales associate. Career Builder

- Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights is hiring a variety of coaches and assistant coaches for spring and fall. (There are also some teaching vacancies.) New York Times

- An unidentified company is offering a job called "Label Clerk." You enter ingredient information on labels and in databases, review label documentation for government approval, etc. Employment Guide

- TGI Fridays will train you to become a restaurant manager. (Ad says: "And BAM! You're a restaurant manager.") NRN Job Plate

- The Freelancers Union in DUMBO is still looking for a Director of Marketing and Communications. Craigslist

- A Brooklyn Office Max is searching for a sales associate. Retail Careers Now

- Home Depot still needs a co-manager. Retail Careers Now

- New York Child Resource Center is looking to hire a teaching assistant to work with children with autism. Post Job Free

- Arbor Education & Training wants to hire a receptionist. Craigslist

- An accurate and fast data input person with knowledge of Microsoft office is needed in Downtown Brooklyn. Craigslist

- A dentist is looking for a friendly, efficient part time dental assistant for a private dental practice in Brooklyn (Madison section near Sheepshead Bay). Willing to train. Craigslist

- A Jack of all trades is needed to work at a photo studio part time. Craigslist

- An experienced children's theater director, preferably living in Park Slope, is needed part time. Craigslist

Photo by MikeColvin82, Creative Commons license.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Sunday: "Dinosaurs, Dolphins & Friends" Family Concert, Downtown Brooklyn

Here's a great weekend activity for families:

Sing and celebrate on Sunday, April 19 at 2 p.m., when Tony Soll and his musical friends take another turn under the lights for the 22nd Anniversary Concert of Dinosaurs, Dolphins & Friends.

An annual fundraiser for curricular enrichment at Brooklyn Friends School, the concert takes place at 375 Pearl Street, right around the corner from the Brooklyn Marriott. Tickets are $10 each, with a family package of $35 for four or more. Refreshments will be sold.

“We’ll perform lots of the old favorites, many of which are originals,” says Tony, a songwriter, accomplished musician (Tony toured with John Hammond Jr.), and Brooklyn Friends teacher and parent of two alumni. “As always, the tunes are high energy. They encourage all manner of participation, including call and responses, lot of clapping, animal noises, making faces, and jumping up and down in your seat. There’ll be plenty of laughs and giggles.”

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She May Be a Crazed Hipster Grifter, But That Works For Her

Say you're a normal, decent person who is having a little trouble finding a job or a relationship at the moment. Times is hard, right?

Not if you're a crazed hipster grifter wanted on all kinds of charges in Salt Lake City. Just move to Brooklyn, get lots of boyfriends, land a job instantly, get into clubs, and keep writing checks on accounts that don't exist but that's okay -- banks keep cashing them anyway.

It's like magic. Everyone -- including the Salt Lake City Police Department -- is looking for Kari Ferrell, last seen in Brooklyn.

Read the fascinating account of "The Hipster Grifter" by Doree Shafrir, in the Observer. (And then read Vice's post about her week working there.)

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Accident On Cadman Plaza West Thursday

These fire fighters dragged pieces of this smashed up car to the sidewalk and threw down sand on the oil-slicked Cadman Plaza West near Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights after a two-car smashup this morning.

The other car was a dark red SUV. At least one driver was driven off in an ambulance.

Photo by MK Metz

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Rainy Day With Chicken Wings, in Brooklyn Heights

Walking along Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights yesterday, we happened upon this pile of raw chicken wings on the sidewalk.

No restaurants nearby; no garbage bags or other trash. Just . . . chicken wings.

Photo by MK Metz

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Does This Mean There Are More Female Nerds in Brooklyn?

Gal nerd tickets are sold out to the April 24 Nerd Nite Speed Dating event at Galapagos Art Space. There are still some guy nerd tickets left.

What does this mean, nerd-wise? Are there more female nerds in Brooklyn -- or are male nerds so antisocial they won't come out from under their rocks for even a three-minute conversation with a nerd of the opposite sex?

Friday, April 24 at 7 p.m. Cost: $25. Three-minute chats. Info here. Tickets here.

Photo of gal nerd by rochelle, et. al., creative commons license

Photo of guy nerd by dizfunkshinal, creative commons license.

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Dancing Olives in Fort Greene Park, and More Brooklyn Briefs

- The Brooklyn Philharmonic is being sued by a composer who says they cut short the premiere performance of his musical piece to avoid paying the musicians overtime. "It was like the kiss of death to my career,” he said. Brooklyn Eagle

- New Archbishop Dolan has nothing to do with Brooklyn, people. We have our own archbishop. You know, what's-his-name. NY Times

- In more Catholic news, the Vatican has launched an investigation into the leadership of Catholic nuns in the United States, because they have not sufficiently promoted the Vatican line on homosexuality and other issues. Huffington Post

- In The Local's Fort Greene/Clinton Hill blog, we see a bunch of people masquerading as spectacularly choreographed pizza toppings, including dancing olives. The Local

- So this 50-year-old mother spent thousands of dollars to look like her daughter. Now they're almost impossible to tell apart. Daily Mail via Huffington Post

- The Brooklyn Eagle describes 14 major construction projects in the works in Downtown Brooklyn, including five hotels.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Yep, a Green Restaurant at 269 Baltic Street

Wow. It's green, alright. And look at all the windows.

This is the first look we had at the garage-to-restaurant conversion at 269 Baltic Street in Cobble Hill. The permit says it will be an "eating/drinking establishment."

Brownstoner and the Pardon Me For Asking have photos of the work in earlier stages.

Photo by MK Metz

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Windows Dressed For Spring in Cobble Hill

Walking down Baltic Street in Cobble Hill yesterday, we saw these windows all beautified for spring with flowers, bunny ears and suspended colored eggs. A plant is trained to run over the door; though it has no leaves, a red ribbon is threaded rakishly throughout. Nice!

Photo by MK Metz

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

David McCullough Video: Save the Brooklyn Bridge

On April 22 a vote will be made that could determine the future views of and from the Brooklyn Bridge. Renowned historian, lecturer and two time Pulitzer Prize winning author David McCullough speaks out in the above video against the ridiculous idea of building an 18-story building next to the bridge.

"Would we build an 18-story building beside the Washington monument?" he asks. So why are we putting one next to the Brooklyn Bridge? McCullough says we have to "remind people that some things come ahead of materialistic gain."

To save the Brooklyn Bridge--whether or not you live in New York City--call or email New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn: Email: / Phone: (212) 788-7210

If you live in New York City, please contact your local member of the Council. Find your representative here:

For more information on the efforts being made to save The Brooklyn Bridge, please visit:0

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Busy Chef's Conversion to Brooklyn Checkers in Progress

A construction crew is hard at work converting the ex-Busy Chef on Court Street in Downtown Brooklyn to a new Checkers fast food eatery.

The Blog Flappy Days first reported that Checkers would be opening in the space, and Tariq Ali, a manager of the planned Checkers, confirmed the news for the Brooklyn Paper. He said that the restaurant will have 25-30 seats.

Above is a typical Checkers interior; we can assume the Court Street store will resemble this when construction is completed. Though Checkers restaurants are usually drive-thrus, the company has adapted the model to reach areas where a drive-thru is not possible.

Exterior, Court Street, Tuesday morning.

Background: Busy Chef Manager Dan Kaufman was arrested last July. His activities are credited with driving the Busy Chef -- along with its sister stores, Blue Pig ice cream shop, and Henry Street's Wine Bar, Oven restaurant and the original Busy Chef -- out of business.

In addition to the $25,000 that Kaufman allegedly stole from customers, he also allegedly took much more from the business itself, falsifying the books to cover up the losses.

More Busy Chef stories here.

Top and bottom photos by MK Metz; middle rendering courtesy of Checkers.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Brooklyn's 'Mikeyy' Behind Twitter Worm Attacks

This past weekend's three fast-spreading Twitter worms were created by Michael "Mikeyy" Mooney, the 17-year-old Brooklyn boy who created, according to eFluxMedia and other sites.

Mikeyy's worms posted unwanted tweets on users pages. The messages read:

"Mikeyy I am done...,"
"MikeyyMikeyy is done…" and
"Twitter please fix this, regards Mikeyy."

From ". . . What was startling was the speed at which pages were impacted, and the fact that Twitter has been on to the worms for three days and has still been unable to cleanse its site completely of the malicious code."

According to VNUNet, Twitter "identified and deleted almost 10,000 tweets that could have continued to spread the worm."

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Artist Call: Sign Up for Atlantic ArtWalk09

Corinne Kassor, the co-producer of Atlantic ArtWalk09 for the Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation, is sending a shout-out to artists of all media from Brooklyn and beyond:

ArtWalk 2009 weekend will take place Saturday and Sunday, June 6 - 7 from 1 - 6 p.m. each day. The registration deadline to participate is Monday, April 20th.

ArtWalk is a self-guided tour of artist studios and area exhibitions. (See 2007's ArtWalk here.) The event also features public art projects, performances, music, artist receptions, and special retail and restaurant events:

To register online:

Photo by MK Metz

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Kings County BBQ Truck at DUMBO Flea

The Kings County BBQ Truck was doing a brisk business outside the Brooklyn Flea's "pop-up" markets on Front Street in DUMBO Sunday.

How did we miss this before? 12 apple brined chicken wings -- or a half a rack of dry-rubbed ribs -- for $10. Collards, $3; Side of slaw, $2. (The mouth-watering smokey smell attracted us like zombies.)

UPDATE: This is NOT the last weekend for the DUMBO flea, as we previously reported. The Flea is opening on Saturday in Fort Greene but will continue to run on Sundays in Dumbo, says Brownstoner's Jonathan Butler. The Fort Greene Flea takes place at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School.

Photos by MK Metz

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Peeler Guy, Joe Ades, Continued

Thanks to a reader for linking us to this updated profile of New York's most famous street peddler, the late Joe Ades, written by Howard Kaplan and published in the New York Press.

Numerous articles and obituaries have been written about Mr. Ades, both before and after his death in February. This latest, "The Real Joe Ades," pulls back the curtain even further on Mr. Ades' vegetable peelers, European suits, fancy restaurants and prime Park Avenue eight-room apartment.

- Last Chance to Buy Joseph Ades' Carrot Peelers
- RIP Joseph Ades -- The Man Who Made Selling Peelers An Art
- Joseph Ades -- NYC's Most Successful Street Vendor -- In Brooklyn Now

Photo from a video of Joe Ades by MK Metz

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Can't Be Blue On Easter

This young lady found Easter eggs stashed in the blue tunnel at the Plymouth Church play yard in Brooklyn Heights. The church held their annual Easter egg hunt -- attended by scores of children wearing their spring finery -- after the service Sunday.

Photo by MK Metz

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Last Day to Bid On Bernie Madoff's Mets Opener Tickets

Two tickets for Monday's Citi Field opener owned by Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities are up for sale on eBay, according to Crain's New York.

Seats 5-6 are in the eighth row in section 11, just to the home plate side of the New York Mets' dugout.

The deadline is 9:56 a.m. Sunday. More details at Crain's.

UPDATE: Apparently, our bid was rejected. The tickets sold for $7,500.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

What's Going On at the Center for the Urban Environment? And More Brooklyn Briefs

- A guerrilla knitting collective is going to knit colorful sleeves for all 69 parking-meter poles on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. Brooklyn Eagle

- The Brooklyn Navy Yard has begun restoration of the two original gate houses at the Sands Street entrance. Brownstoner

- What the hell is going on at Brooklyn's Center for the Urban Environment? Why did it close? Why is nobody talking? Brooklyn Eagle

- Check out the magnolias at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden! Prospect: A Year in the Park

- Have you always assumed that chickpeas were grown in cans with Goya labels? The Green Pea grocer on Atlantic Avenue has a box full of pale green, sweet, fresh chickpeas. The Porkchop Express

- George Bush, tanned and rested, will be there. Condoleezza Rice will be there. So will Karen Hughes and Dan Bartlett and Michael Gerson. Seems like the old gang is getting together for a reunion. Will Dick Cheney be there? No, Dick will not be there. NY Times

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Brooklyn's St. George Hotel Mosaic Demolished 'For Safety Reasons'

Sadness and outrage is being expressed about the demolition of a historic tile mosaic that hung for over the pool at the Eastern Athletic Club in Brooklyn Heights. It seems that the historic mural depicting aquatic scenes was a fixture since the 1930s.

According to the Brooklyn Eagle the architect in charge of the demolition, Walter C. Maffei, said that the mosaic was scrapped "for safety reasons."

The destruction first came to light in the Brooklyn Heights Blog, where a conflict seems to be building up about whether or not something inside a private building should be landmarked.

Seems a pity that a section couldn't have been removed intact and displayed on a wall of the club, or given to the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Photo by MK Metz

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The Brooklyn Headhunter: Find a Job in Brooklyn

From time to time, McBrooklyn puts on its Headhunting gear and scouts out a handful of Brooklyn employment opportunities.

Here's the latest batch:

- Plant Essentials needs Field Coordinators to oversee merchandisers in garden centers for home improvement stores. GoJobs

- An individual is needed to learn the Fire Protection business. Perform inspections of fire extinguishers in the five boroughs. Training provided; then you must pass a test. $32,000/yr. Craigslist

- Brooklyn Friends School, in Downtown Brooklyn, is looking for an art teacher. Jobvertise

- Home Depot needs a hardware and tool salesperson. Home Depot

- A bath & body/cosmetic company seeks creative individual to design packaging and product labels. Xtatic

- Poly Prep Country Day School in Dyker Heights is looking for an experienced cross country/track director. NCAA Market

- An Ice Sculpture Studio needs a sculptor. Will train; must have experience with power tools and able to do heavy lifting. Craigslist

- The YWCA of Brooklyn seeks an experienced Director of Housing to manage temporary and permanent housing program for women and low-income single adults. IPSO Jobs

- Time Warner Cable is looking for a cable guy. Time Warner

- A developer is seeking a perfectionist to coordinate and help with Open Houses and events. Includes weekends. Craigslist

- Brooklyn Generation Schools needs a Communications Associate. Idealist

Photo by MikeColvin82, Creative Commons license.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Riverside Apartments Retail, Long Empty, Finally for Rent

It's long been a mystery as to why the controversial owner of Brooklyn Heights' historic Riverside Apartments (the Pinnacle Group) cleared out the retail tenants on the ground floor and left the spaces empty for years.

There was the River Deli, at the corner of Columbia Place and Joralemon Street, where you could buy a soda and a sandwich; the charming Alicia's Cafe further down Columbia Place; and a very nice florist. (For some reason a laundry is still open, but that's the only retail left on the block.)

Now, several of the retail spaces are for rent, including the corner River Deli space; the space around the corner at 32 Joralemon; and the space that used to house the florist.

Controversy continues. The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a revised plan for an underground parking garage on the West side of the huge building, but the complex’s tenants’ association continues to oppose the garage -- objecting to, among other things, knocking down trees that may be more than a hundred years old, and the possibility of fumes emanating from the underground parking. In November, tenants hired a lawyer, according to the Brooklyn Eagle.

There are many comments by tenants about the scoping work going on at Riverside Apartments on the Brooklyn Heights Blog.

According to the Observer, "Pinnacle Group, which . . . owns 420 buildings in Manhattan and the Bronx, has been the subject of repeated attacks by housing advocates for its tactics in turning affordable units into market-rent apartments."

UPDATE here.

Photos by MK Metz

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

MTA Service Cuts Kick In June 28, and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Goodbye B25 -- The first MTA service cuts are slated for June 28, when 21 bus routes will be eliminated and weekend service on most lettered subway lines will be reduced, according to NY1. As we've previously reported (here and here), service on the B23, B25, B37, B39, B51 and B75 buses will be eliminated. Other Brooklyn service changes include ending weekend service on the X27 and X28 express bus routes, and more cutbacks on the B2, B4, B7, B16, B24, B48, B57, B65, B69, B71 and B75.

- Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes has opened a hotline for victims of sex-crimes within the orthodox Jewish community, and some people are not happy. Brooklyn Eagle

- The first five inductees to the Brooklyn Hall of Fame are in. Now it's time to vote for the next five. Brooklyn Hall of Fame

- Has one bar in Clinton Hill become the target of every agency in the city? The FDNY, NYPD, DEP, DOB, and NYSLA have all visited LOX Bar and Ultra Lounge since it opened in March 2008. Clinton Hill Chill

- A promoter from the original Woodstock music festival is hoping to stage a massive Woodstock 40th anniversary concert in Prospect Park's Long Meadow this summer. NY Daily News

- Will the Brooklyn Paper and the Courier, now both ensconced at MetroTech, dare criticize their new landlord -- Brooklyn's most powerful developer, Forest City Ratner? Atlantic Yards Report

Photo by MK Metz

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Plume of Smoke, Brooklyn/ Queens Skyline

Looking out a window in Brooklyn Heights today (Monday) about 5:30 p.m., we saw this large plume of smoke very far off in (probably) Queens. It kept up at least for a half hour. That faint white shape to the right of center is the JFK conning tower.

Anyone know what it was?

Photo by MK Metz

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Neither Rain Nor Hail, in Brooklyn

Cold? Thunderstorms? Hail? Hah! A Brooklyn mail guy laughs in the face of rain and hail. This man is on his appointed rounds.

Photo taken on Court Street, Downtown Brooklyn, by MK Metz

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Fulton Street, Downtown Brooklyn: Will Its Glory Days Return?

Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn is again undergoing a "transition." Here are a few of the latest pluses and minuses.

On the plus side:

+ The $15 million Fulton Streetscape Project (left) continues. The project will create improved landscaping, modern street furniture, and additional seating and public spaces on Fulton Street. Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

+ H & M will be opening on Fulton Street (at Bridge) in spring, 2010.

On the minus side:

- City Point, which was supposed to transform the Albee Square site on Fulton Street into Brooklyn's tallest (65 stories?) building, is on "pause," according to Crain's NY.

- The asking retail rents on Fulton Street have fallen by a third from their high in 2007, again according to Crain's.

- An Arby's fast food joint -- not Amy Ruth's -- is moving into the landmarked building that housed Gage & Tollner for more than a century.

- A second-hand shop -- Unique Thrift Store -- will be moving into space that was supposed to be a Steve & Barry's store at 408 Fulton St. According to the New York Post, the space includes the basement and ground, second and third floors of the former Woolworth Building.*


The Pardon Me For Asking blog helps put this all into a historical perspective. PMFA got ahold of a New York Times article from 1947 that describes how new zoning would "bar all except high class retailers" from Downtown's Fulton Street, turning it into something similar to Manhattan's Fifth Avenue.

In its heyday, the street was a "department store Mecca," home to A&S, Loesers and Namms, and other great retailers.

Will the glory days return to Fulton?


*The Woolworth's on Fulton Street opened sometime around 1900. According to the book "Remembering Woolworth's," by Karen Plunkett-Powell, the grand opening crowd was so large police had to be called in. "150 pretty girls" were on hand to tend to the shoppers. (Mr. Woolworth himself lived in a mansion in Bedford Stuyvesant.)

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Brooklyn's 'Toxic Preschool' Head: Families' $$$ Went Up His Nose

It turns out that Andy Lewis -- the guy who ran Boerum Hill's "toxic preschool," the Brooklyn Children's Academy (left) and allegedly stole thousands from a wide range of families, teachers, landlords and the United States Dept. of Agriculture -- has many problems. One of them is a big fat coke habit.

That's one of the many little details that came out at yesterday's court appearance, as reported by the Brooklyn Eagle.

A representative from Pretrial Services told Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto that Lewis "tested positive for cocaine eight times since testing began about four months ago, and has evaded many of the mandated tests. 'He has repeatedly manipulated the system, repeatedly failed to show up for drug tests,' she said."

Join the club. Parents and teachers who have dealt with Lewis also feel that they were manipulated. Dozens of them were never paid back the thousands of dollars Lewis took from them in the form of preschool deposits and tuition. Now we know where their money is -- up Lewis' nose.

Judge Gives 'Toxic Preschool' Boss 'Last Chance' Brooklyn Eagle

- Brooklyn's 'Toxic Preschool' Owner Is Opening Up a Summer Camp

Photo by MK Metz

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Discharge: Such An Ugly Word

Why can't we surround ourselves with beautiful words like "gambol" or "lilting?"

Why do our lampposts bear signs with words like "discharge?"

It's a hard city.

Photo of sign on Jay Street, Downtown Brooklyn by MK Metz

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'Brooklyn's Bastille' Once Stood Near Fort Greene Park

Before the Brooklyn House of Detention was built on Atlantic Ave. in Downtown Brooklyn, there was the Bastille-like, century-old Raymond Street Jail, officially called Brooklyn City Prison. The prison was built in 1838 and stood until 1963 at the corner of Willoughby Street and what is now called Ashland Place (it used to be called Raymond Street) in Downtown Brooklyn. Reformers described it as "a medieval dungeon."

The New York Correction History Society offers a virtual tour of the jail on their web site, featuring vintage photos taken by retired C.O. Peter J. Ledwith.

The Raymond Street Jail for male prisoners was built in 1836 a block away from Fort Greene Park. An addition for women prisoners, later known as the "Annex" (shown above) was completed in 1839.

The jail, with a capacity of 465, was constantly overcrowded and was denounced by health authorities. (Check out the photos of the impossibly small cells.)

In 1939, a citizens' group called the Committee of One Hundred was organized, and pressure was brought to build a modern jail. Eventually, the Brooklyn House of Detention for Men at 275 Atlantic Ave. was built. The Raymond Street Jail was placed into operation as a facility for short termers and adolescents.

Finally, in 1963, the Raymond St. Jail closed. The Brooklyn Hospital Center's 19-story Maynard Building was built on the old jail site.

The "new" Brooklyn House of Detention on Atlantic has been unused for several years, and neighbors would like to keep it that way. But a couple of weeks ago, Kings County Supreme Court Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix ruled that the city’s Department of Correction may go forward with its plan to reopen the facility.

Return to Raymond Street Jail

Photo by C.O. Peter J. Ledwith

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Magnolia Blossoms On Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn

The magnolias on Cadman Plaza East, on the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian ramp, are starting to burst open. These flowers will have a star-like shape when fully open.

(We just learned there's something called Magnolia brooklynensis, or Brooklyn Magnolia. It bears yellow flowers.)

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Subway Turnstiles In Brooklyn to Go 'Green,' Power Trains

Brooklyn will be the first borough to experiment with new "green" subway turnstiles that may actually produce enough "man power" to move the trains running through Brooklyn.

Starting today, turnstiles in Downtown Brooklyn stations from Borough Hall to Atlantic Avenue along the 2 and 3 line will be retrofitted with a nearly friction-free crankshaft arrangement that will allow them to "collect" energy as they are rotated by subway passengers.

"The loss from friction has been reduced so much that an amazing percentage of the energy from rotation is conserved," said Dr. Gregory Harris, physics professor at Polytechnic University of NYU in Downtown Brooklyn, a consultant on the project.

Phyllis Mulligan, of the MTA's Conservation Board, estimated that an average subway train, not quite fully loaded, would achieve a 10 mph forward thrust with every thousand passenger turns.

"The more passengers going through the turnstiles, the faster the trains will go," she said, adding that number 2 and 3 trains would "zoom" during rush hour.

There is a downside, she said. "There will be significant slowdown on holidays and off hours. But most people don't have to get anywhere quickly at those times."

"We're hoping that passengers will be so enthusiastic about this new technology that they'll each give the turnstiles a couple of extra spins," she told McBrooklyn.

But Mike Stephens, spokesperson for the Straphangers Campaign, pointed out that passengers would have to swipe their Metrocards for each spin of the turnstile. "No matter how 'green' passengers feel, we suspect that the MTA is looking to unfairly profit from consumer enthusiasm," he said.

Happy April 1.
Photo courtesy of Avon Engineering

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